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HMS Speedy by Delf - Vanguard Models - Scale 1:64 - Master Shipwright edition

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Posted (edited)

After receiving the new HMS Speedy kit from Vanguard Models as a Christmas present I was determined to leave it in its box until I’d finished off at least one of the other two model projects currently on the stocks. However as soon as I opened the box I knew I was going to have a hard time resisting the temptation. Chris Watton has done a great job in producing this, the second ship in his new range. I went for the limited edition Model Shipwright version, with boxwood second planking and a host of other goodies. There’s a wealth of information on the kit and its development elsewhere on the forum (Vanguard Models news), and in the first Speedy build log Vane has summarised information about Thomas Cochrane and his famous ship (Vane's Speedy log) so I won’t repeat all that here.

 

Suffice to say, everything about the kit oozes quality.

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Everything was well packaged and labelled, and supported by ten sheets of plans and a full colour build manual. The sheer number of parts was eye-opening, especially for such a comparatively small vessel. The parts list itemises nearly 1,000 individual photo-etch components - 1,433 if you include the copper plates. Plus of course hundreds of other metal, wood and resin items. 

 

The first sign that my determination to be patient was crumbling was when I decided to knock up a building board just to be ready when I needed it. Needless to say, the sight of the building board sitting there on my workbench asking to be used quickly eroded further resistance, and I started construction yesterday. I quickly realised that the building board was more or less redundant. The frames were all a good fit on the false keel with zero sanding, and once the lower deck and the various longitudinal beams were added, the whole structure was perfectly straight, square and rigid.

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Once the lower deck is fitted, the next task is to attach the last few frames at the bow and stern. At first I was a bit dubious about Chris's advice on these, which is to do the initial bevelling off the model. However in practice this seems to work well, particularly on the half dozen filler pieces which would have been difficult to fair in situ. 

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Today I’m going to crack on with the upper deck and various tricky timbers in the stern.

 

Derek

 

Edited by DelF
Correction - Model Shipwright should read Master Shipwright

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The upper deck went in fine. The fit was very precise, as it should be, but of course that means there is no wiggle room so to get it in place you need to gently bend it edgewise to squeeze it between the bulwarks. This picture shows the deck when I'd got it about half way down towards it's final position. A bit of final wiggling and the slots in the deck fit neatly into those in the bulkhead frames.

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The trickiest part of the job is trying to avoid catching the four delicate stern frames. These are just asking to be snapped off if you're not careful, so the next task is to fit the stern counter and the stern board. The next shot shows how these components protect the frames from accidental damage.

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I tried clamping a round dowel to the stern counter as it dried to try to encourage it to follow the slight concave curve in the underside of the frames. On reflection I should probably have tried to introduce the bend in the counter off the model, with perhaps with heat and steam, as I'm not sure the glue will hold it long term. 

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Next task is fixing the four gun port patterns. I'm not looking forward to this as these thin but wide strips of wood need to bend in at least two dimensions to fit tightly against the frames. 

 

Derek

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Great to see i am not alone 🙂 Yes everything is such a precise fit making it an easy build.

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I struggled with the gunport patterns. I suspect it was me, as the instructions are quite clear and Vane managed to fit them with little difficulty as described in his log. Bending them lengthways was no problem - they're only 0.8mm thick and soaking them in warm water as recommended works fine. I clamped them wet to the frames and used a hot air gun to set the curve. My difficulty came because I also had to bend the strips edgewise. I should  stress that I'm not talking about edge bending as recommended by Chuck in his planking videos - this is unnecessary for the Speedy gunport patterns as they are already curved to follow the sheer. Rather, I'm referring to the bend needed across the width of the strip in order to follow the tumblehome. This is particularly pronounced near the bow. I followed Chris's recommendation in the instructions to clamp the tops of the patterns to the tops of the frames and to pin the patterns at the bottom to hold them against the frames. To hold them tight against the frames I found I had to drive the pins right in - the heads are really small so I should be able to plank over them without causing bumps. Either that or I'll file them flat. This shows the port patterns clamped and glued in place (I must buy more clamps!).

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The real difficulty came because bending these thin sheets in two dimensions caused them to buckle. The next pictures show the top and bottom views of the front starboard pattern:

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I was reluctant to resort to sanding and filling on such a scale, so I resorted to my trusty travel iron, wetting the offending areas and trying to flatten them on maximum heat. The result was acceptable, I think.

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Not perfect, but should be sortable during planking.

 

I'm probably making more of this than it deserves. I suspect that's because the kit so far has fitted together so neatly and easily that I'd forgotten that model ships inevitably require a degree of skill - they're not made of Lego bricks that snap together perfectly. I'll be interested to see what other Speedy builders make of this part of the construction.

 

Roll on planking!

 

Derek

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I think u did fine. Remember there will be planks on both sides of the gunpattern so i dont think it need to be stressed to perfection.

 

Also the MDF skeleton is easy to work with but abit more fragile than the normal ply so u need to be careful and not use to much power when building the hull. Go with the flow...

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9 minutes ago, Vane said:

I think u did fine. Remember there will be planks on both sides of the gunpattern so i dont think it need to be stressed to perfection.

Thanks Vane, that's reassuring.

 

Derek

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Yeah, you’re gonna be planking underneath those ply pieces and over the top of the as well..... smooth and fair is the key, not representing every nuance of the curvature of the hull.... it is only 1/64 scale after all..... by the time you finish this gal, you will be amazed at the things you obsessed over but really don’t affect the outcome of the model. 💛😀

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I’m sure you’re right. I think part of the problem is that I’ve recently been planking the MS English Pinnace, which is 1/24 scale and single planked, so errors are more visible and you can’t  fix them with filler and paint. 
 

Derek

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1st and 2nd planking on a kit are two completely different things. 1st has mostly to do with creating shape but the finish can look terrible.  2nd you should you really need to make an effort and its all about the finish. 

 

I cant imagine how difficult a one planker project must be, I am definitely not ready for that yet. 

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One great advantage of a kit whose  keel and bulk head fit well is that you can take the bulk heads off to shape off-hull.

My experience is always to do a lot more work than many do before getting the glue out. 

I am not able to actually start the build till I get inro my new house but I am just planning out the prep work - shaping BHs , slimming keel at stern and of course fitting my stand mounting points for pedestals

 

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I agree. I did a lot of bulkhead shaping off the model (as recommended by Chris) and found it much easier than when everything is glued together.

 

Derek

 

P.S.  Good luck with the house move. I look forward to your Speedy log when you get settled in

Edited by DelF

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Here is also another advantage with Chris design. MDF with close bulkheads is a joy to shape off. The traditionel ply requires much more efforts to sand so i can understand that some builders stop to early in the process.

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The planking begins! It's a long time since I've done a double-planked hull, and I'd forgotten how (comparatively) easy the first planking is, when you don't have to worry too much about historical inaccuracies such as triangular stealers. However I did try to lay the planks as well as I could to minimise sanding and filling later on. The supplied limewood (aka basswood?) 1.5mm timber worked well. Chris recommends soaking in warm water for 30 minutes before tapering with a craft knife and steel rule, in order to ensure that the knife follows the rule and not the grain. However I found that wasn't necessary if I used a sharp scalpel and I did all my tapering without any problems. However I DID soak the ends of each strip by dipping them in recently boiled water for a couple of minutes, so that I could pre-bend them. I clamped the soaked strips to the hull and blasted them dry with my hot air gun. This got them close to their final shape and made final fitting with glue and pins much easier.

 

The first four strakes on the starboard side:

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Progressing nicely:

 

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Finished and ready to sand:

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The 1st planking requires exactly 30 full strips, and the kit supplies exactly thirty. Unfortunately I'd snapped one strip in an early and unnecessary edge-bending experiment. However this wasn't a problem, as I was able to complete the last garboard strake with two shorter planks.

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In summary, the kit design makes planking comparatively straightforward. For example the larger than usual number of frames and the ease with which they can be properly faired, and the use of strategically positioned filler pieces that help to support planks in the bow and stern areas. I found the small pins supplied particularly good at holding planks to the frames whilst the glue dried. I had been a bit worried the pins wouldn't hold in the MDF frames but they were fine. They were so sharp I stabbed my fingers several times trying to pick them up - yes, the red patches on the hull are blood! A couple of spare planks would have been nice, but certainly not essential.

 

Next job, sanding. 

 

Derek

 

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Agree, the tight frames made this step easy. 

It looks much better than my first planking!

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Thanks Vane. I'm hoping that taking a bit of time with this layer will make the second planking and coppering easier. I've more or less finished sanding now:

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I'm reasonably happy with the result, although I may try to thin down the stern area a bit more. As you know, Chris recommends sanding this down to about 1.5mm so that when the second planking is added it will sit flush with the stern post.

 

Chris also says it will take about an hour to sand the hull. I've no idea how long it's taken me, as I find I can't sand solidly for any length of time. It's not a physical thing - I just prefer to take my time, sanding slowly and with plenty of breaks. I know that if I went at it hell-for-leather and tried to get it done in one sitting I'd mess it up. I like leaving it for a while and coming back to it periodically with a fresh pair of eyes. I used to treat model building as a challenge where the aim was to finish as quickly as possible - now I try to take my time and enjoy the process (at least that's what I tell myself when I find I can't catch up with you even when you've been away for a fortnight!😀).

 

Derek

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I will add in a few more first planking strips in future kits, as I always like to add more than enough of the base materials. If you had told me, I would have been more than happy to send a few more strips. :)

 

For the sanding of the hull, I now use a small electric mouse type sander for most of the hull, finishing with hand sanding.

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Very nice!
I think sanding is one of those things that people do very differently and its probably because we build for various reasons and aim for completely differnt result. There are many logs here which basicaly dont sand at all. Pieces are just glued together. Others, especially scratch builders in larger scale, can sand a single piece for several hours ensuring that there wont even be a Micrometer gap anywhere. 

 

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Thanks guys.

 

Chris - I wasn't complaining, honest🙂! I was happy with the material provided and managed fine, even though I snapped a strip. I was impressed that you had designed it so that the hull required an exact number of whole strips at midships - it certainly made fitting the final strakes easier.

 

I might try an electric sander next time, at least when doing first planking where you can fill any mistakes.

 

Derek

Edited by DelF

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1 hour ago, DelF said:

Thanks guys.

 

Chris - I wasn't complaining, honest🙂! I was happy with the material provided and managed fine, even though I snapped a strip. I was impressed that you had designed it so that the hull required an exact number of whole strips at midships - it certainly made fitting the final strakes easier.

 

I might try an electric sander next time, at least when doing first planking where you can fill any mistakes.

 

Derek

I know, thing is, I thought there were 28 planks needed! lol. I will add three extra planks in all future kits, as I hate having just enough myself!

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Delf,

 

You are starting a fantastic kit here. Chris Watton's realizations are top notch and I have been following his work for many years.

The structure of the hull seems to be the MDF parts that Chris started using for the Victory that he designed for Amati. 

I will be following with a lot of interest.

 

Yves

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Yves

 

I agree - Chris is a top notch designer. I'm amazed that he can produce such great kits in his spare time! I hope he gets the success he deserves. Are you considering Alert or Speedy, or are you waiting to see what else Chris is developing? I assume you're also looking in on Vane's log - he's way ahead of me?

 

Derek

Edited by DelF

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I've started the second planking - exciting stuff! I always like it when I get to parts of the model that will actually show, like these stern planks:

 

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Boxwood is a real pleasure to work with and it's commendable that Chris has provided it as an option. As Vane has mentioned in his log there is some colour variation, so I'm going to try to get the most uniform strips for the planking that will show. However I don't think this will be a problem as there are 60 strips to choose from and many will be hidden by the coppering and the wales.

 

Next, I fitted the first strake each side. As described in the instruction manual, the top edges of these strips follow the guide marks etched in the plywood gunport templates:

 

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Before final fitting I wetted them, clamped them to the model and blasted them with a hot air gun to try to set the shape. I had to set them higher up on the gunport templates to give the clamps something to sit on, hence the extra pencil marks on the photo. Like Vane, I want to use edge bending and other shaping techniques to get the planks to sit as well as possible. For these first two I also used pins, as they won't show beneath the wales.

 

I'm still not sure about gluing. Chris recommends  medium to thick CA for all second planking, including the edges. It clearly works for Chris, but I'm not sure I trust myself to keep the stuff off the front faces of the planks (and my fingers!). I used my normal wood glue for the first two lengths, and I'll ponder a bit - and do some testing - before deciding what to use for the rest of the planking.

 

My other quandary is what to do about caulking. I used the standard pencil-along-the-edges technique, but now that the stern planking is finished it looks too black and uneven to my eye. If I can't find a way of toning it down I might leave it off. I believe caulking at this scale should be subtle to the point of near-invisibility.

 

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I used an HB pencil - I'll experiment with something a bit softer/less black. 

 

I can see the second planking taking some time, but that's not a problem; I'm enjoying it, and this kit's too good to rush.

 

Derek

 

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There are those who can use CA and those who cant. 

Chris builds his models I believe with a rusty pear of pliers and a Stanley box knife so he has skills undreamt of by us mortals

PVA is safer it - comes off if needed and doesnt  glue you to the model!  But you need a lot of clamping - hence my addiction to pre bending and using a lot of rubber bands.

 

Your first planking looks very neat - did you chamfer the edges of the planks - alwaya good practice especially in second layer.

I have never found a good solution to plank caulking for myself - i have tried the lot pencil, marker pens, paper, thread..

The only plank methd where i am a bit satisfied is deck when i run a thin gauge strip between planks to provided a gap and then use the varnish fill to give defintion. 

I am SURE you already realise but if you are using wet strips - even hot air dried  - it is wise to lets things settle to allow for a bit of wood contraction  Another advantage of pre bending before fix.

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Hi SpyGlass

 

Thanks for the comments and advice. you're making me lean towards PVA and no caulking. However I may try using dabs of CA to "spot-weld" planks in position whilst the PVA dries.  

 

I didn't chamfer the first planking - the strips seemed to fit together quite snuggly without it, at least in most areas. I will chamfer where necessary on the second planking. And you're right, I do leave the planks to settle after wetting and drying. Although I find boxwood is more stable than other woods in that respect, I find it holds the curve better if I leave it clamped up for a few hours. 

 

Derek

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Used in the right manner CA is without doubt the best glue for outer planking i think.

Especially if you take your time with pre-bending and shaping the wood.

And no need for clamping or pins, which makes the best finish if you want to show the wood.

The most common error with CA-glue is using far too much of it and it can get messy.

 

 

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It maybe boils down to how tidy a workman you are !

I ALWAYS stick myself to something unintentional with CA!!

 

More seriously  I really feel that CA has an " aging " issue - definitely never never never use it on rigging in my book - it crystalizes, goes brittle, discolours and fails.

And on some of my older models  (~30 years!)  there was clear deterioration on hull joints but of course that was in the VERY early days of CA

Also it marks the wood surface more seriously if you get any spillage which is not instantly removed.

 

I believe museums will not accept models built with CA - but that may be urban myth

 

Oh and if you mix CA and PVA as you are using both you get a sort of frothy stuff as they interact.  The froth seems to stick ok but does spread around a bit and marks like CA

Edited by SpyGlass

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