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Model Expo 1/24 USN Picket Boat 1

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Got the hawse holes done today, and a start on painting the topside. I'd originally planned to do the hawse holes in brass, but ended up taking the 1/64" plywood/rat tail file/superglue/graphite approach instead. These are intended to be iron components set into the hull, and I *think* I got the look right.






And after the first layer of paint and stain on the top deck:




The decks and cover rails need another coat of gray, then it's on to masts, weathering and placement of the supports for the spar torpedo.

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Working on deck fittings today. These include the cleats for lines of various sorts, the spar torpedo mounts and cannon fittings.


The first pieces are the foredeck cleats and the aft mount for the torpedo.


The cleats are pretty straightforward- Britannia metal casts that just needed a bit of cleanup and primer before hitting them with graphite.


The torpedo mounts are fairly thick PE brass. The aft mount is two pieces that needed to be both riveted and adjusted to fit. Pretty straightforward, but needs a bit of primer to help smooth out the creases.





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So I got impatient and finished the aft torpedo mount, because I just had to see how everything worked.


I finished it with a couple layers of graphite, then pinned it to the hull with brass pins of the appropriate scale, likewise finished with graphite.




With this bracket out of the way, I started the forward piece. This one's a bit more complex since multiple pieces are riveted together and have to articulate in multiple directions.


So - out comes the home blacksmith shop...




These are the first three pieces, riveted together and shaped. There's two more pieces to add. I'll add a touch of tamiya primer/filler to help smooth the half-millimeter-wide bend lines in the Model Expo PE, and connect it all up and mount it tomorrow-ish.

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Bit of progress on the deck fittings.  The forward spar hanger was a bit of a headache, fit-wise.  The location makes fitting the support brace a challenge - took about 30 mins and two pairs of pliers to get all the curves and twists just right.


Hmmm.  Realizing that a black brace, in shadow, against a black section of hull doesn't show very well ! :D


Foredeck almost done


Edited by crazypoet

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I just found the time to go through all four pages of your WIP and I have to admit, I'm stunned.
Your attention to detail and the use of different kinds of material really impress me. The effort you took to replikate the engine is just great.
The whole boat is looking really convincing and "just right" and that is the hardest thing to achieve in modelling.

The subject you chose is right in my comfort line, because the scale allows a lot of detail work. I started a wooden one-mast sailing boat some years ago ( Le Renard, the ship of St. Malo Freelancer Robert Surcouf).

From now on I will follow your progress and can't wait to see your little gem finished.

Cheers Rob 

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Thank you!  The work that I see posted here day in and day out is my inspiration.  I look at the work posted by everyone in these forums and it encourages me to up my own game and take on new challenges.

The deck fittings are almost done - a few more cleats and the masts are what remain in that department.  I need to pay a visit to my LHS to get the right sized stock for the masts.  I have 3/32" and 3/16" stock on-hand, and of *course* the masts need 1/8"...  it never fails, lol.  The delay will give me more time to work out exact placement and mounting options.  Once the fittings are installed I'll finish weathering and stain-washing the hull and decks.

After those, it's down to the home stretch - pulling together all the earlier sub-assemblines and associated plumbing.  I did some test fits today, and it all sort of works.  Photos to follow as I get more bits connected up.

Meanwhile, I'm digging up patterns and pictures of the various tools that would have been carried aboard.  Spanners, hammers, oil cans and suchlike, along with a coal shovel and the tools for loading and firing the gun.  I can be working on these while I sit on conference calls at work...

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The deck fittings are essentially complete, though I'm still doing a bit of fine-tuning on the masts.


the front mast would of necessity been removable - it sits directly in way of the gun muzzle and would be just a bit of a mess should they forget one time to take it down!  For this reason, I chose to just do the mounting socket here.  For the rear, I'll mount the mast permanently, hung with an appropriate Naval Ensign.  Getting the blocks and cleats the way I want them is an ongoing process at the moment, so it's not quite ready for its closeup.


The mast sockets were punched from card stock, stiffened with CA and drilled through before getting a coat of graphite.  I'm doing a bit of second-guessing on the location for the rear mast.  It was shown offset from the centerline and ahead of the rudder post in the old drawing, but it just doesn't look quite right.  I may move it before I make things permanent.  If I do move it, I'll have to cover the hole i already drilled in the deck, but that is just a "design challenge"...  a day in the life!


i've started weathering the hull - left side in-progress just now.  I've temporarily mounted the rudder/tiller and prop for reference, to help with splash patterns and the like.  The weathering needs to be strong enough to be visible, but not over the top.  Finding that space between just enough and too much...  


so herewith the progress of the moment:





hull and waterline:



cockpit and stern:



it doesn't show up well in these shots, but there's a layer of brown algae sludge along the waterline.  That is going to be the biggest headache, I think - it's a fine line between enough and overboard.  The hull has been in heavily sedimented rivers and nearshore waters for months, with groundings on sandbars and beaches along the way, but is also not yet a year old...  more to come as continue along and scratch my head!

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This shows some of the hull detail a bit better - the somewhat-battered prow, stains and a bit of slime:




and the stern, with tiller, hatches and mast socket.  If I decide to move the mast, it will go on he centerline just behind the tiller.  Still undecided on that...




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I finished weathering the hull and gave it a light dull coat to seal things in.  Today I stain-washed the deck; when the stain cures it will get a bit of weathering touch-up and a dull coat as well.


I'm getting close to happy with the mast.  It's not *completely* finished and the cotton flags I ordered have not yet arrived, so please forgive the state of the rigging - a bit of a tangeled mess at the moment! :D 


When the flags arrive, I'll finish the loop-and-toggle rigging and set the mast.  I may yet move it behind the tiller - I'm completely undecided as of yet.  It would be "correct" in either location, I just have to see which feels *right*


next step...  machinery









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So, yeah, I moved the mast fitting... :D  I just couldn't wrap my brain around the offset - it never did look right.


so... patch, paint, drill...  I had to re-create the original wood grain in the boards where I patched the hole.  I found that the back edge of an x-acto blade did the trick nicely.




I've not yet applied the last stain wash over the patch, but it's starting to blend in.




I'm still waiting on the flags (I understand that they cleared Customs today, so should arrive Monday or Tuesday) so the mast isn't ready for installation.  I'll do pics when it's ready - I'm pleased with the way it looks so far, but I need the flags and rigging done before it will be ready for a close-up.  I found that a conveniently-sized washer, a bit of brass tube, raised-resin rivet decals and some heat-shrink tubing made for a quite nice mount for the thing - watch this space for further details... ;)


while I'm waiting for the flags...  here's the first test fitting of the internal components, checking spacing and alignment of the plumbing:




there is a bit of trimming necessary in the decking - the deck planks I used are a bit thicker than the original kit specs so I'll have to cut the planks and inset the engine baseplate to make everything level.


i also will have to drill through the deck planks for each steam and water pipe.  the pipes will pass through the decking and disappear into the depths; fortunately I don't have to do all the sub-deck plumbing.  


While working these odds and ends, I found good photos online of the different types of tools that would have been carried onboard.  Spanners, coal shovel and valve keys for the engine/boiler, caulking hammers and carpenter tools for the hull and suchlike. I'll need to scratchbuild all of those, since such scale tools as I've been able to find to-date are just not right - they seem all to be dollhouse accessories made to look decent from a distance, but which fail miserably under close inspection.  I found a perfect anchor, though, which makes me very happy



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Starting to come together...


a bit bit of rust for the condenser...




installation - engine, condenser and prop










the hot box and engine plumbing are next.  There are three pipes that run from the engine down into the deck, plus one that will run between the engine and the boiler.


i'm using brass tubing and white metal elbows, painted with Alclad exhaust manifold and Vallejo light rust - it's giving me what I *hope* is a good approximation of iron pipes and bronze fittings.  The prop shaft got dressed up with copper electroplate and fittings made from both larger-diameter brass tube and some heat-shrink tube, both covered in graphite.


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Reached a milestone today - all the plumbing is done, with engine and boiler finished and installed.









I need to do a bit of detail work on the pipes to bring everything together - these parts were done months apart with some different techniques and I need to blend in the differences.


i still need to finish making the various tools, rig the gun, mast, flag and stack.  I finally received the flag I ordered...only to find I'd specified the wrong [expletive deleted] size...




So... I now have the *proper* size on the way, along with some lovely brass turnbuckles for the stack tie-downs.  


This adventure in online shopping *did* give me a chance to realize that the toggle-and-loop rigging I had for the flag was a bit out of scale.  I'm redoing that - using brass pins rather than 1/32" brass rod for the toggles.  Nobody uses 3/4" diameter toggles to hang a flag...  don't know what I was thinking! :D




Edited by crazypoet
Photobucket "issues"

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Tools and fittings...


i'm doing the last few details - which will likely stretch out another month as I pull bits and pices from all over...


the boat itself is essentially complete, waiting only to mount the mast and finish the rigging of the stack and torpedo.  The source I *thought* I had for turnbuckles and a replacement Flag proved to be a bust, so I'm now having to wait on both.  Meanwhile, though, she is kinda pretty...




What remain are the finishing details that complete the "story".  Tools, stores - the odds and ends that speak to what was happening, that busy morning of October 27, 1864...


So.  Here's the start on some of them - caulking hammer and caulking irons...  I found a beautiful photo for reference a couple of weeks ago.  Today, I started prototyping my version using a bit of 1/16" dowel and layers of heat-shrink tube.









This first version is both about 50% over-sized and a bit clunky in proportion, but it shows that the idea itself is sound.  I'll scale it down a bit and get it done, along with a few other bits and pieces, over the weekend.


With this project reaching the stage where it's all fiddlly details and oddments, I can actually shift the main body off the workbench to make room for a certain Grumman for the Resin build...

Edited by crazypoet
Typos, typos, typos...

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Had a bit of time early this morning, so I was able to complete the furniture for the howitzer.  I also revisited that caulking hammer.  I did the hammer in aluminum tube rather than the heat-shrink thing I tried earlier.  I found that it worked better this way, as I don' even have heat-shrink small enough. I still need to paint the thing, but that's a project for tomorrow.


The gun furniture was fairly straightforward.  The only headache was getting the screw right.  I ended up using fine music wire turned around a drill bit.  The swab head is part of a q-tip soaked in CA for body and touched up with Tamiya weathering powders.




Meanwhile, I found a scale hammer in an old 1:35 tank crew set.  It works perfectly for this application.  Still scratching my head on a set of spanners though.


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Short update - no pics yet, but they're coming...


I found (finally!) a source for the flags I need, along with some nice accessories from Shapeways - buckets, bottles and suchlike.  They are arriving in bits and drabs, and all need some attention in the spray booth before making their debut.


The boat itself?  It's complete save four mast stays which I'll finish when the Albion micro-tube for the turnbuckles arrives.  I'll post pics as soon as I get those done... 


I'm starting work on the display base.  I'd originally considered putting it "in the water" in a diorama, but came up with a different approach.  I'm hoping that it works out as nicely as what I have in my head.  You'll have to wait a day or three for pics though, as I'm waiting for some critical bits to show up in the mail.


Face-palm moment:  I thought I'd go cheap and use a bit of melamine shelf as the foundation for the base.  Wrong!  Nothing on the planet sticks to that stuff, excepting some fairly hard-to-find exotic glues.  So back to the lumber store to get a proper bit of board...  penny-wise, pound foolish strikes again! :D


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Ha, I remember having an 'unbreakable' melamine plate when I was in the Scouts. It smashed wonderfully into a million bits when dropped on some rocks.

Looking forward to seeing how you plan to display this.

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So I'm hoarding pics of the boat for the moment, but I wanted to give an idea about some of what I'm up to...


One of the things that that was happening on the morning of October 27th, as the crew of Picket Boat One were preparing for their mission, was the construction of a "wood and canvas box" to muffle the sound of the engine valves as they passed near Confederate lookouts on the approach to Plymouth...


This implies a couple of things, not least of which is the presence of a saw.  I found pictures of Civil-War period Henry Disston hand saws on eBay and couldn't resist trying to capture at least the fundamental of the shapes.


Original Saws:





so here I've sketched the handle design on a bit of 1/32" wood and started cutting it out...




After cutting out the handle, and stiffening it a bit with CA, I had to split it through the thickness of the board to accommodate the blade...





Finishing the cut and adding a blade cut from .010 poly sheet:






Blade finished with Tamiya Weathering Powders in gunmetal and silver




I still need to rivet the handle and blade together - I'll do that tomorrow.


This is why these last few steps are taking so long... :D


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So a few small updates...


first, the boat.  It's done (though these pics don't have the stack rigging - need to get pics of that still).  The torpedo and gun are rigged, mast is up...




I'm happy with the work and all the extras I added in along the way.


So here's the state of things as they sit for the moment...


The boat...




Spar Torpedo rigging



A bit of ash and cinders from the firebox...




Toolbox (they spent the day prepping for their mission, so I imagine the engineer doing a bit of tuning and preventive maintenance...




Gun furniture hung in easy reach




So what in blue blazes am I up to now????  Seriously - this thing should be done and in a display case, for chrissakes!


Well, I just can't seem to leave well-enough alone.  There are more details left to finish the story.  The right tools - what would a small boat such as this have carried as a matter of course, along with those "extras" needed for some specific documented activities...


you saw the Saw in-progress above.  Next of course is a coal shovel...


I had a pair of doll-house scale white metal shovels that were truly bad.  I spent a day trying to work up a better version in plasticard, but I still need to work on my 3-d folding skills...  so instead, I decided to do a bit of surgery and correct the shovel I had on-hand...


First, getting rid of the rather ridiculously thick handle...




Much filing and head-scratching later...  the shovel blade is *much* closer to scale dimensions, and I've worked out the bits needed for assembly.  As I don't have any 1/16" wood dowel on hand, the handle is aluminum tube, with brass rod to tie it all together.




 I drilled the blade's handle socket to accept the brass rod, then threaded the handle pieces onto the rod and added a few strategic drops of CA gel.




A bit of sanding and primer and it's starting to take shape...




Still need to finish finish painting the handle - got a bit done tonight, but it still needs a few touches to look like well-used wood...


Meanwhile, I've been working out a few other tools - saw (wood and plasticard), pry-bar (brass wire), caulking hammer (all aluminum tube), sledgehammer (from 1:35 tank maintenance set), valve key (brass)




All of these still need a bit of touch-up, and I *still* need to make the appropriate spanners and a ball-peen hammer.


So what else needs doing?  Hmmm...  wood and canvas for the box they put around the engine as a muffler.  I'll actually use a bit of coarse silk, as the weave is very close to 1:24 scale canvas/sailcloth.  Maybe a nail keg as well.  I need to finish painting and detailing a wood bucket for up-front (wood staves and copper banding to eliminate sparks around the gun) and a metal bucket for the back.  Rigging the anchor - still need to work that out) and hanging the flag.


Oh, right, lest I forget...  Oil bottles and cans.  They used whale oil for both lubrication and lamps.  I'll have one or two oil cans floating around, and at least one bottle.  I'll probably pass on the lamps though as this is daytime and any lamps they may have had would have been stowed.


I'm adding in some odd sacks and barrels of provisions - barrels of salt pork, hard tack and drinking water.  Maybe a flour sack, sea bags and foraging bags.


Somewhere along the line I need to shell out for a dry-transfer decal kit, so I can do some of the needed graphics - labels on bottles and stencils on boxes.  They'll have to go naked for the time-being... :)


Then, lastly, building and adding an open ammo box full of Canister rounds, adding some coal and firewood in the bins and building the base to display the whole glorious mess!


I am using a 15x24" bit of board for the base.  It will have a map of Albemarle Sound as the main feature, with some iron plate and wood decking boards as details.


I had the title plate done up at Shapeways, based on an HO scale building sign.  It worked perfectly for this application.  


So, yeah, still a bit of work to go! :D

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Hola crazypoet,

to follow your build is slightly different than following some of the other WIP's. Your Project is epic and the way of documentation is as well. So for me it always takes a Little time to read and respond, because I will savour the progress in a time of Focus and not in between other thougts.

I love the subject of your Project, because of the scale which allows to Show everything in Detail. In my opinion your Picket Boat is historically and technically of great interest, representing a huge Change in Military development, and deploys the usage of different materials and new ways to work with them. The Picket Boat seems to be a mirror of a fast developping technical Environment under a magnifying glass.  Your build reflects all those aspects, because you were attending even the smalest Detail with afterthought and the usage of more or less "original" materials make this build Special for me.

So go on with the good stuff and find a way to rivet the sawblade. I guess if there were trade marks on the rivet heads you will find a way to pepresent them :).

Cheers Rob

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I appreciate the comments!  They truly help to keep me focused on days like this when about four hours of work resulted in some (hopefully final) drawings/plans of the supports where the boat will rest on the base, filing a hex socket out of brass tube for the valve key and a rough start to carving a ball-peen hammer head out of 3/32" dowel... :D


Translating the designs from my head to paper then to wood/plastic/brass/whathaveyou is always a challenge!  My imagination has *infinitely* finer resolution than my fingertips and tools can reach... ;)


meanwhile, I have a dilemma...  The engine drives two different pumps in addition to the prop shaft.  One of those is a recirculating pump for feeding water from the condenser back into the boiler.  No problems there as all the connecting pipes, fittings and related bits are neatly hidden and invisible under the deck.


The *second* pump however is used to pump seawater straight into the boiler when it needs filling.  Again, most of the connecting plumbing is neatly invisible under the deck...  HOWEVER the associated fittings on the outside of the hull, under the waterline, are an utter mystery to me.  I have no clue how these things were done and I've so far found no useful references online.


i hate it when things like this which were once "common knowledge" become cryptic puzzles... :D



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I think I figured out the "how else could it be" approach for the through-hull fitting on the seawater pump.  A screened pipe with a sealed/riveted flange just makes sense, and I've not been able to find anything that would indicate otherwise.  So that's the approach I'll take.


Meanwhile, I finished the ball-peen hammer.  I carved the head from a 3/32" dowel and the handle from a sliver of cherrywood left over from a different model.  The only headache was drilling a 1/16" hole through the 3/32" head... a bit of CA for body made it doable...  Finished the head with graphite, and a coat of future for the varnished handle.




Not the the greatest picture - I need to track down the macro lens I picked up for the iPhone - but the gist is there.


I made up a few silk bags and I'm putting them through the coffee/food-color/ammo wash treatment to get the appropriate level of grunge.  I collected a few acorns of various sizes and some dryer lint with which to fill them - works a champ for that  "odds and ends in a bag" look... :) 

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