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After completing HMS Surprise I have been contemplating what to build next.

I am definitely hooked on Napoleonic War era ships and am a great fan of Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey Maturin book series so another ship from this source seemed like a good idea, so HMS Bellona it is.

A bit more research revealed that, as Bellona was built in 1760, it is quite decorated and has a complex hull shape with defined forecastle, quarterdeck and poop, so a bit of a challenge there. The complexity of the stern decorations mean that I will definitely have to improve my wood carving skills.

Here we go!

I have acquired "The Anatomy of the Ship The 74 gun ship Bellona" by Brian Lavery in both hard copy and pdf so this will be the basic resource. The internet has also provided lots of images.

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The scanner and printer have been working overtime and I have produced profile and a false keel drawings for fixing to 6mm marine ply to create the basic hull construction. There are 31 frames which means that the hull is about 1/3 solid which is a much greater density of frames when compared with commercial kits that use the same basic method. I will be infilling between the frames with the same ply so the hull will be fairly sturdy and able to withstand the rigours of fairing and planking. Just by chance the voids between the frames are mainly 2 thicknesses of ply wide so this process should not be hugely time consuming. Part of the cut outs to create the deck voids will be the beams that the decks are fixed to so I end up with the correct cross falls and bow to stern deck shape. The scroll saw has been very busy! The frames are a tight friction fit to the false keel so I can work on the overall structure without gluing the frames in position.

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  • 3 weeks later...

The scroll saw has been working overtime and the second stage of frame construction has been completed. The frames need spacers to improve rigidity and to take out the gentle curve in the false keel. Once that is done I will have a ribbed frame that I can start planking and a set of beams that I can build the decks on once I have done a bit of tidying up to improve the general alignment.  I need to work out how to frame up the stern. I have left a central support on the deck beams as I will have to split the upper deck at least to get it into position. The forecastle, quarter deck and poop may go in in on piece, not sure.

Cheers, David.

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  • 3 weeks later...

The next stage of the hull construction is complete. Spacers have been inserted between the ribs to increase rigidity and to take out the false keel misalignment. Bow and stern shaping has been started as has truing up and fairing the ribs and false keel. I am going to build the decks next before I start any hull planking as I think this will be easier as I can access the deck sides for clamping.

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  • 1 month later...

Construction of the decks is progressing with all decks shaped and, except the gun deck which is fixed in place, dry fitted. All the upper decks are removeable so I can continue to work on the fitouts including all guns to all decks. The lowest sections of the masts and bowsprit have been dry fitted.

I have bought the the gun barrels from my local materials supplier, making gun barrels is way beyond my skill level. I have fabricated a set of prototype gun carriages, both to confirm they can be made reasonably accurately and easily, and so I can fit them to the decks where they will be installed so I can ensure the gun carriage design and gun port locations end up with the gun barrels centred in the ports when the barrels are horizontal. I bought some sheets of high quality plywood in 0.5, 1.0 and 2.0 mm thicknesses and the gun carriages are made from the 2 mm ply.

This is lovely material to work with and my scroll saw cuts accurately enough to do the detail on the carriages.

The next step will be to frame the gun ports before any hull planking starts. Fortunately most of the gun ports are located between the ribs so this process should not be too difficult.

I have started to try and figure out how the stern structure works. On Bellona it is quite 3 dimensional with a recessed open gallery and lots of intricate carvings. I can only work on this area for a certain amount of time, too long focusing and I get brain fade and have revert to something a bit simpler.

Cheers and happy new year to all and keep well.

David.

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