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HMS Mercury by robdurant - ShipYard Models - 1:96 - CARD

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I had a search, but couldn't find any other build logs of this model, so although I feel deeply unqualified, I thought I'd post a build log.


This is the first card model I've built - in fact, it is mainly paper, with a laser-cut card frame (ShipYard also do a card version which is 1:72, and much more expensive!). So this won't be a masterclass, but hopefully the surprises and lessons learned as I go will be helpful to someone else following in my footsteps :)


I started this model last year when I went on holiday - my main build is way too big to travel, so this one is more manageable (and a little less anti-social) - it may take me a while to finish, but hopefully I'll get there.


I started by assembling the card structure of the ship. The diagrams provided are excellent, and the laser-cutting so good that this was very simple, and with a little care, it went together very nicely. I've read elsewhere that using a little superglue to wick into the extensions at the tops of the bulkheads strengthens them somewhat... I was too slow, and they got pretty mashed up. I'm hoping I'll be able to make up for that later on.


So far, I've skinned the lower part of the hull, and started putting the details onto the gundeck.


Here's a slightly more in-depth description of what I've learned, and done so far.


Basic tools:

Carpenters glue (Aliphatic)

UHU glue (really really useful!)

Pritt stick


Lots of sharp xacto blades #11 and a handle

Cutting mat

0.5, 1, 1.5, 2mm card to stick the paper onto where directed. (This was found in my local art supplies shop - I found it really hard to get online)


1. Assemble the frame from the laser-cutting.


I used Carpenters glue to do this, and lego bricks to check it was all lined up... I think this was probably overkill, because with the deck on, it's pretty rigid, but it was my first attempt so I wanted to make sure it was all perfect. Sandpaper was useful to bevel the frames once put together... the card won't go over them (or have a flat surface to stick to) without this step, so it's pretty crucial. That said, it's pretty quick compared to bevel the frames on wooden models... that means it's even easier to go too far! - I marked the edges of the bulwarks with a marker so I could tell when I was not only reducing one side, but the overall outline of the bulwark.






Once the frame was built, a couple of detail bits get stuck on to the lower deck (a brown sharpie was useful to edge the bits that are cut out to get rid of the white edges and make it look tidy), and then the false deck was then added... I made a mistake here by splurging on carpenters glue thinking that the paper covering would lie flat if only I pushed it down enough... not so much, it seems. It ended up looking horribly bumpy and I thought I'd wrecked the model...  The answer (for me) it turns out is to use UHU, add it to the card, and then use a piece of card to scrape it and make it nice and flat, then add the paper, smoothing it as you go. This ends up in a nice flat surface...  Thankfully, as we'll see, the false deck gets covered over later with a second 0.5mm sheet of card with the real gundeck pattern glued on top of it, so disaster was well and truly averted, and you'd never know I stuffed up now!

Here's the first gun deck - you can't see the bumps, but trust me... they're there!


More later.






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2. First "planking"


This is where the neat cutting out becomes critical - that said, I managed it, and I was pleased with the result...


Bending each part carefully, before sticking down makes a huge difference. I started cutting off the tiny tabs at the bottom of each piece as they seemed to only get in the way.



One point to note... when you get to the end of this, if you follow the numbering, the next piece is 27... and there's no mention of this piece on the exploded diagram. Looking at it on the paper, it's clearly the gundeck, but that doesn't help you to know whether it should be stuck to card before fixing on to the model. I took the approach that 27a IS attached to 0.5mm card, and it continues the sweep of the deck, so I did... and it helped cover up the complete mess of the false deck I mentioned in the last post.


Once in place, the chequered floor of the captain's quarters can be added, and the bulkheads, again each strengthened as per the diagram with thicker card.


And this is the progress so far.


So far I'm extremely impressed with the accuracy of the parts - they seem to me to fit beautifully... any discrepancies being entirely my fault and not the model's.


That's me up to date, then.

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"Deeply unqualified" describes many of us who might like a crack at a great kit like this, but have fun anyway! I'll be following with interest. BTW, it seems to be de rigueur in card kits that at least one part (usually it's several) is mis-numbered or omitted in the diagrams. Part of the appeal, I guess?

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Thanks Chris - that's a great encouragement :)


3. Hull sides and framing


So - here start the "noob" questions, and a few more "this seems to be the wrong number" observations.


Where the plans show a part thickness to be made up, is that the final thickness, or the thickness of the card that I'm sticking the part to? (see picture below - should part 29 end up as 2mm thick, or as the thickness of part 29 PLUS 2mm card backing? At the moment, I've been sticking the part to 2mm card, although for these parts it seems a little thick.




I've been adding these parts in - parts 29 through to 32... though it seems that the lines that join the parts (i.e. 31 to 31, 32 to 32, 33 to 33) are not in the right places... or at least, when I came to add them to the hull the two 31 parts were completely different shapes, one of them being too high and pushing the hull sides out too much. I lost track of which was which after a while, but suffice it to say, the taller parts go at bow and stern  (in 29, and 33 positions) - stern (32) slightly taller than bow (29), then the shorter ones go in the centre (32 slightly taller than 31)... I'd suggest making these all up, then lining them up on the table before sticking them all into place. Once done in this way, they don't push the hull sides out of line. Parts 33 seem right.




As can be seen, I still have two more of these parts to fit (32 and 33 at the stern on the port side...), and then the remainder of the spacers that separate the internal sides from the external hull sides. Before the internal sides go on, I'll also need to line the gun ports.


I've left the doors off the cabin walls as they seem a little vulnerable at the moment. They should be simple enough to add in once the hull sides are on.

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1 hour ago, robdurant said:

Where the plans show a part thickness to be made up, is that the final thickness, or the thickness of the card that I'm sticking the part to?

Not sure what the answer to that should be, having never built a Shipyard kit before, so I'm not familiar with their particular conventions for indicating parts thickness. Hope someone else can help out on this.

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  • 3 weeks later...

This project is going to be on hold for the time being, as it's in Germany! - I left it behind when I came home off holiday - and hope to resume it when I go back.


In the meantime, my attention will be back on Ethalion.


Thanks for the encouragement and likes.



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  • 5 months later...

Well, I've had the opportunity for another trip to Germany, so I have an update to share :)


Here's where I left off last time - gunport linings on the starboard side, and starting to put the inner bulkheads in.


I managed to complete the bulkhead linings, and gunports on port and starboard. Once done, the rear of the captain's cabin is lined, and then it's onto furniture for the deck.




I decided to have the gratings closed, which meant putting furniture in the captain's cabin was a bit over the top.  Nice to have the option, though, and the fore and quarter decks aren't stuck down yet so I can change my mind later.


The bitts were made up, and stuck down.



And the ship's stove was made up - again this won't be seen once it's all together, so I haven't put all the possible detail on it... (builder's prerogative)


You can see how shocking my card building ability is here... but from a little way back it looks a bit more acceptable. The main thing is, I'm enjoying it, and I'm learning a lot!! I may end up building another one of these once I've gained more skills :)


The capstan was made up...



An overview of the deck so far...



My biggest friend so far has been a bunch of sharpie markers which have covered a multitude of sins (or at least, made them less obvious!)


You can just about make out a blurry cross beam at the bottom of the photo above - the beams were put in place at this stage ready to take the quarter and fore decks. These decks have been cut out and dry-fitted in position ... I haven't fixed them yet as I haven't put the gun carriages together... more on that below.




I didn't fancy the task of trying to put together the gun barrels for this ship - it was a step too far for me... so I had a look round and worked out what size they should be. As 9lb they end up around 28mm at 1:96, so I ordered a set of brass cannon from Cornwall Model Boats, and they arrived at home while I was in Germany (hence not being able to fit them straight away...) - I've brought the gun carriages home to assemble, so I can take them back out ready to fit... YOu can see how many parts they have in the circle on the plan above.


Finally, I started to put the out layer of the hull on. This has to be done very carefully to get the best finish possible. I chose the 1795 colour scheme to contrast my build of Ethalion. Given that it isn't wood, I wasn't quite bothered about getting a nice wood coloured finish on the hull. It also saves all the painting of the white areas... At least, I don't have any of the decorative blue strips in my kit and assume that they are to be done by hand... they all have an RZ prefix on the part?


Care is needed to distinguish the parts for the earlier and later colour schemes - it seems that the later scheme has extra parts on two extra sheets, so I checked those sheets first for each part.


Here's the progress as I left her in dry-dock.


Happy building.



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  • 8 months later...

Well, another trip to Germany gave me some more time to work on Mercury.


I'd been scratching my head about how to do the gun carriages. I ordered brass cannon, and when I tried to make the card carriages, they were both fiddly and not strong enough to hold the brass. It needed sorting, because at some point the fore and quarter decks need fixing down, and they'll make access to those gun positions impossible. I settled on using 5mm square plastic section. By taking one side off (the top) and shaping the sides, I was able to get an approximation of a gun carriage. It's by no means perfect, but this model is an experiment, and my first attempt, so I'm more interested in working my way through it than getting everything absolutely perfect.


Anyway... coupled with cocktail stick axles and plastic tube cut down for the wheels, it looks something like a cannon with carriage. (The wheels are waiting to be coloured). I've left the cannon brass intentionally to see whether I like it. The answer is, I wouldn't do it again on another model, but it does add a bit of bling! I may yet remove them and paint them. They're a bit gaudy for my liking and don't seem to sit well with the rest of the model.






I completed the "second planking", and added the quarter galleries and stern gallery.




Where possible, I've tried to pre-colour the edges, but you can see where I haven't quite got the fit right, and the white has shown through. Something to bear in mind for anyone attempting a paper model that has large areas of black on it. I also neglected to build up the stern - I got over-excited and just stuck it all together, and then it was too late! Another lesson in measuring twice, cutting once! I think the depth of the stern would have looked much better, but there we go. That's how it is now... Something more like this, perhaps...



The final task was bringing Mercury home from Germany... I carried it carefully padded with tissues in a box... and it survived (only two cannon broke free, and it's all so small they did no damage at all.) I wanted to get it home before I started adding too many external details to the hull, so perhaps there will be more regular updated from now on. We'll see! 


We're getting towards the fine detail part of the build now, so I'll need a new blade in the craft knife.


As a footnote, I answered my own question from above by re-reading the instructions from the model.. the thicknesses specified are of the card to which the paper part should be stuck. Thus where it says 0.5mm, the final thickness will be 0.5mm + the thickness of the original part. Perhaps that will help someone out down the road.


Happy building



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