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Keith S

HMS Terror by Keith S - OCCRE - scale 1:75 - as she (dis)appeared on her final mission 1845 - first wooden ship build

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Hi everyone, I'm building the OCCRE HMS Terror model. This is my first ship model, and I described the reasons for wanting to build her in my "new member" introduction. I'm actually a fair ways along with this model, but have reached the point where I have questions about details and Royal Navy standard practice from that era, in an attempt to make my model as accurate as I can. Also I see other people are building this model, and I hope to trade notes with them as I go along. I guess I'll make a series of posts to start off, to show the various stages I went through to get the model to the point she's currently at. I am trying to make some improvements to the basic kit: to this end I have done a bit of research and also received a bit of help from a friend who is very knowledgeable about ships, the Franklin ships in particular, and is very generous with his advice. My model will incorporate some of the things I've learned from photographs of the real ship as she lies today, the kit itself, and also the advice of my friend. Also I have read and re-read the excellent blog by a member of this forum on the subject of HMS Terror, which I will study closely and try to make modifications to the kit to try and emulate. 

 

 

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Here is a basic record of the work I've done so far. I do not necessarily build in the sequence set out in the kit instructions.

 

The first step in this kit is to lay out and glue the hundreds of planks that form the deck, onto the plywood false deck. It's a fiddly exercise that gives the neophyte modeller a taste of the effort that is going to be required to build the ship!

 

 

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Here you can see how I did the second course of planking on the model. I tried to make the planking a little more realistic by tapering each strake in an attempt to make them lie in a bit more realistic fashion. I understand that to truly "spile" the planks would have required starting with some wider stock than the 5mm strips supplied in the kit, and the result is in no way a "scale" representation of the real ship's planking, but I am fairly pleased with how it turned out. Of course, the real hard work will eventually be completely covered by the metal armour on her bow.

 

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The "ice chocks" are built up from about five layers of wood strips which are then planed and carved to shape. On the real ship, this was built up in an attempt to protect the chain plates from being pulled away by ice. My examination of drawings of the real ship made me suspect the measurements in the kit were off by about five mm, therefore I lowered the ice chock by that amount and sent a message to OCCRE. I feel that the ice chock on my model is in the correct position.

 

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Here I have worked on the stern windows and painted the inner bulwarks. Via Mr. Betts' research on his blog, I read a written conversation between the Lords of the Admiralty and the shipwright who prepared the ship for this expedition, in which their Lordships requested a description of the ships' colour scheme to aid in identifying them during the search for them. It was indicated that the "inner weatherworks" were painted yellow, so I painted the inner bulwarks on my model the same. There is no way to know if this is correct, other than possibly there might be paint left on the actual ship. We may find out someday. However, I think the yellow colour looks OK.

 

As for the windows, I first painted the wood on the transom in horizontal gradations of dark to very dark blue. Then I glued acetate "glass" behind the brass frames, which were painted white. I feel this reproduces the look of shiny glass with a dark room behind.

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Here are pictures of the iron-work around the Terror's propeller aperture. The ship's stern-post and rudder were moved aft to make room for the retractable propeller. To retain strength, the whole contraption was banded up with heavy iron straps which in the model are represented by etched brass bands and small brads to represent the huge rivets. I feel this is a part of the kit which is really well done and really captures the essence of this early industrial-revolution addition to an age-of-sail structure. I chemically blackened the brass and touched it up with some black paint. 

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The kit drawings depict the ship in either a compelling natural-wood finish, or painted to represent the ship how she really looked. I wanted to paint her, but my wife and friends thought she looked good in natural wood. I decided to compromise and stain the hull in minwax "ebony" stain. I painted the ice chocks white. I think this worked out quite well, preserving the lovely grain of the sapele wood while darkening it enough to suggest a realistic black colour scheme.

 

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Here I have begun working on the upper works. I was not particularly impressed with the kit's depiction of the deck skylights. On the real ship, the skylights were flat-topped and glazed all around with small rectangular panes. On the kit, the individual panes are depicted with brass rods in a rectangular aperture. I tried to improve upon this by cutting individual panes into a piece of 4mm walnut strip, and backing it with very thin plastic, which I glued with thin CA to make it look frosted.

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Here I have re-made the ship's capstan to better represent the Phillips' Patent capstan on the real ship. The one in the kit is quite small and lacks detail, so I made this new one using Matthew Betts' blog in which he describes the capstan and his excellent reproduction on his scratch-built model. Also, in these pictures you can see the aft companionway, which I cut down to a shorter height. Drawings of the ship show this companionway was shorter than the forward one, probably to provide clearance for the capstan bars. 

 

I made the capstan by turning the pieces using my dremel tool. 

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Here I have made a start on the chainplates for the foremast. Rather than build them up out of wire, I ordered some model chainplates from "Castyouranchor.com". They are very realistic, and I used very thin brass wire to fish the deadeyes onto them. I chemically blackened them and attached them using the brass eyes from the kit. I think they are a pretty realistic depiction of what the real thing may have looked like.

 

Also, here we can see I have made a start on the ship's "Preston Patent" deck illuminators. In the kit, these are depicted with little brass grommets. Fair enough, but a real "Preston Patent" illuminator is rather flat and flush with the deck. So, I used a small file to flatten each grommet, and then made a "lens" for each one by squeezing hot glue into the bottom until it domed out slightly on the deck side. 

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Here is where I decided I did not like the wheel supplied in the kit. The reason for this is that the real ship had a ten-spoked wheel and the one in the kit is eight-spoked. This would not have bothered me too much, except we now have actual photographs of the real ship's wheel as she lies today, and we can see she has a ten-spoked one! Luckily, I was able to find a mini-kit to build ten-spoked ship's wheels in precisely the same diameter as the kit one, from Syrenshipmodels. Now, my model has a more historically correct wheel. I am quite tolerant of educated guesses and compromises in models, but when we have a photograph of the real ship, I would like the model to match what we see in those photographs. Minus the seaweed of course.

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Hi Keith, great series of posts on your HMS Terror build.

 

You've been doing a terrific job. Looking forward to watching your progress.

 

Clare

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You're doing a great job on the Terror. She's looking really good. Outstanding work for your first build!

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Hi

 

Really beautiful build and amazing craftmenship.

Really like the additions you have made and changes.

 I hope to learn few tricks and tips from you.

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Thanks guys for taking the time to look at my model and the kind comments. Today I received word from my employer that as an "essential services" I will continue to work but am instructed to remain under quarantine when not on duty. I guess I will be getting a lot of modelling time now considering I can not drink or hang out with my friends. At least I still have a job, unlike a great many other pilots. 

 

Lately I have been working on the ship's windlass. I am generally very impressed with the quality of the OCCRE kit, but there are many parts, for example the 8-spoked wheel, which are generic "ship parts" but are not exactly correct for this specific ship. If one were to use only the parts in the kit, one would have a very nice model of HMS Terror. However, it is always possible to improve any kit, and I have set about researching the real ship and doing what I can to make my model as much like the real one as possible. What makes this possible is the incredible wealth of information on Matthew Betts' blog, in which he generously makes available a great deal of the painstaking research he has done in this ship using Royal Navy archives. 

 

I've modified the kit windlass to more closely resemble the one in the shipwright's drawings of HMS Erebus and HMS Terror. These ships during their lifespans were right at the beginning of the era during which iron came more into use in ship construction. The original windlasses were probably the big wooden kind with huge oak "knees" reinforcing the cheeks of the windlass. The most recent drawings of HMS Erebus from the early 1840s show that her windlass was modified or replaced with one that made use of iron rather than wood reinforcement. It is reasonable to assume that HMS Terror was similarly modified, as by this time the two ships were operating together most of the time, and there was a policy of commonality to reduce the number of spares required on an expedition. 

 

I made this one by turning pieces of dowel in my dremel and assembling them on a toothpick for the "drum". The windlass "cheeks" were made by cutting the back half off the plywood kit peices and gluing them onto a piece of 1x6 mm Walnut stock with blackened pins to simulate the rivets on the real one. I made the big iron bitts on top out of bits of dowel and sheet brass, and the iron brace in front out of scraps of brass fret from the kit. 

 

 

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Hi Keith, your doing a great job with her. I have the Terror sitting on the closet shelve for a future project and will enjoy watching your build. I am also quite new to ship modelling but can't help but wonder why there are no bulkhead stanchions on the inboard side up from the deck. It confuses me because what holds up all of that planking on the Real Ship. BTW great job with the wheel it looks excellent. Are you watching AMC while you build her ;) It's available with Canadian Amazon Prime.

 

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Excellent woodworking and attention to detail, Keith! A very striking color scheme, and your choice of an ebony finish on the hull looks great. Did you seal the hull before staining, and what finish did you use on the deck? I'll be looking forward to your progress as you continue building this very interesting ship.

Cheers,

BobC

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Novastorm You know it's interesting you should point that out, because I had wondered the same thing myself about stanchions. I've seen this model built by others where some representation stanchions have been added, but I am not sure if this is a correct detail. For guidance on any changes to the kit I might make, I am referring to the blog written by Matthew Betts, whose plans for his scratch-built model are credited in the kit literature as the basis for the kit. His model does not show any visible stanchion structures on the inner bulwarks either. For reference I checked out pictures online of the preserved Leda-class frigate HMS Trincomalee, and there are no visible bulwark stanchions on her either. I concluded that there must be inner as well as outer planking. If you check out Mr. Betts' blog this seems to be how he built his model - the stanchions or upper frame extensions are encapsulated within inner and outer planking. On the much smaller OCCRE model this is just plywood of course, which is one reason I painted it rather than leaving the natural wood colour. 

 

One thing I did change because it looked right to me, is the upper beam of the catheads. I did not think that in real life this would simply have been bolted onto the bulwark planking. I consider it to be more likely that this beam penetrated the bulwark to be embedded in the deck and attached somehow to the ship's internal structure. I don't know if this is correct but to me it seems likely, even though I must admit there is no sign on either Mr. Betts' drawings not the Royal Navy archived ones that this was the case. Maybe someday it will show up in an underwater photograph of the real ship. 

 

Bob, I did not seal the hull before staining, I rubbed the wood with minwax "wood conditioner" to help the stain penetrate, and just brushed on the stain. That's about three coats you see there. I am thinking of going over it with a coat of satin-finish spar varnish but haven't done that yet. The deck is finished with satin finish spar-varnish. Some guys weather their decks, but I didn't. I've noticed however that it's taking on a bit of a patina from constant handling and dropping things on it and wiping up drops of glue...

 

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14 minutes ago, Keith S said:

Novastorm You know it's interesting you should point that out, because I had wondered the same thing myself about stanchions. I've seen this model built by others where some representation stanchions have been added, but I am not sure if this is a correct detail. For guidance on any changes to the kit I might make, I am referring to the blog written by Matthew Betts, whose plans for his scratch-built model are credited in the kit literature as the basis for the kit. His model does not show any visible stanchion structures on the inner bulwarks either. For reference I checked out pictures online of the preserved Leda-class frigate HMS Trincomalee, and there are no visible bulwark stanchions on her either. I concluded that there must be inner as well as outer planking. If you check out Mr. Betts' blog this seems to be how he built his model - the stanchions or upper frame extensions are encapsulated within inner and outer planking. On the much smaller OCCRE model this is just plywood of course, which is one reason I painted it rather than leaving the natural wood colour. 

 

One thing I did change because it looked right to me, is the upper beam of the catheads. I did not think that in real life this would simply have been bolted onto the bulwark planking. I consider it to be more likely that this beam penetrated the bulwark to be embedded in the deck and attached somehow to the ship's internal structure. I don't know if this is correct but to me it seems likely, even though I must admit there is no sign on either Mr. Betts' drawings not the Royal Navy archived ones that this was the case. Maybe someday it will show up in an underwater photograph of the real ship. 

 

You are probably correct Keith, but the way the model presents it is a touch confusing which is why I asked. Thanks for the great response.

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Hi Keith, she looks great, splendid work. Could you shed some more light on the channels and deadeyes? What did you use? I'm building Terror as well, and this is one of the open questions I still had, as I4d like the channels to be black like yours.

 

Thnx in advance for your help!

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23 minutes ago, ObviousNewbie said:

Hi Keith, she looks great, splendid work. Could you shed some more light on the channels and deadeyes? What did you use? I'm building Terror as well, and this is one of the open questions I still had, as I4d like the channels to be black like yours.

 

Thnx in advance for your help!

 

I'd be happy to help! The deadeyes are attached to model chainplates. I did not like the use of brass wire to make them, so I ordered some from an online store in Canada called "Castyouranchor.com" I will provide a link to the specific product I used. They are quite long, but easy to snip to the right length and I think they are probably exactly what would have been on the real ship. I also attached them at their lower end just below the chock channel with the little "8" shaped brass bits from the kit. I will go downstairs and take pictures of these so it's more clear. I'll also show you what I mean about the measurement of the chock-channels themselves.

 

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Did a bit more work last night on Terror. I made the little ratchet thingies on the windlass (don't know the nautical term) that also will support the bell when I install that. Altogether this part of the windlass is now complete. I also made the forward companionway on which I tried to make a better hatch and finer planking than the aft one, but this is all so darn small that the differences between the two are hard to spot. Unfortunately in this tiny scale if you zoom in too close it doesn't look so great. A grain of dust looks like a rock. Anyway here is the windlass- I think it's pretty close to the real thing.

 

 

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Very nice work sofar, she'll be a beautiful example once completed! I love the deck pattern on the Terror, such a beautiful and historically important ship. 

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Here is not so much a progress report as some entertaining pictures to look at. I was bumbling about my house today and noticed a sunbeam someone had left on the floor. The angle it made to the floor planks reminded me of the Terror's deck, and then the beam itself reminded me of a sidescan sonar image. So I got the model and put her in the sunbeam to make my own "side scan" images. 

 

As for progress, I have done a couple of belaying pin racks, but most of my time has been taken up making iron rings for the propeller-well cover and the hatch just aft of the mainmast. It's a lot of work for not much difference, but I am not in too much of a hurry to complete this model. For once in my life I'm enjoying the process and not worrying too much about the result! 

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