JerseyCity Frankie

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It’s a point which weighs against us, and a fact to be deplored – 
That we chased the goodly merchant-men and laid their ships aboard.

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  1. I'm trying to research the Caroline, a 75' OA steamer that operated briefly on the Niagara river near Buffalo and which may or may not have been set alight and allowed to drift over the Niagara Falls in 1873. She was featured in an historical event known as The Caroline Afair. She's otherwise not wel documented so I'm trying to find anything I can on Great Lakes steamers under 100' from the early 1800's. The second half of the 1800's seams to dominate the genre as there was more proliferation, tech development and available cameras. But what of small steamships BEFORE 1830?
  2. A second round of block making, this time I'm trying to make the smallest blocks I can manage. When these are trimmed into a rough lozenge shape, I paint them with Testor enamel,flat Brown paint. I wind up with a wide range of sizes, I make more than I will need so as to be able later to select only the nicer ones for use on the model. All of them have a line running "through" the block and the two legs are made long so as to fit anywhere on the rig. M anticipating trouble later when I will need a different lead on some blocks than I'm providing for on my assembly line but I figure I can do those blocks on a case by case basis. Still no strops on any of these blocks. I'm tempted to make the strops out of three strands of wire twisted to look like rope, then paint these to look like natural fiber line. I imagine this will make stropping eisier?
  3. The line would, in my opinion, slip off the top of a vertical fixture like a timberhead? As mentioned above, I would lead the line through a fair lead or lead block first in order to get the lead to come in from the side. Nearly any Hitch will now work to belay the line but you have to take into account how difficult it could be to untie a knot if it's under strain over time. For instance a clove Hitch would require a lot of prying to open if a heavy load was on the line for any amount of time. If it was me I'd use the Tugboat Hitch.The beauty of this hitch is that it will hold anything and it's impossible to jam. Untying involves NO struggle to pass parts of the line that are pinched tightly by any other part of the line. A child could untie it.
  4. There is more to pins than simply belaying though, pins are also used to ease lines under strain. Let's say you have a eight hundred pound load on a line belayed on a pin. You want to lower the load six feet then belay it again at a height above the deck with the line still holding the weight. One person can do this singlehanded even though it may have taken six or more sailors to initialy raise the load. The sailor takes the First of the three turns off the top and bottom of the pin and holds the line tight then pauses to observe. Did the line start to creep around the pin? If he or she takes the second of three turns off, the line may start to creep on its own around the pin, the weight it's holding being so great, and this is what the sailor wants, but he or she wants to CONTROL the speed at which the line creeps or renders around the pin. The line starts to render slowly so the sailor has time in which to act. Maybe the two remaining turns are still providing enough friction to hold the line in place? But the sailor WANTS to lower the eight hundred pound load so he NEEDS the line to render so they have to remove more friction. He or she then takes a turn off the top or bottom of the pin, again keeping the line in their hands tight between them and the the friction the belay had provided has been reduced by more than half and the line does start to render around the pin, the sailor feels it moving in his or her hands and can see and hear it too. The weight above begins to lower toward the deck. But the sailor can control the speed at which the line eases off the pin by taking off or putting back on the turns AND by adjusting the angle the line takes from their hands to the pin. The sailors muscle power is the determining factor in how fast the line eases at this point, but the sailor has first managed the friction the pin provides so that the forces involved are comfortably within their muscles ability to control the line. It's all a matter of observation and judgment on the part of the sailor. It NEVER takes two or more people to ease on a pin, regardless of the weight of the load. Often the order is to simply cast off the line and "let it run". In this case the sailor makes sure the coil is free to run and quickly takes all three turns off the pin in quick succession and the coil runs out on its own. Note that in All these descriptions the pin itself never moves. It doesn't even rotate in its hole as the crossing turns always oppose the rotating tendancy even when the line is under tremendous strain. Nobody ever pulls a pin out as a way of freeing up a line or letting it run. Note also that in nearly everything I've said above, the two horns of a cleat could be substituted, the operation for handling a line on a pin is exactly the same for the use of line on a cleat, from line as thin as a signal halyard up to the size of a dock line.
  5. Probably a good time to discuss how pins work. The way a line is belayed to a pin has not changed for centuries, and the method I'm describing is the ONLY method currently in use universally on every sea or at any time in the past, there are no variations in this procedure. The facts: lines come down to deck and they need to be secured in a way that they stay where the sailors put them. Some of those lines are slack and just need a place to "live" and be kept out of the way. Most of the lines however will be under strain, sometime a lot of strain and these lines need to be fixed in a way that is easy to do, secure enough to hold any weight, and easy to undo in an instant. The pins are simply a cylindrical object passing through a shelf of some kind in a way that has half the pin over the shelf and half under. ( the "shelf" is the pinrail, cap rail, spider band, fife rail etc) usually pins are vertical but they can be horizontal. to Belay the line a sailor takes a bight of line and passes it behind or under the lower half of the pin or the half farthest away from the load, then diagonally across and over the top and behind the upper half of the same pin. thats considered one turn and the diagonal path the line took makes it resemble the letter "S". He or she repeats this operation twice more, creating three turns each turn crossing over the one beneath it on a diagonal across the face of the pinrail- picture a letter "S" with a reversed left raving "S" over it with a final Right facing "S" over that. These are known as figure eight turns and it's the way that they cross over each other that creates enough friction to hold the line in place. Three crossing turns. Never four, never two. Always three. You can hold the heaviest load with three turns, a fourth turn is just a waste of rope. Now you can coil and hang the rest of the line. Here's a video of a guy demonstrating
  6. Pins are removable but need not be. If they couldn't be removed at all it would have no effect whatsoever on how lines are belayed or cast off of them. Many pins on many ships can't be removed do to swelling of the wood or corrosion of the metal, but I've never heard of wooden pins fixed in place deliberately with fasteners or glue. As far as I know all pins, wood or metal, are designed to be removable. I HAVE seen steel rods or pipes welded onto fixtures to creat fixed "pins" but that was only due to scarcity of real pins. I IMAGINE pins are removable so they can be swapped out when worn. I willl ask around.
  7. Shooting photos of things that are colored black dark grey or dark brown always brings you up against the built in limitations of the camera and films ability to capture and represent subtleties. But I shot a blob of tar next to a blob of Liquitex brand Acrylic Burnt Umber. As you can see I smeared them into the absorbent paper. The paint has more color than the tar, but they are pretty close. When dry the colors will undergo a slight change too, but not much. And as mentioned before, many layers of tar are going to have a different tone too.
  8. I'm moving on from Hull, Deck Furniture Spar Making and beginning work on the rigging of my Yawl Dulcibella. It took me longer than I imagined it would to list and define all the running rigging and blocks, now I'm making blocks from laminated paper and some are visible lower right.
  9. Yes tar is not paint! I only included it in my model as an eccentricity or a nod to the culture of historic ships, not because it's a practical ingredient for a display model. My model will go into a case but if it wasn't intended for hermetic protection I'd never use tar on it.
  10. Yah I mixed it very approximately 3 parts Tar to 1 part turpentine. Without being diluted it's got the consistency of honey.
  11. I would love to see the sails made of khaki pants! One of the dead horses I keep flogging is the color of sails. Worn khaki is likely a very good choice due to the color: not white, not grey, some kind of cream/grey hybrid.
  12. I painted pinetar on my Yawl Dulcibella shrouds last week, check out my build log. I got my tar from the rigging job I worked on last summer where we were SLINGING tar. We had a 55 gallon drum of it. In the past I had looked into the source and in the United States it's from a company called Natrochem. But I'm fairly certain they're wholesalers and you won't get a smaller amount than 55gallons. The product I actually see in gallon and quart cans in stores is this one : but a google search reveals many other sources. Pine tar is used in sadelry and horseback riding circles so it's to be had in tack shops or perhaps rural farming stores? It's an historic skin care product too and you can get creams and soap made with pinetar but it's been diluted into soap and skin creams in those instances. I'm sure the two products shown in the above post are the real unadulterated pine tar and to me it looks like a good price. Pine tar takes a long time to dry. Or does it really ever dry at all? It reliquifies on very hot days and starts to drip again, but on a model this won't be an issue. Still, it's going to remain sticky for a long time time, longer than oil based paint takes to dry for a certainty. I diluted my tar in turpentine and dabbed it onto my shrouds with a q-tip. I put it on a week or so ago and it's still slightly greasy, I can pinch the shroud and get a very slight smear on my fingers that way.
  13. Here is a comparison of some commercial blocks with my fake paper blocks. Note the angle of the line entering and leaving the block. Not a fair comparison without the ends being attached to anything but illustrating my point about the built-in stiffness of the thread. The contours of the paper blocks were all achieved with the xacto blade alone.this is certainly labor intensive but on the other hand I only need twenty five blocks. If I was building a larger three masted vessel I'd certainly find a way to live with the commercially available blocks.
  14. An issue I have with literally passing a tiny thread through the hole bored in a tiny block and pretending this looks like a rel block is the way the thread behaves, its never going to have the scale suppleness of a full scale line passing around the sheave of an actual block at full scale. The thread pokes out either side of the block and doesn't bend down to the belaying point or the load very realistically, so I'm gluing the "running rigging" in place so it will enter and leave the block at the angle I want, not the angle the stiffness of the thread allows for. I'm building up a sandwich of layers of laminated paper cut into the lozenge shape of a block. Later I will strop them but I have not got that far yet, here is what I have so far: