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February 2019: 8 people January 2019: 16 people December 2018: 6 people November 2018: 11 people October 2018: 9 people September 2018: 13 people August 2018: 5 people July 2018: 8 people June 2018: 8 people May 2018: 7 people April 2018: 9 people
The superstructure of the launch is very simple, and from a practical point it was designed to give the crew a large field of view across the river and fast access in and out to deal with emergency situations. Consequently the construction is quite basic and would be quite straightforward if permanently fixed to the boat but this cabin needs to be removable to give access to the battery location and motor. Because of this the cabin needs to be a strong and rigid structure of its own and yet fit invisibly to the rest of the model, it’s also only a three sided structure because of the open access at the rear and that alone will be a point of weakness to the structure. I started by glueing the internal bracing strips to the insides of the deck sides as described in the instruction sheet and some strips that form the base for the sides that sit on the deck, these also needs to be sanded to an angle to sit flush on the deck and also create a vertical face that some further strips are fixed to which meet the inside walls of the deck well. Although all the parts for the cabin are accurately laser cut I chose to do a dry ‘test fit’ using pins and elastic bands to hold the side panels and roof braces together. This 'dry fit' was neccessary because I had previously decided to fit false obeche panels over the balsa sides and floor of the well to get a better surface to finish in the way I intend, balsa does not have any pleasing grain and does not look good even when stained, so I pinned all these panels in place to account for their addition to the internal dimensions of the well deck. When I was happy that the geometry of the side panels and front window panels was correct I glued all the roof braces in place and added some reinforcing fillets to make it more rigid, temporary braces were glued across the front and rear of the assembly to keep the whole thing rigid and square during further assembly. The pins and rubber bands were used to pull in the side panels while the aliphatic glue set. All of this was done with the cabin on the boat so that the correct ‘dry’ fit converted to a permanent fit. Part 2 will continue with the addition of the front window panels and roof.
Because I am keen to conceal as much of the wiring as possible I have decided to place the battery at the bow and the operational equipment at the stern, the engine on the original boat was central and covered with a soundproof box and this is convenient as the motor can be positioned and concealed in the same way. This means that some of the wires will have to run the full length of the boat and the easiest way to conceal them is to run them beneath the ‘box’ around which the hull is formed, and this needs to be done before the bottom skins are fitted. Holes were bored through the bulkhead formers under the port side of the hull and battery cables were run to the stern where the ESC will be and three motor wires from the ESC run to the centre, emerging near the motor position. For good measure I put in a servo cable and a separate draw wire just in case I needed to put more cabling in for any additional features, perhaps working navigation lights? Satisfied that I had all the cabling in place I was able to fit the bottom skins starting with the starboard side first. Before doing so I put a very slight 'hollow' in former F1 which should help blend the shape of the the hull where the ply skins meet the balsa blocks that will to be carved and shaped to form the bow. This can be seen in the last picture. The process of forming and fixing the skins is the same as for the side skins but in addition to the pins holding the skins in place I used some brown polythene ‘packing tape’ to pull the skins tightly against the bulkhead formers and strakes. The packing tape has a very high tensile strength and is ideal for this, and of course cheap and easy to remove. Once the aliphatic glue had set thoroughly overnight I removed the excess from the skins with a small block plane and finished them with my sanding plate. Before I fit the skin at the stern I will have to arrange the water cooling for the ESC, with the pickup just behind the prop and the outlet on the stern. I’ll cover that aspect in the next update.
The side skins are made from 1.5mm ply and require a slight curve towards the bow and I found that this is best achieved by gently warming with a heat gun, which seems to relax the glue between the laminations, so that when bent to a gentle curve and allowed to cool will set the shape very easily. The skins are supplied are slightly oversize and when the skins have been bent they can be roughly clamped to the hull and then marked for trimming, also while the skin is clamped in place the positions of the bulkhead formers can be marked on the skin. Back on the bench the skins were trimmed with a craft knife (with a fresh blade) and then drilled with a 1mm bit to allow pinning through into the formers and strakes. Aliphatic glue was applied to the hull formers and strakes and the skin positioned so that the drilled holes were in correct alignment with the formers and then clamped and pinned in place. Because the skin was pre-formed to the hull shape the clamps and pins are not under much tension and the hull was set aside while the glue set. When the port skin had fully set overnight, the pins and clamps were removed and the skin was finished with a plane to remove the excess down to the strakes and the F1 former at the bow and the sanding ‘plate’ used to finish it all off. Where the side skins meet at the prow there needs to be a wide flat area for the external keel to butt to and so the trimming and sanding there will be done at a later stage before the bow blocks are fitted and carved. The process was repeated for the starboard side skin and while the glue was setting I gave some thought to a means of concealing some of the wiring that needs to run the length of the hull 🤔.
The bend was done using a "jig" and two strips of a thin plywood as a protection of the planks (nor to distort them by clamps as it happened for the first time). First, I cooked them a little, of course. When dried, they kept the shape nicely. For caulking, the epoxy (or aliphatic wood glue) could be "injected" into the gaps left between the planks. I have tried all three methods (black paper, epoxy and aliphatic glue) and went for paper, at the end.
Phil Smith, the original designer of the Thames River Police Launch, based the construction on a rigid box structure around which bulkhead formers are fixed to give the hull it’s shape, a design feature of many of the Veron kits. In the Vintage Model Works kit all the components of this box are laser cut and require no additional trimming before assembly, I have used Titebond 2 aliphatic glue throughout the construction as it bonds wood very firmly and dries quickly too. I started by joining the edges of the two sheets of balsa that form the base of the box, these were held firmly together with some scrap wood and weighted down on the cutting mat and left to dry. Meanwhile the box sides were similarly glued together taking care that the two pieces that form each box side are in perfect alignment using the laser etched vertical lines that mark the bulkhead former positions, these were also wedged together and weighted while the glue set. Once the bottom and sides are dry the ends can be added to complete the box construction, a try-square was used to check the box for accuracy and everything was held together with some ‘push pins’ while the glue set. As this box forms the foundation of the hull it’s essential that there’s no twist or anything out of square. This was all done in one evening, clearly the assembly of this kit could be completed quite rapidly if you really wanted too!
This is a small item but very visible on the wheelhouse and since the standard for this item has been set I have to follow suit. So first of all get some 3mm blue LEDs ordered and then it’s on with preparing the white metal body. I used by hand as suggested a series of drills increasing in diameter until 3.1 dia was reached but only 2/3 down the length from the front the smaller hole (1.5mm) was bored right through for the wires to exit. Arrival of the LEDs, first check the LED using my power supply, just over 3 volts seems to illuminate to the correct level. Next was to remove the shoulder on its plastic casing so the whole body does not exceed 3mm over its length and lightly abrade the outside to give a diffused light. Next cut the LED legs to 2mm from the plastic casing noting which is positive, next prepare the wires. I used Futaba servo wire cable 22awg which is very flexible and with the white signal wire stripped off leaving a red and black wire. These were tinned and cropped to 2mm and then quickly soldered to the appropriate terminal. Next check the LED still works! first hurdle over, I now needed to check the that when the LED goes into the body it doesn’t short out so checking the diameter over the widest part which is over the soldered terminals this was 0.1 below 3mm. I decided that shrink sleeve was too thick so I mixed some epoxy resin and coated all around the terminals, this proved to be satisfactory in both non-conductivity and dimensionally. Now the final test, using some aliphatic wood glue I slid the LED into the body whilst it was illuminated as it was a tight push fit, bingo it’s still lit – leave to set. I used aliphatic glue, as it would be easier to remove should I ever have to change the LED. The body still needs painting white but this will be done with all the other fittings at a later stage.
Adhesives are a combination of Epoxy for the structural joints and aliphatic for non structural joints unless the type of material is an issue eg white metal fittings adhered to wood would be epoxy and canopy glue for transparent components.
Now I am in the swing of planking I may as well do all the remaining decks that need planking. Therefore, very much the same procedure as before with a mahogany border, followed by caulking the inside edges of the mahogany border, then cutting the planks roughly to length, and then finally trimming on the disc sander for an exact fit. When all he planks have been dry fitted, they can are removed and glued with aliphatic glue. A couple of days to completely dry then it’s on with the sanding before finishing with sanding sealer I marked all the nail holes using the marking tool I made. This is all on this deck until final finishing which will be done with all the other decks.
I first cut the base material to size allowing a card thickness all round for final clearances. The lower deck has a number of features in it that need to be measured. I took dimensions from the plans and marked out the base. Again following the upper deck which has a mahogany boarder I cut and planed a further amount of 6mm x 1.5 strips of material. I started by outlining the mahogany boarders, Some years ago I made a mitring device for picture framing which has come in very handy for doing the corners. Having all the pieces cut they are then glued and temporally pinned in position until set. The next job is to prepare all the edges with black card and then measuring each plank across the width starting from the centre line. I must take into account how the planks sit against main access hatch and the battery hatch opening however, all seems to look good but until each plank is positioned and glued with its caulk divider it’s difficult to tell. When preparing each plank I first cut each piece oversize with wire cutters then using the disc sander I trim square one end, then place in position and mark for final length and finish again on the disc sander giving each plank a nice push fit Because lime planking varies in colour across a batch I numbered each plank across the deck varying the pattern of colours as I cut each to length. Next I cut a number of card pieces to length and start to glue (using Aliphatic glue), plank, followed by card filler across the half width, then repeat the other side. Finally the battery hatch and main access hatch are treated in the same manner. Next comes the finishing , I use a very fine grade on my belt sander (I attach a block on the underside of the main access deck to control the sanding process) to remove the majority of excess irregularities followed by an orbital sander for a fine finish. If there is any staining by the black card residue I simply remove it with a pencil rubber. Next I put the nail holes in again using the jig I made to ensure uniform spacing and then gave a coat of sanding sealer. Final finishing will be done as a complete assembly. Preparation of the side panels is the next process before final assembly
Hi there Colin I used 0.3 mm black card just cut in to strips using a rule and Stanley knife then using aliphatic glue, gluing each piece in followed by a plank and working across the piece, then removing the excess card with a blade followed by sanding with dry sandpaper, if there is any staining of the planks this is easily removed with a pencil rubber.
Having remade all the front cabin window frames I then decided to fit the acrylics into the opening (nice tight fit) all done! Or maybe not, someone then said how about “opening windows” it’s been done before. So would opening windows be a problem with water ingress? And would putting foam seals solve this problem? I’m not convinced. Having given the problem some days thought, how about going with the windows as planned which are now 1.5mm thick and inset into the surround. Then fitting an over window frame 1.0mm ply/plasticard with another thinner (1.0mm) acrylic window and hinging this above each window. This would solve the issue of water ingress and also give the appearance of opening front windows. Looking at how one other person approached this, it looks like the hinge was a brass tube across the majority of the window top and then a shorter piece the same dia tube at each end with an internal wire for rotation these short pieces are then fitted to the body of the inner window frame. These additional window frames can be added at a later stage and this doesn’t hinder the final finishing of the roof skins. So final fitting and adjustment and then pin and clamp in position the forward roof skins. When these are dry the window frames can be finally trimmed and then pinned into position and checked for fit then removed and then to each one apply the aliphatic glue and fit –pin and clamp in position
Hi dennisw - I use both Titebond 3 (green label) and the Aliphatic Sandable Wood Glue which I get from Cornwall Model Boats (not the first plug I have given them but no connection, just a very satisfied customer). It is described as "quick grab, excellent sanding, shock & weather resistant, bonds porous materials, ply, balsa and hardwoods, non-toxic and non-fuming". So far it has not let me down. Best of luck with your build. Smiffy
I haven't posted for a while as I have only been running on three cylinders, but all four firing now, so off we go. An edging is glued around the boatdeck, this then allows a thin piece of plasticard to be glued in place for the boatdeck bulwark, after the glue had dried, planks cut from a sheet of veneer were glued inside and out and the bulwark and finished with a teak capping. A cardboard template was made for the boatdeck overlay planking, this was then transferred onto 1mm ply for the planking to be laid on. Using planks cut from a sheet of veneer and cotton thread for the caulking, Aliphatic glue, a tooth pick and my best glasses the planking was completed. The finished planking was given several coats of clear lacquer rubbing down in between coats to give it a nice finish. Planking at this scale with fine thread as caulking is definitely a labour of love.
Before we continue I must mention some fine detail that should have been mentioned in the previous build update and that is the preparation of the cabin sides. Because the bow end of the cabin sides narrow there is a need to score/cut through partially in the places indicated in the build instructions, this is around the cabin side window and enables the side to bend without cracking the external faces, and this also applies to the rear of the cabin sides where it joins B5. The cabin side extensions can also be glued into position as well To continue, having secured all the bulkheads to the keel I can now epoxy the cabin sides to the bulkheads ensuring that the height is maintained side to side and bends smoothly round to the bow and stern. Allowing this to set for a couple of hours I can fit the deck stringers from ¼ x ⅛. These are cut to length to suite the gaps between the bulkheads and glued in place using aliphatic resin glue. I also added some extra support where the cabin side extensions are since its only a butt joint.
Hi Ed ABS and wood can both be glued with Epoxy (two part) but white aliphatic wood glue will work just a well on wood to wood joints. Billings kits I have built in the past did tend to give advice on the glues to use. A light coat of sanding sealer works well for me. Make sure you coat both inside and out and support flat sheets to prevent warping. A Build Blog of your progress would be great! Good luck