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After a long and complex scratchbuild (the American Missouri River steamboat Arabia), I felt the need for something a little more relaxing (i.e., with instructions and someone else's planning work). Being of primarily Norwegian/British/Irish descent, I've long been interested in the Anglo-Saxon-Viking era and a ship from that period makes a very distinct project from my core interest in American riverboats. So I settled on this Dusek longship, based on one of the five vessels found at Skuldelev in Denmark. The fact that the original was built in Ireland adds extra interest for me, and I've read good things about Dusek kits. From the Dusek site:




Dusek makes kits for three styles of Viking ship: this longship, the Gokstad ship, and a knarr. All three are offered in 1:72 and 1:35; I chose the latter as I was interested in the chance to include some extra detail possible at this scale. As far as I can tell, there isn't a single build log for this kit on MSW, so hopefully this is of use to others. Here are all the logs for Dusek Viking ships that I could find on MSW (please alert me if I've missed one):


Gokstad Viking Ship by jack.aubrey - Dusek Ship Kits - 1:35 Scale

Gokstad Viking Ship by Seventynet - Dusek Ship Kits - FINISHED - 1:35 Scale

Gokstad Viking Ship by Dr PS - Paul Schulze - Dusek Ship Kits - 1:35 Scale

Viking Knarr by Daryl - FINISHED - Dusek - Scale 1:72

Viking Longship by Binho - Dusek - Scale 1:72


I don't intend to build this as an exact replica of the original but rather use it as a base to adapt the vessel to have certain features I find interesting. For example, I've done some reading on various ways shields were hung/displayed and want to modify this to use a shield rack (as was found on a different Skuldelev ship). I'm also going to replace some of the kit wood with material harvested and milled by myself. There are other possibilities I'm toying with that may come up in good time. I haven't started on the kit yet, but wanted to announce the build and welcome anyone who's interested in these vessels to follow and offer me advice as I take on something very different from my normal milieu.

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It's been another really stressful week and I'm feeling very run down, but I finally got started on the model this weekend, and immediately ran into a couple barriers.


First, as has been reported in other logs, the keel pieces are a bit warped. I'm trying to decide whether I need to soak and weight these, or whether the use of a proper building board and frame will be sufficient to hold these straight until the planking holds them in shape. What do you all think?




Second, I'd like to adapt the style of building frame used by jack.aubrey and seventynet as shown below, respectively:



modified frame squarer 2.JPG


The basic issue is that, unlike many "modern" vessels, the bottom of the keel has almost no flat surface and thus very little reference point to start from. It carries a smooth and subtle curve pretty much all the way through. I thought I had a good idea by thinking that I could adapt the original wood sheet from which the keel pieces were laser cut, since these carry the exact curve of the keel. If I cut those in a way that gave a smooth bottom, I could simply use that to support the keel!


The immediate problem was that these did not have the same depth of wood below the keel for each piece, so I had to trim them. I carefully set a table saw to trim the thicker piece to match the thinner piece, assuming that I could then lay both flat and simply set the keel into them:






I'm a fool. The fact that the keel has a constant curve means there was no reason to assume that a given straight line would follow all the way through or that the bottom of the original wood sheet had any relevance to the orientation of the keel. So this was what I got for my trouble:




Time to start over and come up with a different solution. What I should have done is tape the keel pieces together, tape the two pieces of outer wood below them, then use the straightedge to draw one consistent line across both that I then cut using the table saw. Somehow didn't see that until it was too late.


Which takes me back to whether I need to soak & weight those keels or just build a good frame. The warps don't seem too bad, but I haven't built something like this before so don't know what to expect.


So much for this being a relaxing build that just lets me follow instructions!

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Glad to see you are under way. Of course there will challenges along the way, that’s what makes the hobby so enjoyable. Where’s the fun in everything going smoothly. 


Im with Kurt on this one, build the frame the wet and weight the keel until dry. It’s amazing at how straight it will get. I’ve done this method on all of my full rigged ships and the results were perfect. 


Hope your stresses subside soon so you can focus on more enjoyable things. 



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I did indeed soak the keel, then laid the two pieces out on my garage floor (a known smooth, flat surface) and weighted them down with a set of bricks. 24 hours later, the pieces were much straighter.


I then stained them using a Model Shipways walnut stain that I bought for this project, then attached the two halves using clamps and an extra reinforcing strip of scrap wood. I laid the whole keel onto a 4' straightedge/level for this, which allowed me to clamp them into place perfectly straight while the glue dried (joint is under the two black clamps in the image below):



I then set about figuring out how to construct a proper build frame using scrap wood available in my shop (which is mostly rough-milled Eastern Red Cedar from lumber I harvested). Here's what I came up with, following the examples shown above:


This is very sturdy and holds the fragile stem and stern solidly in place. The whole thing was screwed together, as I hate using glue on things that won't be permanent as then I can't burn or naturally dispose of the wood scraps. Now I can take it all apart again when I'm done. The thin strips holding the central part of the keel in place are partially cedar and partially some random leftover wood from my scrapbox, no idea what it is. If you look closely, you can see that I did use curved portions of the original laser-cut sheet to support the stem and stern; I just cut off the long extensions under the central part of the keel so I wouldn't have to worry about the whole thing being straight. This worked great.


Here's a detail of the jig I built for attaching frames, again based on examples from other build logs (especially jack.aubrey's):




I used a Byrnes table saw to ensure that everything was completely square. The series of horizontal lines drawn on the surface allow the frames to be lined up at various heights. The "feet" allow this to be clamped in place on the build board anywhere I want, following lines drawn onto the board using a square. I think it'll work well, and can adapt it if I find a flaw.


It's all rough, but seems like it'll do the trick. Time to stain the frames and then start assembling things.

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So the instructions for this kit have what I think is a major flaw. Along with the frames, there is a two-part false deck that goes within the frames. The instructions say to glue the frames to this false deck first, and then install onto the keel. That would look like this (dry-fit for demonstration purposes):




However, as pointed out by Binho for the smaller version of this kit, this has a serious flaw: The false deck is flat, while the keel is not; the latter has a clear rocker (curve) toward stem and stern. So if you glue the frames to the deck nice and square, they'll start leaning toward the center as you approach the stem and stern. This means they won't actually fit nicely with the vertical slots in the keel.


So it makes more sense to attack the frames first, then slip the false deck in. To make sure this would work (i.e. is there enough room to slide those deck pieces through the enclosed frames?), I did another dry-fit. It does work, you can slide the deck pieces in afterward:




With that confirmation in hand, I started gluing in frames using my homemade jig:



The frame is first lined up with the horizontal lines on the jig to ensure it's level, then clamped on (black clamps). I then use a square to ensure that it's even across the keel and clamp the jig's feet to the build board (silver clamps). I've done a few this way and it's worked great.


I ran into one small problem. I thought I'd been careful to ensure that the horizontal strips holding the keel in place were low enough to not interfere with the frames, but got it wrong in one place: the very next slot in the image above. I fixed this by using a small chisel to gouge out a slot for the frame to enter. This was especially easy as the cedar is soft and easy to carve:




I nicked the keel, but I don't think it'll be visible in the final model.


So now I'm just moving forward gluing each frame in place, which is slow as I like to let the glue set well before moving on to the next frame as the workspace is tight. I probably could have built a second jig to work from the other and and double my rate, but don't feel like it, so will just keep plugging away.


Thanks for reading! Hopefully this will get more interesting soon as the ship starts to take shape. Early steps are always a bit dull.

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Got all the frames installed, looks pretty cool:




I started test-fitting the false deck that gets inserted within these frames, and immediately found the next problem: it doesn't line up straight with the frames and keel. It has slots that are supposed to fit over every frame, but if you line up the deck's centerline with the keel, the slots are at an angle to the frames (i.e. the frame don't fit into them), and if you slot all the frames into the deck, the deck doesn't line up with the keel. Here the latter is shown; check the centerline at both ends:




Detailed view amidships:




Detailed view at the bow:




This problem is consistent throughout the deck; all the slots fit neatly around the frames, but the whole deck is off-kilter. So this could have two explanations: (1) I got the angle of the frames consistently wrong (not square to the keel) when gluing them in or (2) the deck slots aren't cut quite square.


I double-checked all the frames relative to the keel using a square, and they're all as square to the keel as I can determine. I then placed a strip of wood across one of the frames and placed a square against it to check the orientation of the deck's centerline, with this result:




You can clearly see the off-angle there, which seems to imply that the deck slots weren't cut quite square during manufacture (option 2). Even if I installed the frames crooked, if the deck slots were cut squarely, the deck's center line should be at 90° to the frames when they're fit together (the measurement above is independent from the keel).


Does that seem like the right conclusion, or am I missing something?


Either way, it seems like the best answer is to file the deck slots wider until the deck fits properly and squarely with the keel. As this gets covered with another layer, I don't think it matters if the slots are a bit loose.

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I'd say you were on the right track. It's by no means unknown for kits to need a fair bit of tweaking before they work properly.


You seem to have done everything necessary to ensure the fault didn't lie with what you'd done yourself, so it seems to lie with the kit. I think adjusting the slots looks like your best option.


In the long run, the false deck has to be square to the hull, and adjusting the slots (which as you mention, won't be seen anyway) is the way to go.

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I agree with your assumption, the slots do not seem to be cut square. Of course with all of the kits I have built all of the parts we cut just perfectly so that everything lines up just right. (Cough, cough). 


Seriously though, you are right on track with adjusting the slots to enable the centerline of the deck to line up with the keel. None of this will be seen when the planking is in place. 



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Time to add the false decks. It took quite a while to carve the frame slots out enough for these to fit properly, but I got there eventually. Part of the slowness was the need to keep sliding the decks back inside the frames to check the fit, which is a delicate process.


Once I felt they'd fit, I worked out how to hold them in place while the glue dried. Several people have used various combinations of rubber bands and clamps, but I drew on some resources from my geology background. First, I spread a thick layer of glue on all the keel/frame surfaces, as the fit isn't perfect in a few places, not worrying about spillover since none of this will be visible from any angle:




I then used rock samples between each frame, which seemed to work nicely with a minimum of fuss. I did one half of the frame first, then the other.






So far so good.

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Next step is to add bracing to the top of the frames to hold the whole assembly stiff while planking. This is another example of the instructions being really vague; they refer to using a numbered part for this, but there's nothing in the laser-cut sheets or plans with that number. The kit comes with various strip wood, but there's no parts list to tell you what's what or what it's intended for, and all of it seems to be nicer wood than I'd use for throwaway temporary bracing. So I just used stuff from my scrap bin instead.


I did the bow and stern first, using shorter pieces so they'd stay near the outer edge of the frames:





Then filled in long straight strips in the middle:




Next step is to remove the hull from the building frame and start planking. I'm trying to decide if I want to build/adapt a new building frame to hold it firmly upside down, or just work on it freehand.

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6 hours ago, Cathead said:

I'm trying to decide if I want to build/adapt a new building frame to hold it firmly upside down, or just work on it freehand.

I'd say yes - have a frame. The stabler the shape as you plank, the better off you're likely to be. And better to be safe than sorry - it'd be terrible down the track to regret not having a frame.

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3 hours ago, Louie da fly said:

I'd say yes - have a frame. The stabler the shape as you plank, the better off you're likely to be. And better to be safe than sorry - it'd be terrible down the track to regret not having a frame.



I'm with Steven on this one. I'd say that given the long slender design of this hull, a frame is the way to go. Why risk it when a little extra work will pay off in the end.



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Here's the upside-down stand I cobbled together from the existing one, basically by turning the vessel upside down and adding some vertical supports using scrap wood and hardware from my workshop. This won't allow me to plank all the way, but will let me get a series of strakes on that will help stabilize the hull. Once I get that far I'll decide how to modify things to proceed further.




Hopefully I get to work on this over the weekend, life continues to be a real bear lately.

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