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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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ouch with the breaks, when planking occres terror i used 0.5 mm x 4mm walnut for 2nd planking rather the the ultra thin stuff occre supplied (looks a lot better too). I have occres beagle but am seriously tempted by this kit too!

 

Keep up the good work

 

Keith

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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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First a correction to my dumb math error in the previous post. At this scale, 5mm-wide planks represent 35cm-wide planks. Missed that easy math problem by an order of magnitude.

 

A little bit of progress over the weekend, chipping away at the "B" steps. First up, I finished painting the portions of the frames that will be visible once the decks are installed and the hull is planked. Then, planking the other three decks. As far as the overall impression goes, I'm reasonably satisfied. A careful eye will note that the planking wasn't perfectly centered (especially on the poopdeck) and so the edges are not quite symmetrically planked. In terms of developing my skills, I'm pleased with how straight the planks are laying; the planks on the fore-, main-, and aftdecks even line up really well with each other! I managed to keep the edges pretty clean (though I'm glad that the bulwarks will cover up the one tiny corner that chipped off while I was sanding). And I like the degree of realism added by marking the lines and dots for the ends of boards. At this point, I just need to apply finish and (following Johnny's advice above) attach the eyebolts, then I should be able to glue them into place.

 

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However, things didn't go perfectly smoothly. I made a boneheaded mistake on the aftdeck and had to fix it. Unlike some kits (including the xebec I recently finished), the frames on this kit do not go above the deck, since the bulwarks are pre-cut plywood pieces that fit onto tabs on the decks. Instead, the subdeck has cutouts for all of the frames. When you plank the deck, the instructions have you lay the planks over those cutouts—which works beautifully, since OcCre has cut the plywood pieces so precisely. But as I lopped the excess off of the planks, I followed the shape of the corners, forgetting that the planking needed to extend over a cutout in each corner. I considered just adding some short bits of planking on top of the frames, but wasn't happy with that solution. Maybe none of my family or friends would notice...but I would know. So, I pulled the outer four planks off on each side. After some clean-up work, I Iaid new planks. There are two spots of damage remaining from the operation, but those will ultimately be covered by the dog kennels. (The spot on the port side is more visible in this photo than the one on the starboard side.) The red rectangles show two of the corners where those overzealous cuts were made the first time. For those doing this kit, this is an easy mistake to make, so please keep it in mind.

 

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Next steps: After finishing the decks, all that remains of the "B" steps will be to add a few more blocks to the bow and sides to aid in planking the hull.

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  Excellent work HakeZou - it looks just fine from here.  I await delivery of the same kit ... I ordered one from Age of Sail, as well as another order for extra fittings to augment those I've been saving for future work.  I'll watch your build with interest.  Meanwhile, I've tried scrounging for info on the Endurance and her story (Shackleton had a lot to do with it ... BTW I found out that they were forced to eat the dogs in order to survive).  There is one image of the original profile drawing from the Greenwich Museum (split view fore and aft) of this ship originally built as Polaris in 1912.  It is clearly marked as 125' between parallels - the waterline point at the bow to the rudder post astern.  Other references to her being 144' must refer to a 'bow to stern' overall measurement (exclusive of bowsprit).  I'll mark the 'false keel' part provided with the waterline and parallels placed to get an accurate measurement in inches for the model 'out of the box' just to calculate the scale (to see if it is indeed 1:70 per the box).  Yeah, I know it seems quirky (picky?) to look into that, but as a former Industrial/Manufacturing Engineer (and now a Hospital Pharmacy Technician) I've always exhibited OCD ... but with people's safety and health at stake, that's a good thing.

 

  You are careful and diligent on repairing missteps as you go ... exactly my method.  My Wasa build has been full of them, although work is suspended for the time being (Admiral's orders).  As a friend described artwork (which is sort-of what we're at) - 'There are no mistakes, just happy accidents'.  BTW, Popeye's advice to save the 'surrounding' wood that the laser-cut parts came from is sound.  That way (since your purchase of the kit constitutes a license for personal use of the contents), you can duplicate any part by tracing on new stock around the void left after parts are cut from the sheet (writing the part number on the sheet for reference as you go).  Cutting on the line with a jigsaw should produce a very close copy of the original part if needed.

 

  Fair weather bless you.    Johnny

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Thanks, Johnny. Glad to hear you'll be building an Endurance, too—I look forward to seeing your adaptations of OcCre's design! As a quick note, I was taking a closer look at the blocks tonight and concur with Chris Coyle's review. They're average fittings. Even though this is only my fifth ship, I've seen both better and (much) worse. I'm going to forge ahead with the blocks and deadeyes in the kit, but a more experienced builder like you may want to replace them. Also worth noting that the plywood is really lightweight...so light I suspect that at least the outer layers are balsa (I'm no expert in these matters, so may be way off on that identification). Those pieces seem sturdy enough, just very light.

 

In other research, anyone building this should hunt for George Marston's paintings of the expedition; here's a sample of them at art.com, if you want some cheap print reproductions. Marston was one of the artists brought along to document the journey and his paintings are very striking. The painting entitled "The Endurance Crushed in the Ice of the Weddell Sea, October 1915" is the best view that I've found so far of the hull below the waterline. My conclusion (guess) that the ship had antifouling "brown stuff" comes from this image. Note that the ship is painted in full sunlight, so the black of the hull appears lighter than in other images, from which I assume that the antifouling paint also appears lighter than it really was. I've also discovered that the University of Missouri (M-I-Z! Z-O-U!) has a nice LibGuide on Shackleton's expedition; even though it seems to be a student project, there are some helpful resources, including a great gallery of photos, a link to the deck plans, and recommended books and films.

 

A small progress update: I have installed almost all of the eyebolts on the decks and have put some satin finish on them. The first photo shows the decks laid side-by-side (top row: fore and main, bottom row: aft and poop). In the detail of the foremast, you can see the mast partner (at least, I think that's what the round wooden piece is called) and the eyebolts installed around it. The plans call for the eyebolts to all be parallel to each other, running fore-to-aft. But that looked really strange to me, so I turned them all to be parallel to the mast partner, making a more pleasing circle around the mast. Hopefully, I still feel good about this decision once I'm attaching the rigging to them! The eyebolts that I've attached so far will all be bent under the deck, per Johnny's suggestion. The remaining eyebolts need to be driven into frames under the deck, so I won't add those until the decks are installed.

 

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It's been a really busy week here, so I've been glad to squeeze in some time working on the Endurance. I finished the "B" steps, which involved attaching the four decks, along with six additional blocks that will help once it comes time to do the hull. I've also spent time browsing GettyImages.com for more of Frank Hurley's photos of Shackleton's expedition—there's a treasure trove in there, especially for those looking to upscale this kit. This link will take you to a gallery of photos tagged with "1914–17 Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition," but a more general search for "Shackleton" and "Endurance" brings up 800 hits; some repetition of images, and not all directly related, but some additional treasures for sure, including some photos while the ship was still in drydock (even some before it was painted!). Of particular interest for me this week are those showing the bulkheads on the main and poopdecks:

After studying these photos, I decided I had to upscale the kit a bit by lining those three bulkheads. The bulkheads are, of course, the upper portions of three frames. The instructions call for them to be sanded smooth, then painted white. Crosspieces at the top and bottom, portholes, doors, and other bits are added later on in the build. That looks a bit like this shot of the forward bulkhead of the maindeck (the paint job looks so bad because I had already roughed it up a bit in preparation for gluing planks onto it).

 

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The flat white look is okay, but after looking at the photos, I just wasn't satisfied anymore. I'm using the same sycamore planks used for the deck, since the kit generously provides a few extra meters of these. However, I'm also slicing them in half to reflect the narrow boards shown in the photos that I linked to above. The exercise has really stretched the limits of my skills. I did the forward bulkhead on the poopdeck first, figuring it would be the easiest. I'm pretty sure I was wrong about that, since I broke a few planks while drilling and filing the portholes and since these very small pieces (2.5x12mm, 2.5x1.5mm at the hatchway) were a real pain to work with. For that bulkhead, I laid all of the strips, then did the portholes. For the bulkheads on the maindeck, I'm laying strips only up to the portholes for now; once I've cleaned that much of the portholes, I'll add the rest of the strips. These portholes will be a little bit of a challenge—since there are extra blocks behind them to give more purchase for the bulwarks and hull planking, I won't be able to run the file all the way through the holes. This way, I can hopefully do most of the work with my Exacto knife.

 

The next two photos are of the partially lined after bulkhead on the maindeck and of the forward bulkhead on the poopdeck, which already has primer on it. The top and bottom edges look a little rough, but those will be covered soon by crosspieces.

 

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Edited by HakeZou
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  Ahoy HakeZou !  My OcCre Endurance kit came by FedEx late yesterday (from Age of Sail in California), and the feeling was almost like Christmas Day.  I've since opened the box and everything looks in perfect condition (no broken false keel as some have posted - admittedly, careful handling is in order due to the configuration of cutting in the stern).  I will resist the urge to dive in, as I still must finish (as far as I want to take it) another model ... but then I suppose there is no prohibition in having more than one in progress.

 

  I made light marks on the false keel to correspond to the waterline (from images of original drawings) and (allowing for the keel to be added) the distance 'between perpendiculars' (bow at water line to center of rudder post) was about 21 1/4".  Compared to the original ship having 125' between perpendiculars, the scale is about 1:70.5 ... so rounding to 1:70 was appropriate.  

 

  'Great job of vertical planking you've chosen to do ... and I plan on doing the same when I get into it.  The sides of the stern cabin are horizontal (seen in photos of the Endurance), and are planked with the hull.  Your secure eye bolts on the deck around the mast locations will take whatever tugging is needed to tension the lines later - without risk of pulling out.

 

  I'll have to look at the photos per your reference sites.  One I've seen already of the smokestack (as well as a post by another modeler on making steamboat stacks) gave me an idea that wrapping card stock around the funnel stock (instead of formed brass wire rings) would make flat bands as seen in the photos (all gets painted white).  Then wire drilling four peripheral holes into the flat band will permit insertion of 4 eye bolts where the guy wires attach to stabilize the funnel.  The extent of tweaking just depends on the inclination of the modeler, and I certainly have my limits.

 

  Once the fateful voyage was underway, Shackleton likely figured that it would a very long time before the ship would anchor ... some of the photos show the anchors stowed over the catheads on the fore deck with the anchor shaft lashed where the beam extends beyond the hull, and chain used to secure the bottoms of both anchors to each other.  That's one way to show them, as well as secured at the bow as seen in the instructions.  The forward capstan provided is a simple turning, so an aftermarket capstan (of the same size) with greater detail is another easy upgrade.

 

  Fair weather and smooth sailing ...  Johnny

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