Cutty Sark Mantua 1:78 Build Log

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Jun 23, 2019
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Greetings Shipwrights,
I'm finished with the first hull planking of my second ship build, the aforementioned Cutty Sark.
This kit is older, probably made in the early 90s; differs from Mantua's current version in several aspects, as I've come to learn.
I'll begin with pictures and description up to the current stage of completion.
This was a fairly straightforward build, despite the very sparse instructions included. I would absolutely NOT recommend this model for first-time builders, even with my own limited experience. The written instructions are thin, and the plans do not include English translations (from Italian). I used an app on my phone to translate the notes on the drawings and wrote them in English next to the Italian ones. They do turn out to be fairly important!
So far, everything's gone together well.
Keel and bulkheads: all fit extremely tight. Laser cut, very accurate, but I had to sand every joint to enable them to be joined.
Hull planking: very good. The 1.5mm thick "Beech" first layer planking was very supple and bendable, even after decades of waiting to be put together.

IMG_0474.jpgIMG_0484.jpgIMG_0485.jpgIMG_0486.jpgIMG_0487.jpgIMG_0488.jpgIMG_0489.jpgIMG_0491.jpgIMG_0492.jpgIMG_0493.jpgIMG_0494.jpgIMG_0472.jpgIMG_0459.jpgIMG_0462.jpgIMG_0463.jpg
 
Joined
Jun 23, 2019
Messages
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Chapter 2:
I've nearly finished the second layer of planking. Just a bit at the stern to complete. IMG_0508.jpgIMG_0510.jpgIMG_0509.jpgIMG_0498 (1).jpgIMG_0497 (2).jpgIMG_0496 (1).jpgAgain, I mention that although the kit itself is probably over 20 years old, the wood remains supple and workable. (Mantua's Cutty Sark 1:78) The first "Birch" layer was 1.5mm thick, which seemed more supple than the .5mm "whatever" wood of my first build, from Artesania Latina (another clipper ship, the "Harvey.") Equally good results on the second layer, 1mm thick ( x 6mm) walnut. Another observation: The Artesania Latina kit claimed the outer planking of walnut, but in reality was Mahogany. This Mantua kit was definitely Walnut.
On this second layer, I marked 1mm increments every 6 inches or so along both sides of the hull, and as I progressed downward with the 2nd layer of planking, i tapered the bow and stern ends as needed to keep the remaining distances fairly even. This resulted in not requiring me to do a lot of precutting and figuring exact taper measurements. I ended up with an acceptable number of stealers and slivers, and working carefully and not settling for "good enough" I managed to cover the hull pretty tightly.
Another thing I've tried: in some situations, a slight gap between rows of planking (say 1/2 mm or less) was evident despite my best efforts. So I thought: maybe I can fill that gap thusly: I took a CA glue (medium body) with one of those very tiny nozzles and ran a bead of glue inside the gap. (Most of these gaps were short distances-- an inch or so) Then I immediately sanded over the area, allowing the walnut dust to collect in the gap and perhaps once I finish and put a dull or satin poly varnish over it, the gap will disappear, or at least the gap will not be noticeable. Or that's the theory. It's probably an anal-retentive thing, because the gap would probably not be noticed regardless, since the poly would almost certainly close that tiny gap anyway. But I've got a feeling that exactitude is not an unknown trait around this community.

So, one other thing I'll mention here, though I posted it elsewhere: the Copper "photoetch" type adornments that came with this kit. They are simply all grouped together on large, fairly thick copper sheets. Not precut. (The copper plates for the hull coppering are cut out and shaped and dimpled, however). When I discovered this, and after trying to cut one of them out with a very sharp hobby knife, I realized I was in a world of frustrating futility. 20 minutes of scoring, then pressing harder and harder with each pass did not do much to separate this part from its sheet. I posted a query in a separate post about how in the heck this could be accomplished. I do have enough experience to assume I wouldn't get a magical solution. Reasonable yes, but... It would take a very precise hand with a very fine scroll saw, or many hours with drill and jeweler's coping saw and similar, with hair-pulling and potty-mouth intervals aplenty.

No surprise that newer kits of this ship from Mantua include these parts precut. I inquired from Mantua UK about purchasing these sheets from the newer version but sticker shock kept me from pulling the trigger. (about $200 US to buy and have shipped from the UK)

So, I have bought a roll of copper tape, and hopefully I can fashion these accoutrements from a much thinner stock and still get reasonably good results. I may still try to cut these parts out, but I'm prepared for the inevitable failure or abandonment I see occurring.
 

NMBROOK

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Your planking looks great Sid.I think the timber on their older kits is much better quality than the newer stuff.I did hear a while back Mantua had planted it's own forests in Papa New Guinea.It would be safe to assume this new plantation will be a faster growing species compared to their original sources.

I would buy some Tamiya photoetch scissors to try and cut those sheets out.Yes they will curl but that is inevitable.You will need to 'roll' the piece out flat afterwards.Placing the item on a cutting mat and roll with a rolling pin and keep turning the piece over every couple of goes..I have worked with these sheets before and they are a pig.The cutting mat is important,too hard a surface and you may loose the detail.

Kind Regards

Nigel
 
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Enjoying the comments about what you are encountering thru the build of the Cutty. I have an even older version of the Victory w/the same brass PE sheets for the details. I am not looking to use, will replace w/3D printed parts from Shape Ways. And yes, I have the kit that the parts are printed on the wood for you too cut out. But it does look to build into a reasonable vessel. Mine has lost wax castings from brass. I look forward to more of your build. Oh, I purchased another old kit from eBay and it came with what is called a Ship Builders Italian Dictionary translates to English. Has been a God send w/the Italian kits/plans.
 
Joined
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Messages
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Location
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Chapter 2:
I've nearly finished the second layer of planking. Just a bit at the stern to complete. View attachment 118633View attachment 118634View attachment 118635View attachment 118636View attachment 118637View attachment 118638Again, I mention that although the kit itself is probably over 20 years old, the wood remains supple and workable. (Mantua's Cutty Sark 1:78) The first "Birch" layer was 1.5mm thick, which seemed more supple than the .5mm "whatever" wood of my first build, from Artesania Latina (another clipper ship, the "Harvey.") Equally good results on the second layer, 1mm thick ( x 6mm) walnut. Another observation: The Artesania Latina kit claimed the outer planking of walnut, but in reality was Mahogany. This Mantua kit was definitely Walnut.
On this second layer, I marked 1mm increments every 6 inches or so along both sides of the hull, and as I progressed downward with the 2nd layer of planking, i tapered the bow and stern ends as needed to keep the remaining distances fairly even. This resulted in not requiring me to do a lot of precutting and figuring exact taper measurements. I ended up with an acceptable number of stealers and slivers, and working carefully and not settling for "good enough" I managed to cover the hull pretty tightly.
Another thing I've tried: in some situations, a slight gap between rows of planking (say 1/2 mm or less) was evident despite my best efforts. So I thought: maybe I can fill that gap thusly: I took a CA glue (medium body) with one of those very tiny nozzles and ran a bead of glue inside the gap. (Most of these gaps were short distances-- an inch or so) Then I immediately sanded over the area, allowing the walnut dust to collect in the gap and perhaps once I finish and put a dull or satin poly varnish over it, the gap will disappear, or at least the gap will not be noticeable. Or that's the theory. It's probably an anal-retentive thing, because the gap would probably not be noticed regardless, since the poly would almost certainly close that tiny gap anyway. But I've got a feeling that exactitude is not an unknown trait around this community.

So, one other thing I'll mention here, though I posted it elsewhere: the Copper "photoetch" type adornments that came with this kit. They are simply all grouped together on large, fairly thick copper sheets. Not precut. (The copper plates for the hull coppering are cut out and shaped and dimpled, however). When I discovered this, and after trying to cut one of them out with a very sharp hobby knife, I realized I was in a world of frustrating futility. 20 minutes of scoring, then pressing harder and harder with each pass did not do much to separate this part from its sheet. I posted a query in a separate post about how in the heck this could be accomplished. I do have enough experience to assume I wouldn't get a magical solution. Reasonable yes, but... It would take a very precise hand with a very fine scroll saw, or many hours with drill and jeweler's coping saw and similar, with hair-pulling and potty-mouth intervals aplenty.

No surprise that newer kits of this ship from Mantua include these parts precut. I inquired from Mantua UK about purchasing these sheets from the newer version but sticker shock kept me from pulling the trigger. (about $200 US to buy and have shipped from the UK)

So, I have bought a roll of copper tape, and hopefully I can fashion these accoutrements from a much thinner stock and still get reasonably good results. I may still try to cut these parts out, but I'm prepared for the inevitable failure or abandonment I see occurring.
Yea, whoever dreamed up the brass sheet approach was off the mark. I have found scribing the piece 1st, then using a cut off wheel, rough cut out and finish w/a file. I know, this is not the PE we are use too today. Back then this was cutting edge stuff.......not!
 
Joined
Jul 31, 2019
Messages
133
Points
103

Location
Gastonia, North Carolina USA
Chapter 2:
I've nearly finished the second layer of planking. Just a bit at the stern to complete. View attachment 118633View attachment 118634View attachment 118635View attachment 118636View attachment 118637View attachment 118638Again, I mention that although the kit itself is probably over 20 years old, the wood remains supple and workable. (Mantua's Cutty Sark 1:78) The first "Birch" layer was 1.5mm thick, which seemed more supple than the .5mm "whatever" wood of my first build, from Artesania Latina (another clipper ship, the "Harvey.") Equally good results on the second layer, 1mm thick ( x 6mm) walnut. Another observation: The Artesania Latina kit claimed the outer planking of walnut, but in reality was Mahogany. This Mantua kit was definitely Walnut.
On this second layer, I marked 1mm increments every 6 inches or so along both sides of the hull, and as I progressed downward with the 2nd layer of planking, i tapered the bow and stern ends as needed to keep the remaining distances fairly even. This resulted in not requiring me to do a lot of precutting and figuring exact taper measurements. I ended up with an acceptable number of stealers and slivers, and working carefully and not settling for "good enough" I managed to cover the hull pretty tightly.
Another thing I've tried: in some situations, a slight gap between rows of planking (say 1/2 mm or less) was evident despite my best efforts. So I thought: maybe I can fill that gap thusly: I took a CA glue (medium body) with one of those very tiny nozzles and ran a bead of glue inside the gap. (Most of these gaps were short distances-- an inch or so) Then I immediately sanded over the area, allowing the walnut dust to collect in the gap and perhaps once I finish and put a dull or satin poly varnish over it, the gap will disappear, or at least the gap will not be noticeable. Or that's the theory. It's probably an anal-retentive thing, because the gap would probably not be noticed regardless, since the poly would almost certainly close that tiny gap anyway. But I've got a feeling that exactitude is not an unknown trait around this community.

So, one other thing I'll mention here, though I posted it elsewhere: the Copper "photoetch" type adornments that came with this kit. They are simply all grouped together on large, fairly thick copper sheets. Not precut. (The copper plates for the hull coppering are cut out and shaped and dimpled, however). When I discovered this, and after trying to cut one of them out with a very sharp hobby knife, I realized I was in a world of frustrating futility. 20 minutes of scoring, then pressing harder and harder with each pass did not do much to separate this part from its sheet. I posted a query in a separate post about how in the heck this could be accomplished. I do have enough experience to assume I wouldn't get a magical solution. Reasonable yes, but... It would take a very precise hand with a very fine scroll saw, or many hours with drill and jeweler's coping saw and similar, with hair-pulling and potty-mouth intervals aplenty.

No surprise that newer kits of this ship from Mantua include these parts precut. I inquired from Mantua UK about purchasing these sheets from the newer version but sticker shock kept me from pulling the trigger. (about $200 US to buy and have shipped from the UK)

So, I have bought a roll of copper tape, and hopefully I can fashion these accoutrements from a much thinner stock and still get reasonably good results. I may still try to cut these parts out, but I'm prepared for the inevitable failure or abandonment I see occurring.
For the info, the copper sheet is ment to be scored, flex up w/steel edge and then when flexed back, clean break. Sounds stupid I know, but does work. Cutting is a no go unless w/a cut wheel. While scoring/flexing, you have to perform on a piece of glass.
Rick
 
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Jun 23, 2019
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Greetings shipwrights,
This is my third installment. I’ve just laid a coat of low sheen polyurethane upon the hull and main deck to protect it from scratches and dents from handling as construction moves forward.
The Cutty Sark has limited instructions, and what is there is Italian. However, Mantua should have been more clear. I had to remove the already glued-on fore and aft upper decks because I noticed that parts of the superstructure needed to be installed underneath them. I was able to do it without unrecoverable damage to the decks but it was to me, an unforgivable oversight, because instructions clearly showed the decks being installed.
the main deck installs with an apron of little tiny outward oriented planks that had to placed with tweezers.
I have not yet tackled the copper bulwarks that Ring the hull at the deck but I did purchase a pair of micro tin snips that were recommended here and I tried a sample cut and they may yet work.
oh almost forgot- it was mentioned somewhere on this forum to put a bit of graphite along the edges of the deck planks to simulate caulking. I found this too messy but I liked the idea so I used blank acrylic paint along the edges of the main deck planks to make it look like the caulking. 536F3D3A-2415-439F-ABD3-F67224970058.jpeg50C75923-EB7A-464C-A0E5-4FB300B84AB1.jpeg1DD9B9B9-BCC3-4F77-9377-7E00237927D4.jpegA9721BB9-2025-48E7-85BB-48D6DDDDFF62.jpeg008CF66B-9E6D-4FAA-A814-3192B0CEE1B1.jpegDA07EE44-B15F-4E26-90C8-77ACEE48319F.jpeg984C703B-68F2-45F3-95FF-2718125C4986.jpeg9D67DE70-19CF-4529-A8F8-35DF2218D374.jpeg607624A7-2091-4370-B6F4-719157F8F201.jpeg01DDFF77-0429-4C9A-85C4-026164C70E32.jpegF479B399-BCB0-4C0F-A8CD-38D0ADA9B0BB.jpeg
 
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Messages
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Greetings shipwrights,
4th instalment. I’ve successfully cut out the copper bulwarks and assorted accoutrements!! I still have a bit of fine smoothing to do, then it’s off to the patina inducing treatment to get that lovely weathered brass look.
All it took was the very helpful suggestions posted here; I purchased a pair of “mini tin snips” from micro-mark tools. I didn’t know if they would work on these sheeted brass/copper parts but once I got them and tested them on a part of lesser importance, I took the plunge and got good results.
I think what made it successful was the fact that the actual parts were raised/thicker than the surrounding metal (sprue?) and therefore the surround is what distorted, not the actual part, as the snips passed through on its cut.
it did require some filing and de-burring, plus paint removal, and I used a Dremel for that so it wasn’t exceedingly tedious.C6CD3A1C-76F0-4876-8F7D-0A2233E287B4.jpegCCEFEDB7-3C1D-4666-862D-599A25A76B2C.jpegA440A3D8-9C7F-4582-BBC2-B623EA69BFE1.jpeg
 
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Quick update: all of the copper parts for my Cutty Sark have been cut out, drilled, filed and smoothed. I just put them onto a screen seated above a bath of regular ammonia in a five gallon bucket with a tight fitting lid. Set out in the sun to conjure up some fumes which, according to Martha Stewart, will oxidise the parts to a “lovely brown patina,” the degree to which is determined by the length of time they are exposed.
Danged amazing how Martha is right there at my fingertips on this inter web thing!
 
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Update of quick update: Wasn't quite satisfied with the patina last night, so I left the Copper parts swing in the hammock above the ammonia bath overnight. Now I have an unlovely powdery green patina. A bit of steel wool or 800 sandpaper should fix this. Bottom line is: 12 hours of the ammonia fumes in a lidded 5 gallon bucket would probably have been about right. 24 hours was too long.
 
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Final report on quick update.
well, the copper adornments and parapets have now been drilled, cut open, and the over exuberant application of ammonia fumes, resulting in a blue-green powdery coating has buffed off. I’ve probably spent 30 hours on just these parts.
but it had to be done in order to proceed because the “walls of brass” (what the Italian instructions directly translate to) must be in place to accurately place the trim (I need to learn the names of the less common parts of ships) which then determines the placement of the many many parts and furniture and equipment along the parapets.
A wise man on this thread mentioned that despite the high cost of purchasing the newer, updated, already-cut out parts available, it might be worth it to avoid all the work I’ve just gone through. And yes, he was right.
nevertheless, i’m now ready to proceed.
sorry for the long-winded rambles. I was a language and literature teacher for some many years and can’t help myself.
 
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Greeting shipwrights;
This is my fifth instalment. It will be a quick one. This Mantua Cutty Sark is a very detailed ship with minimal guidance (in Italian), so progress is going to be slow.
move now completed planking the fore and aft upper decks, installed the upper brass/copper sheathing which also included the gunwales above and below it. I’ve drilled holes and installed the nails in the brass sheathing.
the Cutty Sark has a pronounced ‘rounded’ stern which laughed at my first attempt to bend 1mm x 5mm and 2mm x 3mm strips around it. I finally laid out the shape of the stern on a sheet of paper and used a protractor to draw a series of 5* lines through it from a central point around 20mm inboard from the back of the stern. This gave me a method to cut equal-length pieces at equal angles-of-cut which took the shape of the stern and were glued in place. I got better at it as I progressed and feel like with even more attention to precision on future similar situations, I can use this method to good effect.
ive marked out the square holes along the bulwarks for the “not gun ports, but they sure look like gunports.” Then the second “wall of brass” will be installed.
then decision time. Do I copper plate the hull or not? I’ve got a real hesitance to cover the beautiful walnut hull ( and heaven forbid I shoul ever be historically accurate and paint the upper hull black!!)
I’d listen to opinions either way from fellow shipwrights as to should I or not copper the hull. I’m sure I could do an adequate job of it, especially now that I have some experience in using ammonia to age the copper. Read: I think I could do it right this time.
anyway, lots left to do but making steady progress. 2552E5D0-8563-42DD-A9C3-3BE39B71B6DF.jpegEE90C9FE-1A66-4707-B21D-FD5684D35267.jpegD6AF4ADB-75CC-42FC-AF93-E015334D317D.jpeg821016B9-0377-402F-8998-478B6128A44A.jpegA3E90796-8794-42B9-9CA2-E8B74A6BA650.jpeg81D26F46-72C0-4261-B1D0-71382910FCBF.jpegFE1AC0AF-BC2B-4AC2-9292-A7629C1FC5CA.jpeg73A9F553-3507-4AF7-9982-65D26E74EB30.jpeg83693824-4123-4F38-B559-DE840303594C.jpeg
 
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