CSS Alabama model pics and story - Ships Nostalgia
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CSS Alabama model pics and story

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  #1  
Old 19th November 2017, 19:02
HSM HSM is offline
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CSS Alabama model pics and story

At long last I recovered a bunch of old images from a dead hard-drive. Thought you might like to see them!

This was a model I made for a descendant of the ship's captain, Raphael Semmes. It is from the very interesting time between sail and steam and as such, had both methods of propulsion! There are a few kits of this vessel available, but the client wanted his model to be a certain size, so I scratchbuilt it to his specifications. I used plans and a book written to document the ship when the Alabama wreck was discovered and studied. This was also a period when photography was starting to become common so there are several photos as well as paintings available of the ship.

The book was called CSS Alabama: Anatomy of a Confederate Raider by Andrew Bowcock.

Plans were obtained from Taubmansonline.com
Attached Images
File Type: jpg other stuff book.jpg (139.4 KB, 9 views)
File Type: jpg paintings.jpg (15.0 KB, 16 views)
File Type: jpg photographs.jpg (39.3 KB, 15 views)
File Type: jpg plans.jpg (125.4 KB, 10 views)
File Type: jpg semmes.jpg (126.8 KB, 17 views)
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  #2  
Old 19th November 2017, 19:04
HSM HSM is offline
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I got the CSS Alabama anatomy book before I received the plans, so I started with the masts. Their simple dimensions were linear and easier to scale than the small hull lines drawing on the book pages.

Construction was straightforward and the pictures pretty much speak for themselves. In the one photo where the footropes are installed I have some of the hull sections roughly cut-out and waiting for finishing and installation on the false-keel.

Jarod Matwiy
www.historicshipmodel.com
Attached Images
File Type: jpg bowsprit.jpg (32.3 KB, 7 views)
File Type: jpg mast and bulkheads.jpg (35.7 KB, 6 views)
File Type: jpg mast tops.jpg (28.4 KB, 0 views)
File Type: jpg mast tops 2.jpg (35.4 KB, 5 views)
File Type: jpg masts.jpg (27.4 KB, 4 views)

Last edited by HSM; 19th November 2017 at 19:28..
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  #3  
Old 19th November 2017, 19:06
HSM HSM is offline
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Construction on this model was to be "plank-on-bulkhead" style. Not quite as authentic as the "plank-on-frame" method, but for this model where none of the internal structure is seen it works the best.

A false-keel is cut from the sheer-plan out of basswood and notched to accept the sections as bulkheads. With the short bulwarks and straight deck on this model I decided to plank the deck before the planking the hull. It is much easier to scrape and sand the deck before the bulwarks get in the way.

Unfortunately I didn't have any photos of this model with the hull being planked so I put in one from a Constitution I made previously.

Jarod Matwiy
www.historicshipmodel.com
Attached Images
File Type: jpg 4 bulkheads.jpg (25.3 KB, 9 views)
File Type: jpg 5 deckplanks.jpg (73.2 KB, 7 views)
File Type: jpg 7 deckplanks sanded.jpg (69.3 KB, 5 views)
File Type: jpg bulkheads2.jpg (83.0 KB, 8 views)
File Type: jpg planking2.jpg (55.5 KB, 12 views)

Last edited by HSM; 19th November 2017 at 19:28..
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  #4  
Old 19th November 2017, 19:09
HSM HSM is offline
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The hull was painted black, and in the first photo you can see that it is painted flat above the waterline and gloss below. This is because the copper plating sticks better to a smooth surface. The copper used is from a self-adhesive roll commonly used by stained-glass makers and it sticks VERY well to a properly prepared surface. You have to be very careful to put the plates in the right position or you risk pulling the paint off if you have to re position them.

Once the copper is applied I use a solution of vinegar and salt to give it an "old-penny" sort of color. If you put on several applications it can also give a bit of a greenish highlight to the edge of the plates that looks very nice.

The different sheens you see in the black paint on the bow are touch-ups that will disappear when given an over-all coat of flat clearcoat.

The bulwarks are fitted out with waterways, pin-rails, gunports, etc... and painted at this point.

Jarod Matwiy
www.historicshipmodel.com
Attached Images
File Type: jpg port side.jpg (40.0 KB, 11 views)
File Type: jpg copper2.jpg (34.8 KB, 9 views)
File Type: jpg copper3.jpg (23.4 KB, 4 views)
File Type: jpg bow closeup.jpg (61.1 KB, 13 views)
File Type: jpg bulwarks1.jpg (36.4 KB, 10 views)

Last edited by HSM; 19th November 2017 at 19:28..
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  #5  
Old 19th November 2017, 19:12
HSM HSM is offline
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The stern windows are not actually windows on the real ship, they are painted on. When I did this part and sent the photos to the client he didn't like the look of the blue windows, and wanted some other changes to the shape of the stern. I re-did the stern section, re-shaping the area below the windows and adding some details between the windows, as well as painting the window areas white. The new result was much more to his liking.

The propeller blades were photo-etched brass and the hub was turned on the drill-press with files much like the cannon barrels. The propeller is retractable into the hull when running under sail. The rails and mechanism for running this up into the hull was brass "T"-bar from a model railroad shop.

Jarod Matwiy
www.historicshipmodel.com
Attached Images
File Type: jpg newstern4.jpg (51.4 KB, 7 views)
File Type: jpg newstern5.jpg (44.9 KB, 11 views)
File Type: jpg stern3.jpg (45.3 KB, 8 views)
File Type: jpg side closeup.jpg (86.1 KB, 6 views)

Last edited by HSM; 19th November 2017 at 19:28..
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  #6  
Old 19th November 2017, 19:15
HSM HSM is offline
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There was quite a bit of complex metalwork on this model such as the gun tracks and gratings around the funnels and smokestack. I drew up the artwork to have a photo-etched sheet of brass made with all of these detail parts. At my "day-job" I do electronic and mechanical design work so am familiar with CAD and had the brass made at a local PCB fabrication place that we use.

There were 8 guns with four different shapes for the gun barrels, but surprisingly it didn't take very long to make them. I used brass rod and turned them in a drill-press using a file and template to get the right shape.

The smoke-stack was brass sheet imprinted with rivet patterns, then rolled up and a ring of wire soldered around the top.

Other than the photo-etched brass most of the deck furnishings were scratchbuilt out of Swiss Pear wood treated with Tung Oil.

The cannonballs, chain and funnels were more common and could be purchased from online suppliers. The completed brass parts were treated with a chemical used by gunsmiths called "Brass-Black" to give them a beautiful, metallic black finish.

Jarod Matwiy
www.historicshipmodel.com
Attached Images
File Type: jpg photoetched.jpg (78.7 KB, 9 views)
File Type: jpg guns.jpg (40.1 KB, 9 views)
File Type: jpg deck.jpg (45.6 KB, 9 views)
File Type: jpg deck2.jpg (46.8 KB, 6 views)
File Type: jpg above3.jpg (45.3 KB, 3 views)

Last edited by HSM; 19th November 2017 at 19:27..
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  #7  
Old 19th November 2017, 19:17
HSM HSM is offline
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The 5 ship's boats were well documented in the Bowcock book and each one of them was a different shape.

They were made from plastic sheet vacu-formed over basswood plugs that I made for each one. The gratings inside the boats were photo-etched brass and the rest of the interior was plastic sheet and strips from a model railroad store.

The book describes the captain's boat as being colorfully painted and decorated with gold, but the client suggested we make it the same color-scheme as the rest of the boats and I agreed it looks much less "cartoony" than the colorful one.

Jarod Matwiy
www.historicshipmodel.com
Attached Images
File Type: jpg hammocks primed boats.jpg (95.2 KB, 2 views)
File Type: jpg painted boats.jpg (92.6 KB, 3 views)
File Type: jpg painted boats 2.jpg (79.1 KB, 3 views)
File Type: jpg gig colors 2.jpg (37.6 KB, 7 views)

Last edited by HSM; 19th November 2017 at 19:27..
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  #8  
Old 19th November 2017, 19:19
HSM HSM is offline
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The standing rigging is done first, starting with the lower shrouds, stays and ratlines and moving on to the topmast and topgallant (if fitted) shrouds, stays and ratlines.

Things like the stays running from topmast directly to the deck are put on last because they tend to get in the way when fixing lines to the deck, and they are easy to add in the end. Ratlines at this scale are best threaded with a needle through the shrouds with the use of some lined paper as a guide for spacing. On larger scales they can be knotted but at smaler scales the knots are just too obvious.

Some furled sails were to be fitted on the model and these were made from silkspan paper. This material is very limp when wet and can be furled with the clewlines and buntlines exactly as was done on the real ship. When dry it holds its shape and looks very good.

The spanker sail probably should have been furled tighter, but we will blame that on the inexperienced crew!

Jarod Matwiy
www.historicshipmodel.com
Attached Images
File Type: jpg foreshrouds.jpg (35.7 KB, 2 views)
File Type: jpg ratlines3.jpg (30.0 KB, 1 views)
File Type: jpg ratlines2.jpg (49.8 KB, 3 views)
File Type: jpg first sails1.jpg (42.9 KB, 6 views)
File Type: jpg firstsails3.jpg (41.5 KB, 4 views)

Last edited by HSM; 19th November 2017 at 19:26..
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  #9  
Old 19th November 2017, 19:22
HSM HSM is offline
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Things like the boats and davits, anchor davits, jib-boom, flags, etc... etc... are added at the end since they would get in the way of other work and are easy to knock off if you are clumsy like me and bump them by accident.

The boats are filled with oars, masts, rudders, etc... and whatever else there might be in there.

The flag is drawn in TurboCad and printed out on both sides of a piece of paper. It is then folded around a pencil to give it the look of waving in a mild breeze. I find the flags give life to a model and always put them on last.

Photography is done against a grey flanel blanket with deep blue towels wrapped around the pedestals to hide them and simulate water. Ok, maybe the water idea fails but it looks good anyway! I have south-facing windows so the lighting is mostly natural.

Jarod Matwiy
www.historicshipmodel.com
Attached Images
File Type: jpg best deck.jpg (309.8 KB, 12 views)
File Type: jpg bow port quarter.jpg (99.8 KB, 8 views)
File Type: jpg stern port quarter.jpg (90.4 KB, 10 views)
File Type: jpg best detail.jpg (254.7 KB, 9 views)
File Type: jpg publish3.jpg (299.9 KB, 16 views)

Last edited by HSM; 19th November 2017 at 19:26..
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  #10  
Old 19th November 2017, 19:23
HSM HSM is offline
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The case is made of acrylic at a local plastic fabricator and the baseboard was made by my father who has a woodworking space in his home.

The pedestals were ordered from Model Expo or somewhere like that. I don't recall exactly.

I hope you enjoyed this build. If you are interested in having a model made I do commissions of scratchbuilt or kit-built models and will do any type of vessel you'd like reproduced.

Fair winds and calm seas to everyone!
Jarod Matwiy
www.historicshipmodel.com
Attached Images
File Type: jpg case3.jpg (43.8 KB, 13 views)
File Type: jpg case4.jpg (40.3 KB, 19 views)

Last edited by HSM; 20th November 2017 at 00:15..
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  #11  
Old 10th January 2019, 21:45
iceman47 iceman47 is offline
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Thanks a lot, this helps me a lot!

Thanks HMS for all the great pictures. I just purchased the Bluejacket Alabama kit and have been searching for pictures to use for reference as I build the ship. I have hit a gold mine with your posts. Hope mine comes out a tenth as good as yours did. Thanks again.
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  #12  
Old 10th January 2019, 21:46
iceman47 iceman47 is offline
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Thanks

Sorry, that's HSM.
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