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Scale Modeling Tips & Tools Monthly, Issue #065-shipshape
May 16, 2012
May 15, 2012

Essex Fighting Top Project Up Next

Never thought I'd get here, but this month I started my first period ship scratch build, the Fighting Top of the 1814 USS Essex, trying to emulate the beautiful modeling of Raul Guzman.

He did send m a copy of the plan he used and his website contains a 39-picture gallery of this build, but I need a lot of help. When I get it done, I want the 1/35 scale Fighting Top diorama to fit a bookcase shelf that measures 14-inches square in a wall unit that has six of these.

At the rate I am proceeding on this project, we may be talking six years to fill it.

So far, I have created the base from two pieces of oak and have sunk the hole for the main mast. I have assembled the top sitting on a cross trees/ trestles assembly. I have added the decking, its battens and rim pieces. It sits atop the lower main mast and actually is level and supports the arms chest I made.

So far it is a fun project, but the next trick is rigging. My intent is to build a rope walk and serve my own shrouds and the other standing rigging.

Watch and see, we'll be right here next month.

The trepidation in going back

I have been away from ship rigging for many years and once more, I have stepped into the breach.

This model of the 34-gun USS Essex  fighting top looked relatively simple (minimal rigging) but it does have ratlines for support, along with a 14-line mouse. That is a football-shaped object with seven lines that split into 14 attached to the front of the fighting top's deck.

Getting these lines balanced without too much tension on one and too slack on the opposite is tricky. See below. Getting each of these taut with an opposing equal force will be fun, I am sure.

It often makes me marvel at how full-sized seamen, back in the day were able to accomplish this.

Then there is the idea of handling 10-inch line for the main stays, and 9-inch rope for the shrouds. How about if it was new rope that hadn't been softened by years at sea?

You begin to understand why officers had to relay their line handling orders with the cat-o-nine tails.

Balance the Tension

It used to take me quite a while to be able to even out the tension in running and standing rigging in my ship modeling until I stumbled across this tip on a ship modeling forum . It's four years old, but I bet it still works.

the first step is to coat the line with bees wax and run it between finger and thumb a few times to work it into the line.

Thread the line through block or eyebolt, double back and secure with an alligator clip about a quarter inch from where you intend to tie it off. Hitch an alligator to the line's midpoint. Note the sag.

Now, tighten until he sag is gone. Remove the mid span clip. This will provide enough tension to keep the line tight without breakage.

Practice this technique until it becomes natural and apply to your next model.

Modifying Figures Takes Surgeons Touch

Otne of the things I am going to try with my first period-ship diorama is kit-bashing my own seamen, Marines and officers from reasonable  look-a-likes.

I am starting with a package of 1/32 Union Infantrymen from Classic Toy Soldiers. They came into my surgery for removal of back packs, Stetson hats and standing pedestals.

Then comes the re-posing, bending arms and legs to positions that will mimic fighting stances on the top, climbing on ratlines and even wounded.

I am using a burning candle to heat an old X-acto blade to trim away the unneeded and burning sprue to attach new limbs and swords where needed.

The idea is to convert these ground-pounder types into seagoing warriors and then painting them to more realistically portray a ship-board fight scene. Stay posted, this promises to be a lengthy procedure.

Remember When Faith Mattered?

I have often wondered why words we once considered as eternal truth seem to drift away into the nothingness of reality.

I no longer relate to cop killings, dope pushing, sex crimes and budgetary excess. There must be a happier side to life.

Today's news has become an abomination to anyone who holds God's hope for us all as sacred and that my friend keeps me happy and sane.

The Road Ahead

I am looking at a lot of exciting changes this coming summer. It promises to be one of my favorites as I look back over seven decades. This reminds me of the utter foolishness of teen suicide.

My wife and I are moving into our own Condo after a decade of renting (I know, the rent alone would have paid for it). We're excited by the prospect (a garage in snow country is a big deal).

I have launched my new website all about my  experiences with mobility scooters. You can bet it is another SiteBuildIt site Check it out:

Your Help and Ideas Needed
To Expand SMH Idea Base

Making daily decisions involving for the past 62 months has led to the creation of over 425 pages of articles on the various facets of scale modeling, this monthly e-zine and a host of modeling questions answered.

As we get ready to embark on our fifth year, I am hoping to open the site up to input from other scale modelers. You may have noticed the Navigation Bar has been sub-divided into the major hobbies covered.

Each of these sections now has one or two pages that invite participation with questions, tips and pictures regarding your various modeling endeavors.

We want to hear from you as do the other 25,000 modelers who log onto this site monthly.

As I get ready to roll into my 73rd year, I can’t believe how much I have learned about hobby activities In the past two years. I have heard from other modelers with similar experiences.

To help me develop and maintain my website your comments on its content are essential. You can send me your comments by visiting the “Voice Your Opinion” feature at the top of the Navigation stack in the left column on each page.

It was never my intention to make this website a one way street as my knowledge is no where deep enough for me to be termed an “Authority”. I hunger for your feedback, comments, ideas, tutorials, plans, pictures and even your negative comments if considered constructive.

The Internet and that includes work best when they are interactive and that is collaboration only you can provide. It has been a pleasure serving as your guide for these past two years and by no means am I throwing in the towel, for I honestly believe the building and maintaining of this website are instrumental in keeping my mind active.

I want to open up this site in the fast lane. That is your part of the two-way street.

Its In Your Best Interest

If you have been giving some thought to launching your own home business in 2010, it is worth your time to take a look at what I found:

Steps To Success

Until Next Month

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