Steamship Barbicane

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Ted Cochran

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The hull stringers are done.

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On to plating. I did some experiments with different thicknesses of cardstock, paper, and cardboard. I've ended up using cardstock (business card weight) and 69 lb photo paper for plating. This will be a bit tedious (shall we say, "relaxing"), as there are 120 plates that need to be measured, cut out, gently bent into shape, and glued in place. Microclips work well as clamps, but rubber bands and pins also have a role.

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In testing news, I received the first batches of puffy paint (two types) and initial tests are very promising. Below you can see TItebond molding and trim "no-run, no drip" wood glue, applied with a pin head, on the left, thickened molding and trim in the center left, and two types of puffy paint --Tulip Metallics silver dimesional fabric paint, ($3.37 for four ounces at Amazon) center right and Tulip Puffy black dimensional fabric paint ($6.90 for four ounces at Amazon), on the far right. As a quick and dirty test, I spray painted the test card with Testors Diamond Dust spray lacquer. The Titbond M&T isn't bad for medium-sized rivets, but the little ones turn into donuts. Tulip paints take a couple hours to dry, hence the squashed silver rivets, but works well for different sizes of rivets. [The fluorescent green and blue are a different test.]

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Suitably encouraged, I made a test jig to test cardboard and cardstock, and more carefully applied riveting candidates in different sizes and patterns. Other than the fact that alternating rivets on the trim strip didn't work out so well, any of these could work, although the Tulip paints are a bit more three dimensional--especially for small rivets, and they have a really tiny nozzle on the bottle which make them easy to use for this purpose. Tulip silver is the most economical. I left room for the Scribbles puffy paint, which should get here this week.

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Next up, more panels, more tests, and plasma propulsion.
 
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Ted Cochran

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Panel attachment continues. Lots of clamps and rubber bands are needed to help the cardstock acquire the necessary curvature.

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Meanwhile, construction of facilities for the plasma drive's ion injectors has started. These are housed in bays above and along side each fin. This Rogallo-wing like shape has to be persuaded to bend in four or five ways to fit between stringers between the fourth and fifth centering rings.

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Like so:

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As always, the initially ugly results of clamping and gluing get smoothed out later.

Finally, I got the Scribbles puffy paint and added that to the test panel. It was a little harder to use, coming in a smaller, stiffer bottle, but the results were similar to the Tulip paints. I did hit on a trick to eliminate the Hershey's Kiss effect--tapping the panel gently leveled out the drops quite well. I then painted the panel with Testor's spray lacquer:

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And followed up with some quick antiquing:

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They all look pretty good, including the Titebond Molding and Trim glue which is in the bottom left panel. All these images can be expanded with a click.
 
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kuririn

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Did you form the injector housings from flat cardstock? If so any special techniques?
 

Ted Cochran

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Yes, flat. I did some rework with plain paper to get the depth and shape of the curl and size of the flanges figured out. I tried a couple of different materials--posterboard is not good--it wrinkles--but cardstock is fine. I use the paper as a template, and pre-curl the trough around a dowel. I also cut relief slits into the flanges to help shape them to the curve of the hull. It turns out that the fit is very sensitive to the precise spacing of the stringers to each other, and I wasn't meticulous about that, so each housing is a bit of a custom fit. The insides of the housings will probably be flat black or something similar, so we won't really see any of this effort on the finished model.
 

Ted Cochran

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About 25% of the hull is paneled, and close to half of the nose cone. We've rounded the keel and are headed back up the port side.

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I keep trying new things, and have had some successes. First, I've started using TB Molding and Trim glue (AKA No Run No Drip, AKA Quick and Thick, I think) for panel gluing. It sets up much more quickly and dries fast, so I can do more sessions in a day, if I want.

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Second, I've found a use for the Estes rubber shock cords, which I've never used in a rocket.
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They really help pull the plates into the curve of the hull. Finally, I've added a few more antiquing washes on the test panel. It's probably a little darker now than Barbicane will be, but it really helps define the rivet heads, especially on the top of the panel as shown below. It's hard to photograph this finish, but I think it will look pretty good.

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Ted Cochran

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Plating is about 75% complete, and I've shaped the nose cone a bit more, as well. The plating process involves holding up a business card to the next stringer bay to be paneled, marking it, cutting it, holding it up again, trimming it a bit more, etc. until it fits, then gluing and clamping/rubber-banding/pinning it in place. Repeat x120.

This is the stage where the ship looks the groadiest, especially in this light, but I think with a little filler and a lot of welding stringers it will be fine. Hull imperfections help the antiquing process.

I got a shipment of Goblin nosecones in from BMS (thanks, Bill!)--you can see them at the bottom of the picture below. These will be cut up and made into the nacelles for the magnetoplasma drive. I'm trying to figure out the easiest way to cut them to fit in the fin-body joint--you can see roughly where they will go in the plans on the previous page, although the angle may change a bit. The bays alongside the fins contain a helicon coupler that ionizes neutral gas and injects it into the nacelle. Then a magnetic compressor and an ion cyclotron heater in each nacelle heat and compress the resulting plasma before it is ejected through a nozzle. At least, that's what I think the notes from the Baltimore Gun Club's archives say; they were a little hard to read. It sounds like a VASIMR drive, which MIT has been fooling around with, but I'm not sure how the Barbicane fueled the steam engines that drove the generators. Hey, I don't have to understand it, I just model it....

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Speaking of welding stringers, I've been using Open Rocket to develop transition patterns for these. This is a great task for someone with OCD (unfortunately, that isn't me) because the pattern making is extremely tedious--that transition/hoop at the edge of the nose cone above is 3/16" wide with a 1.67" front diameter and a 1.81" rear diameter. The next one has a 3.07 fore diameter and a 3.14" aft diameter. A change in any of those numbers by 1/16" makes a big difference in the shape of the paper transition, and hence its fit.

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I print these out on regular paper to test fit them, then the final version is printed and cut out of 69 lb photo paper. Here's a closeup of the nose cone, with the top stringer installed and the next one in progress. There will be stringers over every panel joint on the hull.

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The ship's current weight is a still-svelte 8.1 ounces.
 
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kuririn

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Wow.
You must be the most patient guy on earth.
Amazing work.
 

Ted Cochran

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95% of the body panels are on--still doing a few at a time. I'll be adding a zillion linear feet of external riveting reinforcing stringers soon. Meanwhile, on to the nacelles for the plasma drive.

These are going to go in the joint between the hull and each fin, such that each fin will have an embedded nacelle, blunt end up, nozzle end down. The view below is looking up at the business end.

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It turns out that the shape of each nacelle half is pretty complicated--kind of hollowed out spoon. See below.

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I start with a goblin nosecone (far left), which is a rounded ogive, and I round the base until it is a teardrop shape (second from left). Then I cut in half, using the notching technique I described earlier for the tip pods, but this time notching the nose cones with extreme prejudice (middle). If this where a conventional cylindrical hull, the nacelle would be flat on one side and concave on the other, with the concavity matching a chord on the hull. But since Barbicane has a tapered hull, the cutout has to taper as well--it is 3-D curved shape that I figured out from the plans with a fair amount of trial and error--again, no CAD in this build. That's the shape that's fourth from the left. Note that only the outside edge of the shape really matters, because that's all that needs to be in contact with the hull or the fin. So I hollow out some of what's left of the inside to lighten the part. Each nacelle half ends up weighing about 3 grams. Below I've stood up each shape so you can see it from the side.

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The dry test photo below gives an idea of what the final appearance will be, at least for two halves of two nacelles. The exact size and shape will depend a bit (a lot) on final sanding and prep. As shown, the nacelles are small enough that they can't be seen from the front of the hull--they hide in the aft taper.

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Next up: External stringers and more balsa details.
 
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fyrwrxz

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You, sir, are a steely-eyed steam punk missile man! Major kudos for your imagination, techniques and execution. That would be shelf queen in my world, never to feel the thrust of heated plasma, nor the breezes of an open field. I would cry if it got scratched. Ad Astra!
 

Ted Cochran

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Hull plating is complete. In theory, Barbicane could fly today, but in practice, there's another month or two of outfitting and finishing work to do.

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Next will be adding the external reinforcing stringers over every seam, external details such as hatches, portholes, canopy, access panels, conduits, etc., and the plasma drive. Speaking of which, I've been prototyping a few alternatives. Here's a dry-fit example.

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On to the stringers, and a lot of filling and sanding.
 

Ted Cochran

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Before adding the external stringers, I've found it helpful to do a quick fill-and-sand job with Elmers finishing wood filler . Doesn't have to be perfect-- steampunk in general and antiquing in particular takes advantage of minor irregularities in the surface, which may be why I like it so much; I don't have much patience for sanding. I water down the filler just a bit, and sand with 400 or higher grit to avoid fuzzing up the paper too much.

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Side note: I love these rubber contour sanders. Wrap a bit of sandpaper around them, and they get into the crevices and the body/fin joints like little else. I got these years ago, and you can still get them in a variety of shapes. Most of you have seen the little sanding detailing stick that uses 1/4" x 12" belts--they're also really helpful in rocketry, and the belts last forever. The clamp is a Berna Assembler-- part of a set of three I got years ago that was pretty inexpensive, and it was a real find--they are apparently scarcer now, and pricey when you do find them. They don't look like much, but the reversable silicone rubber jaws hold on to all kinds of slippery and round surfaces, and the carbon rod allows you to control the tension precisely. You can link them together to do all kinds of weird clamping.

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I used them to clamp the canopy and plasma drive nacelles to the body while the glue dried.

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On to the stringers, and then lots of steampunk detailing.
 

GuyNoir

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The clamp is a Berna Assembler-- part of a set of three I got years ago that was pretty inexpensive
I use these a LOT when I build paper models. I think I got mine from Micro-Mark, but couldn't find them on their website.

I did find a couple of other suppliers online:



Well worth the investment IMHO.
 

Ted Cochran

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External stringer installation is kind of like panel installation, but not quite as tricky. Vertical stringers are 1/8"; horizontal are slightly larger. I'm nearly halfway done with these.

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I've also filled in the gap in the plasma drive nacelles below the fins, using 1/8" balsa and a 1/32" basswood shim to account for the thickness of the paper.

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And finally, I made the ion injectors--these aren't glued yet, so I can adjust their length when the time comes to install them.

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Weight is now a bit over 10 ounces.
 

Ted Cochran

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Are these made out of plastic tubing or something else?
Evergreen Styrene tubing, 5/16", 1/4", 3/16", 1/8" so that they telescope perfectly. One day I want to try this with little springs on a lander, but that day is not today!
 

Ted Cochran

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External stringers are complete on the hull, and I've started doing the curvy bits--pods, nacelles, nose cone, canopy.

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Here's a closer view of one half fin and nacelle mostly done, and another in progress. Finicky work, but not too finicky, because a little disorder actually adds to the effect. Too much detail? Hard to know until it's done!

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I use these a LOT when I build paper models. I think I got mine from Micro-Mark, but couldn't find them on their website.

I did find a couple of other suppliers online:



Well worth the investment IMHO.
Thanks for the links, Bunny. Ordered three clamps from TALAS today....and they’re already shipped in just couple of hours. Looking forward to seeing what they are like. But no, they’re not cheap anymore, especially the larger sizes.
 

jqavins

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Thanks. Planking this wouldn't be too hard based on the plans, I think. I'd have to draw some lines like the ship builders do. In theory every full length plank would be shaped the same...
I'm just getting into this thread, and it's got me daydreaming of an eventual similar build. I'd want to build the main airframe like a barrel. Laser cut staves from 1/8-ish balsa (or basswood, as the extra stiffness might be necessary) and then build it up almost exactly as a cooper would. Hold the bottoms of the staves in a frame (3D printed) then pull them together, working up a bit at a time. The difference would be that instead of banding them every so often I would glue them internally to centering rings. Balsa might bend too sharply over the rings, which is why I might need basswood to make it come out smoothly curved.

Cosmetic bands would be polystyrene, vacuum formed over 3D printed forms to make sure that the rivet heads are uniform and uniformly spaced.

The nose cone would be a separate piece of cooperage about 3/4 of the way up, with faux iron work for the top, since a barrel can never really come to a point.

But yes, I'm just daydreaming.
 

mbeels

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The nose cone would be a separate piece of cooperage about 3/4 of the way up, with faux iron work for the top, since a barrel can never really come to a point.
You could leave the top of the rocket blunt, as the top of the barrel. It doesn't really need to come to a point.
 

les

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I have been following this build and I am absolutely amazed. Can't wait for the finale....
 

Ted Cochran

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External stringers are progressing. There will ultimately be over 250 of these, and of course the little ones take just as much time as the larger ones...but here's the one side that is complete, more or less. Imagine them with rivets every 1/8" to 1/4" or so

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I do these in one or two short sessions each day, and do other stuff in between to keep it fresh. For example, at the end of the nacelles above you may have noticed the new plasma drive nozzles.

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These are made from stacked pieces of Evergreen styrene, cut with a razor saw, and plugged into holes drilled in the bottom of the nacelles. The smallest diameter is 1/8".

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There will, of course, be external pipeage, mostly aft. I am not unfamiliar with pipeage, having scratch-built two large sections of an oil refinery in HO scale almost 25 years ago to help me and my colleagues better understand the operation of these beasts. This is not rocketry-unrelated: Their complexity is astounding, and controlling them is sometimes challenging, resulting in occasional brief, unscheduled suborbital flights of some of the towers and tanks. Definitely an issue worth fixing.

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Anyway, nothing that involved will be needed for Barbicane-- just some steam-punky pipes, drains, and vents. Styrene tubing is once again the medium of choice, bent with heat and sporting flanges made from slices of slightly larger tubes.

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They will antique very nicely. Here's a page that shows how to do it in more detail.

Current weight is 10.6 ounces., and the c.g. is still ahead of the fins!
 

jqavins

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Please forgive me while I vent a little.
[PET PEEVE]
They're not styrene! Styrene is a volatile, highly inflamible, toxic, carcinogenic liquid. Polystyrene is the synthetic polymer, made from styrene, of which some of your fiddly bits are made.
[/PET PEEVE]

Sorry about that, and thank for for your indulgence.
 

Ted Cochran

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They're not styrene!
I'm well aware, having once spent a week in the largest polystyrene plant in the U.S. However, Evergreen calls its products "styrene" on the package (even though their website shows that they know they're made of polystyrene), and Google searches work better on that term. So you'll have to take it up with Evergreen, I guess. 😁
 

Ted Cochran

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I have 5 more little stringers to do, and then it's on to portholes, docking ports, access panels, and more interesting stuff. The circle punches below can be used in different ways to get different sizes of circles and donuts. And disks can be stacked and trimmed to do even more. Pity no one seems to sell a single set of circles of graduated sizes--I guess they don't know about paper steamships!

I suspect Barbicane will end up with portholes a little smaller than Nautilus, and more of them. Nautilus used 3/4" OD x 5/8" ID portholes (far right of middle row); Barbicane will probably use one of the two smaller sizes to the left of that one.

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Ted Cochran

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To apply stringers, I precurled them if appropriate, then used a small brush to put a coating of glue on the back, then pinned/clamped/held the stringer until it was set. I really like applying glue this way; I don't think I'll go back to toothpicks. I just put a little dab of glue into a measuring cup and it lasts a long time. The brush is a cut down generic modeling paint brush--the short bristles help me put the glue where I want it. You do have to remember to wash out the brush and cup when you're done a session!

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The last of over 250 external stringers was the top one on the fin. *Whew!* With that, Barbicane's hull is done, and over to the fitting out berth she goes. Lots of details need to be applied before she gets moved to the paint hanger. [I realize that riveting the stringers should be part of the hull construction, not finishing. I guess I've stretched this metaphor about as far as I can take it!]

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We'll be here being outfitted for awhile, but you can see progress being made already.

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Also time to start thinking about her paint scheme/livery/. The notes from the Baltimore Gun Club do not address this, but I can't imagine them leaving her bare. I guess I'm on my own. Silver and red is always in good taste for retro sci-fi rockets, but I'll consider any suggestions you may have, understanding that antiquing will follow.
 

jqavins

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Silver and red is good, agreed. Silver and blue is also good. Either one with black highlights is nice.
 

Ted Cochran

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More fitting out. The ship needs an access hatch, obviously, and a retractable ladder. The hatch is made from card stock. The porch/ladder is from left over HO-scale refinery pipe rack parts.

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And steam vents for the plasma drive, made from Estes Saturn V ullage rocket fairings:

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Also, a pectoral descent fin, which is probably where SpaceX got the idea for their grid fins. Made from an Estes Saturn V auxiliary propulsion module fairing and modified iron girders left over from an HO scale bridge girder kit.

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Still have to do the port side pectoral fin, the plasma drives, and a bunch more.
 

Ted Cochran

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Detailing continues. I installed the first pipe run for the plasma vent piping, as well as the port side pectoral fin.

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I've also begun working in earnest on the primary and secondary ion injectors for the plasma drives. The primaries are the ones with the heat exchangers (to heat feed water for the steam boiler, of course) whose design was later used by Rocketdyne on something or other, or so the legend has it.

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I cut all these little pieces with a simple jig made to make lots of parts of the same size from different sized [poly]styrene tubes. The donor tube sits in a slot between two parallel pieces of scrap hardwood; the length is determined by a stop made from another piece. I use a razor saw to slice the pieces off.

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The injectors above will be taken apart, cleaned up, and glued back together a little later. Finally, the local bronze works salesman dropped by (his name is Michaels) and offered a selection of three different styles of gears and cogwheels in two sizes with three different finishes, as well as a length of drive chain. These will find various uses; the chain will be used on a chainwheel-to-control horn drive mechanism used to move the ruddervators.

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