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Polarskute Fram by BNoah- Scale 1:100 as she appeared for Rould Amundsen's 1910-1912 South Pole Expedition - Finished


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It is with more than a little trepidation that I begin this build log of the Polar Ship Fram (Norwegian for "Forward").  The shill level demonstrated in the logs I have viewed on this website in intimidating to say the least.  Nonetheless, perhaps my chronicle of errors can save others some time and heartache.

 

I have had a lifelong interest in historic ships and polar exploration.  An early introduction to the then San Francisco Maritime Museum and the Balclutha, moored on that city's waterfront, may account for this.  However, I particularly remember Amundsen's little Goja from when she was still along the Great Highway at the western end of San Francisco's Golden Gate Park.  It was this recollection that let me to think that building a model of her would be a good way to combine my two interests.  I obtained Constructo's kin and found the instructions excellent and enjoyed the assembly.  A few years later, in looking at the completed model, I realize she was a bit clunky and thought that maybe I could do better.  At first, I wanted to construct Nansen's Polar Ship Fram, but could not find a kit.  I settled on a kit of the RCMP's St. Roch which I visited in Vancouver, BC.

 

But I really want to have a model of the great Norwegian polar exploration ship Fram.  I had visited her in Oslo in 1972, and had a great deal of admiration for her design and history.  Unable to find a kit, I realized that if I wanted it, I'd have to construct her from scratch.  In July 2014, I obtained drawings from the Norsk Maritimt Museum up the advice of the Frammuseet in Oslo.  Based upon my kit experience and a couple of books from Amazon, I started working on her in August of that year.

 

But before I start my log, a brief and abridged history of this ship:

 

Scraps of the DeLong Expedition's USS Jeannette, crushed by pack ice off of Sieria in June 1881 was found on the coasts of Svalbard and Greenland several years later.  This let some to suppose a circumpolar current which could assist in exploration of these northern regions.  Fridjof Nansen, who was the first to traverse Greenland, determined to test this theory by building a suitable craft, the first to be built exclusively for polar exploration rather than a modification of an existing ship.  With the great ship architect Colin Archer, Nansen designed the Fram to withstand the pressure of sea ice with a hull configuration which would result in the ship rising rather than being gripped and crushed  The result was a three-masted schooner with a double bowed keeless hull (a false keel would be added after her first voyage) so broad that it has been likened to a soup bowl.  But the design worked as planned and during her career "the world's strongest wooden vessel" would achieve a furthest north of 85o 57' N and a furthest south of 78o 41' S as well charting the most area in the Canadian Arctic.  Records for a wooden ship which have never been broken.

 

She was launched in 1892 and remained in active use through 1912.  She had a tonnage of 402 grt., a length of 127 ft. 8 in., a beam of 34 ft., and a draft of 15 ft.  Auxiliary power was initially provided by a triple expansion steam engine of 220 hp but this was replaced in 1910 with a 180 hp diesel engine.  Maximum speed of 7 knots were recorded but she was a notorious for rolling.

 

Below is the Fram as she appears today in her protective building in Oslo, Norway.

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Edited by BNoah
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Early August 2014

 

THE ADVENTURE BEGINS:

Following correspondence with the Frammuseet and the Norsk Maritimt Museum last month I receive three sheets of line drawings based, it appears upon the Fram as she currently exists.  One sheet has the ship's lines, the second a starboard profile and deck diagram, and the third a rigging diagram.  All are at 1:50 scale with some insets at 1:25.  Without reduction this scale will result in a model far too large for display in my home.  So it is a quick trip to Kinko's where the sheets are reduced by half.  I am really pleased because the reduction seems not to result in any distortion from the original sheets, so I can build my ship one-to-one based upon the plans. However, I also notice that there are critical areas missing from the ship's lines near the bow, so I e-mail my contact at the Norsk Maritimt Museum who without question sends me a corrected replacement sheet without question.  Many thanks for their kindness and attention.

 

Now I can start using Google Translator to figure out what all of the notations of the diagrams sheets mean.

 

In the picture below I have overlain two sheets to illustrate the area of the missing lines.

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August 28, 2014

TRANSLATION RESULT OBSERVATION

 

I've completed most of my translations for now and it has been a real education.  Some of the nautical nomenclature is "English-like" while much is borrowed from the Dutch, Swedes, Danes, and in at least one case, Estonian.  It really illustrates how much interchange sailors have.  However, as much of the language is so specialized, I may have to contact the local chapter of the Sons of Norway for some terms. 

 

I had known that "starboard" was derived from the Norse word for oar as it was this side of their longships that they used a long oar to steer the boat.  However my stranslator also points out that it means "command" in Norwegian as well.  A neat derivation.

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October 31, 2014

BASIC PROGRESS

 

My mail orders for wood supplies and the fittings I know I cannot produce myself such as anchors and belaying pins, are starting to arrive.  Better than Christmas.  She-who-shall-be obeyed seems a bit flummoxed by all the postal activity but thankfully so far she hasn't inquired about costs.

 

Based upon the ships lines provided, I selected and traced the areas I wanted for my frames onto some heavy velum.  I then reduced them to account for the thickness of my anticipated planking and decks.  using these templates I sketched their outlines onto my wood stock and cut them out with a coping saw.  I'm now ready for some assembly.  You will notice in the picture below that I stained and set the bowsprit into the backbone piece.  I felt I had to do this at this early stage because I'm fearful that I won't be able to work it in properly once the framing and planking begins.

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 You will notice in the picture below that I stained and set the bowsprit into the backbone piece.  I felt I had to do this at this early stage because I'm fearful that I won't be able to work it in properly once the framing and planking begins.

 

I think that usually there is not need to install the bowsprit at this early stage. Perhaps this will create additional difficulties with planking of the board.

 

Best Regards!

Igor.

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November 13, 2014

THE BUILD BEGINS

 

I'm beginning to have a "ship shape" as the frames are placed.  I'm stuck with the bowsprit and so far it isn't causing too many problems except forcing me to keep it in my consciousness so that I don't knock and break it.  Yes, that is a coin underneath the cutout for the mainmast.  I thought that since Roman times a coin has been placed under a stepped mast for luck, that I would continue the tradition.

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November 29, 2014

THE PLANKING BEGINS

 

I placed the under deck sheets and have begun to plank the hull (top picture below).   Clearly I selected the wrong material for the frames and backbone.  The wood is too soft and it needs to have a thicker profile.  However, I just can't face redoing all the cutting and fitting and so have resolved to begin the planking to see if it is strong enough to hold together.  Fingers crossed and major lesson learned.

 

Planking is tough on my fingers; because of the pressure of bending the planks into contorted shapes to fit the frames hurts my arthritic thumbs and because I manage to superglue my fingers to the hull regularly. I can only manage a few strips per day.  Patches of residual skin will have to be sanded out later.

 

The bottom picture left below shows the irregularities and gaps caused by some shrinkage of the attached planks which I soaked for 24 to 48 hours to make them more pliable.  Emotionally is the hardest part of the build so far.  It looks like such a failure that I wonder if it is worth the effort.  If I ever do this again, I may seek another method for making the planks more bendable.  The AFTER image on the right of the bottom picture below shows the result after a course sanding to remove irregularities and residual skin.  I now have emotional relief.

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Edited by BNoah
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December 17, 2014

PLANKING CONTINUES & CONTINUES

 

I've completed and sanded the initial planking of the hull.  The false keel has also been added.  The first picture below illustrates that I have also added a second sheathing.  This represents the South American greenheart which can be seen in the picture below the deadeye braces in the picture of the Fram in my first posting.  This was added to take the beating of ice flows protecting from damage the outer and inner hulls. 

 

The second picture below shows that the metal armor has been added to the bow and stern, as well as the propeller shaft, reinforcement around the propeller, rudder and hawse holes.  I repurposed some copper tape from a stained glass repair project for the metal plating.  It will be painted over.

 

I have decided to wait to paint the hull until after deck planking which I think must be finished before I can add gunwales and deadeye braces.  I sort of feel I'm steering through a fog without a compass here.  But I'm trying to think a few steps ahead so that I don't have to undo what I've done.

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December 17, 2014 -- Continued

THE RUDDER

 

I neglected to speak to the rudder in my previous post.  When possible I like to repurpose found items.  The picture below shows a wooden skewer as it appeared in a chicken wrap I had at a local restaurant.  I was struck by its resemblance to the rudder I was going to prepare for the Fram, so I kept it when my wife and I left.  As you can see in the picture, it didn't take much work to  prepare a rudder blank, just a little sanding and facing.  I carved the propeller from the unused portion.

 

I should mention that the rudder and propeller in the Fram, like many polar ships, has a mechanism which allows them to be lifted into the hull to protect them from the ice.  I did not attempt to replicate the mechanism, although it is drawn on the line drawings I obtained. 

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Igor,

Thank you for the offer.  I'm pretty much committed to what I have on hand at this point.  When I finish updating next week you will see that the hull and deck are nearly complete.  However, if you have a standing rigging or running rigging plan . . . ?

Edited by BNoah
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Igor,

Thank you for the offer.  I'm pretty much committed to what I have on hand at this point.  When I finish updating next week you will see that the hull and deck are nearly complete.  However, if you have a standing rigging or running rigging plan . . . ?

Hi Noah,

I can send the drawings that I have in  your email address

 

Best Regards!

Igor.

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January 10, 2015

DECKING, WALES and BRACES

 

The decking was easy but tedious.  I chose to use a narrower plank than that supplied in my previous kits because I thought that it would look more scale authentic.  I'm not sure I was successful, but I'll leave the conclusion to the viewer.

 

The modeling books I have recommend stretching a thread between planks to represent the oakum normally forced into seams.  I think this must be for bigger models than mine.  My attempts using a variety of methods on a test piece were glue smearing disasters.  Once again I'll have to accept something less than perfect.

 

If you look closely at the upper picture  you will see small dark rectangles between the wales and the deck.  The Fram has her deadeyes inboard at nearly deck level.  In attempting to replicate this I elected to file a score on the wales before attaching.  I could then slip the brace through so that it can be painted with the hull.  In preparing this scheme I realized that I would never be able to consistently rig the deadeye to the brace after the brace was installed.  So I attached the deadeyes to the braces before installation.  This took me four hours.  Now I will lie awake dreading the deadeye rigging when I work on the shrouds.

 

The lower picture has the braces and deadeyes in place.  Painting next.

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January 15, 2015

HULL PAINTING COMPLETE

 

All of the historic pictures of Fram available to me are black and white of course.  So I used the color scheme of the ship as she appears in her museum.  I'm done with the hull for awhile.  I'll be working on the deck furniture and so will have a change of pace.

 

I should mention at this point that I was disappointed in the use of copper foil to represent the armour of the bow and stern.  When painted, even through the strips were overlapped, it lost much of its definition.  I would recommend using heavier copper ribbon or any material for that matter, suitable in size and which can be successfully painted.  I usually experiment before hand but neglected to do so with the foil.  It accepted the paint, but lost need visible relief.  Yet another lesson learned.  The second picture below of the Fram itself shows what is needed.

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Edited by BNoah
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Igor,

Thank you for the offer.  I'm pretty much committed to what I have on hand at this point.  When I finish updating next week you will see that the hull and deck are nearly complete.  However, if you have a standing rigging or running rigging plan . . . ?

Hi Noah,

OK, I will send the drawings that I have  in electronic form Tuesday. I found that in my home I have only paper versions.

 

Best Regards!

Igor

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April 2, 2015

DECK BITS

 

My pace has slowed as I concentrate on crafting various parts of the deck furniture.  Pictured are the articulated smoke stack, companionways, gratings (about the size of a US Quarter) ladders, ships wheel and rudder gearing.   etc.  I put each aside so that when they are all completed I can assemble at one time.  The second picture is of the components which will make up the bridge which will span the afterdeck and surround the mizzen mast.  I will not assemble it  until after all of the deck bits have been placed as it has a winch and davits under it.

 

Next I will work on the ship's boats.  I have been dreading these because they seem complicated for me and they are SO small.  Now I have to suck it up and face the hurdle.

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April 21, 2015

SHIP'S BOATS

 

The Fram was re-fitted three times in her active career.  When first constructed in 1893, she was flush decked, and in addition to the four boats carried on davits as in the 1910 configuration I'm working on, she had four more boats stacked on deck and on a deck cabin.  From what I've been able to research, the boats, except for an occasional shore visit, were used primarily as a nursery for sled dog pups born during her voyages.

 

The four boats I need are open boats, so I cannot glue planking to bulkhead-like frames.  Instead, I'm trying to build around the bulkheads (first Image below).  I cut a rough keel and glue it loosely to a base.  Within are false frames which I will use as a mold (second image below).  I will glue the planks only to the keel piece and to each other.  Once released from the base and the false frames, I can sand to shape.  To my surprise, I was able to free the boat without damage.  However, using this method is like building the shell for half a chicken's egg.  Very fragile and I'm not at all happy with the result (third image below) and make a decision that three of the four boats will be covered; the fourth I will devote more detail to.

 

I go through seven attempts before I get satisfactory results.  The tarps for the three covered boats will be made from a linen handkerchief given to me by my grandmother over 60 years ago. (She gave me a dozen every year and they never seem to wear out so repurposing one will not be a loss.)  I cut a paper template and after about six attempts I get one I'm satisfied with (image four below).  After transferring the shape onto the handkerchief, I glue cord and loops.  I paint the entire thing and let it dry before cutting it our to drape over the boat to which it is lashed (image 5 below).

 

The fourth boat gets ribs, thwarts, oars and a bailing bucket (last image). 

 

I will now assemble all the bits I've set aside on the deck.

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May 8, 2014

DECK FURNITURE ARRANGED

 

With the exception of the bridge, which I will install after rigging the mizzen shrouds, most of the deck bits have been added from the anchors to the articulated smokestack.  Likewise, the stanchions and port and starboard railings, the ship's boats also have not been rigged to the davits until all the standing and running rigging is completed.  I like to work from the centerline of the ship out, so if I place railings and boats now, they will just be in the way of my rigging efforts and subject to damage due to clumsy fingers.

 

I will now put the hull aside while I size, cut, shape and stain the mast, spars, gaffs, and booms.  It may be awhile before I post again.  However, I'm nine months in on what I though would be a two year build, so I'm doing okay.

 

Many thanks to  all of you who gave  up your valuable time to answer my questions and give me words of encouragement.

 

BNoah

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  • 2 weeks later...

May 24, 2014

MAST COMPONENTS COMPLETE

 

I've cut, shaped, stained, and painted (as appropriate) the masts, booms, gaffs, crosstrees, belaying pin racks, and crows nest.  Now I'm beginning to assemble them for rigging.

 

The eyebands are giving me fits.  I can drill out the eyes of the larger ones with my hand held pin vise.  But the smaller eyebands are a mountain too high.  I've even tried a variety of bits in my dremel, but they just get messed up.  The little beggars are impossible.

 

Does anyone have a clever way to drill these eyes out easily and constantly?

 

First image below:  Mast Components

Second image:  Example of successfully drilled out 1/4 inch eyeband compared to mutilated smaller one.

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May 26, 2015

MAST COMPONENTS COMPLETE (Continued)

 

I've worked out a couple of solutions for my inability to drill out eyes on my small eyebands.  It isn't a good solution.  It isn't an elegant solution.  Just a partial solution that isn't totally ugly.  Which is to say it is just partially ugly.  So . . . no close-up pictures.

 

In the first method I file out the interior of the eyeband so it is a little large than needed.  I then (horror) cut the band and spread it a bit.  A portion of the copper wire I will be using (a length slightly shorter than the circumference of the gaff, boom, mast or spar)  is slightly flattened with a jeweler's hammer.  I then wrap the flattened wire around the gaff, boom, mast or spar and attach the block.  A dab of glue on the wire and I slide the open eye bolt over the to hide the flat wire.  It sort of looks okay if you don't look too closely.  Better yet if you don't look at all.

 

Alternatively, I cut two opposing eyes off, file and slightly bend the two remaining "ears" around which I wrap copper wire which has been attached to a block.

 

Not the way I wanted to go, but once again, it will have to do.

 

Below is the "dry" assembly of the mizzen.

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Edited by BNoah
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  • 4 weeks later...

June 20, 2015

DEADEYE FRUSTRATION

 

Progress on Fram was been deadly slow since my last post.  I've been assembling the mainmast but summer heat has finally arrived and it has been too warm to work at my bench except for early morning hours.  I need four pairs of deadeyes for the topmainmast shrouds.  My book suggest that I use a staple shaped piece of wire to keep the individual deadeyes separated while the lanyards are strung.  I seem incapable of manipulating this wire, the two grain of rice size deadeyes (first image below) and waxed thread all at the same time.  It has taken me about four hours for the first two pairs and my satisfaction level was very low.  Early this morning I realized that if I wired the deadeyes within a frame I could work against their tension (second image below).  I can hold the frame, not worry about the deadeyes and have much greater control.  Once rigged, I can release the wire, attach them to the upper mast (bottom image) and string the shroud. Only about 45 minutes for each pair.

 

Unfortunately, I don't think this method will work for the deadeye sets for the masts.  In each case the lower deadeye is already attached to the chains and the hull.  I'll be loosing more sleep while I figure out a method to maintain proper spacing for them when it is time to rig the upper deadeye.

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