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Ghost Ship

April 22nd, 2012 Leave a comment Go to comments

My motorized variation of the LEGO Black Pearl set. Features drive and steering, rotating ship’s wheel, manual  anchor winches and lights.


Completion date: 19/04/2012
Power: electric (Power Functions)
Dimensions: length 90 studs / width 34 studs / height 74 studs
Weight: 1.714 kg
Suspension: none
Propulsion: 1 x PF Medium motor geared 1:1
Motors: 2 x PF Medium, 1 x micromotor

I have been a fan of the LEGO 8184 Black Pearl set ever since it was released – it’s a jet black, shapely ship with an undead crew. However, since LEGO sets are usually cut down to meet certain budget restrains, I decided to build my own ship loosely based on it.

I don’t own the 8184 set, I simply bought a number of unique pieces from it, including black hull sections, sails and some minor pieces. I have also looked through the 8184’s building instruction to see how to build the bow and masts of my ship. The final result is in some parts very close to the original set, while quite different in others. It can be argued whether it was a custom construction or simply a modified set, but it should be noted that the ship was larger and much more complex than the original LEGO Black Pearl.

I was using only one inspiration when modeling the hull – the Revell’s Ghost Ship set,  which is somewhat exaggerated but still fairly realistic. The resulting ship lacked the nice shape of the original Black Pearl, instead it had a massive and tall rear superstructure, which was necessary to house all electric and mechanic components. The main problem was that side and rear walls of the superstructure had to be 3 studs thick each, to accommodate for windows with lights and red walls used as backgrounds.


The ship was able to drive and steer, and featured a ship’s wheel which rotated while steering. The propulsion system consisted of a single PF Medium motor installed under the hull, driving wedge belt wheels with 1:1 gear ratio. The steering was carried out by another PF Medium motor rotating a vertical axle at the back of the hull, with wheels with tires on the bottom end, and with a big decorative rudder attached. At the same time the ship’s wheel was rotated by a micromotor coupled with the second PF Medium motor, using a single knob wheel which proved able to mesh with it. I was very close to making the cannons fire remotely, by installing a motor that pulled their triggers with small sections of string. However, it turned out that the cannons’ triggers have to be instantly released to fire, and if there is any kind of delay resulting from the motor being unable to release all tension in an instant, the “cannonballs” stopped in the cannons’ exits. I was unable to find any simple solution to it, but at least by removing that mechanism I have gained more space – including space for the battery powering the ship, located under fake roof between the stairs at the back of the deck. I have been also toying with the idea of a chassis capable of rocking the entire ship, imitating waves, but I decided that such a chassis would have to be so tall that in the end it would barely look like a ship, more like a trailer with a ship on top of it.

Making the ship really float was out of the question, as the hull wasn’t even remotely watertight, and even if it was, the model would sink under its own weight. It was also way too top-heavy to float properly. Instead, I had a lot of fun working on the crew, which included, among others, an undead fisherman, a rotting cook, a joker farting fire, a painter with inclination to decorate ammunition, and even a pooping parrot, which could be considered an ex-parrot 😉

The whole idea behind this model was slightly absurd, but making it come true was really fun. The ship looked truly majestic traveling across my room, and my only regret is that there was no simple way to take it out on a lake. It was also one of very few models to feature two hamsters in the video: Furball and Noodle.


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Media reference:

8studs (Polish only), Classic Pirates

Categories: Watercraft Tags: ,
  1. Sariel
    April 24th, 2012 at 21:41 | #1

    Thanks. I’m using Pinnacle Studio 14.

  2. TLT803
    April 24th, 2012 at 21:13 | #2

    The detail is terrific but the functionality is what really makes this model awesome.

    I don’t really know anything about video editing, but what kind of software you use?

  3. Minotaur
    April 22nd, 2012 at 20:32 | #3

    Nice model Sariel, it has great detail and the fire farting skeleton was a nice touch 😉 . Also I think your hamsters were fighting on the ship, maybe there wasn’t enough space for them 🙂 .

  4. Sariel
    April 22nd, 2012 at 19:58 | #4

    That would be probably twice as expensive as the regular Black Pearl, which already isn’t cheap.

  5. Alex
    April 22nd, 2012 at 19:55 | #5

    Nice one Sariel !! You should really post this one Lego.CUUSOO !

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