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(I was unsure again which forum to use; feel free to move it to a more appropriate spot if need be). Grin, who said history never changes? This ship’s known history changed between 1978 (Lego’s first edition of this set) and the 2003 reissue of this set. Back in 1978 it was thought the now still preserved museum ship was the original 1797 build ship, that underwent a thorough rebuild in 1854. But by the time the 2003 set came out, it was decided the 1854 rebuild was actually a completely new ship, with perhaps a few timbers used from the first ship. (photo by James in Balto, via Wikicommons) Anyway, we do not use timbers. Onto the bricks Mr Baines! (Yep, no box, no instructions, no original set. Just two bags with lots of bricks…) I wanted to build this ship for several reasons. I never knew this Lego set way back when. By the time this one appeared (1978), I was well into my dark ages. So getting this set was not exactly fulfilling a childhood dream. Hence I had no need for originals. A bricklinked set of stones would be fine. Luckily, some vendors offered just that already! No childhood-dream set. But building big sail ships was one of the things I did a lot when I was a kid. Those were all Rainbow Worriers, so to speak, where I would use all colours I had to reach size. Big as possible. And from what I remember, the intricate rigging was what I spend most time on. The rigging was actually needed to keep my masts and spars up and in position. I used little cards with darning wool from mom to make that rigging. I remember the start always being an exercise in patience and frustration-management, with masts and spars collapsing at every touch until I would have the basic rigging up. So building a large sailing ship might be a nice sentimental journey anyway. A chance to finally get it right; all in one colour. And with enough bricks to end what I began. Another reason for getting this set was that, like most Hobby sets from the seventies, it uses very few ‘weird’ or specialized bricks. It is mostly constructed from 2x8 and some smaller standard bricks, 2x8 and 1x8 plates (and quite a lot of smaller plates). Many black bricks and plates, and quite a few yellow plates (both so far rather sparse in my stash). The set would be a nice addition to my basic set of bricks and plates. And finally, I got to check tricks and techniques of the Lego Masterbuilders of those days. The hobby sets are often praised as pretty much the ultimate builds in the old Lego style, and I tend to agree (the cars from that series are fantastic as well). The masts for example are set into the hull by technic axels, one of the few more modern elements in this build. They more or less promise masts that might stand on their own, without the rigging I really needed. The original 398 set was from 1978, the in 2003 reissued set was number 10021. I did not know what I was getting, luckily it turned out to be the 1978 set. The first round was what is now known as knolling; sorting the bricks type by type, in neat stacks, well laid out on a surface. The ideal way to check if you got everything, and it makes for a pretty easy way to handle, find and store bricks. I usually stack bricks with one or two studs free left or right, for easy counting and separating them. It took me 2 afternoons, mixed with reading online, checking the Bricklink inventory lists for this set, and with reading up on the real ship. 978 parts. I was missing a few 1x1 yellow plates, but I had enough in my stash to get that sorted out. (for those in the want: these are all the bricks for the original build, I tend to use pictures like this as sort of bricklists for my own builds) The yellow 1x1 windows mark this as a 398 set, the 10021 set used yellow 1x1 'headlight' bricks because the windows had gone uhm, out the window (perhaps nautical terms are more clear: The yellow windows had gone over the wall? Or is that just Dutch briney?). Building. Round one... I had managed to gather instructions for the set from the internet (taking care to get the right ones for this particular set), and it was time to start building. Reading the (not to big and slightly unsharp) scanned instructions was sometimes hard. This is old fashioned building; counting studs with several steps added per drawing. It took me a few restarts to get it right. As ‘Questforbricks’ once noticed in his blog, the joy of building with Lego is also a matter of timing. Don’t push it, we are doing this for fun. So stopping at the right moment is important. It is nice if something has progressed far enough to show progress, and it is even better to end a session with a product that invites you to work some more on it. So I made a pause at what I hoped would be the right moment. (wreck of the Bayard, South Georgia) Right now, the hull resembles a shipwreck. A ship, run aground by accident or on purpose, and left to fall apart where it stranded because it is not in anybody’s way. In a cold climate, such a ship takes a very long time to fall apart. Yep, things are going swell... No decks and superstructures, but already a recognisable hull, with just a few stumps where the masts used to be (or are going to be), beams and girders bare. That is pretty much how the ship looks now. The keel is laid, from here it is all upward and outward. A good time to leave it for the next round. Second round Although I had to go back and forth a few times on the bow, all-in all things progressed nicely. Most problems I had were with the slightly fuzzy instruction prints I had made; especially with the red and yellow plates, it was not always clear which plates were used. And these are old style instructions, no step by step exploded view. You get a drawing, and in the next drawing, a lot of bricks and plates have been added. It is a matter of counting studs and searching to spot all the differences. Regularly I would concentrate on one part of the ship, and miss steps on the other end of the ship. Back up two or three steps, to see what I missed there, and add those too. All in all I enjoyed this a lot, it is more fun than just brick by brick doing as you are told. An evening of building, and an hour the next day finished the hull. I must say, I am not a fan of canon bristling ships, and not the biggest fan of sailing ships from this period (beginning 19th century), but this is turning out rather nice! The thin white line seems to be the waterline, a bit higher up than I expected, but yes, it seems about right. The overall shape is very good, and the silhouette of the hull works remarkably well. With the black bricks, the blocky appearance of what should be smooth ship curves (the basic Lego problem in building ships) is hidden rather well. It is only in the lighter details, like the gilded bow, that the ships shows its Legoness. The interrupted white band of the gun deck does add a lot of character to the ship. The black brinks also resemble the planks of a wooden hull nicely. And there are a lot of small details that I do love. There are little roof bricks used in slits in the deck, that depict stairs going down to the lower deck. The ships bell is represented by an unprinted minifigure head (back when knolling, I expected it to be part of the figure head of the ship). There is a capstan and a steering wheel, although the capstan is placed a bit awkward between two openings in the deck (a scale problem I expect, a capstan is massive). The one thing I am not too sure about are the glass plates covering part of the gun deck. I expect on the real ship this would have been a grated hatch, and I am thinking about replacing them with black plates. But first I want to build the ship according to instructions… The small yellow windows (one of the things that show this to be a 398 set) add a lot of life to the stern of the ship. And this was a nice point to stop until I had more time... Third round lucky? The masts, spars and sails were a lot less work than expected, and flew on. The masts are a bit massive from the front, but a lot stronger and better connected than anything I did in my youth (rails and plates...). And the stowed sails add quite a bit of life to the masts. The minimal rigging was just that; minimal. And a bit of an embarrassment to be honest This is the ship as intended. Hmmm, the end result is slightly less appealing than I expected. I finished the ship as per instructions, including the very minimal rigging. And all in all it certainly is an impressive build, large and not bad at all… But several parts are screaming at the boat-nerd in me to get corrected. The bulwarks (the sides of the ship above the deck) are too high in some places (technically correct, but it throws off the lines of the hull due to scale effects). I am not a fan of all guns out (there might have been a different opinion had I been 10 year old me). I also discovered it will not be possible to rig the ship properly until I do some serious rebuilding in the hull itself. At the sides of the ships are rests, boards sticking out for the shrouds and stays of the masts, and they are too far forward to set up a realistic rigging. I need to move them back until they are behind the centre of the masts. And when I do that, I might as well close all the canon ports, at least at one side, to make for a smoother hull. (rolls up sleeves, spits in hands, time to get some modding done...) Modding Most urgent; correcting the rests for shrouds and stays on the sides... On the left side the build as instructed, on the right the uhm, right way for shroud and stay boards ( I know I should have stuck to nautical terms)… I closed the gun ports and enlarged the fighting tops in the masts (those are the plateaus at about 1/3 from the bottom of the mast that look a bit like low crows nests). I also lowered the boom on the mizzen mast, so it came closer to the deck. As an addition, I decided to try and make a little more difference between the stowed sails. A few not yet fully stowed, like a ship entering Harbour? I also added some stowed stay sails to the bow sprit. I was a bit unsure whether the half stowed sail looks too blocky or not, but they do add a certain liveliness to the whole. I also experimented with more realistic guns on the deck. But the ones I liked best were too big for the rest of the deck, so I decided to leave them off entirely. The most interesting design would be 3 studs wide, and 4 studs deep (on a deck that is 8 studs wide). Too bad, too big… Rigging Back in the old days when I build Lego sailing ships, rigging it was pretty much the main event. It was not much different this time. All in all, I build the ship in 4 sessions, a few hours each, perhaps 7 or 8 hours in total. Between the instruction-finished model and my own version I had 11 sessions, some just an hour, but several 3 or 4 hour long sessions. Yep, that was the main event alright. I would pester Mom until she would give me a card with darning wool to rig my ships, and spend days at trying to get it right or at least slightly logical. I intended to do the same thing now, using that very same darning wool. Which turned out to be easier said than done. For starters, I could not find anything like that stuff in my town. Don’t people darn their socks any-more? Uhm, well truth be told, I don’t. I wear thin cotton socks these days, and any repairs feel like pebbles in my shoe. Right. Who still darns socks? I tried some some strings, like cotton or knitting wool, but they all turned out too thick to clamp between bricks easily. I really needed that darning wool! Luckily and much to my surprise, those old cards with wool were still readily available in Germany, just across the border. Ha! It took me a while to figure out how to do the rigging best. The big difference between real rigging and a model is the lack of pulley’s, deadeye’s and other bits and bobs that allow to tighten ropes one by one. In Lego, you do one rope right, tighten the next rope, and the earlier rope suddenly show slack… Especially the shrouds (those web like side ropes up into the masts, that sailors climb) took some experimenting to get right. And as always in a model, there are decision points on what to show, and what to leave out. Once I had figured out a way to do it, I removed all the ropes done so far, cleared the masts of all the spars and started anew. It takes some planning to make sure I could reach all the points. Once certain ropes were in place, you could not get everywhere anymore. Basically I had to work from back to front, and from the centreline of the ship to the sides. The ‘running' ropes (moving ropes, used to hoist and lower sails, or trim sails to the wind) are ‘new’, signalled by a light tan (for new or less worn ropes) or a dark brown colour (for older ropes). The stays, shrouds and other ‘fixed’ lines would be tarred, so those are black. All in all this looks a lot more like I hoped for. The ship has proudly resided on my display shelf for over a year, until dust threatened to take over (the ‘hairy’ wool is a great dust-collector, and all the lines and ropes make it virtually impossible to dust the decks and bricks). All in all it has been a pleasure to build, and was quite a sight on my shelf. I plan on building something older in future, but strongly based on these building principles... Might be a while though, for right now I am lost in space...