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johnhoward

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About johnhoward

  • Birthday 12/01/1940

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    St. Louis,Missouri

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    argonne7@sbcglobal.net

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  1. Brian, Sorry that this response is so late but although I performed the bulk of the research for this model of the USS St. Louis, I am no longer participating in its construction and unfortunately apparently no one is updating the build log . The basic plans we used are from the National Park Service "Historical Structure Report" and its attached set of approximately 20 sheets drafted by Ashley in 1981 which are probably still available on the Vicksburg National Park Service(NPS) Web Site for the USS Cairo. Although we found numerous problems with these drawings, those of the "lowest deck (cargo hold) shown on sheets 5 & 6, although labeled "Gundeck Framing-Forward & Aft" actually contain the lateral & longitudinal bulkheads for the compartments in the hold which also support the beams for the gundeck.. The various compartments are labeled, probably by relating the artifacts still found in them and the original specifications for building the Seven City Class Ironclads. Sheets 3 & 4 show the actual internal flooring and support beams for the machinery mounted in the hold. A few photographs also exist of these areas during Eads construction, recovery operations and storage which our large scale model reconstruction plank-on-frame model helped to interpret. I verified the reasonable accuracy of these drawings via the use of the NPS drawing VICK306-80024 titled "Torpedo Damage,USS Cairo, which was made by J. Smeal (?) in 1977 from the salvaged remains while in temporary storage at Ingalls Shipyard, Pascagula, Mississippi. The lower hull of the USS Cairo had been sliced into 3 major sections due to the 2 cables under the hull used to raise it from the river in 1963. The lower floor of the hull had been preserved better since it was buried under the river mud but it still broke up into about ten pieces due to the weight of the mud still inside when recovered. This drawing was obviously used as a major resource for the NPS 1981 drawings. However, by the time the USS Cairo was reassembled and "barged" back to Vicksburg much more deterioration occurred. An earlier NPS, Denver reconstruction survey of the "City Class Ironclads" in 1970, apparently performed by marine architects, contains a lot of useful information which helped us interpret and correct the later drawings but not for the lower hull. I hope this information serves useful, Johnhoward
  2. Thanks for all the nice comments, we have a great team working on this model. Eric, the story on the cannons is this: All 14 cannon barrels on the final model for the Missouri Civil Was Museum will have the brass cannon barrels which Tom has been machining. Most of the basic brass barrels are nearly complete but still lack some details such as their cascabels and gun sights. In the meantime we are utilizing some slightly less accurate wooden and 3D Printer cannon barrels with their final wood carriages as models for dry-fits with the overall model structure to make sure of eventual compatibility. The Hurricane Deck and the Bow & Stern Casements will remain removable via screws to permit access for rigging the gun stations and other interior details, but at some point this will become difficult.. Johnhoward
  3. USS St. Louis Ironclad Project Update 31 December 2018 We continue to make great progress on this project but I can't say the same for maintaining the inputs to this build log. Attached are a few new photographs and I will try to update the accompanying text soon. Johnhoward
  4. USS St. Louis Ironclad Project update for May 2018: The first 3 photos show Bill's progression from the joggle strip, thru planking for the starboard side of the gun deck to its completion this month. Decking on the port side will be limited to that required to support the the main armament cannon barrels, carriages and load crews. At least one cannon will be displayed having been rolled back from its gun port and in the process of being reloaded. The next series of photos represent progress this month on fabrication of our "Doctor" Auxiliary Steam Engine which serves several functions including maintenance of safe boiler water levels. Since the actual "Doctor" was lost during recovery of the USS Cairo, its City Class sister ship USS St. Louis, our brass engine is based on drawings of a similar, but fancier, engine found in the US National Archive, modified by similar more realistic engines recovered with contemporary Civil War era Western River steamboats. The two large cylindrical units above the "Doctor" engine are heat exchangers which utilize main engine steam exhaust to pre-heat river water before pumping it to the boilers. The remaining steam is them either fed into the wheelhouse to keep the paddlewheel water from freezing in Winter, or is vented to the main stacks. A dry-fit of the "Doctor" and its adjacent manual start-up/bilge pump is shown in the main engine room to help us layout the required piping connections. Our "Doctor" engine model has its own simulated steam cylinder with piston, flywheel, 4 water pumps and control valves, all linked to the "rocking beam" supported by its unique framework. Lastly, several more views of the gundeck near the bow casement provide a good idea of its eventual appearance. johnhoward
  5. Thanks for the nice comments. Our customer, the Missouri Civil War Museum, requested this large scale model to serve as a focal point for their new display room dedicated to the nautical element of the war in the Mid-West. Part of our objective has been to determine and document how to manage a diverse group for a big project like this which would be very difficult for any single modeler. Although taking much longer than we originally anticipated, we are finally "visioning light at the end of the tunnel." johnhoward
  6. USS St. Louis update for April 2018 Seven of our original 9 Shipcrafter build team gathered to commemorate our 3.5 year milestone on our City Class "USS St. Louis" Ironclad Project and the departure of Scott, third from the left, upon his retirement to Wisconsin. Scott will continue support of the project, remotely in his original research capacity. One of our main accomplishments this month was fabrication and successful dry-fit of the "Hog Chains" which span from the aft end of the wheelhouse on the port & starboard keels to the forward face of the boiler/firebox. The "chains" are actually a combination of cables, solid links and turnbuckles, modeled after those recovered with the USS "Cairo". They fit in a remarkably confined space within the hull structure, penetrate the roofs of the "Hurricane" deck houses, and are supported on four stanchions "footed" on the engine room floor. Another dry-fit of the completed paddlewheel successfully resolved several minor issues. Tom displayed his initial brass machinings for each of the 5 different types of cannon barrels which will make up the 14 cannon carried on the USS St. Louis at the end of September 1862 which our model represents. Completed details of the "Hurricane Deck" were assembled to verify spacing with the new "Hog Chains". Initial sketches have been made for fabrication of our "Doctor" Auxiliary Steam Engine which was lost during the "USS Cairo" recovery. Materials are being gathered for this interesting mechanical contrivance. Bill has continued modeling of the insulated steam distribution and exhaust system. Ten of the 13 wooden Naval cannon carriages were dry-fit at their gundeck stations. The 14th carriage, which will be brass, is for the 12-pdr Boat Howitzer and will be carried on the "Hurricane" deck. johnhoward
  7. USS St. Louis Ironclad update for March 2018: We began implementation of fabricating armor plating for the pilot house and casements using our previously developed system of covering strips of Formica with .002 thick copper foil tape which was then chemically blackened. The Formica strips are doubled in thickness but off-set about .030" to create rabbets on both sides to resemble the original interlocking armor such that only one side of each plate need be attached to the wood structure with scale 3/4" diameter bolts. The bolts were created from No 18 brass escutcheon pins which were annealed and then headed in an arbor press with a female hex die to form its head and washer. These fasteners are very prominent in views of the casements for the USS Cairo at Vicksburg. The armor for the hull casements was 2.5" thick while that for the pilot house was half that thickness, so two different thicknesses of Formica were utilized. Our research for the junior officer's cabins leads us to believe that they were very likely to have been relatively lightweight canvas and pole enclosures which could be readily disassembled whenever combat was anticipated, rather than enclosures built by carpenters. This is reinforces by the "camp style" display at the USS Cairo Museum at Vicksburg. We also completed finishing the wheelhouse and performing a successful dry-fit of the completed paddlewheel. One interesting result of this dry-fit was that our Pittman arms, as built, could not be connected to both the paddlewheel axle bellcrank and the engine piston clevis at the same time, because they are not perpendicular to each other. This would require mono-ball bearings in each end of the Pittman arm to accommodate the 3-degree angle. Later research determined that such mono-ball bearings were in actual use by 1840 mills and factories. We will simply add chamfers to the Pittman arms to make it fit. Bill started fabrication of the insulated steam-pipe delivery system and planking the starboard side of the gun deck as we intensify our effort to close off this area. johnhoward . Cairo,Bow.bmp
  8. In an attempt to bring this log up to date I will be adding progress photos for the USS St. Louis month by month since February 2018. This is the remainder of our activity for February which primarily consisted of completion of our brass paddlewheel assembly, attachment of its paddle-boards, its axle saddle machining, the captain's quarters, cannon ammunition cases, and a few structural additions. johnhoward
  9. That's great Gerhard. I have also neglected to keep my USS St. Louis log up to date for about 6 months but have made continuous progress and will be posting it soon. Johnhoward
  10. Gerhard, I'm very sorry for your personal problems but VERY glad you are OK . johnhoward
  11. We have again temporarily removed the Hurricane deck and are cleaning up numerous details on the gun deck such as the stern bulwark rail, the Captain's Quarters, coal bunker door with sacked coal, the paddlewhee, axle pillow-block supports and framing of gun deck access hatches in preparation for gun deck planking and eventual reinstallation of the Hurricane Deck. We have also started installation of the 17 paddleboards (Buckets) on the paddlewheel and fabrication of the 2 main steam engines which will be shown in future photos. johnhoward
  12. Attached are sections of the Philadelphia National Park Service 1968 drawing of the Union Gunboat "Cairo" depicting the "Captain's Quarters" and a port side photo of the structural framing for our model cabin on the "Cairo" sister ship "USS St. Louis". This cabin is located on the gun deck and shares a wall with {Paddle} wheelhouse (on the left) and would be about 5-feet from the stern casement (on the right) in this photo. We are planning to include the cabin interior furnishings on our model but so far haven't been able to determine what the area labeled "TRANSOM" represents. It seems unlikely that it is a typical architectural type window transom normally located above doors for ventilation since the paddlewheel was located immediately on the other side of the cabin wall containing the transom. It also doesn't appear to be related to a nautical type transom which forms the stern of a boat. Its plan full size 65" x 17" could possibly indicate that it was a closet or large chest but we haven't found any such connection to the word "TRANSOM". Any ideas on this subject would be greatly appreciated. johnhoward
  13. Roger, We totally agree with you on these options and have made a concerted effort to verify contemporary technological accuracy for everything we include on the model and document any physical changes we have made to the published plans and drawings of sister ship "USS Cairo", which in many cases we realize were only reconstructions themselves, and the National Park Service's Historical Structural Report (HSR) which summarized the "Cairo" recovery findings. We have selected the October 1862 version of the "USS St. Louis" for our model configuration, primarily to establish its main armament, but this is also the point in time at which it was renamed the "USS Baron DeKalb" and its control transferred from Federal US Army to US Navy Command, since our museum is located at a US Army facility. Our most reliable independent resources for the accuracy of "City Class" ironclads are their few existing contemporary photographs but even these have been obviously retouched and mis-identified. For all practical purposes only the metal remains and a few identifiable artifacts of the "USS Cairo" reconstruction at Vicksburg have been of much technical value. We had hoped to find something to differentiate between the "USS St. Louis" and her 6 sister ships but so far the only possibility is the highly contentious "Masonic Symbol" depicted on the bracing between the smokestacks in some highly retouched photographs, and supposed news reports that she was referred to as "The "Masonic Ironclad" which we have been unable to verify. Our hope is that opening discussions on this Forum as to how these types of ironclads operated will uncover new avenues for us to research further which appears to have been fruitful regarding coal sacks. johnhoward

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