Build log: USS Rattlesnake

TKAM

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Mar 27, 2019
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Just started the Model Shipways Rattlesnake kit. First, some observations: After 18 months working on the Syren from model shipways and having been used to the incredibly detailed practicum by Chuck Passaro, I'm disappointed by the "detailed" instruction manual. But, having done the Syren (my first ever build) I can transfer the knowledge I've gained in building the Rattlesnake. I would not recommend this kit for a beginner. The kit also comes with two sheets, double sided, of plans. Again, I'll have to used the knowledge gained from past builds in order to complete the rigging when the time comes, the one sheet that has both the running and standing rigging is cramped and confusing. The britannia metal cast cannon appear well formed with just a little bit of filing needed. The cast capstan and bitts are hopeless and I'll have to scratch build those. Wish me luck.

Box and plans.jpg
 

TKAM

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First up is removing and gluing together the two parts of the center keel from the plywood sheet. Not only should you clamp the two pieces together for several hours (using carpenter's glue) before touching the completed piece, but you should also either weigh down the assembly or clamp to your work space the whole thing. This will keep the piece straight and prevent warping. Before installing the bulkheads you should wait 24 hours but a few hours is all you need to start with the the stem, keel (two pieces), and stern post. These pics show the stem and the first of two keel sections glued up and clamped. Next I'll install the second keel before going to bed tonight and the stern post tomorrow before work. I can already see that wood filler will be necessary to smooth out the transition from center keel section to keel will be needed. No worries though, all that will be covered up by the copper plates to be applied later. All that's needed is smoothness.

center keel 1.jpg

center keel 2.jpg
 

TKAM

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In my opinion it's quite acceptable to jump ahead with some time consuming tasks while waiting for glue to dry. To have that center keel assembly with keel and stem and stern post really ready to start accepting bulkheads you should wait a minimum of 24 hours. Well, I can't wait here just watching TV so I'm jumping ahead with making the gun carriages. With this kit 8 guns are displayed and so 8 gun carriages must be constructed, but the option to display at least the barrel of a cannon in some of the other gun ports exists. My plan is to complete 10 guns as planned where they'll be fully rigged and then purchase some of those cannon stubs that stick out in gun ports below decks like on HMS Victory. This kit has 12 of the gun ports just closed up but I like the effect of keeping some of those ports open with a gun barrel sticking out. Another note, the supplied gun port covers are britannia metal and I just don't like having to paint them black, it just doesn't look realistic at all. I plan on scratch building all the gun port covers. Pics are of one test of a completed gun carriage, I'm using "Historic Ships" brand walnut stain for the carriages and wheels. The wheels themselves I painted black on the outside of the wheel to simulate the iron banding of such wheels but I like the effect of keeping the inside of the wheel the same walnut color. It's a lot more labor but not boring.

gun carriage sheet.jpg

gun carriage.jpg

wheels 1.jpg

wheels 2.jpg
 

TKAM

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The black for the iron banding of the wheel has dried so I stained the wheel hub with Historic Ships walnut stain. The small scale looks a little goofy but with the un-aided eye it looks pretty good.

completed wheel.jpg
 

TKAM

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Center keel assembly now has the stern post, keel, and bow stem attached. I filled in all the joints with wood filler and sanded it smooth. All that will be covered by copper sheathing so it just has to be smooth. I also sunk nails every four inches or so. I once had the entire keel assembly break right off my Syren when clamped into a planking vice, won't happen this time.

20190627_111039.jpg20190627_111019.jpg
 

modlerbob

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Aug 23, 2017
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central Florida
I have the Mamoli Rattlesnake that I inherited with the hull 75% complete, from a fellow modeler who recently lost his battle with cancer.. This kit appears very similar to the Model Shipways version, so I will be checking in from time to time to monitor your progress. The hull planking on my model is so haphazard that I suspect the original owner intended a second layer and that the first layer was applied to gain practice and get the correct hull shape. Hopefully I will gain some practical knowledge for when I return to my kit.
 

TKAM

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Mar 27, 2019
Messages
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I have the Mamoli Rattlesnake that I inherited with the hull 75% complete, from a fellow modeler who recently lost his battle with cancer.. This kit appears very similar to the Model Shipways version, so I will be checking in from time to time to monitor your progress. The hull planking on my model is so haphazard that I suspect the original owner intended a second layer and that the first layer was applied to gain practice and get the correct hull shape. Hopefully I will gain some practical knowledge for when I return to my kit.
The Mamoli kit looks similar for sure. If I'm not mistaken most, if not all, Mamoli kits are double plank on bulkhead. It's the way they roll.
 

David Lester

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Hi Tkam,
I'm very fond of the Rattlesnake mainly because it takes me back to my childhood. My best friend's father used to build model ships and as a kid I was mesmerized by them. My favourite of his was his Rattlesnake, largely I think because of the name. I forgot the names of all his other ships, but I never forgot that one.

I built the Mamoli version. I can only compare the Mamoli kit to the MS kit by having seen several build logs of the MS version, but I would say that the methods of construction differ considerably between the two kits, but that the finished models look remarkably alike. I would love to do the MS version too, just for fun.

The Mamoli rigging instructions and plans are very specific and easy to follow, which is quite unlike the MS instructions and plans, as you have observed. I can tell from your picture that the plans for the Rattlesnake are of the same style as those for all of the MS kits I've worked on. I'm now studying the plans for my upcoming fifth MS kit (Pride of Baltimore II) and I can assure you that, as dense as they are, they are actually quite comprehensive and can be deciphered; it just takes a lot of work.

The first thing I do with them is take them to Staples and make copies. Then I can mark them up all I want, make notes on them, highlight things etc. without ruining the original set. Also, when they're printed on both sides, it's a lot easier to have separate sheets for each one.

With the rigging plans, I go over them many times and make notes. Eventually after several iterations, I distill my notes and create a set of detailed instructions for myself. I divide the process into two phases - the first is rigging the bowsprit and everything that can be attached to the other masts while still on the bench and the second phases is everything that can only be done once the masts are mounted. Here's a sample page for my upcoming Pride of Baltimore II.

inntructions.png

It is amazing how much information MS crams onto those pages. It takes a lot of detective work to make sense of it all, and you have to jump all over the plans to put all the pieces together, referring to the inset details etc. (remember that they're usually at double the scale. I once finished a set of trestletrees and crosstrees that were twice the size I needed before I noticed!) After about two MS kits with this style of plans, you'll develop a feel for them and find them not too difficult to work with.

Another advantage to pouring over the plans several times well in advance is the frustrating fact that you will find things in there that are not included in the kit. For example, so far I have discovered that the POB II calls for 3/32" bullseyes, a couple of triple blocks, turnbuckles and many thimbles (small bullseyes). None of these is included in the kit. It takes several times pouring over the plans before I find everything, so I develop a list of the missing things and try to get it as complete as possible before placing an order.

Here's my finished Mamoli Rattlesnake. It's also 1:64.

DSCN2539.JPG

I'm looking forward to your build of the MS version. Looks like you're off to a good start.
David
 

TKAM

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Messages
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Hi Tkam,
I'm very fond of the Rattlesnake mainly because it takes me back to my childhood. My best friend's father used to build model ships and as a kid I was mesmerized by them. My favourite of his was his Rattlesnake, largely I think because of the name. I forgot the names of all his other ships, but I never forgot that one.

I built the Mamoli version. I can only compare the Mamoli kit to the MS kit by having seen several build logs of the MS version, but I would say that the methods of construction differ considerably between the two kits, but that the finished models look remarkably alike. I would love to do the MS version too, just for fun.

The Mamoli rigging instructions and plans are very specific and easy to follow, which is quite unlike the MS instructions and plans, as you have observed. I can tell from your picture that the plans for the Rattlesnake are of the same style as those for all of the MS kits I've worked on. I'm now studying the plans for my upcoming fifth MS kit (Pride of Baltimore II) and I can assure you that, as dense as they are, they are actually quite comprehensive and can be deciphered; it just takes a lot of work.

The first thing I do with them is take them to Staples and make copies. Then I can mark them up all I want, make notes on them, highlight things etc. without ruining the original set. Also, when they're printed on both sides, it's a lot easier to have separate sheets for each one.

With the rigging plans, I go over them many times and make notes. Eventually after several iterations, I distill my notes and create a set of detailed instructions for myself. I divide the process into two phases - the first is rigging the bowsprit and everything that can be attached to the other masts while still on the bench and the second phases is everything that can only be done once the masts are mounted. Here's a sample page for my upcoming Pride of Baltimore II.

View attachment 102176

It is amazing how much information MS crams onto those pages. It takes a lot of detective work to make sense of it all, and you have to jump all over the plans to put all the pieces together, referring to the inset details etc. (remember that they're usually at double the scale. I once finished a set of trestletrees and crosstrees that were twice the size I needed before I noticed!) After about two MS kits with this style of plans, you'll develop a feel for them and find them not too difficult to work with.

Another advantage to pouring over the plans several times well in advance is the frustrating fact that you will find things in there that are not included in the kit. For example, so far I have discovered that the POB II calls for 3/32" bullseyes, a couple of triple blocks, turnbuckles and many thimbles (small bullseyes). None of these is included in the kit. It takes several times pouring over the plans before I find everything, so I develop a list of the missing things and try to get it as complete as possible before placing an order.

Here's my finished Mamoli Rattlesnake. It's also 1:64.

View attachment 102177

I'm looking forward to your build of the MS version. Looks like you're off to a good start.
David
That's a beautiful build David I can only hope my MS Rattlesnake looks as good. I'm going to get the rigging plans for the Mamoli kit and compare with the MS kit. I can relate to your tale of going over the plans over and over again. When I was still planking the Bounty it was to be my first attempt at rigging and I was very intimidated. As glue dried on such and such a part I would look over the rigging sheets and after the 100th or so going over it finally started to make sense.

The white lower hull looks pretty good too. I've used copper sheathing to hide all of my planking mistakes in the past...I'm still pondering whether to stick with the plans or just copper it over.
 

TKAM

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FYI, on the Model Ship Builders site there is a build log of the Rattlesnake by Jonathan G he built the Mamoli kit but he goes into great detail I think he spent 7 or 8 years building it a must read for anyone building the Rattlesnake
I'll most definitely be looking into that. Thank you so much for pointing me in the right direction.
 
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