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HMS Surprise conversion--back on track

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  • Member since
    June, 2014
HMS Surprise conversion--back on track
Posted by Charles_Purvis on Tuesday, July 29, 2014 9:58 AM

So, I've decided to move forward with converting the Lindberg “Jolly Roger,” formerly the La Flore, into the HMS Surprise.  As reference material, I’ve looked thru the handful of threads on this forum, as well as Don Ferguson’s gallery on

I still have the 1:96 USS Constitution in the stash, and will tackle that at some point, but I’m more emotionally drawn to the Surprise, and really like the idea of working thru this conversion and mentally moving into and throughout the ship during the process.

So, the first big step is to cut out a hull section.  As I sit here today, I can tell you that the proper process, gleaned from numerous journals (particularly Sumpter250’s) looks something like this:

  • Take a sheet of paper and mark a centerline
  • Determine the exact amount of hull you want to take out.  For this kit, it’s basically to take out the 5th and 6th gunports
  • Using a square rule, mark two lines perpendicular to that centerline that are the correct distance apart.
  • Carefully place the temporarily taped-together hull on the centerline, and when it’s lined up properly with respect to the centerline AND the two hull-cut lines, tape it firmly to the sheet of paper
  • Using your square, mark the cut lines at both the bulwark AND the keel
  • Carefully place tape along the hull on the cut line, ensuring that it’s straight and is exactly on the marks you made at the bulwark and the keel
  • Get your micro-saw out, and cut slightly outside of the line, so you’ll have some room for the final sanding and fit
  • When you’ve completed all of your cuts, securely tape a sheet of sandpaper on a sheet of glass (to prevent bunching) and slowly draw-sand each hull piece until you are flush against your tape line, from bulwark to keel.  GMorrison recommends a slightly different approach, wherein you paint the “scrap” part of the hull a highly-contrasting color, remove the tape, and sand as above until the paint is all gone and everything lines up.
  • Check for alignment.  On this conversion, you’ll probably note the following:
    • The port side needs a little work on the wide wale just under the gunports
    • Other than that, the profiles should match up nicely
    • As Sumpter250 points out, it’s very critical to ensure the bulwarks line up.  It’s better to have the pieces lined up here and slightly off down at the turn of bilge, since filling/sculpting etc., is very difficult in the bulwark area
    • When you’re ready, decide on your gluing strategy.  As GMorrison also noted, “It's often a toss whether to glue the front halves together and the back halves together, or do all four parts individually.”

 Sounds easy, right?  It probably would have been, if I had actually done it this way.  Sad

Instead, I somehow got things wrong in my initial research, and skipped over that whole “cut slightly outside the line” thing.  I’m blaming impatience, but in any event, I thought I had a really clear picture of what I needed to do, and I worked really hard to cut EXACTLY on the line, leaving me no room for recovery.

 And it almost worked. 

The port side mated up wonderfully, but on the starboard side, the aft-most cut ended up just slightly out of line (not sure how), and I ended up with a gap on that side due to my recovery efforts, meaning that when I mated up all of the hull pieces, my lovely cut on the port side ALSO required some (much tinier and straighter) gap-filling.

So . . . what could have been a simple process has turned into quite the exercise in proper gap-filling, sculpting and working for close-to-flawless fit and finish.  In a “make lemonade out of lemons” kind of way, I’m grateful for this, since it’s been a rather intensive indoctrination into what is a much more common skill/practice than performing major hull surgery. 

So I got that going for me, which is nice.

I plan on posting some pics in the next couple of days, but so far, here’s what I’ve been deploying:

  • Tamiya white putty
  • Testor’s plastic cement, for both thinning and “melting” the seam where it’s hard to fill, i.e., at the “bumpers” aft of the fourth gunport.
  • Acetone (nail polish remover) for softening and swabbing down/feathering

This has been very hard work for me, since I’m holding myself to a very high standard.  I’m resisting the urge to just scrap it and spend the $20 on another Lindberg kit and starting over.  I'm also holding off on going ahead and hitting it with primer to expose the flaws, since—frankly—I can already see most of the flaws.

The biggest battle I’m facing right now is keeping the slightly rounded hull shape on the seam (in the horizontal axis).  I keep flattening the seam down more than I want to, which spoils the curve. On my most recent pass I tried wet-sanding, and that generated a much better result.  Still not quite there though.

In any event, I’ll post some pics soon, and will absolutely welcome any and all feedback/suggestions. 


  • Member since
    June, 2014
Posted by Charles_Purvis on Tuesday, July 29, 2014 1:25 PM

I'm going to show some pictures now that I'm a little embarrassed about, due to what feels like poor craftsmanship on my part.  I won't dwell on this, other than to say that I'm putting these out there in the hopes that others learn from this, and that I can benefit from the advice and counsel of more experienced members.

Anyway, as I mentioned above, I messed up the starboard hull cuts but good, and could not come up with a good recovery plan (prior to glue up) that I wasn't scared would make things worse.  I tried a little "shaving" of the high spots, but that went poorly . . . and I had not yet read (and comprehended) the notion of draw-sanding the hull on a certifiably flat surface, such as a pane of glass.

So, I made the decision to glue up, which lead to a gap on each side of the hull.  This was due, I believe to the fact that the "high-spot" on the starboard side was at the keel and this created a gap sufficient to pull the port sides (which otherwise mated up nicely) apart.  

Here's the starboard side, prior to filling:

It hurts me to look at that.  Here's the port side.  You can see that, even though there's a gap, the cuts are much more aligned:

Starboard side filled, acetoned and sanded.  This photo is a few days old at this point, and I've made further runs at it:

And port side filled.  Much cleaner line, although the wide wale is slightly off.  I've since gently filed this till it looks better:

I'll update later with more current photos.  Essentially, I haven't really moved the process much beyond this, other than to continue to try to get the seams more flawlessly filled and sanded.


  • Member since
    September, 2012
Posted by GMorrison on Tuesday, July 29, 2014 1:48 PM

I see what you have there. Actually not too bad, and you have three options as far as I can see.

1. Fix the seam.

2. decide to make the ship a little shorter and try again with what you have.

3. Try another hull.

I can't say which you should do. here's my advice. You have the goal of something really special here. I would think it'll take you a couple of hundred hours of bench time, minimum.

It will be a once-in-a-lifetime project. You'll be as proud of it as Tilley is of his little Hancock.

And frankly, this most likely won't be the last time on this model you'll wish you'd done it better. Having extra deck, ships boats, guns etc. just may come in handyPirate

  • Member since
    June, 2014
Posted by Charles_Purvis on Tuesday, July 29, 2014 2:08 PM


You're the devil . . . and I say that with a smile on my face.  Smile

This is good advice (and the bit about extra pieces/parts had ABSOLUTELY crossed my mind), and I'll think it through over the next few nights.  I'm torn between starting over versus overcoming this bit of adversity in a convincing manner I can be proud of. 

Serious thanks for the input . . . and I'll update when I've figured it out.


  • Member since
    May, 2010
  • From: Berwick, La.
Posted by Tnonk on Tuesday, July 29, 2014 7:51 PM

I have to second Mr. Morrisons suggestion on getting another kit, especially for the spare parts.

I have three JR kits, 1-  that I'm building as a Continental Frigate - no conversion work per se, just adding a few parts from kit # 2 (& a Revell Constitution kit) and kit # 3 that I want to build OOB.

I lucked out and found a really inexpensive (cheap) one on ebay and the third at Hobby Lobby marked down due to 'missing parts' (1 - cannon) for $5.99.

So if you're unhappy with the seam lines, I suggest getting another kit and using the flat sanding technique to get the cuts nice and level.

If your interested, drop me a line; I'd be willing to send you a set of hull halves.

If you get a second kit you can replace them, if you don't get a second kit, consider it an early Merry Christmas.

Let me know.

Hope this helps.


  • Member since
    June, 2014
Posted by Charles_Purvis on Tuesday, July 29, 2014 8:12 PM


You're very kind, and I truly appreciate the gesture.  I've decided tonight that I WILL get a second kit, and give this another try.  Since a Surprise conversion will require quite a bit of scratchbuilding, which I have little experience in, I think it will be useful to have the first kit as a "test-bed", while treating the second kit as the showpiece.

Thanks guys, for the feedback and encouragement.  I'll update here shortly.


  • Member since
    September, 2005
  • From: Groton, CT
Posted by warshipguy on Tuesday, July 29, 2014 9:24 PM


Have you tried adding sheet plastic supports to the inboard side of the hulls at the seam? If you were to provide a surface that could help align and support the hull at the cut, it might make your job a little easier.

Bill Morrison

  • Member since
    June, 2014
Posted by Charles_Purvis on Wednesday, July 30, 2014 6:02 AM


Yes, I put 2mm evergreen strip across the cut at the turn of bilge and clamped it securely, to even out the slight existing misalignment there.  Then I put 1mm strip along the cut above there.  I didn't try to cover every inch of the cut, but when I put the first load of putty in, I did use masking tape to back all of the little spots where there was no styrene . . . I didn't want to spend all my time pushing putty thru the seam with nothing to stop it.  Smile

Here's an in process shot, before I put the final strips on the inboard port side:

  • Member since
    March, 2003
  • From: Western North Carolina
Posted by Tojo72 on Wednesday, July 30, 2014 6:32 AM

Interesting build,way beyond anything I would attempt,but I definitely will be watching

  • Member since
    June, 2014
Posted by Charles_Purvis on Wednesday, July 30, 2014 8:06 AM

Big SmileThanks Tojo.  This is gonna be a long, meticulous process for me, and I'm sure this won't be the last time I need help.  

  • Member since
    June, 2014
Posted by Charles_Purvis on Thursday, July 31, 2014 3:00 PM

Quick update:

  • I've purchased a second Jolly Roger kit, and will basically begin all over again, taking extra special care with the hull surgery.
  • I intend to continue to tinker with the existing hull, both to practice my own skills, and to use it as a testbed for some of the scratchbuilding I'll need to pull off to make this conversion something to be proud of.
To that end, I spent some time wet-sanding the existing hull conversion with 120 grit paper, and was pleased at how dramatically it positively impacted the seam.  I figured I'd hit it with some primer to get a look at whether or not "touch" translated to "see."  Here's what it looks like after a quick coat of grey primer:

Not completely gone, at least visually.  To the touch, it is darned hard to feel anything (and where I mostly can feel it is at the turn of bilge, which looks different than the rest of the seam), so I'd be curious to hear from more experienced members about whether this is caused by the surface disparity between dried putty and molded plastic, or if there is still sculpting work to do.

It's academic at this point, since I'm starting over with the new kit . . . but I'm eager to learn more about possible solutions to these types of situations.


  • Member since
    June, 2014
Posted by Charles_Purvis on Tuesday, August 05, 2014 8:29 AM

Here's a quick update . . . I began work on the second set of hull pieces over the weekend, and I think things are finally on the right track.  Following the process culled from reading the forum discussions here, I carefully marked the cut lines at both the keel and the bulwarks, carefully taped from point to point, and then sprayed a coat of primer in the "scrap" area:

Then I made two cuts, each "proud" of the line, so that I could sand slowly to the line.  FYI, after getting started on the aft piece in the picture below, I realized that I had cut a little more proud than strictly necessary, and sliced another 1/8" off of the forward piece Big Smile.  Otherwise, I'd have spent the entire day sanding:

Here's my sanding setup . . . a sheet of 220 grit (with a tacky back) taped securely to a large piece of glass:

I got carried away at this point, and didn't take any process photos, but here's what I did:

  • carefully sanded to the line, testing for fit between each set of fore & aft hull pieces along the way
  • when I had the fit I wanted, I temporarily clamped/taped up each aft piece to each other and each fore piece to each other, and tested for overall fit.
  • with the pieces temporarily joined, I gently sanded each set until all was level and the fore pair fit clean and fair with the aft pair
  • I glued a roughly 3/4" square of styrene sheet to each aft piece, just below the gun ports.  
  • I also glued two styrene strips lengthwise at the turn of bilge to the fore pieces
I then began gluing up, which I did in stages, so that I could carefully clamp up each critical area of the joint cleanly.  This felt a little risky to me, but it felt less risky than trying to get 3-4 clamps set simultaneously.  Without going into laborious detail (too late for that, you ask?) I glued up the wide wale and the area just below it first, then the turn of bilge, then the bulwark, and finally the keel.  
When all of that was done, I got out the 80 grit, followed by the 220 grit, and sanded the bejeebers out of the hull, removing those out of scale panel lines in the process.  Here's what the starboard piece looks like, as of this morning:
Still a little work to do on the keel . . . and I'll need to do some more finishing sanding, but overall I'm very pleased with where I am at this point.  I did not need to use ANY putty or filler of any kind on this, and I feel like I'm close to the point where I can finally get to work on the fun stuff.


  • Member since
    June, 2012
Posted by arnie60 on Tuesday, August 05, 2014 9:05 AM

Beautifully done Chales! Huzzahs for your perseverance and penchant for "getting it right".

  • Member since
    June, 2014
Posted by Charles_Purvis on Tuesday, August 05, 2014 10:28 AM

Thanks Arnie!  Almost every bit of this project will be new ground for me, so it felt appropriate to get this piece right.  As I've always heard it said, it's important how things begin . . . Smile

  • Member since
    June, 2014
Posted by Charles_Purvis on Thursday, August 07, 2014 8:43 AM

This continues to be a solid learning experience for me.  Since I now have two hull assemblies, I'm using the first one as a test-bed for the further scratchbuilding I'll have to execute.  In no particular order, here are the tasks I've identified so far (there are probably more I haven't realized yet):

  • Close in and fair the bow, to remove the beakhead structure and give the Surprise her bluff bow.
  • Stern and quarter galleys.  Good grief is that gonna be a lot of work.  Fortunately, Sumpter250 posted some outstanding pics of his work, and I'm simply going to copy like a fiend.  The only tweak I may try is to introduce a slight curve to the stern gallery.  It seems doable (he says), so we'll see.
  • Build up the bulwarks
  • Scratchbuild a new spar deck, placing the masts appropriately, adding the step up, building and placing all the deck furniture and hatches/grating.  Also railings.
  • I need to figure out how to place the bowsprit properly in this conversion, since it appears an OOB build relies on the beakhead for that.  Plus, I believe the angle is slightly different on the Surprise.
So, here was last night's blinding glimpse of the obvious--I began work on closing in the bow, and my initial efforts were around fabricating a stack of styrene strips that would fit cleanly into the existing opening.  It's a curvy opening, with different bevels depending on where you are in the curve.  I was happily motoring along trying to file and fit squared off pieces of styrene into these compound-angled surfaces when it hit me.
Why not just take my file and square off the opening, so the styrene pieces just need to be trimmed for length?  Which it's obvious, ain't it?Embarrassed
Anyway, I think I just shortened the cycle on THAT bit of work.
One last question for the group--I have seen on this board (and thought I had favorited, but apparently not) a thread identifying a new source for brass gratings.  The molded gratings with this kit are too large, and I'd like to pick up some brass to replace.  Does anyone know offhand a good source or sources for these?  Google has not been my friend in this search, so I'd welcome the help.

  • Member since
    May, 2003
  • From: Greenville, NC
Posted by jtilley on Thursday, August 07, 2014 12:35 PM

You've got me there. Bluejacket and Model Expo both sell gratings, but the ones I've seen are too coarse for your scale. Bluejacket used to make some really fine cast Britannia gratings, but the company catalog doesn't show them any more.

As I remember, that Lindberg kit is on a scale somewhere between 1/16" and 3/32" to the foot. That means those gratings would be mighty fine. Somewhere there probably is an etched set that would work. You might check the catalog or website of Walthers, the big model railroad supply firm.

The late, great Donald McNarry made his gratings out of some synthetic mesh fabric. His looked great - but using a McNarry model as inspiration is a double-edged sword. When I study such a model I have an almost irresistible urge to give up.

Youth, talent, hard work, and enthusiasm are no match for old age and treachery.

  • Member since
    June, 2014
Posted by Charles_Purvis on Thursday, August 07, 2014 12:48 PM

Thanks Professor.  Walthers sounds like a good tip.  And I agree about Mr. McNarry . . . his work certainly shows you the art of the possible, but it's humbling in the extreme.

  • Member since
    September, 2012
Posted by GMorrison on Thursday, August 07, 2014 1:31 PM

Charles this is nice work.

I was wondering- are there any "drawings" of Surprise available?

I'd like to pass on some tips if I may.

If you plan to upgrade the insides of the ships sides, bulwarks etc., the time is now to grind off everything in there you don't want, before gluing the hull halves together. I've done just that on my current project America. Looking closely, there was bad wood grain, incorrect bulwark stanchions and lots of those ejector pin marks, Made it all nice and smooth for future attachment of new parts.

If you are planning to plank the decks (you really could!) you need to take into account the wood overlay thickness. Using the plastic decks as a base works well, with a little planning. There's probably a ledge or some lugs etc. in there to position the deck, those go. But before you do that, test fit the deck and draw a line where it meets the sides. Then cut off the supports and glue them or substitutes back on using a little spacer made of a strip of wood plus a piece of plastic from the deck to hold under your mark and glue the support below. Or, just trust your eye and measure.

Adding some camber to the deck if not molded in is good. I do it by getting some 1/8" square brass tube and bending a curve into it. Make three or four following a template drawing so they are reasonable the same. Glue to the underside of the plastic and clamp it to follow the bend. If there's cast on coamings (looks like there are), shave them off so it will bend easier, plus those things should be level on top usually. Plug the holes if you are moving/ deleting where the hatches go.

Then a little thought about how the mounts attach to the keel, are there mast steps, and shes ready to seal up.

  • Member since
    September, 2012
Posted by GMorrison on Thursday, August 07, 2014 1:40 PM

Blue Jacket makes wood laser cut gratings but probably too big. They have an online catalog.

  • Member since
    May, 2003
  • From: Greenville, NC
Posted by jtilley on Thursday, August 07, 2014 1:58 PM

The Surprise was built in France, but when the British captured her they prepared a standard set of "Admiralty Draughts." They're reproduced in the Lavery book that I mentioned earlier.

The Bluejacket laser-cut gratings have 1/16" holes, which are way too big for this scale. Model Expo's "grating strips" are great, but even the smallest ones would be pretty coarse for this model.

i won't go so far as to say what a modeler "should" do (especially on his second ship model), but if you do want to try wood deck planks I'd suggest looking at the .020"-thick basswood strips from Bluejacket. They're the thinnest I've found, and they come in widths as narrow as 3/64".

Now for a totally unsolicited but not deliberately insulting opinion. Charles, it's not for me to tell you how to build your model. But as this thread continues, what I see shaping up is a project that will take years to complete. When you talk about cutting hulls in two, rebuilding bows, planking decks, etc., etc. you're getting into some real heavy-duty modeling - which, let's face it, won't produce a real scale model of HMS Surprise.

Several other Forum participants have started "Jolly Roger"/ Surprise conversions. So far as I can tell, none of them has come anywhere near being finished. (I personally wouldn't do it; I think it would be simpler and quicker to start from scratch.)

In another Forum thread, an experienced modeler offered a magic acronym to be born in mind by relative newcomers: KISS, for "keep it simple, stupid." I've never had the nerve to use that expression myself, but I'd hate to see the hobby lose a skilled, enthusiastic, and highly articulate modeler because he bit off more than he - or I - could chew. 

Earlier I said something like "if you're sure you want to do this, don't let me or anybody else talk you out of it." That still goes, but please be sure you go into the project with eyes wide open.

Youth, talent, hard work, and enthusiasm are no match for old age and treachery.

  • Member since
    June, 2014
Posted by Charles_Purvis on Thursday, August 07, 2014 2:15 PM


Thanks for the comments!  In order:

  • Yes, there are drawings of the Surprise available.  The question is, WHICH Surprise?  As has been discussed on other threads, the Surprise (ex. Unite) was a real ship, and O'Brian's version was a fictionalized, inconsistently-described creation based on this historical Surprise.  
  • The HMS Surprise on-screen in the Master and Commander film was the former HMS Rose, converted for use in the film.
  • The book, "The Frigate Surprise," contains new renderings of the Admiralty drawings of the HISTORICAL Surprise, which Geoff Hunt used extensively in his own cover paintings for the Aubrey/Maturin series.  He also did (and continues to do, I believe) paintings that are not for book cover use.  These collected paintings, in turn, were referenced extensively by the filmmakers.
  • The book is chock full of these paintings.
  • In terms of what I'm shooting for, I'm most interested in the film version, since this ship actually exists in the real world, and there is a photographic record of it.  I suspect I'll rely on Hunt's work for some of the rigging if I can't find a good photo to confirm my plans
Also, man oh man do I agree with your point about now is the time to grind, before gluing up the halves.  I missed figuring that out for my first, aborted version, and had already realized that would have been a very smart move.
I'm intrigued by your planking suggestion.  I hadn't even considered it, due to the scale and the fact that there are no aftermarket options for this conversion.  I'd love to hear more about your thinking and recommendations for something at this scale . . . or you can point me to some appropriate threads.  Would love to hear more!  In the meantime, I've ordered some v-groove styrene and was planning on using that to scratchbuild the deck.
I had been planning on building the camber in.  My initial thought was to use styrene strips as timber beams, appropriately sanded to the right curve.  I like the brass idea, though.
  • Member since
    June, 2014
Posted by Charles_Purvis on Thursday, August 07, 2014 2:17 PM

Professer & GM--

You answered my question about planking before I could ask it!  

Thanks . . . Charles

  • Member since
    September, 2012
Posted by GMorrison on Thursday, August 07, 2014 2:26 PM


i won't go so far as to say what a modeler "should" do (especially on his second ship model),

I stand correctedEmbarrassed

  • Member since
    September, 2005
  • From: Groton, CT
Posted by warshipguy on Thursday, August 07, 2014 2:37 PM


I have modified KISS to mean, "Keep it simple, students!" in my class room.


  • Member since
    May, 2003
  • From: Greenville, NC
Posted by jtilley on Thursday, August 07, 2014 2:41 PM

I like that, Bill. Makes the point just as effectively.

To clarify what he's talking about: I referred to the acronym KISS when I edited an earlier post, four up the line from this one, after I'd thought about it for a few minutes.

Youth, talent, hard work, and enthusiasm are no match for old age and treachery.

  • Member since
    June, 2014
Posted by Charles_Purvis on Thursday, August 07, 2014 2:56 PM


Thanks, of course, for your thoughtful comments.  I take them to heart, and in the spirit I believe you intended them.  My commitment to myself is this--when it stops being fun, and starts being work, then it's time to consider a new approach.

And so far, I'm still having fun.  I'll admit, when I mulligan'd the first hull surgery, it gave me pause, and I basically decided that if the second attempt wasn't a significant improvement, that would be a sign that I needed to step back and stay in my skill range.  

Also, I'm doing ALL of this . . . to learn how to do this.  I'm pretty comfortable sharing mistakes and being transparent about my learning process, in the hope that somebody somewhere might derive some value from it.

Anyway, I just took a lot of words to say that I'll be sticking with this for the nonce.  If I get to the point where I have to set this particular project aside--and work on some other ship--until my skills catch up with my ambition, that's fine with me.Big Smile

Thanks again for the thoughts . . . and keep them coming.


PS--I slightly edited the next to last paragraph for clarity

  • Member since
    May, 2003
  • From: Greenville, NC
Posted by jtilley on Thursday, August 07, 2014 3:30 PM

That's an excellent attitude. The world won't come to an end if you set a model aside; I can think of four that are waiting for me to get back to them. If I never do, that won't mean the end of the world either.

Speaking of keeping one's eyes open - be aware that the ship in the movie doesn't really look much like the real HMS Surprise - or HMS Rose either. I went on board it once, when it was in Rhode Island. I wish I hadn't spent the money. The spaces between decks are way too high, and the gunports are too far from the deck. (When I saw it, the guns were mounted on silly too-high carriages, so the barrels could stick through the ports.) It has a full-length spar deck, instead of an open waist. There are all sorts of other goofs - most of them resulting from the limited budget of the original owner.

The movie makers did an amazing job of picking their camera angles to hide the anachronisms and mistakes. For instance, the viewer isn't conscious of the full-length spar deck. (It sort of shows in one overhead shot, during a funeral scene.) My understanding from folks who've seen it recently in San Diego is that it's "a real mess." I have no idea what plans the good folks at the San Diego Maritime Museum have for it, but they've got their work cut out for them.

I'm not knocking the movie, which I really enjoyed. (Prepare for heresy: I liked it better than the O'Brian novels. I'm a Forester/Hornblower man myself. That fact has gotten me into a couple of rather emotional FSM Forum arguments.) The ship does what it was supposed to do: look like an eighteenth-century frigate from a distance. That's about all.

Youth, talent, hard work, and enthusiasm are no match for old age and treachery.

  • Member since
    September, 2012
Posted by GMorrison on Thursday, August 07, 2014 4:04 PM

One person preferences are not the same as those of another, of course. I confess to never having fully replicated a set of tackle on a big gun.

I could also be over zealous here. It's likely that the cast detail on the deck looks pretty good, and just needs a patient paint job. Thats how I always go with smaller scales.

IF you are so inclined, pick up a bundle of wood strips from Blue Jacket. They're handy to have around.

The ones Tilley mentioned scale at 6" for you, which is fine. Naturally down on the gun deck you can be pretty loose, as long as you keep the visible part in the waist nice and straight. But no need to get fancy around the edges in places no one can see.

There are a couple of tactics for the gun deck. You can go to the trouble of lowering it 0.020" as I suggested, or just work with what you have. The bug is that the guns get up a little high in their ports. I've seen folks chop the bottoms off the trucks, with no ill effect. Or just plank in the waist and chop those trucks a little only.

  • Member since
    June, 2014
Posted by Charles_Purvis on Thursday, August 07, 2014 5:55 PM


The cast detail on the decks is pretty awful, to be honest.  And thank you for the insight on deck heights--since the decks have to be cut for length anyway (and the gun deck in the kit has its own open waist, oddly), I was planning on cutting a new one out of styrene sheet anyway.  So, I can plan for height accordingly.

Professor Tilley--

Thanks also for the insight on the resemblance of the Rose/Surprise to the real Surprise.  That's an interesting insight, and impacts the way I view the project.  I may want to rely more on Hunt than I was planning to, and there are substantive differences between his version and the film's.  As a fairly large f'r'instance--Hunt fairly consistently represents ship's boats off of port, starboard and stern davits, and I don't believe the ship in the film ever displays those.

Also, the ship in the film has an anchor lining, and I don't recall ever seeing one of those in a Huntt rendering.

Plus, if I don't have to figure out how to build that dang stern lantern at this scale, that'll be okey-dokey with me.


  • Member since
    June, 2014
Posted by Charles_Purvis on Thursday, August 21, 2014 9:48 AM

So, I'm still working steadily away on this.  I'm basically teaching myself how to scratchbuild on this project, and having fun doing it.  My focus has been on

  • filling in and fairing the beakhead bow.  So far, I've developed what I think is a workable plan for filling in, and the fairing will come after that work is complete, of course.
  • building new quarter galleries and a new transom.
I'm aided in all this by the fact that I have the original--now sidelined--hull available to me as a test-bed.  One of the things that gave me trouble was the way the bulwarks "flange" out at the point where the filling in needs to begin.  You can sort of see that in this cropped shot (of the sidelined hull):
When I compare that curve to the curve on actual bluff-bowed ships, there's a noticeable difference, in that bluff bowed ships have a more uniform profile thru the transition curve.  Fortuitously, the Surprise has a cut out for a gun port right there, so, problem solved.  It just took me a few days to sort thru all that.
The next decision I made, after a couple of runs at filling in the testbed hull, was to fill in each hull half separately, and then join them.  My reasoning is that it's easier to properly align the fill in pieces (I'm using styrene strip, with a backer piece) along the curve I'm seeking if I do it one half at a time.  YMMV, of course, but it seems sensible to me, since I only have to effectively clamp and align 75 degrees of curve at a time, rather than 150 or so all at once.  
Here's what that looks like on the starboard side.  Note the saw surgery up at the bulwark:
A little messier than I'd like, but I'll make a cleaner job of it when I do the port side.  You'll note the styrene pieces extend beyond the trim point.  On the strip, I figure that will give me a very clean view of where to trim when I test fit the two sides; for the backer piece, I think I may actually leave that intact to span across the joint.
Here's what it looks like from the inside.  You can see where I marked the deck line for the spar deck if you look closely.  I wanted to make sure the backer piece didn't creep too close to that:
In case you're wondering, the bulwarks fore of the waist will get built up a couple millimeters by styrene strip.  Aft of the waist, they're built up roughly double that.
Next up, the quarter galleries and transom, which required a mort more geometry than I thought they would.


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