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JToma

USS Constitution by Jeff Toma - Model Shipways - Scale 1:76

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I finally have another post. I've decided to start with the Fife rails next. I've been wrestling with the fore fife rail for about the last month. It has been way more difficult than maybe it should have been. I encountered a problem with some of the kit parts which got a bit frustrating. 

 

First off the picture below shows the metal barrels included with the kit which supposedly you can just glue a wooden block of the appropriate size to both ends to construct the bitts. I tried to use the parts but oh no, its not that easy. I could not get a consistent result for the life of me. So I abandoned this method after a few failed attempts.

 

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Instead I made the parts from scratch as I've seen a few others do. I started with some square stock cut to the needed length with the Byrnes saw and then marked them with a line. I then used a razor blade to cut across each line. You can see that in the picture below. Then using the tools pictured I carved out the barrel shape for each bitt.

 

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The tools.

 

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This is the end result.

 

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I then glued the bitts to the fife rail, made the riding bitts and attached the knees. Then glued it all together. When I attempted to fit the assembled fife rail around the mast boot, it wouldn't fit. The knees were too close together to fit around the boot. I probably should have checked the kit supplied fife rail against the plans but I didn't. Turns out they didn't match and the kit supplied part was too small. Specifically, the two parallel rails were too close together.

 

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So I had to take everything apart and of course broke a few things along the way. I had to make a new fife rail using strip wood and salvaged the two parallel rails. One of the knees also broke so I had to make another one. I also had to make another 3 bitts. Then repeat some of that since I had to start over one more time after that. The finished product is below. Its not perfect but it is going to have to do. The plans show a copper cap on top of the riding bitts which I simulated with copper tape. I also just gave it a couple of coats if wipe-on poly and left it natural. The mid and aft fife rails have no knees so I expect things to go a bit smoother for those two. 

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Very nice. I hope mine looks as good as your when I finally get to this point.

 

I'm using Robert Hunt's practicum as a guide (as well as following numerous other builders) and he substituted boxwood for the fife rails because the basswood laser cut pieces were so delicate, you were also guaranteed to break them. When I purchased my kit, Hobby Mill was still in operation and they offered a wood supplement kit based on Mr. Hunt's laser cut parts substitutions in his practicum. So, I bought it and as a result I've always planned on replacing the parts you discovered the hard way.

Look forward to your next posting.

 

Jon

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Thanks Jon. Yes, they will break. I can attest to that personally. 😀 

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42 minutes ago, SigEp Ziggy said:

The wood part looks better and is probably stronger.  They get painted green, right?

 

They may be but I'm not sure. I decided to leave them natural on mine though.

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So I've managed to complete the remaining two fife rails. I was able to make use of the kit supplied rails with no drama this time. I've now pressed on to the top gallant rail.

 

Mid

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Aft. One note here: The plans failed to account for the 1/32 plank doubler at this location showing all the bitts at the same length. The two outside bitts need to be 1/32 longer. 

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I ran into a problem with the kit supplied top gallant rail transom piece. The curve didn't match the curve of my transom. So, I had to make a new piece. I drew it out on a piece of 1/16 basswood sheet and cut it out on my scroll saw. I'm pretty happy with the result. I'm starting to gain some confidence with the scroll saw, which is good, because I'm going to need to use it to cut out some new planks for my Medway Longboat, but thats another story. My cuts weren't perfect but I tried to stay about 1/64" outside the line. I just sanded the edges to finish to the line.

 

The piece on the left is my new rail and the one on the right is the kit supplied part. Its not too obvious in the picture but the curve of the kit part is a little more drastic and is a bit to narrow to fit my transom.

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Here is the piece on the transom. I reduced the width a bit after seeing this picture. I'll give it a coat of wipe-on poly and paint it black before gluing to the model.

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Looking great Jeff, Lots of little details that add up to that overall look of awesome results. I really like the copper caps, I wonder if that was unique to U.S. ships? Probably to keep the end grain from rotting out? Your gun rigging is awesome too! 

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Your Conny is looking great. Isn't it amazing how building a kit model turns you into a scratch builder. I did the same thing with my transom rail. I have been busy with other projects this last year and am looking to getting back with Conny soon.

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I completed the aft top gallant rails. After fabricating the transom piece it was pretty straight forward. I sealed everything with wipe-on ploy and painted black. I first attempted to brush paint tamiya flat black from the bottle but that looked terrible, so I had to sand it back down with some 0000 steel wool. I ended up using a rattle can of tamiya matte black. Floquil was so nice to brush. I think I need to find another paint for brushing. Next its on to the front rails.

 

I'll need to do a little touch up at the joints.

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The front rails are a little tricker since there is a bit of a curve. I'm debating on whether I want to try and edge bend a plank or just cut one to shape. 🤔

 

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Just cut it Jeff, uses more wood (depending on how many you break bending them) but a lot less frustrating and the first one fits perfectly!

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9 hours ago, ASAT said:

Just cut it Jeff, uses more wood (depending on how many you break bending them) but a lot less frustrating and the first one fits perfectly!

 

I think that's what I'm leaning toward Lou. Thanks for the input.

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I've completed the forward top gallant rails.

 

A look at the method I used.

 

I used some painters tape and a pencil to get the shape of the rail. 

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I transferred that to a piece of card stock and cut it out.

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I glued 3 pieces of planking stock together and traced the shape of the curve onto the stock and then cut it out with the scroll saw. After that it was just a matter of bringing it to the final shape with an exacto and various sanding implements.

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The final result. The next step is to finish up the bow area. As you can see its unfinished here so the first step is painting and then the top rail. I nearly missed the fact that there is a set of knees that go here also.

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12 minutes ago, Jeff-E said:

Those rails turned out great, thanks for sharing your method.

 

Thanks Jeff.

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Jeff, that's a pretty frugal use of wood there, I would have cut it from a sheet - never thought of edge gluing the planks together. Thanks for that teaching moment! :)

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40 minutes ago, ASAT said:

Jeff, that's a pretty frugal use of wood there, I would have cut it from a sheet - never thought of edge gluing the planks together. Thanks for that teaching moment! :)

Glad to hear that was helpful for you. I started to cut it from a sheet but I realized that since most of the plank runs straight that this way made more sense.

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