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Hubac's Historian

Soleil Royal by Hubac's Historian - Heller - An Extensive Modification and Partial Scratch-Build

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Hello, Model Ship World!  My name is Marc and I hail from NYC.  While I am new to the site, I am not a novice to the hobby.  Owing to the early growth of my two children, and the development of my career in woodworking, it has been some time since I built a ship model.  About sixteen years, in fact!

 

Most of my hobby time, in the evenings, has been devoted to a series of woodworking and furniture projects, which fall under the umbrella of something I refer to as the Heirloom Furniture Project - a legacy project for my kids to inherit sometime far down the road, I hope!  Despite my interest in that, and my role as an active and involved Dad, I never stopped reading and acquiring books about my particular interest in ships and ship modeling: the 17th C. ship-of-the-line, and particularly French naval architecture of that period.

 

My recent discovery of Pinterest has really accelerated my understanding of the unique design differences in the stern architecture of the French first and second rates.  For anyone who's curious, my Pinterest page titled French Vaisseaus can be found under my member name Tafferal.  The imagery I have been able to compile, there, has made it possible for me to begin designing a build that I have long been grappling with.  Here's the link:

 

https://www.pinterest.com/tafferal/french-vaisseaus/

 

This will not be a fully-framed scratch build, but rather an extensive modification of Heller's Soleil Royal.  I plan to test out my "Theory of the Ship," in plastic, so that I might re-create the ship, in wood, with all the scratch-built bells and whistles, when I eventually retire.  This will be my second build of the Heller kit.

 

The first was begun at the age of eight; very cautiously, I proceeded to the main deck level where I stopped the build, understandably, until I had developed enough skill to competently complete the upper works.  As a teenager, I completed everything up to the masting and rigging.  After college, I finally finished the model and had a very nice case made to house it.  I have been transporting it from apartment to apartment for the past twenty years.

 

It is, in my opinion, a very carefully fit and assembled model (no injection marks, gaps or flash lines) that is impeccably painted.  It is not, however, a realistic depiction of the ship, or of a sailing ship, in general.  That notwithstanding, I, like many others before me have become completely captivated by the conjectural splendor of what the actual vessel must have been like.

 

The short-comings of the Heller kit have been thoroughly documented on a number of forums.  I'm assuming that most who come to read this thread are already well acquainted with the inherent omissions and short-comings of the plastic kit.  Unlike so many others, though, I believe that there lies within the kit, great potential to build an accurate scale model of a French first-rate ship from the 1660s.

 

Now, it bears mentioning that I have read the forum moderator's post on overly ambitious build threads,  and I can certainly appreciate and agree with the thinking, there.  This is going to be an ambitious build!  I expect it to go on for quite a number of years.  This is not, however, a passing fancy.  I am a devotee of incremental progress:  whatever little can be accomplished, most evenings of the week, gradually adds up to a thing taking shape.

 

My main obstacle, until now, had been the difficulty in fully visualizing what I believe the original intent of Jean Berain's well known drafts of the SR's stern and quarter galleries to be.

 

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I will expound on my theory of the ship in a moment, however, I'd like to say a word or two about why this project has legs for me.

 

The kit I am using for this build is one of the early pressings from the 70's, by Heller.  It, initially, belonged to my next door neighbor who was a kind of mentor to me when I was young.  Mark Hansen was an outstanding modeler of all kinds of military craft, but he especially loved the sailing ships.  He gave me a pretty solid foundation on what was and was not appropriate to incorporate on a sailing ship model.

 

It was his SR that I first spied on the top shelf of his hobby room.  I was instantly captivated, and from that point forward perennially obsessed with this single vessel, in a way that I still don't fully comprehend.  Mark helped me build my first SR.  He intended to tackle the kit in his retirement, but he never made it.  Cancer took him in his late 50s.  I have never known a person to be more generous with his time, and his memory remains dear.  I'm dedicating this build to him, as it is quite possible I would never have found fulfillment in the trades, if not for his influence.

 

MY THEORY OF THE SHIP

 

Soleil Royal's keel was laid down at Brest shipyards in 1666, as part of Minister to the Navy, Colbert's, aggressive reconstruction and restructuring of Louis XIV's navy.  She was launched in 1668, and completed a year later in 1669.  Her length on deck is listed as 164.5 antiquated French pieds, with a breadth of 44.5 FP.  Using a conversion factor of 1.066, this translates to 175 modern, English feet by 47' 5" in breadth, at the main beam.  She displaced 2,400 tons, and her draft measured 23.5 FP, or 25 EF.

 

As a side note, I must mention that I am in the process of establishing a point person at the Musee de la Marine, so that I might ask specific questions about my source material.  So far, I have not received any reply to my inquiries.  For the moment, though, I'm assuming that these L.O.D. dimensions I am giving are, indeed, the L.O.D., and not some other specific measurement.  This will, for the sake of scholarship and my future build in wood, be clarified.  However, for the purpose of this build, it doesn't really matter;  the kit hull halves are what they are, and in fact, the kit L.O.D. pretty exactly corresponds with 175 EF.  In the end, though, the requirements of this particular build will necessitate a certain degree of fudgery to create the impression I am after.  There will be small additions and subtractions - all to be explained in the next few posts.

 

Her designer and builder was Laurent Hubac, and her initial armament is listed as 120 guns.  As a shipwright, Monsieur Hubac was noted for building warships that were considerably wider than those of his contemporaries.  This owed to his belief that the added width improved the handling characteristics of these large ships.  Soleil Royal was, indeed, said to he a good sailing ship. 

 

One year earlier, another ship by M. Hubac was launched at Brest, and initially christened Le Royal Duc.  With the establishment of the French rating system, in 1671, the ship was re-named La Reyne.  Her listed dimensions are as follows:  L.O.D., 155 FP, by 42 FP on the main beam.  Using the above metric, this translates to a L.O.D. of 165' 3" in English feet and a maximum beam of a hair under 44' 9".  She displaced 2,000 tons and her draft is listed as 22' 10" FP, or 24' 4" EF.  Her initial armament was listed as 104 guns.

 

The two ships are of a similar size, displacement and rating.  However, unlike SR, there exist two highly detailed Van De Velde portraits of La Reyne, showing her from the starboard stern quarter, as well as, the port bow, broadside.  It is immediately apparent that the design of La Reyne's stern and quarter galleries is markedly different from SR.  Also, as is to be expected, the arrangement of her gunports is significantly different from what is known about SR, and the arrangement of her guns.

 

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The value of these Van De Velde portraits, for me, has to do with the wealth of hull detail that is apparent (and glaringly omitted in the Heller, and vis-a-vis, the incomplete Tanneron model upon which it is directly based), as well as the ship's sheer line and presence on the water.  In pen and wash, one can see a significantly more stout vessel, in La Reyne, with a notably lower sheer line, as compared to Tanneron's interpretation of Berain's designs for SR.

 

As a side note, there is a Belgian on another site who has outlined his build plans for converting Heller's SR into La Reyne of 1671.  What he is proposing is absolutely attainable, as the VDV drawings are remarkably clear, especially when combined with another period drawing of La Reyne's stern that shows the ornament for what it is - if not, remotely, to scale.  Like me, this gentleman sees the potential in Heller's kit for a sound scale model, although his build will necessitate re-configuring the armament.  As am I, he is still in the research stage, but I will be following his build and posting links, as appropriate.

 

I want to say, from the outset, that the question of SR's armament - whether 120 guns upon launching, or 104 at the time of her demise - is not one that I plan to resolve with this build.  I will be using the moulded kit hull halves and upper bulwarks.  I will be making extensive modifications to those parts, and completely scratch-building the entire stern and beakhead bulkhead.  Heller's kit, like Tanneron's model, is pierced for 110 guns.  I suppose I could omit the two lower bow chase ports, but that would only bring me down to 108.  Leaving them out would be a largely arbitrary decision without any clear basis in fact.  In the end, my ship will carry 110 guns.

 

There are just certain constraints of working with the pre-established port locations of the plastic hull that I am not willing to overcome.  This is the first and most glaring.  I am recycling what I can of the kit because the essential lines of the hull and tumblehome are fairly representative of period practice, and of course, it is an enormous time saver to avoid the complete scratch-building of a hull.

 

Ultimately, what I am aiming to achieve, is what I believe to be the correct interpretation of Berain's stern and quarter galleries, as well as the decorative frieze of the upper bulwarks.  In the course of the build, I will also add correct period detail - correctly scaled - to the hull, head, decks and guns, while completely re-masting and rigging the ship, according to the guidance of Lees and Anderson.

 

A few gunports, give or take, will not detract from the impression of a ship that sits slightly lower in the water, on a notably broader beam, with noticeably lower sheer;  in other words, a ship that won't capsize from the recoil of her own broadside.  My ship model will bear a resemblance to the Heller kit, but I hope to far exceed it in ornamental magnificence and correct period detail.

 

What I'm going for is essentially this:

 

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This is a work from a twentieth century artist, I believe from the 1950's, who must have been similarly infatuated with SR.  I believe that he correctly depicts the configuration of SR's stern.  Although, I must say that even if it were the case that she were almost completely painted blue above the lower, main wales - I will not be depicting her, as such.  More on that later.

 

In future posts, I will outline what exactly my theory of the ship entails, as well as, my supporting documentary evidence.  I will then discuss exactly what I intend to do with the Heller kit, in order to bring all of this about, and then I will share with you the drawings that I have been working on, that will serve as the basis of my modification plan.  I've been corresponding with Dan Pariser quite a bit lately, and he has prevailed upon me that I would be much better served digitizing my hand-drawn images so that I could more easily develop them in Corel Draw, for example.  He is right, and I will.  After not hearing from me for such a long time, I have to credit Dan for being so generous with his knowledge and resources.  He and Mark Hansen are two of a kind!

 

So, I must first create a scale "field" - as opposed to a line and body plan (not necessary because I'm not framing) - upon which I can layer all of the new detail.  There will be some learning there, naturally, but I will share what I've arrived at, so far, in future posts.

 

Thank you all for taking an interest in this thread and I look forward to hearing whatever you might have to say on the subject.  I have also read the moderator's post on forum etiquette, when commenting on a thread or post;  I am not nearly as brittle as the plastic I will be working with, so please don't labor too much in your replies.  Just tell me what's on your mind.

 

All the best,

 

Marc

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Well, I have established a point of contact at the Musee de la Marine.  They requested that I assemble a list of specific questions, and I was more than happy to oblige.  Although I stated earlier that I am not interested in resolving the question of SR's armament for the purposes of this build, I would like to at least know what I should be aiming for on any future full scratch-build.

 

I'm going to post the Word document of my letter to the museum.  I'm not sure why, but none of the pictures that accompany the body of my text are showing here.  Some of these pictures appear to have permission restrictions.  I will post the others at the bottom of this entry, in the order in which they appeared.

 

There were three images I could not post.  One was a side by side comparison of the model of Royal Louis of 1692's quarter gallery, with a 17th Century line drawing of a quarter gallery that is closed, but that seems to closely resemble, in outline at least, what Tanneron created on his model of SR.  This drawing shows three open galleries with walkways, off the stern.  The other two images were also 17th C. in origin.  They are color proposals for the stern and quarter galleries of what I suspect was Soleil Royal, number two, in 1692.  There is still Apollo and his horse-drawn chariot, on the tafferal, but the ornamentation is drastically more restrained, and the background for all the carved work, as well as the hull above the waterline is blue.

 

Here is my letter to the Musee:

 

November 25, 2016

 

Hello Karine,

 

Following are the questions that I am hopeful Mr. Rieth can assist me with.

 

What I am trying to accomplish with my project is an accurate scale model of Soleil Royal from 1669, which correctly interprets the ornamental designs of Jean Berain.  The difficulty I have run into, so far, is that when you query the internet for information on “Soleil Royal,” “1669,” “Jean Berain,” what comes back to you is often fascinating, but without any context as to whether the imagery actually pertains to this, the first Soleil Royal, or another of the three ships that followed her.  Sometimes, if the findings clearly are a reference to the first SR, then they often lack reference to any specific time period in her career.

 

So much of what captivates the imagination with this ship is that she is a sort of puzzle to be solved.  There is information out there, but no clear narrative from which to draw definitive conclusions about her history and appearance.

 

I have quite a number of questions, and certainly don’t expect that there are clear answers to all of them, however, it never hurts to ask.  To simplify, somewhat, I have grouped questions according to specific areas of interest.

 

To begin with, because I am building a scale model, I would like some clarification on the listed measurements of the vessel.  From the lists published in J.C. Lemineur’s book Les Vaisseaus du Roi Soleil (pg, 206), I have the following:

 

164.5 feet Length, by 44.5 feed breadth at the main beam, a draft of 23.5 feet, and a displacement of 2,400 tons

 

QUESTIONS ABOUT DIMENSIONS

 

My first questions have to do with the above listed dimensions.  My assumption is that all of the listed measurements are the antiquated French pied, or foot.  Is that correct?

 

Also, regarding the length measurement of 164.5 feet; is that a measurement of Length on Deck, from the aft edge of the sternpost to the fore edge of the stem piece, at the main deck level?  Or, does that 164.5 foot measurement extend from the aft edge of the sternpost to the inside face of the beakhead bulkhead?  What exactly does that 164.5’ measurement signify?

 

I would also like to know whether there is any record of the full length of the ship, overall, from the aft-most balcony to the foremost edge of the spritsail top.

 

With regard to the listed breadth, at the main beam: is this a measurement that includes the exterior planking, or is it only a measure from the outside faces of the moulded framing?  In other words, a measurement across the widest frame, but inside of the exterior planking?

 

QUESTIONS ABOUT ARMAMENT

 

Is it so that SR’s listed armament, upon launch, was 120 guns?  Are there any schematics at the Musee that show the distribution of those 120 guns across her hull, circa 1669?

 

I would also like to know, if possible, what the distribution of different calibers are for those 120 guns.  For example, sixteen 36-pound guns on each side of the first battery, fifteen 18-pound guns on each side of the second battery, etc, etc.

 

Is it true that before her demise in 1692, her armament had been cut down to 104 guns?

 

If so, what was the new distribution of calibers across each deck?

 

The Tanneron model at the Musee is pierced for 110 guns.  Does anyone know the basis for that choice by Mr. Tanneron?

 

Mr. Lemineur provides a breakdown of armament by caliber for first rate ships, prior to 1671, which includes Soleil Royal, Le Royal Duc, Le Dauphin Royal, and Le Royal Louis.  This seems a more general distribution for these four ships, totaling 110 guns (Vaisseaus Du Roi Soleil, pg 190).  But, then, on page 206 he specifies a beginning and final armaments of 120/104 for SR.  This is just very confusing.  Any specifics you can proved about SR’s total number of guns and their distribution would be enormously helpful.

 

QUESTIONS ABOUT SR’s REFIT HISTORY

 

I cannot find any reliable information about the refit history of SR.  After her launch, I know she remained largely idle until a refit in 1688 to prepare her for action under Tourville’s command.  What specifically is known about the refit?

 

Presumably, this would have been the time at which her armament was reduced.  Was there a corresponding reduction in the top-hamper of her sheer line?  In other words, did the engineers cut down a deck to reduce her top hamper?  Mr. Tanneron’s model of SR is equipped with a quarter deck, a poop deck, and a poop-royal deck; this top-most deck does not seem to appear in any other drawings of SR’s first and second-rate contemporaries.  The one exception I have found, perhaps, being Le Royal Louis of 1668 (see pic below) where figures can be seen standing just forward of the flagstaff.  Was this extra deck actually a feature of the ship?

 

Would this re-fit in1688 have altered the three-tiered orientation of her stern windows?  In other words, were there now only two tiers of gallery lights in the stern?  I ask because there are contradictory depictions of SR, from late in her career, by well-known and respected marine artists of her time.  In Destruction of Soleil Royal, Peter Monomy shows her aft quarters as being closed and still with three tiers of gallery windows.  However, Ludolf Bakhuizen in his Battle of Barfleur depicts her as only having two tiers of gallery windows.  At that stage in her career, only one could be right, no?

 

 

 

 

Lastly, If they did cut the hull down, somewhat, is this also a time when the entire decorative scheme of the ship would have been altered?  If so, how exactly?  I would like to be able to say that I am definitively depicting my model of the ship at a specific time in her history.

 

QUESTIONS ABOUT SR’s SCULPTURE AND ORNAMENTATION

 

My operating assumption is that SR’s design and ornamentation, upon launching in 1669, closely followed the designs of Jean Berain, as seen here:

 

 

 

 

 

Do these particular quarter galleries, which are significantly more ornate than those depicted on the Tanneron model at the Musee, represent the earliest form for the ship?  Also, who is responsible for the middle and right, color drawings of the ship?  I know that Jean Berain is credited for the drawing on the far left.

 

Also, was the ship actually painted entirely blue above the blackened main wales of the first gun deck?

 

Given the ship’s special role in the fleet, it seems plausible that all or most of her ornament would have been gold leafed, as at Versailles.  However, given the wealth of carved decoration on the ship, I wonder whether some of the ornament might simply have been painted yellow, as was common on the rest of the continent and England, in the 17th Century.  Were there even more colors involved in bringing her ornamentation to life, as seen for example, at the Vasa museum, where the 1:10 scale model is a riot of colors?  Is there any truth to these possibilities, or was it more likely that all of SR’s ornamentation was entirely covered in gold leaf?

 

QUESTIONS ABOUT THE TANNERON MODEL

 

Mr. Tanneron’s model from 1836 clearly seems to draw pretty heavily upon the Berain drawing, but it differs in several significant ways, and forward of the stern, the model is largely incomplete.

 

 

 

 

I am curious to know what is known about Mr. Tanneron’s sources for constructing this model.  Was he working from no longer extant drawings and paintings that were from SR’s active service life, or is much of what he created a conjectural combination of Berain’s work and the model in the Musee of Le Royal Louis, of 1692 – with which it shares a number of similarities?

 

What is known about this drawing on the far right?  Was this a proposal for the re-decoration of the first SR, at the time of her refit in 1688?  This drawing seems to bear a fairly close resemblance to what Mr. Tanneron chose for the structure and decoration of his model’s stern.

 

QUESTIONS ABOUT THE VAN DE VELDES

 

I have seen the Van De Velde portraits of La Reyne from 1671 and am using these portraits as a source for filling in various hull details that are missing from SR, as La Reyne is probably the closest thing, architecturally speaking, that could be considered a “sister” ship to SR; same designer, same shipyard, same rate, similarly sized, and built within a year of each other.  These portraits of La Reyne are especially informative with regard to understanding the transition above the stern counter, into the lowest gallery of windows.

 

I wonder, though, whether a similar Van de Velde portrait of SR has ever come to light, and whether the Musee has any copy or record of it.  Obviously, that one source, if it exists, would answer so many of my questions.

 

 

 

 

QUESTION ABOUT MAST AND SPAR DIMENSIONS

 

While I do have several good sources, concerning the masting and rigging of 17th Century ships of war (R.C. Anderson and James Lees), I was wondering whether the Musee has a listing of appropriate mast and spar dimensions for a French first-rate ship of the line.

 

QUESTIONS ABOUT VARIOUS THINGS FLOATING AROUND THE INTERNET

 

The following two pictures seem directly related to SR, but would appear to represent the more restrained classism of later building programs.  Were these drawings a proposal for the decoration of the second SR, constructed in 1692, following the loss of the fist SR?

 

 

 

 

Is the picture below left, indeed, the Royal Louis of 1668?  Who is responsible for creating the drawing, Mr. Puget?

 

 

 

 

Above right, is this the Monarque of 1667?  Was this drawing created by Mr. Puget, or someone else?

 

 

 

Final question: Can you identify this vessel from a painting of The Battle of Lizard Point, 1707?

 

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Edited by Hubac'sHistorian

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Plus 1/2", Minus 3/8", Plus 1/4"

 

My modification plans for the Heller kit are primarily concerned with three alterations, in dimension, to the standard kit.

 

The first, and most significant change will be to add 1/2" of breadth to the hull, along the ship's entire centerline.  As moulded, this is impossible.  However, if the hull is cut away below the waterline - then, this alteration becomes quite feasible.

 

The reason this will work is that the kit's bow is rather bluff enough that if one were to seperate the hull, at the bow, from the stem (after, of course, cutting away the lower hull), then one can insert, vertically and according to the curve of the bow and stem, a 1/4" insert piece that rejoins the hull with the stem.  In actuality, it will probably need to be a 5/16" insert, in order to account for kerf loss when separating the stem.

 

Repeat this process on the other side, and you now have the additional 1/2" of width that is necessary to incorporate the sixth (missing from the Tanneron model) stern light, shown in the Berain drawing (within, but not including the quarter gallery lights and openings).  Then, all one has to do is fair in the filling piece, scribe in plank and grain lines to match, and fill in the missing wale segments.  The drawback of doing this is that one would now have to scratch-build, entirely, the upper and lower stern, as well as the beakhead bulkhead.  I prefer to view this as an opportunity to achieve a greater verisimilitude with Berain's conception of the ship.

 

I'm sure many of you are wondering why I would go to all of that trouble to add one stern light.  The answer is that I believe Tanneron mis-interpreted Berain's intent.  Tanneron shows three open stern galleries above the stern counter.  I believe this to be fundamentally incorrect.  The clues are in the shading of Berain's drawing.

 

What should appear, in three dimensions, is a fully closed tier just above the stern counter, which is supporting an open gallery across the middle two lights of the middle tier (although support for this middle tier, extends out another two lights overhanging the lowest tier), which is, in turn, supporting an open gallery across the middle two lights of the top tier.  It is not possible to achieve this balanced transition from a four light support of a two-light open balcony, above, when you have an odd number of lights (Tanneron's five) to begin with.  Additionally, it is my hypothesis that not one of those three balconies wrap, in an open fashion, to the quarter galleries.

 

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I realize I keep posting this image, but I would like to draw your attention to the shawows just above the lowest tier of windows.  Notice the shadowing is heavier over the central four windows.  There is just visible, the presence of a central corbal supporting a shallow gallery above, as well as support provided at the ends by the two caryatid figures.  The same shading scenario presents in the gallery above, however, now it is only the central two windows where you can see a central supporting corbel.  To the right side of this third gallery railing, one can see some rounding and shading to indicated a projection, or walkable gallery.  In both the second and third tiers of windows, the walkable gallery only spans the central two windows, which in fact, would be twin doors, opening inward on each level.

 

The arrangement of what I'm describing can be seen a little more clearly in this starboard, stern view of the Monarque of 1677:

 

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The ornament of this vessel was designed by Peter Puget, and while it may seem unwieldy and out of scale to our modern eye, so too did it seem to the captains of these ships.  It is said that once out of view of the home port, the captains would order the carpenters to cut away the largest of figures, in order to improve maneuverability.  Anyway, while the middle and top galleries of the Monarch may, indeed, wrap to the quarters, the central stern arrangement of closed lower gallery supporting middle four, supporting two, is plainly visible.

 

One thing I am not yet certain of is whether the SR's quarter galleries are completely, or mostly closed.  The first and third tier of Berain's draft are definitely glazed and closed, however, there may be an open walkway at the middle tier level, which is partially sheltered by an overhang from the third tier.  This drawing of the Dauphin Royal, illustrates that possibility quite nicely:

 

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What I'm referring to is the corbel supported overhang of the lower tier on the quarter gallery.  Here, the quarter gallery is closed from the stern.  I believe it is possible that a similar overhang on SR exists between the second and third levels of the quarter galleries.

 

And although it is difficult to see, this drawing which is thought to be of the Royal Louis of 1668, also attributed to Pierre Puget, seems to corroborate that arrangement:

 

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In this picture, above, one can just make out the single window of the third level, and what seems to be a projection of the quarter gallery, overhanging a walkway in the middle tier of the quarter gallery.  The lower tier appears completely closed, as is the case on SR, below:

 

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If the middle tier of SR's quarter galleries is an open walkway, but closed to the stern, then the aft-most, arched window must be a door that provides access.  Perhaps the answer lies in the black and white rendering of SR's quarters:

 

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The absence of any visible shadows leads me to believe that the middle tier is closed.  I could probably go either way with this, but I'm sure the answer will become more clear to me as I render the quarter galleries, and come to fully understand their shaping and convolutions.

 

Minus 3/8"

 

The next major alteration would be to cut away the fourth sheer step, above the poop royal deck.  I'm not sure, by the way, what this deck should actually be called, but I have to call it something.  This amounts to a 3/8" reduction in sheer height.  The reasons for doing this are several.  The first and most obvious reason is that SR simply appears top-heavy with this fourth sheer step.  Visually, it only contributes to the sense of her instability.

 

There is, however, a wealth of contemporary (17th C.) evidence to support the assertion that a three-step sheer was the overwhelming norm, in the latter half of the 17th century, as is evident on La Reyne and Le Monarch.  Here are a few more examples of second rates which were contemporaneous with SR, and illustrate the three-step sheer:

 

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Tanneron's model of L'Agreable, above

 

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Tanneron's model of Le Brilliant, above

 

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Van de Velde portrait of Le Courtisan, above

 

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Van de Velde portrait of an as-yet unidentified two-decker, above

 

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Le Joli

 

All of the above, in addition to the previous illustrations of Le Monarque, and La Reyne demonstrate a three-step sheer line.  And there are many others.

 

In cutting away this fourth sheer step, I will be cutting across the pre-established deck level for the poop royal deck.  I can't do away with it altogether, but I can shorten the deck, as necessary and pitch it, in line with the sheer, although set just beneath it.  Referring, once again to the Royal Louis of 1668, this seems like a plausible solution.  I may have to exaggerate camber, to allow reasonable headroom.

 

Add 1/4"

 

The third major alteration will be to add on a 1/4" hull extension to which the upper stern plate will be affixed.  The reason for doing this is to make it possible to close the lowest balcony tier so that there is a rounded transition, below the first tier of lights and into the hance pieces.  What I mean by this will become more evident in the next post, where I show you the progression of my plan drawings.

Edited by Hubac'sHistorian

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So, the first step in the actual build of this project is that I must create a scale drawing that will enable me to layout the new stern plate, the new quarter galleries, and the new upper bulwark frieze.  I will also be lowering the main and fore channels, and possibly the mizzen channels because they are modeled too high on Heller's kit.  This drawing will enable me to properly layout the spacing of the shrouds as they relate to the masts and guns.

 

I don't need a lines plan so much as a correctly scaled "field," in the plan view, which will enable me to begin layering and re-arranging details.  In the near future, I will be digitizing these drawings, so that I can more easily manipulate and design without the constant need to rub away excess graphite, or face the daunting possibility that I might become really unhappy about some design aspect that I've committed to, and have to re-draw significant portions of the design.  To get started, though, I used an old fashioned hard-lead pencil and a square, on vellum, to transfer the outline of the stern plate, lower hull and upper bulwarks.  By necessity, I'll have to make two drawings: one aft and one forward.

 

The first drawing was simply an outline of the kit sternplate, which I expanded from a centerline, 1/4" in each direction:

 

post-26729-0-18595400-1480204307.jpeg

 

This drawing is a bit confusing, because at the top most edge, I have included a tracing of the kit-moulded, goose-neck cornice, but I have established new height locations for the tafferal scroll, as well as the sheer terminus into the stern plate, and I have raised the waterline by 3/16".  Dan Pariser pointed out to me that the upper sides of the stern plate could use a bit more tumblehome, in order to create a more consistent impression of Berain's stern.  I agree with him, and that lead to draft #2:

 

post-26729-0-98742400-1480204322.jpeg

 

Upon examination of the fit between the kit upper bulwarks and the sternplate, it became clear to me that Heller straightens the profile of the upper stern plate in order to provide ample cover of the plate over the upper bulwarks.  In remedy of this, I used the upper bulwark profile to make a new tumblehome pattern.  I think the new hourglass profile of my stern plate more closely approximates Berain's intent.  One must bear in mind that Berain's drawing of the stern is a proposal that was not drawn exactly to scale, and not yet applied to an actual ship.  The guiding principle in this build will be to strike a balance between the artistry of Berain's drawings and the constraints of the moulded kit.  In my opinion, this new profile is ship-worthy, and the increase in breadth, decrease in height, and raising of waterline already improve the model's stance.  One can see that I've drawn in the field for the upper gallery of windows.

 

post-26729-0-28601100-1480204332.jpeg

 

This was my second attempt at re-drawing the expanded goose-neck cornice.  I liked it at first, but when I placed it alongside Berain's schematic, I realized that the bottom of the scroll, as it leads inboard from the side lanterns, was a bit flat.  I could see this more clearly, after I drew in the field for the tafferal, which suddenly seemed too top heavy with a broad, arched dome.

 

post-26729-0-04548200-1480204343.jpeg

 

Here I think I have successfully drawn in the cornice.  I've added the middle tier of windows, and I have begun experimenting with my stern plate extension.  Here, I've drawn in an 1/8" extension of the upper bulwarks that terminates in the lower, rounded gallery, above the hance pieces.  My gut tells me that this isn't quite right, though; too shallow.

 

post-26729-0-74897300-1480204352.jpeg

 

In this revision, I've added spacing for the lowest tier of windows.  I've increased the bulwark extension from 1/8" to 1/4," which I think makes for a more graceful transition into the hance pieces.  I am also trying to draw in the rounding of the square tuck stern.  Here I experiment with a hull outline that will be cut in from the moulded lower hull, on a line that leads forward.  Although I have seen this detail a million times, it is still hard to visualize how exactly to reverse-engineer it into the build.  I'm not happy with it, but I'm onto something.

 

post-26729-0-52774000-1480204363.jpeg

 

After spending the better part of a day thinking about it, I realized that the curvature of the rounded, square tuck stern has to come at the rabbet line into the stern post.  To facilitate this, I added about a heavy 1/32" to the outside face of the kit's moulded stern post, so that I could create a curved rabbet line that increases in arc, very slightly, from the keel to the stern counter.  This rounding of the stern will, eventually transfer into the upper stern plate because the underlying framing for the hance pieces and upper stern will follow the compound curve of the new stern counter; just as in full size practice.

 

For the sake of reference points, I have maintained a hash-mark line along the original location of the kit's moulded stern post.  I will also be cutting back the lower hull halves about a 1/16," on a more straight line that fades into the hance pieces, in order to make this detail more readily apparent.  There is still some correction in line to be made at the stern post, just above the counter; this drawing does not reflect the continuity of profile of the new hance pieces, as they progress toward the centerline.

 

To give a better sense for the assemblage of detail, I have drawn in, by eye, a rudder that pretty closely approximates what should be there.  The fact that the new rounded stern lines don't neatly resolve into each other, below the waterline, is completely immaterial; everything below the waterline will be cut away.  This is the perfect example where what I'm doing may not be exactly to scale, but I think the end-result will be the satisfactory addition of a detail that enhances the build, without raising huge red flags as to how I may have achieved it.  I'm still not entirely satisfied with the 1/4"addition to the upper bulwarks, though.  I will probably experiment with 3/16" because I think that 1/4" will actually be overly rounded and the delicate tassel carvings of this rounded, lower gallery might not look right.

 

As for the hull, one can see the raised waterline, the bottom edge of the lower main wale, and the demarcation line between the top edge of the upper main deck wale and the upper bulwarks.  I've also marked in the end-points for the steps in the sheer.  Before I digitize, I will draw in one of each type of gunport, along with whatever enhancements to profile I intend for the main deck ports, as well as the quarter, poop and f'ocsle ports.

 

For the time being, this is where I am at.  More to come, as time allows.

Edited by Hubac'sHistorian

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post-26729-0-40458900-1480341739_thumb.jpeg

I did a little drawing last night. I copied the stern extension profile and added a hash-mark tracing at the stern post, in order to see what the upper sternplate rounding will look like. I decided, for now, that I like the depth of the 1/4" extension. I corrected a measurement error for the sweep of the main wale's bottom edge location. I was then able to mark in the location for one of each type of port. I haven't finished drawing the arched dome of the square port. I will likely be making some decorative additions to the profile of this port.

Edited by Hubac'sHistorian

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Hello! Yes, the last time I checked on Mr. Saunier's build he was not this far along in developing his stern. He and a gentleman who goes by the name "Neko" are both building their own interpretation of SR, based on the Berain drawings. Mr. Saunier has chosen to model his quarter galleries on a more restrained design, which I tried to post an image of, above, but could not owing to permission restrictions. Neko, it seems, is planning to do the earlier design for his quarter galleries. I am in the process of asking the Musee what time period these two different appearances pertain to. I sometimes use Google translate and my own rudimentary understanding of French to follow these gentlemen's build logs. Much, as you may imagine, is lost in translation!

Edited by Hubac'sHistorian

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One thing that I am puzzling over is the large number of small ornamental details that I plan to add to the model, after first scraping away most of what Heller moulded into the upper bulwarks.

I'll need to make resin castings of three different sizes of fleur-de-lis; one for the first gundeck ports, another for the middle gundeck ports, and a third for the ornamental frieze of the upper bulwarks. I'll also need shells and a leafy sort of scroll accent for the frieze, as well as port accents for the domed, main deck guns and the quarter and f'ocsle ports.

My plan was to carve really good masters for each element, to whatever scale is needed. I would then affix the master to the end of a "stamp stick".  Then I will build a small casting box, into which I would pour in some form of latex mould medium.

Now, because these are all shallow castings, I don't see any need to create a two-piece mould. However, what I would like to know about is whether there is a latex mould medium that would allow me to stamp multiple impressions of my accent part, at a point just before the latex cures completely. That way, I would only need to carve one master of each, yet I could cast 15-20 small fleur-de-lis at one time.

Any advice anyone can offer about best materials to use for making such a mould, as well as preferred procedures would be greatly appreciated.

Edited by Hubac'sHistorian

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marc alias" neko" is going to buid his own interpretation ,he began his build with balsa

here is a litle picture

 

Agrandir cette imageRéduire cette image Cliquez ici pour la voir à sa taille originale.
franci10.jpg

 

 

on our french forum we call it "royal balsa"

 

michel build at 1/36 and neko 1/48

the last time i've seen both of them it was the last summer at chateaulin,an expo model

for moulding u could use fimo...

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there was 2 sr:

the first by tourville (1669-1692)

and the second (1693-1713) was ex-"foudroyant" built at BREST and goes to méditéranean sea and  was destroyed at TOULON

the first was drawing by laurent hubac and the second by his son étienne

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Yes, I am particularly fascinated by Neko's build. His method of using balsa lifts with ply bulkheads was quite ingenious. I also find his skill in layout, planking and carving to be quite exceptional.

Is Fimo a brand name, or a type of mould medium? It allows one to make a series of impressions?

It dawned on me that I could probably cast into modeling clay; when it's cold, it should be stiff enough to take and hold an impression long enough for resin to set. Has anyone tried this?

Edited by Hubac'sHistorian

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Fimo can be baked in an oven (low temperature!) to harden it. You can also add to the hardened model or carve it further, as well as paint it.

Edited by druxey

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So, tonight, I drew in the sheer line and sheer strakes.  I also did a simplified embellishment of the square domed ports of the main deck guns.  There isn't enough room to do the double scroll acanthus carvings, below the port, and there's barely enough room to do a simplified fleur-de-lis at the center, top of the port.  Although it probably won't show that well in this picture, I think it looks nice.  Tomorrow, I'll experiment with a bell-flower accent to both sides of the round ports, but the stern drawing is just about ready to digitize.

 

post-26729-0-94479400-1480391134.jpeg

 

The more I think about it, the full 1/4" extension to the stern will buy me some much needed space for laying out these quarter galleries:

 

post-26729-0-77810600-1480391342.jpeg

 

Maybe that main deck port right next to the quarters won't look so cramped now.

 

With your cursor, drag the waterline down to the edge of your screen, so that you can get a sense for the reduced sheer.  To my eye, this is more ship-like.

Edited by Hubac's Historian

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A few more renderings, tonight.  I was having a hard time getting the scale of the bell flower additions right for the round ports.  This revision makes the ports seem a little over-wide, but I can scale this more easily in Corel Draw.  I just wanted to get the shape of the thing right.  I like the shape of the sheer rail caps, though.  Because of the positioning of the Heller kit's round ports, I don't think I will be able to do the small scalloped cutout into the planking, just inside the sheer cap, nonetheless, these pieces will go a long way toward providing a more elegant transition from one sheer step to the next.  As it is, on at least one step of the stern sheer, I'll have to inlet this cap, partially, into the rounded framing of one port.  If it's done with care, it should still look good and intentional.

 

post-26729-0-35689400-1480478425.jpeg

Edited by Hubac'sHistorian

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Hi Marc -

 

I don't know if you can use fimo or the US equivalent, Sculpey, to make the mold.  I know that it is great for the carvings themselves, but wonder about it capturing the detail that you want in the negative mold.

 

I don't know if your idea of stamping out the molds will work.  If you are using a latex RTV (room temperature vulcanized) mold, it will not hold the shape until it is fully cured.  But you can make one small one, then use the master and the first molded one to make two more molds, then use them to make four copies, then eight, then 16, etc, etc. until you can fill the universe with them - LOL

 

For the carvings I have had success with a two-part plastic product called Alumilite that mixes and pours into the mold.  It hardens quickly and holds excellent detail.

 

Dan

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Hey Dan,

I will definitely look into Alumilite - thanks for the tip.

As for stamping into clay moulds, my thought was to use regular earthenware clay - and not the polymerized stuff - and maybe some kind of light release agent that wouldn't interfere with the curing and detail of a product like Alumilite. I figure that, in the worst case scenario, if the castings don't come cleanly from the clay, you could just scrub them clean and stamp a new mould. Worth an experiment, anyway.

Where the Fimo/Sculpy will come in really handy is for the large, one-off carvings like Apollo and his horse-drawn charriot.

Failing that, I know the RTV will work, just a little more slowly.

Edited by Hubac'sHistorian

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Tonight, I drew the Antler escutcheon carving that goes between the main deck guns.  This is one aspect of the kit that I will not be altering.  It was a witch to draw, and it is still only a reasonable facsimile, but I only need it as a spacer for the full rendering.  Having it in place will give me a better sense for the entire composition of added details.

 

post-26729-0-43796500-1480566001.jpg

 

What I find interesting about this process of first renderings for repeated details is that now, with an example of the Antler carving and the sheer cap carving in position, relative to each other - it seems as though maybe the scale of the sheer cap is too big.  Considered on it's own, though, it seems just right.  The truth is, I probably won't really know until all of the detail is filled in around it, with Corel Draw.  The program will allow me to make minute changes in scale, after first tracing my renderings in a larger, workable scale.

 

Towards that end, I've begun listing a legend of the small carving details that make up the frieze.  The first is this leafy scroll that is placed on all of the transitional corners of the frieze.  In actuality, it will be quite small.  But after fiddling with it for a while, I like this shape:

 

post-26729-0-70329100-1480566012.jpg

 

There are a number of other small details that I will add to this legend:  a diamond cartouche thing, a shell, and a fleur-de-lis that can be re-sized for the three different applications where it is needed.  The real value of Corel will be in layout out the arc-ed grid of the frieze because the sections of the grid will vary, in length, according to whatever is going on around them, in the way of fixed detail.  By hand, this would be a nightmare of messy erasures.

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I've been reading around and watching YouTube videos on how to cast resin parts. Eureka! This morning it dawned on me that I can make perfectly mating bow extension pieces, with perfectly matching plank lines and grain detail by casting the first half inch of the hull, at the bow. Theoretically, that should work perfectly without any problems or difficulties, at all, because that's just how life works. Easy button!

 

I could apply the same technique to the stern for my 1/4" add-on piece, and then i'll have the added benefit of perfectly matching tumblehome. Awesome! I'll have to do two castings for the upper and lower stern. I'll also have to rig up a means of holding the hull half and upper stern plate vertically, so that I can dip their ends - again, about a 1/2" into a mould box. A long cardboard box with one short end cut out, and a dowel through a gunport opening should do the trick.

 

Geez - I wonder what could possibly go wrong. Thoughts?

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My guess is that it should be workable after the lower hull and stem have been cut away, and the 5/16" addition I need in the bow should be obtainable from the first 1/2 of the hull because it is essentially a flat piece there. I may have to do some fairing in around the stem, or possibly some heating of the casting to re-shape it a little. Any which way, it should be easier than building up and bending in these additions out of sheet styrene, which was my original intent.

Edited by Hubac'sHistorian

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