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Building the pirate ship; Sophie's Revenge


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Since I inadvertently derailed the PIRATE SHIP! for bones 5 kickstarter thread it makes sense to have a thread dedicated to building and modifying this massive piece of gaming terrain, a character in its own right. Feel free to jump in with your own ideas and dreams for this beauty.


Personally, I want to add a lot more detail to this kit. More deck furniture, rigging, sails, cabin and gun deck details and some hard core changes to how it comes apart for play. I tend to work from a more historical perspective because grounding everything in a little bit of fact will make it look better in the end. My first step was to find a "real" ship to base the rigging on. For this purpose I'm going to work from the rigging for the Queen Anne's Revenge, Blackbeard's flagship. I'm also taking some inspiration from Jack Sparrow's Black Pearl just to get that Hollywood fantasy feel and not get to historically hard core.


Some of these goals are completely at odds with the way the Sophie's Revenge was molded and put together at the factory. Pretty much anything I want to do means that I need to actually disassemble the ship first and then revise how it goes back together. Step 1 is figuring out how to get it down to its component pieces. I threw a few questions at Reaper Jon mostly to confirm what I already suspected; 1) Super glue is going to be the only real choice for assembly (although contact cement for some areas might work as well), epoxy will likely make an appearance as well. However, straight from the factory I figured all they would have used is super glue. If they used CA then acetone should work to at least soften if not dissolve the glue used to put it together.


With some trepidation and equipped with a hobby knife, a sculpting tool and a can of acetone I started trying to take the aft cabin (which for Sophie's Revenge also constitutes the quarter and poop decks) apart. I was somewhat relieved to figure out that in most areas they really didn't use that much glue. I started at the stairs leading to the quarterdeck on the left (port) side. I flooded the joint, from the top and from the bottom, with acetone (its important to let it sit for a minute and go to work on the glue), then I started to flex the plastic to create an opening for my flat bladed sculpting tool to insert into the joint and start to pry things apart. I only used the knife in spots where there was so much CA that I cut into the CA with the knife to create a channel for the acetone. The plastic is very flexible and held up to my less than gentle flexing quite well. You can see stress fractures appear though, they will show up as white streaks. Most of these are between the deck planking where the plastic is pretty thin. You do need to proceed slowly and patiently. I did break the edge of the deck that fits into the slot in a couple of places. Not terrible and I'll leave those bits in place, it will get everything lined back up when I reassemble things.


It took about an hour but I managed to separate the decks from the side walls. The sidewalls are made up of another 5 or 6 pieces but I decided I didn't need to take those apart so those will remain intact, I should be able to add plenty of detail without completely disassembling them.











Edited by Heisler
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Before I throw more pictures at you let me just say that I mean for this thread to used by anyone to show off their Sophie's Revenge builds. If you have something to show on how you did something feel free to add it here.


I worked on separating the two decks from each other today. It took about 30-40 minutes of work to finally get them into two parts. For now I'm leaving the stairs attached to the decks. The center section (between the two stairways) was particularly well glued together on this one and it took multiple applications of acetone to kind of peel the CA away in layers.



Here you can see the slots in the deck that the tabs on the stairway/bulkhead piece will fit into. Again patience is required to get these apart.



All of the white that you see are stress fractures in the plastic from all the prying, bending and flexing I did to the deck. You shouldn't even be able to see it after a little primer goes on. And yes, I realize its bones, but I will still prime  it.



Here are the stairway/bulkhead piece that supports the Poop deck. Historically on ship like this there should be a door that leads into the navigation/chart room. Since There isn't enough height to pull that off, the captain's cabin will just have a high ceiling.


Here is the underneath view of the Poop deck. You can see just how much glue was used in the center section, which was definitely the hardest part to separate. Once I had the front edges of the stairs apart it was a lot easier to flood this area with acetone.


After I had the two decks separated I made sure that everything would still go back together.

Edited by Heisler
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The third installment on taking Sophie's Revenge down into pieces, big pieces, but still into pieces.

One thing to note here is there are actually two different kinds of plastic used on this ship. The two center decks on the upper hull and the two big cross beam supports underneath them are made from a harder plastic, closer to what you would find in a plastic model kit (similar but not the same).


I started at the bow, that was the easiest place to get it to start coming apart. Overall the amount of glue on the sides was pretty light with a few exceptions.


I started at the bow but the stern is the part that came apart first. I just worked my way around looking for weak spots and joints where I could insert the broad bladed (but dull) sculpting tool


The bottom of the rear deck, not the white stress fractures and all the glue at the end where the four support beams were.


A look at the now deck less stern


And from underneath. Note the large support cross beam made from harder plastic.


Another look underneath the aft deck, just to show off all the glue.


I accidentally managed to start separating the hand rails. I'll be gluing that back into place right away.


And how things match back up with the upper rear decks. Note how this superstructure overlaps both the two rear most decks.


Next deck up. The handrails are bones plastic, the deck is something harder.


And underneath to show off all those long stress fractures.


The only place that I managed to break a piece of the deck. Not much and it should glue right back into place without a problem.


And a look at the hull minus two decks now. Two down, two to go...sort of.


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And now the Sophie's Revenge is as disassembled as far as I'm willing to take it. I left as many pieces glued together as was possible and, hopefully, achieve my objectives.


1) The hull walls will be attached to the gundeck rather than the upper deck. This way I can fully model the gundeck with cannons in place as well as other interior features.

2) The upper deck will be easily removable which will allow the standing rigging for the lower parts of the masts that are included. 

3) A few sails will be added just to imply some motion but leave the decks, relatively, clear for gaming.


I have ideas for how to accomplish all of that. However, I'll likely be moving forward pretty slowly, starting with the hull and working my way up.


Here are some pictures of the final disassembly:


When you have removed all the decks you have very wiggly set of hull walls. I will glue the walls directly to the gundeck, probably using epoxy as opposed to superglue (CA). The forward gunports (far left in the picture) share an edge with the bow section. Because that whole section will need to be removable I'm going to cover up these gunports and reduce the number of cannons on this deck to 8 per side instead of 9.


The bow section, there are at least four pieces here and they are going to be a bear to try and take apart so I'm going to leave them as is and this whole section will be removable. This is the only place I decided to cut a joint apart, right at that long very straight section, a portion of which is a gunport.


Just a look at the bottom of the bow section


This shot gives you an idea of where the joints are and just how hard its likely to be to try and take it apart. I think I would definitely break something if I tried it.


A look at the bowsprit. There are at least three pieces here and they are heavily glue together. I'm going to leave it as is.


A straight on look at the bowsprit. You can see some significant gaps which will need to be filled and of course plenty of mold lines to deal with.



So there you have it, a disassembled Sophie's Revenge! Next phase - Re-building the Sophie's Revenge!

Edited by Heisler
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On 9/9/2022 at 12:19 PM, chaosscorpion said:



Any more progress?




Not at this point. The busy summer plus getting stuff ready for ReaperCon pushed this one to the back burner. Although I did get a gauntlet tossed down on me at the convention so maybe it will move to the front of the line.

Edited by Heisler
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So there is a little progress, mostly thought process. First let me state my goals for this rebuild:

1) Disassemble the entire model (Woohoo! Check this one off the list!)

2) Keep the gundeck accessible while keeping the cannons lashed appropriately in place.

3) Add details to the gundeck, including bringing the masts all the way down and through into the cargo deck (which is not modeled). This would include removing cast in details that could be improved with scratch built details.

4) Add details to the gun ports. I may decide to have the guns run out on one side, so one side would have open ports and the closed ports on the other.

5) Main deck is removable without disturbing details on the gun deck.

6) Main deck will be treated much the same as the gundeck, add details and because of the aft cabin there will be additional work around the mizzen mast which is coming up through part of the aft deck. Cannon will be lashed to the deck appropriately.

7) Aft deck and cabin. There is going to be a lot of work here. I need to figure out how to pull off the two back decks and detail the cabin. I would love to have a map/navigation room under the poop deck but its not quite tall enough especially because of Reaper's heroic scale proportions. It would add a lot of interest and would avoid an incredibly tall captains' cabin. Not to mention changing the location of steering from the poop deck to the main deck.

8 ) Rigging, I really want to add at least some rigging to this. At a minimum it needs ratlines after that anything I can add that won't make things to difficult keeping in mind that the main deck is going to be removable which means any rigging needs to come away with the main deck. I have thought about extending the masts to "full" height but I think I'm going to avoid that and just extend them up high enough to make any rigging that is done look somewhat reasonable.

9) Everything I haven't thought of. A little vague but it covers everything else!


At least I know what I want to do. How much of that gets done is a whole different story.


Here is an example of working my way through what changes I need to make and how I might go about making it happen.



Checking to see where the extended quarterdeck is going to end up



Raising up one ruler to get an idea of just how tall the navigation cabin will need to be to match the height under the quarterdeck



Made a quick template to extend the quarterdeck. I built a little stand for the back end to rest of so that the deck is level



This is a good idea of where the new deck is going to cross windows, along with a few notes I scribbled on measurements for rebuilding the bulkhead



Definitely cutting off some windows. Will need to think that bit through.



Raising the deck again to check how things might look with the new taller cabin.



The ship's sides and stern will have to be increased. I may need to model some nautiluses and add railings around the poop deck.



The blue line represents where I will need to cut the quarterdeck away from the bulkhead to be able to remove the quarterdeck. This would expose the officers' cabins along with the captain's cabin.



Oops, some pictures out of order. I used popsicle sticks to work out the deck height before I made the deck template.




Not sure how long the next step will take, but at least there is direction.

Edited by Heisler
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1 hour ago, Heisler said:

8 ) Rigging, I really want to add at least some rigging to this. At a minimum it needs ratlines

It needs chains. 
Added to “the chains”. 
The little platforms standing out from the sides are actually called The Chains and they are the attach points for the shroud lines. 

The shroud lines hold the masts stable, they have turnbuckles on them so they can be cranked tighter as the rope stretches and becomes slack over time. The ratlines are the horizontal ropes that allow humans to climb up the shrouds. 


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8 minutes ago, TGP said:

It needs chains. 
Added to “the chains”. 
The little platforms standing out from the sides are actually called The Chains and they are the attach points for the shroud lines. 

The shroud lines hold the masts stable, they have turnbuckles on them so they can be cranked tighter as the rope stretches and becomes slack over time. The ratlines are the horizontal ropes that allow humans to climb up the shrouds. 



Thanks! I didn't know they were called chains. I suspect that at least the Chains for the Mizzen mast will need to be replaced. Rigging is just going to be dependent on how much will show with the masts at the height they are in the box. I'm thinking that I would like to have that lateen sail off the mizzen and maybe a jib sail unfurled.

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A few thoughts on what you are doing [very well, I might add].

1. Have you considered using a plastic sheet or thin plywood base under the hull for strength? Thin stuff would be invisible when viewing.

2. Really liking the deck/cabin adjustments. A piece of sheet would cover the inside of the window molds,

3. For sails, try pocket squares, they are made of very think fabric and in infinite colors or patterns.

4. For rigging maybe that "Granny Grate" plastic square material. Stuff is nearly indestructible and flexible.

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