Life is short, break the rules. Forgive quickly, kiss slowly. Love truly, laugh uncontrollably and never regret anything that makes you smile. - Samuel Longhorne Clemens (Mark Twain)

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

The Christmas Project Part 1 - The HMS Frolic by Laser Dream Works

I have been waiting to start the build on the HMS Frolic till I had a couple of days off. I built the American Gunboat first as a prep to get ready for this much larger ship. That worked out okay, but I probably should have purchased one of the smaller ships like the HMS Lady Nelson or the USS Lee. Either of those would have been a better stepping stone up to this monster as they are similar in construction. That being said this is a well engineered kit and if you take your time and are methodical about it anyone can get this beast together without to much trouble. Don't let the size scare you! Just concentrate on the sub-assemblies and you will be fine. She measures about 25" from bow to stern and 34" when you include the bowsprit. (Although properly the bowsprit is part of the rigging and masts, I count it as part of the hull as far as length is concerned). My original idea was to use this as a pirate ship. I realize now that this is really much to big for a pirate ship and maybe even to big for a anti-pirate warship. If you are looking for pirate ships I would recommend the HMS Lady Nelson or the USS Lee, for something larger go with the British Brig or the Pirate Brigantine (to be honest I don't like the lines of the Pirate Brigantine but that's personal preference).

Like most every kit I have worked on I did make a few mistakes, most of these I was able to correct on the fly, and one caused me a lot of extra work as I didn't realize that I had made a mistake until something didn't go together correctly. I think a couple of these I could have avoided if the instructions had been more detailed. They are well written and understandable but could use a lot more pictures, particularly of some of the more complex assemblies. I would call these a beta set of instructions since I think there are only three copies of this kit out there right now. I'll outline in the pictures where I had some difficulties because of the instructions as well as those spots where I managed to screw up all on my own. I'll pass corrections along to Matt at Laser Dream Works and I'm sure that corrections will be made pronto! So let's move to the build!

First off we have the parts, and instructions:
The big cutout in the foam is where the masts, spars and other parts are placed for shipping

The two plywood sheets have a sticky plastic sheeting on them to keep all the parts in place during shipping. DO NOT REMOVE THE PLASTIC, that is unless you like having a small mountain of parts rattling around on your table. I found that it was much easier to push down on the piece through the plastic and pop it out the backside. This had the added benefit of leaving any cutouts clinging to the plastic instead of making a mess on the table. Of course you will find that pieces that didn't get completely cut through with the laser will have to be cut out with an x-acto knife. Keep a bunch of #11 blades handy for cutting purposes because the plywood will dull them quickly. Here is an example of some parts that didn't get completely cut through by the laser.
The front side. Looks good from here!
The backside, maybe a little deeper next time! In my case there was a whole strip moving up in an arc of pieces that the laser didn't punch all the way through.
The first assembly is the hull. You do have to shape the foam hull, this is much easier than you might think. You are just giving the look and feel of the lower hull and when its painted black no one is going to notice if it isn't the correct shape. Odds are they don't really know what the correct shape is either! I found that finer sandpaper than what is supplied worked better for me and I'm going to go back and see if I can seal it with something to help smooth it out. At that point I will also go in and shape it to the upper decks better. My stern section doesn't seem to be quite long enough so some filler is definitely needed there. Be sure that the glue has completely dried between the deck and the foam before you start sanding. Some nice heavy weights are needed to hold the deck in place while it dries. Seriously be patient and let it dry all the way before sanding!

Now we start the building up the sides, first up is attaching the ribs. There is a notch engraved on each of the ribs, be sure this is flush with the deck. A misalignment here makes things much more difficult later on. I'm still not quite sure if I made a mistake at this point or not but at the end the starboard side was taller than the port side. My port side is correct, the starboard side is in error and you can tell because the top of the ribs is doesn't come up flush with the top of the last set of planks like the port side does. Although I was more worried at getting the bow finished correctly when I discovered this it is far more noticeable in the stern. In the long run my gaming buddies aren't going to notice though. But pay attention to what you are doing. If I was doing it again I would dry fit a section of planks together on both sides to make sure that the ribs where placed correctly. Its also very important to pay attention the parts are layed out in the proper order. Initially I punched them out of the sheet as I needed them and still managed to reverse two numbers in the build sequence. After that I punched out all the parts for each layer and layed them on the deck in the proper order so I wouldn't make that mistake again. Not only are the parts specifically created for the curve of the hull but they also layout the ore holes and the cannon ports and a mistake here can give you something that isn't right for either. There are a lot of pictures in this section, and a whole lot more that I left out. I just try to show the basic build concept and point out a couple of my mistakes.
Nothing but ribs

First plank, port side.

The right way to lay out the parts. Numbering starts at the stern

The mistake I made here is why I started laying out the parts first. Can you see it?

This is where I discovered the mistake. I manged to reverse parts 15 and 16 which created an odd gap which I noticed when I layed out the parts for the next layer of planks. Fortunately I was able to get a knife under there and fix this mistake before the glue set.

A better shot of the out of sequence parts

Starting to look like something at this point!

The English ships draws American blood. This was one of the pieces that the laser didn't cut all the way and I wounded myself getting it out of the plywood sprue.

Clamps at attention.

Sigh, a mistake I missed. This section of the planks didn't set all the way down. I corrected this later with wood filler

 A critical assembly! This is what I call the shroud plank and its a single piece that runs from bow to stern. This is the point where you will discover just how straight some of your ribs really are!

Since this is build is even more picture intensive than most of my other builds I'll stop here and publish a Part 2. Part 2

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