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HM Cutter Cheerful 1806 by Blue Ensign - FINISHED - 1:48 scale

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HM Cutter Cheerful 1806- 1816

This is my new project following completion of the Pinnace and Long-boat kits.

I have had this offering from Chuck's Syren stable, including the wood set, gathering dust beneath my workbench since 2016, and I have been collecting all the subsequent add-ons, and fittings as they have been issued.

So I now have all the makings  to hopefully do justice to the fine materials, fittings, and the beautiful plans produced by Chuck.

A period now to organise the build, assimilate the instructions and read thro' logs of those who have gone before.


A couple of holding pics of my last foray into cutter building some 30 years ago, a bashed version of the Mamoli kit at 1:72 scale.





Still on display in my Dining room, uncased, but fairly easy to periodically clean, she remains one of my favourites.






ps: I did show Mrs W the actual plans of Cheerful and pointed out the actual, not insubstantial size of the beast.;  Fazed she was not in the least; what can possibly go wrong with her on-side .;)

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Congrats to your new project B.E.


wish you alltimes good success after start with this cutter model and a pleasant keellaying - session soon.....




Current builds

Steamship Ergenstrasse


"Mississippi Lady"  sternwheel steamer 1:30 kit build fun boat as Xmas present

"Zeesboot"  heritage wooden fishing small craft around 1870, POB  clinker scratch build scale 1:24

Pilot Schooner # 5 ELBE

Chebec "Eagle of Algier" 1753--scale 1:48-POB-(scratchbuild) 

"SS Kaiser Wilhelm der Grosse" four stacker passenger liner of 1897, 1:144 (scratchbuild)
"HMS Pegasus" , 16 gun sloop, Swan-Class 1776-1777 scale 1:64 from Amati plan  (scratch build)Pilot schooner #5 Elbe

"Pamir" 4-mast barque, P-liner, 1:96  (scratchbuild)

"Gorch Fock 2" German Navy cadet training 3-mast barque, 1:95 (scratchbuild) 

"Heinrich Kayser" heritage Merchant Steamship, 1:96 (scratchbuild) 

"Bohuslän" , heritage ,live Swedish museum passenger steamer (Billings kit), 1:50 

"Lorbas", river tug, steam driven for RC, fictive design (scratchbuild), scale appr. 1:32

under restoration / restoration finished 

"Hjejlen" steam paddlewheeler, 1861, Billings Boats rare old kit, scale 1:50

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I'll be following along B.E. I just started mine two weeks ago.


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Another soon to be masterpiece! 


Shipwrights of Central Ohio


Current Build: ...

Completed Builds: Queen Anne Barge - SyrenPinnace - MSHalifax 1768 - LSSMurrelet - PygmySwift 1805 - AL 

Future Builds: Surly (because i'm definitely not so Cheerful), Echo cross-section.....


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  • 2 weeks later...

Cheers Guys :)

Well a week or so has passed and nothing really to show, but I have been busy reading logs  and I feel grateful for three fine builds by Rustyj, rafine (Bob) and Stuntflyer (Mike) in addition to Chuck's own initial build, to refer to.

If I come anywhere close to those examples I will be a happy man.


As an aside I have treated myself to a couple of Proxxon goodies to add to my collection.

A Thicknesser/sander, (DH40) and a Surface Planer (AH80) plus some spares, and mill bits.


As with previous purchases I obtained the machines from Germany.


 .....and saved myself £118.00 over the UK supply price.


I always feel a certain trepidation whenever I start a new build, and I tend to spend a fair bit of time fiddling with the first stage bits before I get the pva out.



Looking at the two false keel halves, they don't seem to join square at both top and bottom. Maybe the tongue of the Jigsaw join is a tad long.



The second task will be to glue a Rabbet strip (⅛" x1/16")- 3.2mm x 1.59mm along the stem, bottom and up the stern of the false keel.

This strip doesn't seem to have been provided in the Crown Timber package  but they do supply a 1/16"" thick sheet of boxwood which would require a ⅛" strip cutting off.



Fortunately I do have some 3.4mm square Boxwood strip and this provides me with a perfect opportunity to bring my new Thicknesser machine into use.



It  brought the  30" length of 3.4mm boxwood strip down to 1.59mm consistently along its length. Being new to this machine  I took  quite a few light passes to familiarise myself, but I think it will be a very useful addition.


A question to those who may have this machine, when feeding narrow strip thro' is it normal for it to move across the planing table without maintaining a straight line? it doesn't seem to affect the cut but is a bit disconcerting to a new user.






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I’m sure you’ll have a really enjoyable time with this build. There do not seem to be any quirks to be worked around in it’s design or concessions due to production constraints. Chuck always uses original source materials for his research so it’s accurate.  A bonus you have the designers brain to pick, so there will never be a what the devil was he thinking moment. I’ve been fortunate to see Chuck’s model and it is beautiful. So I’m sure you will create another masterpiece. Now get to work! !



Member: Ship Model Society of New Jersey

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Cheers Kurt, I've got to work;)

So the build begins

The two keel halves are glued together and the Bearding line marked on the Starboard side to match the Portside.

The Rabbet strip is now ready for fixing.



I used the False keel fret cut out to make a former to shape the rabbet around the bow shape.



Using the wet/heat method I pre-bent the strip to take the stress out when gluing.



Because the strip has to be centred along the keel not having to fight it or apply too much pressure is a great bonus.



Only light clamping is required.



The stern rabbet strip is then added.



and finally the bearding line taper sanded in.




I can now move onto the Boxwood stem and Keel.



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Great start to what will be another excellent build to follow, B.E. I’ve pulled up a chair and popped some beer in the fridge.

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Hi BE -- Great to see you at it again.  Congratulations on your new Proxxons (see me GREEN).  I've never used a planing machine, though have yearned for one at both the modelling level (we have Jim Byrnes over on this side o' the pond) and at the full scale.  My guess about the lateral movement of the strip is that it's due to the narrowness of the stock, ie as a strip, since the expectation for planers generally is that you'd start off with wide stock, plane it to thickness, then rip it to width.  Just a guess, though.


And congratulations on winning the support of Mrs W -- always a boon.  ;)





Current Build:  HMS FLY 1776


Previous Builds:  Rattlesnake 1781

                        Prince de Neufchatel

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Post 4

Attending to the stem

 I am grateful to Chuck for the laser cut parts that make up the stem and keel, saves a lot of time faffing around with the scroll saw; nice Boxwood and need for very little fettlin', the most time consuming part is removing the quite heavy char on the pieces.

I did this mostly by scraping with a sharp blade.

I followed Chuck's  example of filling the treenail holes rather than use dowel pegs.





They are very small, he suggests a #76 drill equivalent to 0.508mm Ø I used a 0.6mm Ø drill.



Once I was satisfied with the fit the two stem pieces were  glued together.



and then to the Rabbet strip on the false keel.



All went together very nicely.



The two keel pieces were then added.



Impressed by the fit of the stern post and rudder, although these will be put aside for much later in the build.



There seems to be a slight kink in the forward section of the keel, I hope this doesn't prove to be troublesome, the false keel looks true sighting along from stem to stern.


To complete this part of the build, a light sanding and sealing with wipe-on-poly.






Chuck makes reference to the use of Minwax wipe-on Poly to seal the Boxwood finish of the stem pieces once they have been fitted.

For those in the UK Minwax products are horrendously expensive (£36) for what is essentially a thinned down oil based Polyurethane Varnish.

Normal oil based Poly is readily available in the UK. Thin it down 50/50 with White spirit to make your own wipe-on.

I used Blackfriars satin poly - 250ml cost me £8 effectively 500ml once diluted.

There is loads of stuff on making your own w-o-p on the internet.



Finally as with Pegasus I obtained the Admiralty plan for Cheerful and Surly which now sits above my workbench as additional inspiration.


Next up fiddlin' with my Bulkheads.






Edited by Blue Ensign
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Nice work, BE, and the kit really looks to be made of top-grade material.  What a concept -- producing a kit that doesn't require the builder to replace virtually everything.


I do admire your habit of framing the NMM plans.  I have the plans of Fly merely (and profanely) taped to the wall next to my workbench.  They are very handsome prints, and definitely deserve framing.


By the way, did the draughtsman of the Cheerful plans sign his name?





Edited by Martin W

Current Build:  HMS FLY 1776


Previous Builds:  Rattlesnake 1781

                        Prince de Neufchatel

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Thanks Martin, I can't make out  the signature on the plan but this is what I know.


Cheerful (and Surly) were designed by Sir John Henslow, Surveyor of the Navy, who had served as a young man as draughtsman to Sir Thomas Slade; The Cheerful Class were the last of a varied class of ship designs produced before he retired in 1806.

The plans were produced in The Navy Office 16/4/1806, approved by the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty 17/4/1806 and a copy of the draught sent to the Merchant Builders James and Joseph Johnson, Dover 30/5/1806.

The keel was laid in June of that year, the vessel launched in November, and commissioned in January 1807.

She was sold  on 31 July 1816 after 9 years service.

Surly her sister ship was commissioned at the same time but had a much longer and more exciting early career, finally sold in 1837 after some 30 years.


The moral of this tale if anything, is, if longevity is your goal, it's better to be surly than cheerful. ;)


Happy Christmas to you and Mrs W. :)





Edited by Blue Ensign
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Thanks BE.  And the same to you and yours.


Always a treat to see William -- I heard about the snow hitting England -- a bit of a rarity?





Current Build:  HMS FLY 1776


Previous Builds:  Rattlesnake 1781

                        Prince de Neufchatel

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Thanks Martin, been 2013 since we had  any significant snow in my small area of England, an area that would no doubt slip into a corner of Oklahoma and not be noticed for weeks. Great for taking seasonal pictures of William, but it's all gone now.

Been busy in the shipyard this morning making an additional support cradle for the Cutter.



Haven't used it for months but the Band saw came into its own today, I so love these bijou Proxxon  machines.



Set the supports for bulkheads H and 8.



Rough and basic from a bit of scrap 9mm mdf, but it will serve the purpose.


Winding operations down now for the Christmas break.



Not before time for some of the Dockyard  workers.;)







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Gotta love Proxxon!  Their tools work seriously, and they fit in a small space.


Nice progress on the bulkheads -- they look good and square.


And Hooray for William!  There's nothing like having a dog to help out with the technical details.


Happy holidays to you, BE, and to Mrs W of the Shires, and to WW himself.





Current Build:  HMS FLY 1776


Previous Builds:  Rattlesnake 1781

                        Prince de Neufchatel

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A good cradle is nice to work with.  Any reason you used the band saw instead of the scroll saw?  


Shipwrights of Central Ohio


Current Build: ...

Completed Builds: Queen Anne Barge - SyrenPinnace - MSHalifax 1768 - LSSMurrelet - PygmySwift 1805 - AL 

Future Builds: Surly (because i'm definitely not so Cheerful), Echo cross-section.....


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.....and necessary I think Michael to support the hull whilst working. I will end up with three different supports, the one above, one that holds the keel, stem, and stern in a fixed position, and a third that supports the hull inverted.

I used the Band saw because the material was quite thick at 9mm but the curves were relatively gentle which the Band saw could handle. I also find that the more rigid blade allows me to cut straight lines freehand better than the scroll saw.

The downside is that the Band saw is quite noisy compare to the scroll saw.



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Hi B.E.


I missed the start mate, hope there's room to fit a little fat man in.


You've made a great start and that Stem looks the business.


You gotta love Proxxen, all my model power tools are Proxxen, they do have their limitations though, if I had had more knowledge when I got them I think I would have been a bit more discerning, still hindsight and all that.


Have a good Xmas and New Year mate.


Be Good




All mistakes are deliberate ( me )

Current Build:- HMS Schooner Pickle


Completed Builds :-   Panart 1/16 Armed Launch / Pinnace ( Completed ),  Granado Cross Section 1/48

Harwich Bawley, Restoration,  Thames Barge Edme, Repair / Restoration,  Will Everard 1/67 Billings 

HMS Agamemnon 1781 - 1/64 Caldercraft KitHM Brig Badger,  HM Bomb Vessel Granado,
Thames Steam Launch Louise,  Thames Barge Edme,  Viking Dragon Boat

Next Build :-  

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Post 5


Nice to have these heavy cleanly cut bulkheads provided for me, I particularly like the scored reference lines for the ports and wales.

All the Bulkheads slipped easily onto the false keel.




At this point I made a simple support board to keep the keel upright whilst I fitted the bulkheads.

Bulkheads not glued at this stage.




Get my first real impression of what a chunky little vessel she will be, lovin' it already.

The b/h's should have the scored reference lines for the ports and wale facing either forward or aft depending on whether they are designated by letters or numbers. Forward for numbers, aft for letters.

Chuck has confirmed to me that b/h ⊕ can be placed either way around.



Starting with b/h ⊕ I work fore and aft to glue them into place, checking for square and level as I go.





I use a high quality pva for this purpose, which has a 5 minute grab, sufficient working time, but short enough to hold quickly once positioned.

With the bulkheads fixed it remains to fix the Bow and Port fillers.



So far so good, then........

When it came to the Port fillers I hit a problem.

The fillers run between the external edges of bulkheads J and M., leaving just a wedge of the shorter bulkhead L  protruding, which will be faired away.


On the starboard side of my cutter they fit perfectly, as above.


...but on the Portside seem a tad short.

Hhmm have I got either Bulkheads J or M slightly out of square, I spent so much time squaring them up, or has a bit of warp crept into the bulkhead.

Annoying and barely a mm but sufficient to need a filler to make up the difference.

Rather than try to get the bulkheads off again and perhaps end up with more trouble I added a sliver of Boxwood to the aft end of the filler pieces.



To bring the filler sets up to the level of the Bulkhead extensions I split a spare filler piece and used one thickness of ply.



Onto the far more testy business of fairing next.



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Looks like those parts are super nice and fit really well together.  Now comes the fairing with the char...


Shipwrights of Central Ohio


Current Build: ...

Completed Builds: Queen Anne Barge - SyrenPinnace - MSHalifax 1768 - LSSMurrelet - PygmySwift 1805 - AL 

Future Builds: Surly (because i'm definitely not so Cheerful), Echo cross-section.....


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It's looking all nice and square, it will be another one of your masterpieces, Merry Christmas to you and yours.

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BE, What is the number of the Admiralty plan for the Surly/Cheerful? I'd love to get one. I can find there listings for the Surly/Cheerful at the NMM site and none is the one you have. They have a inboard profile, outboard expansion and deck plan. Is it possible it was discontinued?



Member: Ship Model Society of New Jersey

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