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HMS Lyme (1748-1760) by Landlubber Mike - bash of Corel Unicorn - Scale 1:75 (CLOSED TO START SCRATCH BUILD)

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***NOTE - in January 2016, I decided to close this build log.  I'll be building the Lyme as a new scratch build using the NMM plans, rather than try to bash the Corel Unicorn kit***

 

***NOTE - in August 2014, I decided to build the HMS Lyme, the sister ship to the Unicorn, by bashing the Corel Unicorn kit.  So, the log until then will be referring a lot to the Unicorn***

 

Hi my friends, now that I finished the Badger, I'm moving onto my second build, which will be the Corel Unicorn.  

 

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The kit is scale 1:75, which ends up being approximately 33" in length and 29" in height, and some sites rate it as an "intermediate level" build.  It doesn't look like it is too complicated a kit, but I plan to attempt a number of enhancements to the build which should raise the difficulty a bit.  I was sold on the kit after coming across my friend Ian Major's beautiful build on here, so I blame him for my foray into this model -- hopefully my build comes out half as well as his :)  In addition to Ian, ZyZux and Ollyweb have build logs on here, and Petervisser has a completed Unicorn in the completed kits gallery - so, plenty of good company as I no doubt will need help along the way.

 

As other builders of the kit will tell you, it looks like Corel was very confused about the history of the Unicorn.  Not only does the box imply the ship was built in 1790, but in the instructions, Corel says that Fredrik Henrik af Chapman designed the ship in 1700.  Only problem is that Chapman was born in 1721 :)  The instructions are correct that the "Architectura Navalis Mercatoria," which reproduces 62 plates from Chapman's ship engineering work (including the Unicorn), was published in Stockholm in 1768.  Not only do the instructions have the history wrong, but the design of the ship with the narrow waist seems to be incorrect according to the frigate history outlined in Robert Gardiner's "The Sailing Frigate."  In any event, the inaccuracies of the kit are well documented in the MSW link below.

 

http://modelshipworld.com/index.php?/topic/2444-quality-of-corel-kits/

 

The Lyme and the Unicorn actually played an important part in British naval history.  According to Gardiner's "The Sailing Frigate," the Lyme and the Unicorn were the first "true frigates."  During the 1740s, the fifth and sixth rate vessels in the British navy were deemed inadequate, so it was decided that the navy would copy a captured French ship.  British 24s had a heavily framed full-height lower deck while their French counterparts had a light platform lower deck with reduced headroom positioned just below the waterline (which compressed the height of the topside) along with an unarmed quarterdeck and forecastle and minimal barricades or rails.  According to Gardiner, the fine lines and light framing made for fast and weatherly ships.  The British ultimately copied the lines of the privateer Tygre, and launched the Lyme and the Unicorn in 1748 (these were referred to as the Lyme class).  Apparently, the design was of such great success, that eventually 20 ships were built of this design.  Some other tidbits in the Wikipedia links below:

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HMS_Lyme_(1748)

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HMS_Unicorn_(1748)

Edited by Landlubber Mike

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In case people are interested, here are some pictures of the kit components.  Sorry for the four lights in the corners - I had to take the pictures on my kitchen island countertop, as my twins just celebrated their first birthday and their, uh, stuff is all over the place :)

 

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The kit components are not that bad all things considering.  The wood quality is pretty good, and Corel gives you pieces that are blonde, yellow ochre and black so that you can build the kit without painting.  In fact, as you can see in the picture in the first post, I think Corel assumes that you will build the kit out of the box without painting it.  To me, the ship looks a bit too bland with this color scheme, so I am planning on painting with wood and adding more colors throughout the ship as I will detail in the next posts.

 

The cast metal parts for the stern are a bit of an issue for me, which I will also get into in the next post.  The blocks seem to me to be a bit oversized, but I'll have to examine them a little further when I get to the rigging stage.  The instructions are a bit wonky, but the plans are actually very clear and detailed so the instructions shouldn't hold me back.

Edited by Landlubber Mike

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Probably the biggest inaccuracy with the kit is the waist - the kit as shown in the picture below (borrowed from Ian's log) would have you build the model with a very narrow waist.  Gardiner's book has a chapter dedicated to the waist of frigates during the 1700s - in 1745, the quarterdecks and forecastle had a broad capping strip over the waist gunwales.  With the advent of the "true frigates," the capping strip was broadened into a gangway.  So, a more accurate representation of the waist would be something closer to what is seen in the second picture below, which is of the Guadeloupe, a close descendent of the Unicorn.  The nice thing about opening up the waist will be that more of the deck details will be visible.

 

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Changing the waist should be a relatively easy fix.  A more difficult issue is the cast metal pieces for the stern.  They don't look all that great, and it sounds like other builders have had issues getting them to fit correctly.  So, I think I'm going to scratch the stern and stern galleries. 

 

post-1194-0-10578900-1396323731_thumb.jpg

 

The plans for the ship also differ slightly from the Chapman plans in the "Architectura Navalis Mercatoria" book.  The stern is slightly different, and the angle of the quarterdeck in the Chapman differs as the portholes over the quarterdeck gradually open up as you move towards the bow.  A picture of the Chapman plans is below (the link below will take you to a high-resolution image)  The Unicorn is the lower of the two ships.

 

post-1194-0-21551700-1396395742_thumb.jpg

 

http://www.sjohistoriska.se/ImageVaultFiles/id_3085/cf_1803/55.JPG

Edited by Landlubber Mike
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My approach to the build

 

I decided I'm going to try and step up my game and attempt to enhance the kit to the best of my abilities.  So, I have a number of enhancements that I'm thinking of doing.  I placed an order with Jim Byrnes for his table saw and disc sander, so I'll have some toys to play with.  I also went with Jeff at Hobbymill for the upgraded wood.

 

1.  Paint with wood.  I'm not a big fan of paint on wooden models, particularly white which I think comes off as too garish, so I'm going to try and avoid paint as much as possible.  I'm also planning on sticking with three primary colors for the build - pear for the hull, boxwood for the hull accents and deck, and black in the form of dyed pear.  ChrisLBren's Confederacy was a big inspiration for taking this approach - I hope I can pull it off half as well as he does :)

 

2.  Different color scheme.  I'm planning on modifying the color scheme a bit, using black for the mast tops and spars and for a thicker wale per the Chapman plans).  I havent decided whether to use red for the bulwark planking and cannon carriages - if I do, I have a couple of stains from General Finishes that might work nicely.

 

3.  Scratch the stern.  I think I'm going to scrap the cast metal pieces and build the stern from scratch.  This would include scratching the stern galleries, windows and the stern decorations.  That will probably be the most difficult part of the build I would guess.  

 

4.  Open up the waist.  I will open up the waist as in the Guadeloupe plans.  

 

5.  Change to quarterdeck.  Depending on how the build is going, I might reorient the quarterdeck to have a gradual opening up of the portholes per the Chapman plans.  Not sure if I'll be able to pull that off, but I think it will be a nice touch if it ends up working out.

 

6.  Sails.  I think the furled sails came out ok on my Badger, so I'll probably try adding a mix of full and furled sails to this build.

 

7.  Other details.  I might try adding a few other details to the build, including ship's boats, additional anchors, etc.  

 

 

Well that's that.  My goal is to really challenge myself and my abilities, especially after learning all I did on the Badger.  In particular, I hope to get a lot more detailed and precise with the rigging - I think the rigging is what can really set apart great builds.  So, hopefully I can try worming and parceling and not take as many shortcuts as I did on the Badger.  First order of business is to replace the keel - the one in the kit is warped with a twist -- so rather than fighting with it, I'm just going to cut out a new one in plywood on my scroll saw :huh:  I have to figure out how to cut it so that I can add the stern post, bow, and false keel in pear.  

 

Thanks to everyone that follows my (mis)adventures on this log.  Looking forward to joining my Unicorn brothers soon :)

Edited by Landlubber Mike

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Thanks Augie.  It should be fun.  Your work gives me a lot of inspiration, so hopefully I can do the model justice :)

 

Le debutant, that's a really nice Unicorn - is that yours?  I'm planning on building the stern and the galleries from scratch, in large part to avoid using the cast metal pieces.

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Sorry about the twisted keel but good plan on replacing it.  Seems to have been a lot of that going around lately in kits.  A good foundation will pay off later.

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Hi Mike,

 

You seem to have put a lot of thought into your plans and, following your good work on the Badger, I can only think this going to be even better! Perhaps you might also provide your own flags when you get to that point. As per usual they are incorrect, so something to bear in mind.

 

This is going to be an interesting build. ;)

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Greetings Mike,

 

I like your approach to model building. Yes, by all means paint with wood and don't be afraid to change the kit when historical data and common sense dictate a different approach. You are wise to consult historical data because, in my opinion, it trumps the kit plans. Even subtle changes to make the model period correct will ensure that yours will stand out from the crowd. To me, being as period correct as possible is the essence of a ship model. I have built two Corel kits: Endeavor and the Berlin. I think Corel is a great product.

 

I built the Morgan several years ago. It may be more of a challenge than the Unicorn since it is single plank basswood and many of the components have to be built from from scratch. You will note that the Morgan plans call for several different strip widths for hull planking. 

 

wq3296

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Hi Mike,

 

Glad to see you are starting your Unicorn and I will follow your build with interest. Sounds like you will have a far more accurate model than my own, which will be more satisfying in the end.

 

Corel did not spend a lot of time or money on researching the history of the ship but I had a great deal of fun building it. One pitfall of mine was not ensuring the gun deck height matched the height of the gun ports. A serious (and destructive) mod had to take place in order for the gun barrels to be centred out the gun ports. Yikes!

 

At any rate, have fun with this build. You might find that because of all the various stages of the Unicorn, building a second model alongside, might be a bit ambitious. Good luck!

 

Peter

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Hi Mike.... looks like your off to good an accurate build.... if it comes out half as good as the Badger, it'll be fantastic!!... Have fun!

Frank

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Thanks guys!

 

Augie, I think you're right about the keel.  I would have had to modify the keel anyway to have the pear components that would be exposed (like the stem, stern post and false keel) added to the keel, so I'm not too bothered by it.  The rest of the wood in the kit doesn't seem to have any problems thankfully.

 

Kester, thanks for the vote of confidence.  Thanks also for pointing out the fact that the flags are incorrect - i'll have to keep that in mind.  As for this build being interesting, it remains to be seen.  One thing that I'm sure will be interesting will be the various expletives that will come out on a very periodic basis :)

 

WQ, it's funny, when I started in the hobby, I didn't understand why people here obsessed about kit inaccuracies.  As I went further along with the Badger, completing the model became less of a goal, and I really got into researching and learning about these incredible ships, which was just as enjoyable to me as putting it together.  Friends and family always joked as to how long the Badger took me (5+ years), but for me, I got more out of the journey than having a completed product at the end.  In any event, I guess I'm a convert to the kit bashing side of the hobby :)  On the Morgan, thanks for the heads up.  I have been following the log of my friend John on here, and I expect it might be a little more difficult.  I'm actually planning to double plank it, with a second planking of 0.50mm stripwood, which the instructions say you can do.  I figure that when I need a break from the Unicorn, it will be nice to work on something else, rather than taking a complete break from the hobby.  I have a lot of ideas on how to enhance that kit as well, which I will detail in a build log that I will set up in the near future :)

 

Peter, thanks for looking in.  Your gallery photos are very inspirational.  I was a bit worried about modifying the quarterdeck to have the portholes open up as you moved toward the bow, but it sounds like I might need to fiddle with it anyway.  Thanks for the heads up about that - I'm going to have to really plan things out carefully, and I might have to bug you with questions if you don't mind.  By the way, you live in a gorgeous part of the world - my wife and I took our first vacation out that way when we were dating, and we really loved it out there.

 

Frank, thanks very much for looking in.  You've been a great help on my Badger, and always gave me a boost of encouragement when I got frustrated.  I hope all is well with you - did you finish the Supply?

Edited by Landlubber Mike

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Very interesting!

I have a Unicorn Corel kit on the shelf, and I planned too, the modifications that you decided to make (3,4,5).

The only difference will be the painting, since probably I will try to match more closely the Royal Navy colours of those early period.

I will follow (quietly) your log with a lot of interest!

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Hi Cristiano - great minds think alike :)  Glad to see another member of the Unicorn club.  Looking forward to seeing you start a log on your build.  

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Hey There Mike, Great to see you up and running again, am looking forward to seeing Unicorn in your hands !

 

Wish You Well With Her

 

Eamonn

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Thanks Eamonn!  Love your Ballahoo by the way, the wood that you are using is fantastic, with very precise planking too.  

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Hello Mike,

 

I am getting slow these days. I didn't notice that you had started the Unicorn log. Got my "follow" on so it is time for me to catch up.

 

I notice the plans have been  completely redrawn since my version of the kit was produced. The latter drawings are far better - for example there was no head on view of the bow structures which made life difficult.

 

Looking forward to your progress on this build.

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Hi Ian, thanks very much for looking in.  I'm still waiting on my orders for the Byrne's machines, plywood, and upgraded wood from Hobbymill, but I should have all that in hand to start the build in earnest come May.  In the meantime, I bought a second workbench for my power tools and a shop vac, so I'm getting myself ready to dive in (not to mention, the research and experimentation that I will do until then).

 

If you're stuck on something and are curious as to what the more recent plans show, let me know and I can see how to best get you that information.  

 

Hope all is well!

 

Mike

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Mike,

 

Thanks for the offer. Actually I hardly use the Corel plans now I that the hull is complete - I am tending to use other sources. I will try not to confuse my railway literature with the ship stuff else I will end up with a very strange creature indeed! :)

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Hey Mike,

Glad to see you had started your Unicorn log. :) Can't wait to see you to lay the keel

Anyway, have u tried fitting the bulkheads to the keel? I remember they don't.. u might need to sand them.. 

Good luck on your build! I'm following ur log!  B)

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Ian - good idea on sticking with better resources.  Hopefully you don't run into any issues on the rigging :)   One thing I was wondering was whether there are enough pins and cleats on the model for a typical ship of this size.

 

ZyXuz, thanks for following :)  I haven't tried fitting the bulkheads yet - my keel is warped so I am planning to cut out a new one.  I was thinking this weekend that I would start looking at the fit of the bulkheads on the bad keel, to just get a sense as to what I might be dealing with.  Another thing I need to figure out is how to cut the new keel such that I can add the stem, false keel and stern post in pear.  If I remember correctly, the kit's keel is one piece that includes all those items, so I will need to modify the shape of the keel quite a bit.  I'm thinking that I will cut out the keel to end just at the edge of where the planking will end, and then add the rabbets and other tapering so that the planking will end right at the new pear pieces.  Probably a lot harder than it sounds.

 

Gentlemen, what did you think about the flag lockers on the stern of the ship?  I was thinking of dropping them - does that require modifying any of the bulkheads?

 

Thanks again for looking in!

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Hi Mike,

 

I built the Unicorn about 14 years ago (converted as best I could to HMS Fox, as that's a family name...) and found that there were enough belaying locations, at least as I rigged without sails, and some of their associated lines. 

 

Here's a picture for you, that was scanned from a 4x6 print, as that's all I have, since I sold her not long after I built her. 

 

I have a few more photos, let me know if you are interested. Don't want to hijack your build log!

 

 

post-11003-0-34884000-1397234197_thumb.jpg

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Hi Mike,

 

I used an Anatomy of the Ship book of the Pandora as a guide on the belaying plan as well as Lenarth Petersson's Rigging Period Ship Models to add more pins to the rigging arrangement. I did not use the rigging diagrams that came with the kit.

 

Peter

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Hi Joe, thanks for checking in and for the picture.  Gorgeous model - feel free to post more pictures, as I can use all the help and inspiration that I can get :)  I love your color scheme and change to a thicker black wale.  I think that is how I'm going to proceed with my build, and so it's good to see how this might turn out.  Did you end up scratching the stern area?

 

Peter, thanks for chiming in.  I have both those books, so I think they will come in very handy.  I wonder how the rigging diagrams compared with your kit (which I think was a little older)?  I'm probably going to add sails, so at first blush, it struck me that I might need to add some extra rigging points.

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Mike,

 

I "modified" the stern area, chopping up the cast metal piece and just using the square windows, not the arched portion. Thought it just looked more authentic, without having to do too much surgery. 

 

 

post-11003-0-55575700-1397237378_thumb.jpg

egkb, mcpesq817 and riverboat like this

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Mike,

 

If you get rid of the lockers you will have to modify the keel and the one bulk head. The stern end of the keel sticks up above the quarter deck line. The piece of ply used for the deck will be a little short - but that is no great shakes. The arched windows reach up in to the locker area so would definitely need replacing with square ones. Personally I think getting rid of the those lockers is a good move. You will then be able to add a couple of stern chaser ports.

Edited by ianmajor
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Thanks Ian, that's very helpful.  I took a look at a bunch of models and most don't seem to have flag lockers along the stern area like that.  So it seemed odd to me.   Plus, taking a look at the Chapman plans, it looks like he drew a stern chaser port right where the Corel kit has the insignia (click link below, and then click the picture to get an extreme close-up view of the plan drawings):

 

http://www.sjohistoriska.se/ImageVaultFiles/id_3085/cf_1803/55.JPG

 

 

Not sure if I can pull it off, but maybe I'll think about adding redesigning the stern to use a stern chaser port in the center (with a crown right above the porthole), and then the figures on the sides.  It looks like a lion to the far left, a man to the near left, a woman to the near right, and some other animal to the far right (possibly another lion, or perhaps a unicorn as per the UK coat of arms).  I'll have to learn to either carve or use that sculpty clay stuff.

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