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Greek Warship Bireme by moreplovac - FINISHED - Amati - Scale 1/35

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Well, it has been a while when i did my first wooden ship model. Few decades ago, while back in elementary school, i joined, at that time known as a "wooden ship model club". Basically a bunch of kids with a passion for ship modeling will gather together after school in the classroom dedicated to the club and start working on ship models. Those were scratch build attempts, more-less successful. The ship models that would survive all kids adventures will be presented at the "school day", kind of celebration of the school end at what time teachers and students will present their achievements during long 10 months of school days, studying and getting decent grades... Anyhow being eager to get into ship modeling, i joined the "club" and started to scratch build my first ship. It was very interesting back in those days until one bad Monday. After spending weekend working on frames for my ship, i was all pumped up to show my work to teacher and other club members. Unfortunately on the way to the school a met with local bullies who demanded, beside other things to see what i have in the backpack. Off course, being me, i did not want them to touch any of my weekend hard work so we ended up in exchanging "arguments". At some point in time, i dropped my backpack to have a bit of a better movement capabilities... I happened to defend myself and victoriously grabbed my backpack just to hear a lots of clunking noise.. Opened up the backpack and saw all my weekend hard work broken in peaces.. Darn.. Disappointed with results of argument exchanging (not disappointing with results of argument exchange) but with the broken peaces i decided not to show up on the club anymore.. Today i don't know why..

Anyhow, here i am again with another attempt. Since there is no more bullies i hope to get better success.

I did not start the build log at the beginning of my Greek Bireme journey (apologies for that); was to eager to get back to work bench so first few log pages will be just to get us all at the stage where i am now. Unfortunately there will be no much room for improvement since i am half way thru building the model. 

I have not worked on models for quite some time; this will be my first attempt in several years but since i already noticed lots of mistakes i decided to buy another kit of the same ship. All lessons learned building this kit will be applied to the second..


So, lets begin....


The kit is from Amati, scale 1/35, called Greek Warship BiremeFile_000.thumb.jpeg.270ea12c95ee180f28893f788ba02926.jpeg

Content of the box is not too "crowded", instructions, small peaces, ropes, planking material...



Instructions are not the strongest feature of this kit; they are written on three languages. Two big peaces of instructions my workspace wall will not be able to handle both at the same time.. So need to get a bigger workshop :-)




The laser cut process is very precise and leaves not to much residue to be removed after you cut off all peaces...


 The important part is to mark all peaces before you remove them so you will know which frame goes where...




All marked and removed for further assembly...


Being very keen to get my hands dirty (with glue) i started to dry fit all parts..






All parts fits fairly good but still a lots of movement (no snug fit) so i think i might have a bit of a challenges in the future...


I am planing to do a catch up work this week by posting few more past pictures so i can actually start with real build log as soon as possible.


Thanks for watching...






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I decided to take "back to the future" approach by posting pictures of the existing stage of the ship and continue with build log that will, eventually ended up in the present time.. Weird but it should work..


I have done some planking for the lower deck (not sure what would be the correct term used during Greek period) and for the area where the oars will be located. Need to put oarsmen sits in before going with main deck planking..










There are some small holes in the bow area that i am hoping to fill out with glue and sand dust. We'll see how that goes...

But i also planing to build a "ram" following some historical pictures which, hopefully, will cover most of these small imperfections..





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So i started to glue frames, finally. Makign sure that frames are installed with corect angle, i improvised with some old mounting gear for a Ikea curtains. They are working OK but i think for future build, i am going to "borrow" few Lego blocks from my son' huge collection... Hopefully he will not noticed (i doubt it already) :-)




It looked straight at the first glance but the second frame was a bit higher that the others. I corrected that with a help of acetone and "jolly good pull". 




Here is from another angle and before second frame was corrected. 


I was wondering how would planking be held at the stern and decided to put few peaces of balsa and shape it to the correct curvature..



This would be enough juice i think..




Well, did not turn bad after all...



This is the phase when i started to do a bit of a planking. Must say that ... i forgot a lot when it comes to planking and thanks for useful documents on this forum, i made a first few rows of lower deck planking... 


Then i got mental strength to start planking the hull..




You might noticed few filler blocks i had to install to make the hull curve in proper shape. Some of the frames are just not big enough. There were also possibilities that i have not installed frames in the correct order so i double checked that and i was actually installed them correctly. Woohoo..


As i mentioned before, the instructions are not very good; in one case this is not that bad at all, since this will leave enough space for modeler's own personal touch..


At the end of the day i think it was not that bad.... I could not resist so i had to test my sand skills... Well for now, looks ok...



To be continued...






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Looking good, how long will it be?

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There are quite a few galley (bireme, trireme) build logs here and in the scratch build section which might be of use to you as you make your model - sometimes when you encounter a problem,  someone else has already solved it in their own build. I'm pretty sure there's at least one Amati bireme amongst them.


55cm - that's a respectable size.


Good luck with it!



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At this stage i am on hull planking, still trying to understand what technique those ancient Greeks were used to make a hull plank in one peace, stretching the whole length of the ship.. Kidding of course, but have a tough to make planking a bit more realistic i might find some options to "virtually" break the length of each individual plank. Will see.




A bit more planking..


and more planking with some extra blocks on the frames to make a curve of the curve a bit more properly curved...


Hmm it does not look that bad after all..







Lower deck planking is on its way... Must not forget to make a hole for a mast, at fifth frame. 




I was not paying attention to deck planking ending up with visible space between two last planks. I think at that time i was pushing myself for some reason to complete just two more planks. As someone would say... lesson learned, this is still a hobby not a full time job (unfortunately). This would require a bit more research what is the best method to cover these unwanted spaces.




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I was wondering how the other Bireme builders were doing the bow planking, since on kit plans there are not quite visible patterns to follow, well, at least not for one, at this moment inexperienced modeler... So i had made executive decision to do it this way. Must admit, i changed it a bit later in the build process..




Continue with lower deck planking tasks..






So, i am at this stage now.


This concludes my catch-up log and from now on i hope to have a real, live build log so we can all exchange comments, constructive criticism, experience, maybe even lucky lotto numbers... :-).


Thanks for following.







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You have definitely caught my eye on this one, I'll be watching for more. Sorry no lucky lotto number ;)

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Today i have done a bit of a planking on the stern area. Was trying to come up with a plan how to do planking that might be as close as possible for planking job done during Greek era.. Planking plan that comes with the kit is not quite meaningful (or maybe i dont read it properly) so i tried to twist a plank to follow the shape of the stern. I had two planks designated for this job, had them in the water for two days to soak enough to make it possible to twist. Tried and did not work. So, bellow is planking decision...



The opposite side of the stern done in the same manner.



Here how it looks from the top..



This brings me to the next topic i need some advice: how can i properly (or acceptable) fill the spaces between planks?

I know i can use some watered while glue and sanding dust but the challenge i have is how to collect enough sanding dust to fill all holes? If i use 400 sanding paper most of the dust is not easy collectible. How you guys dealing with this issue?

And second question is when i put finishing coat (mineral oil, or similar), would this watered-glue-dust combo be to visible to drag attention to itself?



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Ragove, thanks for your comment; i will try it.


Today i started to work on oarsman' seats.. Made a copy of plan so i can cut the seats shape and transfer it to the wood. I cut the individual seats, use scotch tape to glue them to the wood and cut individual seats..




Had no other ideas how to cut the groove besides using the saw. Its working fine but slow.


During the process of reading plans, i overlooked and installed extra plank in lower deck area, where the seats supposed to be located. Below photo shows two planks where the seats are and three planks on the opposite side. Once i finish with remaining 9 seats, need to remove plank and cut, and install another 11 seats..




I dont like these dark brown remains of laser cut on exposed frame parts; instead of sanding them i am contemplating of covering them with veneer strips..


Will see.


Hardly waiting to start sanding the hull to see if the hull will get nice, smooth finish.. Running out of dark wood hull planks, i think i will be OK without reaching out to another pile.


Thanks for following.










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Well, no much to report today. Keep making oarsmen' seats...



Uh, now i have to deal with those yellow glue extras, leftovers from gluing hull planks. Those might not be that visible but i will know where to find them, so ...





5 more seats, to be trimmed and installed.


During dry-fit, i noticed that 11th seat is a bit short and need to be extended for about 3mm.. I was expected if i cut the template from the plan, the final product should fit OK, but..






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Today i completed the second row of oarsmen benches. I found out that if you follow the plan to the letter, you might ended up with benches that do not fit well..



Then i started to work on main deck. Dry-fitting of main deck planks shows that a bit of a extra work has to be done. Basically few frames are lower than the others so i needed to add some blocks that will raise the height a bit.






This should be bringing the planks into nice, flat position once installed. Haven't started actual planking, this will be done tomorrow.


Woohoo, long weekend here i come..


Happy modeling.




File_002 (2).jpeg

Edited by moreplovac
Inserted duplicate picture
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Yesterday i was busy sanding the hull in preparation for a first coat of "something". Have not decided on what that "something" will be; most likely it will be a wood satin finish, clear coat, waterborne or maybe some tung oil or linseed oil. Most likely will use few planks for testing before committing..


Several layers of sanding were completed, started with 50, then 100, 200, 400, 600...





After that, i put some masking tape on the hull, just to protect it from dings and dents that can definitely happen during construction process. 


Kit plan does not have any parts that will be used to tight the mast, once installed; i have decided to put a bit of a reinforcement (and to cover some holes) where the mast will be installed. It is a small peace of extra planking, with a 6mm hole. Using my trusty bench drill press i made a hole in that small peace of wood. Miniature parts, fat fingers.... welcome to the world of ship modeling. 


On the main deck i will put a small, bolt shaped peace of wood, that will cover imperfections on the main deck where the mast will be installed. Again, i did not see part like this on the plan but there are some other builders using this method to improve appearance of the model. 






The next step will be to put some wood finish on the interior part of the ship, before covering the ship with main deck...









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Today i decided to cover the hull with danish oil. It was close battle between danish oil and tung oil. Both would provide similar results, at least in my mind and at this moment i am ok with results. Yes, there are some imperfections showing up with this decision but i think i might be able to live with it. 



I forgot to prepare the location to hang the ship for drying so after i finishing with danish oil coat, i carry the ship with me through my "workshop" to find out a peace of wire, strong enough to hold the ship. Was lucky enough to quickly locate a wire and here we are, hanging the mighty Greek ship..



Here is the bow, it is not quite pretty but here i am planing to install a mighty ram that should cover the majority of that unfinished bow. 


While the ship is on dry-hanging dock, i was starting to think about oars. I dont particularly like oar' layout included in the plan; it is not quite realistic so i started to think about getting my own layout for oars. Did i bit of a research and come up with a layout i think would be a bit more realistic than the one included in the plan.


I traced the oar layout to the paper in preparation to make 46 copies of it, print it out, cut the paper, transfer it on Starbucks coffee sticks and make the oars. The only challenge i have is to keep picture's ratio 1:1 so i can actually have correct and usable layout. Will use good old method, test and try..


The finished oar you see on the picture is a prototype to see how well the spoon will fit to the handle. I am satisfied with results and will continue making the oars tomorrow and few more days since each individual blade has to be made and carved from a peace of Starbucks stick, and there are plenty of blades to make.




More progress to come...





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Today it was a blade day. 44 oar blades to make, all out of the coffee sticks. I was not quite sure how to accomplish that, had different ideas how to use blade template (to make one out of the steel, or some hardwood), transfer shape on the peace of plastic but ended up just using my prototype and trace it on the fresh peace of wood (from coffee steerer)..


So here is process and results. Made 36 blades, 8 more to go.. According to the plan, here how oars should look like. I have spent some time on the Mediterranean sea (25+ years in scuba diving) and have pretty good idea how oar blade should be shaped. This oar from the plan appears to be quite inefficient to power the mighty warship, regardless to the number of oarsmen. 


Here is my second attempt to make a template to use on coffee sticks. It had a good shape but turned out to be very painful to hold it to the peace of wood without it moving around.




At the end of the day (well not quite) i ended up using my prototype oar as a template, trace the shape with a pencil, and cut with scalpel and shape it with sanding paper/sticks.




So far, 36 done...


.. 8 more to go, well lets count on 12 or more. There are always few of them that are not quite as expected.

Blades have to be sanded into final shape but that would require very little work and will be done once mounted on the oar handle.



Back in the shop tomorrow. Looking forward for a bad, cold weather for more build time..




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Today it is oar's day. All about oars. 

Completed rest of the oar blades, i think 8 of them so total of 44.


Then i attacked the oar pols; cut them all and get them ready for handle shaping. 


Here is the process i used to shape the handle. After cutting them all, i used Proxxon DB-250 mini lathe to shape the handle.

Pole length is marked and positioned in the lathe..



In order to shape all handles to the same diameter, i come up with a small tool; two coffee sticks with a 150 sanding paper glued to two sides; i put a small leftover plank which is perfectly sized to 1mm. It will act as a guard to prevent handles to get to tiny and eventually break during the process. The other sides of the sticks were glued together, forming some kind of sanding tweezers..


 All sending setup...


Turning the lathe at the speed 4, managed to shape about 20 oar pols for about 40 minutes. Not that bad..


The end result for today looks like this.

And yes. This picture was taken before finishing up all 20 pols..


If time permits, will continue tomorrow..


Happy modeling all.




File_001 (1).jpeg

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Today i was working on oars, putting them all together..


Cutting the grove for a paddle is a bit of a challenge for fat fingers dude like me, but managed to have it done somehow..





Paddle installed..



A little bit of a squeeze with tweezers to make sure the bond is tight..


In the process...


and end result for today:


Now, oars have to be shaped a bit, sanded and cover with danish oil or similar.


Thanks for following..





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Great work you do! Thanks a lot for sharing. I read the hole article in one big step and be very enthisiastic so I step in and write a bit.

Some weeks ago I read in libary an article about your thema “accidentaly“ by leaving through some books and magazines:

I figured out that it often if the oaes were too long and heavy  to handel them easy - the simple solution was that counterwhights were added. In the Berlin German Technical Museum they have got the Templar Galley. showing this as eesult of a compleat reseach work about this task. It was reserched and built by the recently died Wolfram zu Mondfeld (known from is book about modelship, building). His model used hanging Pb-weights - but painting your bigger ends in mattish grey may also bring in the same effect - showing a countrewheigt keeping the heavy hole oare in balance.


Due to your ram - you mustn't forget that this was ONE pice of solid bronze cast. (Those that were found, by archeligicans and divers.) So you may build it from balsa, filler and than you paint it with glue, stick it into chinchilla sand (from the petshop) to imitate the cast's mouldingsand  and than you ando canspray the hole block in bronze acrylic. That's what is in my mind remembered about acient ship building.

Hoping my interruption of your thread isn't too boring.

Edited by Heinrich der Seefahrer
adding that Wolfram zu Mondfeld died

"Let's add every day 1/2 hour of

modelship building to our

projects' progress..."



Take care!

Christian Heinrich


simple, true and inpretentious motto of ROYAL LOUIS, 1668

Sunking's mediter. flagship most decorated ocean-going ship 


Ships on build:


1st rang French 90-gun ship - Lavente flagship (based on Heller SR - 1/92 & scratch in 1/64) 

TONNANT, 1693: 

1st rang French 90-gun ship - sister of SAINT PHILIPPE (mock-up/test-object for S.P. - scratch in 1/64) 


Projects in planing:

L'AURORE, 1766:

French Pleasure Corvette (after Ancre plans - scatch in 1/64)

Some Spantaneous Short Term Projects


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2 hours ago, Heinrich der Seefahrer said:

if the oaes were too long and heavy  to handel them easy - the simple solution was that counterwhights were added.


In the ancient world the counterweigt was thicker wood (inboard) between the loom and the handle.

Used on long oars pulled by a single oarsman. This was not used when the oars were pulled by 2 or more oarsmen.

Likely the oars with 2 or more oarsmen had no counterweight...or the lead counterweight.

The Amati bireme is a bit of a problem. On the box it says "Greek bireme 480BC", but it's clearly a later type of bireme.

Probably not in use before 300BC...certainly not in use at the time of the battle of Salamis.

This type of ship might have 2 or 3 oarsmen per oar, but I'm not sure about that.

Edited by Robin Lous

WIP: No ships atm...sorry!🙄

Completed: Greek bireme - Dusek - scale 1:72

 Louie da fly: "I think it requires a special kind of insanity to choose a galley to build a model of."

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Hi Heinrich, thanks for following and very useful comment. I will try to get more info about exhibition in Berlin German Technical Museum, not sure if they have more details available on their web site. Worst case scenario i will ask one of my work colleagues to spend some quality time in museus and provide me with some more details, pictures...

Thanks for sharing your ideas for a ram. I was also contemplating how to get it done and one of the options was exactly what you have suggested. The second one was in the line with Robin's exceptional work. Work on ram will be done in maybe month or two, depending on time available from my day-to-day work. I must admit that when i work on ship model i simply disconnect myself from the real world. This gives me a bit of buster energy to deal with Internet security in my daily tasks....

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Hi Robin, you are right, i also think Amati's Greek Bireme 480 B.C. is a little bit out of the historical facts. Not sure why. When i was starting to work on oars, i noticed that if i follow the shape of an oar suggested in the plan, the oars will look a bit unrealistic for anyone. And if you have spent some time on any seacoast, especially at the Greek coast, there is really no historical (and practical) evidence that oars from plan's shape existed anywhere. I am guessing my next Greek type build will be from the same source as yours.

On the oar topic, are you maybe able to share that oar plan you have in your post with a bit higher resolution?

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Sadly I don't have a higher resolution image of the oar plan, but....the lenght of the oars are 9 and 9,5 cubits. A cubit is 45,72cm.

What I read about the testing of oars for the Olympias reproduction trieres...9,5 cubits is about the maximum practical lenght one oarsman can handle (with the wooden counterweight). Also note...they changed the shape of the blades to the teardrop shape you have, because they perform better on a calm sea.

The staight blades are more suitable on a rougher sea, but need strong and highly trained oarsmen to perform well with. The Olympias trials were done with volunteers.


I think your oars look wonderful and I wouldn't change them! :)

WIP: No ships atm...sorry!🙄

Completed: Greek bireme - Dusek - scale 1:72

 Louie da fly: "I think it requires a special kind of insanity to choose a galley to build a model of."

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