HM Cutter Lady Nelson 1803 - Scale 1:64, Victory Models by Glbarlow

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So here I am, writing a build log again, though it is the first time on Ships of Scale.

I started all my ship builds with a purpose; I learned the process with the AVS practicum, developed technique and accuracy with the Granado, painted with exotic woods to achieve color differentiation with the fully framed Fair American, achieved historical accuracy with Pegasus with plans from the Maritime museum, built a “74” with Vanguard. After 8 models I was done, finishing the last in 2017.

Ultimately though I missed the building part so I recently purchased the Lady Nelson. It’s a small ship but the process is the same, it’s a nice model to spend some time building, without spending a LONG time building it.

My detailed build logs for the Fair American, Pegasus, and Granado were lost due to system crash on Model Ship World, though my more abbreviated Vanguard log is still there. Sadly I wasn’t smart enough to keep offline copies. So, in the hopes of providing some entertainment, help with building, or demonstrating how not to do so depending on your viewpoint, here’s my log for the Amati Lady Nelson. Donnie has always been supportive, so I decided to place the log here.

The kit, despite being a small cutter, is another well designed Victory model series designed by Chris Watton. The material, parts, plans, and wood are all of good quality. I only build from kits by Amati or Caldercraft, I am confident I’ll have a good start when I open the box. [Post Log Edit: I have since discovered Vanguard Models and Syren Ship Models, which are the makers of my next 3 models]


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I’ve reached the point where I’m far more dependent on the plans than instructions. That’s good in this case because the plans are well done and the instructions are surprisingly brief. I’m not sure a beginning modeler would get what they need with them, so then the importance of a website like Ships of Scale to be able to seek additional help.

Without being overly critical the MDF in my kit is a bit soft and the walnut laser cut part sheets are too brittle, I’ve already broken and repaired a few parts despite being careful in removing them from the various walnut sheets. I still recommend the kit, maybe my wasn’t stored in the best place at the store I purchased it from. It doesn’t deter my confidence in the Amati Victory series models.
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I have a kit and now a job to do, who says retirement is boring. More to follow. I hope you'll follow my log and find some use from itNelson Build-1684.jpg
 
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So when you’re not sure where you want to start and feel a bit weighed down by the decision then of course you start at the end and build anchors.

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After opening the kit I had to do something to get back on the horse with 3 years since my last build. Scratch building the anchors, replacing the boring metal pieces provided in the kit was a good afternoon’s work. I started with a scrap piece from the 3mm walnut parts board and used my Byrnes Saw and Sander along with a collection of sanding tools to shape it up. I used heavy black paper cut in narrow strips to complete the anchors. I finish everything on the model with water based Minwax Polycrylic in Clear Matte. I’ have and tried all the other stuff, I always come back to this simple way to protect and finish my work.

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I have a love-hate relationship with sanding, its an integral part of building with wood but not always the most fun thing to do. Aside from the Byrnes Sander I have The True Sander, it is one of my most used tools. Aside from standard sanding blocks I’ve also created my own various sized sanders by covering scrap wood with different sandpaper grades using double sided tape. I leave 3 edges open allowing me to manage what I sand and more importantly what I don’t in small tight areas. I’ll end up changing the sandpaper a couple of times during a build, they all get used a lot. I also have some I’ve cut for a specific and often one-time use based on the model and circumstance. I share this because they are easy to make and helpful to have.

Next comes the work. Or is it work really…
 
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So then it begins, framing the keel. This work is the same on every plank on bulkhead model, in this case I just have fewer and smaller pieces to assemble.

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I first sanded a slight rabit on the bottom and stern of the keel before installing the bow, keel and stern boards. The instructions don’t mention this, but it comes in handy to slot in the planks for a better fit. Most large models make a bigger deal out of it. I’ve just always done it and saw no reason not to here.

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I did find a misprint on the plans. There are a couple of these typos where part numbers don’t match. In the case of the bulkheads the plans incorrectly label 2 and 3. It’s quickly obviously it’s wrong, here a simple reminder of the importance of checking and dry fitting to prevent a catastrophic mistake if too quick to glue.

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The instruction recommended and I did do initial fairing on each of the bulkheads 1-3 and 7-9. There are two keys here, don’t overdo it and fair half of the bulkhead. Remove the laser burn to improve adhesion of the planks but leave the half facing the center in its original shape otherwise the resulting hull will be off shape and likely uneven from one side to the other. I dry fitted them and laid a plank from one to the next to get a general idea of how much to sand, that seemed to work out. From that dry-fitting I elected to double up on the bow pieces creating a smaller twin from scrap MDF. It turned out helpful when I started planking. I later added balsa wood on top of that to complete the shape of the bow before planking. On the Vanguard I did this between the first three sets of frames on the Pegasus and Granado (where I learned this from other build logs) I did the first two sets. On this model the shaping just he bow is enough I think.

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Having completed the "pre-fairing" I then scored each bulkhead tab at the in and outside. After the second planking these tabs are removed, this makes that later process easier. Of course score being the operative word, cut too much and they’ll break off while installing the gun port pattern.

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I found these little squaring tools somewhere on various tool sites, sorry I don’t remember where. They are perfect for ensuring square frames, but I still double check by measuring and using my various squares.

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I use Admiralty Models white glue for this work and take it slow. I start from the front. part 1, and the back, part 8, saving the stern frame, 9, for last. Install and wait 30-45 minutes to dry.

Good time to watch 30 minute TV shows.
 
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And it continues:

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I installed the false deck, again with white glue. Rubber bands were a lot easier to glue to the curve of the bulkheads than the pinning with nails called for in the instructions

Next up is gluing the gunport patterns prior to the first planking. Soaking them in water for about 30 minutes is essential. Be careful not to soak to long though, its ply and could disintegrate. This has been a monster and frustrating task on my other models, but here on the Lady Nelson it was an easy alignment and fit.

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A way to make that happen is to use a pattern board to shape them. I use tracing paper to trace one side of the bow from the plans, cut that out and transfer to a board then use a jig saw to cut a replica of the bow into the board. Bend the properly soaked pattern (gently, bend to quick if the pattern isn’t wet enough it will split) then clamp it until it dries. With my Vanguard I had to use a dozen or so large clamps, with the Lady Nelson one small clamp and rubber bands did nicely.

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I just glue (still with white glue, cyan sets to fast and wouldn’t allow time to do the necessary alignment between the pattern and the top of each bulkhead and stanchion at the stern (part 12, I saved the two middle stanchions for later, I’d just break them off if I added them now as the instructions ask). I just glue and clamp as I go. Unlike prior larger models, which were successful in driving me crazy to get right, I did both sides completely instead of having to take it a section at a time, the benefit of a small model.

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So all this work and I have this little boat. My 3 year old grandson said he liked it as it was and could he play with it now :-/
 

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First planking is complete and stern transom installed. I followed the modeler’s code for first planking, cover the ship with wood and shape it like a boat no matter what it takes. Frankly my work was a bit frightful. Apparently planking is not like riding a bicycle, but ultimately it doesn’t matter, the hull is even and now smooth, ready for the next step. As an example of forgetting the basics, neither the instructions or the plans meeting how to handle to stern, I had to back up after blazing through and remove a few planks, it will all be fine with the second planking.

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One thing I've always done that may not be common is to cover the boat at this stage with water based clear poly. This seals everything up, after it dries I then sand that with some 150 grit to roughen the surface for the 2nd planks. Not sure that's everyone's cup of tea, but it works for me.

I’ve always been “ok” at the second planking but it’s time to step up my game. I’ve just ordered the Vanguard Models (Chris Watton’s new company) HMS Speedy.

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The Speedy is all Pearwood, a wood I’ve never seen but its supposed to be great. So II will use Lady Nelson to try a new planking technique, Chuck Passaro’s plank bending. I built my “plank bending station” today and started practicing. I need to go back and rewatch his YouTube videos but I think its going to work out “bending wood the wrong way0”. I’m a cyno guy when it comes to planking, this method allows me to continue to do that. I have no patience for pins.

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Here’s my old method, a glass of water and a little soak…:-D

Anyway, next up is the 2nd planking. I’ll start that once I get comfortable with ironing wood. After lots of mulling it over I’ve decided the paint scheme will be black and white. Swiss Pear inner bulwarks, Boxwood above the wale, Ebony wale, and the kit walnut below the wale. Not much of that will show after painting white below the water line but I decided I needed something to tie together the other walnut kit fittings on the boat (I almost went cherry but its just one to many colors.

I got my Admiralty paint order (all I’ll ever use) in today and also received wooden cannon kits (no way I’m putting those metal cast carriages on my ship.

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My one reply from my first postings was about the framing square. As I mentioned I don’t recall where I got them from, but they work great. So here’s a couple of close ups. Basically tighten the screws makes a firm 90 fit between bulwark and keel.

So far not much interest in my little log, I guess I’m typing to myself. I talk to myself a lot so typing to myself is the next step I suppose. Off I go.
 
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First of many oops moments. I just notice I put the deck on “upside down." Normally this doesn’t matter but with the offset bowsprit the mount on the deck is also offset, so the mounting holes are on the wrong side. In my defense it naturally curved the way I installed in going with the fall of the outer edge of the bulkheads.

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No problem, I used a squared piece of MDF to draw lines (no ruler would fit. I use my Byrnes saw to cut these, making perfectly square "tools") to get the alignment, then the cross bar piece to locate the accurate distance

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Drill a new hole with the right sized bit and open up with my trusty blade. One thing we modelers know is it isn’t all going to go perfect. Adapt, improvise, and overcome to quote Clint Eastwood.

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I’ve become a big fan of a simple set of riffler files, not sure why I had never discovered these before. This particular one allowed me to square up the corners of the new hole very precisely and a dry fit of that eventual bowsprit saddle plus laying the dowel on top, all's right with the world again. It was also a good time to round out the bowsprit half-hole on the gun port pattern, it will be easy to duplicate with the eventual planking later.

Oh, and I put a X over the now wrong hole so I remember to plank over it when the time comes. The quality of the stem wood and another oops moment when I snapped it in two led to the decision to paint it black after the repair along with the sternpost (the part that won’t be be painted white below the waterline). It’s walnut, but not very good walnut not a match to the planks at all. I’m a bit concerned about the soft wood when I move into deck furniture.

I’ll make it work, and off we go.
 
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Hello Glenn, I am sure you insert the bits temporarily (just as a trial) as they should facing the bow. I could be wrong...
I was only concerned about the alignment and fit, but good pickup, you’re right the dry fit is backwards. I”ll need to remember to glue them in correctly, that may be taking adapt and improvise too far:)
 
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After seeing my sorrowful job of first planking I decided to take a step back and relearn planking with some practice and tutorials. Lady Nelson will become a test bed for a new technique, well new for me.

I just received the HMS Speedy from Vanguard Models, Chris Watton’s starting his own company and this is one of the first two kits out. It’s a really great looking kit, I recommend checking his website out at https://vanguardmodels.co.uk So now Nelson is just to relearn and reinvent my skills in preparation. Chris informed me he designed Lady Nelson over two decades ago, his new kits reflect a lot of learning along the way.

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As I always do I plan mounting my model at the very beginning, drilling the holes in the keel before installing the first bulkhead. Normally I use a small gauge threaded machine screw, but the Nelson is so small there is no screw to fit the inside 3mm Keel, so I’m using 1.5mm brass wire I’l epoxy into the base of the ship and the mounting board. I glue scrap MDF either side of the drilled hole and make sure it goes through the keel into the MDF by at least a few mm. I did all the trial fitting last night and happy with how it will eventually sit. Measure 4 times, drill once is the method here.

The first planking is ugly, but its smooth and will provide the necessary base for the 2nd planking. I really should care more but really all I want to do is cover the ship. If I say that enough times I may start believing it.

So off to the tutorials and practice. No idea how my other ships came out looking as good as they do, must be luck.
 
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Glenn - a familiar name from the old MSW times... It is a pleasure to read your building log (and yours is just the perfect one) and I am following it with great interest.
You mentioned earlier that you can live only with Amati and Caldercraft kits. I agree with the first choice and don't know about the second as I did not have one. Amati's timber choice was the best, first of all its walnut. And yes, the metal gun carriages are terrible and the rigging lines are, as usually, too thin.
Keep up the good work!
Janos
 
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Glenn - a familiar name from the old MSW times... It is a pleasure to read your building log (and yours is just the perfect one) and I am following it with great interest.
You mentioned earlier that you can live only with Amati and Caldercraft kits. I agree with the first choice and don't know about the second as I did not have one. Amati's timber choice was the best, first of all its walnut. And yes, the metal gun carriages are terrible and the rigging lines are, as usually, too thin.
Keep up the good work!
Janos
I'm a new fan of Vanguard Models. Chris Watton designed most of the Amati and Caldercraft kits I like, he's starting his own company and has his first two models available for purchase. I just received HMS Speedy, its really well designed and put together with all Pearwood (I didn't know what that was but having seen it its a big step up from walnut..

Yes I was out of modeling for a long while, I tend to obsess and spend too many hours in my workshop - which is great other than the neck, shoulder, and back pain. LOL
 
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I’ve completed the planking above the wales using boxwood. Why, because I like Boxwood and I had some. It’s a remarkable wood, so easy to work and bend into place.

These are actually from my first attempt at ripping my own out of a plank. I read a few tutorials, got some input from reliable sources and went at it with my Byrnes saw (with the right blade). My first couple weren’t going that well with the blade binding and the wood backing up. I got the hang of it though, learning where and how to best apply pressure, and where not. They were a tad thick, but they worked out great on the boat.

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I mentioned earlier that before I attach the gunport patterns I score each side of the bulkhead tabs above the deck. I also only glue at the top point and the bottom to make them easier to remove later. I elected to break off the three tabs on each side that were obstructing gun ports, electing to leave the rest in until I complete the first planking. The scoring and light glue made this task easy.

After all the cutting and filing and cutting and filing and cutting and filing and being thankful this is a 12 gun ship, not the Vanguard, I did some basic sanding (leaving the rest and needed filling until the 2nd planking is complete. I put a light coat of Satin Poly just to keep the boxwood clean.

I’ve also spent a LOT of time fidldling and pondering how to finish up the stern. I soaked and curved it over a piece of two inch PVC pipe to fit and painted it with multiple coast of Admiralty Paints French Blue (again because I like that color) then finished it with Matte Poly. It's ready to attach, but I’m going to leave it off until I finish sanding the 2nd planking. I’m still not sure about the fashion piece on the stern sides, the part included with the model is a bit disappointing. More on all that later.

So the moment has arrived to learn a new method of planking following Chuck’s tutorials and videos. First step is lining off the hull, I made pencil marks where the bulkheads are and divided the hull into two bands using artist tape. Bulkhead 4 is marked as the widest part of the ship. Now to make the tick marks… At this point this thing looks a bit beat up. It’ll all come together, I think.... I'm not sure that's where I want the artist tape yet, its a work in progress.

Who knows how this is going to turn out. If there is never another entry in this log you’ll know it went badly.
 
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