Seven gun ports will be sited in the first run of planking on each side of the model. It’s easier to mark their exact position now than it will be when all the first layer of planking is complete as there are more visible bulkheads to take measurements from. So I’ve done this now, before continuing with the second run of planks, then drilled a 4mm hole to mark the centre of each gun port.
I’ve fitted a plank either side, five plank widths down from the first run, measured from the centre of the hull. As before, I’ve found that the curves of the planks don’t look right in areas near the bow and stern (marked with blue arrows at the bow). It is the same on both sides. I’m using the same method to correct this as I did with the first planks of the first run, by gluing another thickness of lime planking over the top, locally, then sanding down until I get the curve I want. It’s easier to see the curve of the planks when they don’t have planks fitted either side, so I’ll continue this method from now on, so when the first layer of planking is complete I will know that every fifth or sixth plank has the curve to work to. Then I will add wood where needed between them to sand to shape. That’s the plan at the moment, but I am making it up as I go along.
The first run of planks in lime have been completed on each side. There will be some filling and sanding needed to get all the curves of the hull running smoothly, but I’ll probably leave that until I’ve completed all the first layer. Mostly there have been no problems, and my plank bending skills have improved. I did have a small problem when fitting one of the final planks, between two that had already been fitted, in that the glued joint of the plank to the bulkhead de-laminated. I hope I’ve cured this by drilling tooth-pick sized holes in the offending plank, into the bulkhead, and those either side, then reinforcing the joint with glued toothpicks (see photo). After sanding down, it seems to have worked.
I’ve found a useful hull planking instruction manual, written by J. Hatch (Captain Pugwash) on the internet:
I wish I’d read this before starting the kit, and I would recommend it to any beginner before diving in to an ambitious model boat project that involves planking a hull. There is some detail on how to cut ‘RABBET LINES’. These are grooves in the keel that accept the plank ends for a neater finish. In the case of this kit, it might have been better to cut some of these before gluing the keel together. Too late now, but I’m still confident I can achieve a good result.
My next planking will be five of six plank widths lower down. Once again, I will glue one plank in place, letting it run the way it naturally wants to run to the bow and stern, then I will complete planking in between. As before, I will replicate each plank on one side, with the same on the other side.
The planking of this hull is more difficult than on Bluenose. I’ve watched a few youtube videos and consulted the book ‘Planking Techniques for Model Ship Builders’ by Donald Dressel. The second plank I’ve fitted on each side is five plank widths down from the first plank, measured from the midway bulkhead. The plank has not been tapered and has been allowed to follow its natural path over the bulkheads.
I began by using some purpose made miniature clamps to hold the planks in position while the glue set, but found that additional packing was needed (see red arrow) if the plank was being fitted to a curved part of the hull (which is most of it). As this first layer of lime planking will be covered by another layer of walnut, it doesn’t matter if there are small holes, so I dispensed with the clamps and instead just used the screw part to hold the planks down after drilling holes.
The finished two new planks look mainly OK, but they don’t look right towards the bow and near the stern. The area between the two arrows, for example, looks too flat to me, and needs more of a curve, so I decided to add another thickness of lime planking locally, then sanded it down to get the curve I want. This worked well – see blue arrow, and I repeated this at the stern. I’ll need to do this to some of the other planks as I progress. It is time consuming, mainly waiting for the white glue to set, but the sanding down is quite quick and easy. With these two planks in place and shaped as I want them, I will fit the planking in between, and these will need tapering towards the bow, and stealers fitted between where they fan out at the stern.
I’m pleased to have at last finished this model. I’m generally happy with the standard of the Amati kit, but you do only get the materials you need to complete the kit. If you lose anything, or make mistakes, you might need to buy spares. Some of the components are tiny, and easily lost. I dropped a few dead-eyes while making the kit, and they ‘disappeared’, so I had to buy more. Also, as mentioned in an earlier blog, it’s not a bad idea to supply your own material for the sails, as you will need more than is supplied with the kit if you make mistakes (I did).
The finished model looks lovely in my opinion. As I didn’t want it to become covered in dust, I decided to order a made to measure acrylic display cabinet. I chose one made from 3mm sheet and I’m pleased with it. I bought a large piece of walnut to make into a display cabinet base, and into this, using a router, I cut a 3.5mm wide – 5mm deep slot to accept the display cabinet. This took ages because I had to construct my own jig to cut the slot to the required size and absolute accuracy, but I was rewarded with a perfect fit. Very satisfying.
The stand supplied with the Amati kit is made out of basic plywood, and doesn’t do the finished model justice, so I’ve made my own from the side of an old mahogany drawer.
I’ve already returned to working on the Mary Rose and will update on progress soon.
Continuing with Bluenose by Amati, before I resume my Mary Rose, the sails are now half finished. The sail material supplied with the kit is minimal, so does not allow for mistakes. As I expected to make numerous mistakes, I decided to buy more than double of what should be needed in a material as close a match to the kit supplied material I could find. This proved to be a wise decision.
The kit suggested making a hem around each sail by super-gluing down a small fold, then super-gluing hemp cord around the edge of this. I didn’t like the idea of all that glue, so cut each sail to size, plus hem, then painted a 2 mm fillet of white PVA glue around the edge of each hem, using a ruler as masking tape. When the glue was dry, my wife folded over the hems, then ironed them in place. This melts the glue temporarily, allowing the fold to stick down. Too much heat burns the glue, so we had to throw a few away before we got it right. She then, skilfully, stitched the hems in place using her sewing machine, plus stitched lines across each sail to mimic the way the full size sail was stitched together, before handing the sail back to me. I then hand stitched the hemp cord around the perimeter, with the occasional help of super-glue. This is a fiddly and very time consuming procedure, but I like the end result. I decided to leave off the telltales.
Apologies if you’ve been following my blog, as you will have noticed there has been no activity. The Mary Rose Model is a little daunting, and I decided, after fitting the first plank, to concentrate on another model I have been working on, ‘Bluenose’ by Amati. This wooden kit is a lot less complicated, but has the same type of double plank on bulkhead construction, and I thought the experience gained on this would be useful when switching back to the Mary Rose. I’ve enclosed a few photographs showing the progress of ‘Bluenose’, and I’m pleased to report that it’s almost finished. My wife is currently practicing making sails on scrap material, before attempting the real thing. As soon as this model is complete I will be switching back to the Mary Rose.
I’ve started the planking at last. I was hesitant because I’ve been reading about how it should be done and some experts suggest first cutting a ‘rabbet line’ (a groove in the keel in which the plank ends are slotted into). To me, it was not quite clear exactly where all the plank ends would fall, so I decided not to cut one. Instead I will rely on cutting the ends of the planks very carefully, to fit snugly against the keel. This model requires the hull to be planked twice, first in lime, then in walnut, so the really neat planking will need to be the finished walnut. The lime planking really only needs to be well glued in place and to follow the correct contours.
This photograph shows the first lime plank. The next will be corresponding plank on the other side, and this is the procedure I will adopt. The kit instructions suggest using white glue to fit the lime planking, then super-glue to fit the walnut. I’ve fitted this first plank with a combination super-glue and white glue because I preferred glue it in place in stages, holding in place by hand, using super-glue, then reinforcing this with small wood fillets behind, glued with white glue. The end result seems fine to me.
While I prepare for the daunting task of planking the hull, here is a copy of a painting of the only known drawing of the Mary Rose made at the time she was afloat. We now have a far better idea of what she looked like since the the remains of the wreck were raised from the sea bed in the Solent in 1982. A a large section of the wreck had remained preserved under silt since she sank in 1545. She was engaged in a battle with the French, watched by Henry VIII, when, possibly overloaded with men and guns, she attempted a turn. It is possible that she healed and this allowed water to pour in through lower gun ports that had been left open. Of the 500 on board, only about 30 survived.
The remaining section of the wreck is on display at the Mary Rose Museum, Portsmouth. For thirty years the remains were sprayed with a wax and water mix to impregnate the wood with wax, preventing it falling apart. Now it is drying out.
The model will have two layers of planking. The first in lime, then finished in walnut. The planking at the bow of the Mary Rose requires some quite severe plank bending. This is my first attempt at bending a lime plank with my new plank bending tool – looks like a modified soldering iron.
Before fitting the upper decks I corrected a slight warp in the area of the transom by gluing wood blocks to hold it square (see photograph). The decks were then fitted temporarily (as suggested by the kit instructions. I used very small screws.