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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 was surprised to see the eye method of seizing in the deadeye but it turns out it’s very common on Cutters. I can’t say I’ve seen it anywhere else. My guess is this allows staysail hanks on the stay to function as close to the deadeye as possible?
  2. Regarding the Peak and Throat halyards on the gaff: when setting sail these two halyards are in simultaneous use, the load they are lifting is the heaviest load on the ship and thus there are at least four guys on each halyard, usually more. All eight or twelve guys could not be standing in the same spot on deck so this is one reason why the hauling ends of the Peak and Throat belay on opposite sides of the deck. In my view it would be very unlikely to find both ends near to each other on the same side of the crowded deck.
  3. There’s a few Surprise kit build logs here on MSW but as yet none complete.
  4. I’ve been giving this issue some thought too: with so little available space in which to distribute the lead of the lines to the deck, where can you put stuff to be out of the way of the boom? When the boom is sheeted out it would foul a lot of rigging were that rigging led aft. But then I considered that this would only occur when running before the wind. I’m now of the opinion they wouldn’t use the Fore and aft mainsail for running since they have the square sails. The square sails also keep the center of effort much farther forward and that reduces the risk of broaching to, a serious consideration on such a short hull. Still the boom has to have a range of motion port and starboard so I’m still curious about exactly how much sheeting is possible on a cutter. Every contemporary painting I’ve seen of cutters depicts them sailing to windward yet even so many of these show the mainsail pressed against the lee backstay. But this “contacting the backstay” issue can be seen on nearly every boomed for and aft sail on the after part of a ship, that’s why they have baggywrinkle.
  5. Just glue! This is a pet peeve of mine on the issue of Boltropes. In my opinion they should never be literally sewn on with needle and thread since on the real thing, actual handsewn sails, the stitching is understated and invisible at a distance. But I recognize this issue has many facets and certainly there are fantastic world-class models with visible boltrope stitches. But I’m aiming to mimic appearances on the actual ship, as seen in photos, and in this case you simply can’t see handmade stitches at a distance greater than.....perhaps 20’? White glue holds the boltropes just fine and has the added benefits of not distorting the fabric of the sail and is a lot faster in application than handsewing, which would take many hours.
  6. Thanks! There’s some 1:64 figures available on eBay but they’re all both expensive and crude and apparently intended for automobile modelers. It seams there’s a lot of 1:64 car models.
  7. I’d made a bunch of crew figures months ago but decided I needed more. Some of these figures will be in the rigging so they’re wearing the typical rock climbing harnesses tall ship sailors now use.
  8. I accidentally stumbled on this just now, it’s online edition of Sea History magazine from the Fall of 1978 and it contains two articles related to Sloop Providence: https://issuu.com/seahistory/docs/sh_012_fall-1978/26?ff. Pages 17 and 22.
  9. I’d put these same photos up on social media. Two friends of mine with a lot of tall ship sailing experience each noticed something I had not on my topsails. I’d followed the kit plans for the spar dimensions and the sail size and shape and during the whole process of getting these built and onto the model I noticed nothing wrong. But these guys each noticed -after a glance at the photo- that the sail was too wide at the third reef to fit the spar properly. Meaning that if the third reef was hauled up to the yard via the reef tackle the sail would be too wide to be bent to the sail properly. So I remeasured everything and my spars and sails were exactly the same size as those indicated in the Model Shipways plans. We’re talking about a half or a quarter of an inch discrepancy in this fault so I’m not going to tear down and rebuild the models topsails but I’m annoyed with the kit and the plans, especially when I took a careful look at the reef lines as drawn on the plans. They DIVERGE. The third reef as drawn on the plans is too wide for the yard and so the draftsman cheated by drawing the reef lines in at a slight diagonal. So either the draftsman knew he was fudging the plans OR he didn’t understand what reefing a sail involves. Here’s my kit plan and the red line is perpendicular to the spar at the location of the sheave for the reefline. And a photo of the actual ship’s topsail with reeflines visible. You can see the discrepancy is very slight. But an actual sail could not be tight across the spar if the third reef was used, it would have to bunch up to fit. this episode showed just how competent todays tall ship sailors are. These two highly skilled and experienced people independently and within a few hours of having an opportunity of seeing the photo both spotted that discrepancy and commented on it. A pretty amazing demonstration of tall ship knowledge. Note the reeflines and their vertical disposition. The question mark indicates where the reef crinkle would have to be in order to fit the spar. The kit leeches are too wide at the point of the third reef and can’t fit onto the yard.
  10. Here’s an update. All sails are now bent on but not all the running rigging is installed. Having the sails on allows me to see just how large this model really is, pretty big for my apartment. Im not totally convinced the cours sail is a good idea. It’s going to make all the forward deck details invisible from the Port side. For now I’m leaving it on but it’s sort-of on probation. The braces aren’t on yet so the yards are not braced up sharp as they will be. I’ll brace them hard over to Port.
  11. Hi Frankie,

     You've obviously been studying this subject assiduously (good word Eh? - Had to look it up to make sure I'd spelt it right). Fly, being small single masted, I imagine would possibly use the pendants as running backstays when not needed for the purposes of lifting shrouds ect. Chuck Pessaro's description of Cheerful's rigging has them over the top of the shrouds at the top of the mainmast. Fly was built 40 odd years before Cheerful but I've cheated and though the hull is Fly's the rigging is mostly Cheerful's. That's a major advantage of proper scratch building since I've made all the parts except the parral beads. The attention to the very smallest detail carried out by you major builders is very intimidating to a minnow like me.

    Seasons Greetings, Peter

    1. JerseyCity Frankie

      JerseyCity Frankie

      Hi Peter thanks for writing. I’m planning on re-rigging my model of Le Renard, a French cutter, as my next project so I’ve been paying close attention to Cutters lately.

      im surprised Cutters are even credited with having pendants at all since the ships are so small and their masts are so CROWDED with rigging. But looking at the vast rigging tables provided in the back of Biddlecombe’s The Art of Rigging I see they’re included and presumably Biddlecombe and Steel, writing in a time when Cutters still existed, would know what they were writing about? 

      Im sure the running backstays must have been put to use as convenient rigging for lifting stuff. I also noted someone’s cutter model had the halyards for the peak and throat of the mainsail attached using hooks instead of a more permanent connection and I speculated they too could have  been used for lifting stuff. Cutters are going to remain very mysterious unless someone builds a serious replica and tries to sail it with all that canvas on. There’s a replica Le Renard but it looks in photos to be a simplified rig: no stunsails ect. 

      Im most curious about the oddities in the topsails the Cutters used.they went to great lengths to get that odd little square sail to catch a puff of wind, adding a LOT of weight aloft for the sake of only a little more horsepower. And of course the long long headrig with all its moving parts and multiple sails. 

    2. JerseyCity Frankie

      JerseyCity Frankie

      Your model looks terrific by the way! 

    3. bagpiperuler


      I've been trying to get the rigging tensions in all the lines to the point where everything is square. Chuck Pessaro is right when he says in his description of Cheerful that it takes some time to get it right. You too make a good point that the masts are crowded though I look at the bigger square riggers and the complexity of their arrangements and quake. Fly is relatively simple in comparison. I'm finding one of the most difficult tasks right here at the end of the build, namely that of making and fitting the coils on top of the belaying pins and cleats. I've tried to attach a couple of photos to show what I mean. There's 11 lines going to the end of that bowsprit (the way I've rigged it anyway). Chuck's description of his build of Cheerful was of such a great help to a beginer scratch builder like me. At 75 I'm hoping to last long enough to become intermediate!

      I've seen one or two contemporary paintings showing cutters going to windward with their main yard lowered to what must be no more than fifteen feet off the the deck. I suppose that would reduce the top hamper weight and also windage. But where on earth did they stow all the stunsail yards and cordage.



  12. I haven’t installed it yet on my model but I’ve got these on my Niagara, I built them off the model and will install them last. I took the approach of carving a single block of wood roughly in the correct size and shape of an entire row of hammocks, in a gentle curve matching the curve of the bulwarks. This I covered in glue soaked paper which went on lumpy and slightly wrinkled but shrunk down onto the wood shapes nicelyand which mimics the canvas cover that very often went on over the hammocks to keep them dry. Onto this surface I glued black wire pieces bent into “U” shapes at intervals to represent the vertical iron hammock stanchions-not onto the models bullwarks, these are glued on the outside of my hammock bundles so they are all one piece. At the end I’ll simply glue this affair into position on top of the railing and nobody will know that the “iron stanchions” are not set into holes drilled in the rail.

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