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Dave Fellingham

U.S. Frigate Constitution, 1812

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Fantastic work. Your precision is paying off. The gunports look perfectly aligned. Very clean work.

 

I have to agree 100%.  This build is taking accuracy to a whole new level.  I can't wait for the next update.  

Gwyl

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I've gone as far aft as I intend for now, 44 ribs. The next few ribs aft are the cant frames set at angles other than perpendicular to the center plane. Much more complex and best left until later. A little over 180 hours invested so far.

 

 

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Starboard side view with all the clamps and fixtures removed. The rib spacers have been

adjusted to give a better view of the underbody shape. First time I've seen the lower hull.

 

 

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A closer view from forward.

 

 

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Another view from the starboard quarter. When all the ribs are installed and more internal

stiffening is added, the square-cut ribs will be sanded to their final shape, ready for planking.

 

 

Next will be the ribs forward of the zero rib, lettered A to Y. They're made but need to be cut out and detailed before installing them. Now that I've had some practice with ribs these should go quicker than the first 44.

 

Ordered wood for masts and spars. I had considered degama (aka lance wood or lemonwood, because of its color, not because it's from the lemon tree) but it grows almost exclusively in Cuba and is very hard to get. It's in the same genus as Castello boxwood but a different species, so I decided to use boxwood since the characteristics and working properties are very similar. I'll also use some pear wood for some of the smaller spars. I will soon need to have the lower masts at least roughed out to size so I can locate the steps for them on the keel so they will come through the decks where they should and be at the correct angle. Something to work on when I'm sick of ribs.

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Good idea working on the masts between ribs. I find I can get tired of a project after to much repetition. Most often I build super mini sibs since they don't have as much detail and are done quickly. A major project like this has so many parts I can see starting one part and coming back to another.

Are those cards hard to move? If I did a build like this I'd worry about whether or not they would come out easily. Or what would happen once they are out.

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Only one card spacer was hard to move -- I think a bit of glue got to it down near the keel. The assembly wasn't clamped tight enough to compress the card stock so they moved fairly easily. I didn't pull any all the way out knowing that it would be a problem getting them back in, and I left one corner of them between the ribs on the photo side so I would not have a problem there. They all have to be back where they were when I start installing the forward ribs. Individually, the ribs are quite fragile but as a group with the spacers are very strong. 

 

It will probably be another week before the mast material arrives. By then I'll be sick of ribs and can start cutting the blanks for masts and larger spars. I found a long time ago that mind-numbing repetitious work needs to be interspersed with other interesting work. And, as I said, I have to have the steps for the masts in place before I can get the rest of the deck beams for the gun deck installed and plank that deck. Can't do any of that without the lower masts, at least the part that goes in the hull up to the spar deck. It will be much easier to set the rake of the masts with the full length or longer lower masts

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Dave,  I went back through this build and answered my own question about the wood choice.  It looks like you had already mentioned that some of the wood on the deadwood etc is wood from the actual ship.

 

Gwyl

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This is very fun watch the progress of this build. 

Gwyl

 

This is a fun and interesting build for me, too. By replicating, or duplicating as closely as is practical, the original construction of Constitution I am encountering many of the same problems and concerns of the original builders. Foremost in their minds, as was in mine as I set the ribs, was that of accumulated error because of the variation in the thickness of the ribs. .001 in./.025 mm at 1:240 scale is very close to 1/4 in./6 mm on the original. My variation in rib thickness was as much as twice that and was probably very close in scale to that of the full size build 220 years ago. The center line thread is very likely the same solution to getting the ribs centered those original builders used. Those unnamed men merit a great deal of respect. In a small way (literally), I feel that I honor those men by replicating their work. They, and Constitution itself, deserve my best effort.  

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Those unnamed men merit a great deal of respect. In a small way (literally), I feel that I honor those men by replicating their work. They, and Constitution itself, deserve my best effort.  

 

I agree 100%  I often wonder what hardships these men went through as they went about their daily task.  I also marvel at what they were able to accomplish with the tools and technology that was available at the time. 

 

Gwyl

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Thanks, Mike, part of the inspiration to try this came from seeing it done on MSW at larger scales.

 

This is my first plank and rib hull attempt. Been considering doing one for a couple years and have plans all made up for a Cruizer-class brig of the same time period, figuring that a smaller vessel would be easier with fewer ribs. Turns out the brig would have been more difficult than Constitution. The reason is that Constitution was built with doubled ribs while the much smaller brig has single ribs, therefore many more ribs to build. Also the ribs on the Cruizer are more complex with the futtocks that make up a rib each having a narrower face than the one below it. To put it simpler, each rib narrows in steps as it rises from the keel to the bulwark cap rail while the Constitution has the same width from keel to cap rail. Needless to say I chose Constitution over Cruizer because it would be much easier.

Edited by Dave Fellingham

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Been busy with ribs since my last report. Installed the 25 ribs forward of the zero rib. I tried a slightly different approach by tipping the work board almost on end and using gravity and the two small squares to provide the clamping force. This method went much quicker. 

I also detailed and installed the five cant ribs forward of the previously installed 25. These turned into a headache because while detailing them they kept breaking into the two halves requiring another 24 hours for the glue to fully cure before finishing the detailing and installation.

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Last two cant ribs ready to install. The breaks occurred right where you think they would -- at the bottom of the 'V'.

I repaired at least two of the cant ribs two or three times before getting them detailed and installed one at a time. Glued the last two today and got photos of the hull.

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The forward ribs, 25 regular ribs and 5 cant ribs. The mini clothespin marks the zero rib.

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Close-up of the cant ribs from the port side.

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View from above showing the changing angles of these cant ribs.

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View from directly forward.

 

Received the wood for masts and spars. Cut the lower masts, top masts, lower yards, top sail yards, bowsprit and jib boom from boxwood as square cross section blanks then started eight siding them. The bowsprit and main mast were detailed as I waited for the glue on those fragile cant ribs to cure.

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Bowsprit and main mast partially detailed.

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Close-up to show the detailing. The iron bands are made from paper to scale thickness and width. Cut them with the strip gauge shown previously.

 

Now I need to continue with the aft cant ribs -- I don't think I'll have the same problems with them because there is a much larger glue area at the bottom of the 'V' on the aft cants. Will also be working on the bow ribs and counter and transom ribs and installing the keelson. There's a lot of framing still to do in the stern area. Will also continue working on the lower masts so I can locate the mast steps on the keelson and the mast partners at the gun deck.

266 hours to date.

 

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Hi Dave,  

With each update you post I am getting really exited to see this complete. It's one of those projects that I wish I could see the final product soon, but at the same time I hope is goes on for a long time because each update is full of so much instruction and an opportunity to learn.  This is looking great!   I am also excited to see your steps in completing this model.  

You mentioned you are using boxwood for some of these parts.  Is that Castillo?  What other woods are you using in this build?  I am also curious as to what type of scroll saw and blade choice you use when cutting these frames.

 

Gwyl

 

 

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9 hours ago, Gwyl Blaser said:

Hi Dave,  

You mentioned you are using boxwood for some of these parts.  Is that Castillo?  What other woods are you using in this build?  I am also curious as to what type of scroll saw and blade choice you use when cutting these frames.

Gwyl

 

 

I've used Castello boxwood in all the ribs. We talked about the wood from Constitution in the keel and the deadwood aft and I'm using pear (the reddish wood) in the stem and beakhead and for the deck beams. I have holly on hand for the deck planking. White oak was used for the decks up through the War of 1812 and I will lightly stain the gun deck and leave the spar deck nearly white to replicate the sun bleaching there.

I really like working with the boxwood even though it is hard and tough. It forces me to take my time but it takes detail very well regardless of the grain. It is going to be my choice for spars from now on. I think I mentioned in one of my posts that I tried to find some degama for the spars but decided on the Castello boxwood because they are in the same genus and have very similar physical and working properties. The boxwood is very strong and much stiffer than bamboo without the working faults inherent to bamboo. The pear wood is also a dream to work with although not as hard as boxwood. I've only used a small amount and look forward to making most of my deck details.

The scroll saw is from MicroMark and I'm using the finest, narrowest kerf blade that came with it. MicroLux Scroll Saw  It's on sale! Wish I had bought one of these years ago and it is now an indispensable tool in my shop. 

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Worked on the aft cant frames. closed in the lower hull, installed the keelson and a couple gun deck beams and started laying out the mast steps.

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Installed the aft cant frames and framing to close in the hull up to the top of the stern post. Removed all the large rib spacers and replaced them with smaller ones.

 

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Finally can show what the inside of the hull looks like with the smaller spacers. You can see the pear wood keelson set into the ribs. This keelson traps all the ribs between it and the keel greatly stabilizing the ribs. It's in four sections, about one day per section to get the slot in the upper side of the ribs sanded to final dimensions to accept the keelson sections. Also installed the beam just aft of the main mast (the one with a black mark near its center) and the approximate location of the mast step (black dot on the keelson). Need to do the same for fore mast and mizzen.

 

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Close-up of the inside of the stern. You'll notice small assembly marks showing which way the rib goes; didn't need them on the cants.

 

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Close-up of the stern and how it closes in up to the top of the stern post. The framing for the counter, transom and stern gallery rest on that top beam/frame. For size reference that top beam is .068 in./1.7 mm thick and the ones below are .055 in./1.4 mm. Fabrication of the transom frames has started, similar to the hull ribs, but no photos yet. I also need to get the bow closed in.

Just over 317 hours since March 25.

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Temps here in the desert have been steadily over 100F every day since June. Going outside is like stepping into an oven. Air conditioners don't work well in low humidity but evaporative coolers work best in high temperature and low humidity. Even at that I can only get temp inside into low to mid 80's. I don't like doing fine work when sweat gets in my eyes so my work remains steady but slow, just a little most mornings. Temp is 108F, at just after 11am, and forecast is for it to be "much cooler" today. Cooler than what? Hades?

 

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Gun deck beams and the three mast steps are in place. Bow is also closed in.

 

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Close-up inside the bow. I omitted one beam that should be near the center of that bow knee with a small knee to support those bow ribs. No matter, this gives those ribs more support and won't be seen when the decking is installed.

 

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View of the bow ribs. The two little wood spacers closest to the keel are the locations of the hawser holes and copies the original construction

 

Started to make the frame members that form the stern. After cutting out the first one I made a trial fit and found it was about 2x or more too big. Must have made a mistake reducing from my drawings. I have the gun deck waterways - kind of like a corner molding around the deck - ready to install to stabilize the ribs some more. Then I'll start on the the gun port sills and lintels, and the little pieces of ribs to fill in all those gaps above the gun ports. Lots of little fiddly bits to cut, fit and glue - but that will work well with short daily sessions at the bench. When the ribs are stabilized I should be able to remove the hull from the clamp and start sanding all the ribs to get rid of the projecting edges and get the lower hull ready for planking.

Temp now, at 12 noon, is 112F outside my door in the shade.

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