SEARCH FINESCALE.COM

Enter keywords or a search phrase below:

Heller Soleil Royal (WIP)

66751 views
575 replies
1 rating 2 rating 3 rating 4 rating 5 rating
  • Member since
    May 2003
  • From: Greenville, NC
Posted by jtilley on Wednesday, October 28, 2015 2:30 PM

Well, to each his own. I wouldn't do it that way, but we all know how weird I am.

In real practice, the only pair of shrouds that starts on one side and ends on the other is the odd-numbered one (assuming there's an odd number of shrouds on a given mast). The others are in pairs, up and down on the same side.

Some books do say that odd-numbered shroud should go all around the masthead and down the other side. Others say it should consist of two separate ropes, port and starboard, cut-spliced together with the splice going over the masthead. On 1/100 scale the difference probably isn't worth fussing over.

In a real ship, prior to the very late nineteenth century, one feature of the rigging is the big stack of loops over the masthead, just above the top. Those loops get special treatment (at least in British and American practice). They're wormed (a lighter line is wound around the big rope to fill in the spaces between strands), parcelled (a strip of canvas is wrapped around the bight, making it noticeably thicker), and served (finished off with a tight, spiral-wound layer of light line). Then the whole thing is covered with tar. The result is a stack of heavy loops that goes a third or even halfway up the masthead.

This is one reason why experienced modelers hate those "pre-formed ratline assemblies." There's just no way to set those...things...up that reproduces the big pile of loops.

On my little model of the frigate Hancock (which is, I'm embarrassed to say, my most recent square-rigged ship) I imitated the appearance of the wormed, parceled, and served shroud loops by giving the loop a thick coating of artist's gesso just before putting the loop over the masthead, then painting it off-black when it dried. I'm pretty happy with the result.

The procedure I generally use goes like this. 1. Seize a deadeye into one end of the line that's going to be the first two shrouds. 2. Test fit the shroud up through the lubber hole and around the masthead, and mark where the loop needs to go. 3. Make the loop, by seizing the shroud to itself. Make the loop tight enough that it barely goes around the masthead. 4. Drop both ends of the shroud pair (one with the deadeye on it, the other without) through the lubber's hole and bed the loop firmly on the masthead. 5. Seize the other deadeye into the second shroud.

Then go on to the other side.

The temporary stay running forward from the masthead is a good idea - up to the point. I don't worry if the mast leans a tiny bit backward when the shrouds are done; then I can tighten the shrouds a little by setting up the stay really taut. (That's how it was usually done in real ships.

In my experience, one of the most challenging jobs in rigging is getting all those deadeyes lined up in a nice, straight line. That means judging the tension on the shrouds so they're all consistent. I know of no guaranteed trick for doing that. (Some folks make simple jigs to hold the deadeyes the right distance apart. I haven't tried that.) What makes particularly difficult is that it has to be done quite early in the rigging process, and in my case that means my fingers are badly out of practice. I usually end up sacrificing more than one pair of shrouds because I didn't get them tight enough.

The good news is that when you're done with all that you'll have a mighty impressive start for your standing rigging. Dave, you've done this several times before; I think you'll get most, if not all, your shrouds right the first time.

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

  • Member since
    December 2012
Posted by rwiederrich on Wednesday, October 28, 2015 9:42 AM

Dave...save yourself some real headaches.  Try this simple trick.  Set the first shroud from one side, around the mast then back to the opposite side.  Then set the rest in side to side fashion as normal. This simple trick secures the mast from flexing under strain from one side being set over the other.  The shroud will then be the first and placed under the rest...hiding your trick.

Start by siezing the first shroud, go up through the top, around the mast(Make shure you loop with the shroud in front). Then down to the opposing deadeye.  Once glued...follow by siezing the second shroud..up through the top, around the mast and then back down to the same side, taking its place as the third shroud.  Siez the paring shrouds under the top.

One other thing..set a temporaty for stay to counter the action of the shrouds and backstays.

 

Rob

  • Member since
    March 2012
  • From: Marysville, WA
Posted by David_K on Monday, October 26, 2015 6:55 PM

GMorrison, that's good advice about the shroud/ratline phenomenon....I've sometimes had the problem of the shrouds being fouled, or otherwise pulled out of alignment, during the tying of ratlines.

One other thing I've battled with is this:  After attaching a shroud to the appropriate tension (foremost shroud first), I'll alternate sides, but then as I get toward the aftmost shrouds of a particular mast, sometimes the foremost shrouds will have slackened up?  Has anyone tried working the shrouds from aft to fore, and does it eliminate the problem?  Has anyone else had that problem?  I believe the shrouds are supposed to loop over the mastcap (and stack up) in order from fore-to-aft, don't they?  So if I want to tension them aft-to-fore, I should run them all over the masts in the correct order, but then attach them with tension in the reverse?

Boy, that sounds really corn-fusing, doesn't it?
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 Monday, October 26, 2015 1:56 PM

On the subject of channels and pin rails.

I wouldn't offer specific advice to you, Dave as you are building more plastic sailing ships than I. I also sense I've exhausted my advice capital, understood.

Over the years, with plastic sailing ship models, one of the failure modes over time on the shelf is the pin rails coming off. If they are glued on with old fashion tube glue; my only reference to anything more than a couple of years old. When it happens, it's a nightmare because all of the lines belayed to them go slack and pull off in different directions. Getting them back where they belong, clamped and glued is a task.

It doesn't happen so much while rigging as it does when the lines get brushed against on otherwise tensioned later.

The same in my experience applies to the channels. I think the best way to avoid that is the afore mentioned "Stradivarius" approach. The bridge has little do do with it, the tuners at the scroll and the pegs on the tailpiece take all of the stress.

To the contrary, sailing ship models usually start by securing the lower deadeyes to the channel. The chainplates get added, or not on one other WIP around here, as visual trim pieces that don't solidly connect to the lower deadeyes. Would there be a way to do that? Sure, if you've preestablished your anchor points for the chainplate lower end, and can connect the strop around the deadeye to the upper end, if possible completely loose to the channel. I'd think that a piece of wire, glued into a hole in the hull, run up through the channel, stropped around the deadeye and then back down and twisted around itself would work pretty well. I don't think they are one of those things the viewer focuses on too much.

Good luck whatever you decide- I am excited about the rigging.

I recently read another interesting tip regarding ratlines. Using the template card behind the shrouds- a must- tie every fifth one and then go back and infill. It would seem to minimize the usual problem of compounding the stress inward from the sides as you tie.

 

Cheers,

 

Bill

 

 Modeling is an excuse to buy books.

 

  • Member since
    May 2003
  • From: Greenville, NC
Posted by jtilley on Monday, October 26, 2015 11:51 AM

For what little it's worth, I made the chainplates on my model of the frigate Hancock out of silk thread. Nobody's ever commented one way or another on them.

Just use some good, hard-surface thread - and paint it afterward. It might be worth trying making them out of brass or copper wire, mimicking the "thread" trick. If you pass the wire over a candle, it probably will become soft enough to tie into the necessary configuration.

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 Monday, October 26, 2015 8:50 AM

Thanks for the input, guys.

When I was assembling the hull halves, I drilled out the holes for the tiny plastic eyebolts (totally wimpy and would never hold up to the tension of the shrouds) and installed blackened brass eyebolts through the hull, bent over and firmly glued with CA.  The eyebolts are plenty stong enough now!  But, the channels are less than 1/16" thick and about 1/2" wide...I'm not gonna tempt fate by drilling pins though those super-thin boards.  I'm hopeful that the majority of the stress from the shrouds will be upon the eyebolts, and the channels will mostly get pressure TOWARD the hull, instead of up...like John said, channels act similarly to the saddle of a stringed instrument, with the chainplates taking most of the strain like a bridge and bridgepin.

That said, I also need to point out that I have absolutely no intention of using the shroudloom or whatever...Since my second model ship I've run my own shrouds and ratlines. 

*Steve, thanks for sharing that German thread...I've looked at it before.  It's worth mentioning that the builder of that SR actually did use the shroud and ratline loom!  Good on him, but so far I prefer making them myself in-situ.

Yep, Anderson does say that the type of chainplates used in that timeframe could be either/or....actual chain, or long bars.  If I'd known that before I started, I might have used chain and pinned it into the hull (as I did with my Golden Hind, yea those many months ago)...now that I have a hull bristling with eyebolts, I think I'll just go ahead with the faux plates made from black rigging line.  The examples I've seen look pretty good.  Basically, trying to make them from scratch would be terrifically time-consuming, and attemping uniformity of each part would be an exercise in frustration.  That kind of punishment is not why I like to build models! :)

Anyway, I'll try to get a few prototype chainplate revisions done this week, and when I find a method that I like, I'll proceed thusly...updates to follow.

Thanks!
Dave

 

 

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

Current Project:  Imai/ERTL Spanish Galleon #2

Recently Finished: Revell 1/96 Cutty Sark

Next Up:  ???

 

  • Member since
    July 2013
Posted by steve5 on Monday, October 26, 2015 2:00 AM

I don't know if you see this build or not dave , but it is worth a once over , it's in german and I think he is one of dafi's mate's .,  plastik noch eine soleil royal hellar 1/100. he goes into some pretty detailed rigging .

 

  • 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.

  • 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
    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
    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
    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 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
    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 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
    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
    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 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
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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 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
    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 8:43 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 8:34 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
    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
    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 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.

JOIN OUR COMMUNITY!

Our community is FREE to join. To participate you must either login or register for an account.

SEARCH FORUMS
FREE NEWSLETTER
By signing up you may also receive reader surveys and occasional special offers. We do not sell, rent or trade our email lists. View our Privacy Policy.