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If you've read my last build log, then you know I had a list of six ships that I was trying to decide between for my next project. You'll also know that the Endurance wasn't on that list. But, well, that's the way it goes sometimes. A little more birthday money rolled in than expected, along with some money from an Easter gig, and suddenly I had a bigger budget to consider. Then I discovered that OcCre had released the Endurance and that, even better, Ages of Sail had it on sale! And so here we are.

 

The story of the Endurance is, of course, well known on this forum, so I don't see any need to rehash it here. But my story with the Endurance isn't. I've been fascinated by Shackleton's journey ever since high school, when I was fortunate to perform Tim Mahr's tone poem Endurance at All-State Band. (Here's a recording if you haven't heard the piece before.) While learning my part, I read Alfred Lansing's book and was hooked. Since ordering the kit, I've been re-reading Lansing's book, watching documentaries, and so on. I've been carefully poring over Frank Hurley's photos from the expedition (especially his color photos!). I've also been studiously watching the tutorial videos posted by OcCre, which are still being posted as I write this. 

 

Before deciding to purchase the kit, I also carefully read Chris Coyle's very helpful review of it. He writes near the end that "I believe this kit can be built by an intermediate builder, and it will undoubtedly produce a nice-looking model right out of the box." I hope I'll be proof of that, though I'm probably closer to an advanced beginner than an intermediate builder

 

And now, on to what you're waiting for—lots of photos! Chris is a better judge than I am of the materials and he's also a better photographer, so I'll just refer you to his review to see the materials laid out. But to my eye things are generally pretty good, with two exceptions. First, there's a packaging issue. All of the plywood sheets and the false keel (made of MDF) come in a plastic-wrapped flatpack. But the false keel is clearly able to move around a bit, which puts it at risk for damage. The portion of it that extends behind the rudder broke off and even escaped from the plastic! Second, one of the sapele planks was broken (shown in the photo after I removed the rubber band around it). I don't think this will be a supply issue, but it was a little disappointing to see.

 

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Apart from those two issues, though, I'm pleased with what I'm looking at. The hardware, blocks, and deadeyes look much better than some of the other kits I've done. The instructions are only one page in each language, but it's a B3-sized page, so there's enough there to be of some help. The book of step-by-step color photos is also on B3 paper, so OcCre can really pack in a lot of detail. Coupled with their tutorial videos, it's entirely possible that I'm over-confident at this point, since they've made things so accessible. The only weak part of the instructions is that the paint guide lists recommended paint colors for all OcCre models...except the Endurance. The updated sheet is on their website, but hasn't made it into the boxes yet.

 

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And now, onto the ship itself. Today, my goal was to get the frames onto the false keel. After numbering the pieces and cutting them out, I dry fit the frames and decks. The laser is used a bit generously on some pieces, but the measurements are spot on. Everything slid right into place and fit as expected. The only exception is that there is a little extra space (.5mm or so) on the 9th frame; the red arrows in the third photo here are indicating those gaps. (The 10th frame is in backwards in that photo, so the companionway is blocked...oops!)

 

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After checking the fit I was ready to start gluing in the frames. I used corner brackets to make sure everything was square. Since I didn't have enough brackets for all the frames I worked in shifts, alternating frames.

 

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Frame #11 (piece A12) needed some extra attention, since I also had to repair the broken piece of the false keel. After a few failed attempts, I ended up securing the false keel, frame #11, and the broken piece using four corner brackets and four clamps. Although the scar looks a bit dramatic in this close-up, it feels smooth to the touch and the poopdeck fits perfectly at its various contact points. By the time I plank the stern, this will be heavily reinforced, so I'm not terribly worried. 

 

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After the first work session, here are the false keel and frames. This was my first time using the corner brackets (a tip I'd picked up here on MSW), and I'm really pleased with how square and symmetrical everything is. There's a long ways to go, but I feel good about this first step.

 

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As soon as I saw this kit I decided that it would be my next build.  Probably a bit early (I think I have at least a year to go on my present build),but it is different and historic enough that it really grabbed my attention.  And I'm really glad you're doing build log ahead of me; I'm sure I'll learn a lot by following along.

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  Ahoy mates - I've followed the information available on the new endurance kit, and have recently viewed the entire video tutorial available on it ... all 67 (if I remember rightly) youtube elements that run 3 or 4 more minutes each ... that's around 4 hours of watching.  Of course they don't cover multiples of elements - or every single plank ... but each step is covered.  I have to agree that even for a motivated adult 'beginner', this kit is doable 'out of the box'.

 

  Of course, there have been compromises in 'dead' accuracy of lines and details ... and the result if built 'as instructed' has a certain 'simplicity' to it.  Yet it is quite attractive.  Some of the simplifications involve the rigging and how the lines belay, the use of rigging rope instead of chainplate, the use of brass eyelets for portholes, sealing/sanding the 'jigsaw'-like cabin construction - to name a few.  But the design is well thought-out and is relatively 'fool proof'  for beginner to intermediate (if you watch the you-tube segments there will be an appreciation of how everything goes together in sequence), while en experienced modeler can rectify the above mentioned simplifications.

 

 I note a few points for recommendation:

 

  I don't advise using contact cement for the planking and decking.  If one wants a model to last a long time (and perhaps be a family heirloom), the bond can degrade over time ... I've seen it happen.  I note the clever way the sub-deck pieces key into the bulkheads, and if one uses the 'slow cure' wood glue on the framing, the deck pieces can be used (without glue) to assure squareness and fit without a plethora of angle pieces and many clamps on the bulkheads.

 

  Applying the decking over the sub deck  before assembling back on the frames eases construction.  But perhaps the width of the deck planks are a little out of scale - I'd be inclined to make a jig to cut them in half with repeated light X-acto cuts, then use in 'random lengths' so that actual joints will stagger somewhat - instead of marking them with a pencil.  There may be better means to pre treat the edges of the deck planking with a dark color than just using graphite - and there are some posts about alternative techniques ... but pencil will do.  I saw a post on how to make a jig for more accurately positioning pencil 'dots' on the decking.  One can also 'go crazy' and drill the peg holes and use the tips of round toothpicks to plug them - which is made easier since it all can be done before the deck pieces get installed.  Since the kit makes use of brass 'eye bolts' to belay a lot of the rigging (like on the deck all around the masts), were I to go along with this I'd keep the ends of the brass wire eye bolts longer and apply them before gluing the decks down.  That way, the ends of the eye bolts can be bent over below the deck so there won't be a risk of one or more 'pulling out' when securing rigging ... a bummer were this to happen.  My idea is to research the Endurance and see if there wooden rails with belying pins by the mast.  If so, I'd build and install entirely through the planked deck (for a secure fit) before gluing the decks down.

 

  Being double planked, one does not have to fill the spaces between bulkheads below decks with balsa or basswood to assure the beast fairing - but I'm inclined to go to the trouble.  The way they show to accomplish each planking layer is adequate, since the hull is to be painted, but prefer to taper more of the planks as I went and try to plank in a more period manner - as well as use less wide 'final' planking.  I don't know if the entire hull was black on the original ship, but it may be that anti-foulding paint was used below the waterline.  If so was, this a dark red color?  Again, some research is needed.  Also, I wouldn't use contact cement on the second planking - but to each his own.

 

  On the lower deck house, one can sand the pieces on the exterior by the thickness of any vertical planking (optional) that one might want to use on the outside (the fact of board construction will 'telegraph' nicely through the top coat of white paint), and cut-off rings of thick walled brass or copper tubing might make for better portholes - they could also be 'glazed' if one uses a suitable hole punch on the plastic glazing material provided.  I found a set of 'nested' hole cutters at an antique shop that only needed a little sharpening.  The brass railing stanchions look good, but perhaps using wire instead of rope going through as a railing might look better - the challenge would be avoiding 'kinks'.

 

  The light colored deadeyes can be stained darker, and wire chainplate on the lower deadeyes will make for a distinct improvement.  For display with sails, I'd re-make them from more appropriate (thinner) material.  Also the 1:70 scale can permit one to install jackstays on the yards to bend the square sails. I'd use the Underhill book on Clipper Rigging to make some improvements, as well as use finer rigging rope where needed.  I'd have a look at how the fore-and-aft booms attach to the masts - there might be room for some improvement there.

 

  I won't natter on, but I've ordered the kit on the strength of my observations and study ... there is real potential to improve on what is provided, but 'as-is' it is a good value.  BTW, I see a way to make a major 'bust' on this kit, and end up with a 1:86 scale Thermopylae that can be barque rigged as she was later in her career ... or (with additional mast and spar fabrication) be built as a clipper.  You can look at Popeye's log on the 1:124 scale Thermie, and get an appreciation of how hard it is to do a big ship in that scale.  The OcCre Endurance lines could be modified a bit with altered bulkheads - but are likely close enough as-is.  The bow could be shaped to better conform to the 'Aberdeen bow', and the stern contoured as seen in photos of Thermopylae.  The rear cabin would be less wide and mounted on a quarterdeck - so the tops of those bulkheads would need trimming.  The bowsprit would be doubled, and pin rails installed where needed.  Of course a scale pump, winch, anchor chain jig (among other details) would need fabrication, but 1:96 Revell components can serve as guides.  The possibilities are interesting ... I can't wait !

 

  Fair sailing to all !    Johnny

 

  

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Hi Keith, Tom, and Johnny, and thanks for following along! Tom, I hope the build log will be helpful. At the very least, I'm sure you'll learn from my mistakes.

 

Johnny, that's a wealth of information that I'll need some time to digest! Thanks for all of this! Given my current skill level, some of what you are describing sounds like great advice for builders who are better than me. (My plan is to stay mostly out-of-the-box and to use the opportunity to develop my skills, though I love your suggestion to get the eyebolts in the deck before mounting the decks.) The two key differences I'm planning are to taper the planking—something I need practice with. I might use the approach OcCre recommends for the first planking, but the second, I'd rather go for the tapered look. The paint scheme also strikes me as really strange. It's clear from Frank Hurley's photos that the ship was painted black above the waterline, but not below. For example:

 

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In one of the color photos, this seems to be antifouling "brown stuff"—it's a dark rusty red color, at least. I'd share the photo, but I foolishly forgot to save it and now I'm having a hard time finding it again. My plan for right now is to use red ochre paint below the waterline.

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Tonight, I finished the "A" steps of the Endurance. After installing the frames, the next step is to install a few blocks that will help when it comes time for planking. There are two on each side at the bow and two on each side at the stern. I decided to sand off the excess char on these blocks and now regret that a little. Apparently, I took off a more than just the char, since there are some sizable gaps (especially at the stern). Although they don't seem to be cut as accurately as the frames were, they did fit a little more snugly before I went after the char. Photos are of the blocks, portside view of the bow blocks, overhead view of the bow blocks (with a gap for the bowsprit), and portside view of the stern blocks.

 

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The last "A" step is the main deck. Johnny's comments above are a propos here. The planks are much too wide for the scale (5mm scales up to 3.5m!). If your goal is that kind of accuracy, his recommendation to cut planks in half (or more!) is great. For me, my goal is focused on developing skills: I wanted to lay the planks straight, keep the small bits on the edge clean, make the holes without pulling up any boards, and (for the first time) mark the boards and nails. I thought about cutting the planks to 60mm lengths, but in the end decided to keep it simple and just draw the lines with pencil. Note: the deck is just resting in place, though I didn't get it lined up quite right on the after end (right side of the photo); I'm planning to take Johnny's advice regarding the eyebolts, so will hold off on installing it for now. (Sorry for the funky camera angle...it's making those frames look really wild!) 

 

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I'm mostly pleased with how it turned out. The boards are almost perfectly straight, though they're at least lined up well against each other. The holes are all filed down well to fit the dowels and other pieces that they will eventually hold. Consistency of the lines and dots is...well...there's room for improvement there. Also, I sanded the deck after drawing them and some disappeared more than others. No finish on it yet, but that will come soon enough.

 

Next step: more practice working on decks. The "B" steps begin with preparing the other three decks.

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