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Hi Bindy,


Still plenty of room in the front stalls, red wine lubrication can sometimes certainly help with those awkward moments.


Once I had decided to build the surprise I did a bit of research into options, one was the Mamoli kit as a start and then a bit of kit bashing similar to my Bounty build where the McKay book  was the inspiration. I did consider some of the other Surprise kits but at 1:48 or similar scales the end product is huge, certainly far too big for the spaces I have in my home for display. At the end of the day I just decided to get a good book with original admiralty based drawings and go from there with 1:75 as the scale as this produces a model at about a size I can manage.


I have searched online for a book for the Surprise similar to McKay's "The Anatomy of the Ship The Bounty" but have not been able to find anything. What sort of research material have you found for your Surprise build? The Hunt Lavery book on the Surprise is OK and its drawings are the basis for my build but it lacks the terrific detail drawings of the AoTS book.


A valuable resource I have for the rigging bit of the Surprise build is the Lennarth Petersson book "Rigging Period Ship Models". The book is full of detailed drawings of the rigging of a frigate of about the same time as the Surprise so will be a great guide.


I noticed in your log that you were a bit awed by the 4 rigging cords that came with the kit. If you want to get anything like accurate with the rig you may need a few more thicknesses. My Bounty build includes about 20 different cord sizes in 2 colours including the fattest at 1.4mm diameter for the main stay which I spun out of 24 lengths of sewing thread.


When some more pics of your build appear on your log I will watch with interest.





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Hi again David,

Thank you for the reply and the information and tips already! 


I have to admit that I have already given some thought to adding to my kit with nicer wood, gun carriages possibly, etc but hadn't even thought about the cords so I am learning from you already.  Thank you!


I will put all of my material into some sort of order and send you a message.  I am quite sure you probably have most of it already, but I just might have something you are missing too  :)

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  • 3 weeks later...

Time for an update.


The hull under planking layer is now complete and ready for sanding to achieve the final shape before fixing the top plank layer.


While I was doing the planking I also thickened up the hull sides and the bulwarks so that the gun ports and other penetrations will be the right depth. I do not intend cutting the gun ports etc until all planking is complete.


I have also fitted the deck planking to the main deck and will now start adding the deck furniture on this level. The plank joints and trenails will be added when the holes for the hatches etc have been established.


The single penetration through the main deck is for the forward companionway as this is the only hatch that can be seen into. I have already planked the deck at the lower level.


I think that the hull shape looks OK. As I was shaping the hull I came to realize how the hull shape of a frigate is different to the hull shape of a transport based ship like the Bounty. The frigate is much narrower and the resulting tendency to roll must have made them wicked to inhabit in a cross sea. Also the main deck width doesn't vary much in the ship's length and is quite wide at the stern, presumably to work best as a gun platform.







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I have started on the fittings for the main deck, companion ladders, hold hatches, capstan etc.


I realised that I am going to have to complete all the details on this deck before I can fit the quarter deck, gangways and the forecastle. Of course this includes all the guns with their attendant tackle so this lower deck is going to have a lot of detail in place before I can fit and complete the upper deck sections.


Completing the top deck will involve lots of scraping etc of the final planking which I do not want to do in place in the hull as the process makes quite a mess and I do not want to be trying to clean out the completed main deck.


So I have decided to prefab the top deck sections complete with finished planking and drop them into place. Fortunately the top deck is in 2 separate pieces as it has a step from the gangways up to the quarterdeck. This step seems to be about 200mm high and I presume it is more symbolic than functional defining the limits of crew movement from "before the mast" to the officers area.


The deck beams have been shaped with the required camber to give the upper deck sections the required curve and the 2 sections slide into place, forward section first then the stern section slides towards the stern as it is wider than the top of the bulwarks due to the tumblehome of the hull.


The exposed deck beams in the waist are temporary as they are in the wrong place. They will be removed when the planking is complete and the final beams installed. From the L & H drawings these final beams are above the deck line and are located with brackets on the edge of the gangway.







Upper false deck sections in place



Top side of removed sections






Long section through waist showing beam positions and support brackets (Lavery & Hunt)

The step up from the gangway to the quarterdeck can be seen here.

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Hi Marktime,


Thickening of the hull is needed to bring the model up to the scale thickness of the real ship so that the gun port and other penetration reveals will be close to correct as I will have all the gun ports open and guns run out.


The bulwarks are significantly thinner than the hull at the main gun deck level. This hull does not appear to have a substantial wale line and has a single slight thickening at the line of the main deck and a rail line at the upper deck. My under planking does not have this thickening which I will create in the final planking. 


My model hull thicknesses are based on this L & H cross section.







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The gun port reveals are the total thickness of the hull from the outside face of the planking to the inner face of the inner lining planks that is exposed when the gun port covers are open.


You can see from the drawing that the hull is slightly thinner at the top of the reveals than at the bottom but there are limits to the detail accuracy that I am willing to go to and my gun port reveals will be the same depth at the top as at the bottom. They will be thinner at the upper deck than at the main gun deck so at least that relationship will be accurate.


The drawing also shows the "knees" that form part of the lateral stiffening of the hull structure. I am not too sure what to do about these. My ribs have haunches where the upper deck beams rest and these look a bit like the "knees" but they are not really big enough. A problem I have with the "knees" is that I don't know how many of them there are. I haven't yet found a drawing showing where they are placed lengthwise in the hull. On my model they won't be visible except through the open gun ports or through the stern windows so maybe I can get by without going to too much detail in this area.



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OK. I understand what you are trying to achieve. As for the knees, I agree that you can really only go so far in detailing and the visible stuff is where we should really concentrate our attention. Thanks for taking the time to reply.

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  • 2 months later...

Update time.


I have been on holiday in the centre of Queensland, great place, the true wide open spaces.


Since returning home I have been working on fitting out the hull interior including internal planking, plank end joints and fixings and fittings. The plank end joints and fixing locations are based on a deck beam diagram included in the L & H book. The fittings for the upper deck (below the forecastle and quarterdeck) done so far are the galley, companionways and hatch covers.


I need to do a bit more research to work out what the pumps etc look like before I make them up.













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  • 2 weeks later...

I have needed to do some fairly detailed wood cutting and tried the scroll saw but found the hole in the base plate too big, small bits disappeared! Also, I had difficulty controlling small sections of timber, they tended to jump around.


The solution was to make up a new ply base plate with a minimal hole where the blade passes through. At the same time I made up a pretty basic fence for controlling the width of cuts. I reduced some 4x4 mm walnut to about 2.5x2.5 mm for parts of the chain pump frames, it worked fine.





Base plate allowing for angle cutting



New 6mm ply base plate and fence



Minimal hole for the blade



4x4mm walnut reduced to 2.5x2.5


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Some more deck fittings. The riding bits and chain pumps have been fabricated and dry fitted. The modified scroll saw base was very helpful in cutting the small parts. Final details such as fixings for the handles are yet to be added.


The pattern of the deck treenails has been completed. I decided to try a technique I spotted on another build log, a medical syringe needle cut down to form appropriate sized circles. I visited the local pharmacy and, after a bit of explaining and a look of bemusement on the pharmacist's face walked out with some 0.4mm needles.  This was the smallest size that comes as a separate part and not with the syringe attached. At 1:75 scale this is 30mm, close enough to treenail size.  I carefully cut the point off and added a dowel handle and set to work. I was pleasantly surprised that this process didn't tak a huge amount of time. I used a template that I had made up when I built the Bounty. After making the circles with the needle I spun the tip of an HB pencil in the depression. 



Riding bits and chain pumps added



Chain pumps



Chain pumps



Treenails with needle tool


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More deck fittings. The most important fittings on the upper deck are the guns, my build will carry 24 32 pdr carronades on this deck.


After searching, I found that Mantua make a 30mm carronade kit that is pretty close to the 1:75 32 pdr so I have acquired 24 of these. I have also acquired 14 smaller 18 pdr carronades and 2 long 9 pdr guns for the quarterdeck and forecastle. 


I was originally going to leave cutting out the gun ports until I had completed the outer hull planking and cut through all the thicknesses in one go but I have decided to cut them out before I do the final outer hull planking to give a bit more of a margin for error, something will surely go wrong somewhere. Without the outer planking in place I think I have a better chance of doing any repairs in a reasonable way.


To confirm the precise position of the gun ports, particularly vertically, I wanted to have a sample gun assembly made up to be sure that the gun fittings would look OK and that the gun barrel would end up in the centre of the gun port when the gun was horizontal.


The Mantua gun kit included a timber carriage as well as the brass barrel and some brass fittings. The timber carriage is all wrong for a carronade so I have made up my own using the drawings in the L & H book. At least the Mantua carriage was OK to cut down for the slide. I have yet to add the metal fittings for the gun tackle. The tackle looks even more complex than for a normal long gun as both the main carriage and the slide seem to have side tackle as well as the gun having the usual breech rope and "back-haul" tackle.


As with the brass swivel guns on the Bounty I have used brass blacking fluid that I got from a gun shop. A very light oil rub after the blacking has done its job brings up quite a good finish.



Mantua gun kit left, my version right. 

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The gun ports and the doorway into the quarter gallery have been cut into the starboard side, no major difficulties although one of the ports ended up a little high and needed a bit of filler at the top. I am glad I decided to cut now rather than after the final planking is in place.


Now for the port side.


The quarterdeck and forecastle ports will be set out and cut once I have planked these top deck sections, made up a gun carriage for the 18 pdr carronades and checked the position of the ports.


The gun barrel and carriage size, port positions and the hull thickness has worked out pretty close to the hull cross section in Lavery and Hunt.  

































Lavery & Hunt cross section





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  • 1 month later...

Gun assemblies.


My version of Surprise, based on the Master & Commander books, carried 24 x 32 pdr carronades on the main deck and 14 x 18 pdrs on the forecastle and quarterdeck as the main armament with a couple of 9 pdr chase long guns. At this stage, I'm not sure where the 9 pdrs live, there seem to be a couple of spare gun ports on both the upper deck, the forecastle and at the stern, maybe they were moved around as needed. Possibly it's up to me to decide where to put them.


The carpentry shop has been in full production with carriages for both carronade sizes being produced.












Kit for 32 pdr carronades. The kit carriage forms the basis for the slide in the final assembly.



Trickiest part of making up the slide, slicing the carriage longways to reduce the height. (Yellow lines = 25mm grid)



Steps involved in changing from the kit carriage to the finished slide. The lower part of the carriage is fabricated from balsa and ply.



Progress so far.

All 32 pdr components have been shaped and painted, detail painting still to come. 18 pdr carriages partly shaped.

Most of the 32 pdr barrels have been blackened and colouring of the 18 pdr barrels has started.



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