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Heller Soleil Royal (WIP)

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  • Member since
    March 2014
Posted by kpnuts on Wednesday, October 14, 2015 12:34 AM

What's not to like, it's stunning, truly.

  • Member since
    May 2003
  • From: Greenville, NC
Posted by jtilley on Wednesday, October 14, 2015 11:25 AM

I have no intention of beating a dead horse again; I said my piece in the "Ultimate Guide" thread. But as the most loud-mouthed member of the "Anti-SR" faction, I feel like I should say something here.

First, I agree with everything that's been said recently in this thread. Modeling needs to be an inclusive hobby. It offers all sorts of options, and the modeler certainly has the right to pick his/her favorite. I love ships. I spend a lot of time reading about them, making drawings of them, visiting them....I'm fascinated by how they're built, how they work, how they were designed, and what they've done. My interest in them goes back almost sixty years. I think a classic sailing ship is one of the most sublime combinations of technology and aesthetics that the human race has ever produced. And when I build a model of one of them, I want that model to reproduce the beauty of the original accurately. Lots of modelers take the same approach I do. (Everybody who follows the "Ships" section of this Forum should take a look at a copy of the Nautical Research Journal. Some of its article contributors are far more fanatical about accuracy than I am.)

But there are other ways to approach it - not only in ship modeling, but in just about every phase of modeling. I've drawn a parallel between the Heller SR kit and Lionel electric trains. Lionel has given pleasure to thousands - maybe millions - of people over the decades. I think any adult realizes that Lionel track, locomotives, and rolling stock don't really look much like the real things, but to those folks that doesn't matter much. On the other hand, there are thousands of HO model railroaders who are at least as obsessed with historical accuracy as I am.

I have no criticism of anybody who tackles the SR kit. I do object to the fact that Heller promoted it as a scale model, which, by my definition (and those of plenty of other ship modelers) it isn't. And I'm seriously bothered by the fact that such an expensive kit contains so many parts that almost demand to be thrown in the trash. (The kit supposedly has about 2300 parts. Hundreds of them are unusable "blocks" and "deadeyes" that demand to be replaced. I don't think a consumer who pays $200 for a plastic kit ought to have to spend several hundred more bucks on aftermarket parts to replace inadequate kit pieces.

I also regret deeply that Heller got out of the sailing ship market when it did. The company made a quantum leap forward from the Soleil Royal when it released its 1/100 Victory. If Heller had continued to improve, and had issued three or four more big 1/100 sailing ships, I suspect nobody would buy the SR.

That said, I think Dave's model is beautiful - far better in every way than the one I built all those years ago. I think the work he did to correct the really gross errors in the stern is first-rate. And his skills at painting and weathering deserve the envy of every ship modeler.

To each his/her own. Just don't conclude, please, that those who take different approaches to their hobbies are necessarily wrong, or are just curmudgeonly freaks.

 

 

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

  • Member since
    September 2005
  • From: Groton, CT
Posted by warshipguy on Thursday, October 15, 2015 5:56 AM

I object to the suggestion that the "Ultimate Building Guide" contained only rants against the SR kit.  In fact, I defended the kit and compiled a list of specific ways to improve upon the detail.  I also concluded that, looking at the paintings by Berain and others, that the model depicts the second ship of that name.  In fact, I cited sources showing that the lower hull might be consistent with building techniques at the time, showing the shallow underwater lines of contemporary Dutch-built ships; the French were very influenced by Dutch designs.

So, I recommend checking out The Ultimate Building Guide again; what you see is not ranting by a few but rather a spirited debate on the strengths and weaknesses of the SR kit, and how to improve upon the weaknesses.

Bill Morrison

  • Member since
    March 2012
  • From: Marysville, WA
Posted by David_K on Thursday, October 15, 2015 8:25 AM

Thanks for your input, John.  I think nobody would argue that the SR kit is overly expensive for what it delivers.  I was lucky enough to get mine for cheap, so I don't mind chucking all those blocks and deadeyes! :)

Warshipguy, let me apologize if my previous comments rubbed you the wrong way.  I didn't mean to say that the Ult Bldg guide thread had "only rants against the SR kit"....I was speaking in generalities, and how I perceived the basic tone of that thread.  My point wasn't that the thread was all anti-SR, but mnore that it was primarily a vehicle for discussing the errors of authenicity of the kit, and the rights-and-wrongs of it, and how to fix it.  That's not ALL it was, but that still seems to be the general tone. I just went through an re-read the first few pages of it, and a few random pages toward the end of it.  Even the first paragraph sets the question of whether or not it can be made into a "reasonable representation of a model ship".

All I was saying is that my hope when I encountered that thread was that it would be a reference for general *building* and construction hints, but it was not.  It was more about mods and error corrections.

I hope to avoid turning this WIP into a back and forth, spirited debate, but I did want to clarify my point for you. 

Dave

        _~
     _~ )_)_~
     )_))_))_)
     _!__!__!_         
     (_D_P_K_)
   ~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    ~~~~~~~~~~~

Current Project:  Imai/ERTL Spanish Galleon #2

Recently Finished: Revell 1/96 Cutty Sark

Next Up:  ???

 

  • Member since
    September 2005
  • From: Groton, CT
Posted by warshipguy on Thursday, October 15, 2015 10:40 AM

David,

Thank you.  I believe that my list of revisions is towards the end of the thread.

Bill Morrison

  • Member since
    December 2012
Posted by rwiederrich on Thursday, October 15, 2015 8:18 PM

Apart from all the opinons and evaluations...it remains true that no one has personally seen the ship..felts its timbers....drooled over its ornatness first hand.  thus...making us all true *guessers*of its fine detail.  One fine reason I have refrained in recent years from taking up the mantle of building such a vessel.  IMV any representation leans heavy on personal interpretation and not so much on historical representation.  ANOTHER fine reason I keep my standards low and generally only build American clippers(with an occasional British one thrown in, for good measure).  And too do so, generally means I have to build them from scratch...since there are no large scale (1/96) versions produced.

Dave has(In his own masterful way) elevated and encouraged out a museum quality model from what could have been(In lesser hands) an average model with little to no value to the acute discriminating moderer.

Rob(friend and admirer from afar)

  • Member since
    September 2012
Posted by GMorrison on Thursday, October 15, 2015 10:12 PM

In the spirit of a lively discussion, statements like that puzzle me, Rob. I could never consider this a museum quality model because I really can't imagine the museum it would fit into.

The museum of overpriced pipe dreams?

No matter how capable the builder, this is still a very bad ship model in the box. I think there's a very good chance that David could have built a good wooden ship model from Bluejacket or Model Shipways with less effort, better accuracy and a more pleasing product than to have tasked himself with mud wrestling this thing.

Dave, I would love to see you take on the MS Sultana or Rattlesnake, or the Fair American.

It's beginning to seem like a bit of the old "there must be a pony in here somewhere".

 

 Modeling is an excuse to buy books.

 

  • Member since
    May 2003
  • From: Greenville, NC
Posted by jtilley on Thursday, October 15, 2015 10:31 PM

Well, one of the first things I learned when I got my job in a maritime museum is that the phrase "museum-quality model" is utterly useless. I've seen some awful models in museums. And a good museum acquires models for plenty of reasons that go beyond "quality" as a modern modeler would define it.

Example: the "Isaac Hull model" of the Constitution in the Peabody-Essex Museum. By the standards of any serious scale ship modeler in 2015, it's a piece of junk. (No steering wheel, primitive carvings, no trucks on the gun carriages, a big nail spiking each gun barrel into place, etc., etc.) What makes it interesting - and unquestionably makes it  belong in a museum - is its historical provenance. Viewed in that context, it's one of the most important and valuable ship models in the world.

I fervently wish the phrase "museum quality" would disappear from the modeling vocabulary. It doesn't mean anything.

I don't want this thread to turn into another argument about the accuracy of the Heller SR kit; we've beaten that one to death in that other thread. But, for what it's worth, I think a scale ship model that claims to represent a real ship needs to be based (directly or indirectly) on contemporary plans (or, in their absence, some other persuasive primary source material). I have no problem with educated reconstructions (e.g., the Mayflower II or the Elizabeth II). And I'm currently working on a model of a Gloucester fishing schooner that never existed. And if Heller had labeled that kit "Seventeenth-Century French Ship-of-the-Line," I wouldn't complain. But the company represents it as a scale model of a particular ship. Bill Morrison, the most articulate defender of the kit whom I've encountered, suggests the generous interpretation is that Heller designed a model that represents a different ship than the company claims it represents. And that the designers didn't know which ship they were representing.

One thing that nags at me whenever I get into a discussion about this subject: I really have no idea what the extant information about either of the real Soleil Royals is. Have contemporary plans for either ship been found? Are any of their dimensions recorded? Just how much is known about either of those ships? Has any scholar who really knows what he's doing done a serious reconstruction of either Soleil Royal? I don't know. 

If we were talking about a British warship, the research would be relatively easy: look up the plans at the National Maritime Museum (and pay through the nose to get copies of them). Or, for a seventeenth-century ship, work out the lines based on contemporary texts in naval architecture. (British warship lines in those days were based on fairly simple mathematical formulas.) If you want to build an American sailing warship, go to the National Archives. (But first, look up the ship in Howard I. Chapelle's books.) But I know nothing about the primary sources on French seventeenth-century ships.

I have a sneaking suspicion that French ship modelers have already wrestled their way through all these problems, and are laughing at us. 

I recently bought a fine, new book on seventeenth-century Dutch warships. (No plans, but comprehensive lists.) I sure wish somebody would publish something similar on the French navy.

Regarding American clipper ships - I agree that there ought to be more 1/96-scale kits. I know of only three: the Lindberg plastic Sea Witch, the Model Shipways Flying Fish, and the Bluejacket Red Jacket. But then, the whole realm of sailing ships is barely represented in the kit market. (How many whaleship kits are out there? How many British ships-of-the-line, other than the Victory? How many British merchant vessels other than the Cutty Sark? How many American sailing warships other than the Constitution?) All the serious scale sailing ship kits on the market probably could be counted on the fingers and toes of two or three people. If you want to get depressed, compare that to the world of scale aircraft modeling.

But there are quite a few good American clipper plans, drawn by modern scholars on the basis of primary sources, out there. The clipper drawings by William Crothers, for instance, are among the finest pieces of drafting and research I've ever seen. For better or worse, the only way to build up a really comprehensive collection of sailing ship models is to work from scratch.

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

  • Member since
    September 2005
  • From: Groton, CT
Posted by warshipguy on Friday, October 16, 2015 5:50 AM

John,

Thanks for your comment! I appreciate it.  However, I do recognize the basic flaws in the SR kit but I have also worked diligently to overcome them to the best of my questionable abilities.

Concerning available clipper ship kits, Bluejacket once made a nice Flying Cloud. Model Shipways once made the Young American, and one other (I forget which).  Scientific made basic solid hull kits of Sea Witch, Sovereign of the Seas, Cutty Sark, Thermopylae, and Flying Cloud.  Sterling also made the Sovereign of the Seas.  Granted, the Scientific and the Sterling kits were made for kids, and  they were quite simplistic, but they could be made into decent models in the right hands.  All of the kits in this paragraph are usually found on eBay for reasonable prices.

As for the general state of sailing ship modeling, I was encouraged several years ago when Revell released the Wasa and the Batavia, and Zvesda seemed to be stepping up the game with their releases, but, alas, the impetus seems to have died out.

Bill Morrison

  • Member since
    May 2003
  • From: Greenville, NC
Posted by jtilley on Friday, October 16, 2015 8:19 AM

Another wood kit company that used to offer some clippers was A.J. Fisher. It had, if I remember right, a Flying Cloud, Sovereign of the Seas, Young America, and a couple of others. And Marine Models had a Sea Witch, a Swordfish, a Red Jacket, and maybe one or two others.

A.J. Fisher has been reincarnated, and is operating out of Newburyport, Massachusetts. It has a website, www.ajfisher.com , where you can look at its catalog. Only a few of the old Fisher kits are back - and I've never seen any of them in the flesh. The catalog shows quite a range of fittings; I haven't seen any of them either. I hope we can make a trip to New England next summer; if so I'll see if I can drop in on A.J. Fisher. Back in the Olde Dayes its kits had a fine reputation.

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

  • Member since
    March 2012
  • From: Marysville, WA
Posted by David_K on Friday, October 16, 2015 8:34 AM

Yikes.

Starting to feel this thread is becoming another contentious debate about the *cursed* SR kit.

Thanks to everyone for their input.

Rob, I appreciate your compliment....having seen your work up close and in-person, I can say that you have a mastery of the craft.  Me?  I'm less dedicated to the intricacies.  One thing that I really remember vividly about one of your Cutty Sarks (or maybe it was the Glory?) was how you had the rigging line tension set.  Standing rigging was all taut, but then you had introduced varying amounts of sag into the running rigging, which definitely gave it a feeling of weight, and of being real, working rigging.  It is a very nice touch!

I wouldn't say that my SR is Museum Quality, but I also wouldn't go as far as saying that the SR is a "very bad kit"...

I would like to ask everyone (with respect) if we can nip any of the back-and-forths of the SR kit in the proverbial bud?  As John says, it's been gone over enough times elsewhere.  Perhaps we can just ignore the elephant in the room?

Thanks!

Dave

 

        _~
     _~ )_)_~
     )_))_))_)
     _!__!__!_         
     (_D_P_K_)
   ~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    ~~~~~~~~~~~

Current Project:  Imai/ERTL Spanish Galleon #2

Recently Finished: Revell 1/96 Cutty Sark

Next Up:  ???

 

  • Member since
    September 2005
  • From: Groton, CT
Posted by warshipguy on Friday, October 16, 2015 8:43 AM

John,

Thanks for the link to A. J. Fischer!  I just put their Niagara on my Christmas list.

Dave,

Your SR is perhaps the best I have seen of that ship. I agree; let's get back to your model!

Bill

  • Member since
    March 2012
  • From: Marysville, WA
Posted by David_K on Friday, October 16, 2015 8:52 AM

I was also optimistic when Revell released their recent Vasa (which was a decent kit), and I had high hopes for Zvezda, with their detailed, high-quality Black Swan (another controversial kit, that I loved!) among other well-molded offerings....but it does seem like those productions didn't achieve enough momentum to garner further work on designing more large-scale sailing ship kits.

Oh, well.

The AJ Fisher website seems like they have decent stuff! Never heard of them before, but the selection seems to be in the vein of Model Shipways, but on a less varied scale.  Plenty of Schooners.  I'd be interested to see a review or WIP of something from them. Also, the prices seem reasonable.

Speaking of wooden kits, I have been considering a wooden MS build after the SR is finished (unless I move on to some other hobby)...I still have my Katy of Norfolk kit, or I might go with another MS wooden ship....I do like the style of the Rattlesnake.

Anyway, hope everyone has a good weekend!

Dave

 

        _~
     _~ )_)_~
     )_))_))_)
     _!__!__!_         
     (_D_P_K_)
   ~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    ~~~~~~~~~~~

Current Project:  Imai/ERTL Spanish Galleon #2

Recently Finished: Revell 1/96 Cutty Sark

Next Up:  ???

 

  • Member since
    September 2005
  • From: Groton, CT
Posted by warshipguy on Friday, October 16, 2015 8:58 AM

I was also looking at their wood hulls and plans sections.  Their kits are solid hull, which I prefer to splank-on-bulkhead kits.  I am very impressed with this company so far!  It will be interesting to watch them grow.  Since I live in nearby CT, I believe that I will take a drive up to Newburyport one weekend!

Bill

  • Member since
    May 2003
  • From: Greenville, NC
Posted by jtilley on Friday, October 16, 2015 11:47 AM

Bill, I sure would be grateful if you'd pay a visit to AJF. I honestly don't know what to expect. Does it actually have all those kits, fittings and plans in stock? Or is it a part-time operation that only produces stuff that customers order. The company has had a website for years, with promises that its line would expand. So far it barely has - and none of the big old kits has come back yet. The company dates back to the 1940s. In those days, and well into the 1960s, it had a first-rate reputation, but I have no idea how the kits it's currently selling stand up to the competition. I suspect the cast fittings in that online catalog come from the same, very old molds (the illustratons look mighty familiar) - but I don't know.

Fisher used to be located on the Great Lakes, and its line included quite a few Lakes vessels. It still does. That little schooner Challenge is tempting me.

Remember that Model Shipways has an excellent Niagara - though it's plank-on-bulkhead. One of our club members built it, and the resulting model is really impressive.

Dave, I agree completely: this thread needs to focus on your work in progress. I suggest that anybody who really wants to get into the discussion of the Heller SR's merits and demerits make use of the old "Ultimate Building Guide" thread.

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

  • Member since
    September 2005
  • From: Groton, CT
Posted by warshipguy on Friday, October 16, 2015 12:18 PM

John,

I am sure that the MS Niagara is a beautiful kit; indeed, anything manufactured by them tends to be a quality product.  I simply prefer solid hull kits.  That said, I might drive up this weekend because my wife is out of town visiting her sister in Ocean City, MD. I will be glad to give you a full report.

Bill

  • Member since
    December 2012
Posted by rwiederrich on Friday, October 16, 2015 3:31 PM

I was elevating Dave's example as museum worthy...not the kit as a whole or in part.

A sows ear into a gold purse thing...I recon.

 

Rob

  • Member since
    March 2014
Posted by kpnuts on Friday, October 16, 2015 3:35 PM

If I had a museum it would be in it without a doubt, if not in the ships section then in the works of art section.

  • Member since
    March 2012
  • From: Marysville, WA
Posted by David_K on Friday, October 16, 2015 3:39 PM

You guys are too kind!

Shucks!

 

        _~
     _~ )_)_~
     )_))_))_)
     _!__!__!_         
     (_D_P_K_)
   ~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    ~~~~~~~~~~~

Current Project:  Imai/ERTL Spanish Galleon #2

Recently Finished: Revell 1/96 Cutty Sark

Next Up:  ???

 

  • Member since
    December 2012
Posted by rwiederrich on Friday, October 16, 2015 3:42 PM

From scratch is probably my montra.  Crothers is at the spearhead of clipper presentation and documentation.  I have an exhaustive library on the subject(as far as I am concerned)....thus acurate reproduction of American commercial vessels (Clippers 1840~1060's) can be scratch build.  I have examples of all 1/96 clipper offerings from the major providers...not to mention several 1/96 Revell hulls of the CT, that I convert into vessels of my choosing.

Rob

  • Member since
    December 2012
Posted by rwiederrich on Friday, October 16, 2015 4:02 PM

Thanks so much for providing the website....I am ordering the SOS hull and plans, plus plans several other clippers....I found this site some time ago but had inadvertantly misplaced the address and soon forgot about it.

Again thanks.

Rob

  • Member since
    December 2012
Posted by rwiederrich on Friday, October 16, 2015 4:07 PM

Yeah Dave...I too, drift between my other hobbies(telescope making, and furniture making).  However...I still have about 4 more clippers to build before I die.

 

Rob

  • Member since
    September 2005
  • From: Groton, CT
Posted by warshipguy on Saturday, October 17, 2015 7:16 AM

John,

I called A. J. Fisher yesterday afternoon and talked with the owner, who seems like a gentleman.  We had a very nice talk about the state of sailing ship modeling and his long-term goal of remanufacturing the entire original A. J. Fisher line.  He has successfully manufactured that line of fittings in pewter not white metal.  He does have a small nautical items shop called Piel Craftsmen, and his store website can be found online at www.pielcraftsmen.com. Unfortunately, you will find that he also sells HECEPOB kits, but the flagship items are the Fisher kits. He also sells built ship models.

Bill

  • Member since
    May 2003
  • From: Greenville, NC
Posted by jtilley on Wednesday, October 21, 2015 8:18 PM

Bill, did you get up to Newburyport last weekend? I'm really curious about A.J Fisher and Piel Craftsmen.

Newburyport is an interesting place for several reasons. It has a nice maritime museum - and the Continental frigate Hancock was built there.

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

  • Member since
    September 2005
  • From: Groton, CT
Posted by warshipguy on Thursday, October 22, 2015 11:09 AM

John,

I wasn't able to go due to family issues. I am planning for this Saturday.

Bill

  • Member since
    March 2012
  • From: Marysville, WA
Posted by David_K on Friday, October 23, 2015 6:41 PM

Well, guys...

Bow assembly is complete.  That's the good news.

Bad news:  Now I begin attaching lower deadeyes and chainplates to all the channels!  Still have to refine/invent a decent way to do it.  I have an idea of what to do, it involves something similar to what Heller instructs (using rigging line in place of metal bars for the chainplates)...but also incorporating some annealed wire to strop the deadeyes...I have a bunch of walnut 7, 5, and 3.5 MM deadeyes from ME that should do the trick.

Wish me luck.  I'll post when I get a good plan and some progress made. :)

Thanks,

Dave

        _~
     _~ )_)_~
     )_))_))_)
     _!__!__!_         
     (_D_P_K_)
   ~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    ~~~~~~~~~~~

Current Project:  Imai/ERTL Spanish Galleon #2

Recently Finished: Revell 1/96 Cutty Sark

Next Up:  ???

 

  • Member since
    September 2012
Posted by GMorrison on Friday, October 23, 2015 7:04 PM

Dave, seriously look into drilling pins into the channel and into the hull

 Modeling is an excuse to buy books.

 

  • Member since
    June 2003
  • From: Cavite, Philippines
Posted by allan on Friday, October 23, 2015 9:44 PM

Not jumping into the debate. Just admiring Dave's work so far.  In the 90s someone tried to lob a commission build SR to me.  When I saw the parts and the work done so far I lobbed it back.  Still dream about it and wake up sweating every now and then. Lol.

No bucks, no Buck Rogers

  • Member since
    July 2010
  • From: Tempe AZ
Posted by docidle on Saturday, October 24, 2015 11:45 PM

Dave,

Trying to not sound like a broken record, but the SR looks superb! If I can add my two cents, I think you should make your own chains and strops instead of using rigging line. It might just be one of those things that will bug you down the road when you have recovered from building her. Again, just my opinion. Whatever you choose, it will look awesome.

Steve

       

 

 

  • Member since
    May 2003
  • From: Greenville, NC
Posted by jtilley on Saturday, October 24, 2015 11:59 PM

I just reviewed what Dr. Anderson's book (pp 68-71) has to say about chains and chain plates. Apparently you've got some options. (I honestly don't remember how I did the ones on my model; that was about 35 years ago.)

If I'm reading the book right, it's entirely possible that a French warship of this period would have had chains that were literally made out of pieces of chain. You can buy the stuff in a variety of sizes at either Model Expo (which is having a 50% off site-wide sale at the moment) or Bluejacket. The chain used for such purposes was really heavy stuff.

The more difficult approach is to make them out of wire. Dr. Anderson shows several possible configurations.

GM is right: anything you can do to reinforce the wood part of the system will be time well spent. When the shrouds get set up taut, those timbers will come under a lot of stress. Making the chainplates accurately will help take some of the load off them. If the bottom ends of the chainplates are fastened firmly to the hull, the wood timbers won't come under much stress at all. (Think of the strings of a violin. When the violinist tunes his instrument he puts a whole lot of tension on the strings. But that little maple bridge can stand up and take the stress without punching through the top of the fiddle. If that weren't the case, Itzhak Perlman wouldn't be able to shove the strings down with his fingers.)

When modelers use "preformed ratlines" and "rigging looms," they don't reproduce shrouds accurately. In reality they're among the biggest and most important lines in the ship. Not only do they keep the mast from falling over sideways; they transmit the force of the wind in the sails to the hull timbers, and thereby pull the ship through the water.

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

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