Building the
USS North Carolina  BB 55

by  Ron Horabin, Cheshire England
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Part 2

The hull is now ready to apply the glass fibre tissue to strengthen the outer skin. The tissue is cut to shape using a pair of scissors and laid on to the hull. Next I pour the fibre glass resin into a container, adding the correct amount of catalyst to allow enough time to work and to make sure the resin sets hard, this all depends on the temperature. This work must be done outside or at least in a well ventilated room, do not brush the resin on to the hull but stipple it into the glass fibre to push the resin though the fibres and on to the hull. When working the resin take care to ensure no air bubbles are left in the fibre glass tissue, when the whole of the hull is covered set aside to cure for a couple of days. Click images
to enlarge
At this point I fit my first deck, I use 1/8 plywood, glued down with waterproof PVA and also small brass screws, I also cut out the hatches for the access to the rudders, under side of the 16 main batteries, also the underside of the main superstructure.

Having allowed the resin to harden, the outer skin can be applied. For this I simply use a car body filler paste, from any good motor outlet, a hull of this size will require a 10-kilogram tub of paste. The paste is mixed with a catalyst and applied to the hull in small areas, starting from the keel and working up to deck level, the hull may look a bit messy at this stage, let the paste harden and then sand it with a medium sand paper, later using a sanding block with wet and dry grit paper of various grades you can get a very good finish to the hull.

The versatility of the car body paste is that it can be used to add any details, such as the armour plating around the mid section of the hull, quickly and easily. I simply clamp a long piece of hardwood to the side of the hull and apply the paste up to the edge of the wood and allow the paste to harden. I then remove the hardwood and a straight edge is achieved.
Any hollows in the hull can be highlighted, filled and sanded. This technique gives a good strong hull that weighs very little, plenty of internal space and relatively quick compared to other hull building techniques.

I now shape and fit the bilge keels, one either side of the ship, they are usually fit on the rounded section of the hull as low down as possible, these help to counteract the roll of the ship in rough weather.

After all the wet and dry sanding to the hull, we can now put on some primer & undercoat paint, each coat should be sanded to a reasonable finish, after all this, we can line in the waterline and apply two coats of red oxide again sanding between coats. The hull is ready for any extra fitting before the camouflage is applied.

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