Louie da fly

Henry Grace a Dieu (Great Harry) by Louie da fly - Scale 1:200. Repaired after over 40 yrs of neglect

I built this model of the Great Harry back in about 1970 when I was a teenager. I'd previously made models from plastic kits and carved from solid blocks of wood, but this was the first time I'd tried a plank-built model. It was based on the reconstruction in Bjo"rn Landstro"m's excellent book The Ship, which showed a copy by the author of the Anthony Roll illustration of 1545, and the author's conjectural reconstructions of a midship section and a side view of the ship above the waterline.

 

All of this was before the raising of the Mary Rose, so it was based on far less information available than we have now. I drew up a set of plans and proceeded to build the model. I got the hull complete and painted, added masts and spars and sails, and was adding shrouds, deadeyes and ratlines (nowadays I'd do this before I added the spars, but I've learned a lot since then). I even had a couple of figures on deck and another in one in the mizzentop.

 

Unfortunately I'd made the stern far too wide and when I saw another picture of the ship by the same author, showing her with a far narrower stern, I decided to pull the stern off and fix it.

 

Then life got in the way. Suddenly I had to move to the other side of Australia, about 4000 km (2500 miles) away and never got a chance to revisit the model. It stayed in its box, getting progressively more damaged as I repeatedly moved house. I've lost track of a lot of the stuff that broke off over the years, the sails went dark brown and started to rot.

 

Finally, after all these years I've had the chance to revisit and, I hope, return the ship to her former glory.

 

 

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NJQUACK, dadodude, mtaylor and 1 other like this

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Unfortunately I didn't take photos of the model when it was in good condition. What I have now might give some idea of what it was like before I stated messing with it and time and carelessness took their toll.

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The frames were built up from balsa wood, butt-jointed together with PVA glue. It's rather amazing that it all held together all that time, but PVA glue is amazingly good (though I was a bit over-liberal with it) and balsa is stronger than most people give it credit for.

 

The planking, superstructure and the masts and spars were made of Queensland Walnut, a native Australian timber from the laurel family. I bought a single long sheet of veneer and made everything from that. The masts and spars were made from many layers of veneer glued together with PVA and then carved to shape.

 

The paintwork was done with Humbrol enamel and the cordage was sewing cotton. The ratlines were simply glued to the shrouds.

 

I was about 19 or 20 when I made this and I think it holds up quite well, considering. I'd certainly do a lot of things differently today, but given my age, ignorance and lack of experience at the time, I think it's pretty good and deserves to be preserved and restored.

 

I've taken out several of the frames and will be drafting up  new set to allow a smooth transition to the narrower stern. I couldn't get the foremast out of the hull without causing damage, so I've left t in place.

 

I'll probably still use balsa - it won't be seen and time has shown it's certainly strong enough for the job. Basically what I want to do is fix the ship up as I would have done back then if 'd had the opportunity, as it shows where I was at the time. The only things I'm likely to change in the light of present knowledge is to make the underwater section rounder in line with the Mary Rose discoveries, and make the rigging more complete, as I've learnt quite a lot more about it in the intervening years.

 

 

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At least now you know that you don't have to throw out the old frames to get them rounder.  You can just glue extra padding on the outside and reshape by sanding.

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Brian: No, I drew the plans myself based on the reconstruction drawings in The Ship. Took a lot of work, and I'm amazed it worked so well, given that the only shapes I worked out were the frames themselves - I didn't know about the other "lines" one normally uses when designing a ship.

 

Jbshan: Yes, it's a lot easier that way. I've already drawn up the shapes of the frames to replace the ones I took out, and I'll just be gluing a bit of balsa onto the outside of the ones I keep and cut them to the desired rounded shape.

 

Druxey, on reflection I think I may have even been 16 or 17 when I started on this. When I was 20 I was drawing up plans for a model of the Batavia (which I never built), so the Great Harry must have been complete by then. My only regret is that I didn't take a photo of her at the time. I even built a longboat out of very thin bamboo (taken from an old roller blind) - unfortunately long since lost. I put it in a safe place . . .

 

I cheated a bit when I made the original model, though in retrospect I think I actually made things harder for myself. Rather than individual planks, I made wider "planks" and then carved them to look like there were individual ones of the usual width (you can see it if you look carefully at the photos above). I won't do that again - the curves in the wider planks were very complicated and I didn't have the skill to cut the grooves between the "planks" well enough to make it all look tidy. Interesting, though.

 

Next thing is to remove the planking of the superstructure - I'll try to keep as much as I can intact, but with the different curvature I think I'll have to adjust the joins between the wide "planks" somewhat to follow the curve properly.

 

Thanks everybody for the "likes".

 

Steven 

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Here are the only contemporary pictures of the Great Harry, from which Landstro"m did his reconstruction. The first is from the Anthony Roll of 1545 and the second is from a picture representing Henry VIII's embarkation at Dover for the tournament at the Field of the Cloth of Gold in France. Though it depicts an incident from 1520, it is thought to have been painted about 1545.

 

Note that both pictures have to be taken with a pinch of salt. Firstly, they disagree with each other. Also, the forecastle on the Anthony Roll depiction seems to be far too large, the number of guns is probably wrong etc etc - but it has some interesting details, such as the crown on a 'spritsail mast'. Given that  a "rose" emblem depicted as a figurehead on the Mary Rose in  the Anthony Roll has been discovered among the remains of the ship, I'm prepared to believe the Great Harry had a decorative crown.  

 

The Embarkation picture shows a square sail on the mizzen and there are several other errors - but it does show the sails as painted to represent cloth of gold, which is in keeping with decorated sails on near-contemporary ships, and I will endeavour to replicate this on the model. Generally, I'm going to be following Landstro"m's interpretation, as I did when I began the model.

 

I've worked out the shapes of the replacement frames, and they're shown below. The one in red is the midship frame as it it at the moment, with a black addition showing how I'm going to round it out.

 

Steven 

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Your original cross-section looks closer to contemporary evidence than your new 'rounded' section, Steven. The illustration shows the Mayflower II reconstruction from the 1950's compared with a hull form derived from contemporary instructions circa 1600. I know it's later than your ship, but things did not change that quickly.

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That's very true, Druxey, and Landstro"m got his midships section for his Great Harry reconstruction from William Baker's diagrams.

 

But as you say, these were quite a few decades later, and we now have the evidence of the Mary Rose, which was almost a sister ship to the Great Harry (they were built and rebuilt at almost exactly the same time as each other - but the Great Harry was one and a half times the size of the Mary Rose).

 

I'm taking Mary Rose's shape as being more representative of the period, and that's why I'm changing the midship sections, as that way they'll be much closer to the Mary Rose.

 

Steven

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I've decided I'll have to strip most of the planking off after all. I'd hoped to keep a lot of it and just change the frames, but I got a lot of splitting when I was separating the old frames from the planking and it looks like I'll just have to discard most the old stuff and re-do it. I should be able to keep the forecastle, though, as it won't be affected by the changes.

 

I've roughed out the new frames in balsa, as the original frames were. Still have to trim them down smooth. I realize they look pretty rough, but they'll be invisible and they'll do the job. As I mentioned above, this project is basically to restore the ship to the way it was when I built it - sort of a snapshot in time -  and at the time I wasn't all that careful  with stuff you wouldn't be able to see . When I start the next project I'll be taking much more care to get everything precise. 

 

Below are pics of the ship as it is at the moment. I've still got to get the rest of the planking off that needs to be replaced, then I need to get some veneer that matches the original (the suppliers are currently off on Christmas holidays), and get started on fixing her up properly.

 

Kees, though the information is somewhat limited, there's far more out there than you might think, in archaeological finds, contemporary illustrations and academic papers. Have a look at Woodrat's excellent nave tonda thread to see what I mean.

 

Steven

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