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Gokstad Viking Ship by jack.aubrey - Dusek Ship Kits - 1:35 Scale

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Gokstad Viking Ship, Jack.Aubrey, Dusek Shipkits, 1:35


It seems that for at least one year, but could be even longer, I'll spend two/three months in Cinisello Balsamo (Milan), in the house that I own since more than forty years, and two/three months in Calci (Pisa) in the house of my daughter Silvia where, being currently single, she has plenty of space to guest me and my wife, with mutual synergistic satisfaction.


Therefore, by accepting this situation, there is a problem with my shipmodeling activities: in my house I've set up a quite functional workshop, where I am currently building the "Brick de Guerre 24" starting from ANCRE plans; but when I go to my daughter's house what and how can I do? I decided that it's not practical to bring back and forth the Brick and related material: the more the build progresses, the more it becomes cumbersome and the materials and tools needed increase, so I thought a solution that allows me to do any activity in Tuscany without having to make use of the materials and equipments located in my lab at home.


The solution is for me the purchase of a kit: with this option I have everything I need (even though that's not completely true) in the kit and then I solve 90% of the problem for the materials while regarding the tools I can duplicate the equipment, on a minimum basis, or take them from home, not having, however, the need for great efforts for transport.


Of course, in the months where I'm in Cinisello I'll work on the Brick, and when I'm in Tuscany I'll work on the kit. This means that to finish the models I'll most probably need twice of the time, but I don't think to die in a short time (sign of the horns exposed more and more times) and, with regards of patience, I don't miss it.


I took advantage of a fairly advantageous offer from a Czech kit manufacturer, the Dusek Shipkits, http://www.dusekshipkits.com/, and I bought via the internet two Viking ships:


1) the Gokstad ship, found in Norway and

2) the Skuldelev 1, a knarr, transport ship, found along with other boats in Roskilde, Denmark.


Both kits are marketed in 1/72 and 1/35 scale. I chose the 1/35 scale. To start I decided to build the Gokstad ship.


I want to start with a minimum of history about this ship, on display in a museum located in Oslo. The source is an article I found on wikipedia, from which I extracted some contents relating to this ship:


The Gokstad ship is a 9th-century Viking ship found in a burial mound at Gokstad in Sandar, Sandefjord, Vestfold, Norway. It is currently on display at the The Viking Ship Museum in Oslo, Norway.


The site where the boat was found, situated on arable land, had long been named Gokstadhaugen or Kongshaugen (from the Old Norse words kóngr meaning king and haugr meaning mound), although the relevance of its name had been discounted as folklore, as other sites in Norway bear similar names. In 1880, sons of the owner of Gokstad farm, having heard of the legends surrounding the site, uncovered the bow of a boat while digging in the still frozen ground. As word of the find got out, Nicolay Nicolaysen, then President of the Society for the Preservation of Ancient Norwegian Monuments, reached the site during February 1880. Having ascertained that the find was indeed that of an ancient artifact, he liaised for the digging to be stopped. Nicolaysen later returned and established that the mound still measured 50 metres by 43 metres, although its height had been diminished down to 5 metres by constant years of ploughing. With his team, he began excavating the mound from the side rather than from the top down, and on the second day of digging found the bow of the ship.


The Gokstad ship is clinker-built and constructed largely of oak. The ship was intended for warfare, trade, transportation of people and cargo. The ship is 23.80 metres (78.1 ft) long and 5.10 m (16.7 ft) wide. It is the largest in the Viking Ship Museum in Oslo. The ship was steered by a quarter rudder fastened to a large block of wood attached to the outside of the hull and supported by an extra stout rib. The block is known as the wart, and is fastened by osiers, knotted on the outside passed through both the rudder and wart to be firmly anchored in the ship.


There are 16 tapered planks per side. The garboard planks are near vertical where they attach to the keel. The garboard planks are narrow and remain only slightly wider to take the turn of the bilge. The topside planks are progressively wider. Each oak plank is slightly tapered in cross section to allow it to overlap about 30mm the plank above and below in normal clinker (lapstrake) style. Iron rivets are about 180 mm apart where the planks lie straight and about 125 mm apart where the planks turn.


At the bow, all of the planks taper to butt the stem. The stem is carved from a single curved oak log to form the cutwater and has one land for each plank. The inside of the stem is hollowed into a v shape so the inside of the rivets can be reached during construction or repair. Each of the crossbeams has a ledge cut about 25 mm wide and deep to take a removable section of decking. Sea chests were placed on top of the decking to use when rowing. Most likely on longer voyages sea chests were secured below decks to act as ballast when sailing. The centre section of the keel has little rocker and together with flat midships transverse section the hull shape is suited to medium to flat water sailing. When sailing downwind in strong winds and waves, directional control would be poor, so it is likely that some reefing system was used to reduce sail area. In such conditions the ship would take water aboard at an alarming rate if sailed at high speed.


The ship was built to carry 32 oarsmen, and the oar holes could be hatched down when the ship was under sail. It utilized a square sail of approximately 110 square metres (1,200 sq ft), which, it is estimated, could propel the ship to over 12 knots (22 km/h; 14 mph). The mast could be raised and lowered. While the ship was traveling in shallow water, the rudder could be raised very quickly by undoing the fastening. Dendrochronological dating suggests that the ship was built of timber that was felled around 890 AD. This period is the height of Norse expansion in Dublin, Ireland and York, England. The Gokstad ship was commissioned at the end of the 9th century during the reign of King Harald Fairhair. The ship could carry a crew of 40 men but could carry a maximum of 70. The ship's design has been demonstrated to be very seaworthy.


Both kits have the same price: in total I spent € 230, including VAT and shipment. A price (115€ each) quite interesting also if the kits are rather simple.


The completed model should look like in the images 01 and 02 here below.


Length: 610mm, Width: 260mm, Height: 370mm


01 gokstad35-2.jpg

02 gokstad35-1.jpg


The kit of this model, shown in the photos 03 and 04, looks like this:


03 P1100347r.jpg

04 P1100348.jpg


Inside there is the materials, drawings and building instructions. On the internet there are also downloadable files with the same instructions at: http://www.dusekshipkits.com/viking-gokstad-1-35


That's all for now, but the adventure has just to begin . .

Cheers, Jack.Aubrey


Edited by jack.aubrey
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And now let we open the box to start discovering its content . .


At first the model plans in 1:35 scale: this is a single sheet. This fact is not surprising as a viking ship is not a three decker, but something much more simple. In the same photo the paper version of the assembly instructions.    


01 P1100351.jpg.


Unfortunately (but it is not my case) for non english mothertongue, the instructions are written in English, but the online version are also in Czech, French and Spanish. At a shallow reading it seems clear and quite simple; if there are some inaccuracies they are not established at this time; it's probably necessary to start working before finding something wrong. Below some sample scanned pages to be taken as an example.


02 gokstad35-english_1414511927-3.jpg.

03 gokstad35-english_1414511927-4.jpg

04 gokstad35-english_1414511927-5.jpg


Finally, the actual content of the kit: laser pre-cut pieces of plywood and veneer of various thicknesses. 


05 P1100349.jpg


In the next post we will see more in detail these pieces.


Sincerely, Jack.Aubrey


Edited by jack.aubrey
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Let's see the content of the kit item per item . .


in the box we find some pre laser cut plywood boards wrapped in a plastic wrap to protect them from "accidents" . . 


01 P1100350.jpg


Keel, frames or bulkheads, and a base for the pedestal . .


02 P1100356r.jpg


Deck, various rods, probably to be used in building the tree and the several oars . . and, in the upper left, some smaller pieces, some of them made with metal, packed in plastic envelops. .


03 P1100353r.jpg


The strakes . . as you can see they are not straight strips, but pre-cut pieces rather crooked . . meaning a design with a 3D CAD software. .


04 P1100354.jpg


Other strakes, the round shields, that characterized these boats, and fine wood fittings for the deck  . .


05 P1100355.jpg


That's all for now, the kit presentation ends here . . . Now all what remains to do is to start building . . but you will have to wait for it until I'll come back in Tuscany (planned for mid December), here I work only on the "Brick de guerre de 24".


Sincerely, Jack.Aubrey.





Edited by jack.aubrey
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I am so pleased to see that you are agnostic, when it comes to ship building. You have basically proved that you can be a master when it comes to Partswork and  Scratch building. Now, a kit was the logical continuation for your skills.


And the choice of that kit is an excellent one, so different from all the period ships you built in the past. I will be looking with a lot of interests.


Excellent choice my friend. It is going to be beautiful.



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Hi Don, Andrea and Yves, thanks for your comments . .

More in detail,

  • Don, I hope that my previuos message gave you a satisfactory answer to your question about the planks.
  • Andrea, I have to thank you about my choice: after having seen your knarr I had the possibility to know and discuss with Dusek. I think this kind of kit is one of the best challenges to continue modelling far from home without need for lot of equipments and so on,
  • Yves, I think that ship modeling should be essentially a way to spend free time amusing and to achieve this goal there are several paths. I do not consider a scratch build modeller better than a kit o partworks modeller. I know there are many people that thinks the opposite and are ready to start something like a holy war in name of this certainty. But this is not the case for me . . and anyway you can always correct the wrong things ofter existing in kits . . use them as a starting point not as a final target. My approach is basically practical: if I can find something suitable for my needs ready on the market I don't see the need to not use it . .

Thanks again, see you soon. Jack.

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  • 1 month later...

Sunday, January 3rd, 2016


It's now about fifteen days I settled in Tuscany, near Pisa, where the weather is much better than in Milan, especially in this winter, till now without rain and with pollution . .


During the Christmas and New Year time I thought about how to transform the garage, I rented this summer, in a shipmodeller workshop where spending some time with my preferred hobby, even when I stay here in Tuscany, quite far from my main workshop. As I previously wrote in this topic, not believing feasible to continue working on the "Brick de 24" when I'm away from Milan, I thought to build a Viking ship model starting from a kit. The "Brick de 24" is the model I'm currently building in Milan from scratch and described at ....


I have already presented the Viking ship kit earlier in this topic and now there is no need to write more. Instead, before I can start to seriously do something, I had to plan and get some simple "furniture" absolutely necessary to me for working:

1 - a usable worktable

2 - a couple of shelves,

3 - an upgrade of the existing lighting

4 - an electric radiator to heat a little the workshop when, during the cold days that will sooner or later come, it will be certainly needed, although the weather here is not like in Milan.


Easily archived steps no. 3 and 4, for solving the first two I planned a visit at the IKEA shop in Pisa, but later I changed my mind. So I went to a carpenter's shop and there I noticed that I could get the wood needed for scratchbuilding my furniture among pieces of debris cuts, offered highly discounted for sale, having anyway an very good quality. I then realized that buying a power screwdriver/drill/hammer and the wood I'll have spent the same money to buy what I needed at IKEA. But at the end I'll get also a drill . . tools missing here, and I would enjoy even for a few days great DIY sensations.


After purchasing the drill (it also sounds a great tool) the shelves were built in a short time. Then I started the worktable. The pieces were cut in measure at the carpenter's shop and I had only the job to mount, glue and screw the several elements. Below a couple of pictures of the worktable in two different states of construction. I believe to finish it definitely tomorrow installing a lower shelf.


01 P1100395.jpg


Below, the worktable with the final top shelf added and already used by one of my five assistants to test its features and functionality . .


02 P1100398.jpg


Now I just have to better organize the layout of the garage and take out the materials and tools I brought from Milan. Then I'll can finally start the Viking ship.


Greetings to all and happy Epiphany. . Jack.


PS: At the beginning I think to leave them as natural wood but may be I'll reconsider this choice later and paint them with woodfiller

Edited by jack.aubrey
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Tuesday, January 5, 2016


Everything is now ready for the inauguration !! The worktable is ready, the shelves as well. . the chair is temporary, too low, but soon another most suitable will come from Milan. However improvements can always be done provided they will be needed.


So I can finally say that I could start doing something serious from now.


I'm starting to study the drawings and the assembly instructions of this Viking ship. For the moment I have some concerns about the rigidity of the hull framing, I fear some kind of deformation. This will probably happen if I'll strictly follow the provided instructions. I think there is a strong need to think about a building slip useful for a capsized assembly that will allow me to work keeping held the hull until the installation of almost all the planks. But it is not so intuitive about how to do it !


I'll sleep on it ! Let's hope in a viable solution . .


The worktable finished . .

01 20160105_172550.jpg


The two shelves side by side . .

02 20160105_172543.jpg


An overview of the workshop: worktable, shelves, radiator, water, lighting enpowered and desktop backup, only the chair is unsatisfactory.

03 20160105_172533.jpg

Edited by jack.aubrey
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That is very nice work area, Jack.  I notice you even have a skateboard for when you need a break. :)  ;)


For the building slip... are you building right side up or upside down?   The way that hull is curved with the high prow and stern I could see being a problem.

Hi Mark,

the planking of this model is made in clinker mode. This method needs to start the planking from the keel. So the building slip should be upside down.

It is something I made for the shipboats of my "Brick de 24" (see the latest post of that topic).

But the pre-cut frames in this kit were not designed for this kind of assembly, so I think to implement two building slips: one, and the first to be used, although temporary, is with the sides up. This will be only used to assembly the keel in the proper mode (it hasn't a straight bottom but slighty curved) and glue the frames properly to the keel.

Then the second, upside down, will be needed to hold the hull during the planking. The first is quite easy to implement but for the second I need to proceed step by step fixing each frame to the slip with a proper piece of wood.

I hope this is clarifying, Jack.

Edited by jack.aubrey
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I have been meaning to take a look at this model for some time. Thanks for taking the time to show us all the details.


I have a piece of the original Gokstad ship given to an American frigate captain who was in Norway on a goodwill visit when they were excavating the ship in 1881. He visited the excavations and they gave him a 'souvenir'  It's a small piece of wood and a piece of goat hair they used for caulking.

Edited by overdale
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Friday, January 8th, 2016

This day is important 'cause it's the offical starting date of this build.

I started by assemblying the first building slip I planned, the right side up one. The process is still on the way, 'cause I found a lot of tools and materials missing or unusable. For example I took with me from Milan a new pack of polyurethane glue I bought time ago, but I discovered it was mainly dry and so unusable. Then I found the need for a small hammer and other similar misfortune. Today I'll continue the same task hoping to finish it.

Rgds, Jack.

I have a piece of the original Gokstad ship given to an American frigate captain who was in Norway on a goodwill visit when they were excavating the ship in 1881. He visited the excavations and they gave him a 'souvenir'  It's a small piece of wood and a piece of goat hair they used for caulking.

Very interesting story and, if I can say, also very strange. I cannot imagine how many generations of your ancestors can be succesful to hold these gifts for over a century . . It means they knew the value of these remains. Good luck. Jack

Take a look at the gallery of this product. It might give some ideas...

Interesting site. Thank you for your comment. Jack.

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Sunday January 10th, 20216


Yesterday I completed the setup of the building slip specifically designed for the initial hull assembly . .


01 10012016 P1100399.jpg


. . and later I put together the keel, made with two shorter elements and two small reinforcements to apply over the junction.


02 10012016 P1100402.jpg


A tough of class (!) . . a nameplate (very artisanly made) with the name of the model.


03 10012016 P1100405.jpg


Cost of these materials: € 1.00 for the base in 18mm plywood, € 0.65 for the 5 x 10 strip and € 0.30 for a small plywood table of 4mm, the same width of the pre-cut keel provided with the kit.


to be continued . .


Cheers, Jack.


Edited by jack.aubrey
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Further considerations about this building board . .


The keel of this model is very long and, with respect to its length, rather low. It is therefore quite flexible and can bend easily; and this isn't a good thing.


As I probably have already written, the main function this building board must perform is to keep perfectly straight and 90° perpendicular the keel. This goal is achieved through the strips of 5x10mm. fixed over the 18mm. plywood basement and on the two lateral, vertical sides. Once the keel is inserted into the grooves, it is held in its position straight and vertical, with no possibility to alter this state. 


But there is another important feature in this keel: the lower part is not straight, as usually happens in the models of sailing ships that we are accustomed to build, but slightly arched, that's it tends to move up to the prow and poop, also presenting over its entire length a slightly curvilinear shape.


How to glue the two pieces, that make up the keel, with the correct sheer ? Simple, just assemble them over the sheer drawing. But then who guarantees me that the keel will not flex within the building board ?


And here come into the field the second function: make sure the building board prevents the keel to move in swing when a slightest pressure on it is applied. It is with this goal in mind that I have prepared two special curved elements, which perfectly follow the prow and poop curved lines and force their correct inclination.


The four images here below "visually" clarify this particular feature.  


01 10012016 P1100400.jpg

02 10012016 P1100403.jpg

03 10012016 P1100401.jpg

04 10012016 P1100404.jpg

That's all till now, but there is still another aspect to be clarified: how can I install correctly the bulkheads ? That means they must fit perfectly vertical with respect to the two axes of the keel, the longitudinal and the vertical ? And how do I ensure that the frames are set perfectly parallel to the bottom of the building board so that the two sides of the hull are 100% symmetric ? I'll describe my solution in the next message.


Cheers, Jack.Aubrey


Edited by jack.aubrey
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Treating the bulkheads and the keel


The Gokstad ship, and probably all the Viking ships, once completed, were "sealed" using the caulking process. In those days this was through tar and animals fur: goats, sheep or similar. Once filled the cracks, tar was spread throughout all the hull timbers to provide also some kind of protection against the weather elements. Hence the characteristic "quasi black" brown color of these boats.


To realise this model I therefore thought to stain the precut pieces before mounting and fix them. To stain I decided to use a walnut mordant, very very concentrated and dark. I've done this NOW, before to install, because if made after any glue residual would not allow a well done staining, especially so dark. But staining prior to bonding tends to melt with glue, so, to avoid this second problem, I also treated the stained pieces with one/two coats of vinyl glue diluted to 50% and immediately dried with a hair-drier. This trick avoids the occurrence of the problem just described. The same procedure was used for the keel and will be used for the planks. After the diluted glue, a light sanding to smooth the surface and spot the brown color.


Below is an example of some frames treated this way. Areas not dyed will be hidden after the installation of the deck and planks.


01 11012016 P1100411.jpg


Frames positioning and installation . .


In the previous message I raised the issue of how to precisely mount the frames on the keel. The problem is to mount them 90° relative to the keel, 90° with respect to their vertical and parallel to the building board basement, that means perfectly horizontal.


To do this I prepared the instrument shown here below. On one side I signed a reference grid to help positioning horizontally the frames. Positioned and fixed in the right place on the building board, according to the lines drawn with a pencil on the same, this tool lets you mount and bond the frames rather precisely and stable until the glue hardens. After +/- ten minutes, it will be possible to switch to mount another frame and so on until the end.


And it's what I'll do in the next steps. Sincerely, Jack.


02 1101206 P1100409.jpg

03 1101206 P1100407.jpg

04 1101206 P1100408.jpg

05 1101206 P1100406.jpg


Edited by jack.aubrey
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Tuesday, January 12th, 2016 . . Frames installation.


On the day that my daughter left Pisa for Los Angeles, where she will stay +/- for a full month, I started with "nostalgia" to install and fix a first batch of frames of my "Viking". Obviously I used the process I described previously and I must say that it works brilliant, at least until now.


Here in Tuscany my new workshop seems to run well: till now I didn't need to use the electric heater because the weather feels more spring-like than winter. Only one thing confirmed its uncomfortability and impracticability: the chair, but in ten days will be discarged.


01 13012016 P1100416.jpg

02 13012016 P1100417.jpg

03 13012016 P1100418.jpg

04 1301201 P1100414.jpg



Regards, Jack.Aubrey

Edited by jack.aubrey
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Thursday, January 14th, 2016


Today was really a whole day with rain . . without any pause from morning until midnight. The small river close to me has nearly tripled its flow rate, although without absolutely no risk of flooding.

So nothing better than close myself in the lab and do something. Then I finished installing and fixing, using the usual system, all the remaining frames and spending the idle time waiting for the glue by reading "The Lord of the Rings", Tolkien's classic fantasy masterchief. The result can be watched in the attached pictures.


What remains now to be fixed are the last two frames, those at the extreme bow and stern that have a different development from the others, and then I have to stop and think about what to do next.


I tried to remove the hull from the building slip and immediately I got to see how it is flexible and very suitable to incidents. Therefore it becomes inevitable to adopt a new building board that will hold hardly and perfectly the hull in a capsized position. This is because I do not think it will be possible to apply the planks with the hull in a different position. In addition there is the problem of beveling many frames; fortunately this angle is not very pronounced, but only the simple action of smoothing one frame, without firmly holding it, is rather risky.

The current building slip will be again useful later, after planking will be complete, allowing to work on the deck and its superstructure.


Hence the need to think, and maybe for some time, on the next step: the building of this blessed new planking board. Of course I'll keep you informed as soon as there will be something new to show.


Sincerely, Jack.


01 14012016 P1100419.jpg

02 14012016 P1100424.jpg

03 14012016 P1100422.jpg

04 14012016 P1100425.jpg

05 14012016 P1100420.jpg


Edited by jack.aubrey
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