A 143 feet long Dutch warship from 1681. Cardstock [COMPLETED BUILD]

Mar 20, 2020

Alkmaar, Holland
Perhaps you are interested in witnessing one of my builds. My system is fast and cheap and it hardly makes a mess of the workshop. Consider it as 'modelbuilding light'.

It always starts with a draught. Many times, if there are no useful drawings available, I have to develop them from scratch, like for instance an original specification contract. My loyal Belgium friend Rene Hendrickx works my suggestions out in the free downloadable shipbuilding program Delftship, so I can print the lines and body plan.

Fig. 16 Knipsel 2 kopie.JPG

I glue the frame prints to stiff card and cut them out. I use a stuff called grey-board, available at your art-supplier, but any stiff card you have in your dustbin will do.
I double the frames below lower deck level and cut slots in them to fit the deck.
I'm not sure if these pictures come from this particular project, but since there is little difference they will do.


Then the whole contraption is glued together.


Then the lines of the ship are decided by placing the lower wale. This is a tricky part, as there are very few points that can be used as a reference. Small deviations will end up in a terrible mess, so care has to be taken.


Then the frames are covered by strips of cardboard. I use a kind of soft and fluffy material, called 'wood board'. At the same time I removed the parts of the frames above deck level and doubled the inside with another layer of wood board.


Then I use filler to get rid of the angles. The nice thing of wood board is that it can be sanded (up to a degree) without delaminating. I also cut the lower gunports.


After dry-fitting the upper decks the upper gunports can be cut out. Don't bother to look at the pleasure vessel in the fore-ground, this is the first picture of the warship I made, showing it in a stage ready to be planked.


All this makes a very quick process. It only took a week to get to this stage. In fact I hardly noticed I was making this vessel, because I work on six or seven hulls at the same time and I completely forgot to take pictures of this one.
The whole hull below the upper wale is 'planked' with strips of wood imprinted, self adhesive white plastic, called c-d-plastic. Very cheap and it works easy, because with the use of a hair dryer they can be bend in the necessary curves.


After a primer I paint the hull above the waterline with Humbrol 64 and below with 28.
After a week of drying I brush a dark brown, called Van Dijks Bruin (from a tube), over the upper part. Immediately after that I wipe the brown off with a soft cloth, leaving paint in the wood print, so a suggestion of real wood is achieved.


Now I can finish the details like the carvings and painting. I found a ship that matches the size of this model, called Akerboom (oak tree), with the right number of guns.


The rest is a simple rigging job.
I always prepare my masts up to the stage that they can be fitted with sails on them. That way I can work on them, without forcing myself too long in the same attitude, leaving me with sour arms and shoulders. Another thing that has to do with age is that I leave both my deadeyes and my ratlines white until they are ready and I can finish them with a dark paint.

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When I will work on the rigging again I will keep you posted. I don't know when that will be, because I am a bit inconstant nowadays. There are a lot of projects waiting for me.


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Hi Ab,

Fantastic work, I love to see what is possible with such simple resources as paper and plastic strip.
Are these plans also available in Delfship?
I have been looking for the fluyt Molen as build by Herbert Thomesen, but it looks like this was build on your and Cor Emkes plans of the Zeehaen.
Thank you Tomek, Uwek and Maarten for your positive response.
Maarten: I would like to send you the Delftship file for the warship, but the system does not allow to send .fbm files. Try a PM, so I can send it by mail. It is relatively simple and has hardly any details, but for building purposes it was enough for me, so probably for you too. :)
I don't know which lines plan Herbert used for his fluit 'Molen', but his site shows that you are right. Of course we have other reconstructed fluit-plans in store.
Thank you Tomek, Uwek and Maarten for your positive response.
Maarten: I would like to send you the Delftship file for the warship, but the system does not allow to send .fbm files. Try a PM, so I can send it by mail. It is relatively simple and has hardly any details, but for building purposes it was enough for me, so probably for you too. :)
I don't know which lines plan Herbert used for his fluit 'Molen', but his site shows that you are right. Of course we have other reconstructed fluit-plans in store.
Hi Ab,

Thx for your quick reply.
Yes I also have your book of Dutch merchant ships of the 17th century and which contains three fluyten, and ships of abel tasman. For my next project I am thinking about the Fluyt Molen or the Langewijck or maybe another candidate if there are even nicer ships around. It will be a shell first build in scale range 1:48 - 1:30. Stil in research and build won t start before next year because I first need to finish my current project Royal Caroline but only work on it for a few hours a week.
I will download Delftship and PM you my details.
Thank you Ab,
Fascinating work and so good that you share it so others can understand, I will explore Delftship if I can find it
Congratulations and Regards
My compliments.
I would also be interested in this Delftship program.
A few years ago I worked with Autocad.
I would like to understand how you deal with the construction of the keel and the ordinates.
Making guns.

The trouble with building warships is the amount of guns one has to make, which is why I prefer to make merchant vessels :). But if guns have to be produced, it is much faster making them from paper/card then from any other material. Let me demonstrate my humble technique.

To start with I have a list of available guns, that is: 36, 24, 18, 12-pounders and two types of 6-pounders, a long one and a short one. These are all metal (bronze) guns, cast iron guns are a bit shorter and thicker. I took it from G.C. Dik's massive book about 'De 7 Provincien' and printed it at 1/77 scale.
afb 1.jpg

From that list I made the shapes for the pieces of paper to be cut. You can see them on the left of this picture.

Afb 2.jpeg

It is a very straightforward process of repetitive actions, starting with rolling tubes around a prepared stick with the right taper. The sides of the paper are glued together, but it is also possible to make almost massive tubes.

Then I double the aft half of the barrel with the other pieces of paper you see in the middle. Next I glue the decorative bands around the tube, made out of thin printing paper. For the muzzle I take a strip a little bit wider. Between the two middle ones I drill a hole for the axes, which is made of a piece of brass wire. Finally I add the backside with disks cut from paper or thin card with a punch. There are very cheap tongs to cut holes in leather belts in the market, which are quite useful if you don't have a set of punches. You can see what is needed right from the middle. The barrel can be supplied with all kinds of details like dolphins (in case of metal guns) or a crest on top or with the opening for the fuse, whatever you like. You can even make swivel-guns with this method, provided you can solder a gaff. They are on the right side of the picture.
This particular gun we are making here is a cast iron one, which can be painted matt black and finished with some graphite powder used for locks, to make them look more like iron. The metal ones can preferably be painted with a bronze paint, mixed with a considerable part of green. So far the barrel looks like this:

Afb 3.jpeg

Next the gun-carriages. They can be made from 1 or 1 ½ mm thick card. Plastic sheet works very well too, as can be seen here.

Afb 4.jpeg

But we were using card, which follows the same procedure. Bottom and cheeks are copied from the drawing and glued together with the shape of the gun-barrel taken for the width. The axles for the wheels are glued underneath. They are of 2 mm card and get another 2 mm strip between them, like an H. This way the gun can be glued to the deck and on top of that the wheels have a better landing. It hardly shows that there is no space between the axles and the deck, once the gun is placed in position. The wheels get another tiny disk on top to represent the axle and a hole is drilled in the sides. You can also glue narrow thin paper strips from the axles on to the cheeks, to represent the iron work with which the hole thing was put together.

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All and all as said a repetitive process, but at the end of the day most of the (in this case) 62 guns were ready. There were other repetitive jobs as well, but I dealt with them in my small paper tutorial.

Afb 7.JPG

Assembled the gun (total length 38 mm) looks like this:

afb 8.jpeg

Finally the ordnance can be placed in and on the model which makes its appearance much more grim than without them. But a man-of-war is a man-of-war...Afb 9.jpeg

Stay healthy,
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Great work you show, Ab!!! Thanks for encouraging all of us to deal more with cardstock than we thought about it before.

Is this nice bronze barrel the classic Dutch device for "handling your mother-in-law"? ;)
Riging a three-masted ship is a tedious affair. Not only because of all the repetitive work, but it is also a physical challenge, especially if you are older. Heavy arms, hurting backs and necks... tell me about it. So I tried to find a solution. For me the answer lies in preparing the masts with all its sails, blocks and lines before stepping them, after which only the stays, the shrouds and their ratlines and the braces, tacks and bowlines have to be done.
Here is a picture of how the mast is prepared. All ropes still have to be done, but the necessary blocks are already in position.


And here the sails are sprayed with starch and dried with a hair-dryer, modeling them in the shape I want. All necessary ropes are temporarily belayed at the foot of the mast. In a later stage they will be attached at the places where they should be.


In this case I was not out for bellowing sails, neither is my intention to picture the ship in a calm. I want an effect a bit like on this painting by Van de Velde, picturing a ship with all sorts of activity, not necessarily without wind, but not really sailing either, a situation which is rather difficult to perform.

het kanonschot kopie.jpg

When placed on the model it looks a bit like this, but only the fore mast has been done yet, the rest is next to come.


What I am trying to achieve is a natural looking ship in a normal situation, trying to avoid the classical model with all sails set and that's it. The model should create an atmosphere in my opinion. Just my 50 cents....