Shipyard’s 1:96-scale HMS Alert 1777, Paper Model Kit – Part VI

With other projects requiring completion, I haven’t had much time to work on this model. But, I did finish some of the deck furniture and I also managed to get the gun carriages together.

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I’ve played around with rolling the cannon barrels from the paper patterns included in the kit, but having been ship modeling for so long, I’m having a hard time bringing myself to using them since I don’t think my barrels are looking very good. Certainly, there are experienced paper modelers that can do an amazing job on them. I’m not one of them.

So, I’ve been exploring alternatives. I could try turning my own, but I managed to find some cannon barrels that look good and seem to be a pretty good scale fit. The barrels are actually 1/4″ scale swivel gun barrels sold by Syren Ship Model Company. I had some on hand for another project and set one onto one of my gun carriages and it makes for a pretty good fit! The barrels aren’t cheap at $11.50 for a pack of 4 and I need a total of 12, so that’s close to $40 after shipping. Still, they look very nice, they’re the right scale, and I won’t have to then make them!

Now for the Alert’s swivel guns, there is nothing I could find that’s commercially available and small enough for the job. So, I may just ignore the swivels on this model. Otherwise, I could try to turn some, but they’ll be so small, I’ll probably end up ignoring a lot of the finer details. Anyway, the barrels will end up blackened and they’re small enough that details won’t be that noticeable.

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A Syren Ship Model Company 1/48-scale swivel gun barrel filling in for my 1/96-scale 6pdr gun – A good fit on the carriages I made.

Now, since I was working on some kit details anyway, I started looking at the sails, masting and rigging. I purchased the set of sails sold by Shipyard. They are nicely laser cut and printed on one side, but only on one side.

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Now, if I were going to sew them, the lines would be perfect guides. But, since I’m not planning on sewing, there’s a problem of having no detail on the back side of the sails. There are two ways to fix this as I look at them. The first is to trace the lines onto the opposite side of the sail, so the backs aren’t so empty looking. The second is to make new sails, probably from paper or silkspan. But, at this point, since I already have the sails, I’ll try tracing the lines onto the back and see how that turns out.

The last item on my list are the blocks. I made the boom, gaff, masts, bowsprit, and I’m close to the point where I’m going to have to start rigging blocks onto them. I worked out the sizes I basically need and they’re 2mm through 3.5mm. Actually, the block patterns included in the kit are 2.5mm, 3mm and 3.5mm, and I purchased the Alert’s blocks set from Shipyard too.

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This is what you get in a 3mm single sheave block package from Shipyard. These are enough parts for 40 blocks.

The question on whether to use these or wooden ones all comes down to how nicely I can make them look. Syren Ship Model Company sells some beautiful pear wood blocks available in 2mm, 2.5mm, 3mm and 4mm sizes. Problem I have with them is that they don’t have 3.5mm blocks, and I find the visual jump from 3mm to 4mm too significant on a small scale model.

i actually had a problem rigging the cannons on my colonial schooner model because I was using Syren’s pear wood blocks and the 3mm size was too small for the guns and 4mm was way too big. What I did there was to use another company’s 3.5mm blocks in that one place. But, for this model, I’m going to see if I can make the paper blocks work.

I spent some time last weekend making the needed blocks, gluing them, trimming them apart, painting them, etc. Though they’re designed with the proper sheave holes, I’m going to drill them out to make it easy to rig them. That will be the test as to whether they’re sturdy enough for me to work with.

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Separating the assembled and painted blocks.

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The final blocks ready to drill out and test.

I now have enough of all sizes for the model. I really should have 2mm blocks as well, but that’s awfully small to make, I’d have to order more from Poland, and the smallest that the kit instructions call for is 2.5mm. So, I suppose I can live with that. Anyway, I’ll see how well the drilling out of the blocks goes and we’ll find out if I end up using these or switching to wooden ones.

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