Thank you. That's where she's meant to be, what I had in mind when I started. The battery failure from her first sail was haunting me the whole time. This battery is 5 years old now, and the Tx battery is older and original to the radio. Everything worked great though I was sweating bullets the whole time. I realize now I didn't even offer my friend Mark a chance to sail her, which in hindsight was quite rude - I'll make up for that.
As soon as the cutter was off the build-board, I started on the launch. The launch is the largest of the ship's boats and the only one of them that's carvel planked. The build board was cut narrower for the reason spoken of earlier. Since the frame spacing was the same, I could reuse most of the marks. The stem, keel, sternpost, and transom plus a sternpost knee, were assembled. The forms were cut from balsa again, sanded to the line and rough beveled, then glued to the board. The ribs are 1/16" thick x 1/8" wide bass again. This time I didn't glue them to the forms at all, they're only helg by the rubber bands. Once they were on the forms, the keel assembly was glued to the ribs and the build board and planking commenced. When the planking was done, the stem and transome were cut free and hull lifted off the forms. The ribs between the ribs were added. The drawings of Constellation's boat didn't show anything more than their lines. I had little information as to their interior and hardware details. For the launch, I did know she carried a 12 pound boat howitzer and some information on that which gave me a little more about the boat's interior. Using Ivan as a guide (He's a 1:35 scale WWII Russian sailor and the model's first of some 30-40 eventual crewmen) I determined there needed to be a deck in the boat so that went in, but first I painted the bilges of the boat as I'd never be able to get in there after the deck went on. The launch was coppered. I used peel-and-stick aluminum duct tape to "copper" the bottom, and painted it copper. I have a 1:36 scale British frigate in the works, and this is how I intend to "copper" her as it's less than 1/4 the cost of Constellation's real copper. The launch has special tracks and rails in her for handling the gun. The gun can be shifted fore and aft, and the field carriage can be tossed in the sheets, and rolled forward on tracks of it's own for taking ashore. We're still a long way from Higgins boats here folks. 😉 There's more details to add, to boat boats; hardware, water casks, thole pins, oars, sails, etc etc etc. There's also 4 more boats to build; the 2nd cutter, whaleboat, and two quarter-boats just alike.
Building a model ship often means building several models because most ships have boats. Constellation had six. My method for building boats is nearly the same for building larger hulls and real boats - planks over forms. I have a 1:12th scale drawing of Constellation's boat's in particular from the National Archives. They not only printed me a copy, but gave me a .tif image which I easily re-scaled to 1:36. I reproduced the lines as forms extended to a baseline so the boat could be built upside down. I drew each boat's patterns and arraged each to fit on a sheet of copy paper. I print this on a full sheet label so I can rough cut them, stick them on the form material, and then cut the forms. I had a few sheets of 1/8" balsa sheet and that's what I cut the forms from. A pine plank was used for the building-board, and marked where each station would go, then the forms were glued on making sure each was 90° to the form and square to the center-line. A note on the build-board, it doesn't have to be as wide as the boat, and should, in fact, be narrower. Then you can access inside the sheer and planking and removing the boat from the forms will be much easier. A small plank of 3/4" stock will let you get rubber bands completely around the model, and it will also fit in a vice which is very convenient. The edges of the forms are shaped so the planks will lie flat on the surface, and not teeter on the corners. Using balsa makes this easy work, though you have to be careful not to snap them off the build board. I started with the ship's 1st cutter, which is a lap-strake, or clinker-built boat. (Only the launch is carvel planked) It's frames are 1/16" thick bass strips 3/32" wide. Each frame is dipped in ammonia and bent over it's form. I put a dab of glue at the ends that would eventually be cut off to hold it to the form, but for the frames on the wine-glass and hollow forms at the ends I used rubber bands to pull them into shape. Part of the reasoning behind using balsa for the forms is if anything gets glued that shouldn't, it's the form and not the model that will give-way first. The stem, stern-post, and keel are 1/16" bass, assembled together while flat. First the top corners of the keel were planed off to make a sort of rabbet. The transom is also bass as it stays in the boat. The transom is cut taller to reach the build-board, and partially cut at what will be it's top to make it easier when it's time to detach the boat. It's glued to the stern post and the build-board, the keel is glued to each frame, and the stem is glued to the build-board. This pretty much forms the rigid skeleton of the boat. There's two ways to represent lapstrake planking on so small a model. One way is to sand each plank so it's half as thick at it's top edge as its bottom. The planks are butted on the boat, thick against thin, giving the impression of overlapped planks. I chose to actually overlap the planks because the inside of the boat is open to view. Since each plank of a lapstrake boat overlaps the one below it, each plank has to be spieled, or shaped to fit, and the boat must be planked from the keel to the sheer. I divide the length of the widest frame from the keel to the sheer into the number of planks I want, then divide the lengths of the stem and the stern by this number. You'll find the planks will get narrow forward, and flare wider back aft. You may have to experiment a bit with the number of planks so maintain at least 2 scale inches forward and not more than 5 scale inches aft, or the planking will look nonsensical and out-of-scale. I planked the cutter in 1/32" thick bass. The first planks are the garboards, next to the keel. The next plank I places a strip of card along side and used a piece of plank against the edge of the wood plank to mark the card. The marks are actually the bottom edge of the plank. Each plank is shaped on it's bottom edge to the plank before, and it's top edge is straight. Then I dip it in ammonia and clamp it in place, where "clamps" are rubber bands, blocks of wood, pins, clothes pins, whatever works. Again, a narrow build-board allows the rubber bands to pull in as you reach the sheer rather than pulling them away from the boat. Once your brain gets wrapped around spieling, the planking will move along. But don't try to do too much too fast or you'll just get frustrated and ruin everything. Take lots of breaks. The planks need to be sanded thinner at their ends, almost to nothing, depending how much of a rabbit was cut into the stem. At the stern they run right off the transom and are cut flush. You can notch the transom into step for each plank to fit into, of fill the little gaps where they overlap with putty later. Since they're getting painted, I used putty. When the planking is done up to the sheer, it's best to add rub rails and strakes while the boat's still on the forms. I then finished the cut in the transom, cut off the stem near the build-board, and nipped off each frame where it was glued to the form. Then carefully lift the boat off the forms. Some form may have come off with it, and some spots may need to be reglued. I installed frames between each of the ones the boat was built on, putting a frame about every scale foot. Seat clamps, floor boards, seats, oar notches, lifting eyes, mast steps, etc, are all added bit-by-bit. before you know it, you've got another model boat. I'll get into the launch next.
I use basic enamel for plastics, fiberglass, metal, and wood. Typically Rustoleum, or a store brand like Ace Hardware, etc. If you're gonna clear-coat, check it on a test piece first. Rusoleum changed something a while back and their clear coat sometimes reacts with even their own paints.
After the sail, I added some hardware to the spars, namely jackstays. I also ordered some aircraft plywood and used it to make new winch drums. These are sized to my current plan of only bracing the tops'l yards. Hopefully, this is the last set I'll have to make. Seeing into the dark interior of the hull can be a pain, more so the brighter it is outside. Mark got some red LEDs to light up the dash of his old pick-up (ute for my Assie friends) and gave me a left-over section. It requires a 12 volt supply (I'm running 6) and red doesn't really help in daylight, but I like the idea. If I can find a white LED strip that'll run on 6 volts, this will definitely get put in. The stern also had folding bulwarks like the bow, but that wrapped all the way around. On the real ship these were replace with a fixed bulwark except for a couple of panels that allowed access to the stern boat. By the time the ship came to Baltimore in 1955, these too were gone, with all their hardware. Again, I'm not making them functional, and decided to built these on the model rather than as separate pieces like on the bow. The hinges are represented inboard by card stock and brass eyes. The barrel portion of the hinges outboard at the bottom of each panel will be a little section of 1/16" wood dowel. The forward bulwarks were epoxied in place and the support rods were installed all around. The tops are raw because they all get a bright cap rail (varnished natural wood) and I'll put that on when it won't get messed up with paint or glue. A friend sent me a box of stuff, among which was a nive little cat face perfect for my catheads. Only having one, I was going to cast a pair in resin. But I'm out of casting resin and epoxy glue didn't set up in a way I liked, so we'll come back to that. The tops'l yards on the ship are hinged iron bands, line with wood staves. I wanted to replicate that functionality not only because that's what the ship has, but because it would allow me to take them off the mast without unrigging half the ship. I cut some heavy copper I use for everything and bent it into two half circles; soldiered brass tubing to the ends, and sawed out the notches with a jewelers saw. If only it had been that easy. Soldiering here tended to un-soldier there, cold soldier joints wouldn't hold. I gave up in frustration. I changed the gun carriages based on some research I did, but I'll post separate entries dealing with them and the ship's boats. I went looking for information on soldiering little things, and took another whack at the parrels. This time it worked out much better. I reused the copper band and brass tubing for the main and made the fore the same way. I still have to make the mizzen tops'l yard parrel, but my soldiering has gotten much much better. Last May ('17) I took the boat to the Baltimore Port Expo for National Maritime Day again, surrounded by members of our newly formed White Rocks Model Boat Club. I didn't manage to get her controls set-up in time, so she didn't go in the pool, but sat on her cart and looked pretty. I put her courses and trys'ls on her for this. The trys'ls won't be used when she sails, but can be set for static displays. The courses will get used, but I'll be able to buntl them up as shown to reduce sail. Also to reduce sail, the t'gallants and royals will be easily removable, or replaceable, as the case may be, depending on what wind there is. That pretty much brings us up to date as of July 2017. I'll post something about the boats and guns in a bit, as well as any other progress that's made. There's far more detail, images, and notes at my website on this, and the other models I'm working on at: http://todd.mainecav.org/model/ There's a few items I skimmed, or skipped over, like her signal flags, that are covered in detail there; like the day she was almost dismasted by the garage door.
I wanted to use separate controls for fore and main+mizzen, but my "new" winch drums where crap, and I only had one drum, the wood disc and cardboard one I've been using. So, I linked all three masts together. It was very near the end of October, but the forecast was for light breezes and mid to high 50's (about 13°c). I rigged her royals for the first time, ran all the bracing through the tops'l yards instead of the courses. I redid the bracing plan to only use tops'l yard braces instead of both tops'l yards and courses. This simplifies everything, and hopefully it would be enough. I had a list of specific items to test, so based on that list, here's a report on the first time Constellation really sailed, under full control, in open water: First off, she was sailed in Rock Creek in Maryland USA. My friend Mark has access to the neighborhood boat-ramp three blocks down the street. He brought his "Son of Erin" along, rigged as a sloop (it's convertible) and his grand-kids who also lived nearby. So... 1. Test fit in car; she hasn't been in my Toyota Matrix yet. -It was tricky at first, but it worked. None or nothing else is getting in the car, so this isn't the preferred transport by any means - but it's nice to know it's there. Note in the photo, in the car on the left is the launch cart with the wheels removed, packed in nice and neat. 2. Test the new launch cart. -As noted, it broke down and packed away really nicely. The approach to the ramp was very steep, and I took her down head first so she wouldn't slide off the back of the cart. The bumpy ground made the model slide back a lot. I'm going to put a stop in the channel that will catch the edge of the PVC cap and should fix that problem. There's was also a lot of slop in the flag pole bracket, the hole for the bolt that holds the two parts is bigger than the bolt, making for too play in the handle. I replaces it with another pole bracket that fit more snugly. The wheels are hard and a bit jarring, especially on the ramp where there was broken concrete underwater so cars wouldn't sink into the silt. The handle was the bigger problem though, slopping up and down and flexing. Otherwise the cart performed as expected and I was really pleased with it. When I used it to one side of the ramp where there was hard sand, I had no problems at all. 3. With the royals set, she'll be sailing with the most sail so far. -The forecast was for Northerly winds up to 5 mph. Up in the creek that was variable in direction and speed, gusting at least to 15 now and then, sometimes from two directions! The model took it all very well, though my heart beat faster every time she heeled, I don't think she once got her gun-stripe wet. 4. Test fore tops'l yard brace routing. -No problems at all, everything worked are designed, for a change. 5. See how self-tending bowlines rigged on the main tops'l work out. -They seemed to function just fine. When the model was close enough to see them, they didn't snag or interfere with the sail or bracing. 6. Actually sail the model in open water instead of bumping the bottom in a shallow pool. -A combination of joy and terror. Every gust my heart raced, but she sailed great and went where I meant her to go from the beginning. 7. Get some pictures and video of the model sailing. -One thing that went wrong was my camera's batteries dying, so I didn't get all the pics and video I wanted. Fortunately, Mark was on hand and took some shots and video with his phone. In all, the day was a resounding success. Everything went well, nothing broke or failed. And she sailed! Not like her first sail where she barely made head way for more than a few seconds, but controllably, reliably, and fast too! I handled her by myself. Mark was there and offered his help, but part of my test was seeing if I could deal with it all 100% by myself. No problems. The awkward bit was sitting her on her ballast and lining the rods with their holes without her falling off. That's something I need to work out, otherwise no part of loading, unloading, launching, retrieving, etc, was more than one person could handle. In the end, what I though would work out back in 1999 did. Here's 16 minutes of that day's sailing... https://youtu.be/80b2au24rFQ
Fully set up, I'm guessing Constellation weights between 100 and 110 pounds (I haven't had the opportunity the get an accurate measurement yet). Taking her to events with pools requires lifting her into the pool. I haven't figured out a way to do that easily, or safely, or more importantly, alone. I built her to sail in open water, so the 2 or three times I have to ask for help at a pool isn't a big deal. I'm sure that most of the time I'll be launching her at a ramp or shoreline, and that I'll need to move her from the parking area to the shoreline, however far that may be. There's times I may be faced with a bulkhead, but like the pool, there's no easy fix for that with a model this size. My first plan was a hand-truck set-up like the picture of my friend Ray from RCGroups, and his SC&H model of Surprise, a very similarly sized model to mine. The hand-truck is plastic and the cradle is wood, and you can see it's pretty bulky to hold a 100 pound model. Ray said his issue with it was it floated. When launching he had to push it down to get the model clear, and when retrieving he had to hold on to it or it would fall over, while trying get hold of a big model with spars sticking out everywhere. If the water was choppy or boaters were making wakes, it was that much more difficult. He also didn't like that he had to go into knee-deep water, at least. Dan, also from RCGroups, and the fellow that developed the sliding-brace-winch, has an SC&H brig he's modeled as the US brig Syren. It also came with the same hand-truck Ray's Surprise did. Dan wasn't all that enamored with it either. He pointed out how when you lean it back to move the model, it put you in among the rigging risking damage or even injury. Dan altered his hand-truck into a cart and has not looked back. In my mind, it's a boat. I have a 16 foot sailboat, and to move it, and launch it, I use a boat-trailer, so it would make sense to make a boat-trailer for the model. I scribbled an idea on paper, but then turned to some old 3D modeling software so I could see it better. My model has a 4 foot long ballast tube bolted to the keel. So I figured a U shaped channel to cradle that tube and support the model would be the basis of the cart. While Dan's cart has worked great for him, I didn't care for his 3-wheeled arrangement. Like an actual boat trailer, I opted for a single axle right under the model. I figured this would be more easily maneuvered and handle terrain a little better. I figured on making the cart from angle steel I dould bolt together. I over-designed the thing a bit, drawing a framework that would cradle the model that the more I looked at, the less I thought I needed. Going back to my real boat trailer, It just had center support and a pair of carpet cover skids (bunkers) to hold the boat up-right. Simple is always the best approach - and I had just the right material to build this cart from - a steel bed-frame. This L-angled steel had the strength to easily carry the model while using a minimum of material, and it certainly wasn't going to float! Two girders would form a U shaped channel to cradle the ballast tube. I figured a rod axle would need support or it could bend with a 100 pound model bouncing on it, a third angle would be set across for the axle. A couple of upright posts with padding would hold the model upright. Nearly all the weight of the model rests in the channel, so there's not a lot of strain on the uprights. I didn't have a cutting wheel so tried cutting the bed frame with a reciprocating saw. Bed frame steel is hard, it ate both blades, and two more I bought before finally getting the three main pieces cut, though I had no trouble drilling it. I used the u-bolt portion of a set of wire-clamps to hold the axle. A bit of flat steel to brace the axle so it wouldn't try to twist. It's all held together with nuts and bolts. I wanted short pieces of steel for and aft to hold the loose ends of the channel, but I wasn't gonna try to cut that stuff again, so I just used some scrap 2x4. To hold the handle I tried mounting a wood block with a hole forward, but then I remembered I had a flag-pole mount from when I replaced a rotten post on the porch. It took some searching, but I found it and screwed it on. The wheels are shopping cart wheels bought new from Ace Hardware online for about $5 each. I looked into inflatable wheels to give a softer ride, but they were too expensive for me. I watch the local thrift shops though, and if something shows up with nice wheels, I'll grab it. A fender washer goes on the axle first, so the wheel doesn't rub against the axle support; then the wheel, another washer, and a hitch-pin holds it all on. I can pull the hitch pins and remove the wheels making it easier to stow the cart. The uprights are simple 3/4" pine with some pipe insulation for padding (as opposed to tennis balls in the 3D model). They're bolted to the axle support, but I want to alter that a little so they can be folded in to make the cart flatter for transport. The handle is an old wood closet pole I've had for a long time. A bit too old it would turn out, but that's a later story. I painted it white for visibility as it also serves as a guard to protect the model's bowsprit from cell-phone wielding idiots that seem to be the most common form of life on this planet now. I painted the cart blue, because it wasn't black, white, or red; the other colors I had. Unfortunately, I wasn't ready in time to the museum event, and didn't go, but I wanted to sail the model before it got cold, and see if this thing worked.
The maritime museum's event, scheduled for October instead of May, was cancelled as a hurricane blew up the coast and pushed water up the bay flooding a lot of coastal bay towns like St Michaels. I couldn't make the next Port Expo in 2016, but I tried to be ready for the maritime museum in October. I started making the forward bulwarks. The real ship had sections that folded down on bronze hinges a few of which still exist as she still had her forward bulwarks when she came to Baltimore. They could also be removed. I mad all the section as a single piece and I don't intend to make them functional, just something to snag and need to be repaired. As mentioned, the original winch drums warped and I made new ones with styrene drums instead of wood. These vanished around the time I moved and haven't been found yet, so I got some sheet plastic to take the place of the CDs and made a new pair. I have to say, I'm not happy with these at all. I did add a small block of Delrin to each winch to brace the drums against the pull of the braces/springs. Constellation's board at her entry port were carved. I took a photo of an original at the ship and traced it in PaintShopPro. Scaled it to the model and printed it. I glued this to some bass wood. I have some mahogany I can slice some thing slabs off of, and I may try using a rotary tool to carve a set for real, but till then, these will do. I tried to make the tops'l yard parrels which are iron hoops lined with wood. There's a pin for the yard's yoke to ride on, and the hoop can be opened and hinged to be removed. I wanted all that in case I need to remove a yard at some point without pulling down the whole rig. I tried it with some sheet brass, and again, I wasn't too hgappy with the result. We'll come back to that. So, I fiddled around with cutting combs to make hatch gratings, and actually managed to get something done, which led to making the main hatch cover. I had cut a bit of plywood as a cover, just to keep dust from going below while I was working - I based my hatch cover on this piece, framed the bottom; installed ledged for it to sit on inside the hatch coaming, and made gratings and fake beams on top. It's a bit simplified buy what the ship actually had, but it gets the point across. A couple of smaller gratings also got installed giving the deck a more finished appearance. I wasn't thrilled at bumping the bottom of a pool again, but the maritime museum is on the Miles River. I needed to be able to launch and retrieve the model at a boat-ramp or shore, so I started designing a launch-cart....
Constellation and Pride got stuffed into the van, and off we went. This year they had moved the pool down near the end of the dock and we got to be under the tent with the other exhibitors. I took Pride along this time as well. The director of Historic Ships Baltimore sailed on Pride when I did in 81. He was with the boat longer than me, and I think my model brought back some memories. The pool's still too shallow, but she sailed a little and looked good even aground. Pride got put in the pool for a moment, only the second time she's gotten wet. No sailing yet, her ballast fin isn't made yet. Here's a little video of Stella playing in the pool: https://youtu.be/Q9eBR-kax7k
I began laying the deck on April 5th. It had snowed as recently as the week before, but it finally warmed up enough to use glue. The strips were cut to 6-5/8" length, about 20' in 1:36 scale. I used a black marker on two opposite sides to represent the pitch in the seams. The deck was laid in a 5-plank pattern to mix up the butt-joints as much as I could. My research on her decking found she's had various styles and plank widths over her life. The earliest photo showing her deck that I could find, showed it straight planked with 7 or 8" wide boards based on the number of planks between her waterway and the main hatch coaming. Her waterway logs seem to be placed ON the decking, as there's no margin planks or joggling - even today. The planking was set with gel CA. Gorilla sells it in a nice bottle with a metal pin in the cap to keep the spout open. It would up taking 3 of these bottles to complete the deck. The planks are cut at a 45 on the ends along the fore and aft access hatches, to try and hide this seam as much as possible. Once the deck was down, I scraped it. The glue is more resistant than the basswood is, so sanding would have scalloped the wood between seams. Scraping makes everything level. Some lite sanding, more to polish than remove anything, was done last. I had planned to stain the deck a very light grayish tint, but an active naval vessel gets holy-stoned regularly and wouldn't be gray as the ships that sit at a dock today are. In all it took 455 pieces to complete the deck and there wasn't any scrap longer than 1 inch left over. In all I have 3/4" deck beams, 1/4" plywood, a layer of 4oz cloth and resin, and a 3/16" basswood deck - I don't recall why I designed it so heavy, but it certainly doesn't hurt the model at all, and I think the 3/16" square strip will prove to have been easier to set than the 1/16" x 1/4" planks Pride and Macedonian will get. The deck go a coat of water-based satin poly, and I stared working on hatch coamings, cap log, and waterways. The cabin skylight and two hatched forward of it, including the capstan, and all combined into one hatch where the battery is accessed, and which hides the aft ballast rod and main power switch. The cap logs Are 1/2" wide x 1/4" tall basswood that was tren'led, glued, and copper nailed, onto the deck, flush with the outside of the hull covering this seam completely. The the angled wood waterways were installed around the inside of the cap log, and the deck got a coat of oil-based satin poly. This actually leeched in and made the marker seams bleed a little. In hind sight, I think I'll go with paint over marker for seams in the future. The coamings got painted black. I'm not sure why the Navy painted deck fittings black. It was even common to paint to top surfaces of tops black. I wonder how many injuries and losses this cost the navy that white paint would have prevented. Anyway... Constellation didn't have "solid" bulwarks, but rather she had hammock irons bolted to her cap log. These were removed when Baltimore tried to pass her off as a frigate and tossed in the bilge. When the ship was restored as a sloop of war, they found all but one. These irons are designed to have wooden rails at their tops, inboard and out, and have holes so several lines can be run through them. The Navy in it's wisdom though, decided to wainscot them to appear as solid bulwarks, despite the additional splinter hazard that would be in battle. I wasn't making all those metal stanchions just to hide them under wood and tarps, so I made wood blocks sheathed in sheet bass, scribed to look like vertical wainscotting. It was the end of April by now, and the Baltimore Port Expo was in two weeks. I wanted to have hammocks in the bulwarks, as she appears in the portrait, but there was no time to figure this out, so I layered on some balsa and shaped it so it looked like tarps were laid over the hammocks. When I figure out how I'll represent the stowed hammocks, I can pull the balsa off easily enough. The bulwarks on, I made some fittings for the spencer masts; installed the eye bolts at the base of the masts; made some bollards (or whatever name they gave those posts), made and installed the catheads, which are laminated 1/16" basswood. I then started setting up a jury rig and her controls so she could sail at the Port Expo. I set her t'gallants and all three heads'ls this time around. By the night before the Expo, she was ready to go.
Once I was satisfied I had all the fairleads I needed, or might need (I put in some extras, just-in-case), It was time to permanently close up the deck. The luan plywood sub-deck had long ago been cut into 2" strips to allow it to take the deck camber and sheer. I had also painted on it's underside except where the deck framing was, so the paint wouldn't interfere with the epoxy. I got a few very nice days in October (2014) great for dealing with epoxy, and to take on this major step in the model's construction. There's a sinking feeling about this, like you've just locked your keys in the car. First I removed the mechanical decks below, cleaned out the hull, replaced a deck beam whose joint had never set right, and dabbed epoxy onto things I'd never be able to reach again. The mechanical decks were painted white. The turning blocks for the steering were epoxied in place; having been hot-glued in all these years. Now I painted epoxy on the entire underside of each strip to seal it as well as glue it to the deck beams. Working from out-board toward the center-line. I clamped the strips down, but also used copper tacks to hold it down that would be left in. In short order, the sub-deck was epoxied and nailed in place. Now the only access inside was through the hatches. All the cracks and seams on the deck were filled with polyester putty (Bondo), especially around the deck/hull joint. When this set, I sanded it, filled missed places, and sanded some more. Then a layer of 4oz cloth, left over from glassing her hull 5 years before, was laid on the sub-deck. At this point the deck was an integral part of the hull. I ordered 3/16" x 48" square bass strips to plank the spar deck. I was going to cut this from a maple board I hand, but could get what I wanted safely from the saw. I was concerned bass (lime) wouldn't be hard enough, but it's been great. As holidays and cold weather reduced the time I could spend in the shop, I made up the rest of her spars and their hardware; as well as framing up and installing the fore and aft access hatches. I also cut the deck strips to their length. Then winter came and stayed until April. Meanwhile I hemmed the rest of her sails.
When the yards are squared, the springs are compressed. I use springs that are just strong enough to push out the slack, not make bracing a battle between winch and springs. You can see how it works here: https://youtu.be/jWRBJpLYe6s
I've kept a log of this build on RCGroups forums since 2009. We share experiences, brainstorm ideas, and help each other out with a lot of the idiosyncrasies of RC square-rig sailing. A fellow there named Dan and I had a long running discussion on dealing with slack in the braces when there are prototypically mounted near the ends of the yards. This discussion led to the sliding winch. The winch servo, unaltered in any way, is mounted on Delrin blocks with holes through which pass a pair of brass rods. The winch can slide fore and aft on theses rods. A pair of aluminum angle hold the ends of the rods so the servo is off the deck and can move freely. A pair of spring are on the rods to provide tension by pushing against the winch. When the yard is square across the model, the servo is pressing on the spring(s). As the yard is turned, the spring pushes the winch back on the rods taking up any slack in the braces. I mounted everything on a pallet again, keeping it modular so I can get at things, and easily take them out if need be. While assembling it, one of the winches started acting strange. I replaced it with another one, which required, removing the winch drum screw and drum; unplugging the servo from the receiver; loosening 4 screws that hold the winch to the slide-blocks; then do all that in reverse to put in the new winch. I also got Servo-Stretchers that increase the the sail-arm servo's range from 90° to 180° and allow adjustment of the center position. You'll notice two servo-trays in the pictures; the other one is for the Macedonian frigate model. As the year went on, I installed bumpkins for and aft. Got some gold dry-transfer lettering and put her name on her stern. Made t'gallant/royal masts.Made a servo arm for the rudder servo that had cleats to allow steering cable adjustment. And installed fairleads for the running rigging below. All things that had to get done in order to put the spardeck on.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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)