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John W E:



This topic and build will be aimed at those persons who have little or even no experience of building from a Plan.

In other words, they know the sharp end of a knife.   :) The plan was a ‘freebie’ plan from Model Boats magazine – I think the plan may still be available.   It is graded as skill level – Easy to Medium.    It does have a lot of information on this plan with regard to materials, build sequences and so forth. 

So let us begin:-

The first job we have to do, after we have had a good look at the plan & when we have familiarised ourselves with it – is to decide what parts need to be transferred from the Plan onto the material that we are going to build the Fairey Swordsman from. There are several options open to us, one option is to photocopy the parts that we require and then cut the shapes out from the photocopied images.  We then arrange them onto our building material.    Once we are satisfied that we can fit all the parts on, we can stick the photocopied images onto the wood.

Another method is, to use carbon copy paper (the type used in olden days :) by typists).   The method here is to place the carbon paper onto the material and place the plan over the top of that.  We then draw round the items we require therefore tracing the outlines onto the material we are going to use.

A third option, and this is my preferred option, is to use tracing paper.  The reason I prefer this method is; on other builds I have done, I have traced frames onto individual sheets of tracing paper and used these as a permanent record throughout the build.

As a footnote here – some draughtsmen show which way the grain of the building material should run.   On this particular plan, it is drawn in to represent grain but on some plans there is just an arrow showing the direction of the grain.   We take it, when we are working with a ply-wood material it is the surface grain which runs in the direction of the arrow or the indication on the plan and NOT the inner grain of the ply.

In photograph one then, I have shown the items which I use.   There are no special items involved at all here.    A plastic rule, a soft leaded pencil, tracing paper, a 45º set square and that funny curved shape – is called a ‘French Curve’ not necessary, but a great advantage for drawing curves, radius’ & etc.

The second picture you can see is where I have begun to transfer my tracings onto the material for the build which is called Liteply – this is the material suggested to be used for the keel, frames, bow and stern sections - note: little tip here; I use 4 drawing pins to secure the tracing paper to the Liteply .   I use an old piece of chipboard underneath the Liteply for support.   When I have finished transferring a tracing onto the Liteply, I only remove two drawing pins, thus allowing me to flip the tracing paper away so I can then examine and ensure I have not missed any part of the tracing out.    If I have, I can fold the tracing paper back to its original place.   I would then be able to correct where I have missed.   One more tip as well Ensure you mark and label each piece you trace so once you have cut them all out; you do not have a pile of bits – which you don’t know where they fit  :) .

On the next photograph, you will see that I have all the transfer tracings complete on the Liteply in readiness to be cut out.    Now here is another tip which I use Once I have finished tracing and transferring an item onto the Liteply I immediately go over the top of the lines drawn with a ball point pen.   I tend to use black, the reason for this is, and sometimes the pencil line fades into the timber.   Sometimes the softer the timber, the quicker it seems to fade.  However, with a ballpoint pen, the lines drawn do stay pretty prominent. 

John W E:
Now, when I begin to cut out the frames and the keel, I do not particularly have any order in which I commence, it is normally the easiest and most accessible to remove first.   In the case of Liteply, the tools I use were a heavy Stanley knife which has a new blade, a steel ruler and a small scalpel knife.  You could, if you wished, use a fretsaw with a very fine blade, but, Liteply is quite an easy material to work with.   The material itself i.e. Liteply, is a thin piece of balsa wood which has had a face veneer bonded to it, of a harder timber, which does look similar to Obechi of a high quality and on the reverse side of the balsa wood, the cheaper material facing.   So, it seems to have one good face and one bad face and as you can imagine; it is pretty easy to work with.  Tip here too… When cutting with the grain place a steel ruler or a straight edge on the inside of the line that you are cutting.   So, if the blade does try to follow the grain whilst cutting; it runs along the edge of the steel rule.

Also, try and cut slightly larger about 0.5mm bigger than what you actually want.  Therefore, you will have 0.5mm to sand off in the end.

The next picture you will see is where I have cut all the items that I require out.   I am now in the process of starting to sand, I use a flat block of wood 10 inches long by 2 inches wide with medium to coarse sandpaper stuck to it with double-sided tape.

You will note at this stage, that I have not cut out any of the notches in the keel or in the ribs.  This I do in the next stage; when I begin to assemble.   The reason for this is sometimes when you have traced your notches & etc., and you come to cut them out, you may find they are slightly bigger.  So, to prevent this, I pick one side of the notch to be cut out to become a datum line.   Cut this line to depth and then offer a scrap piece of material of the same thickness as the frame up to it and score a line on the opposite side, thus giving the correct width of the notch.    Once it has been scored, I cut down and remove the notch and this sometimes  :) gives me a neat fit – PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT and I am still practising.  :)

John W E:
On the last picture you will see how I am starting to assemble the keel, as per the instructions of the plan.    It is laminated using a 2mm thick central core, sandwiched on either side by 2 pieces of 3mm Liteply.   The keel full assembly is itself in 2 parts, the front part containing the bow up to the rudder shaft slot and the stern from the propeller shaft to the stern post.   You will see in the next photograph that I have the two parts of the keel assembly clamped up with various clamps, waiting for it to dry (time to view the Forum while glue dries).   

The glue throughout this construction is white PVA water resistant glue (Evostick).   Once the keel has dried and the clamps removed, give it a light sand to remove all excess glue and the keel assembly is then checked against the plan to ensure that everything lines up; slot for prop shaft angle, also the notches for the frames and also the overall length.   Once we are satisfied and happy with this we move on to the next stage which is gluing on the two cheeks over the prop shaft slot.   The method I use here is to clamp the forward piece of the keel upright on to a straight piece of wood and then glue and clamp the two cheek pieces.

Next offer up and glue to the correct markings - glue the rear piece of the keel.   Clamp this next to the piece of timber.    This is ensuring that the bottom of the keel is flat and also that the keel is straight.   Again, leave this to dry; time for another smudge at Mayhem ).

John W E:
Once this assembly has dried, remove all the clamps, dress up where necessary to remove excess glue.   Again, check against the plan thus to ensure nothing has moved and once we are happy we move on and locate and fit the first rib.    As you can see, by the photograph, I use an Engineer’s square to ensure that the first frame is at right-angles to the bow section by clamping it whilst the glue is setting.   Also, checking that it is at the correct angle to the keel and once this has dried we move on to the 2nd, 3rd and 4th ribs.   Set aside and allow it to dry thoroughly.

John W E:
Once this is completely dry the next thing we do is we put in the chine cheeks at the bow.  Gluing these in and clamping them and then again, ensuring that they all line up and are square with one another.    I then add the top deck at the bow;   I allowed this to dry and once dried quick sand with some very light sand paper and then I moved on to applying the deck edging.  You will see this is butt jointed to the bow deck and what I did, I added blocks of wood in the corners as in the photograph marked with a black arrow to strengthen this.  We then move on, using the first frame as a reference and checking the distance between the first frame and the 2nd frame back level with the keel.  We then check the distance between the frames at deck level, to make sure that they correspond and that the two frames are parallel with one another.

We go ahead with the same procedure for the 3rd and 4th frames, checking that they are parallel to one another and gluing them to the lower edge of the deck.   Once the glue has set, we can move on and glue the rear top deck section in.  This is again, butt jointed to the outer deck sections and also to the top of the stern post.  We glue in the rear dummy chine piece.  Also, the side chine support pieces at the rear end.   Once we have checked these are at right angles to the stern post, and have dried, we can then proceed with gluing in the chine pieces.  The chine is made up of two pieces of Obechi 3/32 x ¼ inches.  The first piece is glued and clamped into position into the notches on the frames and then allowed to dry.   If you have enough clamps you can do both sides in one go.


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