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WalrusGuy

Model Shipways Fair American vs Syren US Brig

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Apologies if this has been asked before, I was not able to find a similar thread.

I just finished my first kit, the Artesania Latina's Viriginia 1819, which turned out really well in my opinion. There were a few mistakes but they were very minor. I finished the model in a month. I will post pictures later on hopefully sometime at the end of the week but here's one I took yesterday:

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For my next kit I am considering a two masted ship as it will be more advanced than the Virginia, therefore I can learn more techniques.

I am currently considering the Model Shipways Fair American or the Syren US Brig. I am leaning more towards the Fair American due to its appearance. I like its clean look. The Syren also looks really good, but much more detailed, so I am thinking it is more for advanced builders. I do not own any power tools apart from a dremel, so I hope both these ships do not need any expensive or bulky tools. To add on to this, I live in an apartment so there is no space for power tools.

I wanted to hear other's opinions on the two kits and which one I should go for.

Also being Canadian, are there any local suppliers that sells Model Shipways kits? The shipping cost is quite expensive, at around $50 USD as seen from the Model Expo Online store.

 

Lastly, there is currently a sale on the store for early Black Friday, all items are 25% off. Should I wait for the actual Black Friday/Christmas time for better deals?

Thanks!

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You will find the instructions for the Syren much more detailed than the Fair American.  You should be able to view the instructions for both kits on the Model Expo website.  The Syren kit was designed by Chuck Passaro, who is an administrator of MSW and who would be more than willing to answer any questions you may have during your build.  Your Virginia turned out very nicely.

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Thanks VTHokiEE, I will take a look. From a quick glance it seems like many of the items are currently out of stock and will have to wait for a month or so. 

 

Thanks for the kind words Ryland! Yes I did look through the instructions. Both the kits' instructions are muchhh better than that of AL's Virginia. Since you reminded me of the more detailed Syren instructions I am leaning towards that ship more now haha, but it is quite a lot more expensive than the Fair American. I'll research a bit more on both ships before I make a decision.

Edited by WalrusGuy

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On 11/15/2019 at 1:37 AM, WalrusGuy said:

Thanks VTHokiEE, I will take a look. From a quick glance it seems like many of the items are currently out of stock and will have to wait for a month or so. 

 

Thanks for the kind words Ryland! Yes I did look through the instructions. Both the kits' instructions are muchhh better than that of AL's Virginia. Since you reminded me of the more detailed Syren instructions I am leaning towards that ship more now haha, but it is quite a lot more expensive than the Fair American. I'll research a bit more on both ships before I make a decision.

I've sent a mail to GMB when and if the stock was being refilled. This was more then a month ago I think. They said that the manufactorer did not have any stock anymore, so they didn't know when a new delivery was comming. GMB is great by the way...not meant as a diss :D

 

The ships that you chose have also different scales, so that is maybe something that can help you with your descision

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I'm currently procrastinating on my Model Shipways Fair American build.  After finishing my last build, I strongly considered the Syren but went with the Fair American just to be 'different'.  

 

I've built a few Model Shipways kits, and I hate to say it, but their Fair American kit isn't quite up to par with their other kits.  I think it is just the age of the kit and the revisions that have been made over the years.  The plans are mix-matched and less 'clean' than other kits, and the instructions are kind of limited.  I've run into numerous issues with the castings and some issues with the plans just being 'off.'  I had to mill my own parts for gun carriages (the kit parts weren't usable and didn't match the plans), had to rework the size of the gun ports (plans were a little off), and currently I'm scratch building all the window frames for the transom because the provided castings are horribly malformed.

 

Overall, I think the Fair American is great if you want to "make it up as you go", scratch building some parts, etc.  It is a great subject that gives you a lot of room to be creative (being a model-of-a-model, you can add your own interpretation), but the kit itself needs some work.

 

If you're looking for a complete, ready-to-go kit with great plans and instructions, I'd recommend the Syren.  Even though it is a more advanced build, I think it would be easier overall since you won't have to solve the problems with the Fair American kit and there are a LOT more resources here on MSW to refer to for the Syren.

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Dave,

Speaking of your FA build.  When will you be moving forward?  I have that kit on the shelf and feel I have a lot to learn from your experience.

 

Gregory

Edited by Gregory

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Gregory,

 

I wish I knew :)  We've got a 5 month old baby that is eating up all of my free time.  I've got the gun carriages made, and I know how I'm going to mill the window frames for the transom (just haven't actually sat down and done the work).  I'm currently stalled on getting the bulwarks planked, and have been for months.  I'm not using the kit's material, so I need to cut strips for the planking.  Can't run the Byrnes saw when the kiddo is home, so I haven't been able to make the strips for planking.  But after seeing Toni Levine's presentation at this year's NRG conference in New Bedford, I'm considering using her approach for the planks (which is also what she covers in the NRG's Half Hull Planking Project).  This was one of many things I picked up at this year's conference.  I've always cut strips, then bent and trimmed them to try and get something close to an accurate shape.   The planking project's approach doesn't require cutting a bunch of strips, and instead creates accurate planks from sheet stock with a knife blade.  That's quiet and can be done while the baby is sleeping ;) 

 

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Being into scratch-building before Syren came on the market, I've never built a Syren kit, but I'm familiar with the competition and have built kits by other American manufacturers, which are generally quite good. (European kits aren't even in the same zip code, IMHO, so we just won't go there for now!) I've studied Syren's kit instructions on line and the Syren kit build logs on this forum and followed discussions regarding their after-market cordage and blocks. Considering the quality of Syren's instructions and materials, and, to me, at least, the impeccably accurate historical research that goes into each Syren model, I've concluded that dollar for dollar, on all points of comparison, Syren's kits are the finest ship model kits that have ever been offered on the market. Additionally, the availability of invaluable build logs and "real time" building assistance on this forum is not to be matched by any other kit offering. For a modeler just starting out, that's a huge advantage. 

 

I expect like most who have "gone over to the dark side," I eventually found myself scratch-building so much of the kits I was building that buying a kit started looking like a waste of money. Few kit manufacturers other than Syren (and, granted, there may be some I'm not familiar with) sell a "kit" that will produce the level of model most builders aspire to without requiring a lot of specialized tooling and replacement fittings and materials, not to mention research and deviation from the kit plans. Syren kits may be a bit more expensive, but keep in mind that with a Syren kit, you won't be spending more money buying Syren's after-market wood, cordage, and blocks to replace the sub-par stuff found in most other kits! 

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Niagara will have many of the same issues as Fair American regarding age of kit design, materials, instructions, etc. Still makes a fine model in the hands of a competent builder, but as Bob has pointed out, its design is not on par with that of Syren.

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Vanguard Models in the UK is a new company and is about to release their second kit which is a model of a two masted brig sloop HMS Speedy. Their first kit of an armed Reveue cutter is excellent in both design, instructions and timber quality.

It would be worth a look as it will include several new innovations and also come in a range of options in respect of material. 

Not sure what the shipping cost to Canada would be though.

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Having lived much of my life around the Great Lakes, Perry’s 1813 victory is of special interest to me.  I have also been fortunate to have sailed along side the current Niagara replica on Lake Superior when she visited Duluth.  She is a handsome vessel!

 

She cannot, however, be considered to be an accurate representation of the actual brig that participated in the Battle of Lake Erie as very little is known of the actual vessel.  No one has located a hull lines drawing or half model of the real thing.  Furthermore, the replica’s educational mission requires Coast Guard Certification that requires changes from historical practice.  

 

Hull lines for the US Brig Syren do exist and were presumably used to design the model kit.  Likewise, the Fair American model is based on the model in the Naval Academy Museum at Annapolis.  I believe that the meticulous researcher Eric Ronnberg prepared documentation for Fair American several years ago and you should check to make sure that it is included with the kit.  There are also a number of articles on Fair American in back issues of the Nautical Research Journal that can be downloaded for a nominal fee.

 

Whatever model you decide to build it is going to consume a lot of your time, and although the kits may seem expensive the cost will be spread out over the lengthy construction time.  I therefore suggest that you choose a kit that will produce a historically accurate model.

 

Roger

 

 

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On 11/20/2019 at 5:13 PM, genericDave said:

I wish I knew :)  We've got a 5 month old baby that is eating up all of my free time.  I've got the gun carriages made, and I know how I'm going to mill the window frames for the transom (just haven't actually sat down and done the work).  I'm currently stalled on getting the bulwarks planked, and have been for months.  I'm not using the kit's material, so I need to cut strips for the planking.  Can't run the Byrnes saw when the kiddo is home, so I haven't been able to make the strips for planking.  

 

Dave, babies sleep through way more than you might think.  Especially if you condition them by not trying to keep the house quiet all the time.  I learned this with twins who have now survived to the age of 12.  The hard part is that you have to get the baby's mother out of the house!

 

Walrusguy, interestingly enough, my first build was AL Virginia 1819 and I have Fair American sitting on the shelf in the shipyard.  It was supposed to be my next build.  But I've been distracted from starting it because I couldn't resist Chuck's Winchelsea group project.  It will probably take me about a century to complete, so I have no idea when I'll get around to Fair American.

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