Soleil Royal by Heller - an Extensive Modification and Partial Scratch-Build by Hubac’s Historian

Hubac’s Historian

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Because I am just an incredible conversationalist - not awkward at all ;) - I asked the dental tech at my last crown reconstruction whether he had hobbies, and if he had ever considered ship modeling, in particular.

He offered a friendly, if somewhat baffled “no.” And, I went on to explain why I would have asked that question; in a thoroughly engrossing way, of course!

In my mind - I thought I might have found a new recruit to The ShipCraft Guild of New York. Not on this particular visit, anyway. Despite his skill, he was not a hobbyist. Such a waste of latent talent in this world!

Anyhow, I would think that you could do quite a lot with the Mamoli Victory. Start a build-log, and I will happily sign-on.
 
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Hubac’s Historian

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When considering something as complicated as Soleil Royal’s stern; that is, while trying to figure out how, exactly, to get from here (sheet plastic) to there, I have found it useful to consider the ensemble as a series of layers. There is a base layer of detail, a middle layer of detail, and a final fine layer of detail. And, in certain instances, there may even be a few additional, even finer layers.

In order to illustrate this build-up of layers, here is a more or less sequential montage of the process as it relates to the stern counter:

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After each layer is set, be it planking or paneling, the surface is sanded fair and smooth, in order to eliminate any surface irregularities. Here and there a touch of squadron white was necessary to level surfaces - particularly, on the side sections where any unevenness in the ground would be glaring, as seen through the panel reveals. The edges of all the panel reveals are micro-beveled, in order to give them a more finished appearance.

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I mentioned before that I would wait to define the concave bevel around the crown of the rudder head ornament. I was waiting until after this bottom moulding of the central panel was installed.

Making this moulding, as well as the blank for the lambrequin carving, was accomplished by pressing blue tape across the span and into the joints of the central pedestals so that I could highlight these parameters with graphite.

This process doesn’t always produce absolutely perfect patterns - it is sometimes difficult to tell whether the tape is absolutely all the way into the crease - but they are close enough, so that you can fine-tune the fit of parts, after leaving yourself a little margin around your pencil lines - say the additional thickness of a pencil line.

In the end, I am very satisfied with the impression that the crown is recessed into the counter. When I started this whole process, I really wasn’t sure how it was going to come out. This gives me renewed hope that the surgery I will attempt on the Four Seasons figures will work. Despite the challenges these plastic surgeries present, they are still an enormous time-savings, over making the carvings from scratch.

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Hopefully, these pictures provide a sense of the many layers involved in constructing this stern counter area. There is a lot going on, here, in a very limited space. In recognition of that fact, one must consider just how nitty into the gritty they are willing, or is even sensible for them to delve. At some point, there is an intersection of will and reason, and that is the place you are aiming for.

Take, for instance, the lambrequin carving, as it was drawn by Berain. He shows 15 full “petals” with half-petals at the ends. Each petal is adorned with a fleur-de-lis, and three pendant tassels hanging from their bottom edge.

Thinking back to my experience of carving mould-masters for the frieze fleurs, I estimate that it would be damn-near impossible to carve lambrequin fleurs in this scale. Theoretically, I could use something like Liquitex gel medium to paint on the fleurs, thus producing a light relief. I am not yet confident, though, that I could do this with any semblance of consistency. I will try to incorporate this technique a little later, when I represent the tasseling.
There is, on the other hand, at least one ready-made source of fleurs that would be perfect for this application; the stock fleurs that are moulded into the kit upper bulwarks! With these ornaments in mind, the lambrequin petals were scaled, accordingly, and I ended up with 10 full petals, bookended by half-petals.

Here is a brief montage showing the steps for creating the lambrequin carving:

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Using two-part latex mould medium, I made moulds directly from my spare upper bulwark pieces, and then cast the blanks in white resin. As opposed to the larger ornaments, for which you must laboriously grind away the excess backing material, these fleurs are so shallow that I could simply shave them off with a honed single edge razor. With just a little extra cleanup, using a #11 blade, they were ready for mounting.

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Once tacked in place with liquid cyano, I brushed the whole lambrequin carving with liquid cyano to ensure total adhesion and to smooth over any surface irregularities of the carving. The back of the lambrequin carving had to be coved with a rubber profile sanding block so that it would cup neatly to the counter. I think the scale and overall aspect of the carving harmonizes nicely with the rest of the counter.

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Now that I know the full projection of all of these layers, I could begin to make the bottom and top mouldings that frame-in the counter.
I had great success with constructing a stacked moulding for the transom moulding, so I decided to take the same approach for the bottom counter moulding.

First, I pared away enough of the pedestals, at their base, so that I could pass the first layer of the moulding behind them. This layer has a tiny coved reveal, and it’s primary purpose is to conceal the inletting of the acanthus bases of the jaumier ornament:

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The overhang, at the ship’s sides is exaggerated, for now, but it will soon be backed with a thicker piece of styrene sheet (for a better sense of depth), and then trimmed to the pencil line. This way, the outboard profile of the counter won’t interfere with the paneling of the quarter gallery, but will instead, help to define it.

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The next layer of moulding is a heavier piece with a more pronounced cove moulding. This is fitted between the pedestals:

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The trick, with the above layer of moulding was to fair back it’s bottom edge, in order to create an even reveal for the final component of this triple-stack moulding. I was hoping to preserve the tiny cove reveal at the bottom of this assembly; as you will see, the results aren’t absolutely perfect, but it still looks good, IMO.

So, finally, pre-shaped ¼-round Evergreen moulding runs straight across all of the pedestal base bottoms, leaving just enough space for the scrolled foot appliques that are shaped from half-round Evergreen moulding:

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Now that the pedestals are located and the bottom counter moulding is in place, I could finally place the caryatid carvings, which I had previously separated from their base:

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Next, I will lay out and fabricate the top counter moulding. You can see that the projection of the counter/false gallery is quite significant. This is actually a good thing, as it creates a deep enough shelf for the four seasons figures to sit upon:

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Lastly, early in my conversations with various scholars of the epoch, almost all of them commented on the apparent exaggerated projection of the pedestal that supports the figure of Autumn:

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Now, granted, as it’s drawn the pedestal only appears to be supporting Autumn, without any indication that you might also be seeing a portion of the inner pedestal that supports Summer.
Nevertheless, an interesting thing happened, once all pedestals were in place, at their full projection:

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While I’m more or less eyeballing all of this, in terms of how thick the layers should be and how that might impact the final depth of the counter, I do think it is reasonable to say that the central projection of the counter would likely produce a similar side view, in full-scale practice. I’m not positive whether this is architecturally right or wrong, but it is interesting, nonetheless.

In closing, just a few perspective shots showing all of the work on the stern, to date:

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This is not a perfect, or exact recreation. The execution is not flawless. Overall, though, the impression and resemblance is quite good. That is what all of these successive layers of detail make possible, and there remain a few small details (rudder hinges, lambrequin tassels, etc), before this section of the model is complete.

More to come…. Thank you for your likes, your comments and for looking in!

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Hubac’s Historian

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In designing the upper counter moulding/shelf, I began by scribing a piece of styrene to neatly fit the round-up, against the window plate, and I then traced the outline of the counter onto the bottom of this blank.

Ultimately, I settled on an overhang of a light 3/32”, all around. At first, I thought the outline of the shelf should follow the ins and outs of the pilaster bases:

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But this seemed rather busy, the negative spaces between projections too small, and the overall design seemed to betray Berain’s intent. So, for the outline, I settled upon this:

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After trimming to my lines, I made sure to make a duplicate tracing - just in case I screwed up the moulding process:

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I made a pair of hacksaw profile scrapers; one for the shelf, and one for the secondary lamination, beneath the shelf:

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My first attempt for the shelf scraper produced a profile that was too deep and too flat looking, as seen on this piece of scrap:

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So, I reground the profile, and ended up with this:

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The scraper gets pretty close into the corners, but you still need to define them with a chisel, afterwards.

The under-moulding is very narrow, so I first scraped the cove into the straight edge of a larger sheet, and then I “ripped” off the 1/16” that I needed.

Just as I would with full-scale trim, everything is mitered. When dealing with parts so small, I find it easier to tack in the short pieces, over-long, and then fit the long pieces to them.
Miters are first cut into the long pieces and then traced directly onto the shorts for perfectly mating joints:

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Here is how that looks on the model, from a variety of angles:

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To answer EJ’s question from an earlier post, I can now see that there will be ample air space behind even the side figures, so I will definitely be including the pilasters.

At the moment, I am working out the fixation of the window panes, so that I can paint the window openings yellow ocher, and then secure the window plate and upper transom moulding in place.

Thank you all for your interest!
 

Hubac’s Historian

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Thank you Jim, and Ziggy!

Scrapers are something I just learned from Dan Pariser. It is surprisingly easy to do with Dremel grinding wheels, and even the mediocre needle files I possess.

I have tried, in the past, to upload phone video to Model Ship World, with zero success. I could not seem to reduce the file size, so that they would load. Not even breaking the 10 minute video down into two minute segments seemed to work.

I’ve noticed that Andre Kudin seems to post his content on YouTube, with a hot-button link. Maybe that’s the answer.

I could do a photo tutorial worth thousands of words, but video would be worth millions of words. I have to make a number of additional profile scrapers for this project, so there will be ample opportunity for a tutorial.

If anyone out there has advice on posting video content, I’d sure like to hear it.
 

Jimsky

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I’ve noticed that Andre Kudin seems to post his content on YouTube, with a hot-button link. Maybe that’s the answer.

I could do a photo tutorial worth thousands of words, but video would be worth millions of words. I have to make a number of additional profile scrapers for this project, so there will be ample opportunity for a tutorial.

If anyone out there has advice on posting video content, I’d sure like to hear it.
Hello Mark, Andrey posted just a hyperlink to his uploaded Youtube videos. If you have already in possession youtube Videos is just a matter of posting a link (see below tutorial)


However, if you don't have video in-hand, no worries. A picture tutorial will definitely do, we will absolutely appreciate it! Many thanks in advance!
 

Hubac’s Historian

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So, as I try to close this chapter of the build, I got busy tying up a few if the loose ends.

In preparation for securing the window plate, I thought it would be helpful to do a few things, in advance. Rather than attempt to paint the inner lip of the window frames with the glass in place, I pre-painted this inner reveal.

I have come to realize that the artists’ acrylics I used for the deadworks are exceedingly fragile, and so - going forward, I will use purpose-made model acrylics wherever possible.

To that end, I mixed a Tamiya primary yellow with a medium brown Tamiya shade until I was satisfied with my resulting yellow ocher color. I mixed brown, drop by drop, into the yellow bottle, so that I will have enough ocher to paint everything on the model, without having to re-mix and try and match shades.

Following Druxey’s advice, acetate sheet was scribed with a sharp knife and medium-grey acrylic was wiped into the lines. This was all reasonably straight-forward, and produced excellent results.

My initial plan was to glue-in L-angle styrene strip, to the vertical bulkheads, and a ledge strip to the inner bottom edge of the window plate, so that the individual panes would be housed and well supported, but floating. I quickly realized, though, that the positioning of the mullions, relative to the window opening will not always be ideal, if the loose pane shifts from side to side.

With that in mind, I took a spare test pane (one of the QG side lights that I botched during the engraving process), and test-tacked it to styrene strip, with medium viscosity CA. It did not result in the dreaded cyano blush.

With the success of that experiment, I decided to apply CA along the inner crease of the bottom ledge and one small tack dot of CA in the top center of each pane (behind what is the ornamental cartouche, on the exterior). This all worked out neatly enough:

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In hindsight, because the vertical bulkheads are relatively deep, it would have been beneficial if I had painted their sides flat black before fitting them to the model.

Unfortunately, I did not do so, and the perfectionist in me refuses to make a gloppy mess of black paint work, after the bulkheads were fixed in place; access, here, is severely limited.

In compromise, I decided to blacken the visible surfaces of the L-Angle, since there would not be any glue applied there. In the following picture, I have blacked-in half of the supports:

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On the other hand, I refused to compromise on simulating with paint, the impression of hull depth for the stern chase ports. Access, here, is limited, but a little better.

After brush priming this area, as well as the port linings with ModelMaster flat white - which laid-down beautifully, BTW, and allayed my concerns about brush-priming the stern - I blacked-in the inner bulkhead surfaces, but not completely. I left most of what I wanted to show as red-ocher, in primer white. The blacking was merely approximate and done by eye.

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Knowing that I would be doing this, I had saved the bulkhead pattern and now used it to cut four sets of opposed masks that created a parallel line with the profile of the transom.

This was very fiddly and could only be accomplished with tweezers and a palate knife to finesse the tape into position. Once satisfied and the tape edges burnished, I applied some clear dull-coat to the seam, in order to prevent any annoying bleed into the black.

In hindsight, I could have made these reveals a little thinner, but the impression is still good, and at least the depth is consistent from one port to the next:

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I scraped away any ugly black paint over-brushing, just to quiet the voices in my head.

And, finally, I glued in the window plate, the top transom moulding and the side pilasters:

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I discovered, after doing so, that I had made a mistake in trimming the pilaster tops flush with the window plate; the mistake is that I had failed to accommodate the raking angle of the stern, so I will eventually have to fill a gap between each of the pilaster tops and the wrapping stern balcony above them. This, of course, is the beauty of plastic - I can make this edit fairly easily by splicing-in plastic shims.
One last shot of the transom interior, showing all of the interior structure:

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I gave the model a good dusting, as I will bring it to our club meeting tonight; I was astonished at how much plastic dust had accumulated, so far. I’ll have to be more mindful of that, now, as these windows will soon be completely inaccessible.

As ever, thank you for looking in, your likes and your comments. It is all very much appreciated.
 

Uwek

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Wonderful Work - just amazing what you are able to produce with styrene - magic Thumbsup
BTW: I know in principle this kind of material - when I was a student I made architecture-models out of this material in order to earn money....... but definitely not comparable to your amazing work
 

Hubac’s Historian

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Thank you very much, Uwek! And thank you to everyone for your likes and looking in.

I have to say that it has been quite amazing to me what can be done with styrene. Some day, I would like to be building in wood. For now, though, this is very satisfying, indeed.
 

Hubac’s Historian

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It seems as though the smallest of details have been taking the longest time to get in order. The only benefit of the Pandemic has been time, and I have been using a lot of that time to create rudder hinges.
I thought I had done a better job of photographing this whole process, but I did not. So, somewhat out of sequence, I will try to illustrate what I did.

The layout for the hinges is determined by the reasonable available spaces on the lower transom. The best contemporary portraits and models I can find, show 3-4 hinges above the waterline. Here is a picture that shows the layout I arrived at, albeit a little further along in the process:
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What I failed to take pictures of was the marking out and making of pin impressions into the back of 3/64” wide styrene strip that make up the strap stock for the hinges. The strips are first scored, but not cut through; because they remain attached to the bigger styrene sheet, it is much easier to make your pin impressions, while using a steel ruler as your guide for spacing. Once you are satisfied with the outside appearance of nail heads, you can cut through the strip. It’s a good idea to true the styrene sheet edge with a file, before making the next strip, as the pin impression process sometimes deforms the edge.

On the lower transom, these straps had to be applied in two segments to either side of the stern post; I couldn’t make a 90 degree bend without snapping the thin strap stock. So short strap ends were first glued to the transom surface, taking care to round the ends into a pleasing shape.

The segment that joins the first and wraps around the stern post, toward the stern post centerline was eased around the corner after first filing a V-notch into the back of the strapping material. Here’s a shot of that same process to the rudder head:

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I then filed semi-circular accommodations, at the very center of the stern post for the gudgeons. These were cut from 1/16” brass tubing that BLICK art supply sells as a bag of random odds and ends of mostly brass, but some aluminum.

While my execution of the following didn’t turn out absolutely perfectly, I thought the easiest way to make such small hinge knuckles would be the following.

Because it is what I had at hand, I ripped some red oak into a 1/16” veneer and a backing block.
I then drilled 1/16” holes in a straight line, through to the backing block. Oak is not ideal for this because the open grain has a tendency to pull the bit off-track. So, I drilled plenty of holes, until I had 6 that were satisfactory. Maple or birch would be ideal.

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I then inserted my brass tubing into a hole and used a DREMEL grinding wheel to cut just above the wood surface.

I then used a file to make them flush with the wood surface (hardwood a plus here), and uniform. If I were to do it over again, I would ensure that I had definitely seated the brass rod against the wooden backer block before trimming; as it happens, what I used for the middle hinge knuckle was a shy 1/64” thinner than the others because the rod hung up in the hole, while filing. I ended up using it, anyway, because I wasn’t going to insert a pintle into the middle knuckle. Doing so would have made aligning the whole assembly unnecessarily complicated. From the angle this detail could possibly be viewed, the small gap is invisible.

Making of the pintles should have been relatively straight-forward. The basic plan was to cyano appropriate brass rod into two of the remaining three knuckle segments. I could have made my life easier, if I had fitted the completed pintle assembly to the rudder head before applying the straps. The reason I did not do that was because I wanted to be absolutely certain of where to mark and cut into the rudder for the pintle reliefs. With the straps in place, though, I was compelled to bore-out circular openings for the pintles that would he housed by the straps. Access for doing so is limited by the shape of the pintle reliefs. I hope that makes sense.

Here are some pictures:

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the rudder is actually somewhat functional; it’s port-to-starboard arc is restricted, somewhat, by the jaumier opening. This is a static display model, however, so I am happy enough that everything lines up.

In other news, I’ve been experimenting with Liquitex Extra Heavy gel medium to brush in the tassel reliefs for the lambrequin carving:

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Liquitex is definitely the right medium for this sort of very low relief, however, my current stable of brushes is not fine enough, or up to the task. I will continue my experiments with other brushes.

Work on the gratings continues, and eventually Henry’s extras will complete the complement.
I also started to prepare the fore and main-mast, lower sections with reinforcing dowels that are drill-tapered to fit snuggly along their length:

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Before tapering, above. And after tapering, below:

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I definitely want to use styrene adhesive to join the mast halves, but am currently unsure about whether to bed the dowels in the masts with some combination of epoxy and cyano, or one versus the other. Any insight, here, would be greatly appreciated.

Once the lower masts are assembled, I can cut the lower main mast down a bit, to accommodate the diorama set-up, while also accounting for my desire to raise the main top by about 3/8” to 1/2”. Ultimately, this will make better sense of the stock kit topmast dimensions (which will be scratch-made from wood, anyway), and the extra height there, will be cut from the t’gallent masts which are too tall. The main flagstaff, though, will be lengthened.

So, that’s where things stand for now. I hope all are well and taking good care of themselves and family. We will all get through this difficult time. Thank God for the art and craft of ship modeling!
 
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