Cordage and Hawser reels, Part II

Continuing from part I

I’ve been exercising with soldering lately. I thought things were going wonderfully at first and I made a few fully soldered pompoms. Unfortunately, after a week they started to corrode and after a month parts started falling off. Repairs didn’t work and even superglue did no longer adhere to the metal at all (this never happened before!). I used the corrosion-free Tix flux that may have been the problem, either as I didn’t clean the parts properly afterwards or it simply isn’t corrosion free as some modelers on railroading forums claim? I don’t know really, but after a period of mourning for my pompoms I gathered my strength and I replaced all my soldering equipment and consumables. I finally found a nice Australian web shop called DCC Concepts with a nice how-to on soldering and their own range of solders and fluxes. They claim to have a no-clean non-toxic flux that I wanted to try and this solder/flux from DCC works really well. In the beginning I had some trouble as it didn’t run as smoothly as the Aber/Tix combination; however, that combination ran so well it ended up in a very very thin layer and a poor bond. I just have to be a bit more careful in the amount of solder I add for each joint.

I practiced on a new batch of cordage and hawser reels before trying the far more complicated pompom. I already made a batch but I had so much trouble gluing these parts together. If some part broke off during the final stages of construction, I really couldn’t repair it and had to start over. Understandably, the failure rate was very high.

1. Piece of MDF used as a disposable workbench.
2. Bottle of flux secured in a hole drilled in the MDF. It does really help avoid knocking the bottle, which I did when working with the Tix flux earlier (Staining the modelling table). The first day I constantly found myself wanted to shift the position of the bottle but now I’m used to it not being able to move.
3. An old brush for applying the flux.
4. A bag of parts to be soldered.
5. The DCC Saphire solder.
6. Stock rod, tube, and wire. This brass from Scientific Wire can actually be soldered, in contrast to winding wire I bought that has a coating.
7. A drill to open freshly cut tubing.
8. A toe-nail clipper for cutting (thin) rod and wire.
9. Calliper.
10. Assortment of files, knifes and tweezers.
11. Part storage area outline.
12. Soldering station by Weller with a variable iron temperature.
13. Soldering iron with the finest tip in the Weller assortment of fine tips.
14. Alcohol for pre/post soldering cleaning.
15. Bowl with alcohol to finished parts.
16. Maximum magnification Optivisor to check the bonds and quality of filing and such.
17. Tramin 2011 Pinot Grigio from the Alto Adige. Hensel 2011 Grauer Burgunder will also work. Soothes the nerves before soldering, dampens disappointment when parts spontaneously disintegrate, raises spirits when things finally go according to plan.

Now, I am not going to follow all the advice normally given for soldering work. For instance, I do not have an abrasive pen to clean the parts as the parts are much too small; holding them without damage is enough of a challenge already. Pre-tinning a part is often risky as you can clog delicate parts but sometimes works. You also can’t really pre-tin the soldering tip because the amount of solder you need is so small. Top-left shows a tiny chafing chipped from the solder. Now, slice is halved, and if necessary cut it two again. You can pick up the solder with the tip of the iron; you can see a tiny bead (top right. note that this is the smallest soldering iron tip that Weller sells with a 0.4mm tip). This works very well for applying a minute amount of solder that is sometimes already a bit too much. The bottom images show a tiny 0.5mm tube soldered to a 0.3mm wire; the wire centers the etched parts and the tube acts a spacer. I add flux to the wire, pre-tin the wire (no harm here), slide over the tube and add heat.

The two etched parts are cut from the fret, sanded and put in the “storage area outline”; they are so small and difficult to find that putting them on the same spot actually helps. Now, I drilled in a small 0.3mm hole on the base plate so that I can plug the 0.3 wire through the etched part (top center), add some flux and then heat while gently pushing the tube down with fine-tipped tweezers. The part is both held in place and aligned at the same time. It can help to use to Optivisor to see if the solder is really flowing; if the connection is bad the part will probably fall off anyway. The long end of the wire is clipped and the other etched part is added. This is more difficult as they need to be aligned with respect to each other and there is some risk of the first part getting loose, so some trial and error is required.
My cheap model pliers weren’t any good for clipping wire (most modeling tools aren’t) but my beautiful Zwilling toenail clippers were just perfect for the job. Afterwards the excess wire (nearly nothing) was filed off; this is a tricky part as it’s very easy to catapult the part if you’re not careful (need better tweezers). Afterwards the etched parts were folded. Here the optivisor came in really handy, showing me if I held the tweezers properly over the fold line. The image bottom left shows a poor example, risking folding over a hole present in the part. Bottom right shows a finished cordage reel; 2.5mm wide.
The hawser reels presented a much greater challenge; I needed to make drums with a 0.3mm hole for the center wire to align all parts. However, I haven’t been successful drilling in these small holes in brass. I started with a center drill of 0.5mm, giving only a gently tap to the end of the rod, but the small drill often wandered anyway. Even when the hole was centered perfectly the drill breaks, even when I drill very carefully using cutting oil and cleaning the drill every few tenths of a millimeter. Anyway, I gave up and ordered some stock tubing from Albion Alloys with a 0.3/0.5 inner/outer diameter. Drilling in a 0.5mm hole is very much easier and the tubes are very easy to cut to length

Making small brass tubes is now fairly easy for me. Setting the late at its highest rpm (only 3,000) I start with cutting the end of the stock brass (1) and cutting the rod to the correct diameter in very small steps (2). I bought some stock rod from Albion at the right diameter but I lost it… Next I position the 0.5mm hole with the center drill but I do not drill the hole yet (3). I change the cutting tool for the parting tool (the quick change tool holder is the best upgrade for the lathe). I position the parting tool, release the rod,push the rod back with the parting tool and fix the rod again in the chuck. This is my primitive way to reposition the parting tool at zero (4) and make a small groove with the parting tool (5). Then I apply the square flat file; I put the lathe in reverse so that  the file isn’t catapulted into my eye when I accidentally hit the chuck with the end. I think this is much safer (6). I continue slowly with the parting tool (7) and capture the small tube on the end of the drill (or center drill). I usually make a batch of them before reinserting them in the chuck (9), apply some cutting oil and drill them through.

I took a few images of the largest hawser reel, consisting of 2 tubes and 7 etched parts.

The top four images show the small drums added to the 0.5mm tube. The tube is much to long but when the to tubes are soldered to each, I insert the part in my hand-held drill and cut the tube by hand. A small 0.3mm wire is then put through the tube. The etched parts at the side are actually three parts, so that I could capture a bit more detail. The first parts fit into each other and need to aligning, but the last part is held in placed by an old broken-off 0.3mm drill.

Like the cordage reel,. the hawsers are fixed to the bade plate and the parts are all soldered into place. This is a tricky part because all the parts get desoldered; I apply pressure with fine-tipped tweezers while the solder solidifies. The part is checked to see if everything still aligns nicely and of all the feel touch the deck properly; if not, the part is heated and realigned. The 0.3mm is then trimmed and filed smooth.

The small model is clamped into the caliper and a 0.15mm brass wire is soldered into place, cut to size and filed. If the rod breaks off during filing, then the bond wasn’t any good. Although the flux is sold as no-clean flux, I threw the parts int he ultrasonic cleaner anyway. This cleaned up the parts and improved the bond between the final two parts superglued to base of the small models.

Not the best picture, bit it givens a nice impression of the range of reels to be fitted to the model. Why doesn’t the reel at the center doesn’t have those two wires? Must be a failure I didn’t throw out.

Booms, davits and derricks, part I

There are many booms, davits, and derricks scattered around HMS Hood’s decks and superstructure. The rigging and davits are drawn up in excellent detail by John Roberts’ Anatomy of the Ship: HMS Hood and Anatomy of the Ship: HMS Dreadnought. A full list of booms and derricks is given in Maurice Northcott’s HMS Hood: Design & Construction (Ensign Special or Man o’War, same content). Together they have nearly all the information we need for the 1941 version. From the images can be concluded that some booms are tapered, but derricks are not. All booms and derricks are wooden, except the main derrick.

Here you can see a paravane being deployed or recovered (A), but this is not the paravane derrick. This derrick is operated next to A turret, while the actual paravane derricks were stored directly aft of the forward breakwater where a pair of paravanes were stored (B). You rarely see these derrick deployed though and if you want to add them the best option is to either model them lowered (C) or not at all (D); Most images of the forward breakwater show the derricks to be absent. So, if you build the Trumpeter kit you’d best throw these parts away.

The second largest set of derricks consists of three pairs of 40ft derricks. These derricks were used to load ammunition or hoist boats. When HMS Hood was completed, one set was stored near the bridge, one set was fitted to the smaller cranes on either side of the funnels, one set was stored at the deck side on either side of the main derrick and one set was stored to the quarterdeck (4 pair). For the 1941 version, two pairs of derricks were fitted to the bridge bulkhead, below the smaller sounding booms, while the other two sets remained fitted to the smaller cranes. The quarterdeck derricks were removed.

Another set are the 36′ 9″ sounding booms. No resource specifically identifies their location, but two booms of the same length were fitted above the 40ft derricks during the final modification. This indicates that the sounding machines themselves were on board when HMS Hood was sunk. The image shows the sounding boom deployed during outfitting (A). Two sets of booms are fitted for embarking and disembarking. One set of 50ft guest warp booms (A) was fitted to the hull near the bridge and one set of 30ft6in swinging booms was fitted at the quarterdeck bulkhead. These booms were all tapered. Note how all these booms were rigged with a stay and two lines.

The swinging boom near the quarterdeck bulkhead is very difficult to spot in photographs taken during the war. The stays are easier to spot (A), even though the boom is not (B). Note that the 40ft ammunition derrick at (C) was removed when the air intake in the quarterdeck bulkhead was covered up (D). The stay for the swinging boom is still present in the image bottom right.

The largest derrick is of course the main derrick operated from the main mast. Here you can seen the main derricks aboard HMS Rodney (left), HMS Inflexible (top right) and HMS Hood (bottom right). The style of the main derrick appears the same for all capital ships and the drawing in the Anatomy of the Ship: HMS Hood is not accurate. There are small changes in the rig of the derrick between ships and the hoist line does not loop back the same number of times for all ships.

The flange couplings of the main derrick were simulated with tiny triangles added with a very fine pair of tweezers. The pully in the end of the derrick was added as well for proper rigging. The start point of the derrick was ‘milled’ into shape with the cross table of the drill press.

The support on the main mast was built from plastic plate; you don’t always need photo-etch to make such difficult to make shapes (even though I should have).

The list comprises of

1 65ft main derrick (1)

2 50ft guest warp booms (2)

2 30ft 6″ swinging booms (3)

4 40ft 4t ammunition derricks (4)

2 40ft 5t boat & ammunition derricks (small cranes) (5)

2 36ft 6in sounding booms (6)

2 12ft paravane derricks, mostly stored

Northcott lists one 8ft derrick present as late as 1931, but I haven’t been able to find any image, so I guess it was stored out of sight with the paravane derricks?

Most work on the derricks was spent adding small rings!

The smaller davits will be treated in a small follow-up post.


Flag Lockers

This is a nice image from the Seaman’s pocket book of a few flags used by the signalmen, reproduction of the 1943 version. I thought it would be a nice idea to add some colours to the flag lockers.

Here’s a pic I took of HMS Belfast’s flag locker. The text on the top row is hidden in this image but reads P1 to P9 plus P0 for a few naval pendants. Most ships carried several of these lockers and images of HMS Hood before her final reconstruction show as many as 6 flag lockers, afterwards at least 4. The HMS Hood site even shows a flag locker in the wreckage but of a different type, which I cannot trace to any location at the moment. I did find images of the four flag lockers of the standard type as on HMS Belfast.

These are the small models. Note the larger openings on the one-but-lowest row. They worked out quite nicely (which isn’t a surprise as these are the second version after ironing out a few minor design errors).

Here you can see what flag goes what cell of the locker. As each cell is about 0.3 by 0.3 mm there is no room to paint anything but solid colour.

So I made a small colour map with the dominant colour. Yellow & red flags become orange, green & white light green, blue & white light blue, blue & yellow become green. Red & white may become pink so I decided they are folded such that only one colour shows. If adjacent colours are the same the flag will be ‘folded’ differently as well to keep the appearance of variation; the flags with more than two colours allowed for some variation.

I prepared some styrene strip (Plastruct) and added some colour. Here you can see blue, red, and black ‘flags’. These are for the one-but-lowest row, wide openings. For the other flags I painted the tip of the strips. These were cut to size with the chopper and inserted with tweezers. Sometimes they didn’t fit and had to be removed. Sometimes they could only be removed by drilling them in with a 0.3mm drill and carefully removing what’s left. I had one drill broken and the tip couln’t be removed; the end of that flag locker. As the strip/rod of Plastruct or Evergeen is never exactly constant in its dimensions, some strips fit better than others so they were fixed with a drop of varnish. More strips lie on the floor than fit in the lockers. T His was a good reason to stop my attempt to add some striping to the ‘flags’ to add even more detail.

The flag lockers were taped with their backs to styrene sheet and filled carefully. Minor damage to the base coat of the lockers is visible but I like the result. These will be added to the model after general painting to avoid embarrassing errors with masking…

Cordage and Hawser reels, Part I

One of the reasons this blog wasn’t updated for a quarter of a year was due to the trouble I had with assembling the cordage and hawser reels. I’ve split up the posts into two parts: standing and hanging reels. The latter are the thinner reels that are scattered around HMS Hood hanging from a bulkhead (about fifteen) plus the four smaller reels near the davits of the 27″ whalers. Here I’ll show the standing hawser and cordage reels, otherwise known as the opening scene of “how I started worrying and learned to hate my model”.

One of the things that will immediately become apparent when you start looking for photographs is that the reels are nearly always covered in canvas (just as the ships boats). Although I want to have the most accurate model I can build, I already decided to slightly cheat on those covers so that all detail would be there to admire. Using the images that I had, I started with a head count. This is quite difficult, as you need to determine the height of each reel correctly before you can decide what type it is, or perhaps you find out it is a type you missed? I certainly wouldn’t recommend estimating the type by eye, I really needed a ruler the estimate the dimensions in relation to items in each photograph.

I’ve identified five types. The first type is the large hawser reel (L) that is specified in the Anatomy of the Ship series volume (but not entirely to my liking). I found one behind the forward breakwater, two on either side of the aft searchlight platform, and one next to the bridge (see below).

Other types are seen here. The top right one is a cordage reel that remained on board HMS Hood, but I cannot find more that one, at the starboard side of the forward funnel. The bottom-left is a hawser reel that is similar to the largest hawser reel but smaller, about the height of the railing (hence medium). I found six so far: one behind the forward breakwater, two behind B-barbette, two in front of the main stairs on the boat deck (between and outboard of the funnels), one near the main mast. I also had a look at the image top left and decided this cordage had a few weight-saving holes. This is not uncommon so I made a variant on the medium hawser reel. I now think it’s just a normal cordage as the one top right and the image is too poor to make out its correct configuration. Still, these variants were added anyway. We know that many cordage reels were replaced by hawser reels so this one will be a hawser reel too. The last type is a hawser reel shown bottom left that is basically too small to be a medium hawser reel (so: small). There are four: two are fitted below the paravanes stored on either side of the bridge (lots of smaller reels are fitted there as well), and two were found at the far end of the boat deck, both at port side.

This image shows two small and one large reels at the far end of the boat deck. The right vent and 4″ mount serves as a reference for identifying them.

This image shows a nice surprise: there is a large hawser reel (taller than the railing) fitted near the bridge. There are no other images of this reel, so it’s quite difficult to make out its position.

The dimensions were obtained from careful observation, but the pattern followed from tracing existing reels from museum ships. This image was taken of HMS Haida, taken from Resin Shipyards, with permission. The design matches the drawing in Anatomy of the Ship and required dimensions nicely.

The other reels were drawn using what material I had. In order not too have too few details on these parts—can’t have that—I decided that each side of the reel should consist of three parts, as shown here. There are a few design choices I made that seemed like a wonderful idea but turned out to be quite to opposite. The center part would first be glued to the large part, by applying glue from behind. The combined parts would then be centered on a small drill and the last part would be added, nicely centered. I started with the largest reels, thinking them easiest to construct but they were the hardest to do by far. Notice that the center etch part has a small circle that fits nicely on the part at right? These need to be aligned. This was the first major error: it is so very difficult to apply glue while keeping the parts aligned. I’ll make sure to avoid breaking rotational symmetry of the parts when I can help it.

But this was only the beginning of my troubles. The parts are etched in steel—not brass—that material is very difficult to glue. All parts kept falling apart and proved to be very difficult to glue back without overdoing the glue or damaging the parts. I had to try out all different types of glue before deciding on one glue that worked quite well: a good bond, not too thick, not too expensive and easy to apply. I now use ordinary Pattex. I trashed all my other super glues and I won’t be buying these miracle glues on modeling shows as they clearly suck (no, the glues!). The Pattex won’t last very long when opened, so I bought many bottles. I also learned that flat PE parts squeeze most glue to the edges, so very little glue is actually between the parts. Removing excess glue usually results in not having any glue at all. Next time I’ll etch some ridges to keep the glue where it is supposed to go.

After having solved the 2010 glue crisis, I made the drums. Simple rod with a 0.3mm hole in the center. I used thin brass wire, set my lathe to the slowest setting, and applied a bit of glue. Turn on the lathe, and see how wonderful the wire will wind itself into impossible shapes and how the glue will get everywhere and forcing you to start all over. Again! Needless to say, I had a lot of failed parts. The next problem presented itself when you find out that you need to trim the drums to length so that the edges are perpendicular to the center line; otherwise these nice etched parts will be skewed and all effort was for nothing. Of course, when the bond of previously-etched parts wasn’t as good as you hoped for, the entire part could come loose at the last minute anyway. So, at the end of the construction phase, a small round of non-destructive testing was introduced to sift the strong from the weak parts. Those who could be saved went to the depressingly small pile of finished parts.

Here they are. Nineteen small models (short of one large reel). You’ll notice that the etch set, which I had made three times, has enough parts to make ninety (link). I thought I had enough parts to make lots and lots of parts and worry about how many I needed later. “I can always choose the ones that worked out best”. Unfortunately, I hardly have spare parts left! I have one spare cordage and four medium cordage reels that are probably wrong anyway. Still, I really like the those small holes and I think I’ll scatted them around the forward gun turrets.

So, on to the really small hawser reels. The good news is: only two etched part per reel and not six.

Happy ending in part II