BUILDING, SAILING & UPGRADING the 1:24 SCALE SHIP
Let me start by saying: the designer and manufacturer of this kit was most helpful and did more than most would to help resolve all issues related to the build-up. He was more than patient with me as I emailed him on what seemed like a daily basis...thanks Philip for your time and trouble and giving us such a great product to enjoy.
The Build Up Story
On 7/31/2003, the ship arrives in a large well made container to protect the parts.
"Little Dog" checking out the new arrival.
After unpacking, doing an inventory and checking out the parts for damage, the first order of business is to sand down the gel coated fiberglass hull to remove seams and minor imperfections.
Next make up servo/sheet blocks (for the sheets and servos) and glue them to the pre-installed servo deck. You then attach the nylon and brass pulley sheet blocks (that you build up) to the servo/sheet blocks. You can do this before gluing the completed servo/sheet blocks to the servo deck if you desire. It may be easier this way.
(Important: The nylon blocks [with brass pulleys] need to be able to swing freely from the servo blocks. DO NOT restrict them.)
Fore sheet block.
Fore sheet block and main mast servo block. (Note keel rod tube.)
Aft sheet block.
Servo deck with all blocks in place.
You also install the drain plug and O ring (screwing in the plug broke my keel when I tried to install it and I had to glue over the plug and seal it permanently...be careful here!) The pics above also show the wood blocks that will support the main deck later along with the keel rod tubes which are pre-installed at the factory.
Next came marking and cutting out the two access hatches in the deck. The plans were confusing on the location of the aft rudder servo (coach house) opening as the plans had been changed, and the pre made marks on the deck were no longer correct. Another problem was the mechanical hatch did not have a curvature on it to match the deck curvature (it was straight) so after several unsuccessful attempts at gluing it, I contacted Philip, the designer, and found out the hatch sent me was cut wrong at the factory. Too late...I already had finally gotten the hatch seal CA glued to the deck and was not willing to remove it again. I had to fill in the gap area between the deck and straight hatch seal with some marine grade epoxy.
(This should be fixed on all future kits. Keep in mind that I am the first person to build up one of these kits. At least neither of the other two buyers have given Philip any feedback. I have PDN hull #004 with #001 being the prototype.)
Next was the test fit of the deck to the hull, after drilling the deck for the keel (ballast) rod holes.
Test fitting the deck.
This is where I discovered my biggest problem, and little did I know how bad this problem would affect other things later on! The deck was cut wrong at the factory. It was too narrow. I had a 1/2 inch gap in the fore end on both sides...see pics. I again called Philip, and he was willing to glue another piece of laminate deck over the old one, or let me send it back, and he would fix it. Being stubborn, I declined and decided to try to resolve the problem myself....besides I didn't want to be bothered with having to pack up this huge model or have to re-cut the deck openings and deal with that hatch again!
Houston...we have a problem!
Having decided on a strategy on how to solve the too small of a deck issue, I proceeded to prepare and install the PVC pre-cut bulwarks. Other than breaking one (while the other came that way), I had very few problems here. It was lots of sanding, cutting and test fitting. They were then glued to the hull with marine grade epoxy and held in place as in the pics. (Helpful tip: Heat them with warm water or a heat gun/hair dryer first).
Fitting the bulwarks.
A lot of clamps.
You will need a lot of clamps here, or you might want to drill holes in the future gun port locations and bolt the bulwarks in place temporarily as done by another chap on his brig. The keel rods are used to help hold the proper position for the deck while gluing it to the hull. I added temporary blocks on the mechanical hatch to help me to remove it...these will be replaced by the boat chocks and baulks later.
Here are the temporary blocks used to lift the mechanical hatch.
The deck...now for the deck! I tried to glass this in place, as per the plans, but my limited glass experience and bank account led me to deviate from those instructions after the first attempt. I was supposed to fill in the gaps around the deck with a glass/resin mixture, only...my mixture fired off and hardened before I could even get it mixed...rrrrrrrrrrr! An expensive lesson as this was that special West Marine stuff.
So...what to do now.....I then decided to...yep...the ole stand by....duct tape the cracks from the underside, and pour straight resin around the deck edges to fill in. (This is after gluing the deck to the spacer blocks down under). This worked OK...but I had leaks and some of the resin ran down the insides of the hull. I had to find the leaks and do some more filling in with resin. As for the area fore that was going to be showing where the deck gap was, I filled in on top the hard resin (I left about 1/8" of depth for the filler) with wood filler and sanded. It came out quite well and after 4 coats of poly on the deck it looked great! You would never know any of the problems existed by looking.
I did have to sort of guess when the deck was in the right position as I could not press it up against the hull under the bulwarks in the places that the deck was too narrow; this causes a slight deck misalignment. This is what will cause me the most problems later...be sure to get it right before you glue.
Then came the gun ports...I used a Rotozip tool laminate trimmer here...and did lots and lots of filing, and filling and sanding. I decided to cut the 2 stern gun ports and 2 forward ports although they were not supposed to be cut (something to make this model a little different). The pics show the houses and hatches built...they were not glued in, in the black and white pics (which I apologize for...I only have a cheap web cam to shoot digital pictures with). The mast and bowsprit holes are cut and the waterway and scuppers installed. The rail is also added. I did not pre-paint the rail or trim as per instructions as I wanted to be sure I got lots of glue between the wood and glass, this also made it easier for me to paint.
Gunports cut, water ways and scuppers in place.
Houses, hatches temporarily in place.
Aft gun ports cut.
I next had a problem with the angle of the bowsprit and had to add on to the stem rest (Philip sent some extra material) after having to readjust the hole in the bow (higher) for proper bowsprit angle. The deck was installed a little too low up forward, causing the sprit angle to be too high, and just enough to cause numerous other problems...this being the first noticed. I also had to fill the now ob-longed bowsprit hole and make it presentable. My solution was to hang the ship from the hobby room door frame, bow down, and once again duct tape a form. I then used epoxy to fill in the hole with a taped over (with plastic bag) bowsprit in place. Hey...worked for me!
Looking forward showing the deck gap resolution and the additional gun ports.
At this point, I again deviated from the plans and worked on various things simultaneously. I built and installed the masts. Installed the rudder servo block and servo with rudder and painted the hull and bulwarks. The paint I used was semi gloss latex enamel from Lowes. The kit came with samples to take to the store to get a perfect computer color match. I placed 7 coats (with a brush to give some wood like texture) over 7 days and let it dry for 2 more, then I tried to remove the tape. It took up paint in spots from the bottom of the hull. I had used painters tape. I think that I sanded the hull too glassy, and the paint didn't stick as well as it could have if I would have just rough sanded. I also didn't prime...bad on me! Anyway after touch ups....and two more weeks...I sprayed the hull with over a dozen coats of clear acrylic krylon. (The krylon turned as hard as a rock.)
Looking good now!
I decided at this point to bring her to life and went to test the rudder. Now I knew that the electronics were practically bullet proof, and I should have no problems here....right...wrong! I had noise; I had a good deal of oscillation; and I had only 20-30 degrees of rudder travel...total! I sent the servo back to the Hitec factory after getting the runaround from the hobby shop Philip bought them from. After a delay, I got the servo back from the factory. Guess what...the reworked servo was worse...if that was possible. I then decided it would be easier and cheaper to just buy another new servo...so I did....from a different vendor...guess what...it had the same problems...unbelievable! I tested the rest of the servos, so I know it was the 2 rudder servos. I then contacted Philip and sent everything to him for testing. I sent him all of the servos and ACE radio control and the rudder servo block. The servo block somehow ended up cracked at the rudder shaft hole, and Philip was kind enough to replace it with a new one at no charge. He verified my findings, and I got everything back to include 2 new rudder servos.
I next built up the masts and test fitted them.
Is was at this point that I discovered another problem...my foremast was leaning to port. It seems the deck was also misaligned by about 1/8 of an inch from side to side, and I had to either re-drill the mast step hole in the below servo deck, or oblong the hole in the main deck. Neither of these sounded too good, so....I finally decided to try to pull it straight with the standing rigging instead using the slight amount of play at the mast hinge joint. This worked! The slight bend in the base of the mast at the hinge is unnoticeable. I only needed to move an inch at the top of the mast.
Guns and masts in place.
I found other little details such as wrong parts, missing parts, and numerous wrong things on the plans and packing list such as part sizes/thicknesses, which caused considerable confusion and delays, but these should all be fixed for the next lucky fellow.
Next are the electronics and internal rigging..other than the initial problems as noted earlier I had no real issues here. I decided to add some gauges...both volt and amp.
I almost forgot...this is very important and will save you a lot of muscle and possibly damaging your ship. After you paint and before you try placing the ship on the threaded keel rods, take the rods and push them in and out of the holes and let them wear in nice loose holes. If you don't, you will find that the ship may get stuck part of the way on the rods and it is a real beast to remove. All that paint will tighten those holes. I almost broke my keel when mine got stuck and had to put the ship onto the floor, on its side, to get the halfway stuck ballast off. DO NOT screw the keel rod holders (barrel and funnel) all the way down tight to the deck...leave half a turn or so. They will somehow tighten up when the ballast is hung from under the ship once in the water and you will have to take the pliers to them like I did....rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr! One more thing, allow a few more than the 4 rod threads, that are in the instructions, at the top of the rods above deck. You can always shorten them if you have to. Mine both some how came up a little short.
Ok...that is all!
Every time I think I'm done ...I remember something else. The dolly! Two things here...first it floats...I mean it really floats! All that wood and all that air in the tires make it hard to get the dolly out from under and then back under the ship. I have to remember to place my foot on it to make it stay down while launching and recovering the ship. Also...the front cross support piece....it floats away every time I use it. I need to pin it down somehow...but keep forgetting till I see it floating off. One more thing...the weight of the ship is enough to make it difficult to roll the dolly into a lake with a muddy or uneven bottom. A boat ramp would be better...if you don't slide down the slime covered thing and drown...lol! I find it easier to just carry it into the lake and back out again, location permitting.
Total build time spent....I didn't keep a log, but I guesstimate between 750-1000 hours.
I had her in the water in about 10 months....but....I spent 2-3 of those months idle.
Would I do it again......yipper!
Full set of sails.
(Stay tuned as I begin to add detail to the ship and tell about it here.)
OK...here we go!
Since getting the Prince launched, modifications for improved looks and/or performance have become my next goal. I think a lot of little changes...ie...detail work to the deck like carronade/cannon rigging (block & tackle), cannon ball racks, cannon tools, belaying pins/rails, several hundred tiny eye bolts, adding the missing fore mast royal yard and main mast yards, spare yards/spars stowed on deck, crew members, buckets, barrels, ropes, cleats...etc will help her appearance yet not compromise her sail ability or ease of assembly at the pond. I also ordered a new set of sails which I plan to mount more realistically than just glue them to the yards like they are now. There will be some additional standing rigging added too. So here I will post the changes as they are made...
1.) GAMMONING - The big black zip tie just does not get it! I have not used it at all, so I don't think it is a structural issue. I found a web site that shows how to wrap the gammoning, and this is what mine ended up looking like. How I did this was to remove the bow sprit, wrap/tape it in a thin layer of plastic, slide it back into position, wrap the gammoning around the plastic covered sprit, then apply thin CA. I carefully removed the sprit, while sliding the gammoning off the plastic and then reapplied more CA to reach the desired stiffness. I now have a very stiff gammoning that I slide the bow sprit through with no problem. I feel this has improved the looks and added structural support . One additional note; the CA may leave a whitish film on the gammoning that can be wiped off or left on to imitate salt spray residue.
Replacing the "zip tie" with new gammoning.
2.) CARRONADES - After looking down the deck and noticing that the screws can be seen hanging from under these puppies, I decided to do away with the screws. I replaced the large philips head screws with a wood dowel and cut the head off the other screw. Not only does this help appearances, but it reduces weight, which for this ship is at a premium. I had to drill out the screw hole, be very careful here as the electric drill may break the hard wood carriage as my did a couple times. I had to use a hand held bit in a "T" handle to prevent this. I did glue the dowel to the carriage, but not the slide, so it can still slide with some pressure applied to it. I used 3/16" dowel and had to squeeze it to get it in the slide. I then squeezed it again to help it hold the gun and carriage in place...that is why it appears to look square in shape rather than round. I also added the hardware for block and tackle. I decided to use "Blacken It" on my hardware because I don't like the shiny brass look.
Eye bolts added.
If you are like me, you are wondering where to get the parts and what to get? I had to use trial and error on a lot of these things and have bought a lot of parts I had to toss or send back. A lot of the parts can be found at Model Expo. The draw back with Model Expo is cost and the fact that most of the parts they carry are for smaller models.
Here is a list of what I am able to use from Model Expo:
1.) MS1305BX - single sheave blocks, boxwood, 7mm (bulk)
The eyebolts probably give me the most heartburn. Several hundred are used and at $3.99 per 10 eyebolts....that's right 10 per package, it really adds up. I looked and looked for some of these and finally found some identical ones at Woodworks, Ltd, cost...$3.50 per 100...I bought a couple bags, but I only found these after I had already used 80 from Model Expo...ouch!
Item # JPG312/100; Brass Screw Eye, 5/16in
I also ordered a lot of things from Philip at the factory such as standing rigging line, 100ft of running rigging, new sails, spare yards, booms, crew...etc. If ya want it...you may want to ask him, because he may have it or know where to get it.
(Hint: on screwing the eyebolts to the bulwarks, without scratching the the blacken-it or paint off of them... the deck and guns are not a problem as they are easily accessible and you can use your fingers...I discovered that if the hole is drilled the right size, you can take a popsicle stick and saw a slot in the end to use as a driver. Hey works for me!)
I thought I might wait until I finished the rigging of the guns before uploading anything else, but then it might be awhile before I get this huge project completed. I remember when I was building my ship that the thing I needed the most was photos to go by. I got a very few from Philip and had to mostly rely on freeze frame pics from the video...So I will upload some progress pics as I continue. I will also try to tell things I am changing, so you can do it now if you want to, and not have to re-work stuff like I am.
New hardware added.
Note all the eye bolts and rings.
There are sooooo many things I want to rework on this ship. I don't like the mast hinges and am going to replace the ugly nylon with hardwood at some point. This is something that I wish I had done before installing them! I am going to downsize a lot of the brass eye bolts too. The ones on the windlasses are a good example. All of these things should have been done before getting to the point I am at now, because now it is a lot harder to do. I'm still not real happy with the boat chocks. I have built them twice and really have nothing to use as a go by. I also have to do something with that ugly boat cover and the cannons....they are always a main focal point, and they look tacky. I plan to rebuild them using 1/8" x 1/8" stock. The shroud lines, where they come off the dead eyes, look really bad too, I wrapped waxed line around the heat shrink on one side, but it still looks bad. I am contemplating re-working the entire standing rigging as a result. If I had cut the lines a little longer I would not have to re-build them...hint...hint!
Don't get me wrong...I love the model...and it looks great at a distance, which is where you see it when sailing, but I feel I rushed some of it's construction because I wanted to sail, and other parts because I just didn't have a lot of examples to compare to. She will never be a museum piece, and that's fine, but at the same time I want it to look better than it does now. So...if it seems I am complaining a lot...that is just the "want to be a perfectionist" in me; I'll get over it!
5/4/2005...It has been a few months since I worked on and updated the site. I have had no real time to spend on this or the ship. I was also discouraged and disappointed with the look of the breech ropes that I had tried. After rigging a half dozen carronade with 3 different ropes I finally found what I am OK with for now at Walmart. It is a cheap cotton twine that comes on a ball.
I have added the carronade breech ropes, new anchor lines, belaying pin rails, and the crew has reported for duty.
The crew reports aboard.
Also note new pin rails.
New look out.
Climbing the ratlines to do a little rigging.
7/4/2005...Two months have gone by, and I have little to add ("Happy Birthday America"), but I did rework the sails. I decided to replace the fore gaff sail with a new one and did not glue it to the gaff but lashed it ("bending with a running lacing") instead. The pics are not so good...it looks much better to the naked eye. I reinforced the sails by sewing the tightest (almost unnoticeable) weave of thread the machine could muster along the top edge just above the holes in the sails. I did not replace the driver, instead I melted holes in the existing sail and bent it to the driver gaff. It came out rather well, so I will use it as is for a while. I completely reworked the jibs. I started with new sails and used 8mm brass rings to represent "hanks" rather than folding and sewing the sail material over the jib stays. The result is very pleasing to the eye.
"Hanks" on the jibs.
Bending the new sail.
Reusing the old driver.
7/9/2005...I researched to find out what method to use to lash the gaff sails to their masts. It seems most likely they were lashed to rope hoops as these were introduced at the beginning of the 19th century. Wood (ash) hoops were introduced around 1820, a few years after this ship met her end. Since I can't come up with a way to reproduce rope hoops, I am going to try lashing the gaff sails to "rope jack stays" (trysail mast) with hanks (see the jibs and this link) abaft of the masts. I'm not sure if this is going to be period correct, as research indicates jackstays came into use in the 19th century, but it will solve the problem of being able to easily remove the sails as they will slide on and off the un-hookable stays, and they will hopefully look a lot better than they do now....stay tuned.
7/17/2005...The new jack stays are done except for blackening some of the hanks. While waiting for the "Blacken-It" to arrive, I decided to start on the ships boat. I used coffee to stain the bright white paint to get a more weathered look. The boat gaff is kind of cheesy (looks more like a harpoon...let's go whale hunting...lol), but I will use it till I find something better. Most everything, except the barrels and bucket, are made from scratch. I also added carronade ball racks under the boat, but they are not apparent these photos and as I build the rest I will get some more pics uploaded.
7/21/2005...The rest of the hanks are now installed.
New carronade ball racks.
Jack stays also added.
(Hint: when using "Blacken-It" dilute to 1 part "Blacken-It" to 10 parts water solution. I use 5 teaspoons water and 1/2 teaspoon "Blacken-It" in a plastic cup. This does 2 things, first you get 10 times the solution, second if you use the "Blacken-It" full strength it will corrode the brass in seconds and leave a thick coat of rust on the surface or at best a thick black oxidized layer that will flake...see photo. Dilute and leave in the solution for 10 minutes or until the desired darkness is achieved. Rinse well afterwards.)
This is what happens when you don't dilute...rust.
6/27/2006...Wow...almost a year has come and gone. Modified ballast, reworked cannon, and new fore mast spar rigging are almost complete. This year I learned that masts and a ceiling fan don't make for good companions. Pics coming soon. Where does time get to?
6/28/2006...new pics. I am still in the process of reworking the cannon. I decided to alter the old ones vs starting from scratch. I will get pics of the finished ones as soon they are done. I also uploaded pics of the fore mast rigging changes. I may add some more rigging here later too, but this is what I have so far. I know (like with the cannon) it is not the correct arrangement, but I think this looks better, is still functional, and it eliminates more of the rubber bands. Lastly, I added pics of the modified ballast and one of the rudder.
Lots of holes!
Rudder pic per request.
7/04/2006...new pics with the completed reworked cannon and additional fore mast rigging. The new rigging simply unhooks from the mast and spars as needed allowing the full use of the squares at anytime. The yards still rotate with this new rigging. Happy 4th America!
10/01/2006... New pics (action photos) are up from the adventures this weekend.
10/12/2006... Another set of pics from Columbus Day (action photos) are up.
9/07/2007...More pics added today from the Labor Day Cruise. I have tacking problems and may need to place the rubber bands back on the jibs. Only more testing will tell the tale.
12/5/2008...Today I complete a website transfer to this new site. The old one was very user unfriendly and I trashed it trying to update it. It also was becoming cost prohibitive. This site is free....I'm having to learn how to do some basic HTML.
I've added a few new photos and notes. I've had the Prince out a few times over the past year and have replaced the rudder servo block again after a crack. This is the 2nd time the block has cracked. There is an weakness in the design and the manufacturer has made the decision to use a new material for the future blocks. I think a slight bump to the rudder will cause the block the fracture. The result is an already sloppy rudder has additional slop.
See the crack?
It turns out that my tacking issue was sailor error. I learned to NOT pull in the sheets before tacking, rather loosen them....silly me!
Here is a link to a short video that has the Prince cruising our pond...it is a blurp on our club...which has kept me very busy this past year. I don't know how to make it a link yet...so you will have to copy/paste to your browser for now....sorry.
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