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US Brig Syren by Larry Van Es - Scale 1:64


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I finally was able to retreive my old pictures from my old computer, so I can now re-post my Syren build. This is my first ship model and I've made a ton of mistakes, but I learned a lot. Especially on how to cover up mistakes. When I got to this point I was contacted by a member of the Ship Modelers Association (SMA) in Southern California. http://www.shipmodelersassociation.org He invited me to a meeting. He said that he had built 54 ship models and was also starting to build the Syren. I attended the meeting and was amazed by the number of people just as crazy as me. He invited me to his house and I accepted . I told my wife that he was either a genius or more full of crap than anyone I had ever met. Life's not long enough to build that may ship models. Well I counted them. Yep 54. I agreed to join the club and present my Syren at the next meeting. Darned if he didn't present his and he had done in 2 months what it had taken me a year to do. I decided that covering up mistakes was more time consuming than not making them in the first place. So I took a step back and bought some equipment and started experimenting with different techniques. Bought some books and studied them and visited the Constitution, CW Morgan, Annapolis Maritime Museum, Victory and the Greenwich Maritime Museum. I'm starting to work on my Syren again so I'll be posting some more photos in a few days.

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A little history for those building the Syren. The Syren was built specifically for the siege on Tripoli according to Naval History Vol. 1 by James Fenimore Cooper. Chapter XX. “The government soon became aware of the necessity of possessing some light cruisers, which to a marine, are what the eyes and ears are to man. Without vessels of this character, a commander could never conduct a vigorous blockade, like that required before Tripoli, in particular; an a law passed February, 1803 authorizing the construction of two brigs and two schooners. In the course of the spring of that year, these vessels were built, and the navy received an addition to its list, of the Argus 16, Siren16, Nautilus 12, and Vixen 12. The two former were beautiful and very efficient brigs, mounting 16 twenty-four-pound carronades, and 2 long twelves; and latter were schooners, carrying 12 eighteen-pound carronades, and 2 light long guns, each. They were all finely modeled and serviceable vessels of their size, and now intimately associated with the early traditions of the navy.” The Syren commanded by Lieutenant Commander Stewart played an important role in the siege on Tripoli.

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We recently returned from Europe where I took a lot of pictures of ship models. ( I've posted some of the ones from Greenwich in the Gallery of Contemporary Models from Museums section ) We went to see the HMS Victory in Portsmouth, the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, and the Musee National de la Marine in Paris. We had a lot of catching up to do with all the kids and grand kids so I haven't gotten much done. Paris was the last stop. I was busy taking thousands of pictures again when my wife came up and said something. I was so involved I just said “yeah, yeah, whatever”. I figured that she said something like “I'm going to the bathroom.” The next thing that I knew the place was closing. When I went up front to turn in my headphones I told the guy at the counter that I hadn't even used them because I was so busy taking pictures of the great models. He said that there was a woman there hours ago who said that her husband was busy taking pictures so she was going to go spend all of his money. Can't wait to get that American Express bill.

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I finally found some time to take some pictures of my longboat. The longboat was the first thing in the kit that I tried to build. I figured that I would build the little boat first and then I would surely know how to build the big one. Boy was I stupid. I numbered each of the layers as I removed them. Then when they were all removed, I brushed them off the work bench onto the floor. That's when I realized that I had placed the numbers on the wood that I had cut them from and not the parts themselves. I tried to stack them in the proper order but it was evident later after gluing and carving them out that it was wrong. Not only was there was a big hole on one side but the keel was off center. I filled the hole with wood filler, but it was going to look like crap. I put it aside and started on the big one. Later after planking the hull of he big one I came back to it and decided to try to fix it. By that time I had learned that MS would probably send me a new one free of charge if I just explained what had happened. I wasn't ready at that time to admit to anybody how dumb I was. The keel was off center so I decided to saw a grove half way thru and glue in a new keel where it should go. That led to more sawing bow and stern for the head and stern post. Ok – It was starting to look a little better. I figure what the heck why don't I just plank it like I did the big one. I went to the model train shop and bought some scale lumber that looked about the right size. It said that it was basswood but it seemed to be much better stuff than what came with the kit. Now it looked like a real boat from the outside so I took the dremel and ground out almost everything that wasn't planking or keel on the inside. I used the same train stuff for the ribs. By now I had received some boxwood from a club member and used that for the rest of the boat. It came out looking pretty good but it would have been easier if I had scratch built it from the start.

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Edited by Larry Van Es
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