Wilhelmshaven 1:200 scale USS Constitution

Discussion in 'Ship & Watercraft Models' started by Jim Krauzlis, Aug 15, 2004.

  1. Jim Krauzlis

    Jim Krauzlis Active Member

    This will be my first construction thread on building a card model, so I hope you'll all bear with me. :D

    This model is a nice fairly, straight forward (read "easy") model to tackle, although it has a good deal of potential for enhancements, which I love to do! I have a bit of history with this ship, so to speak, since I have been in love with her since I first saw her in Charlestown, Massachusetts, as one of a few thousand visitors that make the trip to see her each year. Since that first encounter I have read almost everything I could about her, collected a good number of photos both present and past, and acquired a slew of plans and contemporaneous documentation to appease my fascination with this ship. My wife claims I am obsessed; well, guilty as charged, besides she's never wrong, right? :lol:

    The one thing I learned about this ship over the years is that she has changed in many ways over her career, so the first decision I had to make in considering this project was to pick what version I wanted to try. In looking at the sheets for this model it appeared the designer used the 1929 restoration plans in creating the kit. I just happen to have a set of those plans, amongst others, and so I started making a comparison of what the kit showed and what the plans provide. Well, as I have come to expect, there are quite a few differences between those plans and the kit, so it was apparent from the start a good deal of modification would have to be made to this build. Then I considered whether I wanted to try the 1929 version or her current configuration. Since I have scads of photos from my various visits over the years, showing some great details, and I would have to make changes anyway no matter what, I decided to build her as she looks today.

    At least now I have a point from which to make comparisons to see what changes I have to make. Those familiar with her will appreciate some of the differences between 1929 and today; one obvious thing, for example, is that the belfry the kit shows on the fore deck is found neither in 1929 nor today. That lead me to conclude this kit was a combination of sources, the 1929 plans and most likely a visit or photos from the 1980's or so, when she did have the belfry.

    Another major difference I noticed was the placement of the main mast fifefrails on deck and the spacing between the main hatch and other deck fittings. There is a bit of difference between the kit's arrangement and the plans, so I will have to make some modifications to ensure the deck arrangement is correct. This doesn't appear to be major when looking at the print out of the deck (the illustrations provided with the instructions are off even more, but the actual kit templates are better). The head rails in 1929 were planked up, as in the kit, but today they are opened, so that will need to be addressed as well. Her gunport placements on the spar deck seem correct, but that remains to be seen. She is missing anchor ports in the waist, and the pin rails along the inside spar deck bulwarks are wrong for the most part, so, again, I will have to consider making a number of changes. Luckily, I have great photos of all of this stuff so I'll just need to be a bit creative. :D

    I bought the CD version of this kit, so I will have free reign to print and reprint as necessary...a good thing! :D

    So, for the last week or so, after unpacking most of my stuff after moving, I have been studying the plans, photos and the kit and making a list (it keeps getting bigger!) of changes I need to consider to portray her current configuration...the fun will be in figuring out when it would be best to make these changes, but that is becoming apparent as I continue to look this situation over. Even though the smaller scale might present some construction problems for me, that's the challenge I am really looking forward to! If anything, I hope this thread will at least be interesting. :lol:

    One word of caution: this will be a slowly developing thread. I do have a time consuming day job, a fairly long commute, a six and a half year old and other commitments (read "honey-do list" for the new house) that will not let me spend as much time as I would like to this project on a daily basis, but we'll see! I've enjoyed the other construction threads on this site so I really want to contribute something back at least for the photo junkies. :lol:

    Sorry for the long introduction, but I will try to keep it more reader friendly as we go along. :D

    So, let's start with a photo of what I hope she at least resembles in the end, and see if I get there! :lol:
  2. jrts

    jrts Active Member

    Way to go Jim

    Realy looking forward to this, bags of photos and how to do's will go down a treat :D

    As for your to do list, only one :!:
    Watch out if the wife buys a six pack of toilet rolls, yep new list on the way :lol:

    I hope the train has tables in it so you can build on the way in and home :lol:

    Looking forward to the up date


  3. Jim Krauzlis

    Jim Krauzlis Active Member

    Just so ya'll don't think I fell off the face of the earth this last week, I am still working on the laminations of the form templates.

    After making the first run without any lamination, which I thought would not be necessary for the size of this model and which the instructions don't suggest are necessary, I decided nonetheless I wanted a little more robust thickness to provide a bit more support for the hull and deck sides.

    I hope to post some photos of the results after we stop celebrating my wife's birthday today...ooops, almost wrote which birthday! :lol:

    Here is a snapshot from the WHV page showing the completed model built according to their instructions. I hope to enhance it a bit during the course of this build.

    Hopefully more later.

  4. barry

    barry Active Member


    Hi Jim

    I did fall off the earth for a week and missed the start of your thread I am looking forward to this one. I admire your attention to detail I think I would run away from a mods list like that.

    You appear to be allowing time for sleeping, sorry you will have to join the ranks of the insomniacs.


  5. Jim Krauzlis

    Jim Krauzlis Active Member

    Well, gang, I got a chance to cut out the laminated templates tonight. I had initially cut them out using unlaminated 110 pound cardstock but I was not happy with the thickness, fit or unsturdy result. Unfortunately the instructions that come with this model did not suggest lamination, but I would suggest lamination to make the frame sturdier. It will probably make a difference later when putting on the hull sides and deck.

    So, back to the drawing board, or printer, actually, and I printed out a new set of templates on 110 pound cardstock. I then laminated them to another sheet of 110 pound cardstock and that seems to fit the bill. The slots are actually just the right width for the laminated card, so I suppose the designer meant the frame to be built this way.

    I then did a test fit of all the framing just to see how it pans out. Not too bad, actually, but I have to play with the templates a bit more to get a better, tighter fit on the base, keeping in mind the hull sides attach to the tabs in the base and have to line up flush with the sides of the frame formers.

    I am toying with the idea of using strips of cardstock along the frame edges anyway, so that will probably give me the correct width along the frames and the base tabs while also providing a better joint for the glue (thanks, Scorpio, for that great tip!).

    These are photos of how far I got tonight. Still a bit of fine tuning needs to be done so nothing has been glued yet.
    Any comments, suggestions or critiques are always welcome, of course! :D

  6. barry

    barry Active Member

    way to go Jim !!!!

    Can I suggest 80 gsm paper for the gluing strips I think cardstock will cause a bulge i the hull plating

    Looking forward to the rest

  7. Jim Krauzlis

    Jim Krauzlis Active Member

    I was finally able to get a little more done last night. After trimming some of the slots for a better fit at the top edge, I started to glue the profile formers in place and then the bulwark formers. Working from aft I had to be sure the inboard end was lined up right with what will become the mast hole. I was fairly happy with how they formed up at this early stage although I still need to fair up the upper surfaces before laying the deck piece so I don't get any bumps in the middle of the deck.

    Overall, when viewed from the end, the run of the bulwark formers looked pretty fair and symmetrical both along the sides as well as generally across the top, but I did still see a few spots that still need to be sanded down along the length of the profile former. I like to hold the model just off the tip of my nose and using one eye sight down the length of the hull to check for symmetry; I did this before gluing and then again as each bulwark former was added to try and ensure they stayed in line and fair. This is a trick I learned in wood ship building, using your dominate eye to check for symmetry as you carved a hull.

    Enough talk, here are some photos. :lol:
  8. barry

    barry Active Member

    Hi Jim

    What a nice tidy work area wish mine looked like that instead of the bomb hit one I have. Consttution looks fine good solid bas to work from.

    I had to laugh at the lift it up to your nose if I did that with my current overweight board I would do a nosedive into the carpet. I have to get down and look along, that way it's safer. Keep the photos coming and while your on look on Kartonbau at Scorpio's latest.

  9. Jim Krauzlis

    Jim Krauzlis Active Member

    Thanks, Barry;

    Actually, I had to clean the work table up a bit for the photos, otherwise you wouldn't be able to see the model because of all the scrap paper laying around. :lol:

    Yeah, it's easier to pick this little fellow up for a look see than your beautiful monsters...using the foam core as a base keep things lighter too! I sometimes use a glass sheet for building, but this one's too small for that base. When I tackle one of the bigger guys I will probably have to use a board like you do, and I don't imagine I will be lifting that bad boy up too many times. :lol:

    Scorpio is just amazing! It's just been a few days and he is already putting on the bulwarks. :shock: His Cleo looks great!

    How do you manage to post on that site; do you use a translation program? Some outstanding builds there, Mate!

  10. barry

    barry Active Member

    Hi Jim

    I usually just keep the comments short and let photos do the talking. If I write anything complicated some kind soul usually translates it for me, same on the polish site.

    www.freetranslation.com does a fair job in German.

  11. jrts

    jrts Active Member

    Hi Jim

    I take it that you are going to glue the lower hull on later :roll:

    Great start mate and look forward to seeing her take shape with the working blocks you can make for the rigging :wink:

    Keep at it Regards

  12. Jim Krauzlis

    Jim Krauzlis Active Member

    Thanks, Mates!

    Barry, your photos do speak volumes...great stuff!! :D

    Rob, lower part of what? :? I was wondering what those extra parts were for. :lol: Yep, gonna have working blocks through out...at this scale (1:200) that should ensure I'm muttering to myself in no time...what, I already do that!
    Actually, not sure they will be "working" blocks but I think I will try and use your technique...I just do not guarantee they will come out as good as yours did. :oops:

  13. rkelterer

    rkelterer Member

    hi jim,

    did you print out the ship at 1:200 (my version of WHV is 1:250) ?
    will become a nice little ship, but to small for working blocks 8) !

  14. Jim Krauzlis

    Jim Krauzlis Active Member

    Well, will you look at that! :D
    Yep, you are right, Raimund; it's actually 1:250 scale. :oops:

    Good thing I didn't start making replacement parts yet and trying to figure out why they were too big for the model. :lol:

    As to the "working" blocks, well, let's just wait and see what happens. :D I'm not saying there will be an actual, scaled sheave in them, but I might be able to actually run the line through them. :wink:

  15. Jim Krauzlis

    Jim Krauzlis Active Member

    I was able to put some time today on Connie, it being a holiday here.

    The formers dried very well in the interim and it was time to install the deck. The deck seemed a little flimsy when I first dry fitted it so I laminated it to another sheet of cardstock to give it a bit more heft. I also didn't like the lack of support at both the stem and the stern, so I added a bit of bracing so it would be easier to put on the hull sides later without the extermities moving about.

    After the laminated deck dried thoroughly I trimed it and re-cut the cutouts for the hatchways and masts. I then dry fitted again, made some minor adjustments and proceeded to glue it in place. I used the outline of the stem to be sure it was placed far enough forward to fit properly as well as centered over the mast holes, and then fastened it in place with rubber bands and cardboard to protect the edge of the deck.

    While it dried I cut out the port hull side. I decided I would deviate from the instructions in putting on the inner bulwark until the outside hull sides were glued in place as I figured it would be easier to ensure the fit on the inner bulwark would be right to the deck. I also didn't like the idea of cutting out the gunports before I could line up the inner bulwark and its gunports, so I just put pinpricks on the four corners of the outside hull side to mark the gun ports for alignment later.

    The fit was great, so I glued the tab at the stem first and then glued the port hull side to the formers as I worked my way back, pulling it tight at each step to make sure the stern portion would fit in the end (no pun intended :D ).

    This being a waterline hull, there isn't that much curvature until you get to the stern area. As I mentioned, the fit was right on, as long as I carefully pre-curved the end to wrap around the last former and it glued up against the stern post area snugly. The stern curvature did give me a bit of a fit as it is a very complex curve, under the transom, but the hull sides must remain relatively flat where the quarter galleries will be installed later.

    Later on I will install the transom itself, as well as the curved piece that joins from the bottom of the transom to the hull sides at the stern. I dry fitted that curved piece and noticed there was a bit of excess on both sides, but that might be designed in to permit a flush fitting with the hull sides as it was wider than the last former, so I don't think I made a mistake, at least I hope I didn't. :wink:

    I also cut out the inner bulwark for the port side and cut out the gun ports and the anchor port, but I decided not to cut the little square that the catshead is supposed to slip through as I didn't like the square piece they provided; I will do a little modification here I figure to create the curved end that goes on the inside and to fashion catsheads that have a proper shape rather than the simple rectagle the kit provides. I will post a photo of the actual catsheads when I get to that point later on in this build.

    I didn't have time to fit that last curved piece below the transom tonight, so that will be the first order of business next time I work on Connie.

    Well, that's about it for today. I will post more hopefully later in the week when I can sneak a few more hours in before the weekend, if all goes according to my devious plan. :twisted:

    Meanwhile, here are some photos of what I've done so far. As usual, any comments or criticisms are welcome.
  16. Jim Krauzlis

    Jim Krauzlis Active Member

  17. Jim Krauzlis

    Jim Krauzlis Active Member

    Still more....
  18. Jim Krauzlis

    Jim Krauzlis Active Member

    And then to show the stern problem I mentioned...don't worry, I will fix the edging up once the lower curved stern piece is installed. :D
  19. barry

    barry Active Member

    Hi Jim

    That's a well written description of the build so far and some great pics as well. Your elastic bands would scare me, I would twang one at the wrong time.

    Looking forward too more.

  20. Jim Krauzlis

    Jim Krauzlis Active Member

    Thank you very much, Barry! :D

    Oh, those bands aren't so bad. :wink:

    I was just lucky that the tension they put on the deck was just right, not too loose, and not too tight to distort the deck edges. Using the cardboard shims helped spread the tension too.

    I found it fairly easy to fine tune the tension of the bands by pulling and stretching the ends a little once they were in place over the card board. By tugging slightly and pulling the band a bit more over and around the edge of the foam core on each side, the edge of the foam core had enough friction on the band to keep it in place. Just sort of stumbled over that trick, actually. :lol:



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