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Racehorse by Halfdan - Sergal - scale 1/47 - Novice builder


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Greetings MSW

 

I am new to the forum and to model ship building.

 

During the corona-staycation I decided to give model ship builing a go to kill some time. I started off with the Brittania by mini mamoli. This is a pre-build hull kit so it wasn’t really challenging but I had a lot of fun building/assembling it and therefore decided to learn more about the hobby. When searching online for building logs etc, it didn’t take me long before I ended up on msw, where I found all the information (and a lot more) that I needed.

 

After the Brittania was finished, I ordered the whaling sloop by Artesania Latina because I read somewhere on the forum that this is a good kit to build up some experience and so I decided to give it a go. It took me about two weeks to finish this model and in hindsight I can say I enjoyed the build, but it wasn’t that more challenging than the Brittatnia. I did however “plank” a “hull” for the first time.

 

Then I went looking for the next kit. With all my newly acquired experience (lol), I decided it was time to tackle something more elaborate. I searched online in the “2” (novice/intermediate) category and found my next build, the topic of this build log, the Racehorse by Sergal. I chose this kit/ship for it’s looks and also because the kit is not that expensive and so failure wouldn’t be too costly.

 

I started this build about three weeks ago. I was not planning on making a building log, but since the building logs of others on this forum helped me so well, I decided to make one anyway. None of you masterbuilders will ever learn anything from me, but I hope to help other beginners out and maybe pull some over the line in having a go at this hobby. I am making lots of mistakes and for now my work looks sloppy-ish, but most important of all, I am having fun! I know I will get better at it. We all have to start somewhere.

After reading a few reviews of this kit I learned that the model wasn’t based on an actual ship, but a chimera from Sergal. But I do not mind that all, on the contrary, it only gives me more “artistic-liberty” to make my own interpretation of a bomb sketch. For this model I will mainly be focussing on the building process and tyring out different things anyway rather than making a historically correct ship. That’s something for later models.  

Tldr;      - novice

                - 2 previous builds (Mini Mamoli Brittania and Artesania Latina Whaling Sloop)

                - having lots of fun

                - build log : Sergal Racehorse…

racehorse.jpg

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Now for the build log:

I started the build about three weeks ago.

The bulkheads dryfitted rather loosely on the keel. After seeing different methods and constructions in order to attach the bulkheads perpendicular to the keel, I decided lego was the way to go. Without any ado, the bulheads were glued in place.

note to other novices: I searched for the best/easiest ways on how to clamp bulkheads/planks while the glue sets, I bought small clamps, bigger clamps, pins, …. BUT 90% of the time I just used my hands to hold stuff in place while it dried. If you use express woodglue it takes about 4 to 5 minutes to dry and after about one or two minutes it already stays in place so you don’t have to hold it any longer. “The Racehorse” is 590 mm long so I could easily cover that distance, pushing down on a few key points, with both hands.

On my whaling sloop build I used CA glue but I will never use this again for plaking/decking because if you spill some (which is inevitable for me), there is no (easy) way to remove it and stain doesn’t penetrate the wood because of the layer CA. So the spots where you spilled CA will forever be visible, except if you plan on painting the hul of course.     

Before I started planking the hull I decided to plank the deck first. I did not want to wait with this until the decks were glued in because this would make things more difficult. I dryfitted the decks to make sure I would be able to put them in place after planking them (when planked the decks can’t be “bent” anymore in order to fit between the curved bulkheads). The main deck was a problem so I decided to cut it in half (lengthwise). This way I could easily plank them and later when installed on the ship, easily join the two halves back together as they are glued in place.    

 

For the coloring of the decks I used 20 % grey paint thinned with 80 % isopropyl alcohol (you can buy this alcohol in a pharmacy) in order to get a weathered look. For this I was inspired by a build log on msw, i can’t remeber which one to give credit. As you will see in the following pics, the decks look rather mat. When all planking is finished I will try to make them a bit more shiny again.   

 

Tldr;      -     used pva glue

-          Planked deck before hull

-          Deck coloring (20% paint – 80% isopropyl alcohol)

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Planking the hull:

This was something I was very unsure about as a beginner. Luckily this kit requires 2 layers of planking, so the first layer was perfect for experimenting. After beveling the bulkheads I placed the first plank on each side. But I overdid the curvature of the ship and so when the firt layer planking was finished it showed a lot of clinker effect as the planks were too much curved. In order to make up fort his I used waaaaaaay too much woodfiller. It did not cause any irreversible problems but sanding was a bitch and it looks messy/sloppy.

As you can see on the pictures I am also going to plank the inside of the “shiprailing”. And to make the planking above deck between the bulkeads less flimsy I put some balsa wood between the bulkheads. This made the structure stronger to withstand manhandling during the placement of the second layer of planks, and give a stronger structure to cut out the gunports and put a plank on top of the railing. (I do apologize for my lack of “sailing-ship-parts-terms as I am still learning them.) This is what I mean with not having to be historically correct and experimenting. I have no idea whether or not bomb sketches were build this way but it sure is making things a bit easier/stronger.   

For the second layer’s first planks I followed the main deck and let the planks flow “naturally” to the bow and stern. I think I read most articles and viewed most videos on msw to wrap my head around the whole planking technique. But the more I read about it the more complicated it became, I was seriously overthinking this. + I do not know how you guys do this but if I devided the number of planks required on the midship bulkhead by the length from the first plank to the keel of the bulkheads more towards the stern and bow, the measurements on these smaller to cover distances where ridiculous. For example, bulkhead “2” 2,67 mm plank width – bulkhead “3” 2,72 mm plank width. I don’t ware glasses and the max difference in distance I can see on my ruler is 0,5 mm. Everything smaller than that is a guestimate. And also, the tip op my pencil is 0,3 mm so I would have had to take that into account as well. So I placed the first planks as stated above, measured the distance per bulkhead and roughly used that as I guideline as I went along, keeping the plank width at least ½ of the original width (3mm). The more the gap closed, the more I rechecked the measurement per bulkhead so I would know when to put stealers in if needed. On my first layer planks I needed stealers but none on the second layer, I think I got lucky on the second layer or I must have remembered something from all those articles and videos without realizing it.

I tried to work as clean as possible. I did have to scrape off a lot of glue excess.

   

Tldr;      -    first planking was sloppy

         Too much woodfiller

         Don’t overthink things

         First plank is the most important (according to my experience)

To be continued……

 

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My first plank on the second layer does not completely follow the yellow masking tape line. Starting from the rear deck the masking tape curves upward too much. As you can see on the final planking pictures below it flows more naturally towards the stern. This made the distance between the first plank and the keel at the stern about the same distance as the midship ones. This way I could easily plank mid and aft with the same amount of planks. At the bow you want to make sure the planks flow “naturally” as well, otherwise you end up with a clinker effect. I did this on the first layer and needed lots of woodfiller and sanding to achieve a smooth(er) surface.

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OHello again

Today I sanded the hull. Grid 120 -> 150 -> 400 -> 600. The surface feels very smooth, so smooth it almost slipped out off my hands at one point. Needless to say that after all this work my heart skipped a beat.

Overall I am satisfied with how it turned out. As I already said, I did not need to instal any stealers and I only added one short and very thin piece of “plank” to fill a tiny gap between two planks on one side.   

The only thing I made a mess of is the planking near the bowline. The planks on the bow near the keel are too short and do not form a clean bowline. You can clearly see this on the pictures, the woodfiller coming from underneath only accentuates the problem. Since the kit doesn’t provide a false keel I was planning on making one myself and to keep the color of the forepeak similar to the keel I will also plank the forepeak. This way I can still give the illusion of a rabet line and camouflage the weird bowline near the keel. I should probably just remove those planks and start over but first I will test if I can fix it with a less drastic manoeuvre.

 

I do not know whether I will be painting or staining the hull yet. My first thought was to stain it but the build log of my fellow countryman Patrick,

, made me reconsider. That is also the build where I got my inspiration for the deck coloring. I can strongly advise to have a look at this build, the man truyly knows what he’s doing, in my eyes his ships look amazing! Thanks for the inspiration!

Side.jpg

Bottom.jpg

Bow.jpg

Stern.jpg

Bow line planking.jpg

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As I was thinking about where to make the gunports, I saw on the box of the kit that there is supposed to be a gunport behind the ratline. I know this is a bomb ketch and there are no cannons on it, but since it actually is a standard ketch adjusted and strengthened to withstand the recoil of mortar-fire, at one point it must have carried cannons. Now what I'm getting at is, wouldn't they shoot their own ratline to pieces if they fired that cannon?

 

Photo for reference

 

Gun Port.jpg

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1 minute ago, ccoyle said:

You're right -- shooting one's own ratlines is a no-no. Is it possible that the ship was originally rigged as a sloop before being converted to a mortar vessel?

That's probably why it's there, I can't think of any other reason, thanks for the insight. I will cut out the gunports except for that particular one, it just looks really silly when you think about it.  

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4 hours ago, amateur said:

According to wiki: build as an 18 gun, three masted privateer in 1757 by the french .

refitted/reclassed as mortar-vessel twice in her career.

 

Jan

Interesting Jan, I will definitely look further into this. 

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Conway's ship types book, Bomb Vessels by Chris Ware is worth taking a look at. It has line drawings, profile and deck plans for her when converted to a fire ship and as a Bomb vessel. It also has line drawings and painting as she was converted for arctic exploration.

 

Unfortunately though she was ship rigged in all these forms and hull shape very different to the kit. As a Bomb there was 5 gun ports per side.

 

This was my first kit and I did some research at the time. I found a representation of a British Bomb Ketch in 'Fighting ships of the Royal Navy' by E.H.H. Archibald which is a ketch with identical shape and stern to the kit.

 

Racehorse was a captured French ship and converted to a bomb but never designed as one. Carcass, on the other hand, was designed as a bomb and converted to artic exploration. She sailed with Racehorse and it is this ship that Nelson was in. I assume Carcass was not good for sales as a kit. When I researched Carcass she did not fit the design either but she was of the class 'Infernal'. So I researched infernal and found an earlier Infernal that was a member of the 'Thunder' class that did have similar lines. Hence I re-named my kit Thunder.

 

Another option is a beautiful Ketch rigged sloop of war of which there is a model in the NMM. HMS Speedwell see photographs in 'Sloop of War' by Ian McLaughlan. You will recognise the stern immediately She did get converted to a fireship for a spell but nothing mentioning a bomb.. 

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On 6/5/2020 at 8:24 PM, Thunder said:

Conway's ship types book, Bomb Vessels by Chris Ware is worth taking a look at. It has line drawings, profile and deck plans for her when converted to a fire ship and as a Bomb vessel. It also has line drawings and painting as she was converted for arctic exploration.

 

Unfortunately though she was ship rigged in all these forms and hull shape very different to the kit. As a Bomb there was 5 gun ports per side.

 

This was my first kit and I did some research at the time. I found a representation of a British Bomb Ketch in 'Fighting ships of the Royal Navy' by E.H.H. Archibald which is a ketch with identical shape and stern to the kit.

 

Racehorse was a captured French ship and converted to a bomb but never designed as one. Carcass, on the other hand, was designed as a bomb and converted to artic exploration. She sailed with Racehorse and it is this ship that Nelson was in. I assume Carcass was not good for sales as a kit. When I researched Carcass she did not fit the design either but she was of the class 'Infernal'. So I researched infernal and found an earlier Infernal that was a member of the 'Thunder' class that did have similar lines. Hence I re-named my kit Thunder.

 

Another option is a beautiful Ketch rigged sloop of war of which there is a model in the NMM. HMS Speedwell see photographs in 'Sloop of War' by Ian McLaughlan. You will recognise the stern immediately She did get converted to a fireship for a spell but nothing mentioning a bomb.. 

Thanks for this information, I find the evolution of these desings fascinating. The Conway’s ship types book is on its way, seems like a great source of inspiration for this type of vessels. I will use the book as guide for the design, however, since this is my first build, I am mostly guided by where the building process takes me. Thnx again.

 

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Small update;

The kit doesn't provide a false keel so I decided to make one myself. I used balsa wood for the structure and strips of mahogany to cover it. Portside is finished, starboardside will be done after buying more (brittle) mahogany strips. The way the lower planks of the hull near the keel at the bow form a straight line looks a bit odd but I think I'll stick with it. I tell myself I designed it this way to strengthen the bow against ice during its arctic expedtions and then I can sleep at night 🙂

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That’s a beauty. Very nicely done.

I like your solution for the middle gunport and placement of the headrails, much cleaner that way.

I havent given rigging a thought yet but I’m sure your photo’s ‘ll come in handy along the way. 

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Your planking looks good, this was my first wooden build also many years ago and I will admit I sanded for a months on my hull to get her looking nice. Here's a couple  pics of her:

 

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Yep the flag is wrong, I changed her to a Confederate bomber. Will be following your build with interest. If you need some better images of mine, just holler.

 

 

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She looks very good Jonathan, you did an amazing job on your first build. I’m sure ADM Buchanan would have liked her in his fleet! I’ll be putting her under another flag as well, not sure which one yet. Time enough to figure that out tho.

It’s very interesting to see the different approaches to this kit. 

 

Would it be possible to post a picture of the side of the model please? In a not to distant future I will install the wales and chose a painting/staining scheme. On your pictures above I can’t really see what colors you decided on and I’m curious to know. From what I can make out you used a darkish stain which is what I lean to as well.

 

Thanx in advance 

 

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9 hours ago, Jonathan11 said:

I had used black walnut stain for the hull, Then teak stain for the hull outer ribs. I'll pull her back out and get some more images by tomorrow for you. Glad you like her.

Alright, the walnut seems like a good option. I'm looking forward to viewing it on your ship.  
 

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That’s awesome, thanks for sharing!

The black walnut stain looks spot on, I think I’ll be using that as well. And the the lighter tone on the wales makes a fine contrast. I think I’ll paint the areas inbetween the wales tho, probably black, as I plan to add extra messing decorations I hope the black makes them stand out more. 

Anyway, thanks again for posting those pictures. The small mistakes only add character to your beautiful ship.

 

Cheers to you !

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hello all, another update :

 

Progress has been slow but steady.

As this build is going on I tend to follow the instructions less and less. To be completely honest, I haven’t really looked at them since I started planking the hull. I just put all the wood strips and bars on a big pile and take what I need as I go along and if it’s not there I go and buy it. I’m sure I’ll need the instructions again to get a general idea but I will be using materials as I see fit and will work with my own measurements as those in the instructions often make no sense. The manual also prescribes some working methods that I find completely absurd so I approach them differently. (For example; in the instructions, the plank on top of the railing on the foredeck, which is curved, should be made out of little pieces of wood that you puzzle together into “one” piece as you glue them on. I have no idea how long this would have taken me and how frustrating it would have been to put in that amount of work and end up with a mosaic of sloppiness but instead I bought a 1,5 by 100 mm mahogany plank and glued two pieces on, large enhough to cover the top surface the railing. I still had to sand and cut a lot of excess wood  but it I’m sure it didn’t take me any longer than it would have taken to make said mosaic)

I opted for 4 gunports on each side of the vessel. I left out the middle one as that would have only caused problems further down the road. (The middle gunport is right in front of where the shrouds and ratlines need to come, so in order to not shoot those into pieces when that middle cannon would be fired, I left them out.)    

I used the kit’s provided planks for the planking of the hull, which is basswood, and for all the other parts I used mahogany that I bought extra. (at €0,65/m it’s not a big cost).

 

I have been testing different finishes as well. The stain options were disastrous, I tried middle oak, light oak, mahogany and walnut. I test-applied them on some (super clean surfaced) left over basswood planks that I glued onto a surface but they all looked crappy as hell. Blotched up and colors were very inconsistent. (I will post a picture of it later, I don’t have it on my phone) So I am probably going to use varnish (dark oak) instead, I still have to test it of course. I also have to test the paint I bought (mat and satin finish) and figure out in what order I’ll apply the different finishes. All tips are welcome of course.  

 

Tl;dr : - not really following the instructions of the kit

          - finishing is still a ? 

         - see pics for progress

 

 

 

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6 hours ago, Halfdan said:

Here's a pic of the figurehead provided in the kit, I seriously have no idea what this is supposed to be. 

But if I where to put this on my vessel I should call it the hms Goldnugget. I will buy a replacement for that.   

 

8.jpg

Did the horse fall at the fence?😉😏

I think you're right to replace it.

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Hi Halfdan,

I think it's meant to be a lion. The Admiralty passed several edicts about paint and figureheads. The basic RN figurehead was the rampant lion, and even this was "banned" from the lower rates during the mid 1700s because of the cost.  If a captain wanted fancy paintwork, scrolls and figureheads he had to pay out of his own pocket.

figurehead.thumb.jpg.73a65c8ae9e9f94a6682b05c94aedfd5.jpg

From the RMG Website, good description given. Figurehead

Looking good though!

Cheers,

Bob

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Hi Bob, that’s the one indeed! What a piece of art.

With a lot of imagination I can kind of see that’s the figurehead it should be.

Very nice picture, thanks for posting it 👍🏻

I’m sure I’ll find one on te web that looks the way it’s supposed to.

 

cheers,

Halfdan

 

 

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I found that I quite enjoy carving my own carvings.

 

I learned to carve on this forum following the learn to carve group.  I then made several test carvings following the carvings on the sterns of the Triton and Winchelsea.  After carving those, I carved the figurehead for the Prince de Neufchatel and then following the completion of that model, I started on the remaining carvings of the Victory.


I have now carved two figureheads and have been very happy with them.  They are not perfect, but they look good (and in the case of the Victory, much better than the original that came with the kit).

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3 hours ago, GrandpaPhil said:

I found that I quite enjoy carving my own carvings.

 

I learned to carve on this forum following the learn to carve group.  I then made several test carvings following the carvings on the sterns of the Triton and Winchelsea.  After carving those, I carved the figurehead for the Prince de Neufchatel and then following the completion of that model, I started on the remaining carvings of the Victory.


I have now carved two figureheads and have been very happy with them.  They are not perfect, but they look good (and in the case of the Victory, much better than the original that came with the kit).

I actually thought about that. The only problem is the scale, the details on the figurehead are so small that I would need some serious practice before attempting that. For now I’m just going to finish this ship with premade decorations. I’m considering a scratch build for my next project, then I’ll focus on how to make all those details myself. As this is my first build there is already enough to learn about as it is. But great advice, I’ll get there in due time 😉

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Today I tested dark oak varnish, this is the one I’m going to use.

I’m glad I found the color I was looking for. First time I tested with varnish, seems way easier to get it right. All previous attempts were done with stain and with none of those I achieved a satisfying result.

I also made the windows that’ll go on the sides of the model. 

 

 

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