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Ulises Victoria

Authenticity vs. Aesthetics?

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Hello all... so... I am starting the first planking of the hull of my Royal Louis 1780. I have put just 5 rows of planks on one side so far, and it looks a bit wavy. So a question comes up to my mind: were those ships really built that perfect?

I mean, they were built by pure manpower, literally. No power tools, planks were sawed by hand, means of measurement might not be all that accurate, many things I'm sure were built or made "by eye", and yet we strive to have a perfectly even and smooth hull, perfectly round masts, perfect straight planking boards, just because "it will look good". Wouldn't a bit of imperfection made the ship look more real or more authentic? I would love to hear your thoughts.

Thank you.

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Ulises,

 

There was a recent discussion here:  http://modelshipworld.com/index.php/topic/7887-historically-accurate-or-not/   I see your point but as Jan points out..it's the degree.  And, you're the builder, what do you think?

 

One of the things we have to remember is that the framing presented pretty much a wall of wood for the planking which the shipwrights would finesse until they were happy with the run of the batten to check it.  Bulkhead builds don't have that "wall".  Some builders fill in between the bulkheads to get a smooth surface.   

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Ahoy Mates :D 

 

I for one do not take lightly the craftsmanship or abilities of our ancestors. There are plenty of examples that still exist today that prove they were able to achieve a quality we for whatever reason can only match with our technology 

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1mm out on a 1:75 model = 75 mm on real ship  75mm = aprox 3 ins  that might be about the limit ??? puts it in perspective !!

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At the scale you are working in there is a saying.  If you can see the error at standoff it would be very noticeable on original.   My motto is just do the best that you can.  As for the waviness just fill in between the bulkheads.  This will keep it smooth and make planking the hull much easier with more surface area.

David B

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I usually try for aesthetics over authenticity but I also have a "triage" approach to mistakes that goes something like this:

 

1.  How irritating do I find the problem?  Will I even notice it in 5 years?

2.  Will other people notice it and does it reflect on my craftsmanship?

3.  Can I fix the problem?

4.  Will fixing it actually fix it or make things worse.

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If I understand scale correctly, on your build what you see from 1 foot away is what the real world ship would look like from 90 feet away or one meter to 90 meters if thats how you measure. That has helped me put errors and discrepancies into perspective. I then apply some variation of the solutions offered above.

Ultimately its your call of course. 

Sam

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Hello and thank you all who responded.

I may not have phrased my question properly. It's not the "wavyness" of my planking that bothers me, because it is very small (Its horizontal as if the bulkheads were out of alignment, which obviously they are, but not so bad as to having to re-do the whole thing).

My question was more towards how perfect those ships back then were actually made, with the existing technology.

 

Sorry for being confusing!  :)

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Ahoy UV  :D

 

I don't think it was really any different back then, then it is today. There were beautiful works of brilliant craftsmanship and cheap knock offs.

 

We just need to decide which one were going to build 

 

I read somewhere that the HMS Victory was in her time the most sophisticated creation in human history. That fact she ran like a clock speaks highly of the skill of those whose conceived her and brought her to fruition. No super computer CAD assist, cordless power tools, CNC milling, just blood sweat and tears . 

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Hi All,

 

As I've mentioned before I have some experience reproducing antique furniture.

 

I don't think one can underestimate the degree of accuracy and craftsmanship of early craftsmen. I believe that the skill in making a perfectly dovetailed drawer and fitting a plank to a frame were only a matter of scale. Even with modern machinery and measurement tools it's hard to achieve the degree of accuracy that a 6-10 year apprenticeship would give the craftsman.

 

I believe all of this just sets the bar and it's up to each of us to determine just how far we want to pursue perfection.

 

Best,

Steve

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I read somewhere that the HMS Victory was in her time the most sophisticated creation in human history. That fact she ran like a clock speaks highly of the skill of those whose conceived her and brought her to fruition. No super computer CAD assist, cordless power tools, CNC milling, just blood sweat and tears . 

 

But still she had an enormous list to one side that had to be fixed with tons of iron and shingle.

 

I think we build far too neat. Look at the Vasa. Rough carpentry for the hull, still the bark on the plenty of the wood, especially the elm tree pump :-)

 

And I am not mentioning the one meter difference in the railing! Also the deck planking is worse than a patchwork.

 

See pictures 7, 11,16

http://www.wasadream.com/Index/indexenglish.html

 

Just try this on your model and you will be prosecuted ;-)

 

XXXDAn

Edited by dafi

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My very first build had a wavy plank job and it still bother me. I forced myself to plank my second ship as close to perfect as I could. The best advise I received from this website is to treat each plank as if it were its own model. By the way, the old guys were pretty good carpenters.

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Ahoy Dafi

 

Considering she was over 3500 tons with with 104 guns above the water line is a CG adjustment a major flaw. I would even wonder if it was common practice. The most sophisticated craft of our time, the space shutter had her share of issues. .  

 

Edit , Added an extra "0"  thx B 

Edited by JPett

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Hello all... so... I am starting the first planking of the hull of my Royal Louis 1780. I have put just 5 rows of planks on one side so far, and it looks a bit wavy. So a question comes up to my mind: were those ships really built that perfect?

I mean, they were built by pure manpower, literally. No power tools, planks were sawed by hand, means of measurement might not be all that accurate, many things I'm sure were built or made "by eye", and yet we strive to have a perfectly even and smooth hull, perfectly round masts, perfect straight planking boards, just because "it will look good". Wouldn't a bit of imperfection made the ship look more real or more authentic? I would love to hear your thoughts.

Thank you.

 

 

For me it is a aesthetic choice. Go for the look you enjoy and envisioned. I do think that the wonkyness would show at the scales we build in.

 

The wonkynes inspires me. I find these things beautyful. It gives the things made at this time a organic look and makes them come alive. I don't find it poor craftmanship, instead it reminds me of how remarkable it is that they where able to create ships like these with their limited methods and circumstances.

 

Wonky aesthetics has always fascinated me also.

 

I can't really say for ships built 1780, but Vasa was built very wonky. The masts doesn´t align, the hull is far from symmetrical. I'm pretty sure this is normal for a ship of this time. (And looking at how old houses where built they often share this wonkyness in construction.)

 

post-3739-0-92836300-1411119056_thumb.jpg

 

post-3739-0-36433800-1411119631_thumb.jpg

 

post-3739-0-34833100-1411119803_thumb.jpg

 

Even more simple shapes like round gunports and deadeyes where very unsymmetrical and varied in shape.

 

post-3739-0-45144300-1411119307_thumb.jpg

 

 

 

/Matti

Edited by NAZGÛL

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When I was building R/C scale models, I would build them as "Perfect" as I could & then age them by adding rust, wear& tear etc. The reason being was that as soon as a vessel is launched it starts to deteriorate slowly, especially in salt water. As far as static models are concerned , well personally I think they look better if built as "Perfect" as possible from an aesthetic point of view. But really it's up to the individual, you bought it, you built it, do you want a model ship, or a model of a ship? You decide!! All the best, Geoff

Edited by geoff

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In my opinion we want to make our models to perfect, saying we want to come as close to history as possible.

 

17th century ships in the Netherlands were made without any drawing or plans or whatsoever, only the craftmanship of the builder - the ideas in his head and his personell. Besides that they had to deal whit planks and wood which was available, and this weren't always the nice planks  cut on lenght as we nowadays can find in a timbershop.

 

The wonkyness of the Wasa is quite a nice example for this (although more then 300 years under water could have caused some diffirence between left and right...) Sometimes ships would have been like a banana me was once said...

 

I myself am not a very clean and neat builder - but the effect is that my ships therefore look (at least to my opinion) quite real and used - as if the where already ten years under way.

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My Father used to have a saying "good enough". He would tell me that when the taught me to fix wrecked cars. I'm sure to some that sounds horrific, but that is real world. Fixing something till it's perfect is nice, but also produces a starving wage. If the customer is satisfied then the job is done.

 

I'm sure the shipwrights who built the wooden ships had days when they would have liked to have gotten something a little better than they did. We all do. The reality is if the navy needs a ship, perfection is nice, but not necessary.

 

As model builders we can take it to any level we want. I can attest I'll redo somethings. ( see my Sultana build log ... ). Other things are not so perfect, but perfectly acceptable. I build models to my own standards as we all should.

 

If something does not suit you, stop, fix it so it does and move on. 

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