Constellation, the sloop of war c.1856 in 1:36 scale for R/C sailing

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#41
I started on the launch next. First I narrowed the build-board so I could get my clamps in easier. Stood up the stem, transom, and keel. There's a sternpost knee in this boat, so this got installed now.
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...and once again, planking - carvel this time. When the planking was done, the boat was lifted off the forms, and the rest of the ribs installed.
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Seat clamps and floors were put in and some paint, since I would be able to access in here later. Decking went in, and an aft seat.
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The launch is actually coppered. I used peel and stick aluminum duct tape from the home supply store. that came in a million mile long roll about 4" wide for $20.
This was painted with copper paint and will eventually get "weathered" to be more brown and aged looking. I intend to copper my 1:36 scale frigate Macedonian in this method as it's a LOT cheaper than the real copper I used on Constellation's hull.
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The launch carried a 12 pounder "boat howitzer" that can be mounted as a shifting gun in the bow or stern, or on an iron "field carriage" that sits in the stern sheets. There's tracks over the seats to allow the carriage to be rolled forward, and to facilitate moving the gun itself from fore to aft.
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#42
Here's the arrangement for a ship's launch and it's boat howitzer. There's iron fittings that go on the boat that are waiting for me to learn photo-etching to get made.
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The gun has a sort of sled for use in the boat as a shifting gun, and a wheeled iron carriage for use ashore. I'll most likely make the model of wood and sheet styrene with some photo-etched parts. The field carriage seems to have randomly had iron or wooden wheels - I think I'll go with iron.
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Here's an original, and a reproduction. Not the field carriage on the repro has wooden wheels.
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The cutter got some details and bot boats got painted. I made a temporary hatch cover for the main hatch to keep dust and stuff from getting in the hull while the deck work was being done. I made a couple of boat chocks and glued them to this hatch so the boats could be on the model when she's displayed.
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#43
Constellation's bulwarks forward and aft are made up of hinged panels that can be lowered or removed to not obstruct firing the pivot guns. The "folding bulwarks" at the bow remained on the ship right up till she came to Baltimore in 1955 when they were removed by those trying to turn her into a frigate. Like the iron stanchions, the bronze hardware was tossed into the bilge and was recovered during the last restoration back to a sloop of war. The aft folding bulwarks were partially removed by the 1890's, and completely replaced by a standing bulwark by 1914.

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It was tempting to make functional folding bulwarks, but it just seemed like a lot of effort for something little used, and something to snag the jib sheets and need to be repaired constantly - So I made them as one piece. They are basically some pine framing covered on both side with bass sheet. These are epoxied in place with brass pins as extra support. The hinges are represented by cardstock with brass eyes. The bulwarks get end pieces and the folding bulwarks get a varnished cap rail which will go on later so they don't get messed up with paint, etc.
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I fiddles with a little Harbor Freight 4" "table saw" to make "combs" for hatch gratings. Once I managed to get some decent results I went ahead and made some hatch gratings. These included the galley hatch, fore and aft ammunition hatches, and the main hatch. I used the temporary plywood cover for the main hatch by framing it underneath, and building a ledge inside the hatch coaming. The hatch cover hooks on the ledge forward and lifts at the aft end. Some sort of gasket will go in later to seal the hatch a bit, and a locking mechanism will go in the aft end of the hatch cover to keep it blowing open.
The ship's main hatch was covered by a slew of square hatch gratings, I only made seven. The boats are still temporarily installed on the hatch while I'm searching for how the boat chocks were made.
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#44
The Model Expo at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum was coming up and I was hoping to sail Constellation in the river where she was meant to sail, but other issues got in the way. One item was a way to move and launch a 100 pound model. Last time at Baltimore two of us had to lift the model into and out of the pool, but I needed to be able to handle the model alone. Transport of a large model is a big deal. You need to move it, launch it, retrieve it, without damaging it. The #1 consideration on the size model you want to build is how you're gonna move it around.

SC&H provided a hand-truck set-up with their kits, and thinking of launching from low docks and bulkheads, I was leaning towards that idea, but the more I looked at it the less I liked the idea. In the pics below you'll notice when you lean the truck back, it puts you into the rig where you can snag, break something, or get poked in the eye. Add to the launching where there's boats making wakes and things get even more complicated. Ray, pictured below with his HMS Surprise, told me he had problems with his plastic framed cart with inflatable wheels, floating. It required him to always have a hand on the cart or it would fall over.
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I have a small sailboat and I transport and launch it on a trailer. So I began to investigate that approach. Lots of modelers seem to go with this approach. Dan even altered his SC&H hand-truck into a trailer like cart for his brig Syren.

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As I'll be sailing more often than not, on local creeks and launching from beaches and boat ramps, the trailer type seemed the best bet to me.
I sketched various ideas with certain concepts in mind, such as; it cannot float. Since I don't have a fin sticking out of the bottom, I could keep everything low. I based it all on a channel that would cradle the ballast tube, a frame-work that would hold the model up-right and guide it on and off the cart. I have some angle steel bed frame I figured on building with. To make it easier to play with the design I built it in some free 3D modeling software.

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The more I looked at it the more two things jumped out at me. It would weight a ton! and I had forgotten the primary directive - simplicity.
So, "back to the drawing board"
With the model on it's ballast,sitting on the floor, it takes almost no effort to hold it upright. So I paired down the design to basically being a carrier for the ballast.
Two pieces of angle steel form the channel, one piece across supports the axle. A couple of padded uprights hold the model up. A wooden closet pole is the handle. It could not get any simpler.
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It's essentially what Brian Clark built for his HMS Killingsworth, though I left off the roller guides.
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#45
First thing I found was that bed frame steel is really hard to cut. I don't have metal cutting wheels and such, and the three pieces I managed ate 4 reciprocating saw blades by the time I was done. I wanted two short pieces to brace the ends, but used much easier to cut wood blocks instead.
The wheels are grocery cart wheels ordered from Ace Hardware on line. The axle is steel rod from the local home supply. Everything is bolted together with 1/4"-20 round head machine screws - no welding. The rod axle is held to the angle support with a pait of 1/4"-20 wire clamps without the clamp portion. Some flat iron I had laying about is used to brace the axle to prevent the cart from racking.
The handle is some old closet pole I had with a 3/4" dowel through it to make a t-handle. It's attached to the cart by a 1" flag-holder.
The wheels get a washer on the axle so they don't rub the angle axle support. They also get a washer outboard and a hitch pin that holds them on. I can pull the pins and remove the wheels without tools.
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The up-rights that hold the boat up are just some pine with some pipe insulation for padding.
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I was going to paint it red, but I had blue paint, so blue it became. I painted the handle white for visibility.
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#46
Since I wasn't going to make it to St Michaels this year I did want to get in a sail before the cold set in. The launch cart was a big part of facilitating that, but there were other things to do.
I've got this thing now that I want there to have been some sort of visual progress made on the model each time she sails. The bulwarks and gratings count there, but I also hemmed up and set the royals. I would loved to have set the courses too, but there's issues there that aren't so simply fixed.
A not so visible item added was a "servo stretcher." My Spektrum Dx6 radio isn't "programmable" in that regard, so the servo stretcher lets me set the travel limit and center of the sail-arm servo that sheets the jibs and driver. I could now get the full 180° of travel from the servo instead of the 90° I normally got.
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I also decided to simplify the yard braces. I was originally going to have servo driven braced for the cross-jack, main, and fore yards; and the main and fore tops'l yards. I reduced this to only bracing the three tops'l yards alone. Every sail so far had the main yard braced, and the other yard connected to it so they all worded together. This time I braced the fore tops'l yard and connected the other tops'l yards to it so they all worked together. Eventually, the main and mizzen will work together separate from the fore. For testing I had been using some cotton cord I had laying about, but it tended to fuzz, and bind, so I broke out the rope-walk and walked out a few 11 foot lengths of Dacron line, which worked like a charm.
The foretops'l braces were rigged as they were on the actual ship. They're tied to the main-stay, run out to blocks at the yard ends, back to a couple of blocks to guide them clear of the main tops'l and under the main top, then down to the pin rail, or in this case through the deck and to the winch. The brace is threaded through a hole in the winch-drum's hub and 4 turns taken around it before it's lead up to the yard, so there's no way to make adjustments at the winch. Any adjustments are made where they anchor on the main-stay.
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Speaking of winch drums; I still hadn't found the new set I made, so I ordered some sheet plastic and made another set with extra drums for handling the courses. These were basically failures and wound up in the scrap plastic bin and once again I used the wood and card "mock-up" I've been using since her second sail.
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I would liked to have set the courses, I got them and the trys'ls hemmed as well, but handling the courses is another whole can of worms.
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First off, I want to handle the tacks more-so than the sheets. The tacks are what haul the clew forward when close-hauled, which is more important on a model. I had added drums to the newest winch drums for that purpose, but it trying to work it out I found it wouldn't. The problem is slack and the lines coming off the winch drums because of it. I came up with several ways of dealing with it, all of which meant more mechanics, motors, and stuff hard to fit in the hull and be able to access.
The simplest way of dealing with the courses, is the "Bentinck-boom," which is simply a yard at the bottom of the sail. The foot of the courses gets pulled around like the rest of the yards not directly controlled. Rather than an actual yard, it would be a rod set into the foot of the sail to have the same effect. I'm going to place this rod in a pocket in the foot of the courses so I can remove as I want to be able to bunt up the sail to reduce it when the winds stronger. For this sail, the courses were put on hold.

Another thing I wanted to try this sail was "self-tending bowlines" Bowlines pull the leech of the sail forward when sailing close-hauled and I found a reference to them by another modeler using the set-up pictured below.
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Here's some video of testing the bracing before the big sail.

It looked like I was ready to go on October 26, 2016.
I had list of items to "test" with this expedition...
  • Will the boat fit in my Toyota Matrix?
  • Launch cart test; moving, launching, retrieval.
  • Self-tending bowlines.
  • Bracing only the tops'l yards.
  • Jib-sheeter with servo-stretcher.
  • Sailing in open water as opposed to a pool.
  • Doing it all alone.
 
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#47
So...
  • Will the boat fit in my Toyota Matrix?
Packed the boat into the car the night before, just in case it wouldn't fit. Once I broke the masts above the tops, it slid right in. ;)
Unfortunately, it takes up the whole car, including the passenger seat, so if I have to use the car, I'm going alone, and no other models are going either.
  • Launch cart test; moving, launching, retrieval.
In the pic of the model in the car, you can see the cart with it's wheels off to the left of the model; that aspect of it was great. I set it back up at the boat-ramp, put the ballast tube on it, and found getting the boat on the ballast was fiddly and difficult. The model doesn't want to just sit on the tube and wait for you to screw in the rods, it want's to fall off the ballast. I'll get to some ideas for dealing with this later...
The elevation between where I parked and the ramp itself was about 30 feet, and steep. There's nothing on the cart to prevent the model sliding off the back (the ballast bumps the handle-holder stopping it sliding forward). I took the model down the slope head first, but pushing it uphill backwards to the car felt like a disaster waiting to happen.
The ramp had broken concrete in the water so vehicles wouldn't sink in the silt. Getting the cart over this was a pain. When I retrieved the model, I did it on the "beach" to the side of the ramp. The trick to retrieval was getting the model lined up with the cart without some fluky gust sending her off somewhere. Still, this wasn't a big deal, just let her weathervane, line up the cart, and get in deep enough water that she floats into the channel. Once she about 1/3 onto the cart, she's not going anywhere.
  • Self-tending bowlines.
Looked to function as advertised. Chiefly, I never saw any interference with the yards bracing because of them. I only installed a set on the main tops'l, and they did seem to help brace the main yard better than without them, by pulling the leech of the sail forward.
  • Bracing only the tops'l yards.
If sail is shortened, it will be done by removing the royals, bunting the courses, then removing the t'gallants, finally leaving only the tops'ls. If that's still too much sail, then it's too windy to go sailing. Controlling the tops'ls then, by their own yards, is the logical approach. All the rest of the squares are pulled around by sheets and leeches. This concept is meant to make the model only as complicated as it needs to be, anything more is more that can fail.
  • Jib-sheeter with servo-stretcher.
I only rigged the jib and flying jib to the sheeter, the topmast stays'l was fixed at it's close-hauled position. I used some newly walked Dacron line for the sheets, which, like the braces, moves through the fairleads so much easier. My only problem was sometimes not being able to see what side the heads'l were sheeted to, but that's actually a problem of the transmitter not being conducive to sailing operation.
  • Sailing in open water as opposed to a pool.
This is what I built her to do. This is why she's the size she is. The battery failure of her first sail was always on my mind, and every little gust that heeled her in the slightest gave me that looking off the edge of a great height feeling. In the end, nothing failed, everything went perfectly, and she sailed! Fully under control, stable, fast, gracefully, every sail drawing, and at no point was I ever not nervous.
  • Doing it all alone.
My friend and longtime shipmate Mark was on-hand with his grand-kids (we were at his neighborhood boat-ramp). He offered to help, but part of my "testing" was to see if I could manage by myself. Getting the model on it's ballast was a challenge, as mentioned, and there's several tweaks to be made; but I did it, I loaded, unloaded, set-up, launched, sailed, retrieved, loaded, and unloaded a fragile 100 pound bundle of sticks and string without causing any damage to it.

I took a tool-kit, and other just-in-case items, including a flotation vest, towel, and change of clothes, though Mark's skiff was just 2 blocks up the road. I took a camera and tripod, and just after the opening of the video below, the batteries died and I didn't bring extras. Much of the video was filmed by Mark with his cell-phone while sailing his own model Son of Erin. Mark's a tugboat captain by trade and is used to multitasking.

I rank the day as a complete success, and it was celebrated with a pint of Guinness and a shot of Jamison's at Mark's house which did wonders for my nerves. ;).

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And now, 16 minutes of the day's sailing...

 
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#48
I needed a good set of brace winch drums, and after such bad luck with CDs and wood and plastic, etc, but actually good luck with wood and chipboard (card-stock) - I considered that aircraft plywood has served very well everywhere I've used in. I had some 1/8" stuff, so I ordered some 1/16" stuff and when it came in made a new pair of drums from scratch. These are also specifically designed for tops'l yard only operation.
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I also got in a bag of brass eye pins, and installed the jacks stays on all the yards.
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The stern of the ship had "folding bulwarks" much like the bow, but I opted to build them in place instead of as separate parts as I did at the bow.
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By Constellation's time, a lot more ironwork went into no only the hull's construction, but the rigging as well. The lower yards are attached by the patent-trusses covered earlier, but the tops'l yard also had iron yokes attached to wood lined iron parallel bands. The ship still has hers. I made mine from the sheet copper flashing scrap I've used for so many things in my models, with brass tube soldiered for the hinging part. The hex-head bolt and nut are from a model fastener company. The wood liner is just some sheet basswood CAed in place. I wanted them to function like the real ones so I could open them if need be without unrigging the mast to get one off.

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Last May (2017) I took her to Baltimore for National Maritime Day. Being busy with too many pesky real-world projects, I couldn't get her operational in time, so she only sat on display. I did bent on her courses, bunted up, and her trys'ls, brailed up, so she had every sail she's going to get.
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So, that's about where things are to the date of this post. My shop isn't heated, so not much happens out there over the winter, and it tends to be things for other folks.

The Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum moved their model expo back to May from October. It's a two-day event, but National Maritime Day is that Sunday so I'm planning to do St Michaels Saturday, and Baltimore on Sunday.

In the mean time the lady traded in her Windstar van for a Toyota RAV4. The RAV4 is bigger inside than the Matrix but I think the model will still take up the passenger seat and limit me to the one model and no passengers. This had me considering building a box trailer that could hold and store two models, fully rigged and ready to sail, but where I am you have to register and tag trailers, and I already have a boat on a trailer, so the cost of building, tagging, and lack of storage mean that's not a viable option. For this May's events, it looks like I'm going to rent a box trailer which will run about $55 US for the weekend. Cheap if viewed in the long term.
 
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#49
At the ship's little museum is one of her original companionway boards. To reproduce them for the model I traced a more head-on image of it in my drawing software, and scaled that to the model. I hope to get some wood like boxwood and actually carve them, but until then I printed them and pasted the print onto stained basswood. When the model goes out, these get tacked in place.

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I need to get some boxwood for a variety of little items that I need to carve; these end-boards, and the four plain ones that go at the end of the hammock rails; the ship's wheel, boarding steps, binnacles, and the turned pin-rail stanchions.
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Since she was built, the ship has carried some very intricate head carvings and fiddlehead all painted right over in black with a white gun-stripe passing through.
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After the last restoration, she initially came out with the carvings gold-leafed, before she was repainted more like she was in the painting above.
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This allowed me to take photos to trace and fit to the model to reproduce them at 1:36 scale.
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Actually getting them on the model has been another matter. I tried Skulpty, carving wood and styrene, string, and all sorts of things. I was considering photo-etch, which I've yet to try doing, when doing something with an engraver gave me an idea.

I printed the design onto paper and taped it to a pine board. I used the engraver by tracing directly on the paper image. Just to see, I pressed some clay onto the engraving and was pretty happy with the result. I've been experimenting with different materials to engrave to get the sharpest image, though I want to try plaster as yet. I'd frame around the carving so when resin was poured in it would make the back-boards with the carved relief on them and I could just epoxy them to the hull and paint over all that work. ;)
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#50
Spring finally came, which meant catching up on other people's stuff. I stole some time for the model but instead of progress it was repair. Trying to get it up on saw horses to work in the hull without crawling on the ground I managed to snap off the main truck. That's a little section at the very top of the mast where a flag is usually set. This is the second time I've done this. Last time I simply glued the piece back on, but I didn't think that would work this time so I went about making a whole new main t'gallant pole. Once made I wanted to give it some color, and looking for a stick to stir the stain I found a bag of 1/8" diameter bamboo skewers and decided to try a repair of the old stick.

To drill an 1/8" hole in the end of a 1/4" dowell is tricky. I drilled a 1/4" hole in a block of wood on the drill press and after cutting and sanding the end of the mast, and marking the center with an awl, I stuck it in the hole flush with the top of the block, and dropped in through the hole in the drill press table. The block hold the spar perpendicular to the drill press table, and hopefully, supports it some the drill doesn't tear up the end. I drilled a 1/8" hole 1/2" into the spar, glued in a bamboo skewer with gel CA, and cut it to the right length.

If it breaks again it'll be further down the mast for sure, but now I have a spare in hand.

New spar before stain
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Old spar repaired
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#51
I'm planning on sailing the model at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum (May 19th) and have a lot to do to get ready.

The great thing about the ballast tube is being able to detach it and handle a model that only weight 20 or 30 pounds. Putting in back on is a bit of a pain. The cart has two supports that the boat basically leans on. With the rods undone, it teeters on top of the tube and wants to turn and fall off, exacerbated if any sort of breeze is blowing. I played with the idea of adding more supports, and essentially building a cradle on the cart, but didn't like that idea at all. It occured to me to grind off the threads from about 1cm of the end of the rods to make pins that will slip partially into to the ballast tube, keeping the boat from moving around while I thread the rods in - worked like a charm. This is a big help for me handling the model alone.
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One problem noted the last time the model sailed was it's tendency to slide back on the cart. I finally installed a wooden wedge in the channel that catches the lip of the ballast tube's end cap. So far it seems to be doing the trick, and shouldn't interfere with launch or retrieving at all.
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I want to set the courses this time out, and couldn't come up with a way to control the sheets/tacks without getting overly complicated. So, for the moment at least, I'm putting rods on the foot of the courses that act as a yard, or Bentinck boom. For a rod I used a vinyl-coated clothes hanger and while sewing the bolt-rope on both sails, installed pockets on the clews, and a sleeve in the center of the foot to hold the rod to the sail while allowing it to be easily removed. This will hold out the foot of the sail, especially when sailing on the wind, and can be removed so I can bunt up the sail when there's too much wind.
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While I had the needle and thread out I attached hoops to the spencer sails. I'm going to sail her with all 17 sails set, weather permitting, and these can be brailed up if the weather doesn't permit.
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I would really like to get the lower shrouds on her, but the chain plates and deadeyes make this difficult. I made a few a while back, but soldering was giving me problems. When I made the parrels I went looking on the Net and found out what I was doing wrong, both in my soldering and filling my butane pen torch. That issue resolved, I took a shot at the chain plates again, with some success. The hardest part are the strops that wrap around the deadeyes (#1 in the photo of the real ones), this time it came out right, though it's still a very tedious part to make and there's more than 100 of them counting those on the upper deadeyes. There's a bolt that holds the strop to the strap-link (#2), I peened a brass escutcheon pin, but I'm going to look for some actual brass bolts which will save a LOT of work and be more in line with what the ship had. I made the strap-link by folding over some brass sheet, though I think I'm going to try some thinner sheet.
I'm attaching the chain-plates to the hull with brass #1 round-head wood screws which should allow me to take them out should I need to repair or replace something. #5 is a backing link that's half-round in cross section with an eye at each end, one of them raised to cover the first link (#4). I haven't figured how I'll make these. I have a list of things to photo-etch, and I think these will have to come from that.

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#52
The chain plates have been a thorn in my side for a while now. Finally getting the knack of soldering has extracted the thorn a lot, but not completely.
I made some strops for the deadeyes which was the thing I had the most trouble with, but the new worry is attaching them to the chain plates.
A bit of rod bent at the ends, under strain doesn't hold. The strop eventually pulls over the shoulder and comes loose. I have brass escutcheon pins (round head nails) that I nip to length and tried peening the end. I liked that idea the best, but the pins are bending more than peening. I see if I can find copper pins. The last approach is 0-80 round-head machine screws and nuts. That's the easiest, but it's expensive, especially right after replacing the transmission in my car.
In the picture there's a hex-head screw in the photo at the upper-left, the two lower ones are uncut pins, the two at top-right are peened pins. The scruffy looking ones were "blackened."
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A few posts back there was a fuzzy photo of the wythe (flying jib-boom fitting) I made to replace the original that was suffering from my bad soldering work. The hoop for the flying jib boom was a bit of tubing that was actually too big, so I cut some sheet brass and formed a new hoop the right size.
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Working on the model to get her sailable for the event on the 19th means putting her on and off the cart. The alteration to the keel rods made before have worked out great. I just unscrew the rods till the threads disengage and she stays put until I lift her off.
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Joined
May 12, 2017
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Location
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#53
Here's the keel rods with the threads removed from the ends.
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The tops of the rods are slotted so I can use a flat screw driver to tighten them up.
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Here are the trys'l sheets to the bits, the course's clew lines while it's bunted up, and the hook for the tops'l halyard are also shown.
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Here's the fore tops'l halyard hook
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The arrows point to the hooks on the halyard and clews of the t'gallants and royals to facilitate removing them to shorten sail.
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The loops on the crosstrees are the royal and t'gallant halyards. These will belay at their normal spots when I get the pin rails and such installed.
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A close look and you'll see the tops'l halyard chain tyes and gin blocks just above the lower mast caps. The trys'ls and courses are brailed up.
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Joined
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#59
It's been raining for days and the museum cancelled all outdoor activities, so I cancelled the trailer I was renting, and not going to St Michaels - again. I am still going to Baltimore, but there's won't be any sailing there. Also, I can't fit much more than me and the boat in the Matrix, which was why I was renting a trailer.
So, it's once more into the breech, literally, and tomorrow it's under the harbor and through the tunnel, to NS Savannah we go.
 

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Joined
May 12, 2017
Messages
50
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Location
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#60
Though it got a bit windy, it was warm and sunny all day at the Baltimore Port Expo.
There was the Nuclear Merchant Ship Savannah,
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and mini-Savannah
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They put in a nice pool to run the models in
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and there were, of course, models...
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Including my own...
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There was something of interest for everyone...
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