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Soleil Royal by Hubac's Historian - Heller - An Extensive Modification and Partial Scratch-Build

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Brilliant work - I have been "stealthily" following - been very remiss in not posting anything;

Your attention to historical accuracy and research are very remarkable

Your work with adding to plastic is also beyond quite impressive.

The current look of your hull sides are remarkable. Superb work indeed.


PS: I think that it was you that had posted a constructive comment regarding my last build (Vasa) you wrote that my stern lantern

was much too "basic" for that ship. You were certainly correct!! - I have in the meantime acquired a new lantern that I need to tweek and finally install.

Your comment has stayed in my mind all of this time haha  thanks -- I think :rolleyes:



Edited by md1400cs

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Coming from you, MD, these are high compliments, indeed!  I took great inspiration from your Vasa build because you had gone to such great lengths to add to and upgrade the stock kit.


Speaking to the lantern, I try to remain constructive in my criticism, and that was one example where not a lot had to be undone, but a better lantern would do so much to compliment what is such a fantastic model.  I look forward to seeing this finishing touch.


Speaking toward research, much of what I am rambling on about will be particularly helpful for the next, fully scratch-built SR that I will get to, sometime, whenever.  While completely conjectural in nature, that model will not be hampered by any constraints in hull form or armament.  My objective for the research log has been to provide one-stop shopping that attempts to provide an historic framework for all of this contemporary imagery that is floating around.


I am gratified in knowing that you have enjoyed the log, so far 😀

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Hello Marc, yesterday I found some time tovisit the exhibition "Floating Baroque".


Instead of long sentences a pile of pictures made for you and us all:







All about the similarities between architecture and the IMG-20190929-WA0083.thumb.jpeg.e765ce2d5b01ad82daab3c7de2917b7a.jpeg

decoration afloat.



Scetches for an interior.






Transom and SG of L'Agile.


Both under gridded frostpaper - but the hights and balkonies doesn't fit!!!


All three drawings...


...and SG and transom.


And now comes the reason why I published my article in here and for you Marc:



The circle is cut in half...


The disstance between the balconies seem to be too high and the CWL is too low.


The gold is not everywhere the same...



This is the lend model of SR from the Collection Peter Thamm in 1/100... 



The starting image of the exhibition.



Edited by Heinrich der Seefahrer
Comment added.

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Thank you, Chris, for posting these wonderful pictures from the Floating Baroque exhibition.  I had wanted to get a better look at the SR model, which is very nicely painted, but the museum had only released the one photo of the stern.  Your  pictures, though, allow for a more thorough examination.


It appears as though the modeler has chosen to show the waist of the main weather deck as being open;  beams are in place, but the opening seems much wider than would be allowed for the hatch gratings.  Is that, in fact, the case?


As for my SR, it has been a busy week of structural re-inforcement. The weakest area of the model is the bow, where I glued in the extensions.  Although I had a good mating, welded bond here, the thought of this area springing open, sometime down the road, is not a welcome one.  In an effort to avoid that I have added styrene backing pieces at the top and bottom of the joint, where it was practical to do so:




The upper backing piece will be visible above the planking of the short beakhead deck planking.  Visually, this adds a little needed heft to what is a pretty anemic stem piece.  While it would be preferable to add that stem depth to the front, only the most astute eye may notice that the stem extends a little further aft than it should.  I may, yet, add a 1/32” strip to the forward face of the stem, where it is most needed.  Before I can do so, though, I needed to true-up the face of this joint.


One casualty of the heat-bending for the bow extensions is that the stem pieces no longer matched the same bow curvature.  It is worth mentioning that, even if you build this kit straight out of the box, the bow still won’t align neatly, however, my surgery only exacerbated the problem.


Rather than sand the proud side down to the lower (and risk further diminishing the outboard stem profile), or using filler (which is not a good glue surface) - I elected to add in styrene strip, and then fair back that surface to one uniform plane:




Whether I decide to add another strip, or eventually proceed with the cutwater and knees of the head, I will have a good bonding surface to build from.


Next, it was on to gusseting the interior.  I noticed, after installing the first pair of gussets, that my bottom plate no longer seemed to lay flat against my dead-flat counter surface.  Now, to my dismay, there appeared to be a consistent crown, athwart-ships, that ran the whole length of the bottom plate:


After I had been so careful to true the bottom edges of the hull, as well as to ensure that the base sheet of plastic was totally flat, I was really confused as to why I suddenly had developed this crown.  I feared that something about the glue-up process of either the hull, or now the gussets, was distorting the base shape.


Ultimately, did it matter what was happening beneath the lowest gun deck, I wondered?  As long as it wasn’t getting worse, I reasoned, then it did not.  However, then I realized that I had to box-in a stepping for the lower main mast, directly onto the mid-ship doubling.  This does matter because you can’t have a bouncy main mast.


Before shimming, I decided to carry through with the gusseting, in order to see whether there was any change:



Fortunately, there was not.  About midway, through though, it dawned on me where I had made my mistake.  Rather than scribe a center-line down the base plinth, I should merely have penciled in the line.  When the razor tip breaks the surface tension of the plastic, the sheet then crowns upward; I had done a particularly deep scribe too, which would explain the degree of deflection.


While I didn’t initially put two and two together, I did notice that when I scribed for the doublings, the base plinth also crowned in the other direction.  I didn’t think much of it, though, as it benefited the glue-up.


So, satisfied with the gusseting and that the problem wasn’t getting worse, I went in and glued 1/4” x 1/16” strip down along the center-line, and then sanded down any high spots, checking with a straight edge.


At this point, even without the transom framed in, the hull is fairly rigid and very strong.  I took great care to ensure that the gussets were neatly scribed to both the hull and the angle of the base plinth.  When I glued them in, I really wet the edge with liquid styrene adhesive and allowed a 10-second count so that the glue had enough time to melt the edge.   Then, when I seated the plastic with moderate finger pressure, I was guaranteed that the softened white plastic would fill whatever remaining voids my eyes could not see - even with backlighting, during the fitting process.


So, now, I will go back and feed epoxy into all of these seams.  I will epoxy-in the 1/4X20 nuts, so that I can secure the model to its plywood construction base.  And then, the real fun can begin with the framing and planking of the lower transom.



Edited by Hubac's Historian

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Hmm... that opening looks like it has at least one ship's boat inside it.  If so, there would be a walkway down each side from poop deck to the forecastle.  Depending on how many boats were carried, there could be two side by side plus spare spars down there.   And there would not have any gratings over that opening due to the size of it.

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Hi Mark, yes, I think you may be right; I don’t think they are deck beams, but perhaps they are the bench framing for the two ship’s boats, side by side.


Chris’s future pics should help clarify that.  I was wondering, Chris, when it was that you were giving your presentation.  Hopefully, someone will be recording it, and maybe you can share it.  Even if you are speaking in German, I’d love to see what you have assembled.


Bon chance!, as they say in France.

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It’s been a solid week in my dry-dock.  I decided, after all, to fir-out the stem piece, and now - short of a Battle with Bar Floor, as Popeye2Sea once funnily quipped - there should be little chance of my bow crumbling.


I also added a series of tabs 1/8”x1/8”, along the hull/base joint before glassing the whole thing over with epoxy.


So, now I could turn my attention to the fully scratch-built component of this project - the stern.


Earlier, I had created an over-wide pattern for the lateral/outboard (port to starboard) curve of the round-up, but I also needed to create an over-wide pattern for the upward-arching camber of the round-up, as round-up is a combination of these two curvatures.


For this camber pattern, I used the bottom edge of the stock kit stern plate to establish the line.


This is necessary because I will be extracting the stock stern windows from this plate and heat-bending them to conform to the lateral round-up.  I’m always looking to recycle what I can, so I suppose the stern isn’t “completely” scratch.


For my immediate needs, though, I duplicated the camber pattern and made a glueing fixture with a 1/4” separation between the two curves.


The reason for that is that I am laminating 2, 1/16” pieces of sheet styrene to form lateral framing ties that bridge the transom, and tie the whole model together.


The first of these, above the base plate, is in the position of what would be the wing transom of a traditionally framed ship.  For the sake of all SR nerds out there (like me 🤓), I will note that the Tanneron/Heller positioning of the wing transom is below the stern chase ports - as popularly became the French practice after 1672?/73; the actual first SR had a wing transom that remained above the chase ports, even after the re-build of 1689 - if the Berain stern drawing is to be interpreted as a literal document of the ship’s actual framing.


So, for this model, I set to work patterning my “wing transom” below the ports.  In order to make reasonably accurate measurements, inside the hull, I cut two strips of scrap styrene so that they were each about an inch longer than the centerline.  I cut points on one end if each strip, and then I lapped the strips and extended those points to both the outboard and inboard spans that I was trying to measure.  Once I made contact, at each end, I marked the overlap of the strips with a sharp pencil, so that I could then measure that against my ruler.  One picture would have explained all of that very succinctly, but I failed to take that picture😔


Anyway, after a fair amount of fitting, I got one lamination pretty close to the right fit (without spreading the upper span of the stern more than I wanted), and then used that first piece to mark out and cut the second lamination.  Factored into the layout of these pieces is an extra 1/32” of an inch, beyond the straight span, so that the piece will still fit snuggly after the camber is induced.


After spreading plenty of styrene adhesive, I taped the assembly into my camber jig and left it over-night.


Although I was skeptical that such a shallow curve would impart much permanence to the cured assembly - there was virtually no spring-back:


So, then, I did the final fitting (except for the stern post notch) and glued the wing transom in place.  In order to make the glue-up easier to locate, I glued in positive stops (small trapezoidal tabs) just above each joint, in order to ensure that the WT lands between the two lower main wales, on each side.



Tabs visible in pic, below;


For the stern post, I laminated four pieces of 1/16” sheet into a 1” x 2” billet.  It’s way over-size, but I wanted plenty of room to layout the vertical round-up of the lower transom and the corresponding rake of the stern post.  After easing the plate notches to accommodate the stern post billet, I was pleased to see that the assembly had remained square.


My plan for the stern post is that it will notch into and also support the wing transom from underneath, as a means of ensuring that the camber remains consistent throughout the construction process.  In the next picture, you can see how the billet notches into and over the base plate and into and under the WT:


Also pictured are the lateral blanks being made for the next  level of the stern, at the level of the stern counter.


For visual guidance, in laying out the vertical roundup, and the rake of the stern post, I referenced Lemineur’s monograph of the SP (visible on the chair):


The curve of the round-up is pretty well proscribed between the outboard edge of the WT and the planking rabbet of the base plate.  I had to re-draw the rake of the stern post several times in order to find the happy medium that looked appropriate, while helping to balance the somewhat exaggerated overhang of my stern counter:


The outboard parallel line indicates the beveling of the stern post.  The rudder, itself, will be a separate assembly, however, I am not concerned about that, at the moment.  I will be, though, when I have to pierce the counter planking, in order to accommodate the rudder head - what the French call the “Jaumiere.”


I’ll now need to profile the stern post.  I’m not sure whether the stern post also receives a slight out-board taper, but I’ll investigate that.  It may be possible for the sternpost to notch into and support the camber for the counter-spanning piece, which I have nearly completed fitting:


Here, my finger induces the camber that the gluing fixture will soon impart:


Once this second camber piece is glued in place, along with the stern post, I can frame in the vertical members that will make planking possible.


Thank you to everyone for your likes, your comments and for looking in.  Have a wonderful weekend!

Edited by Hubac's Historian

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Work continues.  I have profiled the stern post, which to the best of my knowledge, is not tapered.  The aft edge of the rudder, on the other hand, has a definite taper that increases below the waterline.


I installed the aft-most lower deck beam because the transom bulkheads would soon make this area in-accessible.  These lower decks have no camber, so the beam tops are set flush with the top edge of the pre-moulded deck ledge.  The doubled construction will give plenty of support and glue surface to the lower decks, and they continue at regularly spaced intervals.



The vertical round-up is based on one curved pattern that begins at the point of greatest height - adjacent to the stern post - and carries through to the hull sides.  As with the gussets, great care was taken to ensure good mating joints.  Spacing between transom bulkheads is 3/8”.  While I pre-beveled the bulkheads, prior to installation, I fair those bevels once the glue has set to ensure that I remain within my planking rabbet at the base and along the hull sides.


Following is a photo montage of variable quality, that will give a better sense for what this looks like:







It annoys me a little bit that the glue I paid along the joint sides isn’t neater, but it really won’t matter one bit because you will never see it.  I will also glass-in the  principal structural elements with epoxy, anyway.


After a nice visit with my father, this weekend, I brought home the remaining guns and their carriages.  Work has already begun to clean and assemble those parts.  These are the quarter, f’ocsle, and poop deck guns, which will all be super-detailed, as before.


I also brought home the lower mast sections, which will be reinforced with birch dowel.  With the main mast, I can now step its footing and establish the rake.


I also plan to make new tops of a somewhat broader diameter, so that the topmast ratlines have a more convincing spread, or slope. That’s another good small-work project for my downtime.




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The lower transom bulkheads are all in and faired.  All but two of the lower deck beams are in.  I wanted to install the lateral round-up former at the counter level, however, I realized that I should first make a pattern of the interior planking rabbet, as the vertical bulkheads would need to match this shape.


With a piece of green tape abutting the wing transom former (in the hope that I could simultaneously establish the bottom angle of the fashion pieces), I took a tracing of the planking rabbet:


With drawing curves, I established a fair line, and I also marked the inboard and outboard boundaries of the lateral formers so that I knew how deep the cantilever of these counter bulkheads needed to be.


After connecting all the dots, this is the over-tall pattern that I arrived at:


I cut close to my lines and then tested the pattern at various points along the wing transom.  On the starboard side, from which I established the pattern, agreement between the bulkhead former and the outboard profile of the fashion pieces was very nearly identical.


However, as I moved the bulkhead pattern across the wing transom to the port side, it became visually apparent that the shape of the port side fashion piece was a different, more compressed arc.  The question became just how much these two shapes differed, and what to do about it.


Doing nothing would result in an unfair and awkward run of the planking as it seated on the port side.  Creating two different patterns that converged toward the centerline did not seem like a better approach.


This difference was difficult to ascertain, concretely, by eyeballing the bulkhead pattern as I shifted it slightly inboard or outboard, relative to the fashion pieces.  It dawned on me, though, that I could make a “negative space” pattern from the bulkhead former and then offer that up directly to the fashion piece profile.

Above, on the starboard side, the match is nearly perfect.  However, on the port side, I could now clearly see the variance:

I could also, now, use my negative pattern to trace a new line over the top end of the fashion piece, just beneath where the stern counter rises:


With that sorted out, it became a simple matter of reshaping the outboard profile, in order to achieve a perfect match between starboard and port.6FB5ED16-454A-4CD7-940C-25CA927ACC82.thumb.jpeg.2cf4190bd1a1ae1899d28517761db56f.jpeg

This same principal could then be applied to the planking rabbet, in order to ensure that the rabbet was a consistent depth, all along:



This new reference line showed me exactly how much higher I now needed to set the counter former on the port side:


By this point, I was getting too tired to reliably do the actual fitting, so I left off here.  After making these adjustments, though, I should be able to glue in the counter former and use one bulkhead pattern to frame-in this space.

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The framing of the stern continues in this installment, up to the stern counter.  Initially, the process was identical to what I did below.  The key difference was that I had to space my bulkhead framing to accommodate the placement of the stern chase ports.  My initial layouts had the chase ports too close together and too close to the stern post.  Eventually, I settled on the following layout:

BTW, I have found my plywood build-board to be a great help in freeing up both hands for fitting and eventually painting.  I can clench the board between my knees, with the bow end resting on the floor, and it is quite comfortable to work.  This will be critically important when it comes to painting the stern.  The board also keeps my grubby hands off the paint 😀


The location of the ports is hash-marked in pencil on the transverse round-up formers.  I got lucky, in that I did not actively consider the fact that there are caryatid carvings, between the chase ports, whose placement must align between the 1st/2nd & 5th/6th stern windows.  Directly above these caryatid carvings are the middle balcony supporting figures of Spring and Summer; if all of these carvings do not align properly, then the finished result will destroy the harmony of Berain’s design.  Anyway, as I had only realized this, after I had glued-in all of the bulkhead formers, I am very glad that I didn’t have to cut the whole lot out and start over, again.


I thought I might be able to simplify waste-removal if I made stock for the port sills and headers that followed the transverse curve of the round-up:


I glued in the sills by eye, adjusting them for level.  I then made a 5/16 spacer block to mark the parallel location of the headers.  The resulting ports appear taller than they are wide, but this is merely an optical illusion; the openings are 5/16” square, just like the broadside ports:


Above, you can see that I used a coarse drum sanding attachment in the Dremmel to rough back the starboard side.  I don’t think I really saved myself any time, as I still needed to do quite a bit of fairing-in by hand to get the sills to follow the compound curvature of the stern counter.  Additionally, their in-board profile was not as perfectly symmetrical as I had hoped, but it won’t matter in the end.  After painting, there will still be a sense of the transom being bolstered by its internal structure.


The ports and bulkheads faired:






You may notice a partial doubling of the bulkhead formers at the top of the stern post.  This was to accommodate the cutting-in of the “jaumiere” opening for the rudder head.


The stock Heller transom plate shows the juncture of two angled, straight lines, extending out from the stern post, and intersecting with a shallow arc.


All of the best Arsenal models I have observed show a softer, almost heart-shaped opening.  This remains a work in process, but the starboard side reflects the finished shape I will match to, on the port side:




I now have a fair surface that I can plank to.  I will begin by establishing the lowest horizontal plank that nibs beneath the sills of the chase ports.  Below that, I will establish the herringbone angle of the planks for the lower transom.


Following all of that, I will create the ornamental transom wale, as well as my addition by authorial license: a flowing, carved banner (like the Provincien name banner) that is inscribed with what could be considered the motto of Louis XIV




Roughly translated, this means: not un-equal to the illumination of many [suns].

Well, while I am very happy with the process, so far, this is a long and winding road.  Sometimes I like to daydream about where all of this is going:



Maybe today, my latest title will arrive.  After struggling mightily through Uber Den Wellen, I went ahead and ordered another German language book:


Versailles Der Meere.  The author beat me to the title, so I am eager to learn what he has to say... if I can translate it.


Perhaps the author will have located a better image of my Gilded Ghost.  Oh wait a minute - that sounds as though it could be the title of an, as yet, unwritten book:


The Gilded Ghost:

A Forensic Reconstruction of Laurent Hubac’s Soleil Royal, 1670


©️by Marc LaGuardia


Now the title’s mine 😉

Edited by Hubac's Historian

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Oh, interesting.  I had so many problems with this post, this morning.  Initially, it seemed to want to embed a video file, when I hadn’t even uploaded a video.


so I copied and pasted the text into a word doc, and cleared the editor.  When I pasted back into MSW, the pictures showed up again (at least on my screen), and I was able to save the post.


When I get home, in a while, I do just a picture post for anyone else having similar issues.  I love this forum, but the site is awfully wonky at times.


Thanks for letting me know, guys!

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Truly incredible. It is a rare thing to see this much framing work done on a plastic build as usually (and I or one am guilty of it) the builder simply slaps the two hull halves together and closes the seams with putty as needed. The customization work takes place with the guns, deck furniture and rigging. The hull is accepted as is and other than the paint job, there is nothing unique about it. What you are doing in changing the entire structure of a molded plastic hull is such a rarity that it is a unique joy to watch as well as inspiring. 


If you ever get around to publishing that book or even if you simply compile your notes and images from this log and wish to sell them, let me know as that would be something worth buying.

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Druxey and EJ - thank you very much!


I suppose that if I hadn’t cut away the lower hull, there wouldn’t be as much necessity for custom framing.  On the other hand, representing the closed-in, “false” lower stern balcony, as well as the stern round-up kind of necessitated it.  In any case, I am having fun playing with the boundaries of what can be done with a plastic kit.  I view this model as a great introduction to scratch-building. There have been numerous opportunities to develop new skills.


At some point, I do plan to start printing out the build-log.  There are specific blocks of research that would help make up the substance of my proposed book.  Whenever I do get around to printing it, I’ll make you a copy, as long as you cover the costs for paper and postage.  It is gratifying to me that you have found this information to be of use.


The Gilded Ghost, on the other hand, would have very little to do with this model that I am making now.  It would be a conjectural monograph that attempts to resurrect the early bones of Soleil Royal on the basis of her known dimensions, and what is understood about her better documented contemporaries - particularly Brest-built ships by Laurent Hubac.


My operating theory is that early SR looked very similar, structurally, to the Monarque and the Royal Louis, but that the stern allegory would have largely resembled Berain’s designs, while the bulwark friezes would have been more specific to the profusion of heraldic ornament that is seen so clearly on the Monarque and the latter Dauphin Royal drawing.


In my mind’s eye, what all of that would actually look like becomes clearer, by the day.  Several people have already produced credible hull forms for first-rates, of this period.  I would never be able to definitively say that this is what she looked like, but I believe I could make a plausible argument for my case.


Anyway, locating that portrait would go a long way towards propelling that project forward.


As always, thank you to everyone for your likes, comments and looking in!

Edited by Hubac's Historian

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Hi Marc - 


Excellent work as always.

Sorry, a book title is generally not subject to copyright.

Put me down for one of the first copies.




PS - I posted this yesterday when you were having photo problems.

       Hope it goes through this time.

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Dan, you will be first with a complementary copy - signed first edition!


Mike - thank you for the kind words.  Personally, though, I would hesitate to place my project in the realm of any of the MSW superstars (Amalio, Mark Tiedens, Druxey, Chuck, Kudin, among many others); their research is much better grounded in historic fact, while much of what I’m doing is merely an educated guess.  I certainly appreciate the compliment, though.

Edited by Hubac's Historian

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Be glad to cover those costs. The research you have been doing will help out in vast ways not only S.R. builders but any ship model of the period. PM me if when it happens. In the meanwhile, I will continue to sit here learning and enjoying the show! :) 

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