USS Essex (ACW) Text Build

Discussion in 'Ship & Watercraft Models' started by fishBait, Oct 17, 2013.

  1. fishBait

    fishBait Member

    The USS Essex is ready for the test build. For the next few nights, progress will be reported on this project. At the end of the test build, the model will be released for free download on Modeling Resource and Downloads Center.

    We will make the first few steps tonight. The Essex is an interesting subject with it sweeping curves and rounded corners. The test build should prove interesting.

    1) Identify the Hull Bottom and Sides on Parts Page 2. Notice it has the bulkhead and keel positions indicated around it (Graphic 1).

    2) Using a window or light table, turn Page 2 upside down and trace these keel and bulkhead positions on the backside of Page 2 (Graphic 2).

    3) Score the fold lines and then carefully remove the hull bottom and sides from Page 2. Be sure and cut glue tabs as shown (Graphic 3).

    4) Remove the keels from page 1 (Graphic 4).

    5) Remove the bulkheads from page 1. Fold up the outer hull walls to an angle approximating the outer wall hull side angle. Fold up the inner paddle wheel race walls perpendicular to the hull bottom (Graphic 5).

    More follows,


    Attached Files:

  2. fishBait

    fishBait Member

    6) Glue the keels and bulkheads to the inside of the hull bottom and race sides (Graphic 1). Do not glue to the outer hull sides yet. Be careful with alignment, you are setting the tone for the entire model at this point. Test fit, test fit. Clip the keels just forward of bulkhead 6 and make sure the alignment is accurate at the bow, at bulkhead 7 and the stern of the model (Graphic 3). Remove the small race entryway braces from Page 1 and install on both raceway sides just aft of bulkhead 7 (Graphic 3).

    7) Gently form and bend the bow ears around and glue to the bottom glue tabs. Glue the bow ear glue tag also. Form and bend the stern outer walls and glue the stern bottom glue tabs and the stern side glue tabs Graphics (4 & 5).

    That's it for tonight. More tomorrow night,


    Attached Files:

  3. fishBait

    fishBait Member

    8) Remove the main deck subpanel from page 3.Be sure and cut glue tabs around the bow section and along the hull sides back to former 6. Cut across the subpanel at bulkhead 6. Bend the glue tabs down and glue to the keels, bulkheads, hull sides and the bow arms. The hull should look like this: (Graphics 1 & 2).

    9) Remove the paddle wheel race top cover from page 3. Be sure and cut glue tabs around the back and up the sides to bulkhead 6. Cut across the top cover to match up at bulkhead 6. Cut out the paddle wheel opening. Test fit and make sure the paddle wheel opening is the same width as the paddle wheel race. Test fit and mark it well (Graphic 3)! If possible, use the paddle wheel cut out to cover the rounded race entryway. If not, then cut a piece from the unused forward part of the top cover to make the rounded race entryway. Glue in the rounded race entryway (Graphic 4), bend the taps up on the top cover and glue over the raceway printed side down. Glue to the keels, bulkheads, and hull sides. At this point, check the alignment carefully. With the curved main deck, some warping can occur and the extreme rear of the catamaran arms may not be correctly spaced. This is easily corrected using a spacer made of a popsicle stick glued to the underside of the top cover (Graphic 5).

    Attached Files:

  4. fishBait

    fishBait Member

    10) Score the fold lines on the paddle wheel parts on Page 1. Cut the parts free of the page, but do not trim out the paddles or the inner paddle wheels. Fold and glue the paddles and inner wheels (Graphic 1).

    11) Once the paddles and inner wheels are dry, trim out all the paddle wheel parts (Graphic 2).

    12) Mark the wheel mount so that when assembled, the inner wheels will just fit into the wheel race. Glue the paddle wheels to the wheel mount. Make sure that the wheels are all facing in the correct direction and that the inner and outer wheels are in the correct position. Each paddle strip has three paddles. Separate the paddles and assemble them onto the wheels, folded edge out (Graphic 3). Trim the paddles even with the outer wheels.

    13) Remove the main deck from page 4. Cut out the wheel mounting hole. Test fit the main deck on the semi-completed hull (Graphic 4). The bow and stern must align perfectly. If the deck is too short or too long, cut across it around bulkhead 6, and mount each half separately. Mount the paddle wheel assembly in the paddle wheel cutout.

    Note: So you can see where we are going, a peek at the future. The USS Essex is composed of grand sweeps and curves instead of straight lines and sharp angles. If you were actually building the boat, you could hold the hull up at this point and actually see the graceful sweep down from the bow to near water line amidships and back up to the stern. THAT IS WHY WE HAD TO START AT THE BOTTOM AND BUILD UP! The deck curve is referenced from the flat surface of the bottom. This can be clearly seen (Graphic 5) just a few steps ahead.

    Attached Files:

  5. fishBait

    fishBait Member

    Before we start with the next construction step, a short discussion is necessary. Consider Graphic 1, a view from the stern of the USS Essex; notice that a coordinate system has been added in the upper left hand corner defining the width, length and height.

    Now look at the deck on top of the casement, it is s separate deck with straight sides down to the casement top. Now there is a nice smooth rounded curve from the casement top down to the straight sides of the casement. That curve can be considered constant in the plane of (w,l, h=constant); that is the same curve applies all way around the casement. Call it "Curve 1", this is the first curve we have to consider.

    Now look at the belt line around the main deck from back to front. This belt line, though hard to see from this photo, is not a straight. It is a graceful curve from a high at the back rudder post down to awash at amidships and back up to another high at the bow. This curve is much greater than it appears from this photo, more like a elongated parenthesis laying on its side. Call this one "Curve 2". Curve 2 cannot be simply defined as constant in a plane since the height is variable throughout the curve of the hull, it is a function of three variables (w,l,h).

    Last, look at the curve of the casement back at the intersection of the main deck. At first, it looks like a simple half circle, but look again. The main deck is tilting downward progressing downward throughout the intersection, and can be described by the variables (w,l,h) in which none are constant.

    Why are you being bored with all this. For the simple reason, no unfold was found that would fit all three curves. The best efforts failed and the test casements were unusable. They looked great until you tried to mate the casement to the hull and the third curve showed its ugly head every time.

    So the final casement was calculated from the three curves and fits well. It is robust enough to be adjustable to fit minor construction differences.

    As we progress, remember this photo and discussion. More construction follows.

    Attached Files:

  6. fishBait

    fishBait Member

    14) Score fold lines and carefully remove the casement, casement plug, and casement deck from page 5. Decide which gun doors or access doors are to be depicted as open and cut out those openings at this time (Graphic 1).

    15) Turn casement over and use a window or light table to mark the exact placement of the casement plug on the underside of the casement (Graphic 2).

    16) Glue the casement plug to the underside of the casement, turn over and glue the casement deck to the top of the casement. Be extra careful with the alignment here. Use a heavy book to press the casement while drying (Graphic 3.

    17) We are striving for smooth curves, not sharp angle bends. Study the photo below, the armored casement side walls make a smooth rounded curve. Look at the toilets (previous post); even they have rounded back wall corners. The key to the Essex is a “well rounded model!”, pun intended. All of the joints have the standard “V” cut, but the cut extends past the vertex of the “V”. When the “V” is pulled together and glued, the cut at the vertex will bell out to form a curved joint. As the joint is glued, use the index finger to push up on the belled cut to form a uniform shape. Do not bend any of the sidewalls sharply down, just squeeze the edges and let a natural curve form.

    18) To achieve the desired smooth curve, the bottoms of the glue tabs must match the bottom of the joining surface. Otherwise, the bell out will be distorted (Graphics 4 & 5).

    Attached Files:

  7. fishBait

    fishBait Member

    19) At the stern, start on one side and work toward the middle. Make sure the bottoms of each segment are aligned and use your fingers to form a uniform curve at the top. Once you have reached the middle, start on the other side and work toward the middle until all is done except the actual middle joint (Graphics 1&2).

    20) Test fit the casement on the hull. Use your fingers to squeeze in the sides against the hull and see how the stern fits against the deck. The upward deck curve makes a pre-fit very difficult. Adjust that last center glue joint for the best fit and glue (Graphic 3). Glue the front casement mount bracket to the deck and the stern mount tab to the casement (Graphic 4).

    21) Glue the casement to the hull, make sure even pressure is applied to the side walls to achieve a uniform curve. Rubber bands make great clamps, but be careful not to crush or crumple the casement (Graphics 5&6).

    Attached Files:

  8. fishBait

    fishBait Member

    22) Using a sharp knife, trim the casement walls to create a smooth joint between the hull and casement (Graphic 1).

    * * * TRIMMING IS A NECESSITY! * * *

    23) Score down the center and remove a belt from page 1. Fold the belt around its long center line (Graphic 2).

    24) Glue the belt along the hull-casement joint. Continue belting around the entire hull, along the hull-casement joint where present; otherwise glued to the hull and folded over to glue on the main deck. Cut slits to achieve a smooth curve where necessary (Graphics 3&4).

    25) Remove the hull bottom center cap from page 1 and glue from bow belt to race entryway (Graphics 5&6).

    Attached Files:

  9. fishBait

    fishBait Member

    23) It is time to attach the gun doors to the casement. I have had a number of discussions with other ACW enthusiasts concerning the interior color of an ACW armored casement. It is obvious that the interior had to be pretty gloomy even though the doors were open. Many of us think that the interior would have been painted a very light color to brighten things up much like a modern AFV. Whitewash, an off white, cream all seem to be possible candidates. I have included a montage of Essex photos showing the inside of the open doors appear to be a very light color (Graphic 1).

    24) Making the doors thicker improves the depth of the model, so glue the gun doors to a light buff card stock prior to trimming them out. If cannon are desired, download kit BG-02, Naval Cannon. However, be aware that the gun carriage has to be narrowed to fit the narrow Essex doors. For unopened doors, simply glue the doors on in place. For unopened doors, glue them on to the side as shown in the montage (Graphics 2, 3 & 4).

    25) The three front gun doors are mounted on rails and slide up and down. Guns can be “run out” without opening the doors, but they were usually opened when firing. In this case, all three gun doors are left down with one gun ran all the way out and one ran partially out. The rails appear to be very light and probably could just be left as printed on the casement. In order to improve model depth, a strip of the buff card stock was used for the rails. The center rail and door top of each door was drilled to accept the actuating cable. Heavy thread was glued to represent the cable Graphics (5, 6 & 7).

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  10. zathros

    zathros -----SENIOR---- Administrator

    Excelent!! A model of excellence and a build thread to match!! :)

    I hope you are doing well! :)
  11. fishBait

    fishBait Member

    zathros - so good to hear from you again. I have missed your sage advice and comments. On to the build --

    30) Start assembling all the upper casement deck structures. Most of these structures are simple and require no real additional instruction. Only those with special problems will be discussed starting with the pilot house (Graphic 1).

    31) The pilot house consists of a truncated cone surmounted by a dome (?) or small flat cone (?). Evidence supports both possibilities and may depend on the period and rebuild version. For ease of assembly, this kit uses the small flat cone on top. In either case, the joint between the truncated and top cone is further re-enforced with what appears to be a large cable attached around the junction. Assemble the lower truncated cone using a butt joint and joiner of thin paper on the inside. Glue the floor into the bottom of the cone to maintain its shape. Assemble the upper cone in normal fashion and glue to the truncated cone. Use a heavy non-fraying cord to represent the re-enforcing cable and glue around the cone joint. There are 10 pilot openings spaced around the pilot house, but evidence on armor and shutters are not available. Glue on shutters are provided, but not used here due the small size (Graphics 2 & 3).

    32) Remove the smoke stacks from page 1. They are a long plain cylinder and designed to be assembled using a butt joint. If you build a number of models using such cylinders, start collecting short lengths of various tubing to serve as jigs. The stacks are designed to be assembled in a ¼ “ I.D. jig (tons of them come with each light fixture or old lamp). Gently massage a stack to start the curvature, and then start rolling it around a cylindrical object to get close to the right diameter (Graphics 4 & 5).

    Attached Files:

  12. fishBait

    fishBait Member

    33) Using a longer length of smaller tubing or dowel with the stack wrapped around it, insert the stack into the jig. Using the smaller tubing as an axis, spin the jig by rolling it back and forth across your hand to “iron” or press out any wrinkles and form the butt joint. Cut a piece of normal paper about the length of the stack height and roll it around the “axis” tubing; coat with glue; insert up into the spun stack; and spin again. This puts a glued re-enforcement on the entire inside of the stack. Let dry thoroughly (Graphics 1 & 2)!

    34) When dry, push the stack slightly out of the jig. Glue the strip around the bottom of the stack using the jig to keep it straight. Again, let dry! Using bits of paper or card stock, build up a round toothpick to fit up in the stack and glue. Let dry! Push the completed stack out of the jig. Make the second stack using the same procedure (Graphic 3).

    35) Two ventilator styles are used on the USS Essex. The small low ventilator only has two parts, but they are tiny. Cut the end off of a round toothpick. Roll the body strip around the toothpick until smoothly curved. Glue the strip around the toothpick such that the blunt end is even with or below the lip of the strip. Glue the disk on top of the strip and pick. The toothpick serves as a mounting spike (Graphic 4).

    36) Like the small ventilator, the tall ventilator (Page 4) is fabricated from two parts and a round toothpick. Cut out the main ventilator body (A). Form the ventilator around a round toothpick (B). Twirl it between your fingers to make it fully conform to the toothpick. Snip off the end of a toothpick (C), coat with glue and transfer the ventilator to it such that the blunt end is even with or just below the bottom “V” cut (D). Again, twirl between your fingers to make a smooth trunk for the ventilator. Let dry! Gently bend the top two sections down to a 45 degree, shape the center section and glue (E). Let dry! Bend the top section down 45 degrees, shape top section and glue (F). Form the shallow cone and glue(G). Glue the shallow cone (G) to the top section of the trunk (F) [Graphics 5 & 6].

    Attached Files:

  13. fishBait

    fishBait Member

    37) The rest of the topside structures are straight forward in fabrication. To improve the depth, doors and windows were backed by the buff card stock and glued in the appropriate locations. The silo structure at the extreme rear has three shutter doors, one to each side and one facing the ladder. Do not build the toilets at this point.

    38) Start populating the top deck. Glue the pilot house on first. Then start from the stern and add the silo structure, rear shack, wheel cover, and fore shack. Add the little top access to the top of the rear shack and the two chests to the sides off the rear shack (Graphic 1. Drill out the mounting holes for the masts, stacks and ventilators (Graphic 2).

    39) Glue in the rest of the top deck, from low to high. Start with the low ventilators (Graphic 3). Follow up with the tall ventilators (Graphic 4). The rebuild plan of 1862 shows 6 low ventilators; however most relevant surviving photos show 4 of each. Now install the stacks and bracing (Graphics 5 & 6). Pay attention when installing the stacks, they are side specific.

    Attached Files:

  14. fishBait

    fishBait Member

    40) Use the casement railing post gauge and cut posts. Glue the posts in around the casement top. It is ok to be a little tall, but do not put any in that are too short. Once all are glued in, go back and trim them all to the same height (Graphic 1 & 2).

    41) Two options are supplied for the casement railings. The simple railing option has the brass railing printed along with the crossbars. The more elaborate option has only the crossbars printed and a brass rod railing is used on top of the kit railing. For these instructions, the simple option is used. Score down the center of the railings and cut them out. Fold and glue to provide a two sided railing. Glue the railings to the posts around the casement, but make sure that openings are left for access at the ladders. The graphic shows the railings glued to the inside of the post, they should be glued to the outside of the posts (Graphic 3.

    44) Using .010 inch brass rod, glue the top railing to the top of the posts around the casement. Note that there is no opening at the ladders (Graphics 4 & 5).

    Attached Files:

  15. fishBait

    fishBait Member

    45) Prepare and install the masts. The foremast is made from a round toothpick cut off the right length and stained. The main mast is made from two round toothpicks. Cut them to the right length (See the diagram on the layout page), stain, lash and glue. The aft flag mast was made from a small plastic toothpick with a blob of glue to form a ball at top (Graphic 1). Print the flag on plain paper. Remove and precisely fold in the center. Glue and let dry for a while. Roll the flag about a round toothpick or fine brush handle. Then put the toothpick on the other side and roll again. Continue the process taking care where the toothpick is positioned. Once your flag looks “wind born”, stop and let dry thoroughly (Graphic 2). Use a piece of very small wire for the flag rope. Bend the wire as shown, glue the flag to the wire, and then glue the wire to the aft flag mast. This will simulate the air flow stretching the “flag rope” out (Graphic 3).

    46) Use the appropriate mast gauge to set each mast to the correct height and glue (Graphics 4 & 5).

    Attached Files:

  16. fishBait

    fishBait Member

    47) Assemble the toilets. Each toilet consists of four parts: main body, two doors and final roof (Graphic 1). Before removing from the parts page, score the main body as shown in red below. When removing from the page, cut as shown in green below (Graphic 2).

    48) Before folding, glue the doors to the main body, make sure the doors fit well with the bottom fold line (Graphic 3).

    49) ONLY FOLD ON THE FOLD LINES! Fold the floor and ceiling down, fold the floor and ceiling tabs down. Fold the two opposing side/back walls down (DO NOT MAKE ANY OTHER SHARP FOLDS IN THE SIDE/BACK WALLS). Glue the ceiling and floor end tabs to the side/back walls (Graphic 4). Let dry thoroughly.

    50) Gently roll one side/back wall over. Do not bend sharply; you want a nice curved corner (Graphic 5).

    51) Trim side/back wall to a little over the middle of the back of the toilet. Glue to ceiling and floor tabs. Let dry and repeat for the other side/back wall (Graphic 6).

    52} Glue the roof on to the ceiling to cover all raw seams. Repeat steps 47-52 for the second toilet (Graphics 7 & 8).

    Attached Files:

  17. fishBait

    fishBait Member

    53) Glue the toilets to the stern. The notch in the end walls should allow the back of the toilets to extend below the main deck (Graphics 1 & 2).

    54) Assemble the display cradle (Graphic 3).

    55) Place the USS Essex in the display cradle (Graphic 4).

    56) Set back, relax, and enjoy YOUR USS Essex (Graphics 5).

    That's it! The USS Essex will be available for download free of charge on Modeling Resource and Downloads Center in the next few days. Enjoy!

    If you download a model from my site and build it; please post some photos, I would love to see them.

    Attached Files:

  18. Rogerio Silva

    Rogerio Silva Active Member

    Fantastic job, man! It looks beautiful AND has got nice curves... That's probably one of the reasons you should reffer to a ship as a "she"! :mrgreen: :cool:
  19. fishBait

    fishBait Member

    Totally agree. If you build her, send me a pic!

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