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Old Mar 30, 2009, 05:28 PM
GPR
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Rochester, Michigan
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Build Log
Thunderbird

After a three-year hiatus from boat building, I got the bug again in the spring of 2008. There were several things I was looking for in the subject model. . My first model, Babydoll IV, was a mahogany runabout. I learned a number of lessons the hard way on that project, and I wanted a chance to apply what I had learned. I also wanted some new challenges. Instead of a generic “type” boat, I wanted a specific, unique vessel; easily recognizable and well documented. I also wanted some “Wow” elements to set this boat off from all the others. Thunderbird was just what I was looking for. You can hear about the real Thunderbird and see her run at http://www.youtube.com/user/grice2436. . Thunderbird is an over-the-top boat with an excellent pedigree and fascinating history. It is also one of the four boats depicted in the Vintage Mahogany Speedboats stamps issued by the US Postal Service in 2006.
The Mariners’ Museum in Newport News, Virginia, maintains the John Hacker archives. Included are most of the hundreds of designs by the “Dean” of speedboat design. The plans for Thunderbird were available in 1/24th scale for about $200. For another $50, I enlarged the plans at Kinkos to 1/12th scale, yielding a 55-inch long model. Not an inexpensive beginning.

Since this is my first post and I don't know what I'm doing, I'll attach some photos of the start of the build and close for now. Hopefully I can figure this process out and will add more soon.
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Last edited by GPR; Mar 30, 2009 at 10:49 PM.
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Old Mar 30, 2009, 07:49 PM
Dragon Slayer
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Shelton,WA
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GPR:

Good clean build going there, it looks like you have the easy part done.
What's the plan for get those nice curves on the side boards up to the deck, she will be gorgess when you get her done.
Roger



p.S. remember amonya socked wood will bend very nicely.
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Old Mar 30, 2009, 08:00 PM
Veni, Vidi, Feci
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Motor City
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Looks great, can't wait to see more!

You might enjoy this- a static model seen last year at Golden Gate Park...
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Old Mar 30, 2009, 10:28 PM
GPR
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Rochester, Michigan
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Pat, thanks for the photo. That's a beautiful static and what I am shooting for in my operating model.
Roger, you are right, the curved sides are tricky. I was apprehensive about the upper sides and transition to the deck(covering boards), which is very rounded, and a significant challenge to plank in long boards as in the original boat, so I decided to try something different. I laid out the curve of the deck covering boards in plan view on a board with nails driven every three inches. I ripped (13) 1-1/2" x 1/8" x 6' strips of mahogany and laminated them around the curve of nails using Titebond III glue. I ripped the assembly in half to yield two, mirror image covering boards, 5/8" thick. I notched out the tops of the frames to accept the thick covering boards and glued them in place. The thickness of the boards allowed me to shape the rounded transition from the deck to the sides, and the laminated construction yielded the appearance of planking. I still had a gap of about 1 inch between the bottom of the covering boards and the top of the basswood planking on the sides. This was filled in by edge gluing four 1/4" x 1/4" mahogany strips to the lower side of the covering boards. The basswood sides were then planked over with mahogany veneer strips butting up to the solid mahogany planking. This sounds like a conglomeration of techniques, but after it was sanded to the desired shape, I was pleased with the results. Here are some photos of the process. Unfortunately, the order got mixed up when I uploaded them and I don't know how to rearrange them.
Greg
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Last edited by GPR; Mar 30, 2009 at 11:12 PM.
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Old Mar 30, 2009, 10:38 PM
Veni, Vidi, Feci
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Absolutely impressive planking, and novel ideas for getting the job done!

I'm always messing with the order of my pix... easy! Edit, then Manage Attachments. There's a box next to each picture that allows you to specify display order.
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Old Mar 30, 2009, 10:51 PM
GPR
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Rochester, Michigan
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Pat, Thanks, it worked.
Greg
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Old Mar 31, 2009, 12:28 AM
Taking care of the pond.
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USA, CA, Fresno
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WOW!!!
Great work.
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Old Mar 31, 2009, 12:30 AM
Grumpa Tom
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United States, CA, Los Angeles
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This is gonna be sweet!!
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Old Mar 31, 2009, 12:48 AM
Boats on the brain!!
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Arnold, Mo.
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Sweeeeet
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Old Mar 31, 2009, 01:06 AM
Dragon Slayer
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Shelton,WA
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GPR:

Most empresive she will be a nice boat, wonderfull craftmanship.
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Old Mar 31, 2009, 01:51 AM
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doubled
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Old Mar 31, 2009, 10:17 AM
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WOW it is shaping up nice.

Ed
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Old Mar 31, 2009, 10:31 AM
WooHoo!
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Lake Balboa, CA
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Beautiful wood work. Looks great.
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Old Mar 31, 2009, 11:06 PM
GPR
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I did have one additional complication resulting from the unconventional planking process. Based on the color of the original boat’s mahogany planking, I determined that I would not stain the mahogany; just apply an epoxy coating. After I applied the initial clearcote, it was obvious that there was a mismatch with the wood. The mahogany veneer on the lower sides was darker and more red than all of the solid mahogany I had used on the topsides. This produced a distinct line where the two came together. This can be clearly seen in View 30. Here is what I decided to do about the problem. I remembered that epoxy can be thinned with denatured alcohol. I had a package of red mahogany dye powder that was made to dissolve in water. Fortunately, I found that it also dissolved in denatured alcohol. I scuff sanded the epoxy on the top sides of the boat and I masked off the lower, darker mahogany on the boat sides. Then I prepared a strong mixture of mahogany stain in denatured alcohol, mixed up a batch of standard (golden) epoxy, and thinned it with the tinted denatured alcohol. When the mixture was applied to the topsides it darkened and reddened the surface to match the color of the lower planking. The attached views show the process and results. Since the finish is still very rough and the lower sides have been partially sanded it is hard to tell how close the match is, but when finished off, I believe they will look the same.
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Old Apr 01, 2009, 03:57 AM
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Bavaria, about 45km from Neuschwanstein-Castle
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Thank you for this idea GPR. Your model is very nice and will be a crowdpleaser!

Best Regards from Germany,
Ernst
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