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HMS Jason by Beef Wellington - Caldercraft - 1:64 - Artois-class frigate modified from HMS Diana 1794

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As I'm slowly approaching the end (or at least the beginning of the end) on HMS Snake, I gratefully received what will be my next installment for my birthday.  Don't expect much progress as I want to keep working on HMS Snake as time permits, but I wanted to have the kit in my hands so I can start to do some planning ahead, and most importantly, get my order in for some upgraded wood.  I also want to take advantage of the warm weather to get the larger sanding jobs done outside if I can.  I plan to take the first planking slowly to avoid repeating errors and to hopefully ensure I can get the lines as close as possible to the plans.


I had a great experience with my Caldercraft Snake, and after  trying to evaluate other kits out there, decided to stay in the family due to the expected kit quality, interest in the subject matter and availability of aftermarket items.  I've been vacillating between HMS Agamemnon and HMS Diana for some time, but what finally swayed me was getting a copy of the AOTS Diana book which I'd like to follow as closely as possible as skills permit.



Initial thoughts on the kit and approach:

  • I'm going to build her as HMS Jason, the 5th of the 9 built Artois-class frigates.  Don't think this will mean any significant deviations, but I have downloaded the plans from NMM, and there is of course the narcissistic additional interest for me  ;).  This will require me to change the figurehead, I have thought through options.  While not quite a beautiful as the Diana admiralty models with open quarterdeck rails, I do plan to build her as she was when completed with the build up quarterdeck bulwarks.  My reading indicates that most, if not all, would have had this feature when actually launched as it was back in fashion.  
  • Wood - The supplied walnut does not look great, not a surprise and this seems to be a (sadly) common factor in CC kits.  I have decided to upgrade/change the wood, and will probably go with boxwood for the external hull, and maple for the deck as I'll try to replicate the decking in the AOTS book which Ray so successfully handled on his build.  I'll keep the walnut below the waterline where possible to save on cost as this will be coppered .
  • Instructions - Poor, but as expected.  I hope this won't present too many challenges, and hope my initial experience on Snake will get me through OK.
  • Copper plates - The CC plates get a bad rap, and I don't think they are as bad as commonly perceived when looking at a completed hull.  That being said, I would like to try to replace them with Amati ones which look very authentic if finances allow (on a "cost per year" basis, this is easier to justify given my slow pace)
  • Armament - The HMS Jason plans show her with 6 identical ports on her quarterdeck, suggesting the original 9lb'er configuration.  The kit provides a mix between carronades and cannons with differences in the gun port configuration and size.  I may change this but we'll see.
  • Quality - Overall, I do like the quality of the kit, CC do provide some high quality parts that are correct scale.  Where I know the kit provided items will not be up to it, I'll replace/upgrade those (pumps, blocks, rigging line etc).  The keel and bulkheads are very solid.


I have plenty more thoughts, but will keep those to myself for now.  Onwards and upwards!



The box, manuals and part identification



Frames and pre-cut parts



The wood strips






All of the really small bits still in box until inventoried




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A little history:


HMS Jason was a 38-gun Artois-class fifth rate frigate of the Royal Navy. She served during the French Revolutionary Wars, but her career came to an end after just four years in service when she struck an uncharted rock off Brest and sank on 13 October 1798. She had already had an eventful career, and was involved in several engagements with French vessels.


Jason initially served in the English Channel, at first under Douglas, and then by 1795 under Captain Charles Stirling. Stirling remained the Jason's commander for the rest of her career. In a highly active career against French shipping he took at least six French vessels, including two that later became part of the Royal Navy.


The Jason was present at the Quiberon expedition in October 1795 as part of John Borlase Warren's squadron, and went on to be highly active against French privateers and raiders. In December 1796 she was part of the British squadron that frustrated the French Expédition d'Irlande, capturing the disarmed frigate Suffren. Further service in the Channel followed; Jason captured the 14-gun privateer Marie off Belle Isle on 21 November 1797, the 24-gun privateer Coureur on 23 February 1798, and in company with HMS Russell captured the 12-gun privateer Bonne Citoyenne on 20 March 1798. Further successes that year included the 6-gun Arrogante off Brest 19 April 1798, and in company with HMS Pique, the 38-gun frigate Seine in the Breton Passage on 30 June 1798.


HMS Jason struck an uncharted rock on 13 October 1798 while sailing off Brest and was wrecked. She was one of a handful of frigates to be lost on the dangerous Brest blockade, with three of her class being wrecked in the space of three years. HMS Artois had been lost the year before, while HMS Ethalion was lost the following year.


Here is the only contemporary (or otherwise!) picture I can find of her capturing the Seine.



Edited by Beef Wellington
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hi Jason

                Good luck with her, your summing of the kit up is correct, I also considered changing the copper tiles and it is a very costly update, and when done the supplied tiles look fairly good, and to change all the blocks plus the extras needed if the guns are to be rigged, is again a very costly upgrade.

The building of snake has given you the experience needed for this build as I have found building Diana after Pegasus, as I think this is not a kit for the beginner.

I look forward to updates.

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Looking forward to this one Jason. You've done a fine job on snake and Diana has always been on the wish list for me.

I've spent far too much time poring over AOTS Diana. Granado would have been finished months ago if it wasn't for the alluring curves of Diana...

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I'm also looking forward to the build Jason, you've made a great subject choice.


Wise move replacing the walnut. That really is about the only thing I am disappointed in with my Granado kit. Can't wait for my Hobbymill boxwood to arrive so I can get to my outer hull planking. Interestingly, the Granado kit came with Maple for the decking, which was quite good and I've gone ahead and used it. I understand most of the CC kits have Tankanyika for decking. 

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Thanks for the interest guys - again, progress will be slow, even by my standards  :)


Joe - you're definitely right about the maple/tanganika.  Think I got lucky on the Snake with the wood provided, the tanganika supplied with this kit has a rather larger grain with lots of colour differences, so maple will likely be the cost effective option - I'm expecting lots of waste.


Encountered first problem, the plywood keel template is pretty significantly curved, this is probably exacerbated because it is pretty long, relatively thin piece.  Last night I tried soaking for an hour and flattening with weights, but this morning revealed it to be a spectacular failure, maybe I didn't soak enough (?).  I don't have much experience with this so any suggestions would be appreciated - do I run the risk of ruining the piece by soaking too much?


This seems a common problem, frustrating non-the-less.



Edited by Beef Wellington
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That's quite a bit of a warp Jason.  Given that it's just at the end, I wonder how successful it will be to soak and flatten - and even then, is it worth the possible future bother and frustration?  If you have a scroll saw, I would recommend cutting out a new piece for yourself (or you can cut it out by hand).  My Unicorn keel had a warp like that, so I just cut out a new one which wasn't all that difficult to do.  The problem will be finding a supply of larger sheets of plywood that aren't warped - I bought some from Micromark, which were all warped (to their credit, they refunded me the purchase price).  I then bought a stack of 6 sheets of plywood from Hobbylinc, and I was able to find one from the batch that worked.  If possible, I wonder if you can find thin sheets of MDF instead, which is probably much less prone to warping.  The Pegasus kit comes with very good quality MDF (no warps, very sturdy and heavy duty), which makes me wonder why other kit manufacturers don't take that approach.


Just out of curiosity, what is the Jason's figurehead?  I'm thinking about carving my Unicorn's figurehead, so I've been doing a little research on figureheads and carving in general.

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Cheers Mike - It seems like even a plan B needs a plan C - isn't it amazing how difficult it is to find stright wood or dowel.  MDF seems like a much better alternative, although I understand the Diana kit is quite old and as Ray points out, if could definitely do with some updating.  Unfortunately I don't have a scroll saw, its very much a manual shipyard, cutting a new keel seems a little daunting but never say never.  Will maybe try again soaking/weighting.  If that fails, I may just push on ensuring that the bulkheads are truly perpendicular to the keel and then using bracing between the bulkheads to force alignment - there is also a false deck that may help straighten a bit, but the warp seems more accute at the bottom of the keel.  .  I'm strongly considering cutting off the stem and stern post area of the hull and then replacing with boxwood rather than painting the plywood.


As for the figurehead, I've ordered Chuck's resin offering after seeing it at the NE model ship show, high quality, and is suitably 'Greek' and warlike  :P

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It's disappointing that it's so hard to find flat plywood.  I've discovered the my new plywood keel for my Unicorn has a very slight warp of maybe 1-2mm at the end that I need to address.  I've been thinking about the bracing approach that you mentioned since it it very slight.


Replacing the stem and stern post with boxwood would be very nice.  Be careful going down that path, as you might want to build the stem from the individual parts that compose it (close to a dozen)  :huh:  I ended up doing that with my Unicorn, but I wonder how much will be seen once all the headrails are on.  Alternatively, I think you can get away with scribing lines onto a single piece for the stem to represent the joints, and maybe define them with pencil.  I might end up trying that with my upcoming Pegasus build.


Do you have the AOTS book on the Diana?  It's pretty good in case you are looking to add details to the build.

Edited by Landlubber Mike
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Mike - I do have the AOTS book, that was one of the factors in selecting this kit.  Its definitely one of the better ones.


As for the stem:  I really don't think I have the capabilities to build the individual pieces (maybe get there on my 3rd build but that is way out there!).  My thoughts are still coming together, but I hope to use the boxwood to represent the what would ordinarily be painted yellow ochre rather than tying to represent some sort of admiralty style model with truly authentic spiled planking.  I'll probably just need to see how I feel when I (eventually) get there, I may try to go out on a limb in some areas, like doing top and butt planking on the deck, wales etc.

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Hi Jason

I had a warp in my Fly false keel. Perhaps not as bad as yours. I soaked it for a good while and weighted it with steel angles = very heavy weights. I think I left for 2 to 3 days until it was completely dry. The rust from the steel made it look really ugly but it worked.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Well....the plywood trials and tribulations continue.  I've tried soaking and weighting a couple of times to no avail.  Each time, everything seems as if its working out fine, and then the infamous bend re-appears.  One reason could be that because of the air temp and humidity right now the wood was drying out too quickly and unevenly - I have the lower side against a granite countertop which is the flattest thing I can find, and had been turning the keel periodlcally to try to avoid that.  I've also tried drying the keel under opposite tension hoping the resultant tension would correct the bend - unsuccessful.


What makes this doubly problematic is that the keel is only distorted at the bottom, especially at the stern where it will receive very little opportunity for 'correcting' force from bulkheads and planking.  The top of the keel is acceptably straight, and were the distortion the other way around it wouldn't be an issue as the false deck would force it to be straight.


Anyway - I'm going to try one last time and go for broke.  I've soaked for 5-6hrs and have the keel sandwiched between two heavy shelves with weights on top.  Hopefully this will slow the drying time and hopefully allow to dry more slowly and evenly.


This seems to be a common topic right now!  I do have a couple of options:

  1. Cut my own - this would require sourcing flat plywood from 3rd party and me having to cut out.  A lot of posters (I suspect people with appropriate tools) offer this as the obvious solution, but seems a lot of work.
  2. Cut off the bottom of the keel and glue on a 5x5mm walnut strip similar to Snake construction.  Less dramatic than above, but I will still likely be dealing with a non-true keel or frame alignment
  3. Ask for a replacement - I suspect I'll be making a call to Cornwall Model Boats early next week if current effort fails.  I've paid good money for the kit and I don't think its reasonable to have an important piece like a keel thats not up to standard.

Sorry for the complaining, but it did make me feel better  :P

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Sorry you have trouble with your keel Jason it's always disappointing to find a defective part in a kit, particularly one that's so important.


Jotika have a good customer support system and it may be useful to send them an e-mail direct and explain the situation, if they live up to their reputation they should send a replacement directly.





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Hi Jason,looking forward to following along with your build. B)


Once you have soaked the keel,try repeated ironing on both sides,using a hot domestic iron on a flat surface.Continually work along the keel with this alternating on both sides and keep going until the heat from the iron dries the ply out completely.This has worked for me with warped ply that won't succumb to simple soaking and weighting ;)


Kind Regards



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So here you are.......

I wil take a seat and wil follow you on this one also......

That's a nasty warp but as others are saying, send Jotika/Caldecraft an e-mail for an replacement.

It's better to do that then when you are trying to soak it and get it straight ( what not is working yet )

You save your self a lot of problems .

You still have the Snake to work on.....



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Cheers guys - especially for all the ideas which I appreciate very much, each one of which has been tried, sadly to no avail.  Despite what I'm passing on below, I think the peice of ply I had was fundamentally flawed and un-correctable, there seems to be a large void in the bottom centre of the keel right at the point where the curve/kink is most prevalent which I discovered after starting to cut the rabbet.


Got up early this morning to put a call into Jotika/Caldercraft and spoke with John.  He was very helpful and will be sending replacement (he promised to cut a the part specially and check it is OK before shipping).  Once again this confirms my own and other's experience that Caldercraft really do have great customer focus - I'll wait patiently for it to arrive...


He did mention one interesting fact, and that was that they have seen this type of issues with kits distributed by air, but that interestingly it doesn't seem to be an issue with kits sent by sea.  They are not sure of the cause, but possibly the nature of the environment in the hold of a plane .  This may be something to consider when sourcing a kit.  I bought mine from Cornwall Model Boats and it would have been air delivered, suppliers of CC kits in the US would likely have received bulk orders via ship so may be less prone to this issue.

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Hi Jason,


Going with the replacement is a good idea.  I know some people are able to use the soaking and weighting technique, but I would be very nervous that the keel would have a tendency to warp over time.  If you pay good money for a kit, the least you should expect is a flat keel in my opinion.  Glad to hear that Caldercraft is standing by their product.


Interesting on the by air versus by sea results.  On my Unicorn, I bought a couple of sheets of plywood from Micro Mark to cut out a new keel.  Both the sheets, even at 5mm, were significantly warped, worse than the kit keel.  I then bought a package of 5 sheets from Hobbylinc (maybe Revell brand, I forget), and 3 of the 5 had a decent sized warp to them, and really only one was workable.  MDF might be a better way to go.

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Hi Jason Glad they are sorting out the keel issue, John is the guy I have spoken too and has replaced parts for me, very good customer service, it just a pity the kit has not been updated, I have just found out there are no deadeye strops for the tops ( you are to make them from thread not an option in my opinion ) but they have them as Caldercraft fittings made in brass, so buy some or make them ?

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  • 3 weeks later...

Let me add to this thread a couple comments, observations.


First, good decision, Jason; you've gone well beyond with your perseverance of trying to fix a bad piece of ply.


In my experience of the last 3 years and from carefully reading others comments on both companies on this forum, both Jotika (Caldercraft) and Cornwall are very responsive. I have not had any damaged or unacceptable parts in the kits I've purchased from either (Diana- direct w/Jotika and Agamemnon from Cornwall). Although the "static kits" business of Jotika is an obvious "sideline" for them, they still make up kits pretty quickly - and steadily - and offer decent communication and common sense policies for resolving problems should they arise.


My only reservation is about Jotika's marketing: someone in the company (or contracted outside) should pay better attention to their web information and resolve the hangups on moving forward with both the HMS Surprise as well as the "74." The company has invested the resources for both kits - at least the prototypes detailed on their web site. Both of these projects would sell well to an international market, even at the top-end of the kit market's offerings. In the computer business this would be called "Vaporware." In our hobby, I like to call it: "FogWare."


When Victory/Amati release Chris Watton's 1/64 Vic it should challenge the aging CCraft Vic pretty substantially. There are quite a few persons who will tackle a huge Vic/Vic. Once this happens (don't hold your breath until at least 2016), Jotika may again start paying attention to our market.


I lived in the U.K. for 2 years and I know, first-hand, how big and active the RC Ship business is for Brits. It's a major past time - "pond models"- of all stripes, WW1 &11 and various working boats of different eras. This is Jotika's main business and they are a prime supplier (as are Cornwall) to a very engaged domestic market. Europeans too are big on "pond model" stuff. 


This said, I am thankful that Jotika still pays some attention to us static model builders. My guess (and it's only a guess) is that this component of their sales is less than 10%. However, my other guess is that static kits (and bits) are very steady - and perhaps near n' dear to the founder's heart. ;)


C'est LaVie -



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Cheers all.


Ray - I haven't got as far as looking at those, but if mine is the same as yours looks like I'll be making some wire ones again, thread just doesn't seem to pass muster.


Ron - I'm sure you're right.  Although CC do have some great products, they don't seem to have the same passion as the BJ folks who I visited while on vacation - to your point the Surprise and '74' that seems to have been 'imminent' since I started in this hobby 3yrs ago.  Talking with Nic (the ower) they will be releasing a large scale CW Morgan kit early next year in response to the NE Model poll on what people want - thats bringing something from 'thought' to reality in not much more than a year, and there will be more after that.  They clearly have a passion for these kits - I think I may also have identified my next build, but thats way down the road... :)


Anyway, a little progress at last.  The new keel arrived while I was on vacation, thankfully needed a signature so it wasn't left outside in the heat and humidity for 2 weeks!  New keel is just fine, the bottom is honestly as straight as could be expected, but does have a very slight curve at the top, that should be easily addressed with the false deck.  So onwards...


The kit comes with the keel in one piece, so a bit of thinking was in order.  I dryfitted the bulkheads to identify where the bottom should be (5mm from base of keel).  Marked a line on the keel and started cutting a rabbet to accomodate the first planking.  I didn't do this on my Snake as it was before I had found this site and of course there is no mention on the instructions.  This introduces a problem which I'll get to below.



To determine where planking will terminate I marked on the sternpost estimating dimensions as best I could from the AOTS book.



Keel with roughed out rabbet and tapering.  This is not final or perfect, but I wanted to get as much of the hard stuff before the bulkheads get installed.  The plans indicate where the first planking should terminate, the boundaries for the second planking is the sternpost and rabbet recessed below the first planking rabbet which could be estimated after determining where the first planking rabbet should go.   All of this results in a keel that will be around 2.5mm below the second planking, the plans and AOTS suggest this should be closer to 5mm, so I will plan to build this up to be consistent at some.  This will also require so thinking at the bow as the the keel shape will similarly need to be 'lowered'.


Edited by Beef Wellington
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