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French Ironclad Solferino 1861 by GrandpaPhil - FINISHED - Orel - 1/200

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This is an accessory build to my Magenta in the scratch build section.

Solferino was a Magenta-Class Ironclad Broadside Battleship.


I am using this model primarily for research purposes, regarding locations and dimensions of deck fittings.


I have the builders plans for the Magenta (Solferino) already printed out in 1/72 scale, but those have very little in the way of deck furniture and nothing regarding weaponry.


I am going to use this model, combined with the excellent photos that a forum member very generously sent me of the model in the Paris Maritime Museum, to fill in those gaps.


Secondarily, this will make a nice desktop model for my office.

The kit is an Orel Card Kit:


It will eventually look like this:


I have never built a card ship kit, but I have built two card ships from scratch following Ab Hoving’s most excellent Tutorial on building in card from scratch.  


If you haven’t read that tutorial, I strongly recommend it.  It is what started me down the road to scratch building.

This build will be interesting.  

I am looking forward to starting this model.


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The start to this is remarkably similar to the start of the Hannah.


The difference is that I didn’t draw the bulkheads this time.


I used an Elmer’s glue stick to glue it to an old shipping box (it worked very well for the Hannah).



While I’m waiting for that to dry, I have 52 dummy gun carriages to cut out and assemble!




Model building reminds me of when I was a kid.  I still want the box everything comes in.  


Seriously though, I never throw away old boxes that are still in good condition.  I have a pile of EBay and Amazon boxes that I broke down and stacked in a closet for re-use.


They have proven very good sources of cardboard.

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It’s thin, and I’ll make allowances.


I am very good at the fine art of improvisation, now (I’ve learned a lot from the members of this forum).

The corrugated cardboard will give strength and rigidity.  

It will add some minor thickness, but the kit comes with “planking” that is cut to the final dimension.


Edited by GrandpaPhil
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Thank you all very much for the likes and just for stopping by!


Solferino’s above waterline framework is mostly complete.



She still needs gundecks and the main deck.


I photocopied the main deck to reconcile it with the 1859 builders plans, which I downloaded from the French Ministry of Defense’s website, adjusted the scale in The Gimp, and printed at Staples.


The primary purpose of this build is for research for the sister ship, Magenta, which is also the lead ship of the class.



The bow is to the right.


At first inspection, on the stern is a raised platform that was not shown, either in the model in Paris, or in Orel’s Solferino.


But I like the idea of including it for my Magenta, so I will.  

There is also a platform on the very stern, which is a grating.  That will be included too, on my Magenta.


To the very right on the drawings (the far bow), there looks like gun emplacements.  I’ll probably show those too on my Magenta.


The plans also show an extra set of ladderwells going down into the hull by the main platform amidships.


I’ll have to take that into account as well.


This is going to be fun!

Edited by GrandpaPhil
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Dummy carriages on on:


The main deck is currently drying underneath a small part of my library:


Hopefully, I made deck thick enough to avoid the starving cow look, although I should probably have used poster board for the deck itself.


That’s what I did for Hannah (corrugated frame with poster board decks) and it worked well.

Oh well, too late now, lol.


In all seriousness, the corrugated cardboard worked a lot better than the multi layered poster board that I used for the Prince de Neufchatel.


Also, the Mont Marte PVA glue is great for card models.  

It doesn’t make a mess of the printed part of the model like the American equivalent does.

Edited by GrandpaPhil
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Thank you all for the likes and just for stopping by!


The main deck is on:D5735DCE-7382-4CC5-B9EE-5F75C1A1B634.thumb.jpeg.c5c6f4d68b553d61c75ab17d846de439.jpeg


The mast holes aren’t supposed to be cut out, but I am going to use the original masting diagram to mast the ship.



That gives the length and diameter of each piece.


The dimensions are in meters and go from mast step to the top of the masts.


You must account for this or you will have the problem I did on my Prince de Neufchatel in which the lower masts are too long.


One side effect here is that I will be using actual deadeyes and making actual ratlines.

I also have 600 very small blocks that will work beautifully for the rigging.

Currently working on cutting out the lower hull pieces and laminating the double thickness pieces.


The framework for the hull is a lot more complicated than the one I made for my Hannah, but so far this has been a very similar process.


I use these logs as much for myself, as I do to share.


I have been taking notes in each of my build logs to use for later models.


That’s part of my learning process.

Edited by GrandpaPhil
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1 hour ago, bobandlucy said:

Very interesting, Grandpaphil! I'll check out your scratch project  as well.

Thank you very much!


Thank you to everyone who has hit the “Like” button!


I’ve been busy!


With card models, just other POB models, one must fair the hull.




Card models are a little easier, because there generally isn’t any sanding involved.


A member of this forum taught me long ago to preshape pieces before installing them:



There’s the test installation of the first hull section:




At this point, about 2/3 of the lower hull is covered.





The cradle is assembled, using double thickness poster board as the backing:




I found a base for the model too.  It’s an old plaque that I pulled out of a junk box.  I am going to paint it black and gloss coat it.


Plus, I have my first major setback.  I damaged the deck by accidentally setting it on the stick that I’ve been using to apply glue.



I will have to get creative to fix this.


Lastly, I bought some more copper tape to copper Magenta’s hull.  

I may copper this one too after I completely finish covering the hull.  I haven’t decided yet.


I want to see how this plays out, first.

Edited by GrandpaPhil
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The lower hull is covered:






The base is painted:




I’m going to start working on the upper hull covering while the lower hull is drying.


I don’t want to install the rudder assembly and prop until I decide if I am coppering the hull with actual copper (read most likely).


Coppering a hull with copper tape is not overly difficult.  It’s just a little time consuming.


I still need to make and install the keel prior to coppering, but the lower hull needs to completely drying first.


I also have a small amount of starving cow look towards the stern which will need filled and sanded if I copper.


However, I need the upper hull in place before I copper so I know where to place the upper bands, especially considering the armor bands Solferino and Magenta carried around the waterline.


All of this information will get transferred to the builders plan for use on Magenta.

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The first part of the upper hull consists of cutting out and assembling all the window/gunport frames.  

There are around 90 of them.


I’m assembly lining them.



The Magentas were essentially two-deckers fitted with steam engines and armored plating.

Edited by GrandpaPhil
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  • 2 weeks later...

Thank you all very much for the comments, the likes and just for stopping by!


Progress has been slow because life is busy.

Solferino now has a base made from a repurposed (or I believe the new term is upcycled) plaque bought at a yard sale:



Working on the 90 some gunport and window sills:




Seriously, this going to be an issue with the Magenta too.  The Magentas’ hulls were incredibly thick due to the armor, the planking and the frames which had to be able to hold the weight of everything.



They had 4.7” of armor alone.  If you zoom in the above plan, that’s the thin outermost sliver on the planking cross-section.


That is creating an interesting design issue with the Magenta, because if I cut the bulkheads to the outside of the frames, then the planking will need to be around 1/8” thick, not including the armor.

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All 108 sills are cut out and assembled:



Quick note, had those all been gunports, the  Magentas would have been packing more cannons than the Victory (which packed 104).


This is a direct reminder that the Magenta will be as complicated of a project as a traditional ship of the line.


This is going to be fun!

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Working on the keel pieces now:





There is some thin copper colored pieces to cover the keel pieces.


There is also a bunch of copper colored paper with plating printed on it.

I’m assuming that’s to fill in the gaps that wouldn’t be covered otherwise.


I will try that first, but there’s still an 80-90% chance that the hull is going to end up with actual copper cladding.  

Coppering a hull is not overly complicated, or difficult, if you use self adhesive copper tape.  

It looks intimidating, but it is really very simple.  

I coppered the Prince de Neufchatel in a day (granted I had a nice blizzard outside, to work in).

It is much like applying stickers to your model.


The same applies if you are using that self adhesive vinyl wood grain covering that you use for cabinets, as a second layer of planking


That is how I give a card model the appearance of wood grain when scratch building a wooden ship.


Then you just paint as required.

The only caution that I would give is only to buy enough for one project at a time, because both copper tape and vinyl covering lose their self-adhesive properties over time.  

For myself, I usually only finish one model every year or two, so this becomes important to remember.

Edited by GrandpaPhil
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Thank you all very much for the likes and just for stopping by!


The windows and doors are all assembled (some are already installed):


The first piece, the starboard bow section is on:


The starboard aft section is partially shaped and almost ready to receive a door and 12 windows:



In a card model, always preshape pieces before installing or you run a significant risk of it deforming the model.

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