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General Hunter 1809 by daves


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#1
daves

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 I was told why don't you start a real build log and not just a link to a video series. The gunboat Caustic is finished and i really can not start over, so, ok here is another project i am working on but first i will introduce myself name is dave stevens model shipwright for about 40 years student of master builder Harold Hahn and student of Robert Bruckshaw model builder for the Smithsonian.  These two guys taught me just about everything i should know.

 

People like to put a face to a name so here i am.

 

the project will be the General Hunter built by William Bell in 1809 as a transport, when the war of 1812 broke out the General hunter was armed and fought in the battle of lake Erie. Her bones were found and this is where the reconstruction begins.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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#2
daves

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here is a museum model of the General Hunter which i will also be using as a reference. Will i swamp you with step by step down to the last detail information? you can bet on it, from the research to the reconstruction to plans to cutting wood. 

 

 

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#3
qwerty2008

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The General Hunter is back!. I followed your videos back when you were building the Hunter and am glad to see you back at it and this time making a log on MSW.

 

 

 

 

Lextin.


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"I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious." - Albert Einstein.

#4
Brian the extraordinaire

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I remember a series of you tube videos of this model in a plank on frame construction.

 

There was also talk about producing this model as a plank on frame kit from the model shipbuilder forum. 



#5
daves

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Your right there was a video series on building the General Hunter and articles in the model ship builder journal. What happened was i jumped the gun and built the model without enough data and it was wrong. So i scrapped everything put it on a shelf there it just sat. All the projects i do are intended for kits but as Chuck will agree when you devote 12 to 18 hours a day 7 days a week to model ship building some projects just get buried.  This build is the new and revised version of the original build. 


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#6
daves

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To begin we have to know all the details of what remains of the hull.

 

Hull Description
The wreck remains consist of the vessel bottom along its full length, a smaller portion of the port side and a larger portion of the starboard side. Some sections on the starboard side of the bottom extend up to become the true side of the hull. The wreck lies over on its starboard side at an angle.
The timbers used in the ship construction are quite heavy and all appear to be white oak. In the case of the frames they are of generous proportions and spaced very closely together. The nominal room and space arrangement is 24 in (60cm). This sizing would indicate the likely hood that the vessel was built originally as a naval vessel capable of carrying and firing a number of cannons and able to sustain a heavy blow in return. In addition, the frames are in pairs, making the hull almost solid. The frames vary in siding dimension (width), ranging from 8 - 10 in (20 - 25.4 cm). At the upper end of the visible portions, the frames are 6 - 7 in (15,2 - t7.8 cm) molded dimension (deep) while at the keel end they are molded 9 in (22.8 cm). The gap between the frame sets is 5 - (12-7' 15-2 cm)' The available evidence indicates the wreck has 24 frame-sets 10 forward of midship and 13 aft of midship. Beyond these the frames are notched into the apron timber or deadwood framing.
Most ceiling (interior) planking that could be measured was 2 in (5 cm) thick' while the accessible exterior hull planking measures 2 1/2 (6.3c m) with the exception of a portion of the starboard wale timber which measured 3 in (7.6 cm) thick. On the port side there are remains of up to 7 ceiling planks out from the keelson. On the starboard side there are remains of 10 ceiling planks out from the keelson.
The overall length of the remaining portion of the hull is 53 ft 10 in (16.41 m). At the midship frame location, the maximum width is 16 ft 10 in (5.L4 m).

There are two obvious damaged areas on the wreck. One is at the port bow where the port side section of a large bracing timber--probably a breast-hook is missing and long sections of exterior planking are broken and pulled away from the frames. There is also a fairly severe shattering of timbers near midship on the starboard side. Many of the remaining frame ends are charred, providing strong evidence that at least the upper portion of the hull was burned at some point in time.
Two mast steps are major features of the remaining hull structure. The foremast is set into the keelson, while the mainmast step is a saddle type, notched over the keelson and locked into place by two large blocks. These two blocks are pinned and spiked into the keelson but the mast step itself has no pins or fasteners into or through it. No supporting evidence has yet been found to confirm it, but we believe this somewhat unusual saddle-type of unpinned step may have been used to allow easy repositioning of the step to accommodate any adjustment of the mainmast angle or location. This type of step also may allow some flexibility of movement without straining the hull structure. The presence of the two mast steps on the keelson confirms the vessel carried two masts at the time of the shipwreck and would thus be rigged as either a schooner or brig.
Several other important observations were made during the survey of the hull. Most notable is the apparent craftsmanship used in the construction. Many of the joints are as tight and solid today as they were approximately 200 years ago when the ship was built.
A rectangular charred area on the starboard ceiling planking near the bow was documented during the excavation. Since we found what appeared to be parts of a stove in the same area, it is likely the charred area indicates where the stove was located before the vessel was wrecked. The charred wood in this small area was extremely fragile and eventually was fully removed to provide another access point to the bilge area below. Fortuitously, this location provided additional construction details as well as a number of artifacts which were recovered from the bilge.
Just forward of the mainmast step along the keelson, on both port and starboard sides an opening in the ceiling planking was found which provided access to the bilges Covered with loose boards, these small openings were first thought to be the location for the bilge pumps. However, no apparent pump fittings or apparatus were found in the openings. The fact that these openings are forward of the mast step is also unusual. Many ship plans of the period show the bilge pump just aft of the main mast rather than forward of it. We found no evidence of limber chains or lines for clearing the limbers in these bilge openings but it soon became apparent that the ceiling planks beside the keelson were removable limber boards used for this bilge cleaning purpose. Three of these limber boards on each side, forward of the mainmast step, were easily lifted out using finger lift-notches cut into both ends of the boards. The bilge areas under these boards provided good access to a number of construction details along a large portion of the keelson. There was a fourth limber board on each side of the keelson but they were positioned partly under the mainmast step.
Toward the end of the excavation, this mast step was carefully lifted from its position notched over the keelson.
This lifting was easily accomplished since as noted above the step was not fastened to the supporting blocks, keelson, frames or ceiling planking in any way. During this lifting of the step, the limber boards located under it were also removed and construction details beneath them were recorded.

As mentioned above, the very heavy frames and other timbers, the tight frame spacing, and the thickness of planking and other supporting component pieces on the wreck were all seen as unusual for an early Great Lakes merchants sailing vessel especially one that was in the range of 50 - 60 ft (1.5.2- L8.2m ) long.
One of the other interesting structural details observed was that the frame sets,
while double and heavy, did not cross the keel as sets. The floor timber in each set was laid across the keel while the first futtock in the set started 9 in [+/-] (22.8 cm) away from the keel,/keelson edge. All frame sets were configured the same way. Where we could observe them, the frame sets were held together with wood dowels driven through holes drilled sideways in the frames. This would indicate that the frame sets were fabricated prior to lifting in place on the keels. The frame sets were laid flat on top of the keel with no apparent notch to hold them in place. However, a rough, split wood piece was used as a spacer between frame sets along the top of the keel. These spacers were left in place as construction proceeded and were found still in these positions during the excavation.
Another detail concerning the frame sets was noted aft of the midship frame set where the floor timber was on the aft side of the set. From the midship frame forward, the floor timber was on the forward side of the frame set. We believe that this frame arrangement provided stronger support at the forward and aft ends of the vessel.
While there were no notches in the keel for the floors crossing it the keelson 7 1/2 x 10 inches (19 x25.4 cm)--had minor, 3/4 in (1,.9cm ) notches over the floor timbers where they could be observed. It also appeared that along the top of the keelson only every second frame set was held in place with two iron pins driven down through the keelson into the frames. It was impossible to determine if any of the frame sets were pinned or attached similarly to the keel but it seems likely that this would be the case.
The ceiling planks on the wreck varied in width and tapered over their lengths. The widest ceiling planking section was 13 in (33.2c m) at its extreme. The longest individual piece measured 29 ft 9 1/2 in (9.1m). Where they could be measured, the ceiling planks were found to be 2 in (5 cm) thick. Many of the joints between ceiling planks were still tight and uniform. The limber boards and first ceiling planks were beveled to permit easy lifting and a tight fit when in place. The limber boards were 1 3/4 in (4.4cm) thick.
On the starboard side, enough of the hull was left to include some sections of a starboard wale timber. The section toward the stern measured about 16 1/2 ft.( 5 m.) long the section closer to the bow measured about 11 1/2 ft. (3.5m.). In both sections the wale timber was 3 inches thick x 6 inches wide (7.6 cm x 15.2 cm ). Those sections of exterior hull planking that were uncovered during the excavation were found to be between 2 to 2 1/2 in. (5 - 6.3 cm ) thick.
Near the bow a large shaped timber is securely attached on the starboard side of the keelson at an angle sloping down and away from the bow/keelson. It is notched in such a way as to indicate that its mate for the port side is missing, perhaps torn away when the damage to the port bow occurred, or perhaps destroyed by fire. This piece is a part of a breast-hook timber. This breast-hook section is carefully fitted into place and the ceiling planking is fitted around it in a way that indicates the larger piece was installed first.
Although we were not able to carry out any excavation of any major sections of the exterior of the wreck we were able to uncover enough of some exterior bow and stern areas to obtain significant structural detail. This included structural information which allowed us to calculate the maximum keel depth and its probable dimensions. During this exterior excavation, draft marks were located both at the bow and stern ends Both the IV & III carved draught numbers were visible at each end but were carved only on the port side at the bow and only on the starboard side at the stern.

These draught marks also provided additional information for the calculation of the location and dimensions of the keel. At the same time, elevations taken on these draft marks indicates the keel bottom would be 174.67 m at the bow and 174.49 m at the stern.
With the beach sidewalk datum at 179.00 m that means the bottom of the shipwreck is 4.5m below the level of the sidewalk, our main elevation datum.
During the exterior excavation around the stern no portion of the rudder or hardware associated with it was found. One long, relatively thin timber was found and recorded then returned to its original position near the stern. It measured 5 ft 11 in (1.81m) long and between 3 - 4in (7.7 - 10.16 cm) thick, with some shaping at one end. The function of this piece is not yet known.
While several types and locations of fasteners were observed and recorded, time did not allow recording of all visible fasteners or the precise determination of nailing patterns.
Preliminary information on the fasteners is provided in a short section in this report dealing specifically with the nails, dowels, treenails and other fasteners used in the hull construction.


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#7
daves

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There are questions on how ship were framed in North America from very early times to the end of wooden ship building. The photos of the General Hunter show the typical method used on all ships from war ships to merchant schooners. This is known as sister framing and it can be found in all the wrecks of both American and British built ships throughout the Great Lakes.  This is a key pieces of information but i am getting a little ahead of myself here. first we have to reconstruct the shape of the hull.

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#8
Trussben

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Nice to see you going back to the GH Dave, look forward to seeing more.

Ben

Current builds: HMS Pegasus TFFM, USF Confederacy,

 

Completed builds:  ECHO cross section.18th C Longboat.


#9
daves

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The first step in a reconstruction like this one is to establish who built the ship and where it was built, and the intended use of the vessel this will shed light on the construction. We know the G.H. was built by William Bell a Scottish trained shipwright. William and his brother John came to Canada where John, a ships carpenter worked in the French yards in Quebec and William got a government job and was sent to the British naval yard at Amhersburg. This is where he built the British fleet on lake Erie then Bell went to Kingston yard where he finished on super frigate Princess Charlotte and built another super frigate the Psyche finally building the largest first rate war ship to ever float on the Great Lakes the St Lawrence.  Lucky for us there is a large collection of material in the Canadian archives on William Bell and records of the Amhersburg shipyard right down to the amount of nails and paint use at the yard. Searching the archives we find two ship plans drawn by Bell. WOW what a stroke of luck or is it?

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  • plan.jpg
  • general hunter low res.jpg

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#10
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if anyone thinks this is a little to tedious in detail say so and i can skip over all of it and get down to building a model.


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#11
mtaylor

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Research is always a good thing, Dave.    At some point, will you be giving us a bit of her history?  I'm not familiar with this vessel at all and I'm sure there's others in the same boat, so to speak.


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Mark

"The shipwright is slow, but the wood is patient." - me


Current Build:

Licorne - 1755 from Hahn Plans (Scratch) Version 2.0

Past Builds:
Triton Cross-Section
USS Constellaton (kit bashed to 1854 Sloop of War (Gallery) Build Log
Wasa (Gallery)


Member of the Nautical Research Guild


#12
daves

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Just about all model ship builders start with some sort of plans and from those plans will develop a set of modeling plans. In this case i am starting with no plans at all they have to be developed from research.  When the wreck was discovered all the timbering was measured and recorded also drawings were done for each frame and the keel. here is an example of the midship. When all the drawings were traced in CAD and scaled i have the start of a bodyplan. This bodyplan is distorted and twisted because of the wrecks condition, but it is a starting point. 

 

 

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  • KEEL PROFILE.jpg
  • CENTER FRAMElr.jpg
  • wreck bodyplan.jpg

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#13
daves

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Research is always a good thing, Dave.    At some point, will you be giving us a bit of her history?  I'm not familiar with this vessel at all and I'm sure there's others in the same boat, so to speak.

 

As far as a basic history of the G.H. she was part of the British fleet on Lake Erie and fought in the battle of lake Erie in the war of 1812.  The ship was captured and was taken to Put-in Bay where it was surveyed the sold by the Navy to a businessman in Erie PA later to be purchased back by the US Navy then sold again out of service.

The G.H. was built before the war of 1812 to serve as a transport to bring supplies to the Amhersburg naval yard. Bell built the General Hope as the first transport but a bunch of guys got drunk and took the General Hope out for a joy ride and ran it aground and she was lost. Without a transport Bell had to replace the lost General Hope and built the General Hunter. 


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#14
daves

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Using the two plans found in the William Bell archives i will take those and compare them to the drawings of the wreck and see what develops.

The two plans and the wreck drawings were all scaled to 1/4 inch = 1 foot in the first image the wreck is over laid on the first drawing. the two hulls are close to the same length but notice the stem it is way off. Taking a look at the midship frame that is a total miss. Seems like the plan is for a much sharper hull the red line is traced from the wreck drawing and would be more consistant with a hull designed to carry cargo which was the purpose of the G.H.

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#15
daves

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Now lets check out the second plan starting with the midship frame. It is a very close match so moving on lets see how the stem lines up. The red lines are the wreck laid over the original plan.  Scroll back and take a look at the second plan and it could have been the General Hunter John Stevens way back in the early NRG journal called this plan the General Hunter but that was before the bones were found. It looks like William Bell has thrown us a curve ball it is a swing and a miss. The two plans do not line up. The wreck is to small so what is going on here?

 

 

 

 

 

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  • body 1.jpg
  • stem1.jpg
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#16
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i do not think i can post the John Stevens article so if you want to read it you have to check with the NRG people or maybe they will allow it to be posted. 

 

H.M. Provincial Marine Schooner "General Hunter" 1805  by John Stevens  Volume III  October 1951  number 10

 

 


Edited by daves, 22 February 2015 - 06:52 PM.


#17
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here is the plan drawn by John stevens when you compare this plan to the original Bell plan you can see John added a full railing and the date 1805 and the name General Hunter other than that it is an exact tracing. Problem is like i have shown it does not match the wreck.

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#18
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The problem with the plans not matching up with the wreck data come down to possibility (A) the wreck is not the General Hunter or the plans are the General Hope and Bell built the General Hunter off the lines of the General Hope.  The team that collected the data on the wreck are certain it is the General Hunter so that leaves us with looking for clues through historical accounts of what might of happened.  When William Bell arrived at the Amhersburg shipyard the first ship he built was the General Hope.  When the General Hope was lost and no hope of salvage William Bell was in a tight spot, the Fort and shipyard needed a supply ship and fast. Going back to the life and times at the shipyard cira 1800 before Bell got there we find the yard was more of a French out post, repair station where ships would come in for repairs and maintenance.  Boats were built there but mostly small craft like ships boats and long boats in addition the carpenters built numerous batteaux used to carry supplies and troops.  In the records it was noted the yard had ships carpenters and some ship artisans but no master shipwright.  Most of the ship carpenters and artisans could not read or write and none had formal schooling in ship building, William Bell was an educated man trained in school as a shipwright. The difference is a shipwright had the know how to design a ship and as a surveyor to build a ship from the keel up. Ships were not built from plans but rather by the numbers or offsets and the construction was surveyed like a building is done.  After just building the General Hope Bell went to his carpenters to tell them he wanted another ship built. The problem was the lack of timber to build another ship the size of the General Hope, according to the records there just wasn't enough material in the yard.  To tell the workers to go out in the woods and cut the needed timber was a bit of a problem. Amhersburg was already an established town and beyond the town were farms and businesses, beyond that huge tracks of land were private owned and finally beyond that the land was owned by the native Americans. In order to get timber the ship yard had to purchase standing timber then contract private business to cut and haul the timber to the yard. To make matters harder the yard would incur great expense to haul timber for miles out of the woods, due to the distance it had to go and bad conditions of roads. Once the timber was in the yard it had to dry for at least a year.  Another laborious and expensive task was providing knees which was done by taking up giant White Oak trees by the root and hauling them to the yard. From historical records of the town of Amhersburg, the ship yard and letters of William Bell, raising the money to replace the just built General Hope with another ship was harder than actually building it.  Interesting, when William Bell was assigned to the ship yard he expected to be provided with a house and servant what he got was a one room cabin with a dirt floor.  William Bell was no dummy he began buying land all around Amhersburg thus owning a huge amount of standing timber. He was also the master shipwright at the shipyard. He must of made a lot of money selling timber to himself.  Mr. Bell ended up owning half the town and most of all the land around it.  Anyhow, back to the General Hunter Bell made the best of what he had in the yard and redesigned the General hope and built a smaller version the General Hunter.


Edited by daves, 24 February 2015 - 12:15 AM.

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#19
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lucky for us the General Hunter was based off the plan of the General Hope and this plan was a standard class of lake transport vessel designed by the French shipwright Alexander Munn.  The Munn plan for a lake transport was used to build the General Hope, the General Hunter and the Earl of Morina. Bell took the original lines and made a few alterations. If the midship sections of the original Munn plan and the General Hope plan were superimposed you will see they are the same, also taking the profile you can see a similarity between the plans. Master shipwright John Dennis builder at Point Fredrick also took liberties with Munn's original plan and increased the dimensions to build the Earl of Moria.

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  • bodyplan.jpg
  • imposed profiles.jpg
  • munn plan.jpg

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#20
daves

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without further a do and the aid of Computer Graphics (CG) based on historical records, existing plans and wreck data a working set of modeling plans is created. From these CAD files 3D models can be created, laser cutting files and modeling plans. Stay tuned for plans of the General Hunter, i have to convert them to jpeg. so they can be posted.


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