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Modeling a Viking ship with splines

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Date Added: 30th December 2010
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The Gokstad rudder and pivot.

This whole thing is evolving essentially as I build it. Being a novice myself, many of you may already have knowledge that will let you execute much of what I do in simpler or maybe better ways. However, for those at my own or lesser skill level, this is a fair way to put this thing together. As you can tell from the photos, we are staying very close to a historically accurate model.

1. First the yard. Big deal. It's a stick. Create a disk (rod) as shown, and bevel one end. Then mirror it and you've got the yard.

2. Next I discovered that we needed to do something that is not a big deal, but kind of important to make things look right. Select the Mast, Mastlocktop, and Mastfish. Hit (H) (MODIFY/Size) and and we will change the size of those things to be a little more in line with historical drawings and my photos. Go to the 500 mm grid, and looking down, reduce the size to the smaller dimensions shown. Reasonably close is quite sufficient. After you are finished, you will notice that the objects shrank in every axis, meaning that you will have to drop the unit back onto the deck level.

3. Place the yard in front of the mast (big surprise, that one ;-)). Save file as ship_tute16.lwo

4. Now on to the rudder. The rudder is a fairly complex item and this is probably where the experts among you will have many different ways of building it. First the rudder hub. That one's easy. I just made a little open curve from a few points and lathed it. In the 50 mm grid it looked like this. Oh, hit F2 to get it situated around the X,Y axes. It's easier that way. We'll maneuver the final product to wherever it needs to be later. When you have the points and connected them with an open curve, lathe! Go to MULTIPLY/Lathe, and as soon as you hit the (n) key, you will see this, provided you are set up with a 360 deg End Angle. If not, change to 360 deg. Select the item, call it Rudder Hub1, and use the preset METALS/Iron, to color it.

5. Move the hub to X = 15.95, Y = -810 mm, Z = 1.65 and that will get you close to where you need to be. Next you will have to rotate it. What you need to do is to have it located on the outside of the hull on the right (Starboard, see how old those terms are!) side to be able to attach the rudder there. Use the Rudder Hub layer and the ship hull layer and switch between them until you have achieved the proper relationship between those two parts, as shown in the right image.

6. There is another little piece to this thing. An axle sort of device that seems to be able to pivot, as well as lock the rudder in place. Go to an empty layer and keep the Rudder Hub layer in the background. Create a small disk and stretch it. Attach a squashed ball to the end and that's it. While pretty close to the pictures, I completely winged it. It will be nearly invisible and, as is, very closely resembles the real thing. I am working off drawings as well as pictures. Since each ship was unique, so was the rudder design and embellishment. Name the item Rudder Pivot. I think that would be accurate. You may even want to add the tie-down strap. I did not (yet). The location and purpose seems to be slightly at odds between resources. The pivot essentially sticks straight out to compensate for the curvature of the hull and allow the rudder freedom of movement. You can see that I tilted mine ever so slightly, though that might not be necessary (as the photo of the rudder reconstruction shows). Combine the Rudder Hub, the Rudder Pivot, and paste them into the ship hull layer.

1446_tid_Image6-11.jpg 1446_tid_Image6-12.jpg

7. Now to the rudder itself. Fun is guaranteed for all. I started with a straight, sectioned rod. Why so many sections? Because I think there'll be lots of shaping along the way. On the 500mm grid, slide the sections as shown in the second image. Go to the point editing mode and move the points of the 3rd tier down as indicated. After selecting that row of points, go to the top view and deselect all but the six points shown. Hit the (h) key and center the tool symbol somewhat toward the right and do a horizontal stretch. You see, you are beginning to start the shape of the blade here.

8. In this vein, you will continue down the rod. Here's are next rows of points.

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