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HMS Diana by Ray - FINISHED - Caldercraft/Jotika - A 38 gun Heavy Frigate, 1794

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HMS DIANA 1794 By Ray– A 38 Gun Heavy Frigate (Caldercraft)


I intend to depict her as built in 1794 with open rails on the quarter deck and replace the quarter deck carronades with 9 pounders, I also intend to plank the decks as in Anatomy of the ship “The Frigate Diana” by David White so will replace the supplied wood with Maple.


I have had the kit for several months, but only had a quick look inside the box to see if all seemed present and correct, I did not want to start thinking about her too much until Pegasus was completed. Now Pegasus has been completed I delved into the box in earnest, and it is quite a large and heavy one, all the contents seem to be good quality although I would have preferred walnut dowel to the Birch wood dowel supplied this just does not look as good stained as the walnut does varnished, so I will replace any dowel that is not to be painted with walnut.


The one thing I would like to replace are the copper tiles, I think they are nowhere as good as the Amati ones, to me the ones supplied are to bright, and the rivet detail is in comparison, nowhere near as good but at a cost of around £100 this may not be possible.


I have been in for a bit of stick from family members, as my first wife’s name was, you have guessed It, Diana, so I will have to get used to “ off to your room with Diana again” and “we never thought you and Diana would spend so much time together” a cross I will have to bear.


Diana boxed



kit opened



















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Good Luck with your Diana. I just completed mine this past December. This is the oldest but one of the best Caldercraft kits. Overlook the poor instructions, toss 'em. The plans are quite good however, the materials are excellent. I loved upgrading this kit.


I have some photos in the completed ship gallery here you may want to look at - you know, inspiration! As you'll see, I decided to not copper her. I agree that the Victory Models copper plates are considerably better (I used them on the VM/Amati Mercury brig kit, same scale). YOu may want to think about this approach. Diana's lower hull lines are beautiful and the walnut planking does finish-up quite nicely.







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Ray, after your fantastic Pegasus build very keen to see more of this build, she really is a beauty...something I'm aspiring to.  I've just finished coppering my Snake build, I felt a little wary with the Caldercraft copper plates as well as I've seen them criticized in this forum, however I was pleasantly surprised with the overall effect once complete as it was not as 'in your face' as I had feared, but just my humble opinion.  Best of luck and eagerly waiting to see more!

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Hi Ray,


I'm confident you'll get plenty of satisfaction & fun out of this kit.

As your previous build is already on the shelf,  I must admit that building instructions are -in my opinion- a bit "antique" compared to HMS Pegasus explanations, but there's nothing you can't handle.

Just one thing : the only serious "roadblock" I encountered is the position of transom supports : please pay attention that you don't fix them too high. By consequence, you might end up with quarterdeck galleries that are too high and some decoration rails that need to be fixed just above the same quarterdeckgallery just not might fit.

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Hi Guys thanks for your comments I can rearly now get on with Diana after reloading my old build logs. I have a few weeks and then am due for a total knee replacement so I am not shure if that will give me more building time or less ?



I seem to remember in some old build logs this tramsom height problem when I get near to fixing them I can dryfix and send some pics to you, it may be a bit down the road as I plan to top & but the main gun deck first.

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The first real part of the build was to remove the frames/bulkheads and the keel from the ply sheets and dress down the edges, which gave me the chance to use one new toy a belt and disc sander. The keel in this kit is just ply no hard wood outer edge not as good as the other two kits I have built so I will paint the bow black to cover the ply edge. I then made up the build board, which was needed as the ply keel did have a bend in it.


With the keel slotted into the board the frames were all slotted on to it and the lower plywood deck, and they all slotted together well.

I also ordered the maple for the new decking.


Keel and frames out of the box



Keel on build board



New sander



Starting to dry fit



Allframes dry fitted




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Next job was to taper the bow and stern frames plus the bow blocks it’s a matter of get it as close as you can now before the frames are glued in place and one good thing with this build is the lower deck does hold everything fairly well in place dry fitted, one problem I did encounter was with frame 6 it was too narrow as can be seen in the photos so I packed out, the outer edge, it also needed the inner edge reworking as well again the photos show this, and frame13 Needed packing out as the hull planking would have dipped if this had not been done, several of the rear frames semi broke when the lower deck kept going on and coming off so they were glued up and strengthening strips added to the sides, when all the tapering was done the frames were glue into place and then the lower deck glued on  as well. I will balsa fill between the first few and the last few frames before I plank.


Tapering frames



checking taper



bow frames done



shows problem at frame 6



adding material to frame 6




frame 6 nearly sorted



problem at frame 13 extra material needed





frames and lower deck glued up




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Deck planking

As I am going to top & but the gun deck planking I thought my normal method of laying black thread between the planks would not be very practical. I had seen on the old site some black brush pen, which it was, reckoned do not bleed so I ordered two pens to give this method a try on the lower deck of which a bit will be seen through the gratings, I also used the supplied planking to do this.



The method just run the pen over the edge of the plank lay it and run a pencil along the deck and repeat, the result surprised me how good it looked and how fast.


The pen



Blackening the edge



lower deck planking



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I decided to plank the gun deck top and but as the pattern in the Anatomy of the ship “The Frigate Diana” although the book does not show the gun deck planked in this way, this method of planking was done to strengthen the deck, so it seems the book is most likely flawed on this point on page 52 as on page 108 it shows the deck underneath an 18 pounder top and but planked.

To get my head around how to set this pattern I made a paper pattern of the deck and thin cardboard planks. Normally I would start planking from the deck centre line and work out to the bulwark but this method would not work here, I would have to work out from the bulwark to the centre of the deck, but needed to have a straight line where the top and but planking ends to make the rest of the planking look right, as there will be about 8 or 9 widths of 3mm planking, and the 2 widths of 5mm up to the gratings and 4 or 5 3mm planks in the centre.


  THIS WILL BE MY COMPROMISE I know the top and but would be the same width from bow to stern but you can only see a smallish length of it, when the quarter, and fore decks are on, and in the same way, I will not fully rig the guns that cannot be seen.


The ply deck was glued in place, this method also requires a waterway tight up to the frames so a 7mm plank was cut and shaped to fit.


Paper deck plan



setting out with card planks



waterway being set up



ply deck marked out and glued on




water way shaped ready to fix


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Gun deck planking

I started the gun deck planking by adding the waterway plank, it was trimmed and shaped from a 7mm wide length of maple, it was set hard against the frames and with a bulwark plank set on top, this gave the waterway a 4mm width. I then cut out a few shaped planks and worked out a straight line in from the waterway parallel to the deck centre line at about amidships wide enough to cover the planking pattern, which is four planks wide, this was the compromise as in the last post, the top and but planking was then laid from that line to the waterway. I tried the ply top decks on, and you just do not see where the top and but planking tapers you only see it at full width. Next I started laying the 3mm wide planks and I will say the 3mm timber was nowhere near as good on the edges as the 5 & 7mm and requires a lot of sanding, as showed a few rows have been laid the rest to do.



Waterway & stright edge for distance



First row of planks



Two rows



Top & but finished one side





Top & but finished one side with ply top deck in place





Top & but finished one side with the first rows of 3mm planking and a bulwark plank in place






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Looks very nice already Ray, maybe I missed it, are you using maple for all the decking? It has a beautiful colour made only better by the sharp planking - curious whether you had any bleeding on the ends on the planks, I tried this approach and found even with an archival pen it bled into Tanganyika wood so ended up using a soft pencil.  Did you seal the wood at all first?


Either way, its a huge improvement - sorry for all the questions!

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Hi Jason 


               I am using maple for all the decking, I think it looks much better than the Tanganyika supplied in the kits, and it cost around £35 to replace it ,so not to bad it is just a pity the 3mm is not as sharp on the edges as the 5 & 7mm.Aplying the pen/brush, it only just bleeds a tiny amount on the ends so I am very lightly touching the ends to stop this.

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Hi Ray, 

             Just wondering how you are finding the quality of the Diana kit against the Lady Nelson and Pegasus?  I have finished the Lady nelson and am just starting the Pegasus , your build logs came in very usefull and was so pleased you took the time to put them back up.


                                                                                                                     Rgs Steve

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Hi Steve

              Early days yet as to a direct quality difference, I would say the Victory kits are very, very good.This kit so I am informed is a early Caldercraft one, at the moment I do not like the all ply keel as much or the dowel for the masts but the rest of the timber is just as good as the pegasus kit. some of the cast fittings also as not as good the ships bell for instance, but time will tell on the rest.The plans are all full size which I like slightly better but that makes them big to use.This is my opinion so far.

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One half of the gun deck has now been planked top & butt, then 13 rows of 3mm planks and lastly two rows of 5mm up to the edge, where the gratings come to, the part left in the centre of the deck reverts to 3mm planks, I will fill that in after the other main half has been done, so far I a pleased with the effect and the maple. The other photos show my planking station just some pined down glass paper and spare 1.5 x 5 mm planking pined to allow the ends to be sanded square.


This might be the last update for a while as tomorrow the 6th I am going into hospital to have replacement knee surgery not looking forward to it very much, hopefully after the first few weeks I might have a lot of time to put into the build.


3mm planks ready to lay



Sanding station



Sanding edge



3mm planking being layed



3mm planking done



One side finished














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Hello Ray,


First of all i'd like to congratulate you for the wonderful job you did on Pegasus, i'm planning to buy the kit in the near future and your build log will be my guideline. On the Diana everything looks very good so far and taking in account  your skills i have no worries about the final result. For the second deck how did you blackened the edges - you used the pen again?

Keep up the good work




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Hi Guys thanks for the comments and best wishes. My knee surgery went ok, only in hospital for four days, but it is extremely painful so I have not yet done any more work on Diana, Sharpe knifes and alike mixed with a fair bit of morphine are not the best mix.



Hi Mihai

                I did use the brush/pen on all the decking laid so far and I am very pleased with the result, and its having the benefit of it being faster as well over my normal method of laying black cotton thread between each plank not very practical on the top & butt planking.



Hi Mort

               I did not use a jig for the top and butt planks I just cut and measured each one from 80mm length of 5mm maple (as in the photo)



I cut a few at this standard size and laid the ones that just fit together nice and trimmed as necessary others, or cut one to give a snug fit and carried on to the bow and stern cutting each one as required, tapering them to give the straight line were the 3mm planking starts.

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