Building the H.M.S. Bounty




Assembling the hull can be one of the most enjoyable parts of building a wood ship but it can easily be the most frustrating too. The key is preparation of the keel and bulkheads or frames. Now, the difference between a "plank on bulkhead" and a "plank on frame" kit is that the vertical supports running along the keel are hollow and look like a wishbone when it's a plank on frame. A plank on bulkhead has solid vertical supports. Obviously the Anatomy of the Bounty is a plank on frame kit because the insides of the ship are part of the model. The Anatomy of the Bounty is defiantly an advanced kit because not only is it a plank on frame kit but one side of the hull is open. Throw in the fact that it's single planked instead of double and there's not much room for error. I have some pretty neat solutions for cracks in the hall but as you can imagine if it's not done just right you will be able to see light through the single planked hull.

Now I have to admit, when I build a ship I don't strive for absolute perfection. Many modelers do and that's great. However, I prefer to actually finish the ship within my own lifetime. There are 3 types of modelers: perfectionists (scratchers), professional, and hobbyist. I try to claim myself as a professional but I'm sure that's just my bloated ego talking.

Before you start planking the model though you need to prepare the keel and frames for the application. You can see in this photo what the haul will look like before sanding and here's a pretty good shot of what it should look like after sanding. When I sanded my hull I started off with a powered rotary sander to make quick with the job and worked my way down to metal files and then finally sandpaper. Be careful with the power sander because it can eat the frames which can be hard to repair. In fact I started off with the planked side of the hull so if I make a mistake it would be covered by the planking anyway. Once I was confident I progressed to the open side.

Once you've sanded your frames down and soaked your wood strips in warm to hot water for at least 24 hours you're ready to go. Your first plank should be a good square evenly measured strip. Apply the first strip without any tapering because this will act as the master plank as you work down. Two ways to go from here... my way which only takes a few dozen hours or the perfectionist way which will take a hundred or more. The results will be similar and to the lay person there will be no difference at all. In the perfectionists way you should sand taper each strip in a fairly complex way that will allow for a very smooth thick hull. Each strip should be tapered at the top and bottom as well as an inward curve along the length of the strip. Hard to explain so here's a quick (confusing) sketch. You keep tapering your pieces differently as you work down as to fit them each like a puzzle piece until you reach the bottom. It will still need to be sanded pretty hard at first to get the smoothness required but not nearly as much resulting in a thicker hull. However, it doesn't matter to me that I have a thick hull you won't be able to see that anyway. The key is to result in a smooth even hull so I just began to work with each plank without much preparation and just start nailing. Once I'm finished with the hull I sanded it with the power sander and worked my way down to super fine grit sandpaper. In the end, it will look exactly the same way except you will have some unavoidable cracks in the hull which is bad. However, daunted with this reality I had to come up with a fix or I was in for big trouble. The fix was actually really neat and I think it actually produced a more realistic finish. I sanded the hull down until it was almost completely done and smooth. Then painstakingly, I pushed a little resin in the thin cracks and then sanded around the area with fine grit sand paper to loosen up some sawdust and then I packed it into the crack and the resin then held the dust. It created a perfectly smooth joint and it looks quite realistic.