As the yards are braced to the wind, the brace on each side changes length in different proportions. There's a great deal of algebraic calculating that can describe just what's happening mathematically, but we'll keep it simple here. The braces share the same winch drum, so as one side is taken in, the other side is payed out. As the yard is braced around to either side, the paying out brace goes slack. Slack is bad on a winch. The brace can fall off it's slot on the drum, tangle, and screw up everything. So, you need some way to take up this slack. Originally, I was going to have each brace run from the drum to a pulley on a spring and then on to the yard. The springs would mount on a post forward of the winch servo. In practice, each brace, when the yard was square across the hull, was at it's tightest which meant that each brace, port & starboard, would have to be adjusted with the yard squared to have enough stretch in it's spring. It would work, but it would be a tedious PITA to get adjusted, and it would have to be readjusted now and then.
Introducing the sliding winch. In this case, the winch itself moves to take up the slack in the braces. As the yard turns and one brace goes slack, the servo is pushed back by springs and takes up that slack.
Adjustment is much simpler as well. The servo is compressed against the springs and with the yards squared, all the slack is taken out of all the braces. Done. The whole set-up is much more compact, self-contained, and easier to maintain. If a winch servo must be replaced, It involves 5 screws (4 mounting & 1 winch drum) with no alterations to the servo at all.
Simple sketch of a sliding servo.
The plan for the servo tray with two winches (one for the fore mast, one for the main and mizzen masts); and the sail-arm servo for the driver and heads'ls.
Disassembling the old servo tray.
Full-sized plan printed to check it's fit in the hull.
Cut out the end brackets from aluminum angle. The large hole is for the servo wire and plug to pass through.
Brass rods cut and drilled for cotter pins that will hold them between the end brackets.
Delrin plastic blocks mounted to the winch servos that slide of the rods.
Aluminum plate fairleads mounted at one end of the servo. It will be drilled in the right places to guide the brace lines on and off the correct slots on the winch drum.
You may notice in the last pic there are two servo trays. Both will be just the same, one will go in Constellation, the other will go in my Macedonian model.
Last edited by JerryTodd; 10-18-2015 at 07:46 PM.
Routing the Braces
In stalling tubing to act as fairleads to get the control lines through the deck, below to the servos. The trick is routing those lines below decks so the run clear, don't interfere with each other or other controls (like the rudder), and aren't in the way of planned hatches and such. I also need to be able to service things, like replacing worn lines at some point - and I don't want to have to tear up any decking to do it.
Here's a diagram of some of the control lines and how they're routed. Not everything's on this chart yet.
The winches have attached plates that guide the braces onto the right part of the winch drum. Aft of those is now a fixed item that looks like a riding bitt with small screw eyes in the top of the cross-bar. These keep the braces lined up with the winch fairleads no matter where, or what direction they originate from.
The bitt is made of pine. The knees are screwed and glued to the deck (not the servo tray) and the cross-bar is just screwed to the knees.
Mean while, back at the stern...
All the tubing is cut and shaped, I need to start putting down the subdeck, but...
That bitt thing that gathers all the braces near the winches needs a new cross-bar. The screw eyes are too small and one pulled out while I was fiddling with the braces. I'm gonna make a metal one and have the braces go through holes in it.
I want to run the system before everything is epoxied in place, and look for possible binding or snags, but I still haven't found where the new winch drums I made disappeared to, so I'm gonna make new ones. To that end I ordered a couple of sheets of ABS plastic 1/16" (1mm) thick to make the flanges instead of using CDs. I already have 1/8" (2mm) thick PVC. My problem is I may be short one servo arm that fits the winch servo which is what I mount the winch drum on.
A month ago I ordered some dry transfer lettering from Letraset in the UK. I got 5mm tall, gold, Times Roman letters. It took a month, but they finally arrived and I went ahead an put the ship's name on her stern.
Signals, Mast repairs, new spars, plumbing, and getting ready for the deck.
I started installing brass tubing fairleads that guide the braces and sheets from the yards and sails below to the servos. This required adding some blocking forward and at the main mast.
Heads'l sheet fairleads installed.
The brace and sheet routing plan. -=>
Part of firguring out where the tubes go is determining accurately where the control lines run. The main brace and the sheets for the mains'l both go to blocks on boomkins (or bumpkins) at the quarter galleries, then inboard to cleats, or, in this case; tubes leading below deck. The fores'l tacks operate the same way, going to a block on a boomkin forward, then to a pinrail forward, again, in this case a brass tube.
I'm building the model as the ship appeared in 1856 when she was painted by Tomaso de Simone in Naples. In the painting Constellation flies a signal hoist at her mizzen truck. I've looked everywhere and asked a lot of folks trying to find out what this signal is with no success. I can't even find flags with the same patterns in any signal books going back to 1800! I figure it's a private US Navy signal or De Simone just made it up.
I know I could just hang the signal and not worry what it means, but I get the feeling someone will pop up and tell men it means Happy Hanukkah or something.
Recently a thread on Model Ship World brought the subject up again and someone posted a link to several editions of Captain Marryat's Code of Signals on Google Books. This publication dating back to 1816 or sets up a system of signal flags and pennants, and assigns a number to all the war ships of the then major powers, and all the merchant ships listed in Lloyd's. The 10th edition, dated 1847 lists the frigate Constellation's number as 564. The next available edition dated 1855 states that since the French no longer publicly list their naval vessels - no naval vessels are listed aside from thos of Great Britain. Damn those French.
Assuming that the new sloop of war would retain the number of the namesake frigate she replaced, and being presumptuous, I decided to toss De Simone's signal and send up Marryat's.
I had to make a new rudder servo arm back when I took the model to Baltimore; now I finished it by adding a pair of cleats to make adjusting the rudder cables easier, and a cleat for the line that will connect the ship's wheel. This was painted a nice red and reattached to the disk that mounts on the servo. Wood blocks were epoxied to the hull for the cable guides and the whole thing rigged up again. Spring were added at the tiller as "servo savers" but they hit the hull when the helm's hard over, so I'll be moving them to the servo arm instead.
My shop is a garage, with a roll-up door. The model sit on it's bench under where the garage door goes when you open it. So, I told my lady not to open it. Well, she wanted to put something in the garage and in her concentrating on the task at hand, forgot, until she heard the cracking sound.
The door snapped of the mizzen tops'l yard at the tops'l halliard sheave, and broke the main at the main crosstrees.
Yes, I was upset, but things happen and being angry wouldn't fix it, so I set about fixing it. Both breaks got a brass rod inserted. The mizzen was repaired with epoxy putty, but that approach didn't work with the sheared-off break of the main.
The main got a Dutchman spanning the break on the aft face, and splint boards spanning the break on both sides. I also moved the tops'l halliard sheave holes up to the proper place on all three masts.
Repairing spars got me into a spar mood, so I finally shaped all the yards above the tops'l yards that have been square sticks since 2009.
Then I made a proper gaff and boom for the driver
There's two more gaffs for the spencers to be made, but I think that's about it for spars, except to add all the hardware and details to all of them.
At this point I'm ready to begin permanently installing the subdeck. This consist of 2" wide plywood strip that run the length of the hull. Plywood doesn't like to bend in two directions, so this allows the subdeck to take the shape of the sheer AND the camber. Each strip will be painted on it's underside with epoxy to act as adhesive and to seal it from water. Once the subdeck is glued down, all the seams and holes will be filled and the whole deck sanded. Then it'll get a layer of 4 ounce glass cloth which will also seal the topside and the hull/deck joint. The finished deck will be made of pine strips about 1/8" thick and 1/4" wide glued down to the subdeck with epoxy tinted to a dark burgundy color. In Constellation's time deck pitch was made with rosin (violin bow stuff) and wasn't jet black like the petroleum product used today.
Laying the Spar Deck
The sub-deck consist of 6 2" wide strips of luan plywood 3/16" thick. They were coated with epoxy underneath which sealed it as well as glued it to the deck beams.
The gaps, seams, and holes were filled with body-filler and sanded.
Then a layer of 4oz cloth was epoxied over the sub-deck. This keeps any seams that may crack or open from transferring to the finished deck.
Access hatches were cut and framed fore-n-aft. This allows access to control lines and the steering gear.
Eventually 455 pieces about 6-3/4" long would be cut to plank the deck.
I tried several ways to represent the pitch in the deck seams and settled on simply marking each side of the planks with black permanent marker.
I used gel CA adhesive to attach the deck planks to the sub-deck. This worked out quite well. I ran a bead on the sub-deck where the plank would go, and a bead on the plank where it would lie next to the other planks.
Planking went along from April 5th through the 16th (2015).
The entire perimeter of the deck is covered by a cap rail 1/4" tall and 1/2" wide. It's glued down, but also pegged every 6 inches with round toothpicks. I also put copper nails between the pegs to clamp it down.
At the bow and stern, the rail is pieced together in sections. Here's the pieces before their final shape. The bow hasn't be done yet, as of this writing.
The hatch coamings were made.
Aft of the main mast are two companionway hatches with the capstan between them, and the skylight. This was made as a single assembly that serves at the cover for what I call the battery hatch.
A bit of paint.
Most recently I made the "iron" fitting that is the step for the spencer mast, on which the driver sail is set. It also is where the driver boom goose-neck fitting attaches.
The end of April through the month of May
The deck came out quite nice:
Hammock rails getting installed:
Bitts at the base of each mast:
Catheads getting installed:
Primary switch mounted in the battery hatch and accessible via the skylight:
Hammock rails get capped:
Rigging for the Baltimore Port Fest:
Stuffed into the van once more, and dragged to the Port Fest to be displayed and float in the pool.
Making new brace winch drums and adding a bearing block to brace the drum against the one-sided pull of the braces:
Folding panels forward being made:
An experiment in carving the trailboard carvings
Up to October 2016
I played around with making gratings until I finally got something worth using and built up Constellation's main hatch and glued gratings on it so it now looks "finished." The galley hatch, and ammo hatches fore and aft got gratings too.
I wanted to get Constellation sailing for the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum's Model Boat Expo the first weekend in October. One problem was her size. She was too deep for the pool they set up, so I determine she had to sail in the creek (Miles River). I had two major problems with this;
First, I didn't trust my batteries. Both are over 5 years old and while a new SLA for the boat was under $20, the battery for the transmitter was over $35. On the model's first sail the on-board battery failed, and I supposed once bitten, twice shy.
My second issue was moving the model to the creek. She weights nearly 100 pounds, ready to sail. I could move her in pieces; ballast, model, internal ballast; separately; but still, by myself, carrying the model around from the car to the creek, leaving items at one end while going for other items at the other, it was just too much. I needed a cart.
In the end I didn't go to CBMM, as I couldn't solve these issues in time, but I did determine to sail the model before Winter came along.
I had been considering a hand-truck type of cart for the model, thinking it would allow me to launch at docks and bulkheads, but while sketching this out it occurred to me that really wasn't true. The first problem with the hand-truck is the hand-truck itself. Putting a big square-rigger model on it you have to contend with the rig hitting the hand-truck's upright portion. To move it, you have to lean it back and now you've put YOU in the model's rig to tangle and break things. At the water, if there's any sort of chop, the model with bounce around and bang into the hand-truck, again, endangering the rig. What's worst, modeler's that have used hand-trucks complained that the inflated wheels and big wood cradle made the cart want to float. This meant you couldn't let go of the cart or it would fall over, and when retrieving the model you had to force it down while trying to maneuver this porcupine of a model onto it without it banging into the cart and breaking things. The hand-truck appears to offer an ability to launch at low bulkheads or floating docks, but that's a false promise. Dealing with all of the above added to perching it over the edge of a wall using your body to counter weight the thing trying to catapult you into the drink while smashing all your hard work...well, let's just say the hand-truck idea was out.
The alternate was something more akin to a boat trailer. People have been transporting and launching boats from trailers for centuries - why reinvent the wheel?
So I sketched up some ideas. Constellation (and Macedonian) have log, relatively flat keels, with a PVC pipe full of lead bolted onto them for ballast. I decided the cart, like a dry-dock, should support the model mainly by it's keel/ballast. A U shaped channel would hold it from trying to yaw or twist on the cart. Then it needed some sort of side support to hold the model upright. I didn't want it to float, so I wasn't going to use inflated wheels, or make the cart of wood. But the model's heavy, and I figured PVC pipe or metal tubing that I was capable of working with wouldn't be up to the task without becoming some over-built monstrosity. Then I remembered I had an old bed frame made of L shaped steel. Eventually I refined my design to the simplest form possible; a channel made of two L girders of the bed frame. An L girder cross-piece to support the axle set in the middle of the cart's length. Some short bits to hold the channel together, and a block to mount a long handle that would clear the model's bowsprit. The steel of the bed frame was a bear to cut with my Saw, it ate three blades! I only cut the three main parts from it, and used wooden blocks for the end pieces, instead of metal. I tried using a wooden block to hold the handle, but didn't care for how it worked out. I remembered I had a flag-pole bracket I took off a post on my porch, and fit the handle to it. That worked pretty well. I pondered how to hold the model up-right on the cart for a while. I thought of pads, rollers, adjustable arms, rails; but in the end I just screwed on two bits of wood with pipe-insulation padding on the ends. The channel carries the model's weight and keeps it from turning - the up-rights just hold it up. The model actually only leans on one or the other at a time. In the end, the only thing I went out and bought for this were the two 9-1/2" grocery cart wheels for $13 and a steel rod for the axle; everything else I had on hand.
With a way to move and launch the model that I was happy with out of the way, I started jury-rigging the model to sail. Last time she carried t'gallants, this time I would add the royals.
I had a list of goals and tests for this expedition, but I didn't want to be sailing in a scale hurricane. It had been rainy, then windy, all week, then on October 26th the weather forecast was Northerly winds at 5 mph, mostly sunny, with a high around 70° - perfect! The wind was gusty up to maybe 10 mph, but that was ok. I took the boat over to my friend Mark's neighborhood boat-ramp on Rock Creek where he met me with his RC sloop Son of Erin.
- Test fit in car; she hasn't been in my Matrix yet. When you break off the sticky-uppy bits, she slides right in!
- Test transporting, handling, launching, retrieving, the new cart, etc - Can I do it by myself?
- With the royals set, she'll be sailing with the most sail so far. I have to admit, my heart stopped every time she heeled. The royals and t'gallants will be easily removable; the courses can be bunted up; so her sail can be easily reduced to suit the wind.
- Test fore tops'l yard brace routing. The braces worked great, even with the "reduced " control. Next time the fore mast will be separately controlled from the main & mizzen masts. The heads'l sheeter worked great too, this time I had installed a "servo stretcher" to get a full 180° from the servo that sheets the head'sls and driver, and it was a big improvement; though the heads'l sheets did need some finer adjustment.
- See how self-tending bowlines rigged on the main tops'l work out. They functioned as they were supposed to and without snags, jams, or problems.
- Actually sail the model in open water instead of bumping the bottom in a shallow pool. This was her 5th time sailing, the 2nd time in open water, and the 1st time she really sailed, under control, tacked, wore, hauled transom, heeled to the wind - it was great!
- Get some pictures and video of the model sailing. My camera's batteries died after I videoed the launching, but Mark came trough with his phone, and actually got some good video. Most of the stills though are screen caps from the video.
Did I mention a video?
The winch drums I made in the last installment didn't work out. There were tiny gaps between the drums and the flanges that would snag the brace as it was being unwound. So I scrapped this third set of winch drums. The second set (made back in post #83) is still missing and I figure will turn-up on Antiques Roadshow in a few years mis-IDed as an old turn-of-the-century computer storage device. At any rate, I made this forth set from aircraft plywood, and hopefully, this is the last set I'll have to make for this model. (There's still Macedonian to do.)
~ Parts cut out and prepped.
~ Glued up and given a couple of coats of spray lacquer.
~ Complete and installed in the model.
The goal for Winter is to get some proper rigging on her, which means making a bazillion chain plates, and walking out a few miles of rope. I'd also like to get the rest of the details and hardware on the spars, like jackstays, and bolt-rope all the rest of the sails.
Last edited by JerryTodd; 11-04-2016 at 02:51 PM.