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Indian Girl Canoe by GuntherMT - Midwest - Scale 1:12 - SMALL

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So I'm pretty active on some other message forums that are not ship related, and one of them has a fairly active single thread for scale modeling.  I've been posting compressed build-log updates there and a number of people have expressed interest in wooden ship modeling.  Some have asked for recommendations to get into the hobby 'cheaply' to see if they like it, and I've been recommending the small boats by Midwest, but of course I've never built one.  

I've had the itch to do a smaller project while I continue working on the AVS, so I decided that I should put my money where my mouth is (so to speak) and actually build some of the kits I've been recommending to other folks.  A couple of weeks ago I ordered a couple Midwest kits.  The Dinghy ended up being backordered, but I got the Indian Girl Canoe early this week, and I put the strong back together Thursday, and put the first few planks on last night after work.


This will be my build log for this little canoe.  Little is relative I guess, seeing how the canoe is 16" long, and the AVS hull is only 14-3/4" long.   :)


I originally decided to do this build to show the folks on that other forum how it went, and of course stupidly didn't take any pictures of the box contents, or anything else until I'd already placed the first couple of planks.  Sometimes I'm kind of goofy.


In any case, if you are unfamiliar with these kits, you start by cutting several template parts from a sheet and assembling them to a long piece of wood.  This assembly becomes the 'strong back', and it acts as the form for the hull, which is constructed upside down on this jig.


You mark the centerline on the long piece of wood and the templates, transfer the locations for each template from the plans onto the long piece of wood, and then glue the templates onto it, using fast CA and a square to keep them aligned.


Next up, you cut out the two stem pieces, and transfer the top plank locations from the plans to the stems.  A single piece of planking is then cut to length from the plans, and glued to the stems to make a 'keel' of sorts.  The keel is then glued to the strong back over the templates.  Once that's secure, the planking begins.  The first plank is glued only to the stem at each end, and then the 2nd (and subsequent) planks are glued to the stem and the previous plank.  None of the planks are glued to the template pieces (at least not intentionally!).


The plans call for using CA for all of the construction, but with the exception of the strong-back assembly, which will not be part of the final model, I am using only white wood-glue (Weld Bond) for this project.


I've been attaching a plank or two, and then going and moving laundry and other projects around the house (or watching basketball), then going back and adding another plank or two.  So while the progress isn't going super fast, the actual time investment so far is probably quite low.


The first picture I remembered to take, first plank in place on both sides, sitting on the single plan sheet that is in the kit.



As the shape of the hull changes as the planking progresses, my clamping system keeps changing.



Last night I went to Woodcrafters and purchased my first 'real' (i.e. not cheap hobby shop specials) chisels.  At $40 a piece, they've always seemed crazy expensive to me, but I've been using the one pictured here to do the beveling of the planks instead of sanding, and it's an amazing tool, and I'll probably never touch those cheap chisels again if I can help it.  I also picked up a leather strop with some compound to keep them sharp.


Here you can see the Swedish Made palm chisel I've been using for the beveling.



That's where it is now.  I'll probably get a few more planks on tonight.  Tomorrow I'll be running around in the desert with my brother who bought a side-by-side toy, so no idea if I'll accomplish anything on either boat project!

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Glad to see this little gal getting a log.  These are great kits to get folks started because they are manageable while at the same time being instructive --- perfect for a 'wet your whistle' project.  I built a Peterboro from Midwest years back.  Strapped it onto the floats of one of my R/C Piper Cubs and it's still going strong after many water take offs and landings.  In fact, I think it gets more attention than the plane itself.


Hope it kindles some interest in a few of your friends.

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Thanks Augie.  


So far I think that this little canoe would make a great planking primer for anyone new to this hobby.  The planks are very small, so very easy to work with, while still teaching the basics of things like how much better the fit is when you bevel the edge.


Didn't get much time to work on either ship today, but I did make some progress after spending the first half of the day romping around in the desert.  Temps in the low 80's, everything is green now.. just beautiful.


This evening I continued planking the canoe, and also made a bit of progress on the quarter-deck wall of the AVS, while waiting for planks to dry.


The one point where I ran into difficulty was the plank where the angle to the stem changes as we roll from the sides to the bottom.  Up to this point the wide edge of each plank is landing on the stem, but towards the center of the hull, the planking has begun rolling to the bottom, so each plank is making a 90 degree twist as it leaves the stern.  On this transition plank, you somehow have to match a plank that has no twist, with the last plank that has the full twist in it.  The rather simple instructions give no tips or hints on how to make this transition look right, I do think that this is an area where the kit could be improved, especially since it's marketed for beginners. 


I ended up just cutting some really odd bevels into the transition plank to get it to match as closely as possible to the plank, and the stem, and while it came out ok, I'm not sure it was the right approach, and I hope that after it's finished that things will look ok.  Here are the completed transitions on the first side.  You can see how the prior plank has a twist, but this one doesn't.



After I made the transition and started working on the bottom planks, things are coming along quite nicely, here is where I leave things tonight.



Overall I think things are progressing nicely, and if I was using CA like the instructions say, I'd probably be a lot further along.  The Weldbond needs to be clamped for a while after laying each plank, it doesn't tack and hold as fast as Tite Bond, let alone CA, but since I started the project with it, I'm going to stick with it through the entire build.


Tomorrow if I don't work too late, I'd like to finish the hull planking and remove it from the strong-back.  Might even finish the quarter-deck wall on the AVS too!

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The little canoe continues to progress in my spare moments.  Work has been crazy this last couple of weeks, so the canoe has been nice to have, as I can pop into the work room, do a couple of planks in 30 minutes, and then go back to work or take care of other things around the house.  When I'm working on the AVS I tend to want to have at least an hour or two in a solid block to work on it, and I just haven't had that lately, so if I didn't have the canoe going I probably wouldn't be doing any ship work at all.


In any case, progress update.


The more planks I got on, the simpler the clamping arrangements became, as there just isn't that much room left to put planks on as the remaining area to be planked shrinks.  The little alligator clamps worked great, since the 'bulkheads' are not going to be part of the finished model, so it's no big deal if their sharp teeth tear up that wood a little bit.


I also used a lot of little spare pieces of planking material to act as wedges.



And.. then it was done.  The last plank in place, and rough sanded.



After work tonight I'll do a final sanding to smooth the wood out a bit and remove any fuzzies, and then pull it from the strong-back to complete the planks at the stems which extend above the gunwale and aren't supported by the strong-back.

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Hi GuntherMT, 


I built this model a few years ago and it turned out really well. I was planning on putting in some water, made from acrylic sheet, but I never got around to it. Where did you find it? I am having trouble getting hold of this kit and would love to propose it to clients. 


On the other hand, I am now considering building my own kit for my website. 


I will keep an eye on this build and see if you come across the same difficulties I had. If I build a new kit, I was thinking of making the keel board quite a bit bigger and use it as part of the support structure instead of just an add-on at the end. It might make it easier for people to keep the model aligned. 


Best Regards, 




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Hi Rick,

I got the kit from Model Expo while it was 41% off http://www.modelexpo-online.com/product.asp?ITEMNO=MID981 . 

Normally they are a bit high on Midwest kits, and I would go with HobbyLinc for Midwest kits - http://www.hobbylinc.com/cgi-bin/s8.cgi?cat_s=B&str_s=Midwest

You can also get them directly from Midwest's online store - http://midwestproducts.com/collections/boats


As far as why I am avoiding CA - I just don't like it, for a few reasons.  

1) It doesn't seem to like to bond basswood quickly unless you introduce water or an accelerant, and both are just added complications that I don't really feel are needed.  I have several different types of CA and they all seem to be finicky when gluing basswood together - goes from super slippery causing the pieces to slide easily on each other making placement difficult to suddenly glued permanently in the wrong spot.

2) It stinks.

3) It gets on everything and leaves stains - I'm not sure if I am going to paint the model or use a stain, and I didn't want to deal with the CA on everything.

4) Related to above, since it gets on everything, I always end up with it on my hands/fingers which annoys me, even if I don't glue myself to something.

5) Harder to remove/deal with if you make a mistake and need to de-bond a part.

6) I'm sure I could find more things I don't like about it.   :)


At the end of the day, why not just use wood glue?  It works well, bonds reasonably quick if you apply in thin coats to both work pieces, allows you to move stuff around until you are happy with the fitment, it doesn't stain everything, and when you get it on your hands you just rub it off with a bit of friction.  It's also easy to sand where you get too much on a joint and it leaks out onto the surface of the planking.


I chose to try Weldbond on this kit instead of the Tite-Bond I'm using on the AVS because it's a clear white glue instead of yellow, so I figured that any 'mistakes' would be less visible (since both the inside and outside of the planking will be seen on this model).  I accidentally used a syringe of just plain old Elmer's white school glue (that I thought was Weldbond) for quite a bit of this, and it worked just fine also.

Edited by GuntherMT
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Thanks everyone for the likes, and thank you to those who are providing commentary and feedback in this thread, it's appreciated.  Always feel free to let me know if  you see that I'm doing something stupid.   :)


Tonight, the little canoe was removed from the strongback.  Freedom!




I then did some sanding, taking it down from 120 to 220, and then to 320 grit.  I then built up one of the stems over the gunwale, and sanded that area.



I also sanded down the roughest stuff in the interior, using the incredibly fancy sanding tool pictured here:



Yes, it's just a strip of 120 grit sandpaper rolled up.   :)


I'll do the other stem tomorrow or Saturday (have dinner out tomorrow, so don't know if I'll get to make any sawdust at all).

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Thanks again all,


Now comes the moment to decide how to finish this beautiful canoe? 




So there are two questions, not only how, but when!


The kit suggests at this point to coat the entire outside of the canoe with CA glue... !!   Then again the kit is actually supposed to represent a type of canoe that was covered in canvas (they filled the space between the canvas and wood with something to prevent leaks I guess), so the entire outside of the hull gets painted black per the instructions.


I think I am going to try just staining the wood and giving it a clear finish.  Worst case if it turns out terrible I can always paint it black (or some other color) like the kit instructs, but I really would like to keep the wood finish, and I'm not going to use the CA coating regardless.

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Another alternative would be to coat the hull with two-part epoxy resin then imbed a fine mesh fiberglass hobby cloth - smooth it out well - sand and leave unpainted. You can get the epoxy and cloth in any good hobby shop.  I did a model of a Coast Guard utility boat that way many years ago and it came out really nice.

Edited by Jack12477
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I did the Peterboro in Golden Oak stain under 2 coats of WOP......came out nice.  Of course that's what it's supposed to look like.


Now the Indian Girl is a different story.  The inside would probably look nice with a natural finish.  But I'll wait to see your rendition on the exterior.  Don't chop down too many birch trees  :)


The CA idea is just plain BAD!

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Got back to the canoe the other day, and roughed in the other end above the gunwale.


And then finished it and sanded the entire thing - 120 -> 220 -> 320




Then after some experimenting on scraps, I took the first big plunge towards my eventual finish plans.




I chose to stain it prior to putting the ribs in (which are also stained, but no pictures) in order to alleviate worry about glue around the edges of the ribs showing up as glaring spots where the stain didn't go.  I think it will be very difficult to do any good clean-up around the ribs internally after they are placed.  I guess I'll find out later if that was a huge mistake, as the one thing I forgot to test was the effect of soaking on a stained piece of wood, and I think the ribs will have to be soaked in order to make the crazy bends inside the canoe.  I will try doing it with jigs and heat first (on scrap), but I really don't think I'll be able to get away without soaking for this.

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Soaking didn't seem to do much to the stain, possibly lightened it a bit, but no splotching or bleeding.  Even after soaking for the entire work-day, the ribs were quite difficult to get bent into place without breaking, and I really couldn't figure out a good way to clamp them.  Given that they were being placed 'wet', I gave up on using my white PVA, as it would have required I hold each rib in place for a good 30 minutes or more, and this is supposed to be a quick 'side project', so I gave in and used CA to place the ribs.  I'll have a good bit of inside cleanup to do in order to get rid of the CA shine and fogging, but should still be much less time than individually clamping the ribs long enough to set with PVA.


It's not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, as I did all the placement by eye-ball, instead of carefully measuring and marking where each end should be to keep them all perfectly perpendicular and straight.  It came out well enough I think.



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Those are tough bends.  But they came out looking fine.  Is she going to have any floorboards?


If that CA 'shine' annoys you, you might consider giving it a coat of clear flat acrylic.  Some call it Dullcoat.  I used Testors Model Master.

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I spent some time today between working and cleaned up the remains of the super glue a bit.  It had reacted with the water to form white crystals (or fogging) so I went outside and used acetone with q-tips to clean that up, and then I sanded and buffed the insides a bit to smooth out the worst of the visible glue areas.  I'll follow the advise of Augie and apply a matte finish to get rid of the shine at some point in the future.


The next step is to trim down the ribs and sand them even with the top of the hull.  After doing that the end 'decks' are placed.  This requires soaking the deck pieces in order to get them to bend to follow the contour of the hull at the stems.  I placed a 'wedge' in the hull to hold it while these were drying in place, as they spread the hull and the wet basswood doesn't have the strength to keep the hull from squeezing it and collapsing the deck pieces.  If I was to do it over again (Note to future builders!) I would have cut several pieces of the planking and glued side to side reinforcements to the bottom of the deck pieces to add lateral strength to them.  This would not be seen since it's on the underside of the deck pieces and I think it would have helped a lot.  


They turned out ok in any case.  After sanding down to 320 grit and re-staining.



And a shot just because.   :)



Edit: Augie, this kit does not have floorboards.

Edited by GuntherMT
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And so it continues.  I was working from home today, as work is sort of a mess right now, but the nice thing about working from home is that I can pretty much keep my own schedule, and I can go do a bit on the boat, and then go work while I'm waiting for something to dry for the next step.  Working like that is sort of a pain, but it does allow me to make slow progress even when I don't have time to sit down and plank the poop-deck of the AVS.


After cleaning up the ribs a bit, the next items on the agenda are the in-wale and gun-wale.  These are made with cherry strips in the kit.  The in-wale is pretty straight forward, trim the strip to length and glue it along the top of the ribs between the two end decks.  No particular issues other than accidentally cutting one a bit too short and having to insert a shim.  Oops.  Only 1 spare strip of cherry, so I didn't use it since the gun-wales would be the real challenge (this turned out to be the right decision).


Here the in-wales are both placed and glued up.  I went back to the white PVA glue for this.



The next step was the gun-wales, which turned out to be what is likely the most challenging part of this kit for a new modeler, as it certainly was for me.  The cherry strips are 1/8" x 1/16", and they need to be tapered for the final 3-1/2" of the ends of the gun-wale to a 1/32" square.  So they need to taper in both dimensions, to an extremely fine point, and then they have to be bent to fit the curve of the deck!  Cherry isn't nearly as flexible as basswood.


The instructions say to soak the planks in a 50/50 ammonia/water mix and then super glue one end, follow the curve of the hull, and then at some nebulous point, trim the other end to length and taper it.  Umm.. yea, sure, that will work great!  Or maybe not.


I chose to taper one end of the plank, then use the "Chuck" bending system to get it shaped to follow one end of the hull.  Chuck's system is pretty simple, using 3 clamps and a board, you apply heat to the bent plank (I use a heat gun, Chuck demonstrated with a hair dryer), and then let it cool.  When you un-clamp it, there is very little spring-back.



After getting one end shaped, I clamped it in place, all the way along the edge of the hull, and then marked where to cut the other end off, tapered the other end, and then bent it to shape.  After I was happy with the curve at both ends, I glued the plank in place and clamped it.



While sanding the taper on one end, I managed to snap one of the planks in two about 1/3 of the way down.  So much for a spare plank!


Luckily I managed to get two of them done without breaking another one, and got them in place.  Once they are glued in place, I sanded down the top of the wales to be even with the hull from end to end.  And that's where it is now.



The next items in the kit are the thwarts, and the seats.  After that comes the paddles and it's finished.  I'm going to play some finishing games though, and I think I'll do that prior to placing anything else into the canoe, so it will probably be a bit before there is another update, as the finish will take a week or more to complete due to drying between layers.


Hopefully I'll have the 'finish reveal' by next weekend.


In the meantime, I'll get to planking the poop-deck of the AVS tomorrow I think.  Just need to figure out a good way to make a jig to cut 26 identical tapered planks for that.



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