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HMS Agamemnon by Decoyman - FINISHED - Caldercraft

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This is my previous log - HMS Agamemnon the Seven Year Itch - reposted following the Great Crash of '13 (if you can remember it you weren't there...).


In fact the earlier title was getting more and more out-of-date since the build has now taken me in excess of ten years and I'm still not finished, so a change to something a bit more prosaic was probably in order. I've done a few other bits and pieces in the meantime, mind you.


I started taking photos of my model at the same time as I started my log. At this time I had got as far as completing the first planking and the second planking from the wales down to the keel.




The quarter gallery patterns are temporarily in place to act as a guide for the planking. You can see that the main gun deck has also been planked.




In this three-quarter view there is a noticeable patch of filler, which I added to the first planking to fair the bows to a better profile. Obviously none of it will be visible once the second planking is added.




Another three quarter view, this time of the starboard side. I'm a bit further on with the second planking here.




And another, this time from a lower viewpoint. I've included this shot to show how the second planking was not the tidiest ever. This was before I had read the articles in the Database and the helpful threads in the technical sections. Next time I aim to do a much neater and more prototypical job. Not that it mattered because I always intended to paint the whole of the hull, so more filler was an easy option....




And here she is, encrusted with wood filler before rubbing down. I think I could have been a bit more sparing really! However, after vigorous sanding she looked like this:





I've added the wales and some of the mouldings, but not yet finished cutting out the gun ports.


Finally here are some detail shots of the same stage. More in my next up-date.





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Thanks Pierre - I was looking at your build only yesterday: she's looking fine, isn't she? I'm glad you were inspired!


I'll add some more posts when I have a spare minute. Not now though, I have some backstays to rig....


Rob (Decoyman)

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Back in the years before starting my original build log one of the reasons why I wasn't getting on with my ship was lack of space, particularly in our old house. I was however able to make the ship's boats.


I followed the instructions pretty much to the letter and, by and large, this was OK. The wood provided is thin, which means it bends easily to the profile of the hull, but it is also relatively coarse-grained, so the edges tend to splinter. In fact the edges are often rough straight out of the box (which is a problem with nearly all of the timber supplied with the kit). I overcame this in the usual way - filler and paint.


I'm not entirely happy with the floors of the boats, which are flat and too high and not very prototypical. I added oars made from bits of scrap (there's plenty of spare wood available), and these hide quite a lot of the floor.


Here are some photos of three of the finished items. I'm afraid I didn't take any progress photos of the boats.





You can see in the second picture how high and flat the floor is.


Finally here are pictures of all four boats finished off the ship:





And in their final position in the waist.




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Hi Rob,


Just found your log mate and I'm impressed, your planking is great. I take it you will not be painting her.


My own Aggy is in the very early stages, just completed the first planking but still have to sand her down.


I'm definately going to follow your log.


Well done.



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Hi Mobbsie,


Thanks for the compliment! I have already painted her: I'll put up some pictures shortly. In fact I'm much further down the line than hull painting, it's just that my recreated log needs a lot more work to bring it up to date.





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Back to the hull, and this is where I started in earnest on the build - the back end of 2009 (seven years after I first assembled the keel and bulkheads). The next stage was to finish cutting out the gun ports, one of which I managed to make about 1 mm too high. I think this was the point where I realised it was better to be good at correcting mistakes rather than mediocre at doing it in the first place.


To rectify the situation I had to cut the sill lower and then insert a 'sub-lining' into the head to bring it down the side of the hull. It was fiddly, but the end result was much better than if I had left it alone. I'm sure I'm not the only one who finds my eye drawn inexorably towards the cock-ups, ignoring the merits of the rest of the model.


One thing I would do differently next time is to fix 'grounds' on the back of the first planking to outline the gun ports and to provide a firmer fixing for the port linings. Glueing the linings in place with only a thin edge in contact with the side of the hull, as suggested in the instructions, is rather tricky. One of my pictures shows how I jury-rigged a paperclip and a razor saw to pull one sill lining into place.


In the first picture you can see that the sixth port from the left on the main deck is too high.




The next picture shows the process of moving it down the hull.




You can see the weight of the razor saw levering the paperclip upwards to pull the new sill into place. The head lining has already been installed but has yet to be rubbed down flush with the outer planking. The teeth on the saw stop it slipping off the paperclip. Pat. Pend. Decoyman 2009.


At this stage I applied another layer of filler and rubbed it down again to get as smooth a surface as I could manage ready for the paint.






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Hi Rob,


I'm enjoying this build immensly but I do have a few questions, my instructions just state to line the upper gundeck gunports, did you decide to line your main gundeck gunports or was it in the instructions, It does look better.


When you lined the main gundeck gunports how far in did you put the lining, because the hull planking is only 1 plank thick and did you make the lining first and then position it into the gunport.


I hope you dont think these are daft questions.



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The other bit of progress achieved before I started my log was to install and plank the upper gun deck. Since then I have made the various fittings, including gratings, bitts and the stove.


Like most kits the gratings come as notched strips like coarse combs. I found the easiest way to assemble these was to fit them together dry and then to dip them in dilute PVA. Once the glue had set I trimmed off the excess timber and sanded the top, bottom and sides. Here are some step by step photos:




Some of the gratings dry-assembled. A 'grid' is made to suit the overall size of each grating:




Next the gratings were dipped in dilute PVA and then the excess dabbed away using kitchen towel:






Finally each grating was trimmed and sanded smooth:




Once this stage was complete I added the coamings around each hatch, some of which incorporate the openings for the companionways between decks. 




Here is an example of one in situ. The corners were cut square and butted. I believe the real ones were half-lapped at the corners, but I didn't think this would be visible at this scale.


And here are a few more. On some of these you can see that i have added shot garlands along the sides.







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Hi Mobbsie,


My instructions say that all the gun ports should be lined. Those without lids on the upper deck are finished flush with the face of the planking inside and out (described in the instruction section headed 'Gun Ports'). The remainder are lined with the outer edge of the linings 1 mm inboard of the face of the outer planking, creating the rebate in which the lid sits when closed. This is described in the section headed 'Second Planking'. I think it might also be shown on one of the drawings, but I have not got the particular sheet to hand, so I can't be sure.


Setting the lining back does create a slight problem, as I mentioned in my previous-but-one post, because the edge of the planking in contact with the lining is quite narrow. If I were you I would glue scraps inside the planking flush with the edge of the port to give you a greater glueing area when you come to install the linings.


In answer to the rest of your question: I made each piece of lining from 1 x 10 mm walnut and, where I did not have access to the interior of the hull (on the main gun deck) I left them that width. Elsewhere I sanded them flush with the inside planking. Each piece of lining was fitted separately.


I hope this helps.





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The bitts were mostly straightforward: sand the component parts, glue them together and paint them. One set - the ones which sit around the stove had the two rebates in the cross piece too close together. I had to widen each of them symmetrically and then insert small pieces of walnut to reduce them back to the correct width. Once these alterations were complete and the parts rubbed down and painted the alteration was invisible.


The alterations:






The finished article before painting:




After painting:




And installed in the ship:





As you can see from the final picture above the stove was completed and installed at the same time. This is a set of white metal castings which I glued together using epoxy resin and painted. Here are a few photos of the construction sequence:






More to follow!

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The companionway ladders were made much the same way as the gratings. The sides are pre-routed with grooves for the treads machined in; the treads are cut from 1 x 4 mm walnut. I fixed a stop temporarily in my mitre box to ensure they were all cut to the same length.


Once I had the kit of parts ready I glued the top and bottom treads to the respective grooves in the sides using CA. Once these were set I slid the remainder of the treads into place and dipped the assembly in dilute PVA.






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  • 2 months later...

I'm still here!


Unfortunately (from the MSW point of view) I have rather more stamina for building the model than for resurrecting my build log. I'd better try to put some of that right....


In case anyone is interested I'm currently installing the yards. I've done all the lower ones and am working on the mizzen topsail. This means I've done all the standing rigging and quite a lot of the running rigging. I'm making the yards as I go, which means I have four which I haven't yet started. I also have to make and install the anchors, make all the rope coils and tidy everything up from stem to stern. However I think the end is in sight (nearly eleven years after I started).


Thanks for your interest!



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nice to hear that yr ok, i am going trough all my list of pages of topics that i follow, and not heard of for a while


and yes please update your build log and please put a profile of your build in the thread that is under my signature, the reason for asking is on page one


all the best

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Ok - I've been stung back into action!


My last post was about the making of the ship's ladders. Fitting these completed most of the work to the 'structure' of the main gun deck. The only other major fixed component was the capstan. The pre-cut components fitted together well, but I rather stupidly decided to spin the completed unit in my lathe to tidy up the edges. Oops! The bit cut into the relatively soft timber and chewed it up in moments. As I recall it looked worse in real life than it does in this photo.




Fortunately a call to Jotika resulted in replacement parts at no cost (thank you Jotika), so I was able to rebuild it, this time successfully.


The next stage was to paint the hull as far as was necessary to be able to start the coppering. I installed a thin (0.5 x 0.5 mm walnut) strip at the waterline to make a neat stop for the top edge of the copper plates. I painted the insides of the gun ports red first, then between the wales in yellow. Finally I painted the rest of the exterior satin black. I used Humbol colours exclusively. The yellow is no. 74 - Linen, which is much paler and less orange than the ochre currently used on Victory and which seems very popular elsewhere on this site. Personally I prefer the less strident colour palette achieved with this choice. Others may think differently, of course.




A general view of the upper gun deck (at this stage the first capstan is temporarily in place).




Here you can see the waterline strip and the painting of the gun ports.




This photo shows the yellow bands after the first coat. As I recall it took at least three coats, rubbing down carefully between coats, to get a good, opaque finish.






And finally some shots of the exterior with the rest painted black. There was a small amount of retouching to be done, but by this stage I was pretty pleased with the quality.

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The next stage was the coppering of the hull. The plates supplied with the kit are easy to use, although they are not strictly prototypical as they don't overlap each other. I used thick CA in a blob on the back of the plate which, when the plate was applied to the hull, spread out just enough to stick firmly. It also stayed loose long enough to allow the plate to be slid exactly into position. The relatively small size of the plates meant that smooth lines of plates could be made without generating unsightly gaps as I progressed around the hull.


Some of the plates weren't embossed properly, judging by the way these mostly came stuck together, I suspect they had gone through the embossing machine in pairs. However there were so many spare that this wasn't a problem. In the following photo the one on the right has not come out properly; the one on the left is fine.




Where cuts were necessary I was able to score the plate along a straight-edge and then flex it until the two halves came apart.


I started along the keel and worked my way up to the waterline.




Here are some views of the completed job. You can see how the plates mostly adjusted themselves around the three dimensional shape of the hull; only a couple of rows of stealers were needed at the stem and stern.






I also coppered the rudder and blackened the hinges. I was subsequently told that the straps should be copper, so I will have to paint these using copper paint as part of the final snagging when I am provisionally finished.




Edited by Decoyman
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We now get to one of the more interesting parts of the build - the prow. I found this quite fiddly in the way the kit is designed to go together: the V-shaped frames which form the cross-sectional shapes of the headrails are quite clunky, not particularly accurately shaped I suspect, and have quite small details which are cut from a relatively crumbly ply. As a consequence corners tend to fall off. Nevertheless I managed to put everything in place, although I fitted the main head rails too far forward which, once this was pointed out, meant that they had to be redone. In my defence I did follow the plan, but the plan is wrong in this respect. Jotika again came to my rescue by sending me replacement parts.


Here are some progress photos of this area:






It's not entirely obvious, but the head rails are too far forward in the previous shot. In the next shot you can see more clearly that I have now bevelled off the corner of the beakhead bulkhead and temporarily clamped a replacement rail in place.




Finally here is a view of the prow with the replacement rails fitted and painted (and looking a lot better). I must say that I have found the constructive criticism offered by the members at MSW very helpful, and I think I am producing a better model as a consequence of their comments. Thank you to everyone who contributed to my previous blog.


I am now off to finish fitting the mizzen topsail yard. More later.





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  • 4 months later...

The next step was to fit the dummy cannons on the lower gun deck. I chose to blacken the metalwork using Carrs Metal Black for Brass. I found that, even after cleaning the larger pieces with Surface Conditioner, the blackening wouldn't always take first time, but a second clean and another dip into the blackening bath seemed to work. Here is a picture of progress part way through blackening the dummy barrels.




The blackened barrels have been polished with a piece of kitchen towel after cleaning off the solution. They're still a bit uneven and I'm not sure I would choose to blacken them another time. On the other hand I think black paint looks a bit plain, a bit stark and possibly too close in colour to the surrounding planking.


I needed to set the dummy barrels at the same height and horizontal position in each gunport. To help with this I made a guide for my drill. It's only a simple block of balsa of the same height and width as the gun ports, with a hole in the middle for a drill bit. Although the balsa is soft the smooth shank of the bit rubs against it and there are only 28 ports to do, so the hole stays tight enough for the drill not to wander.




The next picture shows some of the dummy barrels in place.




Next the cannons and carriages for the upper gun deck.



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  • 5 weeks later...

I think  this comment might be fairly obvious, but the fact of the matter is I'm having trouble maintaining my enthusiasm for rebuilding my Agamemnon log.


However, despite the lack of evidence and a coherent storyline… I have actually finished! The whole thing!! It's taken me 11 years, 2 months and 3 days exactly. I have no idea how many hours I have spent on it, but it's a lot. The entire build was done on our kitchen table, which meant having to clear away before every meal and share it with my children when they did their homework. There are two lights hung quite low above the table, and when I got to the masting stage I bashed them nearly every time I moved the model from the top of the piano to the kitchen. Nevertheless she's still in one piece. Here are a couple of pictures:








She's very difficult to photograph most of the time because either she's against a wall, which results in an overlay of confusing shadows, or she's on the table with the lights in the picture and the kitchen clutter in the background. I took her out into the garden for the final shots, but even that isn't perfect. I'm considering getting some professional pictures taken in a studio, but for that I'll need a car with a higher roof.


I hope you like it!



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