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Frigate by AmyH82 - restoration of model by Cedric Bristow (my grandfather)

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My grandfather, Cedric Bristow, built this model abut 40 years ago. He intended to add sails but, my father said, wasn't able to because his hand became unsteady due to Motor Neurones Disease (also known as AMS).


He passed away several years ago, and I've inherited the ship, which is now in a rather sad state of disarray. I am determined to bring it back to the state in which he left it, and perhaps even finish it in his memory.


I admit to having minimal experience with ships and shipbuilding - especially if you don't count having read all the Hornblower and Patrick O'Brian books ever written - but I am a very competent knitter and sewer, so I've got some of the finger-skills I think I'll need plus an idea of how much patience and persistance it takes to see any good craft project through.


If you're reading this, I'm certain you'll have some advice you could give me. Please drop me a line to lend a hand!

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The frigate as she is today. At least 30 years' worth of dust, quite wrecked rigging and several parts knocked off the body of the ship.


On the positive side, I believe I have all the dislodged parts.


My research seems to show that my first step should be to carefully clip away all the damaged rigging, decide what can be salvaged and what can't, and clean everything.


Would you agree? What cleaning methods and materials would you suggest? I don't believe the woodwork was originally varnished or polished - should I take the opportunity to add a finish to the deck so that the dust won't cling to it so eagerly in the future?






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Wow. Yes I'd say take off all of the rigging off and start from the beginning. Best to have it all the same age. Saves repairing the already old stuff down the line.

For me to get the dust off, Use a soft bristled brush and sweep away the bulk of the dust, Then blow the remaining dust away with either a empty sauce bottle of that air in a spray can if you want.

It's up to you if you would wish to have the ship shinny with varnish. Me personally would use a Matt Satan wipe on Poly. Matt because I don't like the gleaming shinny finishes. Hope this helps. Take your time.

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One can clean a model safely with Q-tips and saliva (believe it or not!). You may find the original finishes under the dirt quite acceptable without adding anything. The only reliable way to prevent dust build-up or other damage is to have the model cased.

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Wow. Yes I'd say take off all of the rigging off and start from the beginning.


It's up to you if you would wish to have the ship shinny with varnish. Me personally would use a Matt Satan wipe on Poly. Matt because I don't like the gleaming shinny finishes.


I think I might have to agree about the rigging- what remains is quite brittle, and I believe I remember hearing that the rigging wasn't ever quite complete anyway.


I remember cleaning the ship with a stiff paintbrush some years ago, but finding that the unpainted sections of wood still looked very grey. Maybe a wipedown with Q-tips and... saliva?... will help with that!


The idea of a shiny finish doesn't appeal to me either- I'll follow druxey's advice and see what the original finish looks like once cleaned before making any plans.


Thank you all so much for your quick responses so far! I'm so glad I came here for advice.

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I've clipped away all the rigging and taken off some loose pieces of woodwork- both of which will gain me better access for the cleaning which will come next.


The process has given me a better understanding of how the ship has been put together and the limits of accuracy that my grandfather set himself. I think these may have changed over time as his hands became less steady: some of the yards had their lines attached with tiny hooks; others were simply tied on. There are no lanyards- the shrouds were simply tied to the end of the chains. The running rigging was mostly complete but the standing rigging had only just been begun.


First: the cleaning. More pictures of this as it occurs.


Then: I'll reassemble the removed woodwork. I'm imagining that small dabs of wood glue would be suitable for this task- please let me know if not! I've only identified one piece as missing so far- a curving piece on the bow which I can't put a name to- happily it's small, but annoyingly it will be very visible so I'll have to think carefully about how not only to replace it but how to match the paintwork. Also the figurehead, but that's something to think about at the end of the project, perhaps.


Looking further ahead: I'll be considering the rigging. I've found several helpful videos online for some particular sections of the process, and some very detailed photographs on shipsofscale.com of some very much more detailed projects, but ideally I'm looking for something that covers the whole of the process and is tailored to the beginner. Would anyone be so kind as to recommend a suitable guide- in any format!






Edited by AmyH82
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Looks like you are being very methodical - this is good! I'd advise you to use PVA (white) or aliphatic (yellow) wood glues. These are reversible if necessary. Epoxy or cyanoacrylic (superglues) - not so much.


The missing piece at the bow is called the main rail of the head.

Edited by druxey
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The best I offer is to go to the main entry for this forum: http://modelshipworld.com/index.php/forum/11-build-logs-for-scratch-ship-model-projects/   and type into the search box:  restoration   I got 3 pages of topics but only a few of them apply.  The word "restoration" is or should be in the title so that should speed the search up.

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I think I've just about finished the cleaning step (apart from the inevitable bits I'll spot or be dissatisfied with as I go along) and have made two old linen tea-towels and uncounted numbers of Q-tips extremely filthy in the process. But I can now see colours I couldn't before!


I've also dismantled the ship further in the process in order to make the cleaning easier and more thorough- I'm ever so glad I took so many photographs before I started- and removed and cleaned not only the guns, gunports and chains but also some loose or ill-fitting pieces of woodwork. I've stored the bits and pieces in jam-jars by type, so I don't think anything will get lost along the way.


In the photos you can see that I've also made a new main rail of the head (thank you for the name, druxey!). For the materials for this, I took my first steps into my local modelling shop, Antics in Bristol. The assistants there were very friendly and showed me to everything I needed. I asked a question that'd been puzzling me: S.Coleman suggested using diluted PVA for the rigging, but I wasn't sure why the rigging needed to be glued. It was explained to me that not only would it help secure knots but would also protect the rigging materials over time- which sounds good. I'll do that, then.


I've now- as advised- got some good aliphatic glue for the woodwork, some modelling ply for the missing parts I need to make, a razor saw (my existing saws are either too large-guage or too blunt) and some dead-eyes and brass wire to experiment with- you can see some of these results in the photos. It took me quite a few tries to get the knack of securing the wire around the dead-eyes without it snapping; now I just have to work on linking them neatly to the existing chains. And deciding whether I definitely want to go to the trouble of using them to secure the shrouds. Probably yes!


Next up: more woodwork, putting everything I took off back on, and painting. 


Next topics I'd be grateful for help with: type and method of applying paint, and whether to paint the masts and yards (my grandfather left then unpainted, but I believe all the illustrations and models I've seen of ships of this type have painted ones).




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Well done so far, Amy! Aren't you glad Q-tips come in large boxes? Your replacement main rail looks very well matched.


I'd keep things simple (relatively speaking!) by leaving unpainted masts that way. The existing paintwork looks in fair condition, so I'd also leave the badges of age as they are, unless you want the model to look new. If you decide to paint, ask again for advice.

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