Monday, January 7, 2013

Okay, so we have learned something VERY important so far.

There are many things I am good at.  However, blogging is not one of them.

Yes, I said it - I Suck at blogging.

Well, with that out of the way - I will just wrap this up with a little blurb.

The ship is finished.  WOW - how did we go from some copper plates on the hull to a completed model so magically... well I will tell you,  heck I already did.  I SUCK AT BLOGGING =).

In all seriousness,  the Phantom was a joy to get into.  Very much unlike anything I had ever done before, mainly because I am used to a box of parts which are very systematically assembled up into a finished object.  Not this box of wood where I had to make the damn parts!  It was a blast though.  I would strongly recommend to anyone who wants to get into the hobby to give this little ship a chance.

The ship was finished up just after Christmas and sits happily on my work bench shelf overlooking the next venture.   I will most likely start a blog for that one as well and HOPEFULLY this time it will go much better.

There are actually many pics from where I left off to it's completion, but will only put up the major milestones...   With the final pics being that of the finished ship.

Hull Coppered

Deck laid and stained

Launch-ways/Stand Complete

Initial Deck Furniture

Bowsprit Attached and Rigged
Masts and Mast Rings Added

That was pretty much the progression.   The last step was the rigging which I got so into working on that I did not take stepped photos, just got to it and got it done.   As much as a pain as it was, it was fun and somewhat relaxing as well.

 Here are the finished photos of the ship.

Thanks for stopping by.  Will try this again with the next ship - hopefully the blogging goes better =)


Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Copper Plating the Hull - Part I

As I have mentioned, the posts up until now have been recapping steps that I had done on the ship a couple weeks ago.  This blog was an afterthought so the postings were just summaries; not much detail and ultimately a bit light on content.

This post marks the first "up to date" installment and from here on will reflect where I am currently with the build.  This should let me provide more detail for anyone interested.

Hours on Project: 31

This next part of the ship build is really the first time intensive bit of work encountered on the ship.  Until this venture I had put in about 11 hours, however, the coppering of the hull tacked on a good 20 hours.  Going forward this will be quicker, but being my first time out it was quite slow going in the beginning.

So what are the copper plates for?  In short, the hulls of wooden ships starting around the 1700's were protected with copper plates which were attached to from the keel to the waterline.  The plates created a surface which prevented ship-worm and weeds from attaching to the wood and thus extending the life and reducing maintenance of the ships hull.

To replicate this on a model ship all you need is a roll of copper tape, an X-Acto knife and a whole metric ton of patience!!!

The first thing to do is get the copper tape and figure out the size the plates need to be to match the scale of the ship; luckily with the Phantom it was kind enough to tell me: 1/4"  x 1/8".  With that I went ahead and cut up a bunch of plates to start with and then just continued to cut as I went.

To give you an idea of what the working plates look like...

Take this

And cut it up into this..

That is all there is too it, heh.

Well, it sounds pretty straightforward and easy - but in actuality until you get used to the cutting it can be a pain to get nice rectangular plates.   I tried lining it up on ruler and cutting it lengthwise; that didn't work out so well; very angular cuts and plates got all messy.  So, as with so many other projects - created a jig to help cut the pieces.

First - the Dimensions of the plates as said are 1/4" x 1/8" - the tape I a using is 1/4" wide so the thought was just cut 1/8 inch strips off the end.  This started working later as I got used to cutting the tape but, for the first few hundred plates it was not working out so well.  A few folks in the model ship forums preferred to cut the tape lengthwise then cut 1/4 inch strips off of those.  This gives you straight edges for the long sides and if anything gets screwed up cutting the plate it is the short side which is much easier to camouflage on the model.

I tried this, but cutting lengthwise proved to be even more of a pain (to me) and I just didn't like how any of them turned out.  Thus was born the copper plate jig.

First I took a few strips of 1/8" basswood and glued them to a sheet of wood to create a slot which would hold the tape

I then took a 1/8" basswood strip to set into the jig, dividing the copper tape in half

This allowed me to cut two nice straight strips of 1/8" copper, once that was done I added a 1/4" guide to the frame to size up the actual plate to be cut.

Worked like a charm!!!

Then there is the placing it on the ship itself.

I have no problems saying my first attempts at placing the copper were horrible at best, the copper is extremely pliable and susceptible to dents and dings.  Also, when cut, it leaves little curls at the edges of the copper.  It took some time to get used to working with the tape.

To remove the curls, cut the copper and remove it from the backing. Then lay it face down (Sticky side up) and gently scrape the back of the X-Acto knife across the plate once or twice.  This will flatten the plate and not remove the adhesive

Once that is done placing them on the hull is just a matter of lining it up; trying to get as straight a line as possible and affixing the plate.

Or so I thought.

As the beginnings of this adventure show; the plates went down fine - but looked very ragged and jagged and not very protective to the hull.

Kind of rough, really didn't like the look of it.

I tried replacing some of the copper (this was a horrible experience and made more of a mess than I had before).   I tried repositioning some of the copper; however the adhesive is good enough it doesn't move much once in place and led to having to replace those pieces which again, made more of a mess.

I then decided to make sure the plates were aligned as well as they could be, and then taking the cap to my X-Acto knife and using it as a burnisher I went over the copper with a fair amount of pressure.

It worked like a champ!!!

With all that behind me, I went ahead and continued the rows on one side of the ship.  Placing the plates and burnishing every two rows to get a nice flat, smooth surface.

I still have some areas that need a little more burnishing, as well as a couple of places which need some copper  paint to fill extremely tiny gaps; but all in all - I don't think it came out too bad for a first encounter with hull plating.

I do have one extremely troublesome area however, and that would be the sternpost.  No amount of burnishing has worked thus far and it looks quite horrible.

My two options at this point are to strip it, hope it doesn't wreck too much, or burnish the edges and hope the center is hidden by the rudder once that gets attached.  I haven't quite made up my mind yet on how to proceed, but that will be figured out for the next one when I do the other half of the hull.

This half took 400+ plates and 20 hours to do; most of that is due to inexperience so hopefully the next half will go a bit quicker.

Next up - Plating the Phantom Hull Part II

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Stems, Keels and Sternposts - oh my.

Hours on project: 11

So, 11 hours ino the project I finally was able to shape the hull a bit more as well as cut, sand, shape and attach the stem, sternpost and keel.  

This part of the project wasn't too bad, just copied the plans cut out the templates and created the parts and since most of it was straight lines and simple curves it was not a huge hassle.   With any luck the rest of the ship will go as smooth (something tells me that is not going to happen however).

The ships false keel was thinned down to 1/8" to match the keel parts and the rest of the ship was sanded to fit the hull lines necessary. I went with sanding over carving as it was easier at this stage - did I cheat? probobly - will have to get the hang of carving especially for some of the other ships I am looking at but for now, sanding was the answer!

Sadly, not a lot of drama to this so not a whole lot to post about.  Once the parts were cut it was just a thin bead of glue, attach the parts, fill, sand and walla.

I then threw on a coat of primer and a base coat of the hull color to see what it looked like. There were a few spots that needed some more filling/sanding work and I jumped on that to get ready for the next stage.

So, that is it for now; keep in mind these so far have been catch up posts - once I get into some of the coppering posts they will start becoming real time.

Next Up - Coppering the Hull, the Beginning.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Carving the Hull

Hours on Project:  5

As mentioned last time, the next step was to carve the hull.  This may sound all good and fun and all; except when you literally do not possess one single inkling of a clue, not one iota of experience, not even a microscopic idea of where to begin.  I have done many things over my lifetime, all kinds of odd and end skills picked up - carving is most assuredly not one of them.

"So if you don't carve, why a wooden ship?" you may be asking.  Well, that is a good question. There are two facets to the answer.  The first being that when choosing a boat, the common consensus is that a solid hull boat (where the hull is a already pre shaped you just need to finish it up) was much more "beginner" than a plank on bulkhead or plank on frame; where you have a skeleton and you bend and place each plank individually on the ship.  The other being that I guess I really just underestimated how much carving there would be.

Oddly enough, once I started getting into this and checking out forums and other blogs - it would appear the whole notion of one type being more beginner than the other; is horse hockey (+10 if you know the pop culture reference).   It is a matter of preference, as was found out by people doing huge elaborate plank on frame models who adamantly state they would never dare try a solid hull - and vice versa.

So - It would appear I am now learning wood carving.

I did what any enterprising novice would do, I picked up my #11 blade and started at the wood.  I managed to get the keel carved down to the right thickness, the stem and stern as well; pretty easy that was no worries at all.

Then came the cap-rail;  1/8" down and 1/32" deep - you really don't know how small 1/32" is until you are trying to hack at wood with an X-Acto blade.

Butt, I went at it and it started out okay - control was the hardest thing to get down because the blade really did just want to sink right into the wood.  However, with a bit of cursing and few moments of my wife reminding me to "calm down" I got through it.

Most importantly I learned that I was definitely missing something to this whole carving thing, like say - carving tools!  Imagine that, tools made to do exactly what I needed them to do.  I have since picked up some carving tools so the next boat will have the benefit of proper tools.

I will get a chance to try them out since I have failed to get the deck carved out correctly. I am hoping the actual carving tools will work better and give me the control I need to get the angles and what not I am looking for.

The hull is shaping up not to badly, trying to allow myself the mistakes of a novice as long as I learn from them, which is hard because I want this to be a showroom piece and anything less is hard to swallow - but that too is being tempered with little reminders from my wife who shares the joy and pain of this project by sitting behind me in the room =)

It is coming along though, slow and steady as she goes.

Next Up:  Keel, Stem and Sternpost

Monday, July 23, 2012

Anchor's Away - such a noob.

So - Building Wooden Ship Models;  why on earth are you doing such a thing?

A change of pace, something different, something new, something "real".  Those would pretty much be the reasons for this little venture.

I have basically been looking for something tangible to do.  The computer is great and having been an avid (obsessed) video gamer for the last 2 decades, the computer was king.  Well, lately been really kind of not getting kicks out of the good ole computer.  I work with them all day, for the last 6 or 7 months have had a tendency to work form home as well - it was getting old.  Computer games, while still enjoyable, don't have that obsessive draw right now they used to have.

So; time for something new.

As a kid into the teens and early 20's I spent a lot of time doing plastic models; WWII armor and Aircraft mainly. Worked in a hobby store to feed that obsession, even took it to show quality pieces and selling some finished work and getting some consignment gigs out of it.  So had thought about getting back into that, but nothing out there really grabbed my attention.    During that time I had always wanted to try the wooden boats; but that was something older people did.   You know, family guys, working stiffs and retired old timers.  An "adult" hobby.

Well, damn it all look at that - married, working stiff (not quite retired though) - damn it; adult.  Guess that means  I qualify eh?

So, debated it a bit, tossed it around and finally the wife said "Go for it, give it a shot".   So I did.  I dug around and looked for something "starterish" (being a noob to this after all).  I ended up finding a Model Shipways Phantom; with a pretty slick starter deal.  Finish the boat in 6 months, send back pics and receipt and get the price of the boat off the next one.  It also came with all the fixings (and since I was stupid and sold my vast, VAST collection of modeling supplies it was nice to have something to start with.) So I ordered it, and away I go.

Very first thing I noticed was one of the reasons this particular hobby was reserved mainly for the "adults"; the cost of the kit.  They are not cheap.  So instantly I am entering into this with anxiety; spend that kind of money on a single kit - if I mess it up.... nope, not going to go there ;)

So, kit ordered, arrives and I crack that puppy open to see what I have gotten myself into.

Holy crap.   A far cry from the polystyrene injected molded utopia of my youth.  It was quickly apparent gone are the days of clearly stepped instruction, marked parts, and good old A1 -> B2 alignment pins, and molded features.

My first thought when opening the box was Pinocchio puked in my model kit.

Well, put that aside and figured I would start reading the instructions - uh boy.

Instead of boxes lined out in clear steps the first thing I see are 3 large fold out schematics of the ship with dimensions and guidelines and rigging patterns, knot selections and a whole bunch of nautical jargon that I am sure is helpful in building this ship; if I had a clue what it meant!!!

Well - all that aside; I calmly centered myself and decided lets start with the very basic goal. That goal, as simply stated as possible was...

Make this.

Look like this.
(The next three images are from the catalog - Model Shipways - Phantom )

What have I done.
(And this is a "beginner" boat. /sigh)

I actually started working on this kit just about a week ago; only recently decided to blog it mainly for my own record of work and to see it progress but also just for kicks.  I really have no idea if anyone is interested in this kind of thing; but on the off chance - hope you enjoy it.  At the very least you can laugh at me/with me along the way; I am sure this will be an exercise in patience unlike anything I have dealt with.  Being my first kit; I am not holding any delusions of Smithsonian quality display piece; I will be very happy with something that looks like a ship and resembles the phantom and not a dingy =)

Anyway - next up;  Carving the hull.

Oh did I not mention that you have to carve, shape, sand the parts yourself?  And, did I leave out that of all the things I have done - woodcarving is not one of them? /facepalm.