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Model Expo 1/24 USN Picket Boat 1


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I'll be working back and forth between this and the Camel, as I can work on one while glue is drying on the other.


I opened this over the weekend and got started laminating the keel last night...  Wheee!












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I've made a bit of progress on the keel and bulkheads over the last few days.  In this model the forward and aft bulkheads are mostly hidden, but require considerable work to give them the proper shape required for individual hull planks to lay "fair" along the hull.


The bulkheads are laser-cut from 1/8" and 3/16" stock, but need to be cut/sanded to their final curves before being attached to the keel.  This is where a good belt-sander would come in very, very handy!  As it sits, I use a sanding stick and patience - it's taking about 40-50 minutes to shape the variable bevels on each bulkhead.  This is also giving me time to make some decisions about enhancements to the final build.






A particular enhancement is that I want to add a pair of hinged doors to provide access to the front compartment under the gun.  This will require hinges, latches and other such fun bits, which have to be incorporated before the bulkhead is glued to the keel.


I'll also configure the coal bunkers to make at least one of them openable, and I'll create deck planking from 3/8" stock, rather than drawing in the plank lines as suggested in the instructions.

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  • 4 weeks later...

After a week in Florida visiting mom-in-law, I've made a bit of progress on this.


I've been working on bulkheads and frames where they'll be visible, and in opening up the bow section, under the area where they mounted the 12 pdr howitzer.


Out of the box, the bow section is completely closed off.  To me, this made no sense, as the crew would have needed that space for equipment stowage, ammunition boxes, tools for loading and firing the gun and so forth.


So, given that there is zero documentation (that I've been able to locate at least) on how they approached this in the original, I've been trying to look at this from the standpoint of the crew and how they might have used and accessed the space.


Where this led me was to create two compartments, one on either side of the keel, with framed hatches.  So far, I've cut, framed and hinged the hatches on the main bulkhead, and I'm planning the framing for the interior of the compartment, working around both the model bulkheads and keel design.


Hatchways cut, hatches built and framed, dry-fit looking forward:




Rear of the bulkhead and framed hatches.  I used a #80 drill and dark stain to simulate nails in the frames.





Front of the bulkhead, painted, weathered and with the hatches installed.  I'll fabricate the latches from strip brass; the hinges came from Hambly House miniatures.





Finally, the bulkhead dry-fitted, with the hatches open.  I'll frame and finish the compartment after I open up the other two interior bulkheads.




With these compartments available, I can build ammo chests, canister rounds and associated tool, and have logical places to stow them....

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  • 4 weeks later...

I've been muddling along on this, developing an approach to period details in hardware, and researching the best way to adapt the model expo hull to documentation by John Dahlgren for use of the Dahlgren Boat Howitzer on small craft.


I also realized that my old reliable mk1 human eyeball was no longer sufficient for precise part fabrication, so I broke down and ordered a drill-press mount for my dremel tools.


So I've made progress, but not much.  Head-scratching, reading and sketching do not a model make!  That said, there's been at least a modicum of progress.  I've cut out and built up portions of the bow compartment to emulate the heavy timber framing specified by Dahlgren ("A System of Boat Armament in the United States Navy" 1852) and developed a functional compartment latch based on period designs.  I'm making the latches from soldered and chemically-blackened brass strip.  The latches are still very much in-progress (I'm picking up the drill press today so I can finish them this week).


So here's the current state of things:


Latch components:




Some of the internal framing and decking for the bow compartment:












I hope to have the door latches completed and installed this week, so I can move forward with the next phase - coal bunkers, decking and getting the hull planking underway.


Opening up the bow compartment and making it both functional and period-appropriate were priorities for this build.  The compartment would have been used to store supplies and gear for both the gun and the steam plant (though I suspect that it would *NOT* have been used for ammo/powder storage, being the location most exposed to incoming fire).


I'm planning to slightly modify one of the coal bunkers to accommodate regulation USN ammo cases for the howitzer, and I'll build a case of canister, as that is what this boat is known to have carried and used on its mission against the CSS Albemarle.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Minor update on this.  I got the latches completed and built, and the bulkhead attached.  I can now get to work finishing out the bow compartment interior decking and the last of the framing details.  The latches were a royal pain - making flush-mount rivets in thin stock from brass pins when I don't have a small enough setter to fit.  I had to use the end of a needle-file handle as a setter, and tap it smartly with a 6 oz. hammer while hoping that the file wouldn't chip.


It all worked, though, and I have a pair of functional latches for the doors.




The next step is the decking and seats in the cockpit.  The kit specifies "drawing lines with a #2 pencil to simulate planks".  Right.  


I'm having too much fun doing the real thing.  I'll also fabricate seat supports from wood and brass, as these are completely lacking in the kit.


Decking in progress:




More to come later.

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Happy almost-Christmas to all!


Bits and pieces of progress, and two minor milestones...  :)


I finished framing and decking the bow compartment interior (yippee!) along with the decking and seats for the cockpit.  I still have to fabricate seat supports for a portion of the cockpit area, which is requiring more research than I'd anticipated so as to avoid doing something utterly anachronistic.


I'm happy with the bow compartment structure at this point.  There's a lot more I could do with it, but the only way anyone would ever see additional details is with multiple mirrors and a really good flashlight or a fiber-optic camera so I'll stop before I descend into utter madness. 


The planking inside the compartment will be cut to match the curve of the hull planks later; I can't cut it just yet because it would leave some plank ends unsupported.  I'm also happy with the latch design and function for the two hatches - there's always room for improvement, but they look right and function correctly.


Bow compartment framed and planked:




The view from the rear of the compartment




Cockpit decking




I'll do another update after I finish the seat supports for the cockpit, later in the week. 


After that, I'm completely re-working the main deck and coal bunkers - the kit design for the bunkers makes no sense whatsoever from a functional standpoint (it's obvious that the designer never once had to actually shovel coal!).  So that will be a fun challenge.  And of course this also means adding a proper coal shovel to the "odds & ends" list, along with the gun gear, ammo chests and whatnot.

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  • 4 weeks later...

I was laid up with pneumonia over the holiday, so I didn't get nearly as much bench time as I'd planned.  Ick.


That said, I did manage to do a couple of things.


First, I was terribly sneaky, and built part of Mrs Poet's Christmas present under her nose.  I used some spare 1/32" basswood stock to make her a box for the vintage necklace I gave her...  I told her that I was making parts for the picket boat, and did the final assembly one day while she was out with friends.  I still need to add hinges (the ones I wanted weren't available at my LHS), but here's the current state of things, as presented to her on Christmas morning:




Meanwhile, on the boat itself, I did make *some* progress.


I figured out my approach to seat bracing, and made the braces from 1/32x1/16" brass strip:












I also got a good start on the main deck and coal bunkers.  They're nowhere near ready, but you can at least see where I'm going.


Deck and bunker dry-fit and weathering:




More to come - watch this space!  :)

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  • 5 weeks later...

So I've been stumbling along on this, as I get bench time.  The coal bunkers are the current challenge, now that the main decking is done.


as-designed in the kit, these were solid/unopenable, with laser-cut handle openings, out-of-scale fake PE hinges that would have made the hatches open the wrong direction and parting lines that made no sense whatsoever, given the framing of the hull.


After much head-scratching, I decided to re-do the hatch covers from scratch, using 1/32" basswood stock.


Here's the new covers, front and back 




and placed for final fitting before adding hinges and such





The empty coal scuttles, with framing:






I added a step for the gunners




I'm finishing hinges and doing final detailing on these at the moment - more to come!

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  • 2 weeks later...

Well, I finally got the hinged doors done.  I'm delighted to be through with this part of the build.  Now, I can get on to planking the hull...


Here's how the coal bin doors look, open and closed:








and - part of why this was just a bit tedious.  This is one of the nails:






On to the hull planking.  The Sheer Strake is the top-most plank, and in this model the only plank that goes the full length of the hull.




I also started working on the gun carriage, but that's a whole project unto itself - PE Brass, White metal and wood.  I'll post the updates to that later on.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Wellllll....  I've taken the plunge and started planking the hull.  I've also got most of the work done on the gun carriage, which is essentially a separate kit unto itself.


The gun carriage is a modular design that allows the crew to pivot the gun to fire forward, port or starboard depending on which of three anchor points they use.  The carriage has a friction slide to which the gun mounts, which is secured to the main carriage by two large compression screws.  This arrangement absorbs the recoil of the gun without requiring run-out as was required for larger guns.


So here's the process to-date:


The basic components - slide and carriage, formed from basswood and brass, with individually-formed rivets:





Carriage (rivets set but not yet blackened):







One of the rivets, before setting:



Set, blackened:







Pivot pin - these are built up out of aluminum tubing, brass wire and epoxy, then blacked with colloidal graphite:


Before blacking:



...and after:



The (almost) current state of the carriage (I'm working through some puzzles on the elevation mechanism at the moment - not yet ready for their close-up!):



And, finally, as advertised, the first run of hull planks:



The gun itself is almost done - it's a white metal casting that took a boatload of cleanup, plus PE brass components, and some airbrushing - it, along with the elevation mechanisms, will be in the next update.

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A very quick update - I found the solution to my puzzlement on the gun elevation mechanism (and some future puzzles with the steam plant as well!).  The good folk at http://www.scalehardware.com/ have a fairly amazing supply of screws, nuts, bolts, threaded rod and such, in sizes that are useful at the scales we build.


When my order arrives, I'll finish the gun mount and post it up

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Here's the result of some more head-scratching and an "ah-ha!" Moment...


The kit instructions have you fabricate the elevation mechanism from a bit of aluminum tube, wrapped with thread to make it look threaded. To this, one adds a small PE brass wheel as a hand crank.


They have the right idea, insofar as he original mechanism was pretty much that - a large hand-cranked screw. My puzzlement was in their approach.


This is where the good folk at scale hardware come in. A short length of 1.6mm threaded brass rod is exactly in-scale for this application, and looks infinitely better than a thread-wrapped aluminum tube ever could.


I still used a tiny bit of tube as a spacer, and I drilled a small hole in the end of the threaded rod to take a short pin which will key into a brass base-plate on the gun carriage.


So here's the result, before I hit it with the colloidal graphite:







I'll finish the carriage and gun on Saturday - watch for pics of the completed assembly to follow...

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I finished up the cannon and carriage this morning. The last bits were finishing the barrel, including a pice of PE for the firing mechanism, adding the (functional) elevating screw and the cross-pin that secures the cannon to the carriage.


I'm completely in love with Neolube colloidal graphite for black iron finishes - it dries to a perfect semi-matte iron black on just about any surface. That's particularly useful here, as the various pieces of the gun and carriage used wood, aluminum, brass and epoxy to represent iron components.












Now, back to hull planking. This will take a while - each plank has to be cut, steamed, bent, shaped, sanded and glued individually. I can usually do about two a day, and there are about 80-ish of the bloody things to do...

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And.... While doing the hull planking, I'm also starting the boiler, which will also be a good side project.


If I work this right, I'll finish the boiler, steam engine and the spar torpedo all at about the point I finish the hull

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