Stem, Deck, and Stern

Following the careful adjustment of the deck slots for the right-angle positioning of each bulkhead, I proceeded to stain the visible parts of each bulkhead dark brown.   Then, I glued each bulkhead in to place one at a time using the deck sections and other bulkheads to hold everything in position.

Bulkheads glued into place and visible areas stained dark brown.

You can clearly see strong warping in the false keel below, but this will be taken out later by the lower decks as they are glued in place.

Next, I glued together the stern assembly from the 2 bulkheads and false deck, which until this point had been simply dry fitted in place.

Constructing the stern assembly.

Since portions of the interior might be visible through the rudder tiller opening, I opted to finished these interior surfaces using some thin laminate stock I had left over previously from my HMS Victory project.

View of finished interior.

Note in the above photo, the fore-side of the furthest aft bulkhead is finished with the laminate board as well.  I stained the underside of the false deck piece to further ensure that any visible surfaces would appear as part of the true ship’s interior.

Finished fore-side of stern assembly with deck beams in place.

Now that the stern assembly was in place, I could proceed to glue down the lower decks.   I started with the foremost section, carefully using a combination of T-pins and clamps to press the deck firmly against the bulkheads.

Pinning the gluing the fore-lower deck in place.

There was no need to worry about any bulkheads beyond those in contact with this first section of the deck.  In other words, the warping of the false keel would ultimately be corrected most by positioning each section of deck firmly against the next.

Pinning the gluing the remaining lower deck pieces in place.

You can see in the above photo that I drilled holes in the sections of the deck near their adjoining locations so that clamps could be used to “true-up” the false keel.  At this point, most all of the warping of the false keel has been removed.  The only warping that remains is along the bottom-most portion of the keel.  this will be corrected later by the positioning of the actual keel.

As it happened, following its construction, there was a severe twist in the stern assembly.  To correct for this, I cut the stern assembly straight down the middle as shown below so that the twist could be removed.

Stern assembly cut to remove twist.

Then, I was able to re-glue the rear of the assembly to correct the twist that had been introduced during the first pass of construction.  You can see the slight mismatch between the two stern sections in the photo below.  This won’t ultimately be visible at all in the final model.

View of re-attached stern assembly to remove twist.

You can also see in the above photo the tapering of the false keel toward the stern.  I added this so as to create a rabbit joint for the hull’s planking to come later.

Bow fill in pieces and rabbit joint stock added for future planking.

I added a piece of stock to the bottom of the false keel to create this rabbit joint.  Likewise, I added a strip to the bow as well following placement and sanding of the fill-in piece along the length of the bow.  From the above two photos, you can easily imagine how the stem and keel will be placed, leaving a notch perfectly sized notch to accommodate the ends of the hull’s planks.

Next, I finished the aft portion of the stern using stock provided with the model in “herring-bone fashion” as described in the kit’s instructions.

Finishing the stern using the stock provided in “herring-bone fashion”.

Moving on to the stem, I began by carving and shaping its various features as indicated in the plans provided.  I started with the recessed region to accommodate the gammoning of the bowsprit to come later.


Carving a recessed region in the stem to accommodate future gammoning.

There is also a taper toward the fore-end of the stem.  However, the most difficult part of the process was shaping the curvature of the stem to match the curvature of the false keel.  A proper fit would help ensure a strong glue joint between the stem and false keel later, as shown in the photo.

The finished stem attached to the false keel. Note the rabbit joint is now visible.

The rabbit joint between the keel and the stem is now visible.  This is not part of the kit’s plans, but an addition I made to specifically ease the planking process later.

Next, it was time to attach the keel.  First, I added reinforcement blocks to accommodate the screws that would later be used to attach the model to its display stand.   This is an easy step to forget, but very important to ensure a strong ship-to-stand connection later on.

The remaining keel warping is evident here.

You can also see the false keel is still a bit warped toward the bottom of the ship.  To fix this, I rigged up a straight edge placed in the rabbit joint I created between the false keel and the soon-to-be-placed keel.  This straight edge would allow me to clamp out any remaining warping in the keel.

Keel glued in place and warping removed!

Finally, the keel was glued in place using a combination of clamps, and the two future stand screws, which were certainly helpful during the gluing processes.

At this point, we are about ready to begin the long and arduous process of planking!


Bulkheads and Deck Preparation

I began this project by first marking out the positioning of the two gun ports and tiller port on bulkhead #1.  Sizing and positioning were based on the scale plans provided.

Gun ports and tiller port marked and cut from bulkhead #1.
Gun ports and tiller port marked and cut from bulkhead #1.

Since this was relatively thick plywood materials, I pre-drilled holes at all port corners, then rough cut the openings using a small saw.  Final shaping was accomplished using a combination of sandpaper and filing.

Ports also needed cut from the curved bow filler piece as shown.  These were a bit tougher to mark out as you can imagine given the curvature of this piece.  I positioned their height based on the heights of the gun ports in the hull plans provided.

Bow filler ports and window cutouts.
Bow filler ports and window cutouts.

For some reason, several of the windows were not pre-cut from the pre-fabbed wall pieces, so I went ahead and cut these out as well, just to get them out of the way.

While I was in cutting, drilling, and sawing mode, I went ahead and marked out the details of the stem.  I went ahead and cut the slot needed for the gammoning to come much later in the project.

Marking out the stem.

With the major cutting complete, I went ahead and sanded the slots for the bulkheads and frame so that each fit easily into position, and aligned with the deck.  There was substantial warping present, especially in the main frame.  I’ll address this later.

Bulkheads sanded and dry fit to the frame.
Bulkheads sanded and dry fit to the frame.

Speaking of warping, bulkhead #1 – the one with the gun port cutouts shown below was substantially warped as well.  I found that steam ironing it using a standard clothes iron helped substantially.  Any remaining warping can be addressed when I attached it to the framing.  I spent substantial time sanding and adjusting each of the bulkheads along with the framing pieces so that everything fit together comfortably.

Fitting the stern bulkheads and framing pieces.
Fitting the stern bulkheads and framing pieces.

With the bulkheads in place, the pre-fabricated decking plywood needed sanded to accommodate each of the bulkheads.  I realized that if I did this carefully, I could use the deck pieces to correct the warping present in the main frame.

Dry fitting the deck and bow filler.

This being the case, I very carefully began sanding the slots in the first deck piece to accommodate each of the bulkheads, working from bow to stern.  At the completion of the first deck piece, I was able to adjust the bow filler pieces for dry fitting.

An inside view of the first deck piece and bow filler.
An inside view of the first deck piece and bow filler.

With each deck piece properly sanded to accommodate the bulkheads, the main frame was gradually forced straight.  In the end, sighting down the length of the frame revealed very little remaining warp.  Any warp remaining can be fine tuned using filler pieces between the bulkheads.

All lower deck pieces sanded and dry-fitted.
All lower deck pieces sanded and dry-fitted.

It is extremely important that the main frame be made as straight as possible before planking the hull.  Luckily, the deck pieces assisted me in what would normally have been accomplished using filler pieces between the bulkheads.  As I sanded the slots in the deck pieces, I was careful to measure the distance between the bulkheads at the main frame.  Then, when widening the slots in the deck pieces, I propagated these same measurements down each side of the hull to continually ensure that each of the bulkheads were parallel to one another, and perpendicular to the frame.



Preparing for the long journey ahead…

Today marks the beginning of what will likely be a multi-year journey building the Wappen von Hamburg.  This ship was built between 1667 and 1669 as a convoy ship to protect German Empire merchant vessels from pirates.  There were actually a series of three ships built under this name, the subject of this build log being the first in the series.  This particularly ship was lavishly adorned with numerous carvings, making it a unique build.  The Wappen von Hamburg was tragically destroyed by fire in 1683 killing many of the crew and soldiers aboard.  For additional information on the history of the Wappen, as well as some really nice photos of a scratch built model, check out this website.

The model I will be building here is Corel’s 1:40 scale model. Its finished length is 43 inches and its height is 36″.  This is an extremely high quality kit. However, as with many European kits, the instructions are very limited in scope, and the plans must be studied very carefully to ensure that each build step is thoroughly understood to prevent “painting oneself into a corner” so to speak.

Here is a series of photos documenting the contents of the kit:

Wood strip stock is predominantly walnut.
Bulkheads and other pre-fabricated pieces.
Silk flags, sail material, and decking.
Cannon assemblies, blocks, and various other small fittings.
Pre-cast figures and lanterns.
Laser etched window frames, gunport hinges, etc.

Before beginning, I tried to take stock of all kit components, as well as develop a cutting schedule for the wood strips provided.  This was a time consuming process as most of the referencing had to be done from the plans.  Here is a copy of the cutting schedule in an Excel spreadsheet for anyone who might find it useful.  I found that there seem to be several strips missing from the kit.  I’ll probably have to order these later once I have a better feel for what is needed.  No big deal though, walnut strip can be ordered from Model-Expo.