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Full-hull French Frigate (WIP)


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76 replies to this topic  – Started by Frank Brick Wright , Apr 03 2013 03:20 PM

#1 Frank Brick Wright

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Posted 03 April 2013 - 03:20 PM

Dear all,

I’m very excited to present you my new project.

This is going to be a late XVIII century French Frigate. The scale used is the one which I consider the most appropriate for building ships for minifigs, somewhere in between 1:45 and 1:50. This means she'll be some 90 studs long at the waterline which makes her a rather large ship. She will be carrying 36/38 guns, with a gun-deck of 13x2 iron 18-powders and a main deck with 5/6 x2 bronze 12-powders, yet to be decided. I’m using plans by Chapman in his magnum opus Architectura Navalis.

The ship is going to be built around a central framework, which takes its support directly from the keel. This framework runs lengthwise and provides for the ship's internal structure and overall consistency. The cool thing here is that everything in the ship, besides the framework, does not contribute to the overall structure and is merely accessory: thus everything but the framework can be removed, making the ship almost fully modular. Neither the hull nor the tumblehome take part in the framework, and thus they can be pulled out, showing a “naked” ship. We’ve seen cut-away models but nothing so modular as this, I think. Because I’m using cb4’s technique (although extended, of course) which is rather space-efficient, the interior is going to be pretty decent as well, and to the scale. Not only the build is supposed to be historical accurate as are also the construction methods employed.

I'll be taking pretty detailed photos because there aren't many brick-built ships around. I do not intend to make this a tutorial but at least a useful and complete guide for anyone interested in building a full-ship.


I started by laying out the keel and measuring each cross-section with the scale-printed plans.

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Then I've started planking and added the black beams, which consist the framework of the ship. They are to be connected lengthwise, making a strong structure. The upper holes in the planking consist on the sections which are going to be removable (they are perfectly irrelevant to the structure).

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On a small technical note, I've developed a new hinge-structure which you can see here:

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It has the advantage of being tremendously stronger (more than the original-3-4-5 triangles cb4 used) and allows for a clear framework, which then makes the interior possible, as you will soon see.

Stay tuned, more updates will come in the next few days.

Edited by Frank Brick Wright, 03 April 2013 - 03:20 PM.

A ship is floating in the harbour now,

The wind is hovering o'er the mountain's brow;

There is a path on the sea's azure floor,

No keel has ever ploughed that path before

(Percy Bysshe Shelley)


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#2 Brickington

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Posted 03 April 2013 - 03:24 PM

Great start to your new ship! I won't be doing brick built hulls until I master the normal LEGO hulls. I very excited to see how this turns out! :classic:

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#3 Sebeus I

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Posted 03 April 2013 - 03:39 PM

Very interesting, I have my doubts though about the strenght of the hinge structure, atleast it doesn't seem like a good Idea to hold the ship buy the hull sides... I could be wrong ofcourse, my experience with this type of hull is zero after all.
I can only support detailed pictures, I may try one too then :pir-sweet:  my own WIP brick-built ship turned out to be a big failure anyway.
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#4 Grimmbeard

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Posted 03 April 2013 - 04:05 PM

Great start! The hull does look very nice :thumbup:
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#5 Esurient

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Posted 05 April 2013 - 10:46 AM

Very impressive! I can imagine how majestic the ship will be when everything is all done! Can't wait to see more pictures! :thumbup:
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#6 Captain Blackmoor

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Posted 06 April 2013 - 10:54 AM

I would fill up the inner structure to improve it's strength since it is supposed to carry all the weight of the ship, including masts. Also the sturdiness is very important.
For the rest it looks great to me! Just make sure the structure is very strong!

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#7 streifen

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Posted 06 April 2013 - 01:36 PM

Your hull-building technique is really interesting! Judging by the size of your hull, I can imagine the size of that ship! (Read: BIG!)
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#8 Frank Brick Wright

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Posted 07 April 2013 - 05:44 PM

Thank you all for your feed back and kind comments, it is really appreciated! :thumbup:

Here we go for another major update. At the moment she is looking something like this:

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Here's what I have done:

1. I finished planking the lower hull:

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2. I've finished each of the framework's sections (in black) so that they have the correct height and offsetting. Notice that one of the sections is covered with jumpers, thus allowing the guns-deck (when built) to match the hull curves as closely as possible. Moreover the framework is almost ready to be connected lengthwise, improving here overall cohesion.

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3. I've indented the upper part of the vertical cross-sections, where the hull will become modular (by indenting I mean adding the small 1x1 white plate, which attaches to the 1x4 plate in this image, thus "pulling" the sections 1 stud to the outside). This may sound irrelevant but is quite important: because the sections are indented, they are already part of the outer hull, i.e. nothing will be attached to them. This is of key importance to render the hull modular.

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4. I've built the lower deck. Notice that the tan plates are studs up whist the black sections at that level are studs down: the deck is irrelevant to the overall structure and does not influence it in any way. This part is a little tricky because it isn't straightforward to build a deck matching the hull's curves as closely as possible.

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View PostCaptain Blackmoor, on 06 April 2013 - 10:54 AM, said:

I would fill up the inner structure to improve it's strength since it is supposed to carry all the weight of the ship, including masts. Also the sturdiness is very important.
For the rest it looks great to me! Just make sure the structure is very strong!

View PostSebeus I, on 03 April 2013 - 03:39 PM, said:

Very interesting, I have my doubts though about the strenght of the hinge structure, atleast it doesn't seem like a good Idea to hold the ship buy the hull sides...

You are not the first ones to tell me so :classic: I've decided to answer you and other builders to whom I discussed this in a private way in the following way:

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:tongue:  And the frame work isn't even completed! Believe me or not, but the completion of the framework will only improve her cohesion lengthwise, moreover the guns-deck will be directly attached to the framework, thus rendering her even more strong :wink: In fact the guns-deck, attached to the framework will look something like this:

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(this holes created between the two decks are the modular component, thus allowing for a clear access to the interior).

Edited by Frank Brick Wright, 07 April 2013 - 10:38 PM.

A ship is floating in the harbour now,

The wind is hovering o'er the mountain's brow;

There is a path on the sea's azure floor,

No keel has ever ploughed that path before

(Percy Bysshe Shelley)


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#9 Esurient

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Posted 08 April 2013 - 12:06 AM

Wow. Your ship looks strong! Very very nice! :thumbup:
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#10 Grimmbeard

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Posted 08 April 2013 - 02:24 AM

Looking good! I can imagine this must take a lot of effort :grin:
--Grimmbeard
You've fallen for one of the classic Blunders! the most famous of which is never get involved in a land war in Asia, but only slightly less well-known is this, Never go in against a Sicilian when death is on the line!!!

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#11 kabel

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Posted 08 April 2013 - 08:39 AM

this is looking rather incredible and the sturdiness of the frame is really amazing. Make sure you don't let it fall next time you lift it with two fingers! :wink:
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#12 Bart

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Posted 10 April 2013 - 03:24 PM

really looking forward to see you continue this build, It is already very promising so far.

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#13 Imperial Shipyards

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Posted 10 April 2013 - 04:00 PM

She does look very promising indeed! :thumbup: The last update kind of proofs that the structure is sufficiently stable. However do account for additional weight when you add the topdeck and details; and also consider that the masts and rigging will add some tension if you do them properly.

Keep on building her, I'll follow your progress closely. :wink:

I would really tile the hull portion though. That just makes it look so much sleeker and more streamline, just like a real ship. I also like how one stud wide tiles look like wooden planks.

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#14 Frank Brick Wright

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Posted 11 April 2013 - 07:49 PM

View PostPerfectionist, on 10 April 2013 - 04:00 PM, said:

She does look very promising indeed! :thumbup: The last update kind of proofs that the structure is sufficiently stable. However do account for additional weight when you add the topdeck and details; and also consider that the masts and rigging will add some tension if you do them properly.

Keep on building her, I'll follow your progress closely. :wink:

I would really tile the hull portion though. That just makes it look so much sleeker and more streamline, just like a real ship. I also like how one stud wide tiles look like wooden planks.

You can count on with proper rigging :wink: I've thought about the tiling though. The thing here is that the hull is pretty large. I'll probably tile her if I have budget for it, if not I rather like her the way she is now:

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With a nearly finished hull, just missing some parts at the bow and stern (although the tough connection in the bow with the hinged plates with the side ones has already been made, which kinda makes the remaining bow-building a piece-of-cake). The above picture is with the modular sections on; they can be removed:

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I've started to work on the interior. The aftmost room is going to be a sickbay.

A ship is floating in the harbour now,

The wind is hovering o'er the mountain's brow;

There is a path on the sea's azure floor,

No keel has ever ploughed that path before

(Percy Bysshe Shelley)


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#15 General Armendariz

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Posted 12 April 2013 - 04:38 AM

Beautiful build, theres not too many brick built hulls so its good to see this one and it looks like its already fantastic!

#16 Purpearljellyblob

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Posted 15 April 2013 - 08:58 AM

Great work Frank Brick Wright! Nice to see that you built this ship from scratch :thumbup: Can't wait to see the completed ship! :classic:

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#17 Captain Settle

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Posted 15 April 2013 - 07:38 PM

Interesting hull technique. It's great to see new techniques being created, but lets hope it's strong enough to hold!

#18 Frank Brick Wright

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Posted 04 July 2013 - 12:34 PM

After a long hiatus in the building due to my studying to high-school finals, I'm back into her.

I'm posting this update just to let you all know the present state of affairs of the construction and to promise more updates in the next month or so.

At the present moment she looks like this:


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I've been designing several details, such as the capstan (which is an improved version of DPW's amazing capstan, notice the correct shape, size and ability of being removed of the bars)


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The cannons, respectively 18 powders and 12 powders,


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Now on the techniques employed. This may get a bit technical so if you are just looking for the "update" pictures, you should probably stop here. I'll now describe the construction.

I've run a frame lengthwise, which serves as support to the gun-deck. This frame is most important to be correctly build, both to assure overall consistency and strength and to provide strong support for the gun-deck, which ideally is supported in almost every point. Of course this isn't possible, but thus the frame must be build as wide as possible.


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Due to my lack of the required bricks I've started to work on the gun-deck before finishing the details in the lower deck. This is far from ideal but since the ship is so modular it will not be a trouble to add gratings, lamps, pumps, containers and beds to the lower deck.

We must then finish the gun-deck. This is both a long and tedious process. At this point you either build something like this:

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(cb4's current WIP), which has the advantage of providing an ultra-accurate hull-shape, but at the price of extremely hard modularity, no galleries whatsoever (at least with a clean connection) and some sort of stability issues. My approach is a bit different and is based upon this principle:

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which consists in the adaptation of a full-hull to something where we can apply the conventional CGH tumble-home building technique. Now I admit this isn't perfect because it leaves a gap between the connection of the deck and the hull, as you can see here:


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However, the gap is rather small and for the moment I am happy with this solution, in a future project I'll work this area around. Therefore what must be done is to match the deck to the hull as close as possible, to make this gap as close as possible. Notice also the panels used, which make it possible to detach the tumblehome and to leave it in almost any desired angle.

The tumblehome is detached in a way inspired by Perfectionist (credit to him!! he's a true inspiration to this project) but fairly simpler and more efficient, mostly because the connections I use are much more weaker (these round plates will eventually be substituted by normal ones, when I get my hands on those).

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Now here is where I stopped, due to my lack of bricks. To build the top deck we must run another frame, lengthwise, and similar in every aspect to the frame built for the lower deck. This frame provides full support and is attached directly to the main deck:

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Edited by Frank Brick Wright, 04 July 2013 - 12:35 PM.

A ship is floating in the harbour now,

The wind is hovering o'er the mountain's brow;

There is a path on the sea's azure floor,

No keel has ever ploughed that path before

(Percy Bysshe Shelley)


MOCPages account, Flickr and Brickshelf


#19 Sebeus I

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Posted 04 July 2013 - 03:10 PM

Great compromise, combining the different techniques like that results in a new technique on itself, which I'm liking very much. The capstan looks great, keep that up.
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#20 Mr. Townsend

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Posted 04 July 2013 - 10:23 PM

You've made some nice progress here.  I like the use of Cb4's hull technique coupled the standard CGH tublehome.  I see that the sides will detach to allow access to the gundeck but I'm curious how you will maintain access to the hold especially after rigging.  Will the entire ship lift off the hull at the gundeck?  
I do think that it looks a little odd having smooth sides with the studded hull.  I think tiling that would really look spectacular.  Though if I had my way LEGOs would be double faced tiles held together by magic and every surface would be smooth.  :grin:
Great job so far!

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#21 Frank Brick Wright

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Posted 20 January 2014 - 11:59 AM

It has been a fair while since I last updated this thread. I have been way too busy to make real progress on her but now looking at the last update I see that she has gone through a great deal of change.  At this moment the lower deck is basically done. There are perhaps a few bricks missing here and there but all the details are there: beds, lamps, the oven, the pump, the grilles, cargo and the sickbay. There will be photos of this part in the end since it is a bit dark and I'll need proper lightning to photograph it. Then I have also finished the lower portions of the bow and its connection with the hull. I am fairly pleased with its shape overall.  The guns deck runs from stern to bow and the stern is already in its final position, supported by a provisory framework. The lower stern is already there but I miss bricks in the right colours.  At this point I am in need of the framework which will support the remaining main deck, which will be my next step.

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As a final note regarding tiling: I fully understand those who strongly suggest tiling. But due to modularity a lot of planks would have to be broken to keep each section independent. This would mean vertical rows of 1x1 tiles across the hull, thus losing the planked look one can imagine. Moreover, I like it this way :pir-grin:

A ship is floating in the harbour now,

The wind is hovering o'er the mountain's brow;

There is a path on the sea's azure floor,

No keel has ever ploughed that path before

(Percy Bysshe Shelley)


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#22 Louie le Brickvalier

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Posted 20 January 2014 - 02:55 PM

Such a beautiful ship- that hull is just so lovely! I look forward to seeing the finished model! Posted Image

#23 Horatio

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Posted 20 January 2014 - 03:16 PM

Very Nice! I agree that you shouldn't tile the hull- she looks great just the way she sits. However, the stern galleries do look a little oversized- though it may just be the angle of the photos. What do they look like from the stern?
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#24 LordBrickleton

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Posted 20 January 2014 - 07:38 PM

Looks great so far, cant wait to see more! Will you add custom rigging?

#25 Captain Braunsfeld

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Posted 21 January 2014 - 10:36 PM

Hi, the cannons look familiar - but the rest is WAY OUT!
Incredible, how much work you have put into this ship.

I am very much looking forward to the next set of pictures!

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