musings while allatsea

Musings of a curious individual

Tag: scratchbuild

Post-Mortem: RMS St Helena model

Continuing from where we last left off

Weeks in the making, my 1/1250ish RMS St Helena is almost finished. Large scale construction has ceased and I am left with a model that is more or less completed. The end result looks like the ship, as long as you stand very far away ūüė• There are numerous mistakes and skew lines and poor paintwork on her, but that can partly be blamed on my constant chopping and changing of the ship as I experimented.

The image above was actually done deliberately as I wanted to convey the long voyages that the ship makes on her trips between South Africa and St Helena.  Think of it as paying homage to a small ship on a big ocean.  Unfortunately my model does not do the ship justice, and one day I will probably start a new one.  This week I found out that Rhenania made the RMS St Helena model that I had seen before and they do not re-issue models once the initial run is completed. 

Quite by accident I managed to lay my hands on an Oceanic built RMS St Helena. It is probably made of lead and is really a very poor rough casting. It came with 3 lifeboats, a funnel and the double crane assembly. Unfortunately the casting is rough and pitted and looking at it realistically it will be very difficult to complete. It will however make a very good basis for a new scratchbuild  iteration of the RMS, The other alternative is to created the superstructure walls out of plastic card and glue them onto the very roughly cast vessel, I have not made a decision yet though, I still need to experiment a bit more.

Snags and booboo’s that I have made in the construction of the ship:

Hull:

The wood I used worked well, it sanded cleanly and was ¬†workable with the tools I had. However the hull was seriously flawed. The well deck is too long and there shouldn’t be a step between the forepeak and the area behind it. If anything the real ship does not have much of a sheer, the sheer is created by the bulwarks surrounding the forepeak. The knuckle that exists is not easy to fabricate, I would really need to create a hull that has the fine shape and then create the deck above it that has a slightly fatter shape and mate them together. Getting a bow right is always a pain. It makes sense to start the ship by creating the bow and then work backwards instead of the other way around. I may just create a fake hull and try recreate the bow to see how it comes together.¬†

The area at the deck level aft of the large hatch really needed to be reworked to the point where the gangway area is cutaway before mounting A and B decks.  

The aft mooring deck on my model is too small, I suspect It worked that way because I originally had the stern wrong. The stern is different to what I thought it looked like, but then it has been many years since I sailed on her.

The superstructure that I fabricated was reasonably close to what it should be, but its edges are skew and the individual decks turned out slightly wrong.  The bridge area became messy as I could not settle for the bridge that I wanted. It turned out to be slightly too big and as a result of that I was not able to add on the bridge roof that shaded the area by the wheelhouse doors and bridge wing. 

The pool area… I cannot remember what that looked like, and they seem to have altered it slightly since I was last on the ship.

Fittings and fiddly bits:

Davits… bugbear number 1000000. I made the mistake of trying to create conventional davits the way they look on ships, it did not work. I ended up creating a őď shape, drilling into the superstructure to support the one end and adding the lifeboat on the flat area. Then I mounted the uprights with their curved shape next to the platform and utilised the superstructure wall as a gluing point. That made them reasonably workable, but they do not look great. The least said about the lifeboats the better. There are 2 different style boats on the ship and you need to make both. They are small, the size of a grain of rice, getting them anywhere near what they look like is difficult.¬†

My mast ended up odd, I may relook what I have because it really does not work well for me. The problem is that the 2 legs are sloped backwards and I made them the wrong way around. There are also two platforms that house the radar gear. I have not added them or any of the associated monkey island equipment. 

The pair of cranes turned out reasonably well, I eventually changed the cable to a thin wire painted black and was reasonably happy with the outcome. However, because of the long well deck I ended up with having to make one boom longer than the other.¬†The twin derricks were similarly strung with wire, but they did not come out well and ended up hampering my work on the front of the superstructure. I shouldn’t have mounted them when I did and left them for almost last. ¬†My aft crane is somewhat of a mess. As far as I recall it was stowed facing forward. There was not enough space on that pool deck area for it to face forward.¬†

Did anything go right?

No, it turned out to be somewhat of a disaster. However, having completed my ship I am happy to say that she does bear a resemblance to the RMS, and I probably won’t attack her with a saw again. She certainly will not end up at the breakers, but will be a good example of how not to build something on this scale. It would be very much easier to build a larger scale model, but my ship collection is comprised of 1/1200 and 1/1250 models so I would like to fit her in with that.¬†

Closeup? 

I have retouched some of the paintwork on the computer and the portholes have to be redone because they are terrible. But to do that I need to get 2 coats on the superstructure.  I really need a break from building her though, and will see how it goes from then.

And that is where we stand today. The big question is:¬†“Is she finished?”

The reply is: “yes and no. Ask again next week”.

Postscript:

Since writing this post I took the ship and removed the “portholes and windows”, made a change to the stern deck, repainted the hull and superstructure, added exhausts to the funnel, an antenna on the bridge, a flag staff aft and lost a lifeboat. I then had to make a new lifeboat and mix paint to create orange, mounted the new boat and painted all 4 boats because getting a perfect colour match is impossible. It never really ends does it? tonight when I get home I will be relooking those “portholes and windows” and touching up paint. I have since rebuilt the mast and am currently relooking the pool area. This is what it looked like way back when I sailed on her.

The ship is now officially completed, and has set sail for the inside of my display cabinet. It was fun, and now I have nothing to do at night anymore. bah humbug, that’s ok because I have 2 new ships to work on, namely the SS France and HMS Tiger. That ought to keep me amused until I start on the original St Helena.¬†

© DRW 2017-2018. Created 26/05/2017

Updated: 01/01/2018 — 16:57

Building the RMS

*Click here for the 20/05/2017 update*

I have always wanted a model of the RMS St Helena, but they always evaded me because there are not too many available in the first place.  The easiest way to get one is realistically to scratch build one and see what that turns out like. There are however, a few problems with that scenario. The first being: where do I get plans from?

A line drawing of the ship is easy to find, I have quite a few on my computer as it is.

I have been lugging around lots of images of the ship since she first entered service, and amongst my stuff is the A&P Appledore publicity handout above. That will serve as the basis of my project. 

Problem number 2 is that while I do have accommodation plans of her, I do not have a top view of her, so there things are going to be somewhat icky.

Interestingly enough a 1/1250 waterline model does exist, and I have been “in the market” as they say. However, they are very scarce and probably way out of my budget range. My usual supplier, Tim at Convoy Models managed to lay his hands on one, and this is what it looks like. I was fortunate enough to get one myself and she is a very poor model and the casting is pitted and rough. But, she may be usable as a source of measurements for a new scratch build project.¬†¬†

I have a sneaky suspicion that this was a concept that never reached fruition, probably because the RMS is not one of those well known glamorous Cunarders that everybody swoons over (or should I say used to swoon over?). She is a working ship and is really a hybrid between cargo ship and cruise ship.

**Update 12/2017**

I have since managed to acquire one of those models myself and it is a very poor casting with the port side superstructure needing a lot of attention. I have since commenced work on the ship and have managed to fill some of the holes in the superstructure and hull and it looks as if I will be be completing this model, at least to a point where it is recognisable as being the RMS. 

Continuing with the original post…

The RMS in London in June 2016 on what was supposed to be her final trip.

The ship is 105 metres long, and according to my handy scale converting tool, a 1/1250 model should be about 84 mm long, with a beam of 19,2 mm (15 metres). The problem is… how do I scale the drawing down to that size? I first printed out the image and then tried a few things but kept on hitting a brick wall. Eventually I decided to shrink the image down to the size I needed on a scanner. Some rough calculating and trial and error led me to reduce the size of the drawing by 34% which left me with a image roughly 86 mm long. ¬†¬†

Now, what will I use to build it with? I have some balsa wood hanging around from when I modified my display cases and I managed to create a block of balsa longer than 85mm and 15mm wide. Theoretically, if I then attach my reduced scale image to the block, then mark the specific sizes onto the top of the block I will have something that theoretically should look like the RMS! I used the term “theoretically” because there is no guarantee that it will work, or that I will ever finish the project.¬†

The really irritating thing is that back in South Africa I have a proper plan of the ship which I got from one of the officers on board her in 1993 when I sailed on her. It never occurred to me to bring the plans back with me in April, but then I had too many other things on my mind at the time.  

So, where do I sit now? I am cutting out the image and affixing it to my balsa block and will then see how viable it is to build the superstructure as a separate entity and affix it to the hull once I have created the hull. It is early days yet, and I only really work on this sort of thing over a weekend. 

So, this is part one of my ongoing project to build an RMS. I have not scratch built anything in ages, so may just give up at any juncture, it really depends on what I can do with the limited tools that I do have at my disposal. Ideally I would have preferred a harder wood for the hull, but Balsa should work, at least for the MKI. 

After finishing this post I worked a bit more on the ship and after basic the results look something like this:

At this point I am convinced that shedding the accommodation block may be a good idea. It may be better to build it separately than to try hack what is there already. The Balsa wood is easy to work with but it splinters easily and it is going to be difficult to smooth out the vertical sides. I may try get some Jelutong or Basswood and start from the bottom again. But, I will see, it is early days yet. I do however need to get wood filler, some plasticard and a sealant/varnish so that I can seal the Balsa. I will think about it.

A few days later…

Today is the 20th and between when I first posted and now a number of things happened.

Firstly I sent the balsa model to the breakers. It was just not working out. I did some homework and was not able to source Jelutong or what is known as “basswood”, if it was available the sizes were way out of what I was looking for. However, the remnants from my display cases did provide me with a length of wood which is a millimetre thinner than what I needed. However, I will not tell if you won’t. I marked up the sizes and used my handy saw to cut out a rough shape. This morning I was sanding like crazy and the end result is as follows…

However, when creating the bow I hit a snag that I will have to work around. The ship has a decided “knuckle” as well as a very raked bow. I was not able to recreate that effect so may end up having to revert to some judicious use of a filler and I will have to sleep on that problem. The one option I do have is to to slice off the deck and create a new piece and glue it in place. You can see the knuckle in the image below.

 

Her accommodation looks like this ¬† ¬†——————->¬†

The red area on “B” Deck is¬†a recessed area on her superstructure that is the entrance to her insides, and where the weather deck access is and the gangway is stowed. I am not quite sure how to deal with that yet.

“C” Deck does not have to be created as it is below the weather deck level. and apart from the recess I do not have to do much work on it either.

“A” deck is more or less where my superstructure is at now, however, I may need to add a section to increase the height of A deck. The biggest problem that I do have is the height of each deck. I suspect they are roughly 2,5 metres high, allowing for about 7 foot ceilings with the remaining void being used for pipes and cables.¬†

The Prom deck and upwards are the major bits of accommodation that I have to build. Above the prom deck is where I am having to refer to memory. There are two deck levels above it, and the first level is slightly shorter than the prom deck but is the same width as it (after looking at pics I am not quite so sure of that anymore). This is the level where the lifeboats are, and their davits terminate at prom deck level. The pool is also on the prom deck and there is a recessed cargo hatch on that deck. 

Above that deck is the navigating bridge and chartroom and I think the radio room is there too. The funnel is partly on top of that deck, and it houses the mast too. 

Navigating bridge

Funnel and mast

The ship has had a few structural modifications to her accommodation, but I am really going for the look of the ship as she was when I sailed on her. Incidentally, her hull colour is “Oxford blue”. I have not really considered the weather deck, I need to fabricate 2 cranes as well as hatches and deck machinery, and that will not be easy.

On Sunday I did some exploration work with balsa and technically this is what it may look like.

What have I discovered?

The deck above the Prom is possibly a bit too short, but given that there is a pool there and cargo hatch it may be right. I need to bear in mind that aft mooring deck is not properly done yet either. That will cut down on available deck space. ¬†The deck around the ¬†bridge area can be walked around, so it needs to be smaller than the deck below it. The funnel shape needs careful consideration because it is kind of distinctive. Then there are bridge wings to add, and of course the angled side to the superstructure ends. There is a ladder in that area so I may have to experiment more in that area. Balsa ain’t gonna work! ¬†Davits! I need davits!

Yesterday I was looking at my Leda Model which is 1/1250 as well, and she does present me with interesting comparison and references for cranes, lifeboats and superstructure. 

Leda was 133 metres long which is a bit longer than the RMS so it isn’t too hard to make a comparison. However, against the Leda my RMS is out of scale.¬†

So this is where we are now. If you hear any woodworking noises you at least will know that they come from me.

27/05/2017.

Where are we now? I managed to get some 2mm plastic and have been reworking the superstructure block. The plastic works quite easily and can hold a sharp edge and doesn’t splinter. However, I still have to find an adhesive that will attach it to the wood hull.

The funnel started out as a rough shape and may not be the final shape I want so it may be redone. However, I still need to make changes to the superstructure decks. I have deliberately created the block wider than it should be so that I can file everything square once it is mounted because the RMS does not have a lot of curves. I have also cut away the gangway points in the hull. With hindsight though I really need to file that open deck area down by at least 2 mm more and raise bulwarks on that deck to maintain the deck height and sheer line. Naturally I have no idea what I can use to do this (it always happens). Scrap plastic anybody? 

27/05/2017 much later that afternoon.

I attacked my ship with a file and dropped the well deck level considerably, certainly lower than it was and after much work was rewarded with this…

I also measured her up against my 34% image and she is very close to the image in proportions. I am seeing progress at last, but tomorrow is another day.

It is now tomorrow. I added in some bulwarks and redid the 2nd layer off the superstructure block after getting an image from somebody that cleared up the area for me. The one mistake I cannot rectify is the bow shape and after adding in the bulwarks it made the bow even steeper. The only real way to solve the bow problem is to reshape it from scratch and that will impact on the length of the ship. I have decided to stick with what I have and to complete the ship anyway. I have come far enough with it and do not feel like building another hull. Once day I will create another, but not this week/month. I added in a sheet of plastic under the bridge and trimmed it to support bridge wings that I have made out of small pieces of wood. I may change that to proper bridge wings if I can figure out how. Thin brass would be nice. 

I also painted the hull in a rough coat of blue and white and assembled the ship as it is. The funnel is still the temporary one.

And here she is. I think she is starting to look like the RMS! I need to add the screens around the pool area which will extend the accommodation block and fill that empty deck area, and consider how I will create hatches for the well deck and foredeck. And at some point I need to glue the superstructure blocks together and file them smooth. But that will not happen in this blogpost. Anything done after today will end up in next months posts. 

Continued ¬†thataway ——————–>forwardbut

© DRW 2017-2018. Created 15/05/2017. Updated 20/05/2017.

Updated: 24/12/2017 — 11:48
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