Cookies used in this website are gluten free, wheat free and dairy free. By using this website you agree to our use of cookies. More Info
Login Below
Join Us On Social Media!
Get The Model Boats App!
Apple App Store
Android app on Google Play

Help Support This Website
or enter custom amount

(Non Contributor)

Help support this free
website and donate.

£285 a year is needed to keep the website and apps online. Please consider donating £5 or more to help towards these fees.
All donations are securely managed through PayPal. Amounts donated are not published online.

Many thanks for your kind support.

Model Boats Website Team

Donation History
February 2018: 7 people
January 2018: 25 people
December 2017: 7 people
November 2017: 13 people
October 2017: 9 people
September 2017: 15 people
August 2017: 10 people
July 2017: 14 people

Unique Visitors This Month

Website Members

Terms and Conditions
Privacy Policy

Model Boats Website
Active Users (21)
Login or Register
To Remove This Ad

Login or Register
To Remove This Ad
>> Home > Boat Building Blogs > Constellation
>> Permalink
Constellation Print Booklet
Author: Jerry Todd   Posts: 17   Photos: 383   Subscribers: 2   Views: 1692   Responses: 17   |   Most recent posts shown first   (Show oldest first)

Showing page 2 of 2   |   Jump to page: 1   2
On Public Display - Posted: 23rd Jun 2017
This would be the first time I ever put something on public display. Well, some drawings went up in a high school art show, but this was certainly the first model.
The Port Expo had set up a pool on the dock next to the N.S. Savannah. It was windy, with the wind whipping around the ship every which way. The pool wasn't deep enough for the model to sail, so she just sat there tied off to one end, or down in the lee corner. Not a big deal, but I got to talk to a few folks about her, and that was fun.

One of the other modelers told me about the model expo at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in St Michaels Maryland, in just two weeks! Last time I had been to that museum I went on a 170 foot barkentine, this time the boat would be a little smaller.

There was no way I was going to get much work done on the model in the time I had, but there was something I wanted to try out.
From the start I had a sail-arm servo set-up to handle the fore-and-aft sails, but I hadn't worked out how it would work. The heads'ls over-lapped and each had two sheets. When the model come-about, the heads'ls needed to be hauled over the stays to the other side.
When sailing a real boat, like my 16 footer 'Lydia,' it's the same thing. When you start to come about, you cast-off the jib sheet. As the boat comes across the wind, the jib luffs and comes across mostly on it own. The the new sheet is hauled in and made fast. I wanted to emulate that on the model. My solution was two loose arms with the servo arm between them. The servo pushes one or the other of the loose arms to sheet the heads'ls - but not both. Center the servo and both jib-sheets are slack.
It's incredibly simple and works on a single servo.
I cobbled the system together in time for St Michaels. We also got one of those pop-up tents, and a folding table. I was taking the Pride of Baltimore model, and the Macedonian hull as well. I was getting into this public display thing.

The Model Expo was great. There were a boat-load of modeler's and model there. The pool was much larger, but it was still too shallow, and Stella ran aground after sailing only a few feet.

Only Constellation went in the water, but all three models got a lot of attention and I spent a lot of time talking to folks about them.
The jib-sheeter worked great, though the servo only had 90° of travel and the Dx6 isn't programmable that way.
When I got home, I went right to work on another control mechanism I wanted to try - the sliding-winch.

Attached Photos - Click To View Large
Changes in latitudes - Posted: 22nd Jun 2017
After the sail I tried to figure out how to make the chain plates. The links below the channel are easy enough, but the doubled rod strap that wraps the deadeye was (and is) giving me headaches.
I was originally going to bolt the chainplates to the hull, but instead I intend to use round-headed brass wood screws, and I've installed oak strips inside the hull to give them something to bite into.

You may recall I'm modeling the ship as she was new, when her portrait was painted in 1856. There's nearly nothing showing what her stern looked like but one etching done of her in dry-dock in Boston in 1859 when she returned from her first cruise. Several painting of her contemporaries show very similar stern ornamentation. I already had the moldings applied based on the drydock drawing, now I made the three rosettes she still carries today - her "constellation of stars."

My first attempt was too think and bulky, so I started fresh with a bit of boxwood, and used styrene to apply details. Once done, it got a coat of primer and then I pressed it into clay to make molds for the casting resin. If I had a "Constellation Restaurant" my butter pads would all be molded like this :)

Checking into the fashion of the day for depicting stars and things astronomical, I painted the stars gold on a royal blue background. They were then epoxied to the hull and quarter galleries.

Soon after, I lost my job of 18 years, and about a year later had to move out of the house and in with my girlfriend. The models literally went on the shelf.

She sat on top of a cabinet for nearly a year when I got an invite from the director of Historic Ships Baltimore to bring the model to the Baltimore Port Expo celebrating National Maritime Day.

Attached Photos - Click To View Large

Response by Dave M on the 22nd Jun 2017
Great detail on the chainplates. The castings have made the model so authentic.
Sailing for the First Time - Posted: 21st Jun 2017
In April 2011 I set a deadline to sail the model for the first time on July 10th. I had places to go and other things to get done, so I figured that was far enough ahead to have her ready in time. There were a lot of things that needed to get done if the model was going to sail;
* Shape the still rough cut yards; fore course, fore tops'l, crossjack, and mizzen tops'l yards.
* Complete the yard trusses with mast bands and banding to attach them to the yards
* A gammon "iron" for the bowsprit.
* Rudder control & steering.
* New winch drum for braces (the originals with wood drums warped badly).
* Sails for planned sailing suit; 3 tops'ls, spanker, and jib.

She was basically jury-rigged, with all three course yards linked together to a single winch.

July 9th's forcaste was for perfect weather, light northerly wind, blowing up the creek so if there was a problem, the model would drift back to me. Unfortunately, I wasn't ready by the 9th and the 10th was light, variable, fluky, 90°, and humid.

The top mast fids were pulled and the topmasts lowered. The model with some tools, her ballast, and what I thought I might need were all placed in the truck the night before. The radio and main batter were put on charge.

Next day we drove the couple of block down the street to the Sloop Cove public dock on Stoney Creek. The rig was raised, ballast attached, electronics connected and tested, and she went into the water. With her ballast and extra lead I had she still sat 2" high in the water.

I set her out, but the iffy light wind sent he back, then she threatened to get tangled with a powerboat on a lift until I managed to squeek her out into open water.

She sailed a bit, but just when she'd get moving the wind would shift or reflect off something and catch her aback. Then suddenly she stopped responding at all. Something of a gust caught her and she headed for a dock. I headed over, which meant swimming, and not being a great swimmer realized I should have brought my flotation vest from my sailboat along. It being so hot, the swim wasn't exactly unwelcome, but it was a lot of work.

The model sailed right into the end of a dock about 100 feet away, bounced on her forestay, and basically parked there. I got her back to shore looking like a drowned cat myself, but there was no damage at all to the model. As it turned out, the main battery failed.

Attached Photos - Click To View Large
Controls - Posted: 21st Jun 2017
Initially, control of the sails, or rather the yards from which the sails hang, was going to be done with sail-winch servos; one for the yards of the foremast, another for the yards of the main and the mizzen mast combined.
Each controlled yard would have two drums, one to take up it's braces as the other payed them out. The controlled yards would be the fore course and tops'l yards, the main course and tops'l yards, and the mizzen coss-jack. This meant the main/mizzen had 6 drums and the fore mast winch had 4. The drums diameter corresponded their yards as each brace was of a different length because of the distance from the centerline that the brace was attached to the yard. Since each brace was being controlled by one winch turning at the same speed, the difference had to be made up in the drum diameter. The flanges separating the drums were compact-discs (CDs).
The point where the brace attached to the yard describes part of a circle as the yard is turned. The winch drums too, are circles, but the brace from the yard to the point it turns down to the deck, is a vector. Because of this, both braces are tight when the yard is squared, but as it turns to one side, the take-up side stays taught while the paying out side goes slack. Slack on a winch drum is not a good thing, so some means of taking out any slack has to be devised. At this point I was going to mount springs on posts in the hull. They would maintain tension on the braces all the time.

The two winches and a sail-arm servo that would control the heads'ls and driver, were all mounted on a tray, or pallet, that would be screwed to the mechanical deck. One winch had to be mounted higher than the other so the drums and braces wouldn't interfere.

The real ship's yards were/are attached to the masts and pivoted on iron "patent trusses." I made my facsimile of them from aluminum with brass #2 screws, nuts, and eye-bolts I bent and threaded from brass rod. The clevis between the yard and the mast is 1/4" aluminum rod drilled through and shaped.

Attached Photos - Click To View Large

Response by Dave M on the 21st Jun 2017
Very impressive and authentic. It must take a whole heap of concentration to operate the sail controls.
Response by Jerry Todd on the 21st Jun 2017
The biggest pain in sailing her is the Dx6 transmitter, or any transmitter of that sort. I only wanted self-centering on the rudder, everything else I wanted ratcheted so it would stay where I put it, but the only channel with a ratchet was the throttle. I took off the self-centering springs where I didn't want them, but there's no easy way to ratchet them, and they move if you breathe on them.

Spektrum doesn't know for boat, or care for boaters, especially sail boaters. They sent me a contest entry questionnaire and the very first question was; "Do you use your radio for Helicopters, planes, or cars?" None of the above wasn't an option.
Response by Dave M on the 22nd Jun 2017
Manufacturers seem to ignore the model boat fraternity.
I use Taranis Tx as I can program it to do exactly what I want which is a boon with multiple servos to control. I do all the mixing on the Tx and output to the my chosen Rx channels from 1 Tx stick.
I suspect you will have to make your own ratchets. The vertical sticks probably have all the bits but the horizontal will not. Have you considered using one of the knob controls?
Masts, mast steps, inside the hull, the rudder - Posted: 20th Jun 2017
The model's lower masts are made of white cedar. These were cut square, a taper hand-planed in, made 8-sided, then round. The bands are the same brown paper tape the hull was covered in.
A visit to the real ship in Baltimore to get measurements, and look at some artifacts netted me some bits of live oak original to the ship. The Navy began stockpiling live oak for ship-building in 1816 with the Gradual Increase Act. It was from these stockpiles that Constellation was built. These trees were as much as 200 years old when cut, so this wood I have could be as much as 400 years old. I wasn't sure how to incorporate this bit of the ship into the model, and opted to make the mast steps from it. One piece is the size of a business card and stamped USS Constellation 1854. I'll stamp the year she's finally finished and my name into that and install it as her builder's plate.

The masts step on what I call her mechanical decks. These are simple 3/8" plywood panels where her mechanics and controls will be mounted. Beams were epoxied into the hull for them, and they are held in place with brass wood screws. The aft deck is where the mizzen steps and the rudder servo is mounted. The battery lies on it's own deck just abaft the main mast as low as it can possibly be inside the hull.

The cross-section drawing shows deck beams, decks, ballast rods, the external ballast, etc etc etc.

The rudder is made from Plexiglas as shown in it's drawing. A brass tube passes through the stern that the rudder's head just fits into. There's no room behind the rudder head for a bell-crank setup to work, so I again went with real boat tech and installed a tiller, made of copper plate soldiered to a set-collar.

There's a couple of pictures of the aluminum tubes for the ballast rods in there.

You may want to right-click on an image, like the drawings, and "View Image" then click on it to see it full size and legible. Use the browser's "back" button to get out of that.

Attached Photos - Click To View Large
water, paint, copper - Posted: 19th Jun 2017
The gun deck isn't modeled. I was building a model intended to sail in open water and didn't want to deal with open gun ports, hatches, etc.
After glassing the hull, she got beams for the spar deck installed. 3/4" x 3/4", they're probably a bit more than was needed.
Tubes were installed for 5/16" stainless threaded rods that would hold her external ballast on. The forward one will be disguised as her galley stovepipe, the aft one is hidden under the cabin skylight. The ballast is a 2" i.d. PVC pipe about 4 feet long, filled with lead bird-shot, and weighing some 42 pounds.
With that much done, I took her to the creek to see her float, but I forgot the rods. A few days later I took her out again, remembering the rods, and put her lower masts in her.
Now baptized, I applied the moldings and trim on her stern, and built up her enclosed head.
Her gunport were molded in resin in the closed position with the guns clamped in the openings and a tampion in the muzzles. These were epoxied into gunports cut from the outer layer of glass and wood battens, leaving the matting in place as a backer.
Then she got some paint, mainly because I was getting tired of her looking like a barkless log. The bottom was painted with copper paint, but three rolls of 1/2" wide peel-n-stick tape had just arrived and I started into coppering her bottom right off.
Copper plates are nailed on with copper nails with counter-sunk heads through pre-punched holes in the copper sheets. The are FLAT with with a little hollow where they're driven in just beyond flush with the surface. They are NOT round headed nor look like rivets as so many models insist are doing. I pressed an impression of the nails into the face of each plate. Installing them pushes this dent back out and leaves a little circle that looks as it should.
It took about a week to do one side, and I took a break to make the tops for the lower masts, then continued onto coppering the other side. It was bright and beautiful when finished, but it wouldn't stay that way. Copper doesn't turn green when submerged, any copper coin will show you it turns brown. I wanted her bottom to brown somewhat, but not too much, and I figured to let that happen naturally. When it got where I wanted it, I'd clear-coat it to lock it in.
Two yards of Dupont Supplex cloth was ordered to make her sails. This is the stuff SC&H used on their square-rigger kits and it's great for making sails. Being a nylon, you cut it with a hot-knife, and use a pointed tip in a soldering iron to make grommets. I drew on the panel seams with a .03 marker as even the finest stitching is over scale even at 1:36. Top-cloths, corner reinforces, reef bands, etc, are all cut from the same cloth and glued on with fabric adhesive. The only sewing was of the bolt-ropes. These are done by hand much the way real ones are - I've sewn a few miles of real bolt ropes in my time. There's really no substitute for this if you want a functional scale appearing sail. A machine can't sew it properly, in the right position, or securely.

Attached Photos - Click To View Large

Response by Dave M on the 20th Jun 2017
Some really good methods here. I am impressed with the copper plates. Where did you source the Peel-n-stick tape? Is it a tool for making the impressions or did you make them all one by one?
The sail making is really enlightening. Were you involved in professionally making sails as you seem to have more than a passing knowlede?
I am sure we will all benefit greatly from your shared knowledge.
Constellation - Posted: 19th Jun 2017
This model was started in February of 1999, and has been worked on, at best, in fits and starts. While progress has been made, and it's capable of sailing, it's far from finished.

It began as plywood paneling pulled from the walls of my first house and cut into frames. It was to be planked with white pine strips, also scraps from remodeling, but I was distracted by a book. Nasty things books, put all sorts of ideas in your head.
I got the idea of making a plug for a mold so I could turn out THREE hulls! One for me, one for sale, and one to be donated to the real ship. To that end, and with the inspiration of the book, instead of planking, I battened the hull and sheathed it with brown paper wet-n-stick packing tape.
Let's just say, that wasn't a good idea and leave it at that.

A lot of life changes happened; moved to a farm; got unmarried, sold the farm, got an apartment, got a house with a workshop, and 10 years later, recommenced work on the model.

I continued on with the original plan for about a day when I shifted gears and decided to glass the "plug" and make it a hull. I proceeded to prep it to that end, but looking back, what I should have done was strip it down the the forms and start again, planking it properly. Instead, I covered the outside with 4oz cloth, filled between the battens with poly resin and glass matting.

The images show the model from it's start to it's glassing, though the site won't allow me to dictate the order in which they're presented - sorry for that.

The model is of the American sloop of war Constellation launched in 1855, and as she appeared in Naples in 1856 based on a painting of her by Thomas deSimone.

She is 1:36 scale; 1 inch = 3 feet.
Beam: 13-5/8" (34.6 cm)
Length on deck: 61" (154.9 cm)
Length between perpendiculars (American): 59-1/8" (150.2 cm)
Draft, without ballast keel: 7" (17.8 cm) With 3-1/2" ballast keel: 10-1/2" (26.7 cm)
Weight, with ballast: Approx. 100 pounds (45.36 kg)
Length over the rig: 95" (241.3 cm)
Width over the rig: 30.5" (77.5 cm) ~ Main yard w/o stuns'l booms.
Height bottom of keel to main truck, without ballast keel: 65" (165.1 cm) With ballast keel: 69" (175.3 cm)
Total Sail Area: 2,807.01 square inches in 17 sails (19.5 sf, 18,110 scm, 1.8 sqm)
Working Sail Area: 1,836.1square inches in 13 sails (12.75 sf, 11,845 scm, 1.2 sqm)

Attached Photos - Click To View Large

Response by Dave M on the 19th Jun 2017
For all its iterations the end result has remained true to the original and the model sails very realistically.
It would be good to see another post to the blog showing the electrics and another the sails.
Response by Jerry Todd on the 19th Jun 2017
You can't expect me to post 18 years in one go! 😁
Response by Dave M on the 20th Jun 2017
Course not but we can expect some really good blogs judging by what you have posted so far

Showing page 2 of 2   |   Jump to page: 1   2