PaintChip's Blog
PaintChip's Blog

Asheville-class Patrol Gunboat Mark II

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Entries on 6-November 06

entry Nov 6 2006, 07:51 PM
I put the hull on the back burner now that it is fiberglassed. I haven't had a lot of time to spend on construction but I figured that the superstructure couldn't be too complicated to rough out.

A few sheets of 1/8" balsa and a good, sharp hobby knife and luckily without any bloodshed I had the sides of the cabin cut out in no time. A basswood plank with a copy of the deck plans (trimmed down just to the superstructure outline area) spray-adhesived to the plank formed a nice base to begin construction. All in all 3 hours of work to get the sides assembled and fixed with superstructure decks. Still have the curved front and the angled windows to do but those are just a matter of cutting the parts out and fixing them to the rest of the cabin.

Maybe next week I'll get to do some more. I'm not looking forward to creating the turret...may have to take a page from the Dumas kit and make it like they did using the cross pieces and wrapping them with flexible balsa.

Entries on 25-October 06

entry Oct 25 2006, 01:08 PM
Work has kept me busier than I could ever imagine and that has taken a toll on hobbies. Today I took a "flex" day off since I'm working 4 ten-hour days this week and dedicated the time today to getting the hull fiberglassed.

A final sanding and a couple of minor fills and we're ready to get messy with epoxy. I had purchased two 9oz kits of Great Planes finishing resin from Tower Hobbies along with two 1 square yard packs of 2oz fiberglass cloth to use. I found that the Great Planes epoxy was more fluid than previous finishing epoxies that I've used and made live much easier when spreading it on the wood. I cut the first sheet of fiberglass into strips and started to lay them down. Before I had tried to get a complete sheet on a hull and fought it the entire time. By using strips I have more control and it was much easier to deal with. After all once the epoxy hardens and the hull is painted nobody will know or care that it wasn't one sheet of glass.

The main body and stern went easily, epoxy, glass, smooth, epoxy, move to next section, rinse, repeat. The transom was a bit more difficult but with a razor I managed to get things to lay down and curve around the transom plate like they should. Slowly but surely the glass went down and about an hour later I was at the point where I was ready to do the bow. Even smaller strips and blocks of fiberglass were the key here. Well that and patience. Another 30 minutes later and the bow was covered.

Not done yet though...after the first layer was done it was time to "armor plate" the hull with yet another layer of fiberglass. Again small strips an blocks made this easier and the second coat went faster than the first.

Now the hull just needs to cure (3 hours to dry and 24 to fully cure) and then I'll have to do some minor trimming and filling to get her ready for another sanding session.

Once she is cured I plan on reinforcing the insides with the remaining epoxy and add some extra basswood where the rudder tubes will be. A balsa platform should fit nicely in the midship to house the motors and batteries and other gear.

Tune in next time for another thrilling episode of "Finishing the hull!"

Entries on 13-October 06

entry Oct 13 2006, 10:46 AM
Today I took a vacation day off from work so that I could spend some quiet, quality time to do something other than work-related stuff. I laid the hull out on a table and spent an hour or so with a tub of Hobbylite filler and filled the gaps between the strips I used on the hull to make things a bit smoother. Overall easy to do until I got to the bow where the gaps were in some areas difficult to keep filled. The filler tended on the bow section to fall into the hull space. I don't want to put too much weight into the bow and then have to balance things out with even more weight in the stern. A quick and easy solution was contained withing a tube of expanding foam...the stuff normally used to seal cracks and gaps in houses. Easy to apply and epands to fill areas, then dries fast. Once the foam expanded and hardened the filler stayed where it should.

Another hour or so of sanding and trimming and we're at a point where fiberglass can be laid down. That will be the next step...

Entries on 27-September 06

entry Sep 27 2006, 08:37 AM
I spent the bulk of last night skinning the bow. I wasn't able to use large sheets like on the rest of the hull simply because the curves demanded better control. So after some thought I tried using a combination of 1/2" and 1" strips, lots of pins and clamps, and water to soften the balsa up to make the curving easier.

I spent a good bit of time just getting the knuckle to follow the correct places on the 0+4" frame...I felt this was a critical piece to the overall look of the hull. I'd not be worried as much if other parts below the waterline were not perfect but since the knuckle is one of the parts of the hull that defines a PG it has to be right. I also decided to not try to make the bow watertight with wood. I left gaps of about 1/16" or so between the planksto give some "fudge factor". I didn't want to fight the wood as I had done with the Dumas hull and leaving some gaps made it much easier to deal with. I figure that the gaps can be filled easily before fiberglassing to smooth them out.

Unfortunately the bow is the area that got the most glue out of the entire hull...I may have overkilled attaching the planks to the keel and remaining hull area smile.gif I went through a lot of hot glue but I wanted to make sure that I had a good bond that would hold the shape until the fiberglassing could commence.

I still have to trim and mold the very tip of the bow but that won't be difficult...just a matter of taking time to do it. Once that is done I'll add a basswood piece for the transom and then start the little bit of filling and sanding on the hull before laying down the fiberglass.

Entries on 25-September 06

entry Sep 25 2006, 08:03 PM
I'm not quite to the point of fiberglassing like I thought I would be. I still have the bow to complete but the remainder of the hull is skinned. I went ahead and put on a second layer of balsa to reinforce the areas completed and once the bow is done I'll complete the second skin over that area. All in all not bad...and not taking a huge amount of time. I figure I better not rush things...especially when it comes to the bow where the curves need to be right biggrin.gif

Entries on 23-September 06

entry Sep 23 2006, 02:12 PM
Slowly but surely the hull is taking shape. The basla dried overnight and formed to the frames pretty well. I reinforced the pins a bit in some areas like the knuckle to make sure that I had a good fit. Then the gluing commenced!

A couple of hours and a few dozen glue sticks later and the skin was firmly attached to the frames over the bulk of the hull. I left the bow to do last since it has the most complex curves and is the hardest area to work in even in this size scale. Overall things are going well and I hate to say or do anything that might jinx it biggrin.gif

Test "looks" down the cernterline and down each side reveals no warping so far...fingers crossed. Tonight I'll get the bow done and maybe be at a point tomorrow to get a first thin layer of epoxy over the outside of the hull to make the fragile balsa a bit more sturdy. Then we'll be on to the fiberglassing...which while messy is realtively easy from my prior experiences.

entry Sep 23 2006, 02:11 PM
Since the mock-up went extremely well I decided today to cut the frames out of 1/8" balsa sheets. I was going to use the cardboard mock-ups as the cutting templates but I decided to print off another set of frames and use the spray adhesive to fix the sheets to the balsa directly and cut the frames from there.

Cutting went well and after 30 minutes and a few sore fingers there were frames laying ready to put on the keel. I've had pretty good luck on the Dumas hull using hot glue to do my basic tacking so I decided that hot glue would be my choice again to attach the balsa frames to the keel. Working slowly and making sure that the frames were true to the keel I managed to get them all in place smile.gif

I had debated in my mind how to skin the beast once she was a basic skeleton. The Dumas kit used long strips of balsa that were about 1/2" wide by 1/8" thick to skin the hull. This was fairly tedious and while it worked it was the cause of my ultimate warping. I decided on the Mark II model to use large 1/32" thick sheets of balsa...normally used on aircraft wings. Instead of trying to skin the entire thing at once I worked on getting 3 or 4 frames tied together with cut pieces of the sheets leaving a frame or two between sections. Lots of pins to hold the sheets to the frames and patience and I ended up with the stern skinned, the midship skinned, and knuckle area from the midship point to about the #12 frame skinned. I discovered that a small spray bottle filled with plain water helped immensely as I could spray the sheets as I was pinning them to the frames and that gave even more flexibility to the balsa and helped prevent splitting on the rounded edges. While the large sheets were not as easy to work with as the smaller strips they seem to give smoother curves and make the overall look better at least at this point.

I'll let the whole thing dry overnight and see how it holds before I tack the sheets in place with glue. I figure that once I have the sections stable I can check for any signs of warping and use the unskinned sections to bring the skinned sections back into line. Once the hull is warp-free (or as close as I can get it) I'll skin over the remaining areas and join the sections together with strips on the inside of the hull.

Entries on 21-September 06

entry Sep 21 2006, 08:19 PM
Since my first attempt at using the Dumas USS Crockett kit ended up with a warped hull and I didn't get warm-fuzzies with a manufacturer of fiberglass hulls I'm starting from scratch and attempting a Mark II of a model smile.gif I'm not locking myself into the USS Crockett (PG-88) but instead working towards just building an Asheville-class Patrol Gunboat. Once I get the hull done I'll christen her with one of the names and numbers...most likely I'll go with PG-92, the USS Tacoma.

The scale is going to be 1/32. The original Dumas PG-88 kit is more along the lines of 1/39 scale so this one will be a bit larger with a scale length of 62" vs. the Dumas 54". Not a huge difference but I figure that since I am starting from scratch I could use the larger scale so that she will match up with my 1/32 Lindberg PT boat and also to be able to take advantage of accessories and figures available in the 1/32 and 1/35 scales (many armor models are in 1/32 and many "54mm" figures are actually 1/32 scale).

To begin the Mark II project I took my blueprints and used a photo manipulation program (Ulead's PhotoImpact) to enlarge them from the original scale of 1/96 up to the 1/32 scale. Then I plotted out a few copies of the plans to have as both reference and to use as templates. The frames were a bit more work to do as on the plans the frames were displayed as halves...I had to take the half and copy it, flip it and join them together to get a whole frame. The frames got printed out in 1/32 scale on a laser printer (I used 11"x17" paper to have plenty of room).

An order of balsa and basswood from National Balsa was placed and arrived within a few days.

Using what I learned from the Dumas kit I started with crafting the keel. I had ordered strips of basswood that were 2" wide by 36" long by 1/4" thick. I laid them on a profile set of plans and struck the area on the paper with a pencil. I tried to keep the bottom edge of the basswood on the baseline of the plans. Once the lines were struck I pulled out the X-acto knife and cut the plans out. Photo mount spray adhesive stuck the paper to the basswood. I figured that it would be smart at this point to use a Sharpie to mark off the frame locations on the keel for future reference. A coping saw and some careful sawing and I ended up with a rough keel. Sanding the rough edges over a few hours took care of the roughness.

Once the keel pieces were sanded they got laid out on a flat table with some newspaper under them. A 5-minute epoxy and some small pieces of scrap wood allowed for a neat joining of the pieces. A few large binder clips provided the hold for the cure time. While these parts cured I spent some more quality time with the spray adhesive, the frames, and some sheets of cardboard. I figured that before hacking up a bunch of wood to make frames I could start with some templates to see how they looked on the keel and then move to using the templates to mark the wood.

Next step will be to cut out the frame templates and mock up the hull skeleton to see how things will work. If it looks "right" then we'll be cutting frames out of wood.

Stay tuned for the next installment...same Bat-time...same Bat-channel...


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