Several months ago, I acquired Shipyard’s HMS Mercury 1/96-scale paper model kit. I had to check it out as part of my research into the hobby and also because I just couldn’t help myself.
In addition, I bought a matching laser cut detail set from GPM. The basic kit includes the laser cut frames, but the detail set includes some very nice features like the gratings, parts for the ship’s boats, cleats, blocks and deadeyes, cannon and carronade carriages, and especially nice are the laser cut parts for the stern and quarter galleries. I just couldn’t imaging using the printed windows or trying to cut out the frames.
I got an idea and looked over the 1/96-scale HMS Mercury detail set and discovered that several items in that set are compatibly with the Alert. Maybe that’s saying that the kits aren’t to precise scale. Nevertheless, the detail kit for the Mercury cost me about $35 shipped from Poland, and I’m quite willing to sacrifice it for the good of the cause.
Turns out that the quarter deck cannon carriages are a perfect match for the Alerts carriages (and the right quantity), the gratings look like I’ll be able to cut them to size, some of the cleats are perfect match and there are some others that I think I can trim quite easily. Also, while I’ve already acquired laser cut blocks and deadeyes of the right size, the Mercury detail set has a ton of these and enough of the smaller ones are the right size to use for the Alert.
Anyway, the point here being that if you want to make your life easier with this kit (and probably others too), get one of the detail sets from GPM. It’s definitely going to give my project a boost.
First thing I did was to replace the printed hatch gratings with the laser cut ones. They actually turned out to be a pretty close fit, needing only minor trimming. Once painted I put them in place and you can see them in place here with the printed ones next to them.
Now, getting back to the kit parts, I was on a roll and decided to make a simple sliding type hatch cover for the wardroom companionway. At 1/96 it doesn’t have to be that sophisticated. Needed planking, so I printed out 0.25pt lines 1/16″ apart. I’m using Adobe Illustrator for a number of other tasks, so it was easy enough to fire it up and make the pattern. I’ll probably add some kind of handle, either bent wire or a simple block type handle from paper. The completed piece was painted and set into place.
I also found an old screen in the garage. It turns out that the mesh is the exact size I need for the mullion pattern for the companion way over the captain’s cabin. I pulled out a bottle of canopy glue, which I bought for another project, but didn’t like the way it worked. For this one and the small glass panes, it worked great – Just squeezed a little out to fill in all the holes in the piece of screen material. Once dried it looked perfect, so I cut down to the exact size I needed and dropped it into place.
I also built and cleaned up the deck pumps and decided to give them natural wood looking handles instead of leaving them their printed color, which was red.
Being on a roll, I decided to try to make some progress with a rather daunting sub-assembly, the windlass. I say daunting because the windlass barrel alone consisted of 31 REALLY small parts that all had to be cut out and glued together properly. I did manage. However, it required a concerted effort to break the mental barrier of taking on the complicated assembly. Once started, it actually went pretty quickly.
There’s still more to do here, but the basic barrel is done. As for what’s next, I try to keep that open. There are still many small assemblies that need to be completed, and there’s not particular order they need to be done in. Also, there is the matter of the cannon barrels. I went ahead and rolled the barrels using the kit patterns. I wanted to see how well they might work. But, I’m considering turning them in brass, or at least turning masters in brass if I decide to cast them.