I was thinking for days over what to do with the prow of the ship since there are so many interpretations, varying between the Mantua version, the Corel version, and the one depicted in paintings of the St. Louis. I opted to go with one similar to the St. Louis put using the lower foundation from the Corel kit as a base, and base the style on a paper model made by Jan, aka Jano 100, which is similar to the St. Louis.
After that, it was time to add some decorations to the starboard side, made up of fluer-de-lis on the sides of the ship and on the prow, and adapting some of the Corel human-like figures and putting them on the prow. I think I'll work on the bow towers after duplicating the decorations on the port side.
A few more things were added today. The decoration made on the starboard side were duplicated on the port side. A couple more ladders were installed on the main deck. Two more ladders leading up to the poop deck will be installed after the poop deck is planked.
Started on the rudder today. Since the stern post was not layered with mahogany, the rudder will not be either, in order to make it the same thickness as the rudder post. The rear, top, and bottom surfaces were overlaid with sapele wood which matched the grain of the mahogany sides of the rudder, and the inside edge was simply stained dark with walnut stain. The hinges provided needed to be resized using a vise to make them narrower and fit both the stern post and the rudder. The rudder chain, which provides for an alternate method of steering, was blacked as well as the cut edges of the hinges as well as some nails, a few cannon port hinged, and a few brass shafts that will probably not be used in favor of using brass pins on the cannon port hinges.
The rudder hinges were cut to the correct lengths to fit the rudder and the stern post. More nail holes needed to be drilled into the tiny hinges. The hinges provided with the kit were the wrong length and had the holes in the wrong places for this ship, being as they are standard Corel parts for several models.
After being customized, the hinges were fitted to the rudder. Tiny black pins were shortened with a side cutter and the holes were pre-drilled with a micro-drill bit in a Dremel tool to prevent the wood from splitting. Each nail had CA adhesive applied before being tapped into the rudder with a small tack hammer and held with small needle nosed pliers. The same technique was used to attach the hinges to the hull.
The emergency steering chain was blackened to make it look like iron and it was attached to eyelets glued into the rudder similar to the nails that hold the hinges on. The decoration was slipped over the chain and the chain was glued into the holes in the transom. When dry, the decorative chain portals were also glued to the transom.
Installation of the bow towers is begun. The port tower was completed today, and the starboard one will be installed later. The tower assemblies were completed earlier and not the arduous process of making the mounts that attach them to the hull needed to be done. I took some mahogany and cut two thin strips that were custom filed to fit the hull on one side, then to mate to the tower on the other. Thin strips of mahogany were cut with a scissors to make the top and bottom sides of the mount. Lots of test was done to make sure the mount fit the contour of the hull and wales and the tower.
The side of the mount were CA glued to the hull after studying the blueprints for correct position. The electrical wires for the yellow LED were cut to a shorter length to allow them to fit properly in the mount. A hole was cut into the side of the tower for insertion of the LED. The LED fits into a hole bored into the top bell of the tower, such that the light is dimmed a bit by the hole which the LED is inserted, making the tower lit from above by less direct light. That way, I won't have to paint the LED to dim the light. A test fit of the LED in the tower shows how much light it produces in this configuration.
The LED is connected to the wiring using two solder & seal connectors that had the seal portion cut off, leaving only the solder part of the connector. There was not enough space in the mount for the entire connector, and the seals are not needed anyway. A heat gun was used to melt the solder and make the connections. I like these connectors! They take the frustration out of soldering. The LED was test fitted into the mount. Then the LED was glued into the top of the tower bell with CA glue, and the tower attached to the mount.
When that dried, the tower was attached to the mount with PVA (Titebond III) and held with rubber bands until it dried. I'm very pleased with how the lighting turned out.
Thanks Uwek and FredV! Just a small update for the build log tonight. The starboard bow tower is now installed, and the lights still work amazingly. Maybe the railings are next. The next step needs to be planned...
Today the anchor line hawse pipes were installed on both sides of the bow. I had to remove one of the prow supports on each side, closest to the hull, because they posed an obstruction which would contact or foul the anchor lines. The pieces were cut from walnut, two holes drilled in each, filed to shape and attached to the hull. Then, the hawse pipe holes were drilled deep into the hull.
The stern gallery is finally completed with the construction of the stern balcony railing. Instead of the plain flat wood railing provided by the kit, inspiration for a custom design was provided by another builder of this model. Decorative brass strip 10 mm wide was cut, and the center section of the strip was assembled into a gunwale and railing for the balcony using pillars and rail made from walnut. The top rail of walnut was shaped in an arc to match the balcony by soaking it in hot water, clamping it to shape and allowing it to dry. The brass was bent into an arc and helped maintain the top rail of walnut from returning to straight as the CA glue set. The finished piece was filed to final trim and attached to the stern balcony with CA glue. The stern gallery is now complete, and the last piece adds a lot of detail to the overall appearance. Note that persons walking the balcony now have enough room to walk without banging their heads on the transom. Too often models are built with features that would not be truly functional in full scale. Most interpretations of the rear balcony of La Couronne are extremely narrow.
Work on the handrails has begun. The rails were profiled with a Artesania Latina scraper before cutting and fitting them into place. Three rails were installed today. They add a lot to the appearance. More rails will be added, except for the poop deck, which needs planking, fittings, and stern lanterns first.
Some of the railings were added to the gunwales and decks on the rear end of the ship. Some care was taken to sand the ends of each pillar so that they appear vertical relative to the sheer of the gunwale railings and the camber of the deck for the deck railings. The decorative metal castings were added. Two of the smaller castings will not be used on the forecastle railing as shown in the instructions, and appear better on the railings of the quarterdeck. The corners of the forecastle railings will feature gold fleur-de-lis.
A few deck fittings were installed. The shape of the staghorn bitts were adjusted with a round needle file and finished with a sanding block. Then they were installed in six positions on the bulwarks. A bitt was fashioned and fastened to the deck in front of the mizzen mast using a peg for reinforcement. A topsail bitt was fashioned for the foremast. The belaying pins from the kit were discarded in favor of more properly scaled 9mm pins made by Falkonet in Russia. They also make the best blocks too.
One of the biggest problems with this kit is that the small scale (1:100) makes it difficult to fashion micro-sized parts to achieve a decent level of detail, such as the gun tackles and the belaying pins. I'm going to have to be extra careful not to break off the belaying pins. They are not glued in place, so they can be easily replaced if broken. An Archimedes drill was used to drill the holes in the topsail bitt rail, and the bitt was attached to the deck using glue and wooden pins for reinforcement.
Catheads and their support knees were fabricated and installed today. Instead of having the cathead beams lay atop the forecastle deck in the diagonal style found occasionally on ships from this period, the catheads were installed just under the deck, simulating the more common style. Slots were cut into the ends of the cathead beams with a coping saw, and the ends were filling in with small pieces of wood. More small pieces of wood were inserted into the centers of each slot to simulated the pulleys. This way, the lines will lie naturally, and the surface of the line over the "pulleys" will not be above the top surface of the cathead beam.
Instead of the simple timber supports EJ used on his ship model, small knee brackets were cut from some spare 3 mm plywood, and some shape and details were added using needle files to give them a little more detail before they were fitted to the hull, taking care to cut a slot so they fit over the wale. The angle of the cathead was estimated at 45 degrees and the knees were filed and fitted so that the cathead beams are are the correct angle when installed.
After the cathead pulley ends were completed, the beams were cut to length at the correct angle in preparation to being attached to the hull. An extension of wood at the top surface of the joint was left to fill in a gap between the knee and the trim along the top of the forecastle. Instead of leaving the ends of the catheads plain as you see them now, metal castings of lion heads were ordered from Cornwall Model Boats in the UK, the ones made by Caldercraft. They will be added later and paint gold. Then, these will truly live up to their name. The block and tackle for the catheads will be made the same as EJ made on his model... because it's cool.