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  • 2 weeks later...

I decided against getting distracted from completing the gun tackle for the main deck carronades so I have started on the port side 12 guns. Why stop when you're on a roll!


The pictures explain the tackle installation for one of the 32 pounder carronades. 8 to go.





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  • 4 weeks later...

All the tackle for the 24 main deck 32 pdr carronades now completed and all the other main deck fittings have been fixed in place. Before the forecastle and quarterdeck are permanently fitted only the anchor tackle remains to be done. The hawsers and and the lower part of the messenger can be fitted before the upper deck is fixed with the upper part of the messenger fixed to the underside of the upper deck.


A fairly significant hull element is the scuppers. All the water that ends up on the main deck through gun ports and the waist has to go somewhere. I couldn't find any information for Surprise but the AoTS book for HMS Diana shows scupper positions and sizes. Both ships being about the same size I figured that the Surprise scuppers would be in about the same place. Next was finding small tubes the right size. Scouring the odds and ends that I have acquired, and it is amazing how much you do collect over the years of modelling, I found some 2mm diameter by about 3mm long brass tubes that came as part of the carronade kits. I didn't use much of the parts for these kits as most of the carronade carriages were fabricated from scratch so these were left over. Actually I have no idea what part of the carronade assembly they were meant to be. They are pretty much the right size so these have been fitted.


So next will be fitting of the forecastle, gangways and quarterdeck and the various parts that go on these.














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  • 2 months later...

More gun tackle.


The fitting of the 32 pdr carronades and all the other bits and pieces to the main deck have been completed and the forecastle, gangways and quarterdeck have been permanently fixed.


The installation of the guns on the upper deck has now started and the 2 x 8 pdr long guns and 4 x 18 pdr carronades to the forecastle have been completed.


10 x 18 pdr carronades on the quarterdeck to go.


Cheers, David. 

Forecastle guns 1.jpg

Forecastle guns 2.jpg

Forecastle guns 3.jpg

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  • 1 month later...
  • 3 months later...

Deck fittings.


The deck fittings are now pretty much complete and stepping of the masts and commencement of the rig is getting closer.

Before this major step I need to do a deck rig layout to ensure that I fit any rings, blocks etc that are required where lines run down to the deck before belaying. On my Bounty build I omitted this step and had to drill holes and fit blocks and rings once the masts were in place, not easy.


Cheers, David.








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  • 1 month later...

I have been working my way around the deck fitting the many rings and other bits and pieces required for rigging connection. Quite a bit of time and not really much to see. 

So I decided to complete something that has a bit of visual impact, davits and tackle for the jolly boat at the stern.




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  • 6 months later...

Lots of distractions have meant not much visible progress but I have managed to work my way through Lennarth Petersson "Rigging Period Ship Models" and have attached most of the blocks, rings and cleats that will be needed to complete the rig. On previous builds I had to attach a lot of these bits and pieces once the masts were in place, not so easy. This time a bit more planning ahead means that I should minimise this.

The next part of the process is to make up the yards and other spars. To achieve the required tapering I am using a bench drill as a vertical lathe, it works well. To minimise dust I made up a booth from a cardboard box and fitted a vacuum nozzle to the back.


Cheers, David.










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  • 3 months later...

20190205_121122a.thumb.jpg.ebd502a7a39e6d3b53525b54e73dde82.jpg20181102_171656a.thumb.jpg.e311b6fa8e4566bde3da5364771ad522.jpgHi All,


I haven't had too many opportunities to progress construction what with end of year, visiting grand children and all the other distractions that keep me away from building.


Yard construction has progressed and they are now completed apart from fitting of the blocks. After a frustrating time making the foot ropes for Bounty from fine cord and having a lot of trouble keeping the required shapes I decided to try a different approach and use fine copper wire spun into rope of the right size. Once fitted to the yards they were blackened with a chemical treatment. This was much easier to work with and I am happy with the result. The studding sail boom irons were again made with paper clip wire. I find that I can hammer the required lengths flat to make the rings the booms pass through and as the wire is quite malleable to start with I can still shape it into the required circles.


Starting the rig is getting ever closer and I am quite looking forward to this part of the process.


Cheers, David.








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  • 3 weeks later...

Another hurdle to clear before I can start the rigging.


The figurehead!


I intend to start the rig at the bow and work towards the stern so the bowsprit is the first work area. I can't start on the bowsprit rig until the figurehead is installed. I have been putting this off for too long but the time has come and I can no longer avoid this part of the build.


Unfortunately my 3d people shape modelling skills are zero so this is going to be a steep learning curve and I don't have great confidence in the likely result.


The first challenge was to work out what medium to use. Do I build up a shape using some sort of modelling medium or do I carve from a block of something? I have some timber a friend gave me that he said was good for carving so I thought I would have a go at this first.


The next challenge was the shape of the figurehead. The Surprise carries the goddess Athena but she has many manifestations ranging from the elaborate metal look item on the replica used in Master and Commander to much more mundane items on other models. I decided to go for the mundane. After much searching I found a model which had a fairly simple Athena and I decided this would be the example I would attempt to  build. I feel I can justify a fairly simple approach as Surprise was very much a working frigate and as the figurehead would most likely be damaged in any major sea battle fought repairs would need to be made by the ship's carpenter with timber to hand.


The process and result are in the pictures. I am happy with the result, my first attempt at wood carving.







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  • 1 month later...

Now that the figurehead has been completed and fitted I can get on with the rigging.

The bowsprit and foremast stays shrouds and ratlines have been done. Next the mainmast.

On my Bounty build I made the mistake of not progressively doing the ratlines and almost went crazy doing them all in one hit. Never again!


Bowsprit and foremast.jpg

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  • 1 month later...
  • 3 weeks later...

Rigging, the next part.

Shrouds, ratlines and stays to the fore, main and mizzen masts complete. I am very glad to see the end of the main extent of the ratlines. That was a LOT of clove hitches! The top and topgallant mast shrouds and ratlines should progress a bit more quickly.

Cheers, David.







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  • 2 months later...
  • 2 months later...

Quite a bit of water has passed under the keel since my last post, visits to families living in Brisbane and Beijing have taken up quite a bit of time.

Summer weather is starting to develop and, as a Scot who arrived in Australia at 4 years of age, over the last 66 years I never really seemed to have adapted to the hot Australian summers which I find exhausting, particularly as they seem to be getting hotter.

So the coming months are good ship building days for me as I can huddle in my man cave basement and work away.

Some months ago when I had completed the yards I thought I would be attaching them to the masts in the near future but then I consulted the rigging oracle and realised how many blocks needed to be attached to the yards and that this was going to be much easier before the yards were fixed to the masts.

The next challenge was the number and sizes of blocks required. I had purchased quite a number of blocks when I started the build but my initial count was never going to be enough. So a block making program was started. I had never made many blocks before so there was a bit of a learning curve. First the type of wood to use. I have a good stock of off cuts as I don't throw away any small pieces, I just pop them into a container working on the time honoured principle that "this will come in handy some time in the future". And my collection of walnut bits and pieces has certainly come in handy for block making. Up to now I have probably made about 150. The hardest part of the process has been drilling the 0.8-1.0 mm holes through 2.0-2.5 mm thick stock for the lines to pass through. I initially tried this by hand with my Dremel but found it very difficult to get the holes even on both sides. I thought I would try my fairly large bench drill and firstly found to my amazement that the chuck would grip a 0.8 mm bit, then that I could reduce the speed so that the bit didn't instantly snap, and that it was accurate enough to drill pretty centrally through the stock. This made block making much easier.

There are about 100 blocks of 5 or 6 different sizes attached to the yards.

Yard construction has NOW reached the point where I can start attaching them to the masts and install the running rigging.




blocks 3.jpg

yard 1.jpg

yards 2.jpg

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  • 1 month later...

Fitting of yards started, foreyard first then upward and towards the stern. The fore sheet, tack and cluelines will be fitted further down the track, it's hard enough getting to the rig attachment points as it is, these lines would make it much more difficult.

Cheers, David.




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The rig is based on drawings in the Brian Lavery and Geoff Hunt book "The Frigate Surprise" which has both the original and the Patrick O'Brian masting with the 36 gun frigate main mast.

My build includes the larger main mast. The layout in the book also increases the mizzen mast size to be almost the height of the foremast. I am no expert but I assume this is needed to balance the increased power generated by the larger sail area on the main mast.

Any clarification would be appreciated.

Cheers, David.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Rigging update.

The foremast running rigging is almost complete, now for the mainmast. As more of the lines are fitted threading additional ropes gets trickier. I have had to unthread some as the initial route taken sometimes doesn't run clear and fouls those existing.

Getting there.

Cheers, David.






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  • 2 months later...

Fitting of yards and running rigging is going well, all the sticks are now fitted and the majority of the rig complete.

I can now start on some more detail bits like the hammock netting and brackets, I haven't quite worked out how to do these yet, brass wire and I will need to try a bit of soldering. Gun port lids, cutter davits, and lots of rope coils all need to be done.

In these trying times of social distancing a good hobby comes into it's own.

Keep well.

Cheers, David.






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