Holes for the water spray system have been drilled in the bows. What appear to be guide rollers for towing hawsers at the stern were made from styrene rod and pieces of sheet.
Ventilation grilles made from mesh adapted from L’Arsenal and Gold Medal photo etch have been fitted to the superstructure. Once primed and checked for defects, the main superstructure block has been added. Now the final bulwarks on the forecastle deck can be fitted and a support pillar put in place for the overhanging corner of the helicopter deck. The area where the bridge structure is to be added has been masked off so that the styrene cement can do its job without primer getting in the way.
All ready to prime now and find out what needs to be corrected. The bridge structure has yet to be glued in place but has been placed loosely in position to check that it is beginning to look like the ship.
Just before priming, and after taking the photos, I realised that I had not made the fenders around the stern. My first thought was to use Milliput rolled into a sausage shape. However, looking at photos of the stern, the segmented appearance of the fenders suggested they could be replicated the same way by using 30 thou. styrene rod, cut halfway through with a fine razor saw at intervals which would help it to conform to the curves, so that is what I went with.
Back to the model now.
A platform has been added under the wheelhouse to provide the narrow walkway. The railings around all those angles should provide plenty of entertainment/gnashing of teeth in the future.
The wheelhouse now sits on top of the rest of the bridge structure and the funnel can be added. However, when I compared the funnel to the plan it seems I had not got the height quite right so pieces of 30 thou sheet have been added to correct the error. Then support brackets needed to be added under the overhangs.
Next job is the forward extension of the funnel above the wheelhouse. I had omitted this when making the masters for casting as it would have added another complication to an already difficult item. In view of the casting difficulties I am glad it was left off.
This is not an easy shape to replicate, not helped by the fact that interpreting the plans with the aid of photos is problematic because a) this area is seldom photographed close-up and b) many of the tricky angled parts are painted black which makes it difficult to discern the edges.
This meant I was not 100% sure of the shape I was aiming for, but I decided to start carving it from solid and see how it evolved.
The basic width and length for the solid block were achieved by laminating different thicknesses of styrene strip until the right dimensions were reached. The plan view was then marked on one end and the blank carved to shape. The profile was cut checking with templates for front and rear made from the drawings. Finally the front view was cut to shape. The result was not as sharp as I would have liked, so another attempt was made.
This time a built-up approach was used and the shape slightly simplified. The main elements were made from styrene strip and the awkward sloping panels made by adding and shaping Milliput. The result was much better looking and will now go to make another mould as I am feeling sorry for those who have acquired the castings, being left with one of the trickiest bits to scratch build.
The forest of exhaust tubes above the funnel was next. Four large and six small holes were drilled for them. The larger exhausts were made from pieces of styrene rod which were held in a pin vice for the ends to be drilled out before being fitted, mainly because I did not have any brass tube of the right diameter. The smaller pipes were made from 0.6mm brass tube. I don’t have a tube cutter, but find that holding the tube in a pin vice, and rolling it with an old scalpel blade to score around the circumference works very well with thin brass.
Last jobs on this element are small platforms just below the wheelhouse and platforms on the port side of the funnel which will be the landings for the staircase (just on that side).
I have just realised I am guilty of using jargon which might not be familiar to many people. I grew up when Imperial measurements were the norm, and although I have been “metricated” to a large extent I still use the old terminology which is still applicable when working on the elderly motorcycles I ride. The term “thou.” refers to a thousandth of an inch, so 30 thou. means 0.030”. Evergreen styrene, coming from the USA, comes in packs with the dimensions in fractions of an inch as the most prominent labelling and a metric equivalent in brackets. According to their labels, 20 thou. or 0.020” is equivalent to 0.5mm, and 30 thou. is equivalent to 0.75mm. I remain unrepentant about my terminology and will cheerfully mix Imperial and metric measurements depending on what I happen to lay my hands on. The important thing for me is “is it the right size as compared to the plan?”
Now that my responsibilities for making the casts have been discharged I am pressing on using the styrene masters I had made for the moulds. Unfortunately, this meant that the primer which was applied when checking them for imperfections had to be scraped off before styrene cement would adhere properly.
The next step was the helicopter platform and the top level of the superstructure. I opted to make the curved bulwarks around the corners of the superstructure from strips of 10 thou. styrene, pre-curving the strips before gluing them on. It may have been easier to get the curve accurate by using strips of brass.
There are ventilator outlets to be added under the helicopter deck which are not very clear on the plans, so reference photos provided the answers. There are also several doors made from 5 thou sheet to be added as well as stiffening brackets and small platforms . The brackets were made from strips of 10 thou. sheet cut to the correct depth but a bit longer than needed. Fixing with styrene cement creates a surprisingly strong bond for such a narrow contact area, and when it has completely set (ideally overnight) the brackets can be trimmed to length with scissors and then to the triangular shape with a scalpel.
By this time several other people had expressed an interest in acquiring the castings, so I now needed to be able to produce more than the one cast I had originally intended.
Using the elements already built, moulds were made for the hull and superstructure, but the funnel caused a bit of head scratching. It was too deep to for my usual crude method of pouring resin in and leaving a base plate to be sanded off, so I decided to try a two part mould with channels down which the resin would be injected. The halves could be separated to get the cast out easily and then there would just be the pouring channels to remove. After several attempts it became obvious that I could not get even large air bubbles out and the unsatisfactory result can be seen, so another mould was made. This time the mould made vertically and was split around the level where the funnel fitted over the superstructure. The idea was to fill the lower part of the mould with resin and then when any bubbles had been chased out add the upper half of the mould. When the lower part had cured, more resin was added to the upper half and the mould squeezed to dislodge air bubbles. This worked much better although I only managed to get two casts out without any tiny bubbles.
The other parts all came out of the moulds much easier than I had anticipated, but air bubbles tended to get trapped in the numerous undercuts so it took quite a bit of wasted resin to find out where all these were and chase the bubbles out by massaging the moulds and using a cocktail stick to dislodge them.
So, having finally made my mind up to accept the challenge, work started on the hull. I decided that my usual method would not work, but that the basic shapes could be made from Evergreen strips and blocks of styrene, with some bits carved to shape before attaching them. This worked surprisingly well and so the superstructure, funnel and wheelhouse were built in similar manner.
There are loads of pictures of the ship on the internet, but early on I became aware that reference pictures needed to be chosen with care as she had undergone a number of modifications. The plans showed her “as built” when she was used as an escort icebreaker in the Baltic. Later she was used for research and, along with the German Polarstern became the first non-nuclear icebreakers to reach the North Pole. She has also been deployed to the Antarctic on several occasions. The first modification was to add a laboratory on the forecastle deck with stowage for shipping containers and research modules above it. Then a small extension to the rear of the wheelhouse, changes to the mast and its associated radars and finally a whole extra deck added under the helicopter flight deck. My intention is to build her in the original configuration, but with the forecastle deck laboratory added.
The left hand picture shows Oden in her early configuration with low helicopter deck and no laboratory on the forecastle. The right hand picture shows her present day appearance with helicopter deck extended upwards, laboratory on the fore deck and shipping containers for research equipment above the laboratory and in front of the bridge. A-frames have been fitted forward and aft for lowering test equipment into the sea.
It all started when we were putting together the annual programme for our local branch of the World Ship Society and I said I would do a presentation on icebreakers. I already had an interest in the subject and scratch builds of Almirante Irizar and a couple of Russian Project 97 icebreakers under my belt, but it started to gather momentum at the show at Heiden when, first of all I found the Seals Model kit of Shirase II, and then discussions with Lars Scharff revealed that he had drawings for the nuclear icebreaker Lenin which I had seen in Murmansk. He sent me a comprehensive set of plans which resulted in another scratch build. It was now becoming something of an obsession and when I came across pictures of the highly unusual Swedish ship Oden II the seed of another build was planted.
I found a few drawings on the internet, but only of some parts of the ship. Looking at the complicated hull shape with its flat bow and “reamers” on the sides of the hull to help it turn I decided this was maybe too challenging a shape. It was at this point I made the mistake of mentioning this in an e-mail to Lars. He promptly came up with a complete set of builders general arrangement drawings from his seemingly inexhaustible supply of these things. He was also interested in the ship as part of an enthusiasm for research ships generally and if I was making one, could I make moulds and cast a resin copy for him? I was not sure if I was up to making the hull shape, and even if I did, there was no certainty that it would come out of a mould easily with all the undercuts that would result.