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Greek Bireme by Robin Lous - Dusek - Scale 1:72 - First wooden ship build - FINISHED

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Today I received the two bireme kits and I'm busy packing my tools, so it's time to start my build log.59c1880c0f1ce_biremebuild001.jpg.57a32a9bdb933541bab79905df429e40.jpg

I also received 2 ready made (already stitched) painted sails. they look really neat imho.


I'm still waiting for some books on the subject, but I'll get them before we leave for France.


I start this build as a vacation project, but I'm of course aware this will take me much longer. It's just a kick off.

We rent a small cottage in the Médoc (Bordeaux region). My wife loves to read books and I love to do things with my hands (or I go insane). I used to bring a couple of plastic kits with me on vacation, but the insane amount of paint and tools made me look for something else to build.


The Greek bireme seems to be a good choise. I love the subject, it's a good starter kit I think and I don't need that many tools...not as much as I used to drag with me anyway. Above all...no rediculous amount of paint jars, airbrush and compressor!


We leave the 19th. I'll use this time to educate myself. Read this forum, read downloaded tutorials and watch youtube videos....and hopefully I won't make too much of a fool of myself when I start building in two weeks time.


Looking forward to this!



Edited by Robin Lous
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I don't you will make a fool of yourself. Take your time and work slowly and it will turn out well. The bireme is my next model so I will follow your blog. In my opinion Dusek makes good models with excellent instructions so I don't think you can do much wrong if you follow the instructions. A small hint is to let the pieces soak in water quite some time. They are fairly thick and need to be thourghly wet to bend and not break. A plank bender can be helpful.


Good luck!

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Oh dear...


Not even started and I already got myself enough stuff to scratch build a Spanish Armada  :unsure:


Modelers behavior I guess. Very eager to start building now...one week to go.

I'm now spending my time planning my build. Already figured out I won't use the printed deck, I'll plank the deck instead.

Will also replace the plywood bow and stern with wood. The side of plywood looks like...uhh...plywood.  :P


Okey...one more week!

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Thanks for the nice replies guys.


On 15-8-2016 at 8:05 AM, MESSIS said:

Why did you orderd two kits? Is it in case you damage any contents as you build the kit or r u going to build two different kits?

To be honest...I bought two without giving it much thought, because I got a nice discount.  :unsure:

With the 2 different sails I got also...I'll build two and I'll alter both, so they will be different.


When I like this...and I expect I will, I'll do the same with two triremes. One with masts and sails (journey rigging) and one with the masts left ashore (battle rigging). But that's optimistic future talk, I don't have a clue how long it will take me to finish my first bireme.


I now got all my books on the subject sorted out, but it's amazing how little is known about these famous ships.



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I saved about all the bireme and trireme images available on the internet I think (and I have my books)  :rolleyes:


Still somewhat tricky to take the information and images for granted, because there's a lot of guesswork, artistic freedom and copycat behavior out there.

But also some properly researched findings, like the marble ship eyes.

Also a nice 1st century bc bireme ram found on the Black Sea shore...thanks Tim (harlantk)


Research and learning about what I build is a big part of the fun :)



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I think I got all I need to start my build, all packed and I did some research and planning.


My "mobile shipyard" ready to move from the Hague Netherlands to the vineyards of Bordeaux in France.


The first task will be the lower row of seats (both sides of course) for the oarsmen and the lower decks to support them.

The kit supplied a 2x2mm beam for this, but that's only 14,4 cm high (1:1 scale), so I'll replace the beam with a 2x3mm beam. 


I'll scratchbuild a lot to modify the seats. 1x1mm beams to support the seats and foot rests...the foot rests themselves and a side support on each side of the seat.


Each seat will go from 1 to 7 parts. An oarsman can't row without a proper foot rest. Specially the top row. There's no deck below the oarsman there. It will be a right mess with their feet dangling, they'll pull themselves off their seats when they use some force to row, so foot rests are a must.


from 50 to 350 parts to start with  :blink:


Don't expect this to be a quick build!


My next post will be early next week when I actually start building.


Off to France!




Edit: foot rest: 0,5x1,5x4,0mm

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Hi again...in France now (with a horrid wifi connection).


Started building  :)


Planked the decks instead of using the provided veneer.


Cut out and cleaned up all the frame parts. This is just dry fitting, I need to do some other things before this.


I cut off the 3mm wide beams (to support the top row seats) and replaced them with 1,5mm basswood.

I did this because the original beams looked way too bulky (21,5cm real life is huge) and partly because I want to get rid of the plywood "look".


More soon! 


Robin :)

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Before I move on, I did some testing.


Drilled 0,5mm and 0,8mm holes in a scrap deck plank and filled them with light and dark wood filler.

Still not sure what I like best. The 0,5 plugged holes are barely visible, but best to scale. I'll make up my mind after a few cups of coffee.


Same with the wood staining swap I made. The dark colours are more realistic, because the Greek treated the wood with pine tar.

The red brown (cherry) is more pleasing to the eye though...pffffff.


Tough :huh:


More soon,



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Decks done!


The finished decks look way too dark on this photo, but it's the shade and crazy light outside atm, 37 degrees Celsius and no cloud in sight.

I didn't stain them...just a semi mat coat of varnish...real colour is more like the right side insert.  :huh:

Also finished cutting the rowers seat parts. I think I get those done tomorrow.


Robin  :)

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Today was really too hot to make a significant progress, so I didn't reach my "target for the day".  :(


But, I did some work...not enough to show a photo of it though...hopefully tomorrow.


I enjoy reading the "The Athenian Trireme" book...for now most interesting for me is the development from earlier ships to the trireme, because that's where my bireme comes into play.


Noteworthy...the Greek never used the word "bireme" (a latin Roman word for a ship with 2 oar levels). 

The Greek name was a pentecontor (50 oars) with two levels. The two levels instead of one didn't change the name of the type.


It's a great book (the only decent book on the subject really) and it will help me with my future Dusek trireme (in fact a "trieres"...trireme is also a latin Roman word).


I absolutely love building this ship and I think Daniel Dusek did a fantastic job, even though lots is (estimated) guesswork.

Not only because it's a good starter kit, but because it's a subject appealing to me.


Also nice to be able to change stuff to my own liking and/or interpretation...something you can't do with (set in stone) historical ships.


Anyway...sorry I wasn't able to show stuff, but I'm enjoying myself building this!


More soon!


Robin  :)

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Despite the heat...I made some progress.  :)


Still busy with the darn seats. It took me a while to get the hang of making them. Plastic is easier!



And I changed the bow to one of my own liking. I used ship images on greek vases as an example for this.

Only the new bow glued on. All other parts still dryfitting. I'm also sanding the filler blocks (or whatever they're called) atm.


I'll replace the stern section also, but that's a bit more complicated. 


More soon (but I'm moving slowly...steady, but slow  :( )



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Thanks guys!


It's amazing to read about ancient naval warfare. What strikes me is how advanced the tactics and use of recourses were back then.

It's also amazing to read about the sheer size of fleets engaging eachother, The pinnacle of ancient naval battles was of course the battle of Salamis, but many more sizeable battles (mainly Greeks fighting Greeks) followed. 

Faster ships made up for numbers...and a fast ship was a  "dry"  (not waterlogged) ship with trained, rested and well fed rowers....a fast ship could be a slow ship the next day...and the other way round. The way commanders used their recourses made the difference between winning or losing.


People were pretty clever 2500 years ago!


Shipyard by candlelight (photo by Admiral of the fleet).




Robin  :)

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A change of plan! Bireme v2.0  :P


I was thinking about it for a while already, but dryfitting convinced me to do it.

The 2 side decks underneath the lower rower seats bothered me, because I think they serve no purpose whatsoever.

I doubt these decks excisted (not sure of course).


Dry fitting with the decks. Note the visible keel and the void underneath the top deck.


My plan...ommit the side decks (triremes didn't had them either btw) and make a centre lower deck instead.

To make this work I need to perform some surgery.


See above...frame 7 is original...5 and 6 modified.


And had to cut off part of the keel to make the deck fit the altered frames.

The ruler is where the deck will come.


The structure lost some strenght and stiffness because of the surgery I guess, so I'll make some invisible reinforments alongside the keel under the deck to be.


More soon,


Robin  :)

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