"Well, it’s time to actually start cutting plastic. Let us bow three times in the direction of Venice Beach, California, and begin….
Considering the age of the kit and the technology of the time, a perfectly acceptable kit of Boston can be built right out of the box, probably in a weekend or less. However, to build an accurate model, you’re going to have to do a lot of surgery, and some of it is going to require careful planning and measurement.
This work will also involve cutting, sanding, and otherwise reshaping the hull on a limited production kit that probably cost you about $35.00 of your carefully hoarded lunch money. I will also be using parts borrowed from two other hard-to-find kits (the Revell Long Beach and Monovell Chicago, so be prepared to start locating them as well, although they are not absolutely necessary to the completion of the model. Both are readily available on Ebay, but shop carefully), as well as aftermarket parts from BuStein – I mean, Matt Stein Models.
Read this ENTIRE ARTICLE FIRST before you do ANYTHING, make sure you have lots of good reference pics (navsource.org has been my go-to for this entire project), plan ahead, and remember ALWAYS – measure twice, cut once.
Your mileage may vary.
1. Hit the Deck
Get the deck into place first. This is to give the hull a bit more strength for some
of the work we’re going to do later. However, before getting the deck in, lay down some filler along the inside of the stem. This is a very necessary precaution. Put down a bead of filler approximately 1/8" wide X 1/8" deep along the inside of the stem from approximately the waterline up to a point just below where the deck will fit into place. Depending on your filler, you’ll need to set aside the hull for a bit to let it set properly. Once it’s set and dry, take the deck and trim off the four (boarding stair landings), and all the molded-on rails. The rails ain’t easy, especially once you get past the #2 turret – there isn’t a lot of room for even a #11 blade, and taking a razor saw to them presents it’s own unique set of hazards.
At this point, you may want to install some extra support for the deck along the inside of the hull. There are only a few ridges for the deck to rest on, and as I discovered it’s not very strong. Make your own call on this one, and then after taking whatever measures you see fit, install the deck. You will notice that the deck fit is…well, not great. Start giving some thought now as to how you’re going to fill in those seams, especially as you have to try and preserve the deck detail. For the fantail we can use plain old filler there, but along the sides and forward it’s going to be trickier. At this point, I’m planning on using thinned Elmer’s glue – it will fill the gaps, it’s sandable, and it can be cleaned up with water if you have a whoopsie. Let it sit for about 24 hours for your adhesive of choice to cure, and then we’re going to start on the serious work.
2. The Nosejob
As mentioned in part 1, the bow on the Revell kit has some problems. Fortunately, it’s not beyond fixing for any fairly experienced modeler with reasonable skills. This is not a beyond-hope contour problem such as that found on the big 1/350 Trumpeter Hornet, simply a matter of removing some material while keeping a constant angle on the stem. Remember the pics of the Boston hull next to the Monovell Chicago?
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The way the bow and (side plating) curves outward is acceptable on the Boston hull, so fortunately we won’t have to do any work there. Where we run into a problem is when we look at them from the side:
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Here’s what you do:
1. Take a Sharpie and, starting from the waterline on the Boston hull, go up approximately (1/5") and then go back from there approximately 1/32" on both sides, then back down to the waterline. This is the total area you’ll have to remove. Using sandpaper – NOT a Dremel or other power tool – carefully remove this material, making sure to keep a constant and fairly sharp edge on the new stem as you sand it aft.
2. CAREFULLY working from side to side and from top to bottom, fair the part of the stem above the part you just sanded downwards so that it angles down into the new lower stem. This is the tough part, as you’re going to be taking somewhat more material off the lower end but you must still maintain a correct angle. Take a look – actually, take a LOT of looks – at the photos below to keep an idea of what it is you’re supposed to be working towards, and make sure that you have the navsource.org pics available – in my case, I just set up the laptop right next to my work area. Keep a constant eye on the (side plating), as it is very easy to sand it out of shape close to the stem. Now – remember the filler I had you put in? Here’s where it comes in handy. There isn’t quite enough material in the bow to get this done properly, and you will almost certainly go through the stem about halfway up if you’re doing this right. Fortunately, the filler gives you that little extra margin to get things done. When you’re finished, it should look like this:
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1. Once you’re done the stem, there’s just a bit more work to do forward, though not quite as tricky as what you’ve just accomplished.
The bulwarks need to have a bit more curve to them where they come down to the level of the deck, so with a bit of sandpaper take some of the angle out of them. The navsource.org pics – especially the one of Boston at Guantanamo Bay 10/1/67 – are invaluable here. Once you’ve got the curve right, take a look at the hull from the side – you’ll notice that the tops of the bulwarks angle slightly upwards going aft instead of running parallel to the main deck level. Carefully sanding fore–to-aft, get them so that they are parallel to the main deck. The bow will now look much closer to the graceful lines of the Gitmo pic (shown in Part I).
There’s still a bit more surgery we have to do, though none of it is as detailed as the bow work. First, there are two small holes for hawsers that need to be drilled through at the top of the stem. That’s followed by four vents on either side of the hull at the waterline (See the navsource.org pic library on Boston for location), and finally the garbage chute in the transom. The garbage chute is something that usually doesn’t end up on most models, but it’s a distinctive feature on the Boston’s transom. I used a small engraving cutter in my Dremel for each of these tasks. The last thing you need to do is fill in the openings for the four deck extensions that you took off back in the first step.
3. Going Bottomless
Sadly, IMHO there is nothing that can be done with the Boston hull beneath the waterline – it bears only a vague resemblance to the real thing, and Matt’s hull prostheses are still in R&D. The only real option, especially if you’re looking for a contest entry, is to take off the hull at the waterline. I recommend the following procedure:
1. Mask off the hull above the waterline with blue painters’ tape. This tape is tough, sticky without leaving residue, and it gives you a bright, clear line to cut against. It also has the benefit of providing a bit of extra strength along the waterline to prevent any scratches or cracks as you cut.
2. Once you’ve masked it off, take your Dremel with a small, THIN cutoff disk attached running at low speed, and carefully remove the lower hull. When that is finished, remove the tape from the upper hull and hand sand any remaining material up to the waterline. When this is all done, your baby should look similar to this:
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At this point, I recommend that you set Boston aside for a bit, enjoy an adult beverage of your choice, and put on the ‘Victory At Sea’ soundtrack for further motivation...
Till next time –"