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H.M.S. Sophie by JerseyCity Frankie – brig from Patrick O’Brian’s Master and Commander. Shadow Box - Finished


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I finished this model four years ago and I have had some trouble finding the photo documentation since I had a computer die on me and files were all over. Likely I will add more as I find them.

This is a scratch built solid basswood hull model of a fictional ship based on the actual brig H.M.S. Speedy made famous by Lord Cochrane and fictionalized by Patrick O’Brian. Drawings were found on the web and the novel itself gives a great deal of useful information including measurements.

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Edited by JerseyCity Frankie
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Details. and sub assemblies. I tend to build all the details ahead of time and attach them as the build progresses and they are needed. Others point out the logic of building them as needed, since there may be unforeseen factors that require alteration when the time comes to install them. At the top of the photo is a strip of “hammocks” which is glue stiffened tissue paper formed into ridges with a razor blade on a piece of glass from which these strips are cut when dry and painted. Not obvious is a blond colored object at the bottom center of the photo, this is a rope coil made on a jig.

Edited by JerseyCity Frankie
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I'm a big believer in planking your own boats over a wooden form. Its not that difficult. I had gone through the process of whittling solid wooden boats. I was dissatisfied with the "covered with a tarp" school of thought and gouging out the interior was difficult when the boat is this small. I tried the "squash" method with heated plastic. I tried the lift method. If your making a wooden boat of the correct shape anyway, why not plank over it? Then discard the wood form. With actual planks you get something more in scale in terms of hull thickness AND you get authentic clinker built texture. The planks in this photo are just thin strips of printer paper cut straight with no spauling. I have saran wrap over the form as a resist and white glue on the edge of each plank. Like an actual boat these paper boats are light and strong. Some of the other boats get a transome.

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Sophie deck. My favorite ship model photo. You can see the scribed deck in this shot. The black football shaped objects are the smallest seeds I could find. I hope they never get wet and start to sprout one day since they are all over the rigs of a lot of my ship models! Donald Mcnarry describes using "Lobelia" seeds on his miniatures but I have never had any luck finding them. The cannons have a very slight blue color drybrushed onto them. I was watching a film and the cannons in the movie had a bluish cast to them so I said "why not"? It plays off the red nicely and to me it doesn't leap out at you and offend the eye but at the same time it suggests (to me anyway) the reflectivity of a glossy black surface. The coils of line are deliberately all different shades of grey and pale tan to suggest lines of various age and use.

 

 

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Canons were made of wood tooth picks. Gun carriages are made of sheet styrene. Trucks were stretched sprue. The pommelion is brass rod inserted in a hole I drilled in the end. The swelling at the muzzle end and the ogee aft the trunion are each made of one turn of wire twisted on the underside. Fortunately there are only 14 of them. At this scale the breaching rope is going to be carpet or button thread.

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I live in an apartment and a normal sized cased model would take up too much space so I went with a smaller scale. I was never good at math. The scale of this model is 1” = 17’. This odd scale was set during a previous model (H.M.S. Surprise) when I held my hands apart from each other at about the width I wanted that model to be and stuck with that scale. It made perfect sense to me at the time. At first I just wanted an H.M.S. Surprise but when that was done I turned next to the Sophie. A simple drawing of the H.M.S. Speedy was available online. I have always liked the concept of multiple models all in the same scale so I stuck with my nameless scale and I plan to turn out more ships to it.  I'm currently working on the 50 gun H.M.S. Leopard and seeing how much larger she is than the other ships is an education.

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I wish I had better photo coverage of the intervening stages of this build. I made the sails out of two or three layers of tissue paper that was dipped in Minwax water soluble polyurethane called Pollycrilic which dries fast and transparent. I made forms of clay in the shape of the billowing sails and draped the wet tissue over them. When they hardened they had the belly shape I was after and I painted them and cut them to size and glued them to the model. The inner face of the sails were too smooth since they were in contact with the forms and there were some air bubbles but I disguised them with “patches” of more tissue.  

 

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Today (May 6th 2013)  is the 212 year anniversary of the battle that made the H.M.S. Speedy famous.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Action_of_6_May_1801 This wikipedia article covers the details of the battle but it can't convey the mindset of Cochrane, setting his tinny 54 man 14 gun brig Speedy against a Spanish Xebec frigate three times his size. Patrick O'Brian gets every drop of action and drama onto the page though as he uses this real world engagement as the climax of his novel.

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Great Work! and such an interesting subject!

 

I am rereading the Aubrey Maturin series now, and I have to say that the Sophie has been an interest of mine as a modeling subject.  Thank you for the inspiration, I may just have to act upon the inclination after seeing your work.

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  • 1 year later...
  • 1 year later...

I just starting to read O"BRIAN"S Surprise.  Hard reading but fun and informative.  There is a wonderful book called " Patrick O"Brian's NAVY"     by

editor  Richard Neill,,  publisher  Runing Press.   its about Jack Aubreys  World  and all the ships of that time. Try to find it.  A large book, lots of info, pictures and all of Aubreys world.

 

lighthousedon

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