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Roger Pellett

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About Roger Pellett

  • Birthday 06/04/1943

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    Duluth, MN
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    Naval Architect, Scratch Modeler and maritime history researcher. Current modeling interest- Navy ship's boats.
    Nautical ResearchvGuild Member
    Author: Whaleback Ships and the American Steel Barge Company published by Wayne State University Press

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  1. The 60th Royal Americans were originally formed during the Seven Years War (commonly known here as the French and Indian War) in the 1750’s here in what were then the Colonies. It was formed by innovative British officers in response to the defeat of General Braddock’s army by Indians and a few Frenchmen near Fort Duquesne (now Pittsburgh) in 1754. In the first campaign of the war, Braddock led a column of British regulars, augmented with provincials (American colonists) to eject the French at Fort Duquesne from the Ohio valley. After crossing the Monongahela River less than 10 miles from the fort, Braddock’s column was ambushed. His well disciplined troops formed up and fired back. In a closely packed formation that would have been effective in massing firepower on a European Battlefield, they were mowed down by Indians shooting from concealed positions. Unable to effectively defend themselves they were ultimately routed, retreating to Cumberland MD over 100 miles in the rear. General Braddock was killed attempting to rally his troops. Thoughtful officers in the British command recognizing the need for more light infantry to fight in America’s wilderness environment formed the regiment. These were not riflemen. They were armed with standard smoothbore weapons and some weapons such as tomahawks unique to the environment. Rifles apparently came later. Those looking for a good book to read while at home sheltering from the virus might want to consider Braddock’s Defeat by David Preston. In addition to bring this battle to life, the author argues that the veterans of this battle including George Washington, and Daniel Morgan (who commanded riflemen at Saratoga) were profoundly affected by it. Roger
  2. CHAPTER 3. Research OK, Time to get this moving before someone deletes it for inactivity. As the first 22 years of my life were spent near the Great Lakes (Lake Erie), building a model of a Great Lakes Steamship has long been an ambition. Unfortunately classic Great Steamships are long! A model of one built to any reasonable scale woluld result in a model of impratical size. A model of one of the “standard” 600 footers like one in the picture in Chapter 2 built to a scale of 1:96 would be over 6ft long. In the 1980’s my parents were living in the town of Vermilion, Ohio on the South Shore of Lake Erie. Vermilion was the home of the Great Lakes Historical Society (the forerunner of the present National Museum of the Great Lakes, now in Toledo, Ohio). During a visit to my parents I learned that the Society was the recipient of the drawing archive of the American Shipbuilding Company, the principal shipbuilder of Great Lakes Vessels. My Dad and I paid the museum a visit and the curator reluctantly agreed to let me look at some of the drawings, but at the time they had no way to reproduce them or desire to do so. Several years later, in 1986 I learned that the museum had selected several example ships and were now, selling plan packages. Among them was Benjamin Noble. Although I was aware of her loss on Lake Superior, I was primarily interested in her because while she included many “laker” features, with a length of 250 ft a model at a scale of 1:96 would be 31-1/4 in long which I considered to be manageable. When I received the plans, I was pleased to see that they were reprints of the original builders drawings reproduced at the original scale. The Package included separate sheets for each of the following: Outboard profile, and Deck Midships Section Stern Outline (lines drawing of stern) Construction Drawing- Longitudinal section and decks Bulkhead Details Hatch Details Coal Bunker Hatch Hardware for Masts and Booms Boom Rigging Drawing. I was disappointed that the package did not include a lines drawing for the vessel other than the Stern Outline Drawing listed above At that point, I was finishing another model and then the company transferred me to Duluth, MN, less than 20 miles from where the Noble sank. By the time life returned to normal it was 1992. I dug out the plans and using the longitudinal section, deck plans, midship section, builkead details, and stern outline I drew what I considered to be a reasonable lines drawing for the vessel. Using this, I carved a 1:96 scale hull. Again my job and full-size boat and canoe projects interfered and the hull sat on the shelf. In 2005, I retired, and was researching the history and construction of the SS Meteor, a museum ship in the Duluth Harbor. One day, the director gave me a CD file of the American Shipbuilding Drawing Collection, now, housed at Ohio’s Bowling Green State University. Looking up Benjamin Noble, I found two items not included in my plans package- a hull plating expansion drawing and most important a table of offsets. With the Mould Loft Offsets, I was now able to make an accurate lines drawing. Since like most Great Lakes freighters, the Noble had a long parallel midbody it was only necessary to draw the bow and stern. The lack of a Company prepared lines drawing is curious. There are two possibilities: The lines drawing was lost. Or The mould loft offsets were developed from a model, so a lines drawing was never prepared The American Shipbuilding Company was an amalgamation of shipyards on four of the five Great Lakes stretching from Superior Wisconsin at the west end of Lake Superior to Buffalo, New York on the Eastern End of Lake Erie. The Benjamin Noble was built at their yard at Wyandott, Michigan but she was designed by their central design office in Cleveland, Ohio. There is a half model of a Great Lakes freighter in the Lake Superior Maritime Museum here in Duluth that has been cut to allow body plan sections to be traced so some yards did build from half models. American Shipbuilding’s design office was lead by A.C. Diericx, formerly of the American Steel Barge Company designers and builders of the famous Whaleback Ship. Mr Diericx had been formally trained at the Royal Navy’s Woolwich Dockyard and certainly knew how to prepare a lines drawing. It is, therefore, my opinion that A lines drawing was prepared by the Cleveland Design office, offset dimensions were recorded and sent to the Wyandotte shipyard where the hull was lofted. The Wyandotte Yard would have not needed and probably never saw the lines drawing which was either lost or destroyed. After reshaping the hull, my original lines drawing was close but not close enough, it again sat on my shelf while I worked on other projects. During this time, the wreck of the ship was discovered after over 100 years on the bottom. Steve Daniels, a member of the Lake Superior Shipwreck Preservation Society graciously supplemented my research with a DVD of the wreckage clarifying some details and more questions. We’ll discuss other research as I proceed. Roger
  3. Nice job. Your customer should be pleased. I think that restoring something old and abused to service is very rewarding. I wonder how much of the new junk that passes for furniture will be around as long as that table. Roger
  4. Allen, I don’t know about Lowe’s or Home Depot but my preferred home improvement store/ lumberyard is Menards and the the oak lumber that they sell is red oak, a species to be avoided in full size ship or boat construction as it has little or no rot resistance. Also with it’s coarse grain it would be a poor ship model choice. Roger
  5. Les, I assume that you mean .5mm, not .05mm. .5mm is still very thin, about .020in. I would select the wood with the straightest grain possible. Then If possible I would cut it with the grain vertical, that is with the parallel rings perpendicular to the wide dimension. Roger
  6. In milling cedar for wood canvas canoes it is generally understood that flat sawn wood is more flexible than quarter sawn- wood with vertical grain. Ribs that are 5/32/in thick x 3in wide and have sharp bends are flat sawn. Planking which is 3/16in thick and wider and not subject to tight bends ideally is selected from quarter sawn stock. The same principle would apply to model ship planking, except in either case try to avoid pieces where the grain in the plane to be bent runs out to the bent surface as this is where cracks are likely to start. Roger
  7. I glue miniatures temporarily to a square block of wood. This allows me to lay them flat on my workbench or to clamp them in a hand vice that also lays flat. I can then use a two handed approach with one hand on the bench steadying the one holding the brush. With this arrangement hopefully the paint lands at its intended spot. Roger
  8. Hank, My lamp plates are just 1/8 in aluminum plate from my metal stash, cut out with a hacksaw- nothing fancy. Roger
  9. Brian, very nice, careful work! I always look forward to your posts. I just finished reading a great book about the Vicksburg Campaign by an author whose last name is Arnold. It appears that these boats were almost impossible to navigate in the Mississippi’s swift currents. One of the Navy’s objections to running the batteries both at Vicksburg and Island No. 10 was a concern about getting back upstream to their base for coaling, supply and maintenance and repair. Roger
  10. During our Civil War, a recognized command prior to a battle was “knapsacks off.” Knapsacks were piled behind the battle line. Apparently the shirkers in the regiment were well known, and one or more were assigned to guard the pile, a haphazard system. As the war progressed, soldiers on both sides shed unnecessary and some necessary stuff figuring that they could either get by without it or find in on the battlefield. They also found that they could roll up the few things that they needed in their blanket carried over their shoulder and dispense with the knapsack altogether. The little that I know suggests that Nepolanic armies, both sides, were better disciplined. Roger
  11. I hope that readers won’t mind my hijacking Chuck’s topic with a short wood story (somewhat relevant). A side benefit to the “wood game” is that you sometimes have some unforgettable experiences. About 45 years ago while working at my first post Navy job in the backwoods Ohio town of Marietta, my boss, a woodworking hobbyist announced that he had located a source for cherry lumber. He and I drove out to a “woodpecker” sawmill back in the hills outside of town and I bought 50 board feet of rough sawn, 1 inch cherry lumber at 35 cents per board foot. I don’t remember how I justified this major expense to my young wife whose father didn’t know which end of a hammer to use. After air drying the wood I had to get it planed into dimensioned lumber. Someone at work told me about a guy in Lowell, Ohio nearby who owned a planing mill, so one Saturday I loaded up my wood and drove there. The population of Lowell was then less than 1000 so I quickly found his place, a large one story barn like building that had seen better days. The proprietor of this place was a really old guy, at least he seemed old to me, wearing the usual bib overalls (overhauls in Southern Ohio jargon). After considerable grumbling he agreed to plane my wood. He started up a huge electric motor that started an overhead shaft turning. Along this shaft was a series of wooden pulleys, each pulley driving a wide, flat leather belt. Each belt capable of driving a different machine. His transmission system was a wooden stick that he used with considerable manual dexterity to flip the required belt onto the pulley to start the required machine, a pre OSHA setup). About ten minutes later my lumber was planed. I probably paid him about $5.00 to plane the whole lot. Unfortunately, I doubt if guys like this still exist, and if they do they’re probably in backwoods places like Southeastern, Ohio. As for my lumber, some of it was made into ship model cases, or a display case for my model soldiers. When I accepted a new job in Duluth, MN the remaining lumber went with me. I lately offered some of it to an acquaintance but then winter snowed in my shop and now that we’re social distancing, my wife doesn’t want anyone coming into the house. Maybe I’ll live long enough to use it up. Roger
  12. Wood work accurate to within .003in? “Fairly accurate” is “English understatement!” Wonderful! Roger
  13. I’ve posted this numerous times but it’s the best information that I know of so I’ll repeat it. Eric Ronnberg is an expert on Nineteenth Century New England fishing and whaling vessels. In Volume 36, Page 202 of the Nautical Research Journal he published an article titled: Paint and Colors for American Merchant Vessels 1800-1920- Their Study and Interpretation for Model Making This article is reproduced in Volume II of the NRG’s Shop Notes and a copy of the article should be available electronically from the NRG office (PM Kurt VanDham via this forum). The article discusses availability and relative cost of different paint pigments, and use of certain colors. It also includes a chart of color samples. I would suggest that that you get a copy of the article, select colors that make sense, and then see if you can find them on the European Market. Note that is likely that paints for your ship were mixed on site and colors from different batches could not be expected to match. There is, therefore, no need for you to be too concerned about trying to match colors exactly. Roger
  14. Thanks for your explanation. It’s interesting to see how’s. This technology developed. Roger
  15. Hi Dave, After launch and fitout it appears that she was chartered to the Argo Steamship Company that operated a fleet of pulpwood steamers. Sometime during her short six year life her owners decided to place her under the management of a J. Francombe of Detroit. Francombe sometimes invested in the vessel’s that he managed so it is possible that he was also one of the Noble’s owners. While under Francombe’s management she operated as a tramp steamer hauling a variety of cargos- coal, scrap iron, and of course railroad rails. In fact, all of the photos that I have found shoe her hauling these cargos, not pulpwood. There is no evidence that at the time of her sinking she was carrying anything but railroad rails. This includes contemporary newspaper reports, and a subsequent lawsuit that went all of the way to the US Supreme Court. A photo of her leaving Ashtabula, Ohio on her final voyage confirms that she did not have a deckload and photos of the wreck shows railroad rails in her hold. The Noble is an excellent example of someone using a ship for a purpose for which it was not designed. The Noble was designed to sail with a hold full and deckload of a light cargo. Instead she was loaded with a very heavy cargo that didn’t fill her hold entirely, even when she had little freeboard and reserve buoyancy. Leaking or damaged hatches would have allowed water to flood the empty space within the hold and she sunk like a stone. A heavy cargo like railroad rails would have been a dangerous cargo for a vessel of the Noble’s design. Roger

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