December 11, 2017

The Crown Jewel?

Several steamers at Aquia Landing


So it begins. After sitting for seven years in a box under the benchwork at Aquia Landing, I finally started building the Mt Washington. I purchased this kit from Dumas Models in the fall of 2010, see this blog post. This is a large paddle wheel steamer that may well be the crown jewel at Aquia Landing.  It is craftsman style kit intended for radio control (R/C) use on ponds.  Internet reviews of the kit from R/C oriented modelers say that it is not a great pond boat as it is top heavy and unstable. Many of the folks that run the model on water use detachable keels with ballast.  Most of them opine that it is better suited as a display model.  To further scare off modelers, the instructions say to devote 9 months to constructing it.


Whew, that is scary. Fortunately, I do not intend to make it a pond model. In fact. I will cut it at the waterline like I did to the Deans Marine Danica Marie R/C conversion I did for the PoLA layout.  Having built a Dumas kit in the past, I know that the construction techniques they recommend are overly complicated with the aim of providing ample room in the hull for R/C electronics. They also have to design the kit to allow the topsides to be removable and watertight to allow access to the mechanisms.  The kit instructions come in three booklets, with text in one, drawings in another, and photos in a third. There is a lot of head scratching as you read textual descriptions of parts without a drawing nearby to look at.  You end up flipping between the booklets as you read through them. To further confuse the instructions, the drawings are not numbered in the sequence they are called out in the instructions.  So I plan to essentially ignore the kit instructions and treat the top side as a scratch build project.

Another time consuming aspect of the kit is the cutting of the windows on the main deck and the vents on the waterwheel housing from the supplied vacuum formed parts. I will use my laser cutter to make these parts more accurately and faster than by hand.

The kit comes with a lot of  die cut frames for the decks. I don't plan to use any of them. I will laser cut the superstructure using the plans as a guide. In effect, I treat the kit as a vacuum formed hull that came with a set of detail parts and lots of strip wood and styrene. I find that when trying to build ships that are correct for my era and locale, it is more cost effective to buy a kit that is close to the desired model, and then use it as a consoldiated source of raw materials. When you go to buy individual detail parts the cost adds up very quickly. The savings can be enhanced if you get the base model on sale, like I did with this kit.



The first step was to trim the excess plastic lip around the vacuum formed hull. This model has a styrene hull and it is easy to cut with a hobby knife. Once the lip was mostly removed, I was relieved to find that the beam  is about 4 inches less. The narrower hull fits in my harbor scene much better and  it looks much more streamlined too.

Next, I used the drawing in the kit to cut a single piece of plywood to make the main deck. Here again, if you follow the instructions, you will be gluing dozens of pieces together to make a two-piece removable deck and super structure. I plan to use the deck like I would a foundation on a ground structure and add the superstructure to it. Only a small portion of this deck is visible near the bow and the stern. I will plank those with a layer of laser cut basswood.

Tomorrow I'll add braces to the interior and glue the deck. Then I cut it at the waterline, and add any necessary braces from the inside. Stay tuned as I hope this will be fun.

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