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HMS Surprise by Navis Factorem - 1:75

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Nailing Tool !! Now that's a head slapper. You'd laugh if you saw how I've been doing it. 

Can I ask you where your got it and what's the best one to get?

Your project is looking great. Can't wait to get to that point. Good job.

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I found a great nailing tool at a model train supplier. I think Micro Mark and Model Expo  may have them also.

Cheers, Jerry

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Nailing tool!

 

Sounds like an interesting idea, I don't use many nails in fact.

 

Not sure how this got onto my build log.

 

Cheers,

 

David.

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Long guns and gun tackle generally.

 

Along with the carronades the Surprise was equipped with 2 x 9 pdr long guns as chasers.

 

I purchased these as gun kits complete with carriages and some metal work. The kits are not a bad start to achieving an OK finished product. I split the the parallel sided carriage down the centre and removed some material to achieve the angling inward at the muzzle end of the sides, changed the brass rod axles for larger diameter dowels and added some different metal work.

 

Some paint and a reasonable finished product.

 

Now for the second one, at least there are only 2!

 

Interesting to note that, although the 2 kits come from the same manufacturer and carry the same part number, the barrels are significantly different. Once positioned on opposite sides of the deck I don't think this will be noticeable.

 

I have been doing some research into the gun tackle for both the carronades and the long guns. There are certainly some different views out there!

 

One thing that I have not really understood was if the tackle used to haul the guns out to their firing position was disconnected from the carriage when the gun was fired and the breech rope controlled the recoil and then the tackle was rehooked for the next out-haul, or if the tackle was left attached and played a part in controlling the recoil process by the ropes running out through the blocks. During the online searching I found a thread about the Victory that described the gun operation and stated that the tackle was left attached and played a part in the recoil control. The diagrams that accompany this article also very clearly show the tackle arrangement for a long gun. Clearly shown is an item of tackle that is often missed in gun detailing, the in-haul tackle, used for hauling the gun inboard if needed and also to hold the gun in position when the roll of the ship may want to send the barrel back out the port during the reload process. Very useful. I will definitely be using this info when time comes to detail the tackle for the Surprise long guns.

 

Carronade tackle is a bit more of a challenge. Pics of the USS Constitution were very informative. These carronades differ in detail to those that I have for the surprise but the tackle must be pretty similar, 2 out-hauls and an in-haul for the slide and 2 side-hauls for the wheeled carriage. A breech rope for the recoil. 6 bits, that's a lot of tackle for each gun! 24 on the upper deck and 14 on the quarterdeck and forecastle. 190 block and tackles. Good grief.  

 

Cheers,

 

David.

 

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post-984-0-60687100-1420605552_thumb.jpg

Surprise 9 pdr long guns, kit item and as modified 

 

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Diagrams from Victory book

 

post-984-0-25788800-1420607861_thumb.jpg

USS Constitution carronade tackle, in haul not in place

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The fabrication of the guns has been done, now for some more work on the hull.

 

Before I cut the upper gun ports the forecastle and quarterdeck need to be planked so I can get the height of the ports correct in relation to the height of the gun barrels on the carriages. Also, I will need to make up the lower mast sections and the channels so I can position the lower shrouds to make sure that the location of the upper gun ports is correct in relation to the standing rigging. Not a good look to have gun firing lines through the rig.

 

All the holes for the hatches etc on the upper deck have been cut ready for the planking. 

 

After I had cut the main gun deck gun ports I realised that the tops of the ports were too close to the gunwale line and there was not enough space to neatly fit the channels so I have raised both the gunwale at the waist and the bulwarks at the bow and stern. 

 

I have cut out the false beams that spanned the waist as they were originally installed to support the deck during the initial hull construction and were in the wrong position for the final beams. According to the drawings from Lavery & Hunt these beams look like they are removable as they are positioned above the gangway and supported on brackets,

 

Cheers,

 

David.

 

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                       Hull section showing beams over the waist above the deck line

 

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                       Hull plan showing the beams positioned on the gangway planking

                       This plan shows the distinctive frigate hull shape to maximise the usable area of the gun decks, broad bow

                       and relatively wide stern compared to other ship types.

 

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A bit of a milestone, starting to look like a ship.

 

As described before I needed to fit the lower mast sections to be able to locate the shrouds so the upper deck gun ports can be positioned. I also found that I needed to fit the bowsprit as it cuts into the forecastle deck and affects the planking layout.

 

All now fitted.

 

The mast rake is a bit of a mystery, it seems to me that individual captains could adjust the rake as the sailing properties of a ship developed and the rake would be changed to improve performance. About all that I'm pretty sure about is that the masts were only ever located vertical or raked back, not raked forward. So I have decided on a modest rake as would probably befit a ship at the beginning of a commission. The foremast is raked back about 1 deg, the main about 1.5 deg and the mizzen about 2 deg. The masts fitted into the pre-made holes in the upper deck and passed through the holes inn the forecastle and quarterdeck with minor adjustments and ended up vertical.

 

Cheers,

 

David. 

 

           post-984-0-33122700-1420961019_thumb.jpg                   post-984-0-93077500-1420961031_thumb.jpg

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Top deck planking.

 

Planking to the forecastle, gangways and quarterdeck has been laid. An OK result, the planks, at 4mm, are a bit wider than I would have preferred but this is what my friendly supplier had. I fit the planks in full lengths then score the plank end joints later once I have worked out the underlying beam positions. The first job is to set up the joint locations so the offset pattern works and all the planks are a reasonable length. I find the easiest way is to photocopy the decks then I am free to scribble all over them. It took about 4 or 5 attempts to arrive at a reasonable layout.

 

Now to mark the plank end joints and create the treenails.

 

Cheers,

 

David.

 

post-984-0-86907900-1421544980_thumb.jpg

Hull with top decks removed, photocopy of deck with plank end joints marked and the scanned and enlarged deck drawing from Lavery & Hunt.

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as long as your using the same width of planking,  as you did the gun deck......you should be fine  ;)  it looks really good!   do you have a dry fit photo with the deck in place?   bet that looks neat!  :)

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Gun ports and guns.

 

The gun ports have all been cut and to make sure that the guns are a reasonable fit all the gun carriages have been assembled and fitted to ports. When fitted the forecastle and quarterdeck guns were sitting too high in the ports. A dimension check showed that the bulwarks were not high enough so they have been raised and the gun carriages reduced in height to get a better fit. The final gun barrel angles still need a bit of adjustment but they are getting close.

 

A dry fit of all the bits assembled to date gives a good progress pic.

 

The capstan is the only major part missing from the upper deck and all the forecastle and quarterdeck fitting are next to be made.

 

I think that I am close to being able to start the top planking on the hull. Should be fun.

 

Cheers,

 

David.

 

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Very nice work, David.   Were the two forward chase ports filled?  I'm not sure when the Brits stopped filing them.

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Hi Bindi,

 

Thanks for the comment, it's taking time but I'm getting there. Working without the detailed instructions that you usually get with a kit means I spend a lot of time searching for information.

 

I have recently tried to work out mast heights. The Lavery & Hudson book has quite a bit of info but some of it is contradictory. Also, as the O'Brian books refer to Jack Aubrey's installation of a 36 gun frigate main mast this makes it even more complicated. At least the L & H book does mention that this would probably only apply to the lower section. 

 

As you Mamoli Surprise is the same 1:75 scale as my build I would be interested in what your instructions include for mast lengths. If you can isolate the overall lengths of each section of the masts with the main lower section measured from the top deck level I would be interested to see what Mamoli includes.

 

Hi Mark,

 

Good question. I seem to have 2 more gun ports on the main gun deck than guns, not too sure what to make of it. I'm not even too sure on which deck the 9 pdr chase guns would be mounted, I have assumed the forecastle as this would give the best opportunity for firing forwards. 

 

Another detail I am yet to come to terms with is stern gun ports, there seem to be 2 at the quarterdeck level. One of the L & H drawings shows a carronade mounted here but I doubt this as I understand these ports were for firing long guns at a chasing vessel in an attempt to bring down some spars. As the armament list I have includes only 2 x 9 pdr long guns it must have been quite a drag to move these from one end of the ship to the other if a chaser turns into a chasee.

 

A mystery to me is access to the heads. The L & H drawing show 2 "seats of ease" on either side but I can't see any way down or back up! 

 

Questions, questions!

 

Cheers,

 

David.

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I see where you're coming from on this as I had to go back to page 1 and refresh my memory.  I'm no expert but here's what I think based on what I've read and am trying to sort out for my build.

 

This is the French ship that was captured and re-gunned by the Brits which the cross-section shows.   The forward most ports (bridle ports) on the gun deck would have been empty and the forward most guns moved to there as needed.  You're good to go there.  By the way, the bridle ports would have had full lids.  The rest of the ports on a French ship.. none.  They used a buckler to close the port in foul weather.  The Brits might have added lids (and most probably did).

 

On the forecastle, those two "chase ports" are the access to the heads, bowspit and rigging.  Putting guns there wouldn't have worked as the blast would destroyed any rigging.

 

The two 9-pdrs should be out the stern ports on the quarter deck.  The French seemed to have normally two ports just below the stern lights or even used two stern lights.  If not there, they would show them on the quarterdeck.  Since the plans show them on the quarterdeck, put the guns there.  (Or just not use the guns, as Captain's choice :) ). 

 

As a sidenote, the guns couldn't be moved from bow to stern as the gangways wouldn't support the weight.

 

Anyway, I hope this helps.

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I still love the way she looks  ;)   a couple of your photos show the shape of the hull very well.......contour  lines are very well done!

 

    your dry fit is a feast for the eyes!

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Thanks heaps Mark, your comments clarified several areas.

 

The L & H drawings certainly show what looks like 2 sets of gun ports on the stern, on the quarterdeck and 2 fairly shallow openings which would end up below the gun deck, in the gun room by the look of it.

 

I will move the 9 pdrs to the stern on the quarterdeck, I think they're too pretty to hide below.

 

Also the L & H hull side drawing shows gun port lids on all the gun deck ports except those in the waist. This is what I will include although I'm not too sure about the 2 piece lids shown. Elsewhere in the book one piece top hinged lids are shown and here I will take the easy way out and make mine one piece.

 

I did have my doubts about the 9 pdr chase guns at those forecastle ports, extreme care would have been needed not to destroy the bowsprit rig. Good to know that this is how the crew got to the heads etc.

 

Cheers,

 

David. 

 

post-984-0-79187600-1423448169_thumb.jpg

 

L & H stb side & stern views, 2 sets of stern gun ports and lids on most of the gun deck ports.

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David,

 

I'm glad I could help on the this.     Those two ports under the gun deck are either ventilation ports or  ports for loading and off-loading stores.  If there were ports out the stern on the gundeck, these would usually be indicated.  Without seeing the side view with the deck in inner works, it does appear that those ports are below the gundedk.

 

By all means follow the plans on the lids.  The Brits often changed things when they took a captured French ship into service.  They may have moved capstans, etc.  On the ship I'm building, they (according to notes, not plans) the oven was removed but they left the fireplaces since there wasn't room for a Brody stove.

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Thanks for the tour. Fascinating. I'm inspired to rethink my build. I'll use the basic hull and deck plans but the guns supplied among other things just didn't seem right to me from the beginning. I'm going to head down to San Diego (about 800 miles from my house) and take a look at the Rose for starters. Just to get a feel for the decking, guns, ports, colors etc. The plans you've displayed are incredible, so's your craftsmanship. I'm excited about the research now and am looking forward to making this boat my own, then on to a scratch build.

                                                                      Thanks Navis, for the inspiration

                                                                                                                         Captain 71

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Fittings for the upper deck are being designed built and dry fitted. They need to be designed because I do not have all those wonderful detail drawings and precut bits that come with a kit so the process involves searching mainly through Lavery & Hudson and also the internet generally for pics. One of the disadvantages of this is that I am finding all sorts of different descriptions of various bits and have to decide what to follow and build.

 

I am also discovering interesting things about Surprise kits.

 

Part of my research has involved downloading a pdf copy of the Anatomy of the Ship, HMS Diana, another frigate, this time English built from the same historical period. This is quite helpful but there are significant differences to the Surprise, both in size and detail. I have noticed that one of the very popular Surprise kits bears a remarkable resemblance to Diana in some deck details. I guess that is one of the reasons that lots of research and scratch building is worth while.

 

So various upper deck fittings have been researched and made and look like the pics below.

 

A couple of items obviously missing are the ship's wheels and any of the pin racks for the belaying pins. I looked at trying to make up the wheels, one at each end of the cable drum. At 1:75 they are about 22mm diameter. This level of micro surgery is beyond me so I will be sourcing these from my friendly parts supplier. The belaying pins are similar, I haven't counted up how many I will need but there will be lots and again, they won't be very big. Again part supplier items. As I don't know the diameter or thickness I can't work out the rack hole size or what centres the holes are at. So no pin racks yet.

 

I have started hacking into the stern and once I have taken out the various openings there's not that much left. I made a bit of a mess of the port cable slot so I will need to rethink how to cut these out after I have reconstructed the damaged area.

 

The step rebates in the gun ports to fit the lids for the ports below the forecastle and quarterdeck have been made and need a bit of tidying up before painting. I am a bit confused about the gun ports in the waist area that do not have lids, I am assuming no step and the same overall outside dimensions as for those with lids. Comments would be welcome.

 

Cheers,

 

David.

 

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Hi David,  

 

She's looking really great! I definitely appreciate your log since I'm following a similar path and trying to follow the L&H drawings and find examples to follow. I am curious where you came up with your pump design. There's nothing in L&H to follow and some of the others I've seen are nothing like the ones you built. 

 

Thanks, Brian

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Hi Brian,

 

Thanks for the feedback, it's taking some time but I am gradually getting there.

 

The research has been long and arduous. A couple of sources I have found have been very helpful with those missing details.

 

The Jotika build log that covers the construction of the prototype for their Surprise kit has lots of pics and can be found here:

 

www.jotika-ltd.com/Pages/1024768/Surprise_Front.htm

 

Some of the details are better than others, I found the pump construction and some of the deck details helpful, I think the bow and stern details leave a lot to be desired.

 

Another helpful resource is the Anatomy of the Ship book for HMS Diana found here:

 

http://www.libramar.net/news/anatomy_of_the_ship_series/1-0-43

 

If you scroll down through the book titles you will find Diana and clicking on the words "THE FRIGATE DIANA" opens up a download page. It took a while to download but I ended up with a pdf file of the complete book which I loaded onto my tablet and use as a reference while building.

 

This site has lots of links and I think it was one of my best research finds.  

 

Although the Diana is an English built frigate rather than French built as for Surprise she is of the same era and I think that the English refit of the Surprise would have included standard English details so I have used some of the bits from here also. The Brody stove details came from here.

 

I have started some serious painting of the interior of the hull and the model is being transformed somewhat. As for the real Surprise there won't be much natural timber visible at the end of the build. Pretty much everything above the water line will be painted with the hull exterior being the classic yellow/black Nelson checker. In some ways the frigates worked a bit like stealth fighters. They would use their comparatively small size and bulk with lots of black paint on the hull and masts/spars to evade and creep up on victims, particularly in poor weather or at night.

 

I have pondered long and hard about the hull below the water line. The ship would have been coppered but I am yet to be convinced of this look. I haven't seen many ship models where the copper bottom looks OK. My thinking at the moment is to clad the entire hull in a plank veneer of a reddish brown timber, paint the topsides and leave below the water line natural. I'll see how it looks.

 

Hope this helps.

 

Cheers,

 

David.

 

 

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Hull painting.

 

The final hull planking is getting closer so I have to make a major decision about the extent of the hull colours. The colours themselves are pretty much pre-determined, mainly black with the yellow/ochre stripe.

 

My research has showed 2 different approaches to the extent of the yellow stripe, Lavery & Hudson and the Surprise replica for the Master & Commander movie. Both of these colour schemes would have involved substantial research, certainly more than I can do.

 

So the 2 options look like this:

 

post-984-0-93592700-1425968736_thumb.jpg

L & H

 

or this:

 

post-984-0-39916200-1425969385_thumb.jpg

M & C Replica

 

I have coloured up a couple of the scanned drawings to see what the 2 approaches look like.

 

L & H

post-984-0-33494600-1425969094_thumb.jpg

M & C Replica

 

I have to think about this now as I don't want to end up trying to paint a straight dividing line on the planking, my skill level really needs a clear definition of some sort, a change in planking level at a rail or wale is more preferable. Also, I think that the original hull painting would have followed some defining lines.

 

Looking closely at the L & H drawings shows 2 longitudinal lines on the hull, one at each of the top and upper decks. This is enough for me to decide to follow the L & H colour scheme with the wider yellow band with black gun port covers.

 

post-984-0-86131700-1425972027_thumb.jpg

 

I think the most difficult part of this process is getting the yellow the right colour.

 

Cheers,

 

David.

 

 

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David

 

Is the L&H painting by Geoff Hunt?  Looks a lot like his style.  Would love to have the money for one of his originals!

 

Thanks

Allan

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Hi Allan,

 

The painting is by Geoff Hunt.

 

The book I am working from is by Brian Lavery and Geoff Hunt (not Lavery & Hudson as I said above!). My son bought me a numbered edition (165 of 250) signed by both which includes a nice signed print of one of Geoff Hunt's works which shows several of Jack Aubrey's ships with Surprise in the foreground. I have it framed and hung on the wall of my study for inspiration. It shows Surprise in an odd mast configuration, the mizzen top gallant mast has been dropped.

 

As well as lots of god info about Surprise the book has a section on Geoff Hunt's paintings including preliminary sketches and details. There is a dimensioned sketch by Hunt which I found helpful in working out mast heights.

 

I too would love to have one of the originals. I can't imagine they would come up for sale very often.

 

Cheers,

 

David. 

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They do have oil paint versions of many of the HMS Surprise book covers. They are apparently done with a high level dot point computer technique that is then put onto canvas and signed. I have "Flying Kites" and it is really nice. It can be seen on page 4 of my blog in the background. They are a little pricey at $600 US or so...

post-549-0-07815300-1428102378_thumb.jpg

 

I added a blue stripe in the aft section but it is hard to see against the black background.

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Painting has started with the hull inside done.

 

More holes in the hull have been made towards the bows for various bollards and the stern has had some more work.

 

The structure for the quarter galleries has been dry fitted and will be removed and refitted once the final hull planking has been done.

 

Cheers,

 

David.

 

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post-984-0-57995600-1428223506_thumb.jpg

Different colours makes more sense with the deck in place

 

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post-984-0-18827800-1428223584_thumb.jpg

The relationship between the quarter gallery parts and the decks and the rails on the hull outside took some figuring out but I think I've got it looking OK.

 

 

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David

If you run into any problems with the galleries get David Antscherl's book on the Comet.    It includes a 17 page chapter on building the quarter galleries that alone is worth the price of the book. 

 

Allan

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Hull progress.

 

The hand rails to the bulwarks and the transom have been installed.

 

The rail at the forecastle/quarterdeck level, the channels and the catheads have all been dry fitted to check relative positions and all seem to fit OK.

 

Next step is to paint the lower rail, fix it in place and plank between it and the handrails. These will all be painted black.

 

Before I can do any more planking below this I will need to shape and fit the cutwater, keel and probably the sternpost. 

 

Cheers,

 

David. 

 

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