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USS Columbus 1819 by threebs - 1/72 scale

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This is my second scratch build.  The USS Pennsylvania being my first.  I thought I had started a build log on this site of this ship, but, I could not find one (it).  So here are SEVERAL photos of it's progress.  There are subtle differences in some of the photos as I changed things to accommodate future building.  Like where I removed a bow support because the bow sprit would pass right through it.  I took out the deck supports in the bulkheads because I decided I wanted to put the decks in individually.  It would be easier to work on the lower deck without all of the deck ribs in the way.  I did not cutout a door in the quarter galleries as the windows would have curtains on them and hide it anyway.  The original framing of the quarter galleries was removed and I redid them when the side hulls were planked.  It was more accurate and easier to put the windows and stern gun ports in.  In the unpainted stern gallery photos, planks cover some of the window openings.  In the primed photos you can see where I started the quarter gallery floor and ceiling.   The cannon are left over from my Pennsylvania build.  This model will have all of the cannon run out.  The Pennsylvania only had a few on each side.  The armament on the ships was almost identical.  Pennsylvania had 18 pounder long guns on the spar deck, the Columbus had 42 pound carronades.  The lower deck guns on both ships were mostly 32 pound long guns with 8 6 inch shell guns in the mix.  I do not know where the shell guns were mounted, but, I am not putting them on anyway.  Instead the lower deck gus will all be 32 pounders.



























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Looking good.  


On the 8 shell guns... it was American practice, and I'm not sure when it started, to break the gundeck into "divisions".  For example, my Constellaton had 4 32 pdrs and rest were Pauxhains.  Each of the fore divisions (port, starboard and those broken down into fore and aft) had one of the 32 pdrs and they were located at extreme aft and forward to be used as chase guns.  If you were using them, I'd put two dead center and one at each end of the deck.  There is "Captain's Choice" in this.  :)

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I searched for shell guns in 1/72 scale when I did my Pennsylvania.  Could not find any.  I do not want to start casting my own barrels, but, since there are only six of them maybe I can carve them from boxwood.  they are below decks and you will only see abour 3/4 inch of the barrel sticking out of the gun port.  would anyone really notice anyway?

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Would anyone notice?  You will.  :)   Do you a lathe?   Or a drill press?    Simple shell gun..  take and existing barrel , full size, the 32 pdr is 6", same as the shell gun.  Chuck up the gun and grind/file away on the spinning barrel. 


I'm attaching a photo of what I made originally for my Constellation using the guns from the kit.  I later, redid them using the lathe as they were not large enough in diameter. It seems the Pauxhains and Parotts are quite a bit bigger than a 32 pdr.  For your purposes, the Pauxhain style would probably be suitable.



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no lathe, I have a small proxxon mini lathe for turning yards. I think I could do it with jewelers files by hand.  Thanks for the photo of the various cannon.  I have a drawing of a shell gun in Chappelle's book I can go by for the carriage.

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I have now started to copper the hull. You can see the rough pattern I have laid out that I will follow. There are about 400 tiles in that pile. Each cut from a 5/16" role of copper adhesive backed tape. There are 44 tiles in a row, about 12 rows. Allowing for shorter rows on the curved sections, there will be about 1200 tiles on the hull when it is done. I am not going to ponce roll the dimples as the 3/4" heads of the copper nails in real life would be so small in 1/72 scale as to be redundant. I have done more tiles since these photos, so, I have done about 300 tiles now. It takes about 10 minutes to lay a row. It will take longer per row as the curved sections need to be cut and laid carefully. I am going to give the copper a couple of coats of dull coat to seal the tape edges, something I did not do on my last model. This will keep the tile edges from curling up as I handle the model to move it about, which will be a lot.







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  • 2 weeks later...

Dear 3 Bs: Sorry to come late to the party; you ARE doing a first-rate job. But I've got a question for you: I'm building a 1:64 scale Sphinx class frigate, and I'm just working on the 26 bulkheads. I had decided that I would put the lower decks in prior to planking the hull for ease of access. It looks like you're doing the planking prior to decking. Is there some consideration that I'm missing, or does it really matter? Also, on the bulkheads: the side arms (I don't know what to call them) that stick up: how fragile are they and do I need to take special precautions in making mine? I was going to do what you started out doing (incorporating deck beams in the bulkhead), but now I see you've taken yours out. I think it's quite a lot of work putting them in in the first place. Maybe I'll just follow your lead and not put the beams into the bulkheads. Got any thoughts?



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TBlack:  The bulk heads on the spardeck always seem to be miss aligned.  No matter how careful i am making sure the bulkheads are square to the keel, after a time the slim "beams" warp out of shape.  Even if it is only a millimeter or so, it is enough to put them in the path of a gun port.  So, sometimes I have to cut them off at the deck line and re-lay the "beams" This is true at the hull as well, and the result is a wavy hull.  So, I have to replace some that have warped either out away from the hull or inward toward the center line.  I use birch furniture grade plywood for the bulkheads for the strength. but, the "skinny" tips of each bulkhead always seem to waver.  Even as dry as it is here in Tucson, AZ it always happens.  In all the builds I have ever seen, the hull is planked first.  However. I do not see why the decks cannot be done first. I do not plank the lower gun deck, it is never seen, and I only plank the sections of the middle gun deck that can be seen through the openings in the spar deck.  I use "beams" only where I need them to support the deck.  I under lay my deck planking with 1/16 inch model aircraft plywood and use thinner planks to cover it.  It keeps the deck from having a wavy look from the bulkheads being so far apart.  Hope this answers your questions.

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Jerry:  thanks for the kind words.  Yes, I plan on a frigate after this ship.  When I was researching my first build, (USS Pennsylvania) I saw she had been destroyed to keep the Confederate Army from capturing her.  In addition the Columbus and United States were also destroyed.  I thought it might be a nice tribute to those ships to build a model of each of them.  So, The build after the Columbus will be the United States.  Although 44 gun frigates did not have the sleeker lines of the 32 and 36 gunners, I still thought the American 44's had their own sort of panache if you will.

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I think it is one of the banes of plank on bulkhead building as opposed to plank on frame.  Building frames from as many as six or 8 different pieces glued and sometimes doweled together makes them much less likely to warp.  That is at least my estimation.  I could be wrong, as I have only built two, including this one, plank on bulkhead shps, and no plank on frame ships at all.  Perhaps they have their own idiosyncrasies that I cannot be aware of as a result.

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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 1 month later...

I work on her a little everyday.  I will frame, "glass", and curtain the stern and quarter gallery windows next, then finish the white gun port stripes, put in the lower gun deck, mount the cannon, and then lay the middle gun deck.


There are grates that show through the spar deck main cargo hatch opening that I will make and install on the middle gun deck, make the carriages for the cannon on the middle gun deck, mount them, and then install the spar deck.  Once all that is done, I do the bow framing and put in the hauser holes.









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  • 2 months later...
  • 2 weeks later...
Sorry it has been so long since my last post, been busy, but now have a lot of stuff done. The Pima county fair was April 16 to 26th and i entered my ship in the fine arts non professional category. You can see the ribbons i won, including best of show. I demonstrated model ship building all 10 days for 6 hours each day, got a LOT done! As you can see, all the gun port doors, the hinges on the lower gun port doors, and the middle deck gun port doors which are split and have a hole for the barrel. I made a dozen or so of the hinges, a lot more to file and cut from 1/64 x 1/16th stock. I am getting the windows framed up and the mullions in them, curtains are installed. Also. working on bow scroll work and framing.










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  • 2 months later...

since son moved out a few months ago, i have his room to work in when it is hot in the garage.  redoing the windows strern and quarter galleries, was not happy with first attempt.  put main gun deck guns in, made bow sprit and a lashed it down.  made bow decorations and hawse holes.  Made carronade carriages.  I am now making blocks for carronades.  And installing second gun deck.
















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  • 1 month later...

I have run into something of a conundrum. I Am getting to the point where I will be installing the cannonades on the spar deck. However, the Chapelle plans for the Columbus show a gun port height of 3 feet, whereas all the plans I have seen of 32 pounder cannonade show a height if about 3'8" from the bottom of the casters to the top of the max diameter of the barrel. Chapelle's book also shows a cut away view of the gundecks of the Delaware that give a much higher gun port dimension for it's spar deck cannonades. I have made all of my cannonades as you can see from previous photos, but, Once I cap the spar deck gun whale, the cannonades I made will not fit. I suspect that the plans of the Columbus spar deck gun ports is incorrect, and, I believe I will deepen the gun ports to fit the cannonades I made,

What do You guys think?

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I thought I had seen this issue come up somewhere else recently ... and then I found it. Sorry that I cannot provide a link at this stage (coz am on work computer and it still has buggy IE10), but check out the recent entries in [EDIT: Sawdust Dave's Sovereign of the Seas build.]

His solution for a similar situation just may work for you.

Edited by CaptainSteve
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Fantastic subject and model!


In 1819, the Columbus carried 42-pounder carronades, and only 32-pounder long guns on her lower two decks. This should account for the additional height. In 1845, her second commission, she instead carried 32-pounder carronades on her spar deck. She didn't get any 8" shell guns until 1845 either. Are you working with William Crothers' "Seagull" plans? He reconstructs the stern carvings based on a letter written by ship-carver William Rush.

Edited by uss frolick
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  • 1 year later...

yeah, been a while since last post, have done a lot since then, including redoing entire port side that was 1/8 inch to high, don't ask me how it happened, but I somehow got it on the bases crooked.  I am drilling holes in the pin rails now, I will finish the deck furniture deck framing around the masts.  The head rails were a real bitch to fit properly, not the horizontal ones, the vertical timbers.














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  • 2 weeks later...

Build will slow some, run my left thumb across the top of the blade on my mini table saw.  Yeah, I  know, stupid.  Forgot to lower blade height to just barely clear t he top of the board as I usually do when I change blades or board thickness.  Doc says 2 months complete heal, except 100% feeling will take as long as 6.  Had six stitches, does not hurt very much, just aches a bit. I can still use my thumb, just can not hold small objects tight to file or carve, so, I am moving on to shaping lower mast, chain wales, and install carronades.

Edited by threebs
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