Week 16

Happy New Year to you all! This is the last update for this project, as HMS Beagle is now complete!

side view

The completed model of HMS Beagle: side view

front view

The completed model of HMS Beagle: front view

top view

The completed model of HMS Beagle: top view

The completed model of HMS Beagle showing the hull detail and plinth.

The completed model of HMS Beagle showing the hull detail and plinth.

The model making part of the project was finished just before Christmas, leaving only the base and the brass plinths to be completed.

The base is made of a piece of Dark Teak with an ornate edging which I routered in keeping with the design of the brass plinths. I used a teak oil finish, giving the wood a burnished look by using three layers of wax after the oil had dried. The plinths themselves were turned by a good friend of mine, as my poor lathe could not cope with 40mm brass rod! I decided against the traditional glossy brass, as the brushed metal blends better with the rest of the display.

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The model of the Beagle showing the teak base and brass plinths.

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The completed model of HMS Beagle: deck detail

Once it was all stuck and bolted together it was time to step back, critically examining the overall “look” of the model – how all pieces work together, how the shading fits in the with the rest of the ship, whether colours blend in, and whether there is anything that really stands out. Having a Christmas break allowed me to forget the model for a time and fresh eyes picked out many small problems which careful airbrushing helped to remove. I thought the main flag looked rather stiff and unnatural, so made a few alterations. The flag and the pennant are made out of shim brass sheet, a very thin brass ideal for the job, with a wire soldered to the edge for the rope. This was painted white, and transfers added for the art work. The metal was twisted to look like a flowing piece of material, and, using my trusty airbrush, I added shading to the folds,  allowing it texture and definition.

The main problem was cleaning the deck. Imagine the deck, carrying canons, rigging, winches and numerous other apparatus, as well as bits and pieces of materials left over from the production of the model! Firstly I thought I’d blow the pieces out. I blew….and all the bits went to the other side of the deck. I did it again… and they went back to the opposite side once more. I eventually spent a very long two hours picking out the bits using tweezers!

It certainly has been a journey, but as we draw to the end of the “making of the Beagle”, I hope it has been as enjoyable for you as it has for me. This has been my first model of a sailing ship, and I called upon many sources of information and excellent books in the making and understanding of such. In particular, I would like to credit Karl Heinz Marquardt’s work “HMS Beagle Survey Ship Extraordinaire”, from the ‘Anatomy of a Ship’ series. This book is designed for model makers and was a huge help in getting the project to completion. I have always said that the one of the major problems facing model makers is finding information, and was pleased to note that this was not the case at all in the making of the Beagle!

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The completed model of HMS Beagle: deck detail

All pictures of the model used in the updates were taken using my Nikon camera. I have been using black out roller blind from Spotlight, (available in both blue and white), and why I did not do this years ago I do not know, as I think the effect has been brilliant.

I would like to thank the following people for their help and support throughout this project:

Nigel Erskine – Curator, Richella King -Manager of Online Services, Myfanwy Appleton – Web Editing, Peter Webster – Artillerist, Tim Smith – Marine Archaeologist, Mike Rikard-Bell – Marine Archaeologist, Ben Joseph – Plinth Turner, RIchard Taylor – Advisor, Glen Andrews – Retailer, Rhonda Brewer – Retailer.

Finally, I am open to any questions you may have, please feel free to get in touch for a chat.  I gave an interview on ABC Radio on the 19th of January which you can listen to.

On the first of February I will be giving a talk on the Beagle and professional model making in general at the Australian National Maritime Museum. For further information  please visit  the museum’s website.

I look forward to seeing the ship on display as part of the Charles Darwin exhibition on the 20th of March 2009 in the ANMM Gallery One!

Contributed by model-maker Mike Bass.

8 thoughts on “Week 16

  1. Hey, this is really something now its all together at last, I look forwawd to seeing it on display soon too, congratulations to everyone involved but especially the model maker.

    Whats next?

  2. Congratulations to this excellent model and the 15 part blog!!! Really very interesting in many respects!
    Just a few comments: you started with 1:48 drawings; so the model hull is about 60 cm long? Would it have been easier to build a larger model?
    Maybe impolite: Why flying flags but no sails?

  3. Many thanks for the responses. To answer your questions. Making the model at 1:48th scale was what the client ie the museum required. Larger scales requires larger display areas, areas the museum did not have. At this scale it is very difficult to get sails to look right. Plus we did not want to obscure the detail. When the ship was in port all sails and sail rigging where removed and the flag was flown from the rear.
    Many thanks


  4. Sir;

    This is an amazing effort that you should be extremely proud of; it appears the Beagle has finally been accurately reconstructed. I have always been interested in this vessel- now I know how to attempt a build of my own. Thank you very much!

  5. Best model sailing ship I have seen online yet. The colors especially look very natural and realistic, unlike some with bright, too-reddish woods. Excellent job!

  6. Wonderful model. I actually used this blog, along with Marquardt’s book on the Beagle, as a guide to my own 1:36 model of the ship starting in 2010. My Beagle is rigged with r/c and has been sailing around the Indianapolis area since July of 2011. You can check my website for pics if you want to see what your masterpiece helped to inspire. Many thanks.

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