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HMS Ram Cat a WIP


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14 replies to this topic  – Started by kurigan , Feb 22 2014 11:23 AM

#1 kurigan

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Posted 22 February 2014 - 11:23 AM

When I started this project I swore to myself that I wasn't going to do another WIP topic. I didn't want to leave this one open to criticism, mostly because this is still a grand experiment. I also wanted to surprise and astonish my detractors so I sought to finisher her in secret. At this point, many months later, the end is still not in sight. There is still so much to do and so much to figure out; I struggle to keep my enthusiasm. This has become, not just an expensive and time consuming hobby, but a lonely one at that.

As depressed as I am over this project and the course of my hobby, I feel it would be a tremendous waste to not show what I have for it all. I may or may not ever finish, but what I've done so far has been quite an investment. For what she is, here is the (perpetually?) incomplete, HMS Ram Cat.

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She is a 10 gun cutter of the Jamaica variety popular in the later portion of the 18th and into the early 19th centuries. Vessels of this type were often one-off builds, made to order and constructed on temporary timber stocks right on the beach from local sources. They were the hot rods of their day, initially designed to out run pirates. Those same pirates as well as smugglers and national navies adopted them in time, more often than not as prizes. Something like Ram Cat here would likely have started out as a merchant or smuggler built to order. Sometime after putting to sea she'd change hands and ultimately wind up a prize of the royal navy. In need of ships to strengthen the fleet, they'd buy her in and commission her as a sloop. With a lieutenant in command, she could serve many functions either detached or in support of the fleet. Shallow draft vessels such as these are useful for in-shore work, patrolling for pirates and smugglers.

I've settled on the name "Ram Cat" inspired by the audio books I've been entertaining throughout the project. Dewy Lambdin's own, Alan "Ram Cat" Lawrey, is indeed her name sake. Why such an unconventional name? Why not? For those who it would entertain I'll offer the excuse of that desperate in-theater commission and an admiral with a sense of humor.

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The goal of the project was to build on what I had previously developed while adapting to new concepts in order to further my original aspirations of designing most realistic and historically accurate model ships. It has been a long journey, from where I began to where I find myself now. If you’re curious check out my profile for an overview of my development as a Lego ship builder.
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#2 Sebeus I

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Posted 22 February 2014 - 11:39 AM

Very nice, I love the doors to the cabin,
I didn't realize it at first but your design is very compact,
That rigging must have costed ages to finish Posted Image .
I think the bowsprit looks a bit too thick for this cutter.
Good luck on finishing the Ram Cat Posted Image .
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#3 Captain Braunsfeld

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Posted 22 February 2014 - 05:44 PM

Good job!
I like especially the rigging - and the custom made guns.
How did you make the captain's hat?

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#4 Capt. Stabbin

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Posted 23 February 2014 - 07:34 AM

I find this to be a excellent little ship!  I love all the details you have incoporated, and the non Lego bits fit in real nice.  I have always been amazed by your ships and the accuracy you are able to achieve with a small brick collection.  It just shows that you don't have to have a mamoth collection to create really nice models.

Besides the online community, this can be a lonely hobby, and an expensive one for sure!  Where I'm at, there are no Lugs or Lego clubs, and I do not know of any other AFOLs around me.  I hope you keep at it, as I have alway enjoyed your models.  You are on my list of favorite ship builders.

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#5 Moomin

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Posted 24 February 2014 - 12:46 AM

I really like this - love smaller vessels, and would love to build a cutter some day too.  Would make mine a smuggler;-). Had a look at the Flickr pics, and v interesting hull technique - works well.

#6 Mr. Townsend

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Posted 24 February 2014 - 03:19 AM

That's awesome Kurigan!  From the pictures you've posted here I couldn't tell how beautifully curved you've build this model but your photobucket shows it all!  Its so smooth running to the stern with a hint of tumblehome.  You've captured the ship well and I'm excited to see the progress.

Edited by Mr. Townsend, 25 February 2014 - 04:44 AM.


#7 Kolonialbeamter

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Posted 01 March 2014 - 12:01 PM

Beautiful ship, and indeed a very lovely and smoth waterline hull you created.Posted Image
I can only encourage you not to give up on her, for although Lego tends to be a rather lonely hobby, it seems you would make a lot of people here - including me - happy by finishing her.
Good luck and brick on!

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#8 kurigan

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Posted 23 March 2014 - 09:11 AM

Ram Cat WIP update:

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Well all the kind word's and support convinced me to stop whining and get back to work. Thanks guys! I've now take Ram Cat about as far as I can for the moment. All lines except the rat lines and those which attach directly to the sails have been run. Left out are the likes of the halyards, sheets and down hauls on the fore stay sail, jib and flying jib. The rat lines are left off as there is no sense in doing them until the tension of the shrouds is a sure thing. That won't be until after the sails are made and applied; which will take a whole new effort in research and experimentation.

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Ideally I'd like cloth sails that not only look the part but will actually function and change state (reef or furl). I experimented with this a bit on my fishing sloop, but there I used tee shirt cotton and it only worked so well. For these I'd like something more realistic. I have considered paper sails simply to have a more finished product sooner but those wouldn't change state and then what's the point to all this real rigging? It's not likely I'll be changing the set of her sails very often as it would be a time consuming and delicate process on such a small scale, but to have the inherent option is important to my ideal.

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I’ve also rebuilt the bow as I wasn’t quite happy with the original on several accounts. It was first a compromise to make the parts I had work and suffered for strength. I was concerned that tension on the lines run to the forward pins would misshape the structure. It wasn’t very astatically pleasing either, seeming to come to a point, much like a far newer vessel. The other issue is one I've been struggling with for some time and was one of the villains in my disheartening before. The hull was completed before the total scope of the project was realized, and as a result I was lacking in belaying pins. To do the rigging correctly I'd need an absolute minimum of 26 but only had 24 pins available. That also left no room for the likes of flag hoists or any other "extra" lines. I don’t know that anyone would really have missed the omitted lines, but building her to function is important to me. I recently acquired new bricks that allowed me to build a stronger, more conventional bow, which afforded me the two more belaying pins I’d need.

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As the warm weather finally moves in, I’ll have to focus most of my energies elsewhere so she is likely to go, still, unfinished for a while yet. I’m in a good place with the project though and I’ve fallen in love with her once again. There are some imperfections that simply can’t be changed without major reconstruction. I’ve started on another hull of the same variety to experiment with solutions to some of these concerns like; better deck housing or the lack of overhang between the stern post and transom board (she’s kind of flat astern). Ram Cat, to me, is already approaching a master work after having started out as a simple experiment, so I’ll just call these lingering issues “charms” and move on to bigger and better in the future. I would honestly like to display her but for the life of me, have no idea of any events or venues in my area. Can anyone offer any advice on getting started at such a thing?

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As always, more images here.

#9 kurigan

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Posted 23 March 2014 - 09:32 AM

Ram Cat Replies

   First, thank you all for your interest and support. I got a lot more replies and interest in this project than I ever expected. Frankly when I posted her I expected much harsher criticism. I suppose if you spend enough time on a project like this you can get hung up on the flaws and focus on the negative. Because you guys took the time to show your support, I’ll return the favor and break down my reply more directly to each. Sorry in advance for the length of the post.

Sebus I:

   Indeed she is compact. There are several deck features I had to omit for space, which I would have liked to have. The French doors to the cabin are necessary because of her small size. They really should be single doors to either side, but then they would interfere with the guns. I took my time over a few weeks to tie knots and such, but what was really time-consuming was the planning. I spent many hours poring over reference images, reading dry sailing blogs and often times just staring at her till the wee hours. Ultimately I had to pull out the trusty old drafting set and draw out my own rigging plan. What was a lot of fun was getting the running rigging to where it is now having had to reach through with tweezers and forceps. The sprit is just one of those things. Been over it again and again myself; either it's too big or two small. There just isn't a Lego brick that'd be just right, but with all the rigging and canvas piled on, it will be a lot less noticeable.

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Captain Braunsfeld:

   Thanks, I rather like these guns myself. They were actually built for Scorpion but the bore seemed too small for that ship (I have my own sizing system) and the barrels were too close to the deck. I built different guns for scorpion and cast these aside. When I started taking Ram Cat seriously I had trouble with the height of the free board and needed more squat guns. I pulled these out and they were a perfect fit!

   The hats are generally like those in my "hat tutorial", but instead of a round brim I made elliptical ones with Illustrator. The premier's hat (the smarmy looking chap on deck) is of a wider variety to look more fashionable for the time period. Captain Haldon's hat (the officer poring over charts in his tiny cabin) I meant to look a bit more “old fashioned”. It lacks a crown for the top of his head to accommodate his hair piece. Since I bought the #7305 set just have him with his cool scar, dashing grin and styling hair, I didn't want to have to sacrifice that piece or make some kind of hybrid where the hair came out of the bottom of the hat; like Jack Sparrow with his tri-corn.

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Capt. Stabbin:
   Thanks, I do feel a bit like the proud parent, who’s child has just started doing just what everyone else’s kids can already do, but is somehow special any way. I have recently started augmenting my collection with small purchases, but my budget is still only a hair above nothing so I keep my orders small and generalized. Ram Cat was never intended to be a primary project but as she developed I started stealing parts from my other projects. I do try to keep the non-Lego bits to a minimum, but in some places there just aren’t equivalent parts. On the wheel I racked my brain quite a while before giving in and making an axle. I’ve seen 2945 (and the like) used as belaying pins on larger ships, but they’d be just too big on Ram Cat. Instead I had dowel sitting around from projects long ago, so I just made my own to scale.

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   That does stoke my pride just a bit and again I thank you. It warms my heart to know I have a fan out there. I do wonder where abouts you call home?



Moomin:
   I too have developed a soft spot for unrated vessels, probably on account of all my literary sea heroes like Jack and Alan. I figure a fleet of small ships is better than a single large one anyway. Most of my creations are part of the same “good guy” fleet but I do have a full on pirate ship in the works. After all I’ll need some “bag guys” at some point, no? The technique is not my innovation to be sure, but I’m loving it and plan to revisit all my previous projects in this style.


Mr. Townsend:

   It’s good to hear that from you! The effect certainly is subtle on this hull but it works. The newer pictures do her much more justice.

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Kolonialbeamter:

   I’m so glad that Ram Cat and I are developing a following. A little recognition does make it feel much more worthwhile. After all this I’ve resolved to finish her, though it may still take a while. Ram Cat is already much more complete that most anything I’ve done yet, so I’m OK with where she is now. I hope you guys all share in my contentment with her.

   Again thanks for the support all and look for a complete Ram Cat in the future.

#10 kabel

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Posted 23 March 2014 - 12:18 PM

I actually really like this project as I am currently looking into doing something similar. Great inspiration, but I guess mine will be less refined.
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#11 Capt. Stabbin

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Posted 23 March 2014 - 03:29 PM

View Postkurigan, on 23 March 2014 - 09:32 AM, said:

   That does stoke my pride just a bit and again I thank you. It warms my heart to know I have a fan out there. I do wonder where abouts you call home?


Great update!  This is turning out to be a beautiful ship!  Really the best small ship I have ever seen.  I am glad that you have decided to see it through, and I'm sure will make you a better builder.  I often get frustrated with some of my creations, even though, completing a project to the end still instils me with great pleasue and pride.

Portland, TN is where I call home.  It's a small town just a little north of Nashville.  You would think with a decent size city like Nashville there would be more of an AFOL community, but I have yet to find it.

You will always have a fan in me,
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#12 Bonaparte

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Posted 23 March 2014 - 08:40 PM

Very nice project!

I love it because it comes with minimal ornaments, and so is focussed on being functional. It looks like a very seawothy ship.

I have a ship of this size in the making for some time and this is inspiring me to finish it.

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#13 Mr. Townsend

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Posted 24 March 2014 - 03:53 AM

Oh Kurigan!  It is simply the most detailed rigging I've seen.  26 pins to make it work!  The love you've put into each detail shows.
How well do you like the using yarn for the running lines? It seems you didn't use any glue.  I find it hard to get the nylon string to stick around my belaying pins and I always use glue inside each knot.  The capstan design is rather slick looking as well.  I'm excited for more of this my friend!

#14 Bart

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Posted 24 March 2014 - 07:56 PM

great work, I love the fact that you want to go all functional on the wires.

for the sails, you might want to look into silk. its very thin and flexible and such


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#15 Frank Brick Wright

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Posted 26 March 2014 - 09:00 AM

Wow, what a ship! The shape is absolutely stunning as is the rigging, everything looks very neat and professional. She's pretty there and I don't have any suggestions to offer since everything looks spot-on to me. The tan deck is also very ingenious and really clear. I think you've outdone yourself and done a remarkable work. I'm really looking forward to the continuation of this project Posted Image

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