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Good question. I don't know, but my guesses include (a) not directly exposed to seawater, (b) easily replaceable so why waste the tar, and (c) the deck isn't meant to be sealed like the outer hull. I also wonder what the texture of tarred wood was like, and whether it would be more difficult to walk on.

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Wow, that thing is huge! Quite a bit bigger than Skuldelev 2. Petr is right, it's not a specific reproduction and in fact seems to combine styles and ideas multiple eras to create a sort of idealized craft. For comparison (figures from sites linked below):

  • Dragon Harald Fairhair (ship in the video)
    • 115' (35 m) long
    • 26' (8 m) wide
    • displaces 80 t
    • sail area of 260 square m
    • crew of at least 100
  • Skuldelev 2
    • 98' (30 m) long
    • 12' (3.8 m) wide
    • displaces 26 t
    • sail area of 112 square m
    • crew of around 70

Thanks for sharing that video, it was a nice overview of various steps taken in construction.


As for the current project, the deck is done! I rewarded myself by painting the third figure. Meet Sigtryggr, again named for a character from the Saxon Tales books but this time also a real historical figure. The real Sigtryggr was a Norseman who ruled in both Dublin and Northumbria, the former making him especially appropriate for this version of Skuldelev 2 (which was built near Dublin, though over 100 years after Sigtryggr's time). He's the most ornate and wealthiest of the three figures I've acquired, with his fur cloak, fancy shield, and cloak with embroidered linings. I tried to match his color scheme to the ship's.




Here are all three figures:



And here they are on the completed deck:




This was a nice milestone to reach. Not sure what I'm going to work on next, but thanks for sticking with me.

Edited by Cathead
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15 hours ago, Cathead said:

Thanks for sharing that video, it was a nice overview of various steps taken in construction.

That’s what I was thinking as I was watching. It’s amazing the skill and labor involved with shipbuilding. My ulterior motive was hoping, somewhat, that by watching it would entice you to add the rivets to your build 😈

Beautiful job on the figures. They look right at home on the deck. My skills at detailed painting have never been that good. One of the reasons why I try to steer clear of painting my models unless it it’s one solid color, or lacks the fine details. 


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Happy New Year from the Viking shipyard. We're in the middle of a moderate ice storm that's hanging in the balance of getting much worse vs. being manageable. Seemed like an appropriate backdrop to share a few holiday photos with the latest additions to this build's arc, two more figures and a Danish mead. We brew a lot of mead ourselves, but Mrs. Cathead found this and thought it'd be a fun comparison to our products and highly topical.




Speaking of mead, one of our favorite versions is pear, which I make in early summer after thinning the pears in our orchard. The roughly golf-ball-sized green pears get chopped into the initial ferment, infusing their fruity flavor into the mead and making a really distinct final product. It's a great way to use these otherwise wasted fruits. However, we need this ice storm to get no worse, as here's what the pear trees look like at the moment:



The ice itself isn't a problem (in terms of temperature) but if it gets much thicker branches will start breaking, and that IS a problem.


Getting back to the model, here are closeups of the latest crewmembers:




I've wanted at least one proper axeman, and I really like the raven on his shield. And I thought Mrs. Cathead should have representation as well.


Again, best wishes for a better 2021 for all of us.



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Not sure if a shieldmaiden would be on a ship like that, but assuming she would, her sword and sax (dagger) are extremely accurate, as is the equipment of the axeman. That's a very pretty axe head (as axeheads go - I guess you have to be really into this stuff to call an axehead pretty, but look at these ones . . .)




Just from an aesthetic viewpoint, I think that is such an elegant shape. And then there's the decorated ones . . .






Unlike where you are, it's high summer here in Ballarat. So why is it so cold and rainy? (or is that an oxymoron? (Ballarat = cold and rainy).

Edited by Louie da fly
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I decided to move on with the rowing benches. The kit's version of these is really simplistic, while the reproduction's are far more interesting. The kit just wants you to lay rectangular planks with no other bracing, like this (from the Dusek website):




But I want to do better than that. On the reproduction, you can see various other details, such as knees connecting the benches with the hull, the rounded surface of the benches, and the thin posts supporting the benches from the deck. It's hard to find photos of the reproduction's interior; the best ones I can find are part of a copyrighted stock photo collection, so I won't embed them here. But this and this are representative of the look I want to replicate.


My first challenge was that adding my own wooden deck raised the deck surface quite a bit, given its thickness relative to the kit's paper-thin insert. So if I rested the benches on the bracing added by the kit's instructions, they'd be too low. In addition, since I raised the hull's sides a bit, the benches would also be too low relative to the gunwale. I could have added more bracing all the way along the hull, but decided that an easier and interesting-looking way would be to raise each bench individually, also making this build a bit more unique. Here are the first two test benches:



I simply cut and glued two small pieces of the bench material at each end, then sanded them into an attractive curve where they join the bench. This raises the bench top to about the same height above the deck as a modern seat would be (slightly lower, but then again people were shorter 1000 years ago). I think it looks cool. Notice that this also raises the bench surface right to the next interior strake, making it easier to add knees later on (no need to notch each knee over a plank joint).


Encouraged by this, I did three more:




In the above photo, note that the right-hand two haven't yet been sanded into their rounded shape. This shows how much proper rounding adds; the square planks (a la the kit version) just don't look right to me. Here's another view of the difference:




And here are two views of five fully finished benches:






So far, so good, I think. If you looked closely at the stock photos linked above, you'll notice thin posts supporting the benches from the cross-beams in the deck. I'm going to need to integrate those into the benches as I install them, as it'll be a huge pain getting them just right if I try to do it after all the benches are glued in. So right now the benches are just resting there. But that's a detail I definitely want to include.


I'll keep working on these, assuming someone doesn't see a major flaw in this plan! 5 down, 25 to go.

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So what I'm doing is definitely a hybrid between the rather inaccurate kit and the "real" thing. For example, the kit has you place a long stringer along the inside of the hull as a bracket to support the benches on, which doesn't seem to appear on the real thing. I hadn't noticed that until after I'd installed it. Grumble. There should also be some kind of knees both above and below the benches. I definitely plan on adding the former, not sure I whether I want to mess with the latter. In addition to Petr's image above, see drawings here and here.


I sort of wish I could go back and start over, I've been inconsistent in vacillating between making this a simple out-of-the-box build and a more involved, reasonably accurate, build. It's partly the tension between my goal for this build to be a relaxing project in a stressful time, and my inherent interest in learning about the actual prototypes and liking to get things "right". I think this is a learning first build, and maybe someday I'll go back and build another one with more attention to detail from the beginning. Certainly, my first steamboat was nothing to write home about compared to later efforts.


So all that being said, I'm just going to press forward with what makes me happy and not crazy. In this regard, I started playing with making the bench support posts, as these add a lot of visual interest and aren't too fussy.


I started by carefully marking each post location, in a straight line along the hull's long axis, based on a good estimate of where they're shown on the drawings and reproduction. Then, one bench at a time, I drilled holes and widened them slightly with a round file:




I then took a very thin piece of square stock (pre-stained dark brown) and cut two appropriate lengths, then filed one end just enough to slip into the holes:




As the hull isn't uniform, these need slight adjustment for each bench. The goal is for them to just touch the underside of the bench. First example resting in place:




First five:




Nothing's glued, just test-fitting. Also notice that I stained the benches and darkened them with black pastel. I think I like how these look. They're not turned into the fancy spindle pattern you see in the drawings, but I'm not doing that. Now I have to decide if I'm going to add any deck-level knees, as those would have to go in before the benches. Will  think it over. Getting the angles right could be really fussy, and they'll be somewhat hidden below the benches. But the supports definitely add visual interest and a more logical appearance (nobody would expect those benches to stretch that far with mo support), and are already an upgrade to the kit.


Thanks for sticking with me.

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I like the logical and systematic way you're approaching this. I think making a model is always a bit of a tension between accuracy and practicality, and when you're "bashing' a kit to make it more historically accurate there's always the question of how far to go. And really, it's your choice - whatever seems right to you. This isn't going into a museum to be scrutinised by academics, it's your relaxation and enjoyment.


I've hit the same problem with my Great Harry because I built it before the Mary Rose was recovered, so it's full of details which later turned out to be inaccurate. So I'm always up against the issue of how far to change it from my original concept. My idea in restoring it was to just return it to the way it would have been had I finished it at the time, but I've been very inconsistent, changing some things in line with what I know now and leaving others as they were when I first built her.


Like I said - your decision - do what you think is right for you. And maybe one day you will revisit and build another one more in line with what you know now.



Edited by Louie da fly
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 A quick update as things progress. I decided to add small knees to every deck beam, and am glad I did, as they do add quite a bit of subtle visual interest, tying together the deck and the hull. I then carried on with the rowing benches, now up to 13 out of 30. There are slight irregularities in the supporting posts, but these ships were built by hand and I bet they weren't machine-perfect either.






Just need to make 17 more benches! I have my assembly line method pretty well worked out and make 2-4 at once depending on what time I have. This means there are subtle color variations in each batch of benches, but that also seems authentic to me. I'm going to weather them further in place anyway.


Thanks for the comments and likes that keep me going. We just hosted my father-in-law's memorial service online this weekend, which was a huge amount of work (Mrs. Cathead and I developed a slideshow covering his life and coordinated something like 10 speakers and a much larger audience). Your support has helped me keep working on this through a very difficult time.

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3 hours ago, Cathead said:

This means there are subtle color variations in each batch of benches, but that also seems authentic to me.


Yes, that looks really good. It's nice once you've worked out all the problems and are able to get an assembly line going. Can get a bit boring after awhile, but with only 17 more to go you shouldn't suffer too much.


I'm glad the memorial service went off ok.


Best wishes,



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Lots of tedious work, but it all pays off in the end. I love the minor variances and inconsistencies, they add that touch of realism to a build. 

To echo Steven’s comment, I’m glad all went well with your father in law’s memorial service. Coordinating that any people online is no easy task. 



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