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Old Apr 30, 2008, 10:21 AM
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JerryTodd's Avatar
United States, MD, Severna Park
Joined Apr 2008
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Build Log
Constellation a 1:36 scale RC Sloop-of-War

Ahoy the forum!

Being new here I've spent my time reading and looking at all the great projects and workmanship.

I have a project of my own that was put on hold some years ago and has been sitting since. In a couple of months I close on my new home <knocks on wood> and I'm really looking forward to returning to this project at last.

I'm also glad to have stumbled onto this forum where I can share and learn.

Some background:

When I was 7, some students lived next door and a couple of them babysat me from time-to-time. One day a pile of them took me along with them to Boston sight-seeing, (I lived in Providence RI then). We went to the Constitution and I was hooked. I fell in love with sailing ships.

Long-story-short: I wound up working on sail-training ships, historical recreations, restorations, plus yacht deliveries and some merchant vessels here and there.

I also like building models, but I've never been fond of models that just sit on shelves - I want them to DO something.

Back around age 12 I built my first large sailing model. I was scrap plywood and paneling nailed, glued, silicone caulked, and painted to almost half again it's weight. It was 6' on deck and shaped pretty much like a coffin. It carried a jack-ass-bark rig and was free-sailing.

There have been uncountable models since. Most pond-sailors or restorations for my friend's shop (China Sea Marine Trading, Maine). An RC sloop here and there, and and RC conversion of a Revell Constitution and United States plastic kits. A third kit, another United States sits unfinished in my storage unit today.

An article on the Rattlesnake in a 1983 issue of Model Ship Builder magazine gave me the idea of building a large scale square rigger


The Constellation:

I've lived in Baltimore a long time and I'm very familiar with the Constellation and have even been involved with her controversy. Mine was among the voices that said "Finally!" when it was announced she would be restored as what she was; a 22 gun sloop-of-war built at Gospost Va in 1854 and the last all-sail warship built for the U.S. Navy.

So here she is today:


A few years back, someone cleaning a closet at the Naval Academy found an old half model that turned out to be the builder's half-model of the Corvette Constellation. I saw it then and thought "that is a nice size for a working model - and the research began. The National Archives have drawings to match the 1/36th scale half-model along with all sorts of material on the ship from various stages of her history. I decided I wanted to model her as she probably appeared in 1861 when she captured the first Confederate flagged vessel.

On the model side, the book Building a Working Model Warship: Hms Warrior 1860 by William Mowll was inspirational - specifically in construction method. I decided to make a mold and turn out, at least, 3 fiberglass hulls: One would be my sailing model, one would be finished with stump masts as a display model and sold to pay for everything, and the third finished the same and donated to the real ship.



So, a sacrificial plug was made, and is, so far, unfinished. It is made of plywood formers with scrap pine strip stringers and is covered in brown wet-n-stick packing tape, just as Mr Mowll did for his Warrior model. The tape shrinks as it dries tightening like a drum-head. Sitting for years now, it's still tight.

This (long winded) post is the first in what I hope will be a chronicle of a revived project to build a working model of an important vessel in Maritime and Naval history.

Thanks for the forum

Project Web site
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Last edited by JerryTodd; May 23, 2011 at 11:57 AM. Reason: added pics and fixed a link
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Old Apr 30, 2008, 10:52 AM
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Millbrook, Alabama
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Welcome Jerry!

Nice 1st post...I look forward to many more. Welcome to the group...there are a lot of very nice folks here and some really well represented ships too. If you have any questions...please fire away...the mates will help ya out.

Capt. Crash

"Weevils...the breakfast of iron men sailing wooden ships!"
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Old Apr 30, 2008, 11:18 AM
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DanL's Avatar
United States, MN, Brainerd
Joined Oct 2004
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Great prototype and size

Either way you look at the Constellation - as one of the six original US navy frigates or as the rebuilt corvette - she's a great prototype. At 1/36, that puts your hull at just shy of 5ft. The SC&H brig is about there, and is a great balance in size between sailing performance and convenient transportation. I have sailed the Syren for just one season now and it was really exciting and rewarding.
Really looking forward to following/participating in your thread. I have no shortage of opinions on the R/C setup.
Also - you must have firing cannon (at least one bank).
Would you be interested in selling a hull or in "renting" the plug?
Have fun,
Dan
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Old Apr 30, 2008, 11:49 AM
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JerryTodd's Avatar
United States, MD, Severna Park
Joined Apr 2008
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The plug will be lost when removed from the mold - it's designed that way. I wasn't actually doing her gun deck - I'm molding her with closed ports and tampioned guns (which could be cut out later). As for selling a bare hull - let's see when I have one - something about counting unhatched chickens come to mind.

She carried a pair of Parrott Rifles on her spar deck, but when she returned from her first trip to the Med, her captain had them taken off. She retained the iron deck furnishings and iron drop bulwarks at least until the 1880's - and I intend to model her that way, so adding them would simply be a matter of making them.

It would be nice to model the deck guns and make them pivot and fire.

I did see your Siren thread and images - she is beautiful. I've always loved brigs.
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Old Apr 30, 2008, 03:09 PM
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San Diego, CA
Joined Jul 2007
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Dan,
Don't forget that this is the second USS Constellation, not the 36-gun frigate that was built with the other five original frigates.

Jerry,
Very beautiful! That will be an amazing build. I can't wait to see her come together.

Jason
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Old Apr 30, 2008, 04:27 PM
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Joined Aug 2006
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Welcome, Jerry! Great to see another square-rigger guy! And nice looking hull plug. I've been fascinated with the Constellation and the Constitution since I was a little kid. I clearly remember, way back then, sending my dollar to a Constellation Restoration fund drive, and receiving a genuine bronze medallion "struck from the actual metal used in salvaged Constellation fasteners." Boy, was I excited! I still have the coin. My desire to see this ship with my own eyes has not been fulfilled yet, but I'm gonna! Great ship for you to model!
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Old Apr 30, 2008, 05:23 PM
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United States, MD, Severna Park
Joined Apr 2008
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Baltimore acquired the ship around 1955 when Boston was going to scrap her. Incorrectly listed as the "frigate" Constellation for many years already by that time, Baltimore wanted to bring her "home."

This ship is not, and never was, a 1797 frigate of 38 guns - BUT, had this error not been perpetuated it is certain that she would not exist today. The Hartford, Farragut's flag at Mobile Bay was broken up in the late 1950's! The fervor of those people, however misplaced, saved this piece of history.

Braces & sheets: I see a lot of servo arms, and disks used for braces on model square-riggers, does anyone have experience with the shuttle on a threaded rod system?

Figures: 1/24 and 1/32 are popular scales for figures, but does anyone make 1/36th scale figures? I think 1/32 figures would be almost 1/4" taller - which is a bit much for my taste.

I can cast some basic parts and manufacture my own, but the pro made stuff will have sharper details with better and more varied faces and hands than I think I could manage.
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Old Apr 30, 2008, 07:08 PM
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United States, MN, Brainerd
Joined Oct 2004
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reply in red

Quote:
Originally Posted by JerryTodd
Baltimore acquired the ship around 1951 when Boston was going to scrap her. Incorrectly listed as the "frigate" Constellation for many years already by that time, Baltimore wanted to bring her "home."
I thought the new Constellation actually did use timbers and other parts from the old Constellation -or is that incorrect too?This ship is not, and never was, a 1797 frigate of 38 guns - BUT, had this error not been perpetuated it is certain that she would not exist today. The Hartford, Farragut's flag at Mobile Bay was broken up in the late 1950's! The fervor of those people, however misplaced, saved this piece of history.

Braces & sheets: I see a lot of servo arms, and disks used for braces on model square-riggers, does anyone have experience with the shuttle on a threaded rod system? I used a threaded rod to activate a plunger in a sub. Very slow and a lot of power goes to the resistance of the turning threads. I think it might be too slow for yard rotation. The Hitec sail winches are turning out to be very good on my brig (in testing). Only $39 and, when combined with a Spektrum tx and correctly sized drums, can be easily programmed for precise and repeatable yard rotation. Also draw low amps (= long batt life)
Figures: 1/24 and 1/32 are popular scales for figures, but does anyone make 1/36th scale figures? I think 1/32 figures would be almost 1/4" taller - which is a bit much for my taste. Maybe go 1/32 and slice out an eigth of an inch at the waist and an eigth out of the legs. Might look OK.
I can cast some basic parts and manufacture my own, but the pro made stuff will have sharper details with better and more varied faces and hands than I think I could manage.
Cheers,
Dan
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Old May 01, 2008, 09:10 AM
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United States, MD, Severna Park
Joined Apr 2008
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I thought the new Constellation actually did use timbers and other parts from the old Constellation..."

It's possible, but who knows? The old ship was broken up at the same time. Parts that were salvageable may have been reused in the new ship. First thing that comes to my mind are knees. People do claim to have seen 18th century ghosts on board, maybe those old Conny bits brought their spirits along.

I used a threaded rod to activate a plunger in a sub. Very slow and a lot of power goes to the resistance of the turning threads. I think it might be too slow for yard rotation. The Hitec sail winches are turning out to be very good on my brig (in testing). Only $39 and, when combined with a Spektrum tx and correctly sized drums, can be easily programmed for precise and repeatable yard rotation. Also draw low amps (= long batt life)

That makes a lot of sense. The Revell frigates I converted used a rod up the hollow mast to the course yards with a crank arm at the bottom under the deck. The sails pulled the yards above around and the braces just looped through a block with false leads down to the pin rails for looks. The Main & mizzen were linked together. The fore's arm also did the jibs, the main's did the driver.

Both used a pair of motors, salvaged from cordless drills, driving a threaded rod to move the cranks - I didn't have servos that strong. It only had to move the shuttle about 4 inches, and was fast enough. It did take a hunky battery, I'll admit.

'course, those were 1/96 scale boats - half the size this one will be, so the rod-in-the-mast trick ain't gonna work here

(I had photos of those models somewhere, maybe they'll turn up after I move.)

Scale: I actually forgot that 1/35 scale is popular with all those Tamiya tanks out there - that's definitely close enough to 1/36 for figures to pass. If I can find a few simple ones I can recast and bash some parts to make a pretty interesting crew. I'd like to have 30 or 40 figures on board, at least.

J
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Old May 01, 2008, 11:36 AM
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Fresno CA
Joined Aug 2006
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Hello Jerry- Definitely looking foward to your build. I to understand your love of sailing ships. When I was around 12 ,I got to spend my summers on San Francisco bay onboard an old Brigantine the Rendezvous. Thats where I became hooked. If you do a search for 1/35 figures there seems to be some good options,heres one scalehobbyist.com . They have 1/35 scale union soldiers . I also agree about ship models being able to sail. I love looking at static models ,but I always ended up making them operational to some extint. My next step is building a scale sailing ship as well and have followed some great threads on this site and trying to soak up all the info I can before I attempt to .Would love to to start out with one of those SC&H ships myself but with four kids at home my wife would kick my butt. So I must build. Also I had a question about the book you mentioned , Does it give a lot of info on the actual building of the hull and methods that could be used for other projects? I havent built a scratch hull yet ,thats why if am doing my research first.I am good with wood so I plan to use patiance and research to make up for lack of experiance. Also you might want to check out a book called "An Introduction to Radio Controlled Scale Sailing Models" ,just look up traplet publications and its under marine modeling books.If you havent already heard of it. I dont have it yet but Im sure someone else here can let us know If it is a helpfull book. They also have another book "Historical Sailins Ships Remote Controlled" , but I havent heard any info on that book. Well Thanks Again for sharing your build . Stevo
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Old May 01, 2008, 03:50 PM
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JerryTodd's Avatar
United States, MD, Severna Park
Joined Apr 2008
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Gracious! I started this back in 1999!!!

Well, I cleaned up the website I set up back then, It has some of the back ground I left out here.
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Old May 01, 2008, 10:52 PM
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cant wait to see her wet!!!!!!! I will be tagging along
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Old May 02, 2008, 09:11 AM
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United States, MN, Brainerd
Joined Oct 2004
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Some thoughts

Jerry,
Hope you don't mind if I "join" your build from afar. A dozen random thoughts as I come off the build of the C&H brig, built as the Syren.

!. Various approaches to operating the yards were tried, but in the end the best so far - and cheapest - is to use Hitech sail winch servos. $39 each and they give 4 rotations, power, low amp draw and the wind can't backdrive them because of the gear ratio.

2. Separately operating crossover jibs look very cool, and they do really seem to assist sailing.

3. If you are going to "show" the boat at a club event, or in a smaller pond with other boats, or want to cruise a path in front of spectators, putting in a powered drive works well. Can go inboar or hang drives on rudder for a very effective , removeable outboard drive.

4. The SC&H external ballast approach is the greatest. Allows droppind 40lbs for handling the model out of water. Much less stressful on model and you. Lead keel ballast is a lot lower for better stability and provides better tracking.

5. Scale rigging - "bowsie" blocks have proved very convenient for rigging requiring adjustment. Easy to make and use, they look like blocks but act like bowsies.

6. Sail detail adds a lot - spent this past winter re-doing sails with details as shown in the Petrejus book and I think it added a lot to the appearance.

7. A 7AH, 6V sealed lead acid battery, as supplied by SC&H in their kits, is a cheap and very good power source. Weight and size are fine for hull of your size. I've sailed 4-5 hours easily and the batt always has plenty left.

8. Fuse the servos separately. I and others have blown servos during "sea trials". Better to blow a fuse. Shouldn't be a problem tho if you use the sail winches. In that case, build a controlled mechanical failure point into the rigging. Small "lobster claw" jewelry clasps or light weight small brass rings work well for failure points.

9. Walmart is a great source of 0.5, 1 and 2mm fabric covered elastic line. It can easily be dyed tan or dk brown, Seems to last and is great for rigging "dummy lines" a it holds tension and stretches to allow movement (eg used for yard lifts, spritsail yard shrouds, dummy braces, etc) For other rigging I used SC&H line and vvarious diameter braided nylon from a surplus store (looks exactly like SC&H line). The line stains well with full strength liquid RIT dye (tan, dark brown, black used in various blends)

10. My rigging loosened over a season of use. In re-rigging, I found that the line stretches (you can stretch it noticeably by hand - rig a taught length, then stretch it in the middle by hand - it will then be much looser). On some, I hung 5lb lead weights on lengths of line hung from the ceiling to prestretch it. A pain, but I would recommend pre-staining, hot water rinse, hang with weight at least 24hrs before use.

11. I'm a total Krylon convert. It's cheap at Walmart and by far the best I've used. Great coverage, no run, low smell very fast drying, tough as nails. For "black" surfaces, I spray blends of Camo Black and light overspray of Camo Brown for highlight. They have acolor taht is a perfect match for red ochre. Also, I overspray everything with Krylon clear matte - water proof and very easy to amke invisible touch-ups and repairs (new application blends right into the old finish)

12. Prototype nautical knots work great for attaching lines. Square knots with a "touch" of CA are a pain if you need to re-rig. I never seal knots with CA now. If necessary, I put a little drop of liquid fabric hem glue on. It dries clear, is waterproof, but remains pliable and can be undone. Doesn't damage finish or "haze" like CA does.

Hope you don't mind me sharing my thoughts. "I'm often wrong, but never unsure."

Dan
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Old May 02, 2008, 11:00 AM
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JerryTodd's Avatar
United States, MD, Severna Park
Joined Apr 2008
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Don't mind at all. I need to catch up on current technology - I don't even own a radio anymore and I know they've changed a lot since the 80's!

I found some of the earliest photos of the project, but my scanner isn't scanning so I took some snapshots of them with the digital and posted them on the site. Not great, but folks here will know what's going on.
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Old May 02, 2008, 01:16 PM
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United States, MN, Brainerd
Joined Oct 2004
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Radio

Spektrum DX7 is the way to go. May seem a bit more$'s, but with your ship, I can see needeing all it's capabilities. It's programmability and use with winch servos is, t me anyway, the perfec combination.
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