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Vasa Build Log - Billing Boats - Scale 1/75

PeterG

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Thanks Charles. Yes, I am aware of Clayton's amazing model, but I did not realise it took 7 years!!! That's an awesome length of time to stay motivated and keep the build going as perfectly, accurately and produce such an excellent result. I don't think I would have that degree of commitment. That said, Clayton's Vasa is scratched which is of course much more difficult than from a kit as I am using here, albeit with a lot of 'scratched' detail to improve the model standard.

The topsides of the Vasa, above deck level on the outer surface and above the hull planking, was clad in thinner clinker, overlapping planks. A photo of the actual ship in Vasamuseet is shown below. The photo is taken from the rear towards the stern quarter. In particular, the outer cladding above the complex galleries shows the overlapping, clinker planking. This planking continues to the midships where there is a gap infilled by railings, and then it continues again in the foredeck cladding.

1569986625152.png

To assist with an even overlapping planking, I used kit-supplied Obechi timbers, but I made a jig which I used to ensure the alignment of the planks was even and precise. On some aluminium, I CA glued a series of aluminium strips which I had shaped by filing a 'saw-toothed' shape into the upper edge. The photo below shows this. The saw teeth were made at fractionally smaller width to the timbers I was using. So, by laying the timbers into the grooves and ensuring they butted up to each sawtooth, an overlapping, clinker pattern was made. Some judicious placement of glue at certain positions along the timber length, then allowed the pattern of the planking to be retained, but still bent as required to fit the ship cladding shape. I wasn't able to glue the entire length of the planks, as I could then not bend the collective planks.

Angle_Planks.jpg

The picture below shows some of the clinker planking being added to the topsides near the stern. I have used PVA glue and a large number of clamps to secure the planking. Once the planks were fixed, I drilled out the cannon ports for the weather deck.

IMG_3219.JPG

Forward, the planking was also added, but the low number of planks to cover the required topside area precluded the use of my clinker 'jig' so in retrospect, it probably was not worthwhile developing this tool. The topside planking lies adjacent and hard up to follow the shape of the uppermost wale (which is yellow and lies above the lower black wales). The picture below shows the area in the midships where the clinker planking does not exist.

IMG_3213.JPG

Interestingly, there has been conjecture for many years as to whether this cladding was raw timber, coloured and if coloured, what is the colour? Significant research by the Museum suggests now, with the actual ship available (albeit having been in the Baltic waters for 333 years), that this cladding was coloured. In early models of the Vasa (and in fact the picture on the boxed kit by Billing Boats), indicates the colour was blue. When the ship was raised and after the research however, it now appears that the colour was more likely red. This colour was the colour of royalty during the 17th century and the pigments for painting blue were difficult and exceptionally expensive to obtain.

I did a lot of experimenting with the 'red' colour and looked at a number of other Build Logs to determine the red colour that I liked. The one I thought most appealed to me was the actual 1/10 scale model which exists in Vasamuseet. Below is a photo I took while in Stockholm where this excellent model is on display beside the original Vasa.

IMG_6714.JPG

Before applying the red I chose to the side planking, I thought I would experiment a bit and added it to a portion of the stern where, if it was not right, it was eventually to be covered by largely figures and structures. Below is the result I selected before applying to the topside planking of the rest of the hull.

IMG_3221.JPG

The colour looks good and I like its effect, so this is the paint I will use. It is an acrylic made by a hobby paint company called Vallejo. The colour is Carmine Red (No. 70.908). The contrast with the yellow timbers is strong and will be a highlight of the ship.

More soon,

Time elapsed: 525 hours

Regards,

Peter G.
 

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Charles QC

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There where a choice to get a new big ship some y back it was a choice between from Corell the Vasa the Soleil Royal and or the Wappen Von Hamburg and the Mamoli Royal Louis. After debate with my minister of finance and delivery problem the Louis win the race now I regret it a bit. Your Vasa will be a real very nice piece when finish.
 

PeterG

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Many thanks Charles. I have never had a Mamoli model but am informed from logs that they are good. I do know that the Corel Vasa had hull shape accuracy issues and they used metal figures for the artwork which can be difficult to shape and paint.

I am sure you will enjoy the Louis. She was a wonderful ship and will make a lovely model. Good luck with her. I look forward to hearing of progress.
 

PeterG

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My next venture into using the chosen red paint, was to the newly completed cabin doorways and entrances to below-decks. Some clinker planking (as for the outer topsides, was also used in the internal weather deck areas, and these were also painted. In the pictures below you can see the masking of the deck areas to protect any mishap and below that the paint used for these items.

IMG_3215.JPG

IMG_3222.JPG

Just in passing (I should have mentioned it a few posts ago), the decking was laid with mahogany strips, similarly to the hull. Joints however were butted but not in any regular or geometric way. There are a number of logs which go into the best way to lay out deck joints and the various patterns used (eg 3-4-5 planking and offsetting), however, for the Vasa, this all predates these systems. The deck planks were laid relatively haphazardly and a picture below shows this, although it is subtle and hard to see. I have added arrows here a butt joint is evident. So, this is more or less the way I have laid my model decking.

In the decking I have done, I was unsure of how to finish the deck planks, with nails or no nails at the joins or over bulkheads etc. In the end, I have placed four drillholes at each plank butt joint, and used an HB carbon pencil in the hole to add a bit of darkening, before the deck was finished with burnishing oil. This seems to have worked quite well (see photo below the next).

Deck_Pattern.jpg

Deck_Nails.jpg

One of the next tasks to be addressed, while the hull is relatively unencumbered by cannon doors, chainplates etc, is whether to add nails. In the 'real' Vasa there is an ongoing programme of nails being replaced by bolts to hold the ship together into the future. The nails are simply corroding and giving away, but to add nails is a BIG job and difficult to get right at this scale (1/75). I have seen comments (I think in Clayton's Vasa scratch build), that there were over 3,000 nails added and this therefore is a major task. So, I thought, I might attempt a few and just see how laborious the job would be.

Firstly, how to get the scaled nails. At least two sizes were required, some for the planks and others which appear larger and seem to be used in the more strategic, strengthening parts of the ship's hull. Below is a small portion of the actual ship's starboard bow area. The nails are evident both in the hull planking but also the wales, but these are different in sizes. In reality, there is probably a range of nail sizes used, but for practicality in modelling, I chose to create only two sizes.

Nails.jpg

The next question was, should I purchase scaled nails (eg model railroad track ties etc), or should I attempt to make them. Making them seemed a daunting task until I came across the brilliant Youtube video by the Russian Alexey Domanoff (this guy is a genius at invention)!! The video is at the link (
). The video uses simply brass or copper wire (of varying thicknesses), which is cut into lengths, made straight by rolling, and then a blunted but angled knife blade edge is simply rolled across the lengths of wire at intervals. The pressure of the knife blade swells the wire material until it breaks/is cut and lo and behold, there is a small length of straight wire with swollen heads at each end. If you cut each short length, you get TWO nails - PERFECT.

Using Alexy's method, you can generate quite a lot of nails in a short time. I generated about 2-300 of two different sizes/thicknesses from two different wire thicknesses. I then placed these into a container, and added some blackening fluid. I used Birchwood's Gun Black (used for blacking the brass shells of gun ammunition) and it works extremely well. You just insert the copper or brass, leave for about 1-2 minutes (depending on how black you want it), and then rinse off in water and let dry. It leaves a slight residue on the items that being blackened which can rub onto your fingers, but nothing that some good soap won't get off.

Having made copper nails, these were not strong enough to hit into the timber of the hull without drilling. So, I drilled a series of holes and then followed with the nails. I did this at strategic locations (eg plank joins, over ribs/bulkheads, around the stern etc etc). Below are pictures of the process. It was not hard, but it did take a few days of work. I estimate, I have inserted over 500 nails!!!

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With the holes drilled, I then inserted the nails and tapped them home.

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In the end, I was quite pleased with this nail appearance. The nail heads are close to scale, they are for effect rather than structural, but that's OK. Given that the original ship is SO pockmarked by nails around the hull, to make a better representation of the real ship, in the end, I felt the nails added that bit of extra detail and realism.

All for now.

Time elapsed: 595 hours

Regards,
Peter G.
 

Neophyte Shipwright

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You have done a wonderful job on this grand ole lady. Look forward to more. I also am a fan of this ship and hope to one day build one from Billing Boats. They are builders kits and not for everyone, but if you stick to it, any of their kits build into really nice ships.
Rick
 

PeterG

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Many thanks Rick.

While there are some errors in the Billing Boat Vasa plans/instructions, overall I am impressed with their design accuracy and overall kit supply. Some of the timbers could be to better scale, so I have substituted other timber. In particular, the sculptures are particularly detailed and good to work with as considerable bending and shaping is required to make them fit appropriately on the hull curvature etc.

Also, to be fair to the three principal Vasa kit suppliers, their designs were based on historic available ship drawings and plans before she was raised in, I think, April 1961. Subsequent research has contributed a lot of knowledge to the ship, it's design and shape. The recently released kit by D'Agostini is based on this research and is believed to be very accurate as it was developed in conjunction with the Swedish Museum. With the other kits out there, some have had updates as knowledge was increased, but others have not had the update effort put in.

Thanks again for the comments Rick.
 
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PeterG

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With the upper planking applied, I added a toprail (which is actually not the top, as there is another railing above this to be added later), but it forms the upper limit of the clinker, topside planking, as shown below. The upper planking is yet to be painted, but I have cut in the weather deck cannon ports where required. I also shaped a discontinuous wale which appears on the real ship. To do this, I have a small bench saw which I used to cut a small centre groove in a length of edging timber and then cut to the lengths I required (after painting white). I am pleased with this result as it simulates the real ship appearance well.

IMG_3227.JPG

The positions of each of the rear, stern galleries is defined by their yellow support bases as shown in the picture below, I have added mahogany planking to the rounded formers that define the upper and lower gallery shapes. I have turned the hull upside down to work on these galleries and this makes the task much more accessible. Sanding of the mahogany planking makes the shape smooth below the galleries themselves. Above the galleries, the covering is more clinker planking.

IMG_3230.JPG

The shapes of the galleries at the forward end are rounded and so balsa blocks have been shaped and added to give the rounded form required. In the picture below, the longer starboard front of the gallery awaits positioning and gluing while the upper gallery has a balsa block cut but not shaped.

IMG_3232.JPG

While working near the stern, four round portholes are required above the Captain's Cabin, so I drilled these and cut/filed out the holes. I drilled a series of small holes in the shape of the portholes rather than using a larger drill bit. I did this as I was concerned about tearing some of the timber and thought this was a safer approach. The outer, perimeter of these portholes is to be rimmed with copper wire to give a clean edge and finish eventually.

IMG_3235.JPG

Time elapsed: 605 hours

Regards,

Peter G.
 

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PeterG

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The really high stern section of the model you can be seen below. The galleries on both sides can also be seen to extend to the port and starboard sides quite a long way. A clean-up of painting is required to give a better finish but that can wait until the structural work is done. The upper panelling is covered by figurines and sculptures and so the finish as shown, is largely hidden. The ports, where they extend through to the deck are painted black. Gunports are located on either side of the rudder stem and these will eventually get gun doors and cannon barrels fitted.

IMG_3237.JPG

The turrets of the galleries on either side of the ship are fitted only temporarily. These turrets and their fitting/shaping has worried me a lot as the instructions and the dimensions, while precise, were only correct on a perfect ship. I don't think the shapes, the fit and the angles would allow any kit builder to make the perfect ship!! It is really hard to get the angles and edges correct when effectively working in three dimensions in fitting these turrets. Billing's supplies six turrets (three for each side). There are two sets each of different sizes and come as turned timber (not sure what the timber is, but it's really strong, very fine grained and hard!!). It's actually pretty good to work with and obviously has been turned from stock for the kit, but the angles and cuts needed to fit it to each gallery position takes a long time to judiciously cut, file, fit then repeat a LOT of times.

IMG_3239.JPG

The easier part of this exercise was to fit the clinker planking on the tops of the gallery's which run between the sides of the turrets. One thing I had to be really careful of in fitting and shaping each turret, was that the tops of each turret is fitted with a turned brass ornament that extends its height upwards. This, for the lower turrets, had to clear the upper gallery bases and still maintain an appropriate angle (ie vertical), but not extend too far away from the ship. Pictures from the real ship show the angle and ornaments of the turrets as below. In particular, the lower, rear ornament does not have much clearance from the gallery base above it.

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Each turret has yet to be lapped by clinker planking too and this will test my miniature joinery skills to the limit. Although an interesting exercise, the fitting of the turrets is really frustrating because you know that one cut too far, and the mistake cannot be undone, yet the shape has to be right. In the lower gallery too, about one third along its length is a small window opening. While this is easy to cut, its position is critical because of the spacing of the sculptures yet to be positioned along the roof of the gallery. I had to look at a lot of pictures of the real ship to position these windows correctly.

Time Elapsed: 670 hours

Regards,

Peter G.
 
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PeterG

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The individual turrets have been shaped and I am happy with their position, angles and clearance for the brass ornaments at the top. I had to cut the tops of two of the turrets slightly to reduce their height a little bit to make them fit correctly. You also have to cut into the topside clinker planking against the hull to allow the turret to sit against the side of the ship in their correct position.

Initially, the sides of the turrets were shaped to sit correctly and fit against the ship (as described above) and then each turret had to have clinker planking covering it. The joins for edge plank end need not be absolutely perfect because these joins are covered by shaped figures eventually, but they nevertheless have to be reasonably neat. Below are a couple of pictures where I have started adding the planking. I divided each turret into octagons - eight sections (you can see the approximate pencil markings of these to indicate the ends of the plank cuts. I have started planking at the bases of the turrets and then slowly worked my way to the top for each individual turret.

IMG_3244.JPG

IMG_3240.JPG

On the ships sides, the clinker planking removed and allowing the turret to sit against the ship took some careful cutting. I also had to mark each turret to position it correctly with the created location on the gallery base as each was unique and could not be fitted anywhere else.

IMG_3246.JPG

Finally, I located the turrets when I was happy with their clinker planking, location and clearances.

IMG_3245.JPG

Surrounding each lower galley turret at their bases, is a lower strip of timber which seems to extend one of the upper wales on the hull. In the pictures I have seen in the Vasa publications and the model in the Vasamuseet, this strip was shaped (with a central groove, like the topside wale) and painted yellow. Because of the contrast of the gallery colour to be added (red), and this yellow, I felt it was best to paint while the turrets were off the ship. So, I painted these and the clinker topside planking, before gluing the turrets finally in place. The next images show this.

IMG_3247.JPG

IMG_3255.JPG

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This completed the addition of the turrets to the galleries and nearly completes the galleries structure. Considerable work will be required to add the ornamentation and artwork, but the galleries are now in place. Phew.

Time elapsed: 740 hours

Regards,

Peter G.
 

janos

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Great job, Peter!
I fully agree with the colouring of the hull in red rather than in blue. (The real, I think Prussian Blue was invented only about 100 years later anyhow. How interesting that the blue colour was also the latest to be invented among LED lights). I also saw Wasa in Stockholm as well as its 1:10 sibling there and the colours of the model looked reasonable. The only thing which I did not like on the Wasa was actually the rich painting of the figures. I just don't like the rococo colours, that's all. Actually this thing kept me away from building my Wasa. I am still thinking on in, obviously not as a kit but scratch built with hand made carvings, but lately I think making only a stern model of it, not the whole ship, if at all - and leaving the carvings without painting of course.
Janos
 

PeterG

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Many thanks gentlemen. It’s always a great incentive to increase your modelbuilding efforts when you get good feedback.

Janos, I can understand your comments if you were to scratch build the Vasa. There are over 200 carvings on the ship with the greatest number around the stern. I was interested in your comments about the painting and colours of the many figures. I like the colours although they take such a long time to do. On the real Vasa, virtually every figure has different and unique shape and colouring. As such, that’s how I want to replicate them but it is a major job. Clearly you understand this as you have been to Vasamuseet and seen the ship and the 1/10 model. The model’s colours of the artwork is based on considerable museum research so, I am confident painting them (at least for my model), is the right thing to do.

I appreciate your comments. Many thanks.

Peter G.
 

PeterG

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To take a break from the stern and galleries, I turned my attention to the hold gratings. Billing Boats supplied these in the kit as laser-cut plywood. The ply was a relatively light brown which was not similar to the decking or darker mahogany timbers I have used, so I did a bit of experimenting with a mahogany stain and came up with a good wash (water based), which I then applied to the various gratings. These gratings were cut from the laser cut sheet easily, but the individual pieces of ply that had to be extracted from the 'holes' of the grating took a long time to be cut out and removed cleanly. While the plywood and laser cuts were relatively clean, the instructions described (by way of a picture), as to how to fit individual timbers in a criss-cross fashion to form gratings. I can only assume this is how earlier Billing kits had their gratings made. I have seen build of gratings made this way and while it is a lot of work, I think it probably creates a higher quality and more authentic grating appearance. Either way (laser cut plywood or individual, manufactured gratings), they have to be better than plastic, which I also suspect (from comments in other Vasa builds) were used in some model kits of the ship.

To increase the detail on my gratings however, as well as the stain, I also scribed the timbers and cut through the top layer of the plywood along each timber. This gave the look of individual timbers having been used for the grating vertical and horizontal wood and in the end, looks quite good. I show a picture below with the three stages of modification (the originally cut out laser plywood (left), the stained and scribed grating (centre) and the finished re-stained finished grating (right):

IMG_3251.JPG

The next task I decided to do while I had good access to the newly painted galleries, was the painting of yellow contrasting 'scallops' along the gallery upper surfaces. This is not something I have seen in many Build Logs, but it is present on the famous Berlin Vasa model, the ship as drawn by Bjorn Landstrom (in his Vasa book of 1988 - and before the current research on the ship), plus the researched De'Agostini model Vasa. Although I am not sure of its authenticity or appearance on the original ship, it does add a look that I quite like. This feature had to be done before any artwork sculptures were added so now is the right time. Below I show an image of the Berlin Vasa and its distinctive scalloping along its galleries.

Gallery_Detailed_1.jpg

As I have now decided to try this (on a 1/72 scale model - silly me), I had to come up with a way of creating these scallop lines with suitable paint. I figured that if the end result was not appealing, I could repaint the gallery surfaces. So, how to paint the fine lines that would be required. I tried a number of paintbrushes (size 0 and 00), but I could not get a consistency that could be maintained. Also a paintbrush with the curves of the scallops was really hard to shape. I then thought, how about a paint pen. You can buy these and they are really good, but I could not get one that had a fine enough felt point that didn't thicken after a couple of scallops being drawn on the relatively rough timber surface of the clinker planking. Is there another type of pen that would allow the paint to flow, but could apply its line when held fractionally above the surface of the timber. My old professional drafting days came up with the idea of a drafting pen. In the back cupboard (after some searching), there was my Rotring drafting pen set and all the protractors, scale rulers and curves!!!. I realised that the thickness of drafting ink and that of paint were considerably different, so I needed to do some experimenting with diluting the paint (with turpentine as it was an oil-based enamel). I trialled some acrylics, but the cover was just too thin and transparent, so it had to be oil-based enamel. After a lot of trials and experimentation, I finally came up with a relatively strongly diluted mix of enamel paint and turps which flowed through the fine 0.2 mm knib of the Rotring pen that I found to work the best. Below are some photos of the pen in use and the final product.

IMG_4177.JPG

IMG_4178.JPG

Although not perfect everywhere, I think the effort and effect is quite good. You have to also take into consideration that there are a LOT of sculptures to be added to the galleries and turrets so many of the poorer scallops will be hidden.

One other thing I added too, which can be seen in the above photograph, are the large number of infilled vertical, turned timbers that lie between the two galley base frames. These I turned out of toothpick wood and then cut to the required length. They also add some detail that is seen on the original Vasa.

Time elapsed: 805 hours

Regards,

Peter G.
 
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Foxtrott

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Hi Peter

Your shingels look really perfect, as the whole Vasa- model does!

Maybe it's possible to add a tiny shadow-line at the bottom of the painted shingels?
Possible colours would be sepia or a anthrazit- black.
This must not be a consistent line but just a whiff of a line.
Just an idea..

Great work so far!

Cheers Alexander
 

md1400cs

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Peter,
Very nice work - good update.

Regarding; Below I show an image of the Berlin Vasa and its distinctive scalloping along its galleries. I spent lots of time studying this particular example - especially for the rigging, and deck railing details. It's 1:35th scale, along with super high res. photos made it, for me, a gold mine of useful information. You of course have the link to the site at Modelships.de (amazing builders there!!)
Enjoying your perspective for this Vasa

Cheers,
 

PeterG

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Hi Alexander,

Before I attempted the scalloping on the model, I trialled it on some stuck together clinker timber I had made up and this is how I developed the method. So, I tried a bit of the 'shadowing' as you suggested. It certainly highlighted the yellow shingles, but then I thought, that is not how it is done on the other models, so in retrospect, I decided to leave it as it was. It would also be a lot of work which could be prone to an error and thereby affect the scallops already created. However, thanks for the idea!!

Hi Michael,

This is a great web site and you are correct, those photographs have SO much detail. I also have spent a lot of time looking at their great work. Actually while I was describing some of the other models which have this scalloping, I omitted to include probably the most influential of them all, the 1/10 Vasa which sits beside the original ship in Vasamuseet (photo below). If the museum model builders thought it was correct to add the scalloping, that's good enough for me!! Many thanks for your comments regarding my build.

Vasa-modell-1200x676.jpg

Regards,

Peter G.
 
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