This page evolved as a result of feedback from readers. It assumes that you've already made a mistake and just discovered it, rather than simply got stumped on how to do the next step. It can't be specific of course; it just aims to set in train a logical thought process which hopefully you can follow for your own situation. The process is applicable to any wooden ship kit, not just the San Juan.
So you've been proceeding with the kit
nicely and suddenly you've found a problem...
Before you panic or start ripping bits
off, try to find out what is really wrong. There are at least four possible answers:
(1) Your model
(2) The plans
(3) The parts supplied
(4) Your interpretation of how things should be
Let's look at these in turn:
YOUR MODEL is the obvious place to
look first - a simple misunderstanding, hurry to get things done or failure to read ahead can lead to
errors. The longer they go unnoticed or uncorrected, the worse the effects
will be. The earlier in the construction the error lies, the worse the
consequences and the harder it will be to put things right. Go over all the
instructions again from page 1, compare them with the plans and what you've
done. Build the ship again in your mind from the keel upwards. Is everything
100% right? Did you miss anything or misinterpret something? Do all the
measurements check out? When you've worked out what is causing the problem,
you have to ask: Can you live with the error or do you feel you should try to
correct it? Are there any risks associated with trying to correct it? If so, are
the risks worth taking? What could go wrong that might be worse?
As an example, when I was given a part-built
AL Swift to complete, there was no step deck. Why not? The forward hull
reinforcers had been put in the wrong way round. They are nearly symmetrical,
but not quite. As a result, the deck, which fits flush with these, was fitted
2mm too far forward. It then seemed that the step deck should fit
on the same former as the main deck. So that's where it had been stuck, leaving
a flush finish instead of a step. Logical, but wrong. I had to pull both
decks off and re-fit them, and all because of a tiny error in stage 2.
If correction is impossible or you simply
can't face it, you'll have to mask the effects as best you can by adapting the
parts round it. You'll know about the error and have to live with it, but you
can take some some comfort from the fact that no-one else will spot the problem
- they will still go 'Wow what a great model!'. If it's a personal satisfaction
thing, remember that 100% perfection is not achievable, you have to do the
best you can. You can't do any better than that.
Back to top
THE PLANS are not always the
perfect documents you might think. It's common to find a detail on one sheet
contradicted on another sheet, and sizes and scales can be wrong too. An example
is one sheet in the San Juan kit, which is 1:1.15 instead of actual
size. It would be very easy to take measurements from it and be totally wrong as
a result. Often it's the small details that go awry, like eyebolts and blocks. You
can never spend too long studying all the plans and trying to understand them in
three dimensions before cutting wood or gluing anything together. If you think
the plan is wrong, be very sure of your
decision: plans can seem wrong at first but after some thought you might find
they were right after all and your interpretation was wrong!
Back to top
PARTS SUPPLIED are normally correct or very close. Purists might discard some fittings and scratchbuild more
accurate ones, but that's up to you. If a part is clearly broken or malformed,
ask your supplier for a replacement. Timber can be very variable in
grading, and sections slightly wrong, eg '5 x 2mm' might actually be 5.2 x
1.8mm, so be ready for this. Where planks are butted together, use absolute measurements rather than '7 planks'
for example. If each plank is too wide or too narrow, errors accumulate very
quickly, as one reviewer found: his wales were too low and
therefore so were all the gunports that went with them.
Back to top
YOUR INTERPRETATION. It's not
impossible that you've made it correctly but don't realise it. One correspondent
was concerned that the transom overhung the quarter-galleries. It was actually
right, but he didn't realise it was supposed to be like that. Look closely at
the photos on the box: often these will solve a 3-D puzzle for you.
Back to top
STILL STUCK? If you're still not sure what's wrong or what to do, search the internet (eg. www.google.com) for examples of the same model, or look for forums (eg. http://groups.yahoo.com/group/shipmodels) where you can post a question to other modellers. If that doesn't work, leave the model as it is and do something else until inspiration strikes!
In order of satisfaction, the courses of action are probably:
1) Determine the problem, deconstruct the model as far as required and build it up again correctly.
2) Ignore the problem and carry on regardless, modifying other parts as required to work round it.
3) Leave the model for a period of time and do something else while you decide between 1, 2 and 4.
4) Give the model to a friend. Maybe you were too ambitious - try a simpler model next time.