Thursday 1 January 2015


It has been a busy year for my project, though, unfortunately, much of my work  hasn't translated into recent blog posts. As most of my readers know, my project is really two in one: to create the first accurate scale model of HMS Terror as she appeared in 1845, and to produce the first accurate plans of the ship in her 1845 configuration. I spent much of the year on the latter, having decided early in the year to extend my plans to all decks and fittings of the ship. I completed a significant amount of this work, including the lower deck plans and details of accommodations (I’ve produced much more than has appeared on my blog), and I am nearing completion of plans for the orlop deck and hold, as well as various cross sections. As always, creating these plans is not as simple as tracing the original Terror/Erebus plans, as each requires significant historical research to fill in the many missing gaps. 

The discovery of HMS Erebus by Parks Canada also had a significant impact on my project. My blog was inundated with thousands of views and I received many dozens of emails from interested readers, researchers, and other enthusiasts. Many came during the exciting few weeks between the time the ship was discovered and when it was eventually identified. I enjoyed these exchanges immensely and they led to a blog post about the structural differences between the ships, which received a very positive response from many readers. 

The discovery also led to several requests for consultation/information/plans from researchers involved in various media projects. I’m very excited by some of these new projects and while I can’t disclose them all yet, I’m sincerely gratified that my research will appear in formats other than my blog . One of these has already come out; Canadian Geographic Magazine requested a modified version of my plans showing the most important ship systems. They did not utilize the entire plan, which included a cross section, so I have provided the entire image above for readers. 

Despite all of this additional work, I haven’t forgotten about my model, and I’ve been working slowly away at it when I can find a chance. Below I outline my progress to date: 

Each scarph on the keel had 8 copper bolts, 1 and 1/8 inches in diameter (consistent with much larger 36 and 74 gun vessels). I simulated these using 20 gauge copper wire which accounts for a 1.5 inch rove. 

Gluing the main keel and stem together. Alignment was critical, so the parts
were laid out over the plan and clamped/weighted down.

Checking the alignment before gluing. The unfinished profile piece can be seen in the background. 

Gluing the pieces in place. 

The completed keel/stem assembly with the false keel sections dry-fitted below. Each false keel section
was ca. 24 feet in length and 7 inches deep. I originally thought they were attached with staples,
but nails were more likely in this era. 

Gluing black velum to the false keel sections to simulate tarred flannel. 

Gluing the false keel to the keel assembly. Note the final shaping of the lower stem piece has not been completed. 

The 1836 plans indicate that false keel thinned as it ran forward; here I've mark off its run prior to final sanding.

The completed piece. Unfortunately the fluorescent lights I'm using don't do the richness
of the Swiss Pear justice  - indeed they make the wood look quite dry and pale when it actually is not. 

A view of the simple false keel scarphs near the centre of the keel. The false keel was designed to
tear away in the case of a grounding and was essential on bomb, merchant, and exploration ships.
Note that this is the port side of the keel (fore is on the left). 

Profile piece and station bulkheads cut from 1/4 inch plywood. 

Cutting the slots for the station bulkheads. 

Deburring with some wonderful scroll-saw sanding strips I purchased from Lee Valley.

The profile piece with all the bulkhead slots cut out. The fore and aft slots will be finished after the keel is glued
to the profile piece and the mast slots will be removed when the station bulkheads are all in place. 

The keel assembly and profile piece prior to gluing. 

The keel was pegged and glued to the profile section. 

The pegs continued up the stem. 

The keel assembly glued to the profile piece. Everything is square as far as I can tell - but the
clamping required was far too ugly to show here! The stern assembly will be fitted when the bolsters
for the propeller aperture are added and will need to be glued in the vertical position. 

Captain Crozier inspects the boxing.