Project Log


3. Ship framework

3:1 Keel and sternpost

Finally I am getting into actually working with real wood. The picture below show the first pieces of the keel and sternpost shaped to fit into each other. From this point I will add the stem to form the bow curvature of the ship. The most important and general thing I keep in mind as I´m improvising many steps of the construction is to assemble things in the right order and refrain from getting ahead of myself. That way I typically spot and correct errors as they show up without major setbacks. While there are many things I haven´t figured out at this early stage I trust taking one relevant step at a time will lead me to success. Its more fun anyway as making plans and promises is what I often do at work so I tend to avoid these things during my spare time.

The Bluenose II

3:2 Stem

Picture below show my mini lumberyard. The clamps hold together the first pieces of the stem. As I work I constantly check all the pieces on top of my plans, and I try to angle the ends of each piece as close as possible to the final fit. For the stem I add layers of wood to roughly follow the overall curvature before cutting and sanding my way to the final shape. Again, I´m not concerned about pieces being one or two millimetres or degrees off compared to the plans as the most important thing will be the overall shapes.

The Bluenose II

3:3 Finished ship spine

The first major component is finished; the ships spine consisting of the keel, sternpost, stem, deadwood and plank rabbet. The rabbet was carefully cut using a hobby knife. Also the deadwood will not be seen once the planking is done, but I added some of it to help define the bottom curvature of the hull. I will make many checks against this piece as a create the hull framework.

The Bluenose II

3:4 Hull framework

I have cut out and shaped the basic parts of the hull framework. Starting out with the large centre piece and getting that one to fit perfectly into the shape of the keel, sternpost and stem. I had to work with the bottom curvature for a while to reach a nice fit, adding some wood back to fill out certain areas and polishing others down. To fill out some sections I glued thin wood shavings created with a plane onto it before sanding them back down.

I cut out all the frame templates from the plans I printed and transferred the shapes to a 3mm thick sheet of plywood. Then using my figure saw to extract the rough shapes. By holding each pair of frames together in a vice I could continue to work them into exactly the same shape using my custom made files (that worked perfectly) before using my Dremel to polish the final outer curvature. I´m pretty sure that some of the frames will be a bit off here and there in the end though, but I'll easily adjust all of that later as I have the whole framework assembled and begin to angle the frames to suit the planks that will go over them.

Another thing I have been thinking quite a lot about is whether I should cut out and add a solid foundation for the deck to the centre piece while adding the frames according to my initial plan. This would help me get the whole framework perfectly straight. But I decided to not do that because I want to be able to reach the inside of the planking once that is finished to add a strengthening layer of glue or putty. From past experience building the H.M.S Bounty plank on frame model I had some problems with planks coming loose along the edge against the next making them springy as I tried to sand the hull nice and smooth, and getting glue in between planks already set in place is quite hard. So for that reason I have redesigned my initial approach slightly and will complete the planking before laying the deck. More on that up ahead.

The Bluenose II

3:5 Adjusting mast placement

As I was dry fitting parts I realised something was off on the frame centre piece as the frames did not seem to fit at the positions I marked according to the plans. After some investigation I realised what it was. I had overlooked the fact that I made the sternpost a bit different to what my basic plans show which made the centre piece slightly shorter at the stern. Thus when I aligned the centre piece the way I did on my plans the slots cut for the masts ended up about 10mm off to the bow. This also shifted all the frame positions slightly which is why they didnt fit. I opened the mast slots towards the stern and added fillers toward the bow and then all the frames fit as intended. This is a very typical thing as my creative approach here is highly improvisational, but as mentioned above; as long as everything is done in the right order and thoroughly checked before too many other parts is created the problems are easy to fix. Occasionally they are not though, but thats really no excuse, but rather just life I guess.

The Bluenose II

3:6 Framework assembly started

I have started adding the frames to the centre piece, adding one at a time, carefully checking that it´s at 90 degrees to the centre piece, then waiting a short while for the glue to set before adding the next. I thought I was going to add all the frames to one side first then the other, but I got a little suspicious about the spine possibly getting bent/warped as the glue begun to set more firmly. So instead I alternate sides, adding fillers in between the frames at the wider points of the hull to make it rigid, especially around the mast positions where the centre piece is not as thick. I´m improvising quite a lot here as none of this framework will be seen in the end anyway. The most important thing is to get everything as straight and rigid as possible before I begin to angle the frame edges and attach the whole thing to the keel.

The Bluenose II

3:7 Framework assembly finished

Getting close to completing the first major project milestone. The hull framework is assembled and I am quite happy with it. I have had no major problems during construction and everything seems to be stright and line up as intended. I have added fillers here and there to add rigidity, especially around the mast and the midship step in the deck. I will need too add a few more fillers between certain frames where some deck details will be fastened in the deck to ensure these things can be glued down properly. As you may also note in the pictures below the stern area required a little extra thinking to allow the stern post to fit through the framework. At the moment it will have a super nice fit and firmly anchor the framework to the keel once assembled. More on that later.

The Bluenose II

3:8 Framework polish

I´ve started polishing the framework and things start to line up really nice. The port and starboard side look very symmetrical and with all the frame edges properly angled it should be easy to lay down the hull planks. More on that up ahead though. I´m thinking about what steps I need to take before adding the deck and hull planks and so far I have three things on the list. To begin with I need to determine the exact position of the masts and install mast partners to support the masts properly once I get to working on those. Secondly I need to add a slight convex shape to the deck. I will do that by adding strips of wood along the width of each pair of frames, then mark the center line and carefully sand the port and starboard side edges down to get a slight bulge as the deck planks is laid down. I belive this detail is highly important to the final look of the ship but I don´t want to overdo it to preserve the scale appearance. Last thing are the rail stanchions. These should be easiest to glue to the inside of the frames and shape before adding the hull planks. By looking at my references and counting all the stanchions I am able to see I´ve concluded that my frames would make up roughly half of them. That should give me a solid foundation for adding the rail planking, then I´ll add the second half of stanchions in between the first ones afterwards. Also by looking at the references the stanchions close to the bow should lean outwards slightly, this means that I may need to work a little bit more on the bow frame curvature to have them line up correctly with the stanchions. But that not a problem, just a little more polishing work. So far everything looks really good and I don´t want to rush anything. In the image below you can also see how the framework sit into the keel I made previosly. They are not glued together yet though. Also I am a little suspicious of the height of the keel in relation to the hull. I know the keel on the original Bluenose was not level along the bottom like the one on my model, but it is level on the replica (perhaps it made building the ship in the dry dock easier). I´ll make further checks on this after adding the stanchions that will add some more volume to the hull. If neccessary I can easily remove some material from the bottom of the keel using a plane.

The Bluenose II

3:9 Deck layout

Once I have added the rail stanchions along the sides I will have less access to working with the deck framework if I need to. I have already added the curvature to the deck as mentioned above (more pics on that up ahead) and now I only need to make sure I have correctly added support for a few details that will go onto the deck before I lay the planking down, most specifically a few emergence exit hatches. To simplify the making of these I need a solid flat surface to work on. As I started figuring out where these need to be placed I figued I could just as well have a go at the entire deck as most things will be placed in relation to several others, and if something end up being to far off it could throw many other things off as well. Using a number of different reference images I begun indicating the deck features on one of my previous 3D renderings. Using the "atelier" approach to drawing I made some quick approximations by eye of each feature that I could see on the references. Then as I begun to compare more carefully the size and position relationships of things I made adjustments until I could not spot any errors anymore. At this point I think I have a really good overall approximation of the general deck layout. Some things was quite tricky to figure out and I had to look for more images on Google, taking care not to mix up the new version of the ship with the older one that looks only slightly different. All in all I really enjoy this intuitive and creative approch to solving problems, as far as I can be taken depending on the reference data. I will go even more into details up ahead, but for now I have all the information I need before laying down the hull, rail and deck planking.

The Bluenose II

3:10 Scale checks

To further ensure that I'm heading in the right direction with things I made some calcualations to establish the exact scale that I'm working in. So far I've only used a rough number. I know the length and width of the hull is correct and in proportion and as I am now starting to make preparations for some details up ahead I need better references. While I'm still not aiming for millimeter precision I need a few more solid numbers to go on and I have narrowed down the specific scale reference to 1/85. Using that scale number I created three human shaped figures equivalent to about 180 cm height. I will use these quite a lot up ahead when creating details. I have already used them to determine a neccessary tweak to the keel. As mentioned above I suspected the keel was a bit thick by comparing my model to some reference images I have. I've trimmed some material off of the bottom of the kell and now as I compare pictures with workers standing close to the keel with my little cardboard helpers it now looks much more in proper scale.

The Bluenose II

3:11 Hull framework finished

The hull framework is finished. I've added some curvature to the deck and stern rail, support points here and there for some deck details, half of the rail stanchions and I've adjusted the dimensions of the keel. Adding the deck curvature went as planned. I added strips of wood on top of each pair of frames, then carefully sanded the strips down on each side until I could see the plywood frame at the edge. This gave me a very even and nice surface to add the deck planks. I did a similar thing to the stern rail stanchions. As seen in the image below I also added some solid flat surfaces that was also sanded down to match the deck curvature. These surfaces is where the tops of the emergency hatches will be glued down, flush to the deck planking. I took extra care when adding the rail stanchions. Working my way from mid ship toward the stern first, then the bow. I carefully checked each pair against the previous ones as I glued them down, especially toward to the prow where the stanchions point slightly outwards. These are only about half of the stanchions though, the rest will be added later when the rail planking has been added as I have nothing to glue them onto at the moment. Also the tops of the stanchions are not level yet, I will get to that once the outer planking is done. I've also added wood filles between some of the midship stanchions to get the in-between spaces correct. I'm surprized that they all lined up so well and there is only a one to two millimeter error between some of them pairs that shouldn't make any difference to the final look. The stanchions have also been sanded and angled on the outside and the inside. Last but not least I have shaved some wood off of the bottom of the keel (almost 1/3) and stem to make them look much more in scale when compared to my reference images. I don´t really understand how this happened as I think I was quite thourogh at the outset, but it wasn't hard at all to fix as I haven't glued the parts together yet. As mentioned before this is a very typical situation, but thanks to the way I tend to do things in a certain order and carefully dry fit everything many times I stay in the clear. I have also reconstructed the little step at the bottom of the sternpost as the old one was stuck to the part I leveled off.

The Bluenose II

3:12 Conclusion

That's it for the ships framework. I will probably add some more fillers here and there as I proceed with the planking, espcially in the bow around the point where the bowsprit will sit. Also I have not yet glued the keel and stem to the framework. Before I do that I will add the first and outermost planks of the deck and fillers in between the stanchions as the framework is easier to handle without the keel attached to it. All in all I'm super happy with where I am right now, and I don´t think I have one single worry either about anything that may come up ahead. I also think that already the framework alone show more potential to this model than any other I've seen of this ship.

Continue to chapter 4. Hull planking