I will do the outside hull planking first, then add a layer of glue to the inside of the planks through the openings in the deck to make sure I have a solid outer surface to continue working on before laying down the deck. Before I start laying down the outer planks from the deckline and downwards, and from the keel and upwards, I need to do one thing: Add the outmost plank of the deck on each side along the inside of all the stanchions, then adding fillers in between the stanchions. This will give me the exact reference point I need for the first plank going on the outside. The rest of the rail planking will be added above the first plank where I will also add an number of scuppers (water drain holes) along the sides. More details on each step up ahead though.
The first planks along the length of the ship has been added. These planks will mark the outside boundaries of the future deck planking. When all the fillers has been added along with the rails and the rest of the stanchions the insides will be painted white and the bottom plank/fillers black, as seen in the photo insert. The curvature along the sides look quite nice. When examining the curve in extreme perspective they do look slightly "wobbly" as the inside of the stanchions are not perfectly in line. But I think I will leave it as is as the errors is less than a millimeter at most and should hardly be noticed once other details along the inside of the rails are added.
I've added all the fillers along the outside of the first deck planks. The process was not as messy as I thought it would be, custom fitting over sixty small pieces in between all the stanchions. It only took me a few hours. Once the glue was dry I carefully polished the outside of the fillers to follow the hull shape, as well as giving the top of them a light sanding. All in all a job well done! Now I have a solid foundation to begin the outer hull planking (as soon as the keel is glued onto the framework). I ran into one little problem though, that really has nothing to do with either the rails or the planking. At one point I started worrying about the "step" in the deck at midship being to small when compared to the references. This could be a major issue as lowering or raising the whole forward or aft section of the ship at this point would suck, to say the least.But after some closer investigation, thinking and turning the model around I belive it will be fine. I can sand the deck down slightly against the bottom of step, and I added a 0.5mm filler onto the upper step as I noticed that the rail outline actually dipped downwards a bit at the end. Maybe I'm still off one or two millimeters compared to my references, but hey, I got to have some self respect right!
Finally, the planking process is started. While time consuming it has to one of the most rewarding parts of building a ship as it's main shape begin to really take form. After attaching the keel to the framework I added the first planks along the deck. For some lucky reason I managed to make the step at mid ship exactly one hull plank high so the first plank towards the stern sits perfectly on top of the lower one toward the bow. After that I begun planking from the keel and upwards. While the planks are quite easy to shape I'm using a number of small clamps to wedge each plank down and into the previous ones, taking care to not force any of them too much into position. I won't go too much into the theory on planking here though as there are numerous well written guides available through an internet search, and as usual I'm using bits and pieces of information as well as reference images and my own ideas on how to do it the better way. One thing I'm not sure of, and haven't found any info on, is how the plank seams at the plank ends should be arranged. I found information on how long the average plank should be, but no details on any specific layout pattern as is often quite obvious when looking at the the deck planking. By looking at my references though I can't make out any particular pattern on any image either so I'm just going rouge, cutting the planks off at roughly the typical length as close to one of the frames as possible. The plank end seams won't be as pronounced as the lengthgoing lines, and when painted it won´t make much visual difference anyway. Maybe I'm wrong, but I think that logically you would like to spread the seams out as evenly as possible to obtain the best and most even strengh at any given point in the hull planking. Also there is a few small holes, most prominently along the keel rabbet, that will need some extra filling up ahead as indicated in the image below.
As I was looking at the transom construction I noticed something was wrong. The bottom curvature of the sternboard didn't look right compared to my reference images. I concluded the problem was due to the sternboard being to convex, thus canceling out the curvature of the hull surrounding it. The basic framework still looked alright below the parts I had added on top of it so I simply removed it. Upon closer examination I also realised I had omitted a detail that would make more difference to the final stermboard shape than I thought at first. Looking carefully at the references the planking along the center of the transom ends at a slight angle against two planks fitted perpendicular to the keel. I added some fillers to take this feature into account (highlighted in red in the image below) and now it seems like I have a much better looking shape at the stern. The final result will be seen more clearly up ahead.
Planks have been added all the way up to the transom, and I'm past the perhaps trickiest part of the process, the point where the stern post goes into the hull and where the planks should simply continue to flow toward the sternboard. I have to say that my planking ended up looking almost as tight as on the real ship. I have also added two planks along the centerline of the transom as seen in some if my reference images. The port and starbpard side planking pattern is pretty much identical, the only difference being one "stealer" plank less at the stern post and some extra tapering done to the planks towards the bow on the port side. I also think there is some very slight error on the plank curvature where some of them have been forced a bit too much sideways, but this should not have any noticable effect on the end result anyway. Using a brush I have also added a generous amount of carpenter glue to the inside of the planking to strenthen it further. I'm very tempted to do a bit of sanding to make the surface of the planks look even nicer, but I'll refrain from doing that until all the planks are laid down. Once finished I will add a thin layer of glue to the outside of the hull as well, then sand it only very lightly to preserve the plank lines that is typically seen on the real ship. Now onto finalising the hull planking!
Made some further progress on the planking. At this point I need to be quite careful to narrow down the width of each plank row towards the stren and prow. All in all it's going quite well. It's interesting to look at the plank lines from a more extreme angle as they tend to look a bit wobbly here and there, and the curvature is not perfect, but from the side it looks quite nice. The closer I get to laying down the final plank I also need to make sure I smooth the overall plank curvature out as much as possible. At this point I'm also working my way downwards rather than upwards as I want the final plank to be laid closer to the underside of the ship than the side.
I'm going for a slight compromise here as seen in the image below. I realize now that I should have made more calculations before I started out to avoid doing this, but anyway. I will add two or three drop planks along the side as the hull gets wider as otherwise, the width of the planks at the bow, and possibly also at the stern, will become too narrow to look realistic at all. However I'm still not sure about the exact planking loyout of the real ship and whether any of these features exist on it. I don´t think they do, but to my defence I say I'm still using a onehundred percent legitimate ship building technique, that is called drop planks! A drop plank is where two planks is split apart from each other making proper room for a third plank in between. Applying this solution to a model ship fewer frames than a real ship can be hard but in my case it'll be alright as I still have a few of them. In the end this will hardly bee seen in the model anyway, and I think that preserving more realistic and consistent plank widths at the prow will make it look better. The reason for my error is probably that I allowed the planks running upwards from the keel to bend upwards just a tiny bit too much as the go around the front of the hull (As you can see in the image the planks do tend to "crowd" towards the top ot the prow). This small error then built up throwing me off about 6 to 10 millimeters or something.
Finally! I was growing really tired of cutting and glueing down these planks, and especially on the starboard side as I ran out of the precut planking material, and I couldn't find more of what I had at the hobby store so I was forced to buy wood in different dimensions and then plane and cut them to the proper shape by hand which was harder than I thought at first. But anyway, now they're all in place and I'm quite happy with the result. As mentioned above I have inserted a few drop planks on each side to improve the general look of the planking pattern/lines. I have coated the inside of the planking with regular carpenters glue to seal everything up from inside. Then I have also coated the outside of the planking as well with slightly diluted aliphatic resin glue before lightly sanding the whole surface down. I want to preserve the plank pattern and lines but only to a certain extent. I have also used small amounts of putty to fill out some seams and slightly uneven planks. To preserve some surface texture I'm using a medium grade putty, then covering the areas with glue before sanding it lightly. Most importantly though, and despite the planking pattern looking somewhat off compared to my initial plan (whatever it was) the hull surface look very smooth, symetrical and should come out very nice once painted. There's a tiny bit of difference in the planking shape/curvature at the prow, but that won't have any effect on anything up ahead. In the end I also think that the discrepanises in the planking is still quite within the margin of error of a number of other things I won´t be able to get exactly right. I have to give myself the time to have fun, but it is getting harder with regard to the time and effort I'm actually putting into all this.
I have added two important details, one to the sternpost and the other to the stem. I figured these things would be best to add after the planking is done. To begin with I angled the sides of the sternpost slightly. This little detail was something I discovered (by luck) when looking at a closeup photo of the rudder. The other detail on the stem took me quite some time and very careful examination of various photos to figure out. Turns out the stem has a slight and increasing angle towards the top of the prow where these angles are evened out in a slick little curve (I'm a total sucker for this type of subtle detail). I have no idea whether this makes any difference on the real ship, but apart from looking pretty it should help the bow to cut the water if only so slightly better when sailing. Again I found myself in a situation where I had to say it looks good enough. Why do I constantly think I can reach the same amount of precision as on the real, and eigthyfive times larger ship? I can also see that I need to do some more polishing on the transom as it looks a bit messy, although the light in the image comes from a very extreme angle.
All in all I think I've made some decent progress. It's great to start seeing the characteristic shape of this ship now really taking form. To be honest though, I'm a bit pissed off about the hull planking as I realize I should have planned the process better to avoid the slight crowding I got at the stern and the prow. It's tricky because I have also tried hard to follow one of the golden rules of planking; not to force/bend the planks along their width when laying them down on the framework. Naturally this happened quite often anyway, perhaps still within acceptable limits though. In hindsight I have a hard time seeing how I could have gotten around these pitfalls anyway as my planking experience in general is modest to say the least. Well, on my next ship I will expect to produce much better results. Also, at this point I should probably begin to think about how to properly mount the whole model on a stand before I start adding any smaller details. More on that up ahead though.Continue to chapter 5. Rails and deck planking