DeAgostini’s “Sovereign of the Seas”, Installment 11

Another good reason to leave your frames/bulkheads unglued– when fitting Installment 11’s deck panels, you’ll need to wiggle them around a bit to get everything together.

Deck parts. In ship building, squareness is next to godliness.

Also, the elevation of each bulkhead should be set pretty closely by the laser-cut notches in the keel… but that is never perfect! Instead, get the deck panels into position, and use them as a spline to align each bulkhead’s height. There is a curved sheerline to this deck, it’s not a straight line… so I plan to glue each bulkhead to the deck panels, then make any final height adjustments and finally glue the bulkheads to the false keel.

No need to do that now… I’d rather wait and see what is coming in future installments.

Loosely assembled

Loosely assembled

 

A few comments on the framing:
This type of frame is not visible in the model… it is like the armature inside a clay sculptor’s work… it is the foundation for the model’s visible details. So we want to get it as true as possible!

Also, it is inevitable that even this beefy false keel will develop some twist just sitting on the bench top. When it comes time to add the planking, each bent plank’s internal stresses will also try to warp the entire assembly. So I will be using either the kit’s build supports, or more likely, a frame support such as suggested in one of the early installments to keep everything straight.

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DeAgostini’s “Sovereign of the Seas”, Installments 5-10

I’ll lump these next steps together due to their similarity. Actually, #8 is omitted here… it is the devoted to a ship’s boat, which I’ll set aside until later. Indeed, many steps include parts which are reserved for future work… you’ll do well to bag and mark these for later identification.

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Adding a second extension to the false keel.

Installment 5 gives us another extension of the false keel, and another rib set.

BTW: This is a “plank on bulkhead” model. The terms vary a bit by modeling community, but with Age of Sail, “plank on frame” is reserved for builds which model the actual ship’s frames… a true feat of craftsmanship! “Admiralty models” usually feature partial planking, in order to display the ship’s internal timbers.

In earlier posts, I suggested NOT gluing any of the bulkheads in place yet. This allows the false keel sections to be added and clamped flat more easily, as shown above.

Cannon blocks

2nd cannon

#5 also gives instructions for further details on the cannon… I’ll get to that later.

#5 and #6 discuss a timely subject– display stands. You can set your completed model in a cradle, but many models are rigidly attached to pedestals, as shown below. If this is your preference, it’s time to make preparations NOW. DeAgostini doesn’t tell us yet if any sort of stand will be provided later… but some of their product photos show the model in a cradle.

Display stands

Display stands

Internal preparations for a display stand.

Internal preparations for a display stand.

#6 provides a couple more frames, while #7 gives us the final piece of the false keel and yet another frame. #8 is devoted to a ship’s boat (later), and #9 provides the final aft frames. One of these steps also included replacement rib pieces for frame #13, which I noted earlier to have a mis-designed dovetail. No matter, I fixed my first one, thanks!

Step 9- Last frame and transom supports

Step 9- Last frame and transom supports

Final frame completed.

Final frame completed.

Installment #10 goes forward to the bowsprit. This is easily assembled and then set aside, we’ll be attaching it sometime later.

Bowsprit assembly and keel pieces

These recent installments also include a few steps each in completing the little ship’s boat. If you jump around like I do, make sure to keep all your instructions in order and accessible. DeAgostini offers nice binders for the purpose– see their site or the flyers in each installment’s instructions.

DeAgostini’s “Sovereign of the Seas”, Installment 4

Here we have the entirety of Installment #4– a sheet of laser-cut parts.

Installment #4

Installment #4

Use a sharp knife to separate the parts from the main board… you should cut through from both sides, and do be careful about the skinny bits!

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Oops!

Frame part #13 has a mistake on one side- the dovetail doesn’t fit. A quick bit of razor saw work on the upper portion of 13a’s dovetail took care of matters. You may need to do a bit of sanding to make all the parts fit well.

Steps 1 through 4

Steps 1 through 4

And here’s what we have after the first four installments, the forward half of the hull (with all frames still unglued).

Like it? Visit DeAgostini’s website for more info!

DeAgostini’s “Sovereign of the Seas”, Installments 2 & 3

Living dangerously, I built installments 2 & 3 simultaneously. #2 gives us two frames that go behind the forward frame, and one more cannon. #3 provides yet another frame, a keel section, and an anchor.

Below are the frames from #2. The side parts fit nicely with dovetailed cutouts. Glue each into place and clamp or use weights to ensure the joint is flush. The center sections are also likely to suffer from some warpage.

Frames

Frames

#3 provides a keel section which also fits with dovetails.

Keel

Keel

After fitting the keel section, the joint is reinforced with “sister” plates; again, use weights to keep the joint flat.

Gluing the keel sections

Gluing the keel sections

As with the cannon, I’ll tackle the anchors as a set, when the other one arrives.

Anchor

Anchor

The instructions provide info on how you can optionally use a building board or keel clamp unit to assemble the model. Depending on the method used, you may wish to NOT glue the frames in place yet. I haven’t yet, because I am unsure of their alignment. Looking at the “knees” which support the upper decks, I see a curiously staggered alignment, even though each frame is solidly pushed into its slot in the keel. Is this drooping sheerline correct? Or is it something that requires correction? Again, with no overall plan, I can’t tell. So I’ll play it safe and leave the frames unglued for now.

Alignment?

Alignment?

#3 also provides a temporary support tool that fits into the forward bow formers (see above detail from the manual). It apparently is intended to hold the hull squarely upright in lieu of using a larger building board. We are instructed to build the support itself squarely… but, yes, it is warped like many of the other plywood parts! I may or may not use this… if I do, I’ll add reinforcing parts to straighten it out.

Warped bow support

Warped bow support

BTW: You do not have to build in a vacuum! DeAgostini has a forum at their website, so you can ask fellow modelers what they think of any given issue, and hopefully offer some solutions of your own!

DeAgostini’s “Sovereign of the Seas”, Installment 1

Each installment is packed in a flat mailer, containing a few more bits of the kit and a nice magazine (ok, “pamphlet”). The latter contains some history, some model building tips and inspiration, and clear instructions for this week’s part work.

Installment 1– parts of the bow and a cannon.

The first thing we see are a lot of pieces nicely laser-cut from 4mm plywood. All parts are numbered, and mating slots are numbered to match.

Helpful markings

Helpful markings: Part #4 goes into the #4 slot.

One problem: Plywood is often assumed to be a very stable medium, and we design parts to take advantage of its assumed flatness… but thin plywood is actually quite liable to warp. It can be straightened with strategically placed pieces at 90°… but in the example of the forward bulkhead here, there is no such stiffener.

Which leads to problem #2: While the instructions for each step are clear, there is no overall plan provided, at least not at this early stage. So I have no way to know what other parts will mate with this bulkhead in the future… perhaps a deck or other item will come along that can straighten out the bulkhead. Or perhaps I need to take action now to allow proper placement of other parts in the future… I just don’t know!

Warped-- what to do, what to do?

Warped– what to do, what to do?

Caution: While the laser cut tabs and slots may seem quite precise, they can never be good enough to guarantee an absolutely perfect fit by themselves. As we start to assemble the bow formers to the forward bulkhead, it is clear that we need to use some guides to assure that various parts are glued at 90° to one another. But see the two center formers? They make a sandwich with the forward keel section. If the two bow formers are not spaced perfectly, as well as being set at 90°, then the keel won’t fit in correctly.

ALMOST perfect alignment

ALMOST perfect alignment

So here, I used the keel itself as a spacer whilst gluing the bow formers, and the machinist’s blocks help to ensure perpendicularity.

All clamped up and nowhere to go.

All clamped up and nowhere to go.

After the formers are set, the forward keel section can be placed in its final position and glued with full confidence of a proper fit.

Slide in the forward keel section and glue.

Slide in the forward keel section and glue.

Along with the wood work, DeAgostini throws in a cannon mini-kit to whet our appetites for future detail work. The cannon includes a very nicely cast barrel with fine details, which needs just a bit of fettling.

Cannon subassembly

Cannon subassembly

The instructions show how to finish the cannon… but I KNOW there are a lot more cannon to come, and I’d just as soon do jobs like painting on a whole batch of them… so after a bit of assembly work, the parts are set aside until later.

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“Sovereign of the Seas”– Let the Fun Begin!

The "first" installment

The “first” installment

I’ve agreed to review the Sovereign of the Seas kit from DeAgostini.  It should be interesting– while I am an experienced model builder, I have not been building “age of sail” display models, so much of this will be new to me. And as the installments will come to me at an undisclosed pace (due to my remote location from DeAgostini’s usual customer base), the excitement of waiting for the mailman will be even more acute than for those in the UK.

Due to my late start here, the first installment arrived with the first thirteen packets… normally, I believe, these arrive every week or two, allowing you to take on this large elephant of a model a bite at a time. Due to my current commitments, I’ll be getting started shortly (but not immediately!).

DeAgostini SotS website

DeAgostini’s “Sovereign of the Seas”

Detail- HMS Sovereign of the Seas

Makers of model ship kits face some existential challenges: Fewer young people have been raised with the model-building tradition (bodes ill for the future), and we baby boomers who do enjoy model building have many other distractions competing for our limited expendable income. Then there is the sticker-shock that comes with quality model kits, the time commitment for building models, and the doubts that many potential model builders have about their abilities to pull off a good build. But the UK firm DeAgostini may have the answer, and other kit producers may do well to observe and learn. First, DeAgostini has chosen a limited (but growing) list of popular subjects, allowing them to focus the needed time on complete product development. By “complete”, I mean not just the box full of parts, but thorough documentation of the subject and the build process, and assuring that the kit design can actually be assembled without the builder needing to re-engineer the whole thing (Billing Boats, are you listening?). Next, DeAgostini spreads the cost and the build itself over time, which makes the purchase a little easier to rationalize— they offer a subscription with 135 payments of £5.99 ($9.60) for the SotS spread over about 2 years. This seems easier than laying out $1300 in one chunk… it becomes almost invisible, like buying a Starbucks coffee every day! The subscription itself is novel, consisting of a magazine/practicum installment, along with the next few bits of kit to assemble. These arrive at your doorstep at the rate of one per week, which should easily allow you to keep up with the build without overwhelming your available time. I have signed up, and am looking forward to reporting more on the build itself in the near future. Some more on the model:

  • Depicts the famous gilded ship, launched in 1637 .
  • With over 100 guns, the largest and heaviest armed ship of her day.
  • It’s a big model, at 1100 mm long in 1:84 scale.
  • Plank-on-bulkhead construction
  • Lots of labor saving parts: Laser-cut frames, presewn sails, machined metal castings, etc.
  • More info at DeAgostini’s site, http://www.model-space.com/gb/ships/hms-sovereign-of-the-seas/

The DeAgostini web site includes other content too: Other products, modelers’ forum, tutorials, Encyclopedia of Ships, and more.