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H.M.S. Cruiser by Thunder - Caldercraft - 1:64 Scale - Finished

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I have had this kit some time. The last few kits I have completed have been more like scratch builds so, especially with the review by Keith Julier, I thought this would be a nice relaxing quick build. Plan is to build, more or less, straight from the box. The Keith Julier review describes this as a new level of kit with no nasty issues described and everything fitting without any modifications required. So we will see.


I was expecting a lot of these to be on here but a search has found very few examples. I also searched for Cruizer which turned up a few other examples. Out of interest there was a completely different class called Cruizer.


This is my fourth build from Caldercraft. There was issues with HMS Supply so I am hoping this will be different.


Kit has the usual set of caldercraft drawings and parts, I can photograph and post these if anyone is interested.

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Main bulkhead removed and marked up ready for bulkhead fitting. I was actually getting into position over the drawing for marking on the bearding line, wale position etc. Then you can transfer out across bulkheads for fitting of planks in those positions from the start.



Unfortunately difficult to overlay between drawings to do the marking of the wale position. It was at this point I noticed that the drawing shows the keel to be longer and bulkhead positions out of place.


This picture shows the discrepancy at the bow. I hope this is not a sign of things to come. I do expect drawings to be accurate after all it is what we take measurements from. This was the issue with the Brig Supply. That model even had discrepancies for the same dimension between each drawing. 

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Hi, as requested photographs of the parts. I have realised that I have probably had this kit for probably 15 years. My wife brought it me after visiting the companies premises and having a tour. At the time Mars had just come out and they were developing Pickle. 








A few of the parts are not shown as the build has already started.

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I believe the "Cruizer" kits are similar (if not identical in many regards) to the Snake kit offering of which there are quite a few comprehensive build logs on this site. The only real major differences being the addition of platforms on Snake, use of carronades vs canons and the additional mast.  I believe both of the kits are earlier Caldercraft releases, so I think you may find them a little less refined than later offerings (certainly fewer detailed PE parts).  Good luck getting started.

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Hi Jason and Joe, thanks for dropping in. You can tell my the parts that they are for both ships as I have three mast holes on my false deck! They did try to tell me to buy the Mars or Jalouse when I purchased it but I wanted this as both of them were prizes rather than an English design. Also, her class was the largest ever produced. Those kits had just been released back then.


From what I have done so far I think the lit could be improved with little effort. However, as mine is old they may of already done this.


Joe, I have taken a good luck at your build. It seems you are not having the same issues as me with the bulkheads at the stern. I am concerned that I have over 'faired' mine but every time I look I think I should of done more. This is the area of the build I am always uncertain about. You will see what I mean in my next update.


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Next step I removed all the bulkheads from the plywood sheet, traced them onto some paper and then used his to check symmetry. Two at the mid position were out. Before modifying the two I checked each in position on the keel section. None fitted, all needed opening out to get them to fit. The two that weren't symmetrical were due to the central slot so these were rectified whilst opening the slot. Neither of these flaws were noted in the Keith Julier build.



Photo shows bulkheads and false deck dry fitted. This allowed me to mark the points of the bearding line. You will also see that I have extended the line of the deck to the edges of the bulkheads and, taken from the now suspect drawings, the height of the bulkheads from the deck position. This seems to show that the bulkhead tabs, above deck level, are too high. However, the drawings do not shore the deck planking so I do not know if this has been accounted for.

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Now a question. I have never done a vessel with a bearding line like at the bows in this kit. Usually the bulkheads at the bow come down to leave you just enough space to cut the rabbet between the bulkhead and the walnut keel piece. In this kit there is a huge gap between the two. I have done as you would at the stern, i.e. thin the ply bulkhead down so that after planking there is no step between them and the keel. It just feels wrong doing that here._1020196.thumb.JPG.2b559830719679b94eb4e6337dd08767.JPG


Bearding /Rabbet shown drawn on.



Bulkheads again dry fitted with edges blackened to make sure I Do not loose the shape when 'trueing'.

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The next question is with the plank termination patterns between first two and to fore of first bulkhead. 




Drawing shows planking started but take notice of the plank termination pieces. Surely this will never work.  I shaped to match the bulkheads.

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Bulwark / gun port ply strips in place. I took numerous measurements for this as the instructions say to place at top of bulkhead tabs but mine are at different heights.



The lines show gun port mid position and deck height.



I had real issues with getting a good curve, I soaked the strips for two hours but they still bent more easily at the gun port positions, I am hoping I can sort this out or they will have to come off again. Before clamping in position I double checked the gun port height by making up one cannon with strips of deck material under the wheels.




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Now I have a real issue that I hope someone can help me with. I have cut out the bulwark capping strips to check the bulwark shape before gluing on the stern section.


The stern fascia does not match the plans in shape or size. The bulwark capping do not match the shape and seem to have an strange inward curve just after the last gun port. I could take measurements for the same dimension off two drawings, however, there is 10mm difference between the two. This is the same issue as found on other Caldercraft  models - very frustrating.




I am not sure whether to bend in the gun port strips, try to bend the capping strip or replace the rear of it with a new section.



Capping strips, and subsequently stern fachia dimension  measured from plan.



Supposed same dimension measured from rear.



Stern Fascia and counter on drawing.



Stern counter in reality giving two awkward small triangles that will require filling to give a landing for the planking.


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Hmmm. Hope you get this sorted out. This is one of Chris Watton's early designs for Caldercraft, and you can certainly see how more modern designs, including Chris's later efforts, have evolved in the direction of creating sturdier substructures.

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Sadly this bring back many memories....I did the triangle solution, don't recall whether it was even possible to achieve what is illustrate in the plans.  Think your approach of working the gun port ply based on the deck position is a very sound approach.  If its any consolation, the Diana kit is just as unintuitive/unhelpfull at the stern counter as well, I made up my own template.  When I was building Snake which was my first build, these are the challenges I put down to my lack of understanding when in reality the kits have just aged.  If it hadn't been for this site, I would never have got past this early stage.

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Hi, thanks Jason, Joe, I seem at least to have the same issues as others. I wondered if I was supposed to shape the rear bulkheads more but his would mean taking more of the stern facia and it would be getting very near to the edge of the chase ports.


I noticed you have had to pack out the second from last bulkhead. I have just done that as well.


These are simple things that they could of put right years ago after all it is a programmed c.n.c. machine that cuts these sheets. It also shows how useless or biased the kit reviews are. This can be damaging to the hobby as a new starter would of took this as an ideal kit judging by the Keith Julier review only to give it up as a bad job. 


I have the Diana on my shelf so thanks for the heads up.

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I have attached the stern Facia followed by the stern counter. Facia has been sanded down to match ply gun port strips.








The triangular corners have been filled and shaped. Done so first planking can terminate up against the filler and second go over it.

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  • 1 month later...

Once I got her ready for the first planking I put her aside. I new we were going away for Christmas. Just my wife, myself and our two border collies in a little cottage in Norfolk. We stopped near to a beach which has the biggest seal colony in the UK with 2050 seal pups born between Christmas and November.


I new it would be quite with just the beaches and a pub within a minutes walk so took the kit with me.




So below is the first planking complete.





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Haven't been here in awhile and missed this one. I'm also building the Cruiser and it's my first Caldercraft kit. I had the same issue with the capping rails so I angle cut them where the deviated from the top of the bulwarks. The sanded the cut edge to fit the rear cut off part of the capping rails better to the top edge. Matched pretty well and sanding the side edges blended it decent enough.  I'm up to doing the deck fittings on mine.


The only other issue was with the second layer of hull planking. This English walnut wood really splintered a lot more than the stuff from others I've worked with - mamoli, corel, constructo, and AL. Leaves more of a rough hewn look to it.


Have not seen the review from Julier - I have all the period ship handbooks but none have the Cruiser in them. Is the review available somewhere?


Your build  is looking great so far and looking forward to following along!

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Hi B.E.,


I have started the second planking now which has highlighted the deficiencies at the bow. There is too much room between the walnut stem and the bow planking termination piece. This has led to a small sliver of the lighter pine showing. I thought I would get away with it but wished I had packed it out now. I created a Rabbet for the bow planking which has made it worse.


Another thing evident after the first planking was the lack of bulkheads, it could have done with extras between the 4th and 5th, 5th and 6th,and 7th and 8th. There is nothing at the stern.


Kit instructions say to start second planking at the top of the ply gun port strips. However, I always prefer to start at the main wale as I don't like to see planks passing under it. It does make planking harder as you cannot start the tapering process so early but we will see. Always find the wale planks difficult. It would probably be easier to lay them in the anchor stock style but I was feeling too impatient for that. Anyway they will be covered later by the second wale layer.


Another reason for not starting at the top is that my ply gun port strips are slightly off. i.e. the Larboard is a tiny fraction higher. hopefully I can correct this later. It must be my vision though as I have done the same with the first wale plank. perhaps due to my right eye being weak due to previous injuries.




The planking clamps are simple nylon 'L' shaped pieces cut from the label guides of a Krones high speed labelling machine, with screws normally used for laying model railway track. In awkward places, on the first planking, these screws are small enough to be put straight through the plank. They are identical to the ones used set into the commercially available thumb screw clamps.


I also had the aid of a great little USB chargeable battery drill that I had for Christmas. I sent the first back due to the collets being the same size. Wish I kept it as the second one will not hold its charge.

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Photo below shows the little drill that I have used to predrill all holes before screwing in the planking clamps.



This has proved great for the intended job but is lacking power for much more. I started the first planking with my usual pin vise but found the ply to be so dense I was really struggling. This little drill made the task so much easier. 

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Second planking started. I first used the darkest and poorest quality planks for the wale position as these will be covered._1020594.thumb.JPG.5fc5b163fac3b01528b5f2848f6b3b38.JPG


For the planking above the wales I first sorted any planks that were uniform in colour through out their length. I then chose from these the lightest for this section. When I reached the line of gun ports I followed kit instructions which was to use small sections between the gun ports. I was concerned about doing this and my thoughts were confirmed. The small sections tended to go on as small straight sections which lost the shape of the hull. Continued on both sides as whole lengths.



I now have a huge concern. These planks were so easy to shape that I never soaked and pre-shaped them. My concern is that the stresses imposed will make the planks spring out once the bulkhead tabs are removed. I am now considering soaking them in situ and then letting them dry before removing the tabs. Would appreciate your thoughts.

Edited by Thunder
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Nice start.  I don't remember the planking to be too problematic, but some of that may depend on what you are looking to achieve.  Almost certain you won't be able to continue using full width planks going all the way to the keel.  Tapering of planks is needed at the bow and steelers at the stern.  If you will be coppering, then of course you don't need to be as concerned with appearance below the waterline.  I have always tried to use approximate scale length planks which takes a little longer but can be a bit more controllable.


Are you using CA or PVA glue?  My preference is for PVA which is more time consuming, but can still proceed at a reasonable pace with smaller lengths once the PVA has achieved a surface tack simply using fingers and rubber bands around the hull.


Looking at your pictures, I can't quite tell whether you have cut a rabbet or bearding line at the sternpost.  Once installed, the 2nd layer planking should be flush with the sternpost rather than sitting on top of it so its the same thickness as the rudder.  A rabbet above the keel will also make things easier, but you may be able to shape planks in these areas and get by.  From experience, you may want to work up from the 'garboard' plank above the keel and work upwards so that your planking meets midway down the hull.





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Hi Jason,


The two top planks that give the position of the main wale are untampered as are the planks fitted above the wale. As the wale planks are 3mm instead of 4mm I decided to start my tapering with the plank fitted directly beneath the two fitted at the position of the wale. where the planks are not broken by gun ports or to be hidden by the wales I have started to use scale length planks of approx. 140mm. 


I will be fitting the garboard plank next and then dividing up the rest of the hull into sections before planking each section. I tend to use Aliphatic resin as my glue of choice. It is very similar to PVA but dries more quickly, is waterproof and can be mixed with wood dust to make a filler.


I have cut a rabbet and have tapered the stern down to 3mm so that once planked it should be the same thickness as the stern post.


The second planking has been easy so far as the planks readily bend. So much so that I didn't pre-shape them. My concern now is that when I cut the bulkheads away above the deck level they will spring back to shape as there is nothing holding the gun port strips to the prow. I was considering wetting them and drying with my plank iron so that they readily take the shape of the hull before cutting the tabs away. As a trial I put a plank in place last night without glue, wet it, and then run the hot iron over it till it was dry. This morning it does appear to have taken on a degree of the bend. I suppose I will not really know till I cut them tabs away. 

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Planking from wale to bulwark capping rail completed. Next to divide the lower hull into sections. This has been done with the use of Ribbands. These are laid at the widest part of the hull at exact distances to match full plank widths. Ribband laid round to bow and stern as naturally a possible.


The top ribband shows that the planks will be too narrow at the bow. Some drop planks will be needed in this area.



The lower section at the stern indicates a few stealers will be required where as the top section will have tapered planks. I am going to have to do some calculations to see if this is practical.



One think these ribbands did highlight is that bulkhead 8 is slightly too small. You couldn't see it when doing the first planking but obvious now. You can see this by looking at the ribbands to the far right of the above photograph. A good learning here.

The brass screw head you can see is a BA thread pin that is through a nut set into the bulkhead under the planking for final stand mounting.

Edited by Thunder
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