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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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