My Workbench

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Ares Sails of Glory Kit Bash

Recently a good shipmate offered to gift me a Sails of Glory 3-Decker because I had mentioned I would like to see what I could do with one. I told him I would send it back to him when I finished and he said it wasn't necessary. Being the smart-ass I am, I commented "Oh, you don't like my work?" So then he said he would love to have one of my ships and sent me two, one to keep and one to do for him. Me and my big mouth! 

So I received a box with two of the Ares French 3-Decker models Imperial 1803 / Republique Francaise 1802. I don't know if this ship was round one or two release for the game, but both had the foremast broken off at the base, something I understand is a problem with these plastic game pieces. 

Examining one of these plastic ships for the first time I was struck by two things. First was how much like a child's toy it was compared to the metal 1/1200 ships I am used to. Second, on further study I realized this impression was solely due to the way Ares chose to mold the masts and sails. Cut them away and the hull is actually quite nice. I quickly came to the conclusion that my painting skills are not good enough to improve on the factory job done for the ship sides, or the decals used for the stern galleries. There are details I felt I could add however that would enhance the look of the ship. The following photos are before shots out of the box.

So the first order of business was to cut away the masts, sprit and flag pole. I decided to see if I could save the sails since the Langton 3-Decker sail set is obviously just too small for the 1/1000 scale. I cut the sails away from the masts. This was surprisingly easy. The plastic for these sails and masts is much softer than what the hull is made from, maybe that is why the masts break in the packages? I dressed the inside of the sails where the plastic was cut away with first course then fine sandpaper. Then I built the masts and new bow sprit. Next I attached them to the sails. I had left the fighting tops attached to the sails. This gave me a better anchor point for attaching the masts and I felt this would improve the sturdiness for lots of game play.

Next I used a Xacto blade to groove the deck. This was done freehand and I should have done a better job and made the lines straighter. My only excuse is that the soft plastic had a tendency to want to skew the blade off to one side or the other. Much different than working with metal. Then I added another ship's boat to the stack already there and grating to the deck where there was none. Next I cut a bit of plastic sprue to make two round house heads for the bow. Then I repainted the deck, deck furniture and inner bulwarks. I also added the hammock netting.

I added a little additional ochre color to the bow peak and two shades of gray to the outer bulwarks.

For the stern galleries I added some blue tint for the windows and brown for the Window frames and the rudder, plus a little gold trim.

Next I drilled out the holes for the new masts.
While I was at it I decided to add another section to the bow sprit and another sprit sail for this large of a ship. Then I attached the masts and bow sprit.

Next was the rigging, standard and running. This was not as easy as I anticipated. Normally I use a needle in a pin vise drill to drill the holes needed for rigging in the metal ships. This plastic just was too hard and I broke two and bent one needle without getting through a single hole. I didn't have a drill bit small enough so I had to make one from a piece of .032 gauge music wire and a needle file. Even with this it was hard going to get all of the holes needed drilled. Last of all was the ensigns and pendant. I did something different this time figuring my friend might want to be able to change the flags out and use this ship as a British captured vessel, or even one of the big Spanish 3-Deckers. I used black Firewire for the flag lines. The Firewire is secured at the bottom but loose at the top. To change the flag or pendant, you just unwrap the Firewire and slip off the flag. Slide a new flag on and re-wrap the Firewire with a couple of turns.

Next I decided to make him an alternate sea base, in case he wants to use the ship with different rules, or just for display. I did it the way I do all my bases using acid free art Matt board and vinyl house Spackle. First cut the Matt board to fit the plastic game base. Then 2 coats of varnish on both sides and let dry. Spread the Spackle on and form the waves. Cut a piece of plastic from an old credit or club card to match the bottom of the hull. I did this by drilling a small hole for the peg attached to the bottom of the hull to fit through, then traced the hull out on the plastic with a fine tip marker. Then I cut it out with scissors. I had to make several trim corrections until it was an exact match to the hull. Then, before the Spackle is completely dry, I press the plastic down hard on the center of the base, pushing the vinyl out around it. This simulates the wake quite nicely. 

Let completely dry. I take a Xacto knife and carefully trace around the plastic until I can remove it. I use white PVA now to glue the plastic hull silhouette back down to the base. When that's dry I paint the whole thing with Navy blue. After drying I dry brush in the wave direction with an aqua color, in this instance I used Anita's all purpose acrylic 11056 Ocean Blue. Last I dry brush against the waves with white and line the wake with white. After this is dry I cover the whole base with Americana Triple Thick Gloss Glaze. Any decoupage product will work. When completely dry the base is very hard and stiff. Last I drilled the hole in the center to fit the model to it and sea base to the plastic game base.

To ship it back to my friend I had to modify the original Ares packing a bit. 

Before I package the ship up I thought I would take some comparison shots with some 1/1200 scale similarly rated ships of the line. The SOG Imperial is a 120 gun ship. The first two photos are of a Navwar 114 gun ship. This one is actually pretty close in size, especially if the base was raised like the Ares ship.

The next two photos are of a GHQ 120 gun ship.

The next two are of a Langton 112 gun ship.

The last two are of a Davco 112 gun ship.

I still have the other one to do so any comments or suggestions are welcome. Thanks for looking.


Ubique Matt said...

Fantastic looking ship, a vast improvement on the original. All the extra effort was well worth it.

Narciso1971 said...

Great work! really inspiring, I start to play Sails of glory few days ago and I will to emprouve the ships, because I think they will be good models with some modifications