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Building a wood ship

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  • Member since
    November 2005
Building a wood ship
Posted by Anonymous on Saturday, January 1, 2005 10:35 PM
Hey all,
I think I just myself into something a little over my head. I just ordered a wooden viking longboat model and a beginners ship kit so I could build my father this model in time for next X-mas. Now, it sounds like a long time, but eleven months to build a fairly complex wood medel for a new-comer to ships that has my kind of perfectionist personaltiy isn't long enough. Can someone give some tips in plank bending and plank to frame connection so i don't go crazy when I get this model?

Help is always appreciated.
Thanks,
Mark
  • Member since
    November 2003
  • From: South Carolina
Posted by torybear on Sunday, January 2, 2005 10:16 AM
If you can lay your hands on an old steam iron, it works great in bending wood strips.
  • Member since
    May 2003
  • From: Greenville, NC
Posted by jtilley on Sunday, January 2, 2005 10:53 AM
The steam iron idea will work. But don't start spending money or energy on this problem till you have the kit in hand. I don't know which kit you're getting; most of the wood ones, frankly, aren't very good. But the Vikings knew what they were doing (even if the wood kit manufacturers don't). The actual Viking ships had sweet, gentle hull curves that, to a large extent, were established by the natural bending tendencies of the wood. Depending on what kind of wood the manufacturer provides, you may well find that no steaming, heating, or other radical methods are necessary to get it to assume the curves you want. Lots of the European companies use beech, which is extremely flexible. Others use walnut, which isn't.

When you have the kit in hand, do another post. Maybe some of us can offer some more specific suggestions. Good luck. It's a great hobby.

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

  • Member since
    March 2004
  • From: Belgium
Posted by DanCooper on Sunday, January 2, 2005 11:30 AM
11 months should be sufficient for a Viking-boat, those were built very clever (and fast), simple lines.
Now, if it would have been a galleon, then you would have had reasons for worrying, but I'm sure you'll make it in time, even for a beginner.

My first wooden ship was the "Blue Shadow", an American 18th century Frigate wich was built in less than a year (and I didn't work on it every day).
Skypename : Baldwynn If only my soul weighted more than 3 gramms, I would be happy to sell it...
  • Member since
    November 2005
Posted by Anonymous on Sunday, January 2, 2005 4:35 PM
Thanks for the insight. When the kit arrives (which should be soon) I'll make another post describing the kit.
  • Member since
    November 2005
Posted by Anonymous on Monday, January 3, 2005 4:35 AM
If you have the time hop down to your local library and get hold of Harold Underhills Plank on Frame Models vols 1 and 2. They will give you a lot of helpful information.
Dai
  • Member since
    December 2003
  • From: 37deg 40.13' N 95deg 29.10'W
Posted by scottrc on Monday, January 3, 2005 7:49 AM
Let us know what kit. Some kits require you just to line up and glue in place and others require you to cut and fit each plank from ruff cut planks.

The type of wood is also a major factor. Beginer kits now use beech, lime, box, or gumwood, some now are even using a polystyrene composite mix that really allows for flex. If it is an older or intermediate kit, then expect to learn how to prep your wood (soaks and steaming) and how to adjust for fit. This is like rigging, it takes a lot a practice and trial and error.

Scott

  • Member since
    March 2004
  • From: Belgium
Posted by DanCooper on Monday, January 3, 2005 8:01 AM
QUOTE: Originally posted by scottrc

some now are even using a polystyrene composite mix that really allows for flex. Scott


That's really new to me, what company usus this ???
Skypename : Baldwynn If only my soul weighted more than 3 gramms, I would be happy to sell it...
  • Member since
    November 2005
Posted by Anonymous on Monday, January 3, 2005 3:57 PM
My father was an oldtimer wood ship model builder. He used the iron till the day he died. I learned on the iron but found newer tools worked easier.
"Dad is turning in his grave."
You might want to check out modelexpo-online.com. They offer several different brands of tools and general info on wood working. I have an electric plank bender (around $25) that works great. it heats the planks as you go. There is also a manual plank bender (around $15) that I like. You set the angle you want, soak the wood and feed it through the guides. They have a simple to follow book on getting started with wood kits. You can check any online book store to get others. Frank Mastini is a great ship buildier who has written several easy to follow books. Enjoy the build. The Viks made some wonderful ships with great lines.
  • Member since
    November 2005
fishing boat and gunboat hits the spot
Posted by Anonymous on Tuesday, January 4, 2005 6:50 AM
QUOTE: Originally posted by Superdubba

Hey all,
I think I just myself into something a little over my head. I just ordered a wooden viking longboat model and a beginners ship kit so I could build my father this model in time for next X-mas. Now, it sounds like a long time, but eleven months to build a fairly complex wood medel for a new-comer to ships that has my kind of perfectionist personaltiy isn't long enough. Can someone give some tips in plank bending and plank to frame connection so i don't go crazy when I get this model?


Hi:

There you will find a site where they show you step by step how to build-up a viking ship from Billing Boats. However, it is in German only (maybe the images are still worth the value for you):

www.itzi.net/wikingerschiff/wikingerschiff.htm

Instead of using an soldering-iron you could also use a plank-bender. Personally I made the experience that bending blanks by means of an iron only works if the strips are not too thick.

But be careful with a plank-bender because I assume your viking ship has only a single layer of planks and the inside marks of the plank-bender will be visible.

I am not going to detract you, but there exists also a nice viking ship from Heller; though it is in plastic only but it features a good deatailed structure. SMER offers also a viking ship in plastic with the goody of a crew.

Another tip: you can glue together wet soaked pieces of wood by means of using super glue and a soldering iron. Once you tip the wet joints the super glue will evaporate and will strongly hold together wet pieces even. If strips are soaked they often can be easily put in shaped-place.

Be aware: wear a protective mask because super glue when evaporating will pierce your eyes.

However, good old wood glue will do fine as well. The latter option is likely the safest and cheapest for you.

Regards,
Katzennahrung
  • Member since
    November 2005
Posted by Anonymous on Tuesday, January 4, 2005 8:42 AM
Hey Tilley! Good to hear from you. Hope you had a nice holiday. Sounds like a wonderful travel story. You need to make it up to DC so I can show you around the Navy Yard.
Mark,
Ben Lankford was a Navel Architect for the Navy Department for 30 + years. Although I can't for the life of me see why someone would want to leave the Navy to build models for the Smithsonian & National Geographic. Evil [}:)]
He now designs and builds kits for Model Shipways
I met him several times when he came to the Navy Yard. Real great guy with a wonderful passion for everything nautical. In his book for Shipways, tittle
"How to Build First-Rate Ship Models from Kits," he lists several other great books. I do recommend Mr. Lankfords book. Very easy to follow instruction drawings.

* Building & Detailing Scale Model Ships, by Mike Ashley, 1996
Plastic models of modern ships. Good detail on photoetched parts
*Ship Modeling from Stem to Stern, Milton Roth, 1988
Shipbuilding technigues
*Historic Ship Models, Wolfram zu Mondfeld, 1989
Great reference book
*The Ship Model Builders Assistant & The Built-Up Ship Model, Charles G. Davis,1986 & 1989
Great build technigues with a lot of drawings and how to plans.

Hope these help. Good luck!
Capt. Chris
Arlington, VA
  • Member since
    May 2003
  • From: Greenville, NC
Posted by jtilley on Tuesday, January 4, 2005 10:56 AM
What follows is strictly personal opinion, in which there's no real reason for anybody to be especially interested. But since the subjects of Viking ship kits and ship modeling books have come up....

I'm reluctant to recommend the Heller and Smer plastic Viking ship kits. The Heller one is supposed to be a scale model of the Oseberg Ship, one of the two major surviving Viking vessels. (They're in the Viking Ship Museum, in Oslo.) The kit looks nice at first glance, but its proportions are ludicrously distorted (the bow and stern are far too tall for the ship's length) and the decorations bear no resemblance to those of the real ship. It looks like the designers worked from photographs (not very good ones) rather than plans. Heller has reissued the thing several times under different names; the one masquerading as a vessel of William the Conqueror's fleet is especially ludicrous.

I haven't looked inside the box of the Smer kit, but on the basis of the box illustration I'm pretty sure it's a reissue of the ancient Aurora kit. That one is a lovely exercise in nostalgia (I built if for the first time when I was six or seven years old), but not, by any reasonable definition, a scale model. Neither the hull form nor the ornamentation bears any resemblance whatever to actual Norse practice. I vividly remember the hours (probably at least two) that I spent with my Testor's glossy paints, painting those crew figures. Some of them even have horns on their helmets. (One of the first things that students of the Vikings learn is that the horned helmet has nothing whatever to do with Norse culture. Wagnerian operas, yes; Vikings, no.) That kit introduced thousands of kids (including this one) to ship modeling, but it's not a scale model.

I'm not familiar with the Billing kit. Billing kits in general tend to be fairly simple and robust, with an emphasis on general appearance rather than scale accuracy. It probably would be an excellent starter kit for somebody just getting into ship modeling.

The most accurate model of a Viking vessel that I know about, though, is the old Revell kit that was labeled simply "Viking Ship" and was released in 1977. According to Thomas Graham's fascinating book, Remembering Revell Model Kits, it was in fact the last genuinely new sailing ship kit produced by Revell of the U.S. (All more recent ones either have been reissues or have originated with Revell of Germany.) It was (according to Mr. Graham) based on a full-size replica in Lincoln Park, Chicago; that replica, in turn, was based on the Gokstad Ship, the other one in the Norwegian museum.

The original Gokstad Ship was buried in a funeral mound, and the bow and stern projected into a different, more acidic layer of soil that ate their upper portions away. The Revell kit includes somewhat questionable ornaments for the bow and stern, but otherwise (if my memory is serving me right, which it often doesn't these days) the kit provides a sound basis for an accurate model of the Gokstad Ship. Unfortunately it hasn't been in the Revell catalog for quite a few years. I have no idea how to find one - other than by checking e-bay.

I can endorse chrisstedt's recommendation of the Lankford book. Mr. Lankford is a fine modeler and an excellent kit designer. His book also has the big virtue of being pretty recent. Its recommendations regarding such things as tools, materials, paints, and adhesives are quite valuable; this guy knows what he's talking about.

The Underhill books, which Dai Jones recommended, are classics. For the purposes of Superdubba's project, though, they have two drawbacks. First, they were written in the 1950s, so they don't take account of modern materials, tools, or adhesives. (Underhill didn't have a really good wood glue at his disposal - let alone epoxy or superglue. And he used a mouth-powered blowpipe for silver soldering.) Second, Underhill was a courteous but firm opponent of kit-built models and manufactured parts. He regarded scratchbuilding as the only legitimate way to build models. I'm one of his big fans, but I don't happen to agree with him on that point. I wonder what he'd think of such things as photo-etched and cast resin parts, which didn't exist in his day.

The Charles Davis books referred to by chrisstedt are in the same category as Underhill's. They're classics, and great introductions to scratchbuilding. (Beware of Davis's reconstruction of the Continental brig Lexington, though, which has been thoroughly discredited in terms of accuracy.) Davis worked in the 1920s through the 1940s or thereabouts, however, so his techniques, materials, and tools need to be taken in context.

I like the Mondfeld book; I think chrisstedt is on target in regarding it as a reference work. It covers a great deal of ground, and doesn't go into much detail on any particular project, but the material in it is generally sound.

Ashey's book is a sound introduction to the hobby. If I remember correctly, though, it deals almost exclusively with plastic and resin kits. I don't think it says much, if anything, about wood ones.

With regard to the Milton Roth book I'm in an awkward position. I don't like to use this forum to make negative comments, or to air disagreements with other forum participants. But I reviewed that work for the Nautical Research Journal some years back, and I have to describe it as the worst book about ship modeling I've ever encountered. It's full of factual errors, mathematical errors, mis-captioned pictures (including a couple that are printed in reverse or upside down), and a writing style that frequently borders on pure gibberish. (I especially remember the chapter about selling finished models, in which the author emphatically asserts that $80.00 x 100 = $800.00. As I asked rhetorically in the NRJ, "should the reader laugh or cry?")

Milt Roth was a retired podiatrist who came to ship modeling relatively late in life and never really built up much experience with it. He was an intensely likable man, and his company, The Dromedary, built up a fine reputation for service and integrity. (It's still in business, being run, I believe, by his widow.) He died, at a tragically young age, while that book was being printed. (If he'd been able to read the page proofs, perhaps he would have made some changes.) I remember the long phone conversation I had with Charlie McDonald, the editor of the NRJ, about how to approach the problem of reviewing the book, which both of us thought was pretty awful. I'll stick with the three sentences I used to conclude that review: "Milt Roth was a first-rate gentleman, and I wish I could recommend his book. His many friends probably will value it as a poignant memorial to a likable, outgoing, and ebullient character. But it is not a sound introduction to ship modeling."

My cordial advice to any beginning ship modeler looking for practical advice is to get hold of the Lankford and Mondfeld books - and the Ashey one if you're working in plastic. If you're interested in prototype practice and the history of ship modeling, the Underhill and Davis books should be early acquisitions for your library. The Roth one should be avoided.

Sorry to be so negative about something, but (obviously) I have some rather strong opinions about this topic. (Opposing views, of course, are more than welcome; that's what this forum is about.) There aren't many good books for beginning ship modelers out there - and bad ones have the potential to drive people out of the hobby.

Superdubba - good luck. It's a great hobby. As you can see, it's inhabited by some strange people. The good news is that most of us are relatively harmless.

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

  • Member since
    November 2005
fishing boat and gunboat hits the spot
Posted by Anonymous on Wednesday, January 5, 2005 2:44 AM
QUOTE: Originally posted by jtilley

What follows is strictly personal opinion, in which there's no real reason for anybody to be especially interested. But since the subjects of Viking ship kits and ship modeling books have come up....

I'm reluctant to recommend the Heller and Smer plastic Viking ship kits. The Heller one is supposed to be a scale model of the Oseberg Ship, one of the two major surviving Viking vessels. (They're in the Viking Ship Museum, in Oslo.) The kit looks nice at first glance, but its proportions are ludicrously distorted (the bow and stern are far too tall for the ship's length) and the decorations bear no resemblance to those of the real ship. It looks like the designers worked from photographs (not very good ones) rather than plans. Heller has reissued the thing several times under different names; the one masquerading as a vessel of William the Conqueror's fleet is especially ludicrous.

rmless.


Hello:

I am not going to over rule you because your knowledge of the subject is tremendously higher than mine.

However, I once red somewhere that there exists no "model" of a typical viking ship. I mean there is not /only/ one type of viking ship! I think the latter is important.

It is the same as with the Columbus Ship "Santa Maria": there exists no "one and only model" of that kind of ship.

Maybe some of you know Wolfram zu Mondfeld; he was a maritime architect and wrote some books; among them a book about model ship building; though, his repuattaion is sometimes questioned.

There exists a Viking ship kit from him (zu Mondefeld has long passed away; the kit is assumingly from the 80's). The kit is distributed by the German company "Aeronaut Modell": www.aeronaut.de. It costs around 60,- EUR (about $70,-).

In a nutshell: it is questionable to speak from /one real/ viking ship. Wolframm zu Mondefeld used also no plans; his kit allegedly is based on the "tapestry of Bayeux".

Surely, he had a basic understanding of the subject and ship architecture in general. A thing which the engineers of Heller do not necessarily display.

Oh yes I agree, people who build cars in one thousand of years from now will not have any feeling of cars because they will hopefully have seen them in history books only. If they would build a Mercedes model car with three wheels only, oh, yes we know that is not correct. But are we sure that we know the same about viking ships.

Regards,
Siegfried Gonzi (Katzennahrung)
  • Member since
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  • From: Greenville, NC
Posted by jtilley on Wednesday, January 5, 2005 7:13 AM
Katzennahrung is, of course, right. The terms "Viking" and "Viking ship" are so broad and generic that they don't really mean much. They cover several hundred years, thousands of square miles of geography, and, presumably, a huge variety of ship and boat types. There is indeed no such thing as a "typical Viking ship."

(As for the Santa Maria - there have been so many attempts to reconstruct her that, frankly, I'm sick of them. The reliable historical information on Spanish ships of the fifteenth century just isn't sufficient to do such a thing with any legitimate confidence, and I really wish people would quit trying.)

I've never done any research on the Viking era in unpublished sources. I do know that there are two - and only two - large, intact vessels that generally merit the term "Viking ship." Both are preserved in the Viking Ship Museum in Oslo. The "Oseberg Ship" (on which the Heller kit is based - sort of) is a small, highly ornate vessel, apparently used as something like a state barge. It's not a seagoing ship. The "Gokstad Ship" (the basis for the Revell kit) is considerably larger - probably a small to medium-sized "long ship."

During the nineteenth and twentieth centuries several full-sized replicas of the Gokstad Ship were built, and proved to have outstanding sailing characteristics on the open sea. At least one of them crossed the Atlantic, in an effort to shore up Leif Ericsson's claim as "discoverer of America." (Since then it's been established that the "Viking ships" of Leif Ericsson's time didn't look much like that. The typical Norse vessel of that era was a large, bulky, extremely seaworthy cargo ship called a "Knar," or "Knor.")

Most modern pictorial and three-dimensional representations of "Viking ships" are based on one or both of those surviving vessels. Archaeologists have also discovered quite a few remains of smaller medieval ships and boats in Scandinavia, the British Isles, Germany, and Holland; whether any of those finds merits the label "Viking ship" is, I suppose, a matter of definition.

I haven't seen Mr. Mondfeld's kit; I wasn't aware that he was in the kit manufacturing business. On the basis of his book, I suspect the kit is excellent - probably better than any of the other wood "Viking ship" kits I've encountered. Mondfeld understood how to do research. The people responsible for the Heller kit pretty clearly didn't.

I'm sure Mr. Mondfeld (I apologize for misspelling his name earlier) also understood the value and limitations of the Bayeux Tapestry. It depicts the Norman invasion of England by William the Conqueror, in 1066 A.D. The Tapestry contains many images of William's ships. The depiction of a ship with needle and thread, and without benefit of modern perspective, obviously has its limits in terms of detail and accuracy. Many people have noted the similarity between the Bayeux Tapestry ships and the popular conception of the "Viking ship." Both have single masts; both have single square sails with stripes on them; both have animal heads on their bows; both have oars; and it looks like William's hulls, like those of the Oseberg and Gokstad Ships were clinker built. But that's about as far as the connection goes. William the Conqueror would have been bewildered to hear anybody call him a "Viking."

Bottom line: there's plenty of room for intepretation when it comes to models of "Viking ships." But Katzennahrung hits the nail on the head when he makes the distinction between careful research based on the existing evidence (Monfeld and Revell) and popularized fantasy without historical basis (Aurora and Heller). One approach is an aspect of scale modeling; the other isn't. The Heller kit is a Mercedes with three wheels; the Aurora one is an American tricycle masquerading as a Volvo.

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

  • Member since
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  • From: Greenville, NC
Posted by jtilley on Wednesday, January 5, 2005 11:00 AM
Just remembered a Viking ship kit that I'd previously forgotten. About a year ago the Spanish military miniature company Miniatures Andrea released a 54mm (i.e., about 1/32) scale white metal Viking ship, complete with crew. I haven't seen it up close, but on the basis of the pictures in the company's catalog it looks like a remarkable product. It seems to be cast entirely in white metal, except for the cloth sail and, I suspect, wood mast and yard. Judging from the pictures, the designers did their homework regarding Norse clinker hull construction. The vessel depicted isn't big (the model's about 22" long), but to my none-too-knowledgable eye it looks pretty believable.

The piece de resistance of the kit is the complete crew of cast metal 54mm Vikings. Andrea makes wonderful, animated, detailed figures, and these are no exception. The only thing that keeps me from ordering the kit is the price: $420. Actually, in view of the figures (which one would expect to cost $10 or $15 apiece), that's not unreasonable - but quite a chunk of change.

The same company makes a Roman galley that's even more spectacular - and even more expensive. Also a 1/35 WWII U-boat that's still more so.

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

  • Member since
    November 2005
Writing articles for Seaways' Ship in Scale
Posted by Anonymous on Thursday, January 6, 2005 4:30 AM
QUOTE: Originally posted by jtilley

Katzennahrung is, of course, right. The terms "Viking" and "Viking ship" are so

I haven't seen Mr. Mondfeld's kit; I wasn't aware that he was in the kit manufacturing business. On the basis of his book, I suspect the kit is excellent - probably better than any of the other wood "Viking ship" kits I've encountered. Mondfeld understood how to do research. The people responsible for the Heller kit pretty clearly didn't.




Hi:

The Aeronaut kit isn't advertised as such; but I red it that it is based on research of Wolfram zu Mondfeld.

To the Heller kit: i bought the viking ship the other day; Heller says it is based on the "tapestry of Bayeux" (the stroy is imprinetd on the kit-box).

The Mondfeld kit is also based on the tapestry of Bayeux.

So, is there anybody out there who would like to build the zu Mondfeld kit from Aeronaut Model and I am going to contribute the Heller kit. We could than write up an article for Seaways' Ships in Scale in order to see how well the two models stack up. I mean both are allegedly based on that tapestry.

How about jtilley? I think you have got some basic knowledge of the subject; and such an article would be cool. Take the leadership as author.

I can only motivate you. I got an private email from an author of Seaways' Ships in Scale that I shouldn't hesitate not to start such a project.

Regards,
Katzennahrung
  • Member since
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  • From: Greenville, NC
Posted by jtilley on Thursday, January 6, 2005 8:34 AM
The Heller "Viking ship" kits, I'm afraid, are, to varying extents, examples of false advertising. The company makes several with the "Viking" label attached to them (I haven't kept up with how many), but I'm pretty sure they're all based on the same hull.

That hull is the one that Heller originally issued under the name "Drakkar Oseberg," back in the very early 1970s. That first Heller "Viking ship" was supposed to be a scale model of the Oseberg Ship, but it isn't. The proportions (as I mentioned in an earlier post) are ludicrously distorted. There are also serious problems with the ornamentation. The Heller kit shows the carvings on the bow and stern as abstract squiggles; on the real ship they're exquisitely executed, stylized serpents. (The bow carving is a coiled snake's head, and the stern carving is his tail. Heller missed those points completely. I think they designed the kit on the basis of photographs - not very good ones.)

I remember, as an undergraduate student in Columbus, Ohio, getting excited when I saw that Heller was issuing that kit. I drove my Volkswagen Beetle all the way to the Squadron Shop in Cleveland (over 100 miles) to buy one. When I got it home and compared the kit to the drawings in the books I had, I was utterly disgusted.

Heller later reissued the thing with different bow and stern ornaments under the name "Navire Viking Reine Matilda," trying to lure the innocent into thinking it was a model of a ship from the fleet of William the Conqueror. (Hence the alleged Bayeux Tapestry connection. So far as I can tell, the bow and stern decorations look a little like some in the Tapestry. So does the color scheme. That's all.) There are at least two problems with that label. One - William the Conqueror was not a Viking; he would have been astonished if anybody had called one of his vessels a "Navire Viking." Two - so far as I know (maybe somebody with more expertise on medieval practices can correct me) there's no evidence that individual vessels of that period were given names. The documents I've seen generally refer to ships as "Erik's ship," or "Bjarni's vessel," or "William's ship." I can't claim to be a hundred percent sure, but I'm strongly inclined to view the phrase "Navire Viking Reine Matilda" as nothing more or less than a marketing stunt by a plastic kit company looking for clever ways to recycle inferior merchandise.

Unfortunately this kind of thing has always been common among kit manufacturers - wood as well as plastic. Let the buyer beware.

I continue to contend that the only reputable plastic "Viking ship" kit (at least of the ones I've seen; there may be some more out there somewhere) is the old Revell one. That one would be worth building and writing an article about. Unfortunately, though, it's mighty scarce. I would have no idea of where to find one - and an article about it would be of dubious value, since the readers wouldn't be able to find the kit either.

I sympathize completely with Ships in Scale (a fine publication) and its efforts to get articles about sailing ship models built from plastic kits. The big problem is that there are so few of them. Revell of the U.S., which used to be the leader in the field, hasn't released a new sailing ship kit since 1977. (That's 28 years -more than half the time plastic kits have been in existence.) The current Revell U.S.A. catalog contains fewer than half a dozen sailing ship kits, all of them reissues. A glance through this forum will demonstrate that the folks who build plastic sailing ships generally rely on kits they've found on e-bay, or at flea markets or swap meets. A handful of the Heller kits (H.M.S. Victory, La Reale de France, Pamir, Gorch Fock) are excellent scale models; most of the others, in terms of scale accuracy, are junk. No wonder this phase of the hobby has so few practitioners.

Quite a few years ago I wrote several articles on, and reviews of, plastic sailing ships kits for various publications (Scale Modeler in the U.S., Scale Models and Model Shipwright in Britain). I'd be reluctant to do so nowadays, for a couple of reasons. The big one is that quality merchandise is so scarce - and time-consuming. (I'm not inclined to tackle any of the three best plastic sailing ships on the market - the Heller Victory, the Heller Real de France, or the Revell Constitution - because, at my pace, building any of them would take me years. Publishers don't like that sort of thing.) I'd be glad to take on the Revell Viking ship if I could find one, but I'm afraid such an article wouldn't be of much use to the readership. My last finished model was the New York pilot boat Phantom, based on an interesting Model Shipways kit with a cast resin hull. I was playing around with the idea of writing an article about that one when I found out the company had taken the kit off the market.

Anybody who can figure out a good way to publicize this phase of the hobby certainly has my best wishes. It deserves more attention. If more people got involved in plastic sailing ships, perhaps the manufacturers would respond with some new state-of-the-art kits.

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

  • Member since
    November 2005
Posted by Anonymous on Monday, January 17, 2005 3:35 AM
QUOTE: Originally posted by Katzennahrung

Originally posted by jtilley


There exists a Viking ship kit from him (zu Mondefeld has long passed away; the kit is assumingly from the 80's). The kit is distributed by the German company "Aeronaut Modell": www.aeronaut.de. It costs around 60,- EUR (about $70,-).


Hello:

Shame on me (is due to to much cigars I think): zu Mondfeld is still alive. I always thought he has been passed away.

For so to sepak. I bought me a German magazine dedicated to explorers. The article about Columbus and the three Columbus ships used some statements from zu Mondfeld. From that writings I got the feeling that they lately (the journalist who wrote the article) interviewed zu Mondfeld.

Sorry for calling one dead.

Regards,
Katzennahrunbg
  • Member since
    March 2004
  • From: Belgium
Posted by DanCooper on Monday, January 17, 2005 8:40 AM
QUOTE: Originally posted by jtilley

William the Conqueror would have been bewildered to hear anybody call him a "Viking."


If you use the "Viking" as a synonim for "Norse" than I'm sure William would have had no problems with that.
William came from Normandy, that name doesn't resamble "Norse" by coincidence, Normandy was founded by Vikings only one or two generations earlier, so as a consequence William's ships were "Viking-ships"

Just my My 2 cents [2c]
Skypename : Baldwynn If only my soul weighted more than 3 gramms, I would be happy to sell it...
  • Member since
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  • From: Greenville, NC
Posted by jtilley on Monday, January 24, 2005 9:41 PM
I'm "replying" to this topic in order to get it moved onto the first page of the Forum. It's relevant to a recent post from a new member.

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

  • Member since
    November 2005
Posted by Anonymous on Tuesday, January 25, 2005 11:26 AM
Thanks jtilley its been an interesting read.

Did superdubba ever mention the kit that he bought? A wood kit is what I am interested in. It will more than likely be beyond my skill level at the moment but I do have an Uncle close by who has been making and selling model sailing ships for many years. Im sure he will be able to lend a hand. :)

Crom!
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    November 2005
Posted by Anonymous on Wednesday, February 9, 2005 12:20 PM
This topic is realy becoming weighty!! William the Conqueror, a Nor(se)man, descended from Rollo, a Norse chieftan. His flagship, depicted in the Bayeaux Tapestry (a 200' or so long historical needlework piece) had a name. It was commissioned or acquired by his wife, Matilda and named "Mora." The Norse who were assimilated into western Europe by this time (1066) did not forsake their shipbuilding roots and built very much in the Clincher or Clinker or Lapstrake (all mean the same) style; quick, easy and inexpensive. The Gokstad and Oseberg ships are close enough to William's period to use as examples of ONE TYPE of Norse vessel. All above replies seem well thought out. Great to have such astute historians.
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Posted by Anonymous on Thursday, February 10, 2005 10:37 AM
for steam bending strips of wood I have had good luck wetting the piece down and zapping it in the microwave oven a bit- depends on the oven and the size piece as to how long.
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  • From: Greenville, NC
Posted by jtilley on Thursday, February 10, 2005 10:32 PM
This is indeed interesting stuff. I've run into that phrase "William the Conqueror's Mora" myself a few times. I'm not a hundred percent sure that it refers to the name of a ship in the modern sense - but maybe so. I've now been inspired to do some digging.

My own small library is weak for this period. A couple of books I've got do refer to "William the Conqueror's Mora," but only in the most vague terms. I did take a careful look at a copy of the complete Bayeux Tapestry this afternoon. (There's a beautiful, fold-out reproducton of it - complete with an English translation of the original Latin text - in an old National Geographic book about the Middle Ages.) The word "Mora" does not appear anywhere on the tapestry. It contains representations of about 30 ships - and the English (i.e., Anglo-Saxon) ones are indistinguishable from the Norman ones. The nearest thing to a direct reference to a specific vessel in the text is the phrase "Here is Duke William in a great ship crossing the sea...."

In trying to trace the origin of that word "Mora" I'm out of my depth. (Maybe RonMariner has a source for it.) Tomorrow or thereabouts I'm going to pick the brains of a couple of medieval historians in the joint where I work. One of them specializes in medieval ships. I think he'll have an answer of some sort - though I'll be surprised if it's as straightforward or simple as any of us would like. One thing I will guarantee, though: no serious historian is going to assert that a ship of William the Conqueror looked anything like that Heller kit, which, if I remember correctly, is what sent us off on this fascinating tangent in the first place.

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

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  • From: Greenville, NC
Posted by jtilley on Friday, February 18, 2005 9:01 PM
Well, I got an answer from my friend Tim Runyan, medieval maritime historian and director of our university's Program in Maritime History and Underwater Research, regarding the ships of William the Conqueror. Tim was in a hurry; for the moment all he could offer was the following:

"No easy answer to your question....Consensus is they [i.e., the ships in the Bayeux Tapestry] are not Viking vessels a la Gokstad or even Skuldelev - more like early round ships - necessary to carry the horses that are much in evidence in the tapestry." Tim goes on to say that he's leaving tomorrow for an archaeology conference in Berlin. He promised he'd ask the European historians in attendance there what they know about the subject.

I'll be back when he gets back to me. Medieval ship enthusiasts - watch this space.

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

  • Member since
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Posted by Anonymous on Thursday, February 24, 2005 12:08 PM
RE: Mora; I've been researching the origin of the name for at least 8 years and have come up emptyhanded. Most credible sources say "no one knows how the name "Mora" came about" The closest approximate guess, albeit a very educated guess, came about a year ago when a source suggested an anagram of "amor", as French was the court language of the time (and, rather obviously for the Normans). I find no support for or argument against this suggestion but frankly it seems a stretch. Truthfully, I expect that Mr Tilley will arrive at a solution before I do! Now, Medieval ships..... Here's something we can get our teeth into!
Best,
Ron
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Posted by Anonymous on Monday, February 28, 2005 3:28 PM
Incidentally, I chased a lead to "delay" for Mora (as the fleet was delayed for lack of favorable wind) to find it introduced by a 1920's author who had no historical reference for the explanation of name. The author was putting words in Matilda's mouth, it seems. Now, there is a Latin root for Mora as "obstacle" and perhaps that fits "delay"; it at least seems credible, but as a lecturer and interpreter, I need at least two corroborative (preferably 3) sources before I'll include it in my talks. In any event, let me know what you find.
Best,
Ron
  • Member since
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  • From: Greenville, NC
Posted by jtilley on Monday, February 28, 2005 11:16 PM
No word yet from Tim Runyan, who's still off in the wilds of Germany.

I haven't had a chance to do any real digging myself since my last post on this topic, but after glancing over some books I have at the house I am ready to back down from my earlier assertion about when the practice of naming individual ships got started. It apparently happened earlier than I thought - though I don't know exactly when. And I haven't yet seen any direct reference to a name of an individual ship associated with William the Conqueror.

I get the impression that the Bayeux Tapestry is just about the only primary source about William's invasion fleet. Medieval history is like that: the scholars find one or two documents or pictorial references, and spend their careers arguing about just how those sources should be intepreted. As I understand it the precise origin of the Tapestry is uncertain. Legend has it that Mathilda stitched it herself and gave it to William as a birthday present. That seems a little fanciful, but there seems to be good reason to think she supervised the making of it (probably by several people). If so, and if she was indeed involved in the naming of the ship, it seems odd that the word "Mora" doesn't appear on the Tapestry. But stranger things have happened.

What does seem clear is that the model of the "Mora" by August Crabtree probably doesn't look much like a ship of William's fleet. If I remember correctly, Crabtree assumed that she looked like the Gokstad Ship - and that belief is pretty well discredited now.

All this reminds me of a sad story one of my colleagues told me. It seems a young monk newly arrived in a medieval monastery was assigned the job of making an illuminated copy of a manuscript. The abbot gave him a copy of the original, which was kept in a locked storeroom. The young monk had a question about a particular word in the copy he'd been given. So he asked the abbot, "Father, are you certain this is the word that appears in the original?" The abbot got angry, and replied, "Of course. This copy was made fifty years ago by one of the most trusted members of our order. It contains no mistakes whatsoever." The young monk was adamant: "Father, I really think it would be a good idea to check the original." The abbot eventually agreed, got the key to the storeroom, and disappeared inside it.

About four hours passed, after which the young monk started to worry. So, with considerable trepidation, he crept into the storeroom. After about an hour of stumbling around among the dark, dusty corridors he discovered the abbot, who was sitting on the floor with an ancient piece of parchment in front of him. The abbot's shoulders were shaking uncontrollably, and tears were streaming down his face. The young monk, disturbed, asked, "Why father, what on earth is the matter?" The abbot looked up and sobbed, "The word is: celebrate."

FSM censors - are you there?

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

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  • From: Spartanburg, SC
Posted by subfixer on Tuesday, March 1, 2005 5:13 AM
yuk yuk That IS a good one!!

I'm from the government and I'm here to help.

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  • From: arizona
Posted by cthulhu77 on Wednesday, March 2, 2005 8:36 AM
Personally, I like the Heller kit just fine...it is what it is...a passable plastic kit. Is it up to modern standards? Nope. But it is a great way to break into ship modeling, and I have recommended it to many a modeler... as to the historical accuracy, it seems a little "heavy handed" to just dismiss it as incorrect, when there were thousands of these ships, made by hand...the chances of two being identical are not very likely !!! The way that the kit has been marketed, perhaps, has been overdone...a better boxing would simply call it "Viking Ship, and leave it at that...without the references to the Oseberg or the supposed ship of William.
I built one, made a custom sail, and enjoyed every minute of it...and heck, it looks good on the mantel next to the Constitution !
greg
http://www.ewaldbros.com
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