EdT

Young America by EdT - extreme clipper 1853

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Young America - extreme clipper 1853
Part 1 - Decisions 
I took most of the summer deciding whether I would undertake another ship model and if so, what the scope and subject would be.  I had a lot of time to think about this while catching up on neglected home maintenance and repair projects.  After deciding that I needed the challenge of another ambitious project, the decisions on scope and subject kept me busy through July.  I also had to decide whether I could commit to another Naiad-like build log.  We shall see.
 
I received a number of suggestions on subjects and that input is most appreciated.  Since I expect this project to span a number of years, the decision was a big one.  I have enjoyed wrestling through the process of deciding.  I had a number of criteria:  1) significant design/drafting content, 2) fully-framed construction to further explore my interest in structures, 3) a change from the well-trod path of fully-framed 18th Century Royal Navy subjects, 4) avoiding commonly modeled ships, and 5), I thought it was time to do an American ship. 
 
Before focusing on the extreme American clippers, I considered, among many other possibilities, a 19th Century American warship, perhaps steam-sail, and looked seriously at some of the ships by John Lenthall, built locally at the Philadelphia Navy Yard – examples: Germantown (sail), Princeton (screw/sail), Susquehanna (paddle/sail).  
 
In the end, the idea of the extreme clipper was too attractive to dismiss.  To me, this type represents an apex of achievement in wooden sailing ship design and construction – in terms of sleek hull lines, sailing performance, structural development and sheer beauty.  In the design of the extreme clippers, minimum tradeoffs were made to the one paramount design parameter  - achieving the shortest sailing times between far-flung ports.  Speed meant not only sleek hull lines and a spread of canvas, but also the strength to withstand continuous hard driving, day-in, day-out. 
 
After deciding on the clipper – and an American (meaning all wood) clipper - I chose the work of William H. Webb of New York.  It would have been easier to select something from his more popular competitor, Donald McKay, but McKay’s ships built at East Boston, have long been widely modeled – Staghound, Flying Cloud, Lightning and others. McKay’s papers do include substantial structural detail – very tempting.  Webb, too, has left papers, and these have been explored, with information published in the secondary sources I have used.  There are many gaps, but there is a family resemblance in details to all these ships and many practices and scantlings were commonly adopted.  Webb presented more of a challenge – in more ways than one – as I will describe later. 
 
Of Webb’s ships, I chose Young America, built in 1853, his last extreme clipper.  Less is known about her construction than some of his others, so the task of piecing her structure together is more interesting.  I will discuss this, the ship, and the extreme clipper era in the next posts.
 
Below is a photo of Young America, docked at San Francisco, a frequent port of call for her.  She was built mainly for the East Coast to California trade.  In the picture she is rigged with double topsails - a modification from her original single topsail rig.  There are also some paintings of her.  She was considered Webb’s masterpiece – one of his twelve clippers in a list that included renowned ships like Challenge, Comet, Invincible, Flying Dutchman – all of these examples being 200 to 240 feet in length. YA enjoyed a thirty-year career that included fifty passages around Cape Horn.  She set a number of sailing records and earned a ton of money for her various owners – and for those who made money betting on passage times.  In 1883 she left Philadelphia carrying 9200 barrels of Pennsylvania case oil, cleared Delaware Bay and was never heard from again.

 

post-570-0-32431400-1378132037_thumb.jpg
 
The model may be fully rigged.  I will decide later.  With the hull length involved (240’) the scale is likely to be 1:72, but that is not yet cast in stone.
 
Structural drawings are well along and I expect to start construction later in September.
 

I hope these posts will be of interest and perhaps draw some attention to this somewhat neglected modeling genre.

 

Ed
 
 
 
 

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Hi Ed:

 

This is great news! My preference is commercial sailing vessels, and have the Leon and Dunbrody in my plans for future builds. I'll be following your build with great interest.

 

Frank

Capearchitects and dhardy like this

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Here are pictures of a "Young America" model by the famous model builder Ed Sims that was in a Newport Beach CA restaurant for many years.

I don't know the scale but maybe it is 1/72. ((243 feet * 12 inches)/72 = 40.5 inches plus booms, 7 inches = 47.5 inches,the size of the case).

 

http://www.vallejogallery.com/item.php?id=317

 

(Sims's "student" was Myron Van Ness of Laguna Beach CA., now deceased.  Van Ness was perhaps even more talented than Sims. Van Ness's  fantastic clipper ships were always displayed at the Laguna Beach Festival of Arts.

If anyone has a digital picture of his work please share it with us.)

John Allen and dadodude like this

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Hello Ed, a fantastic choice, I like Webb's designs too. In the early to mid 70's I started research to draw the plans for Donald McKay's ship "Flying Cloud" but due to running an aircraft repair business I just had no time.  Now however I'm retired and busy with two models but my heart is still with an extreme clipper.  I have had a litho of Samue Hanscom's Nightingale on the wall of my studio and that's the ship I will build - - - someday.

Her speed has never been equaled in all the days of these ships.  What a beautiful ship she was.

 

I'll be following along with your build, thanks again for the choice.

 

Cheers,

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Ed, I'm looking forward to following along--spot on about this genre being neglected! Thanks for filling in some of that gap with project.

 

Jay

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Hooray!  Another 19th century merchant ship coming our way!!

 

Are you going to build her with her original single topsail rig?

 

John

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Thanks for the comments and interest. After years of trying to understand Royal Navy ships, this will be a departure. It is taking some time to get off the ground.

 

CMG, I have seen the pictures of the model you referenced. Thanks.

 

John, I have not yet decided if the model will be rigged and have not considered the topsail configuration. I would probably go with the original singles.

 

Piet, I have read a small bit on Nightingale - a very interesting history - built in New Hampshire. She was much smaller than YA and would make a great model.

 

Ed

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Very nice choice Ed.   I may have some stuff laying around for the YA.   I was planning on building her a few years back and was starting to compile some research.  Should I find that info I will get it to you straight away.

 

Looking forward to seeing this one take shape.

 

Chuck

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Ed,

The American Clippers were the ships that first attracted me to modeling, but that was way too big a bite for me at the time.  Looking forward to your project.  At least you don't have to do 74 gun carriages, gun ports, etc.

Maury

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Also looking forward to this build Ed. have you decided how you will build the hull? Frames, lifts, POB? I don't believe I've seen an historically correct plank on frame clipper ship model although I'm sure they exist.

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Ed,

 

I too very much look forward to this next build of yours. Clippers are such elegant and majestic ships - I'm glad you chose her.

 

Cheers,

 

Elia

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Thank you all for your interest and support for the new project and the subject.

 

Greg, the model will be fully-framed much like the format of Naiad - bolts, knees, ironwork, one side exposed, etc.  I am not aware of any fully-framed clipper models, but it would be hard to believe they do not exist.  Perhaps someone knows of one or some?

 

A very important enabler for this project is William Crouthers book The American Built Clipper Ship, Characteristics, Construction, Details.  While this is by no means Steel's Naval Architecture, I believe it and other sources may be sufficient to piece together a very authentic framed model.  Crouthers work is new (1997) and, I believe unique, in its thoroughness as a survey of these ships' construction.  There is no single repository of source material and there are many gaps, but the research that went into this book was prodigious.  I could not have begun to do this level of research of primary sources.

 

I will discuss all this in the early parts of the build log.  There are some very interesting structural aspects - and unresolved questions - in the construction of these ships.

 

I get more enthused about the project by the day.

 

Ed

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Young America - extreme clipper 1853

Part 2 – Some Very Brief Background

 

 

The Extreme Clipper Era

 

The term clipper had been applied to fast sailing ships since the 18th century. The “clipper ship” was the larger full-rigged type that began to appear around 1840. The term “extreme” referred to a class of these ships that were designed with one overriding objective – speed. Carrying capacity, the traditional priority in the design of merchant ships, was virtually ignored in the “extreme” clipper designs.

 

 

At the risk of over-simplification, demand for ships of this type arose from some fundamental market forces that emerged in the 1840’s. The end of the East India Company monopoly in 1834 and later developments in the opening of trade with China, allowed a mass market for tea to grow in Britain. Demand for tea - and especially fresh leaves – became insatiable, driving prices skyward in the face of short supply. In America, the discovery of gold in California created an immense demand for food and supplies as the small subsistence village at San Francisco struggled to support sudden and huge population growth. A similar situation arose in Australia. High prices made fast fulfillment of demand the key to spectacular profits for merchants in London and New York, respectively. By 1850, shippers were demanding the fastest ships - without delay and without concern for capacity or cost. In addition, they demanded – and got – continuous hard-driving from their captains. Earnings from one or two voyages – a year’s sailing - were often enough to return the cost of a ship. Voyage times to or from China that typically took the leisurely East Indiamen 18 to 24 months dropped into the range of 3 months. A lot of people got very rich. It all ended when the Suez Canal opened in 1869. Steamships were then able to take a slice of the British eastern trade, creating a glut of fast-sailing clipper tonnage globally and ending the production of the extreme clippers.

 

 

The Extreme Clipper

 

Design for speed meant long sleek hulls with sharp entry at the bow and sharp run aft at the stern. Early versions emphasized more deadrise – less flatness across the floors – but this was moderated in the later years. The ships carried a huge spread of canvas. Very importantly, they had to be able to withstand continuous very hard driving in regular voyages that included the violent extreme southern latitudes. The long lengths of the ships (up to 240’ and more) and the reduced buoyancy at the ends due to the sharpness of the entry and run, introduced major hogging issues. All these factors put a new level of demand on the internal structures.

 

 

The American built clippers were essentially all wood. Seemingly inexhaustible timber resources and limited iron-making capacity prolonged the wooden ship era on this side of the Atlantic as the British increasingly adopted iron and composite structures. Part of the reason for Young America as a subject was to explore this last phase of wooden sailing ship development.

 

 

Some aspects of the structures of these ships can be seen in the much reduced jpg image below – one of the first group of drawings for the Young America Model. This drawing shows the centerline structure of the ship. There are a few things to note. First, the ship is quite long – about 240 feet. Typical of these ships, the height at the bow is quite a bit higher than the stern in a departure from earlier types. The keel/keelson structure is massive to help resist the hogging strains on the ends. In fact the keelson has become the main longitudinal member taking over that role from the keel. The keelson is 4 feet deep and consists of two levels of timber – called tiers. In another departure from earlier ships it also runs in a straight line from stem to stern – causing some interesting problems that will be discussed later. The keel itself is 31 inches deep and also in two tiers plus a shoe. These were by no means the largest keel and keelson structures employed. Webb was fairly sparing of timber. Some of McKay’s structures were much more substantial. Note also the regularity in the spacing of the deck beams and the heavily kneed pillars under every beam. Finally note the extremely small overhang at the stern counter – just enough to accommodate the helm directly over the rudder. This reduced the impact of following seas on the low stern – a problem of long standing.

 

 

post-570-0-03146600-1378402555_thumb.jpg

 

 

A number of other interesting structural features were also employed. They will appear on other drawings and will be described later.

 

 

In the next posts I will further discuss Young America herself.

 

 

Cheers,

 

 

Ed

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Ed

 

I just signed up to follow along on this build.  Your work on Naiad was fabulous and I am sure this will be as well.  Not to mention that the Clippers were the first ships that caught my eye many years ago.  Your curiosity and details help our community understand the possibilities in a build and give us insight into how things were done on the real thing.  Thanks you for your commitment to deepening our understanding!

 

Bob

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Young America - extreme clipper 1853

Part 3 – Scale vs. Framing

 

Instead of continuing with the historical narrative at this point as planned, I thought this would be a good place to insert some modeling content to break up the text that might be tedious to some.  Also, at this stage I am faced with two issues.  First, I need to resolve the question of scale.  Second, I need to begin lofting frames.  Since I am a strong believer that drawings exist to support the specific building process, I wanted to nail that process down before getting very far into creating patterns.  These two issues are closely related.

 

The question of scale

 

I have already decided that 1:72 is probably the largest scale for a rigged model of a ship this large that my workshop (or house) can comfortably support.  The question is whether an accurate fully framed model is feasible at this small scale.  I was concerned about this at 1:60 for Naiad, but that worked out very well, so I am encouraged about moving to 1:72.  To confirm this before investing too much time I decided to loft and make some test frames.

 

American Clipper Framing

 

Some description of the framing of American clippers is required at this point.  It differs from the 18th century Royal Navy model that many are familiar with.  First, every frame was paired.  There were no standalone frames as was the case my previous Naiad model.  Also, there were no air gaps between the paired sections and no chocks at the joints.  Every frame pair was bolted together on the frame or station line with offset futtock joints.  There were relatively few cant frames, but a large number of “half-frames”.  These were square to the keel but bolted to the sides of the keelson/deadwood – like cant frames.  These started at the fore and aft ends of the square framed midship area.  The starting point was begun when compass timber to shape the increasingly V-shaped floors ran out.  The cant frames began when the bevels of the half frames no longer permitted bolts holding the pairs together to be driven “normal” – that is, square – to the faces of the frames without breaking out into either the inboard or outboard faces.  Young America had a total of 80 frame pairs vs 60 for Naiad.

 

Framing Process

 

After some work on the parts of a test frame, I quickly concluded that the 1:72 scale was feasible – a great relief – so I will not dwell on that.  However, the development and testing of the fabrication process may be more interesting.  Following is a brief overview.

 

Frame assembly can go faster without having to fit several chocks to each frame.  To eliminate the potential bottleneck of one assembly jig, the new process eliminates it.  Sections of the frame pair are aligned for assembly using predrilled pin holes on centers precisely placed on both the fore and aft patterns during the CAD lofting process.  The new process also provides for patterns to be left on the fore and aft faces of the assembled pair.  Since these patterns show the profiles for the fore and aft faces, the frames can be pretty well beveled inside and out before erection on the keel, eliminating a lot of post-framing fairing – especially difficult on the inside of a narrow hull with sharp entry and run aft.  To make this beveling accurate and to speed the assembly process, all the futtocks will be sided to the same size as the floors.  The reduced sidings of the upper futtocks will be milled off later, after beveling. 

 

The first image shows part of the pattern sheet for the forward section of half-frame 42.  This is the last half frame aft and the most highly beveled so it is a good test case.

 

post-570-0-30201600-1378488936_thumb.jpg

 

The next image shows a close up of one of the futtocks on the pattern.  Note the placement of the bolt/pin hole centers.  These were placed with CAD objects of the two frames of the pair overlapped so the holes could be located in an aligned position on each frame.  Note that on this most beveled frame the hole circles on this aft frame face are right against the smaller forward (green) profile.  They are equally close to the outer edge of the forward face.  Frames aft of this will have to be canted.  The circles are larger than the bolt size.  The diameter includes an allowance for some clearance between the bolt and the profile edge.

 

post-570-0-87123000-1378488939.jpg

 

 

The next picture shows the patterns pasted on to a piece of pear ready for cutting out.  Here I discovered that to have patterns left on the exposed faces, I had to use patterns from the other half of the frame.  It was also clear at this point that every piece needed to be labeled and that the Starboard and Port labels on the pattern needed to be clarified - some lessons for the final lofted pattern content.

 

post-570-0-54441300-1378488940_thumb.jpg

 

The next picture shows an alignment/bolt hole being drilled.  This is the most error-prone and critical part of the process.  The holes need to be accurately located and square to the frame.

 

post-570-0-98032500-1378488940_thumb.jpg

 

The next picture shows the beginning of frame assembly.  The frame segments are aligned by the pins and temporarily pinned to a copy of the pattern for a check. 

 

post-570-0-50923900-1378488941_thumb.jpg

 

The segments are then glued together as shown below.  Considerable excess length was left at the top to support the frame during milling of the reduced sidings of the top members.  Because of frame curvature this approach did not work out so the sidings will have to be milled using spacers under the reduced parts of the milled face.

 

post-570-0-03136500-1378488942_thumb.jpg

 

The pins with softwood blocks are hammered down into the fiberboard and act as clamps.  The completed - assembled and fully bevelled - port half frame 42 is shown below. 

 

post-570-0-61716300-1378488942_thumb.jpg

 

The sidings of the upper futtocks have been reduced. The aft face is up.  Note that the toptimber on the forward frame is higher.  It goes up the the fancy rail on every frame pair.  The aft frame goes only to the planksheer – the height of the open deck.  The closer view below shows the bolt holes – a safe distance from the inside edge.  They are a similar distance from the outside edge on the  opposite face.

 

post-570-0-18202900-1378488943_thumb.jpg

 

For this test I took the beveling almost to completion in this test frame – right to the green lines on the forward face and to the red lines on the aft face.  .  There is obviously no need to do that.  Leaving a slight amount for the final fairing may be safe bet.

 

I hope this explanation has not been too confusing.  Thinking about this or explaining it sometimes leaves me dizzy.

 

At this stage, I concluded that the process, with some minor tweaking, is feasible and efficient, so I will proceed with the lofting on this basis.

 

A milestone.

 

Ed

 

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From 1:60 to 1:72 scale, Ed? Most of is tend to build to ever increasing scales as our eyesight becomes less than perfect! Looks like a terrific start.

Jaxboat likes this

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So do we assume that the next one will be 1:96 Ed? :)  I'm looking forward to seeing you going into full frame production.

 

John

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Ed,

 

Just joining in to your log. It looks like a fascinating project. I will be interested in any different techniques that you may use in this smaller scale.

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Oh my...finally someone other then myself is building clippers.  I have fully enjoyed your historical outline and description of the Young America.  I am a clipper fan and they are my favorite design.  I am currently building the Glory of the Seas. by Donald McKay.  I too am very fond of American wood clippers...and I had entertained the notion of building the YA myself...but  Opted on Mckay's last ship rather then Webb's. 

 

I have only built one plank on frame and that was a scratch build similar to yours.  I have since become a kit basher and I utilize the  hull from the Revell 1/96 scale clipper Cutty Sark and heavily modify it to accommodate the required design differences of the clipper I am building. I then scratch build enverything else...with some exceptions of some deck furniture items.

My next ships will be the Donald McKay.

I'm looking forward to your build and will follow most closely.

 

Rob

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John, don't forget that Ed started with a 1:96 of Victory...so he is going up if you take the magnificent Naiad as a side step...

Ed, I am just glad to follow along! Had to read your previous post twice in order to pick up why you drilled the holes before gluing, but got it in the end. (kind of slow sometimes...don't ask the Admiral...).

 

And, of course, a splendid choice!

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Thanks, everyone.

 

Hakan, nice to hear from you again.  I am so glad you got the point on the holes.  It is the whole key to frame pair alignment and pre-erection bevelling.  The precision of CAD makes it possible, but the holes have to be positioned on CAD overlays during lofting.  I used a different method for aligning the frame pairs on Naiad so they could be pre-assembled, but on Naiad there were air gaps between paired frames and also the chocks to deal with.  That may make this approach more difficult, but I believe still do-able.  Having the original patterns on both faces of a frame pair after assembly is very useful.

 

On McKay - thats where I was headed, but found Webb ships a lot more interesting.  I think McKay was more media savvy and has somehow come out on top of history's popularity contest.  Interestingly three of the most notable clipper designers - Webb, McKay and Griffiths - all apprenticed together under Isaac Webb, Williams father. 

 

On the scale issue.  Bigger would be great, even though bigger isn't always better.  Of course at 1:48 the fully rigged model would need a case at least 7 feet long, 5 feet high, and 2+ feet wide.  1:72 is not exactly small at about 5'9"l  X 3'6"h  X  1'6"w.  YA sported a main yard  100 feet in length - before stuns'l booms.  I don't think I'm headed toward 1:96 again anytime soon.  Victory with 104 guns to turn, mount on carriages, etc. was quite enough - to say nothing of the dozens of 1/16" blocks and those pesky port lid hinges.

 

Thanks again, everyone.

 

Ed

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Oh good, another ship by Ed T. I was beginning to have withdrawal pains for lack of a good build by Ed to follow.

 

runner63

 

John

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Congratulations!

 

Another log from you and a clipper! Sure we all be here with you all the way till It will be completed. It does not matter if It takes years and years. Allways a preassure to follow one of your logs.

 

Best wishes and happy september.

 

 

Daniel.

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"On McKay - thats where I was headed, but found Webb ships a lot more interesting.  I think McKay was more media savvy and has somehow come out on top of history's popularity contest.  Interestingly three of the most notable clipper designers - Webb, McKay and Griffiths - all apprenticed together under Isaac Webb, Williams father. "

 

I'm not so sure.  The YA was only 243' and had a simple deck plan with simple raised poop and forcastle.  Where as the Donald McKay was the second largest clipper made next to the Great Republic and she had a large for cabin, 1/3 poop deck and gangways that connected the forecastle, across the top of the forward cabin to the raised poop deck.  Her removable hatch cabins and ample skylights, along with her 6 flush deck capstans add loads of detail.  However....preferences are very important and from what I gather from your previous detailed builds..the Young America will be given great respect and attention to her fine details.....one build which I plan of following most closely.

 

Good luck and great patience.

 

Rob

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Rob,

 

Thank you.  Your comments are appreciated.  You are right. Preferences vary.  I will say that deck arrangements and details were not among my decision variables.  Neither was size - although YA was a pretty large ship as extreme clippers go.  I was looking primarily at the form, structure and performance of the extreme clipper type.  Webb built 9 of these, McKay 11 - at least by the classification given by most experts.  Of McKay's ships I considered Lightning and Sovereign of the Seas - of Webb's Comet and YA.  Ultimately, I wanted something after 1851 when the early infatuation with high floor deadrise was beginning to wear off and the designs became more moderate in that regard  - without really sacrificing speed.  The 335 foot, four masted Great Republic is really a different class of ship and the fact that she never sailed as originally built leaves her a bit of a mystery.  Donald McKay - the ship - was classed a clipper packet, so is not indicative of the type I was interested in.

 

If you have followed my previous build, you will know that wooden ship structure is my major focus.  What I found interesting about Webb was his judicious use of timber.  His designs were light, but very strong - as YA's sailing life can attest.  I will discuss some of this in the next part.

 

Ed

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