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.

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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.

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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.

 

Preparations

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:

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