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Bill Bryson's Motorized Ami-Lac Frigate

Bill writes: "I finished the Ami-Lac Frigate in just under 27 hours. It was a spectacular build and quite a challenge as the instructions were in Italian. I basically constructed the model as per plans with two exceptions. The blue cowling directly forward of the mast needed to be BENT. I bent one piece but the tin was too brittle for bending correctly and it snapped, so as I didn't want to destroy any more I flexed that part. I think my cowling looks better anyway. The other change I made was to use a smaller hub with a rubber tire for the rear wheel directly below the helicopter. It looks better. The smaller tires were part of the kit but in all probability weren't available when the original design for the frigate was made.

I motorized this model as per spec and it all works fine. It goes in both forward and reverse. Steering is made with the helicopter on the back of the deck. I think I have faithfully done as built on the controller and it is right out of the 40s with big heavy switches and a LARGE D-Cell. While running it sounds like a real freighter as the metal scrapes and squeals with the brass fittings on the motor. It is quite a sight to behold on the floor chasing the dog. And it sounds like a rusty old Burma Freighter in the Moluccan Straights.

There were numerous small detail differences in the model pictured on the box and the plans. I built my model EXACTLY to plan specs with the exception of the flexed cowling and rubber rear wheel as mentioned above. So if you see that my rear deck is sunken and the box picture is not, the builder of the display box model took many shortcuts.

My next Ami-Lac project from this kit will be the Aircraft Carrier later this week. I'll keep the frigate built up for several days then tear it up to start on the Carrier. I intend on building all 10 GRANDI MODELLI. This model was a pleasure to build and I would highly recommend this kit to one and all. The Italian instructions had no bearing on the outcome of the build. The only word I had to look up in a Italian English dictionary was the Italian word for BEND. It dealt with that cowling. That particular piece should have been designed from heavier a metal stock that would allow true bending and rebending. If you bend it that is the way it will stay, because when you go to rebend it the piece will break. Since you can't buy spares you have to be careful. I like my cowling design better anyhow. Great model. I haven't had so much fun in a long while. A blast!!!"