USS Constitution Mamolii 1:93 scale

MystRacing

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So I bought this kit in 1992 and completed the model in 1993. I did a really poor job of rigging the ship with full sails. Overall it looked decent to the layman from 3 feet away but was really lacking in the detail department. It didn’t even have deadeyes where the ratlines attached and the ratlines, life boats and sails came from a plastic kit.

After several years on the top of the entertainment center, my wife decided to re-decorate. The Constitution went to the garage where I stripped the sails and rigging and left it sit on a shelf.

Fast forward 26 years or so from the initial build and here’s what I have to work with.

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Hull - She’s pretty dusty, but for the most part I think the hull is sound. I was happy with that part of the build years ago, and still am as far as the copper plating on the hull, which is actually wood. I don’t want to go as far as reconstructing the hull with copper. I have a new kit of this I picked up off ebay a few years ago for $125, so I could build a new one but don’t want too. What I would like to do with the hull is any relatively easy modifications that would improve the look and or realism without getting real carried away. Meaning painting the bulwarks, and canon carriges, blackening anchor chains , putting windows in the transom is the kind of improvements I’d like to make. I’d also like to add the white woodwork on the bow that a lot of the other kits have, though I may build that from plastic. I don’t even know where to start on how to get the shapes for that.

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Masting – The yard arms IMO are junk, but I think the masts are salvageable. This isn’t going to be even close to a master crafted model so I’m planning on most likely doing furled sails made from tissue paper like I did on my HMS Victory cross section because it’s a look I like even if it isn’t realistic.

Though to be honest I don’t know if it’s realistic or not.

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The end goal is to have a nice looking display piece. I didn’t put it in the thread title but this was actually the first wood ship I finished building so It does have some sentimental value to me, I expect it will end up in my office at work once it’s back to presentable.

Definitely interested opinions and ideas of things that people think would be worth doing, that aren’t to the point that it would make more sense to start over.
 

danielsje

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I did a Connie model awhile back. So from what I see of your photos you have a solid base to start. You have already identified some obvious places to fix such as the deadeyes, masting, and rigging. My suggestion is to use pieces and parts from that second kit you bought. Break it out and set up the plan sheets and then use that as a guide for tweaking your base build. A lot can be accomplished by painting. So start with the hull and the deck furniture...use parts from the second kit to fix and replace (and add) as necessary. It will be harder to paint around fixtures already in place but some time and patience will get you there. Then, the best "fix" will happen when you redo the masting and rigging. Carefully continue to cut away yards that need to be fixed, again using parts from your second kit. Then follow the rigging plans as normal. The idea of using the tissue for furled sails is fine...go ahead with that. Bottom line is you have a lot to work with already and the primary fix of masting and rigging will actually do a lot to improve the model. This fix is worth a build log if you are so inclined! Go for it! And...what is the saying? A fresh coat of paint does wonders?? :)
 

MystRacing

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Thanks for the encouraging words.

So I did a bunch of cleaning. I removed the canon and all of the yard arms. I did break the top inch of the mizzen mast so I'll need to redo that piece. The other masts I think just need some embellishment in place. I gave some consideration to trying to remove the masts; however I wasn't bashful about gluing them in years ago. I'm pretty confident getting them out would result in scrapping the model.

Here's a mostly cleaned and cleared deck. Planning on doing the green on the gunwales and the reddish for the canon carriages. That is as deep as I want to go into reworking the deck.




I Then got started on fixing the chain plates and putting in deadeyes. I did realign a few of the chain plates to clean it up a little but decided I'd live with the general unevenness. With them being black I don't think they'll jump out at people too much.



Got the port side finished that makes 42 just 20 to go. I've been cleaning up old knots that hadn't been removed as I go. There are a lot of little details such as the brass eyes that need replaced or cleaned up as well, but I'm moving forward.

 

MystRacing

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Here's a quick update, I've been continuing on cleaning things up as I go such as the eyebolts that have old line tied to them etc. The night befor last I finished installing the deadeyes along the starboard side. 22 years ago I remember I installed the boards the deadeye strops go through before I put in the deadeyes. Because of this I decided to elongate the holes for the strops to get installed. The photo below shows the elongated holes behind the deadeyes.



When I tried to string the deadeyes they were all over the place in terms of not being in line with each other, turning sideways etc. I think these elongated holes were a big part of the reason I couldn't get the shrouds and deadeyes to look descent which is why I gave up on them. So last night I glued a strip of wood behind all of the deadeyes to close up the elongated hole and hold the deadeyes along the edge of the board and in the correct alignment.



I did some touchup painting and will glue the deadeyes to the strops with some diluted white glue and everything should stay lined up nice when I finish rigging it. This is how the deadeyes sit now.






You can see the strips in this photo.


Now I'm going to turn my attention to making the bow and stern look more correct.
 

MystRacing

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Alright I turned my attention to the stern, First I stripped the eagle, stars and doors all off the back and then sanded it and repainted it black. Friday night I painted the doors black and then painted the other decorations white. On Saturday morning I reattached them in the correct locations along with a few additions. The two lower white strips are polystyrene and the two upper stripes are actually masking tape that I sprayed white and then cut to width. After applying them I sprayed a layer of clear coat to seal them. Here's the before and after.





Next I turned my attention to the stairway on the bow sprit. This was something I couldn't figure out how to make with the very limited tools I had at the time. I whipped this out in about 15 minutes with my current tools.



Then today I did more going backward to go forward. I decided last night I really wanted the green on the bulwarks. After lunch I, using wishful thinking, attempted to paint the bulwark leaving the racks and belaying pins in place. It was pretty much a total disaster. I finally broke the pin racks off did some sanding, then painted the bulwarks. I'm really happy with the color (the admiral helped with that). I needed to replace the brass belaying pins anyway. It was one of those things that was going to bother me forever but I kept trying to convince myself I could live with.



So my next mission on the deck will be canon and replacing the belaying pins.

On another note though I'm kind of stuck on what to do around the bow. I'm not going to tear it apart and open it up like the way the ship is today. It's built similar to the configuration it was in around 1916, and when it was a barracks hulk. Either way I go I will paint the gold scrollwork white, Here's the part I'm talking about.



So I'm trying to decide between two options:

The first is leave it alone aside from adding the extended area around and making new hawse holes, and painting the gold white. Basically what it probably looked like around 1900'

The second option is to leave the structure alone as above but also add white striping to roughly simulate the current configuration. I think I can probably get the white striping to where it would look very similar if the viewer didn't have a photo to compare it too.

Personally, as I type this, I'm leaning toward option 1.
 

MystRacing

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I wanted to do something for rigging on the canons rigging wise, though I wasn't sure exactly what. At 1:93 Scale using blocks was out. Particularly the ones I have they are all way to large. So for a simplified version of rigging canons, I knew I wanted to put in some eyelets for the larger rope. I didn't want the brass eyelets and didn't have blackening solution but I recently came across a post where a guy used this process to make eyelets.

I took a piece of piano wire and bent it into an L shape and put it in a pin vise. Then I took cut a piece of 0.41mm annealed black wire I got from model expo and a pair of pliers, as seen here.



I bent the black wire in half around the music wire and tristed it about 10 times. Sorry about the blurry photo, trying to hold about 4 things with two hands.



And the end result was this. I made 50 of these in about 20 minutes.



I made one out of 0.58mm wire and was able to effectively use the twist in the wire as threads and screw it into a hole I drilled in a piece of wood. It held extremely well without any glue. If you spin the pin vise counter clockwise you would end up with right handed threads.

So my next mission was figuring out how I wanted to rig the canons. I knew working on the deck of the ship would be a pain so I decided to build a rigging jig. Fist I put some paint on the carronade to mark the hole locations.



After getting the Carronade situated, I cut some strips to simulate the bulwarks. I then filed notches for the locations of wires I was using to simulate the rigging. This allowed me to fairly quickly attach the wires to the carronades. I also tied and adjusted the eyelets in holes up against the bulwark initially. once I got it the way I liked it, I pulled the line to the side till it was tight and drilled two more holes. This allowed me to just tie the line tight between the eyelet, back of the barrel and other eyelet and get the correct length instead of fiddling with each line.



The fake bulwark that help it in place for gluing also acted as a jig to cut the wires to the correct length. I used a pair of Xuron rail cutters to cut the wires flush with the bulwark. The rail cutters are a common tool for model railroaders, they're basically just side cutters but they make a really clean cut on the back side of the cutter.

I painted the wire tan and drilled a couple holes in the deck for the eyelets, then glued the carronade on. Here is the finished product. While this doesn't look great by itself in a macro photo it looks much better from 2 feet away and once the belaying pin rails are in place and then particularly when looking through ratlines etc. I think it will convey the feeling of the canons being fully rigged but not totally cluttered up on the deck like it would look with all the oversized blocks. I'm considering adding a little coil of rope on each side of each canon but I'm going to wait till they are all on the ship to decide on that.

 

MystRacing

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It took me a total of about 6 hours to do the canons with this method. Then another hour to put the belaying pin rails back on. Here's a couple quick phone photos of how it turned out. I'm still debating on if I should add some rope coils on the deck. At any rate I'm happy with the look.



Here's the bow.



I have a bunch of small details to add. I need to go through the instructions and make sure all of the eye bolts etc. for the rigging are actually in place. Put the anchors back on, and figure out what to do about decorations on the bow area. I also need to fix the lower portions of the bow sprit. Some parts are oversized and one piece was broke off so it isn't as strong as it should be.
 

MystRacing

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So I did decide to add rope coils to the canons here's how they look now.



I couldn't resist adding these two extra canon on the front but has to tie them down.



I then went to work on the front and reworked the hawse hole and that area, by adding the bump outs. These are made from 9 strips of wood.



I then repainted the scrollwork white and put in new hawse holes etc. I also banded the anchor and added it as well. Here's a before and after of the bow.



And now.


 

MystRacing

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I decided it's time to post an update. I cleaned up and reattached the boat on the main deck.



After that, I've continued working on the refurbishment of the ship on a regular basis but haven't posted because I've been doing prep work for rigging. I've been siezing and tying and attaching blocks and deadeyes and eyebolts for several weeks. I've prepared and attached over 100 blocks and it pretty much looks like it did before I started. I know all this prep work will make rigging much easier but it's definitely been one of those phases where it seems like I'm not getting much done. Here's a few sample photos of the work. I haven't posted previously because it seemed kind of silly to post dozens of photos of blocks tied to the hull and masts.








I'm done with the hull and lower masts and now I'm going to work on redoing the yards and upper portions of the mast.

I'm debating on weather to actually attach the yards and upper mast sections before I start on the rigging lines. It'll be a lot more convenient to do the ratlines without the yards and upper mast sections in place. Kind of unsure about the exact order to do this in and of course any way I go about it eventually it will be hard to get to something. One thing I'm sure of is having the blocks in place will make it much easier.
 

MystRacing

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I decided to work on the yards for the foremast today. I took this picture to show what I did 26 years ago. I have no idea why, but instead of gluing strips on like the yard at the very bottom, and as the instructions tell you too. I made the lower yard out of three pieces one larger center piece and used a wire to hold the ends on. Of course it was never quite straight. So today I made the new one at the bottom and cleaned the others up.



After I took this picture I threw the 3 piece one away.

Then I decided to play with my new toy. The UPS guy dropped off a Byrnes table saw about a week ago.



I needed to make new trestle trees for the upper masts because the kit parts are pretty much junk, so I decided that would be something to try out the new saw with. So I took the cherry I had shown above and went to work. About 30 minutes later I had the parts below.



I can honestly say, not surprisingly, the saw is as nice as everyone says it is. Below is a closeup of the crappy kit parts with the grain cut the wrong direction; the broken part was that way when I took it out of the box. And the new cherry parts I made this afternoon.

 

MystRacing

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So here's an update finally. During the time I've had for actual modeling instead of research and drawing on a later project I've got all of the yards and blocks ready to go on the mast. I had to re-build about half of the yards and booms below, and about half are original from 26 years ago. Getting a little exited because all the prep work is done and it's time to do the rigging now. Admittedly I'm not super excited about doing the ratlines, but I'm getting closer to a finished model every day I work on it.

 

Maarten

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As we say in Holland, wisdom comes with the years. Your current result looks brilliant, a hudge difference to 26 years ago.
By the way jealouse at your Byrnes saw table, a real jewel but unfortunately not really available in Europe.
 

MystRacing

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I spent the last couple weeks getting started on the rigging. So far it's going pretty well. I've been just following along with the plans so far, other than prepping every block and eye etc. I could before starting to tie lines.

Here's the stays below the bow sprit.



And the ratlines in progress. They're not perfect but given the complete failure years ago, I'm very happy with how they look.



I completed the lower ratlines last Sunday and haven't really had a chance to do much so far this week. I'm hoping now to finish the upper ratlines this weekend. I'm definitely getting better at using tweezers and tying the lines.

 

MystRacing

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Time for an update. I've been trying to get this rigged by Christmas. I have the Mizzen and Main mast completed and most of the bow sprit area. I decises to do this in the following order. as shown above I did the ratlines and basically everything that ran down the center of the ship. Then I did everything on the mizzen mast that was perpendicular to the centerline. Then behind the mizzen mast and then moved forward to the main mast. This sequence seems to be working pretty well I've only had a couple lines that have given me issues.

It's hard to take a photo of this monster that shows the rigging well but here's what I got. This is the overall ship. The formast and the sides that attach to it are all that's left to rig. I would estimate this is about 70% done.



The bow sprit area.


This is the main and mizzen from the side


And the whole thing from the back

 
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