U.S.S. Essex
All the parts of this build are now located on this one page. 
Scroll down to see the other parts.
6 new photos were added Oct. 27, 2007

part  1

     This begins my build of a plank on frame model of the USS Essex of 1799.  I will be using Portia Takakjian's  plans for the build.  I also want to acknowledge Sam Cassano and Chuck Passaro for their guidance, help and advice in this build.  To see larger photos click on a thumbnail.  Many of the large photos that will open will have some text incorporated into the picture.  The first three photos show the framing blanks that have to be made for the half and full frames.  One can see the building board that has the frame lines drawn on it corresponding to the keel.  Photo #4 shows the framing alignment jig I had hoped to use, but when I cut it out and elevated to the height necessary, the frames didn't fit, so it was discarded.


     My building of the frame model of the USS Essex of 1799 is in 1/64 scale using a timbering set from the Lumberyard (see my Home page for Links of Interest for the Lumberyard link).  The framing wood is maple.  I plan on using ebony, boxwood (for the planking), bloodwood and perhaps some walnut in its construction.  I expect this model to take about one year to complete.  I began it on May 31, 2007.  As the frames went into the keel, I used filler blocks of basswood to help with the proper spacing of the frames and to add strength to the framing unit.


     You can see the progression of the build taking place.  This is my first plank on frame model being built right side up.  I have built three other plank on frame wooden ship models incorporating  the Hahn method using a building jig.  This up right way will be a learning experience.  I made some errors in the frames and alignment which called upon me to use something all model ship builders need to have, problem solving strategies.  I had to cut new gun port locations and add wood to some frames and take off wood in others.  Since much of the framing will be planked over, the errors "should" disappear in time.  The gun ports are framed in bloodwood.  That wood is naturally red and I plan on using it for the bulwarks.  The photos below reflect 167 hours of work.


part  2

     My building of the plank on frame wooden ship model of the USS Essex using a maple timbering set continues.  In the first photo below, you can see the laser cut parts for the stern that are part of a timbering set.  I glued up the stern compartment adding some of my own wood.  This section was then attached to the last of the frames.  Also shown is the sheeve boxes I would need to slot into various points on the hull.  In the fifth photo, the transom filler pieces are being put in place.
                    Click any of the thumbnails below to see a larger photo.


     As one can see in pictures below, I marked the wale with 3 thin planking rows of cherry.  Thick planks of ebony will go on top of this later.  I added long thin battens to mark the planking belts.  In the photos below, you can see that the area above the wales has been planked with boxwood planks.  It has been sanded smooth and trunneled.  The area in stern has been planked with ebony.  I trunneled the ebony planking with pins.  I will do the same to the wales.


     Battens were used for making planking belts.  Even though it only show two battens in the photos, I actually added a third one.  Down below one can see how I determined the shape of planks for the bow and stern areas using the spiling method.  Jim Roberts' book "Planking the Built-Up Ship Model" suggested using a compass to trace the outline directly onto the planking material, but since I was using very thick planks, I decided to transcribe the pattern onto cereal box cardboard since I coud bend it.  I then rubber cemented the cardboard to the boxwood planking material.  In two of the photos below one can read the numbers of the width of the planks at certain points in the belt.  I used a digital caliper to measure distances between the battens and divided it by the number of planks needed for each belt.  It took about 10 days (50-55 hours) to plank the starboard area.


     Now that the starboard side is planked, considerable sanding took place to get as smooth a surface as I could get.  I knew I would be sanding quite a bit, so I used thicker planks than the plans called for.  I have decided to plank only the starboard side and leave the frames exposed on the port side and use some ribands.  The natural stain I will use to enhance the wood color has not been applied yet, as I have some more wood to attach before.  Down below can be seen the stand/cradle I built for holding the finished model .  The last photos shows 369 hours into the build.  I have a long, long way to go just to finish the hull.  Now off to get the wales in place.


part  3

     My wooden ship model now has the wales added to it.  The wales on the Essex were a series of three rows of planks that were thicker than the others.  Many times they were black, so mine are made out of ebony.  I'm trying to use the natural color of the woods.  I used nickel plated steel pins for the trunnels on the wales.  Down below you can see the channel that I made.  The slots on the channels were cut on my Brynes table saw using a thick blade.  The channels have been placed on the hull without glue for the moment.  They will later be glued on and if you see carefully in the photo below they will also be pins to keep it attached to the hull.


     I have now added some boxwood molding and ebony planks between the two rows of gun ports.  When I added these planks it forced me re-align some of the gun ports.  Some of the gun ports were lowered a bit.  This model has had several areas where I had to correct errors I made in its construction.  This has not been an easy build.  These photos reflect 420 hours of work thus far.  I will be working on the quarter galleries, window and in the stern area next. 


     Here are a few more photos.  I was working on the quarter galleries when I decided to shift my attention to the Essex Collection project.  When the Essex Collection is complete, it is my intention to come back and complete the Essex.  Down below you can see what I have done so far using ebony and boxwood.  The windows which come laser cut with this timbering set had four window panes.  I was told they should match in number what the stern windows have, so I cut some wood off and added some to come up with six panes for the quarter gallery windows.


Posted: Fri Oct 12, 2007 9:35 pm    Post subject: