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Bob Cleek

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  1. Yes, that was supposedly the genesis of the "widow's walks" on coastal homes. The "widows" would watch for their husbands' return from their long whaling voyages and identify the ships from a distance by the house flags they flew. Whether that was actually true, or the balconies were simply an architectural embellishment popular in the era, is a matter of some dispute.
  2. I should mention, however, that under USN regulations, dressed ship and full-dressed ship are not displayed while the ship is underway. Only at anchor or alongside a dock. That wouldn't necessarily apply to a merchant ship, although they generally followed the Navy practice. If you've got a contemporary photo of her underway, I'd go with that for authority. Even if the display wasn't proper, nobody could fault the portrayal on the model.
  3. Indeed. IMHO, the essence of modeling is the exercise of striving for perfection. I certainly didn't mean to imply otherwise. My comments were limited to limitations with the use of CAD programs for drafting as a means to perfection, which is the constant in the equation. The work of a master machinist is a wonder to behold, but there's more to a "perfect" miniature than proper scale measurements. It's the minute, nearly imperceptible imperfections wrought by the free hands of man that give life to a true work of art.
  4. I much preferred the earlier practice of naming carriers after famous sailing ships of the early US Navy. It's all a hodge-podge these days.
  5. That explains it. I didn't realize the circumstances of your portrayal and that there were more flags coming! However, under the "dressed ship" circumstance you describe, the largest ensign should be flying from the stern flagstaff. There would be another smaller national ensign at the spanker masthead, but none from the gaff peak because only one national ensign is properly flown from any given mast. When a house flag is flown on a "dressed ship, it's always flown alone from the main top. A ship that is dressed or full-dressed for a U.S. holiday or other special event flies its largest available ensign at the flagstaff and an ensign at each masthead at which a personal flag or command pennant is not hoisted. If it is dressed in honor of a foreign nation, that nation's naval ensign flies at the head of the mainmast. (Navy Regulations 1279) A merchant ship's personal or "house flag" is always flown from the top of the mainmast unless preempted by a foreign nation's naval ensign (AKA: "courtesy flag.") (Merchant ships do not fly command pennants.)
  6. I'm probably stating the obvious for many, but for those who aren't aware, drawn lines are actually as much as 1/4" thick at full scale, if not more, depending upon the scale of the lines drawing. Offsets are, more often than not, taken from measurements made from the drawings and if taken from a half-model, the scaling issue is no different. (N.G. Herreshoff, perhaps the greatest American naval architect of the late Nineteenth and early Twentieth Centuries, rarely drew lines, designing his creations by carving half models and taking the offsets directly from his models. The loftsmen then lofted from those offsets directly, without any drawn lines or construction plans.) Theoretical accuracy is dependent upon the placement of the dividers' points and reading the distance between them on the scale. As the saying goes, "There's many a slip between the cup and the lip." A table of offsets generated manually from a manually drawn set of lines will never be sufficiently accurate to serve as CAD inputs directly and a lot of CAD "fairing" is always going to be necessary if the CAD drawings are to "work" the way one might desire, but that level of accuracy on paper was never necessary for traditional builders. Manually generated offsets were never expected to translate directly to the loft floor and so produce completely accurate patterns. Rather, it was the loftsman's "eye" that was expected to fair the lines if not outright errors, in the offsets "right on the loft floor"and so correct the inaccuracies inherent in the manual technology, (And outright errors, be they in measurement or entries in the manually developed tables, are not infrequent.) In small boats, the "tweaking parameters" experienced are often measurable in inches, and in large vessels, easily measurable in feet. You're right: The input demands of CAD's close tolerances can indeed be crazy-making. It's high level of accuracy is solely dependent upon the accuracy of the input data, which, if manually generated, will never be up to the task. This was not so much a problem with model making in the days before highly accurate machine tools came into use among the modeling fraternity. What can be accomplished, and is being accomplished, by modelers today who are working to tolerances of thousandths of an inch is amazing, but a whole lot of the "machinists' approach" to modeling can be dispensed with by employing many of the fitting and joinery techniques of traditional full-size boat and ship building. There used to be a saying about woodworking tolerances: "The house carpenter works to the closest quarter of an inch, the finish carpenter works to the closest eighth of an inch, and the boatbuilder works to the closest boat!" The experienced human eye is far more convenient a mechanism for discerning the fairness of a line and a sprung batten a far more user-friendly tool for generating a fair curve than any CAD program. Or at least that's my story and I'm sticking to it!
  7. I believe there was a destroyer named after Doris Miller previously. The vessels of the Navy shall be named by the Secretary of the Navy under direction of the President according to the following rule: Sailing-vessels of the first class shall be named after the States of the Union, those of the second class after the rivers, those of the third class after the principal cities and towns and those of the fourth class as the President may direct. 13 USC 1531 (1862) Since 1862, many changes in the naming conventions have occurred for a variety of reasons and many exceptions have been made to the existing rules. Since 1968, carriers have been named for presidents, beginning with the JFK, although exceptions have been the rule. From all indications in practice, the Secretary of the Navy makes the name call and, given the increasing politicizing of the DOD, a lot of names seem to be chosen to satisfy the dictates of the political party of the presidential administration that's in power at the time of the naming. Remarkably, we have in recent years seen ships, including the George H. W. Bush and Ronald Reagan, named for living persons, which previously was never done. Not that Dorie Miller isn't deserving of recognition, and not to start yet another political conspiracy theory here, but to my jaundiced eyes, I suspect his "promotion" from those honored by having destroyers named after them to the ranks of those for whom the highest level of capital ships are named reflects more the present administration's concerns about its anticipated lack of support from African American voters than anything else.
  8. I'm curious why a small ensign is flying from the mizzen top instead of the aftermost gaff peak. I know there must be a reason. I've just never seen that before. How come?
  9. Those rubber donut and springed sheet horses are quite common on larger top-end yachts of the "Golden Age," but I never really understood the point of them. I've never come across anything on them in the literature. Maybe they were a fad and wealthy owners commissioning their yachts came to expect them, so the architects satisfied their expectations. They are unquestionably impressive, but the springs I've seen have always been quite strong. You'd have a hard time compressing one by hand, and the rubber donuts were hard, like tire rubber, and no more "compressible" than the springs. (After a few decades in the weather, the old rubber was hard as a rock, too!) Maybe they served to remind helmsmen that in boats of that size an uncontrolled jibe was to be avoided at all costs, but in the event of one, those shock absorbers wouldn't have made much difference. Generally, the stretch in the sheets and the flexibility of the spars provide all the "shock absorbing" that's needed in regular operation. (The stresses aren't sharp shocks, like when tires hit potholes, but rather fluctuations in tension.) On the other hand, they may have been developed to compensate for the lack of stretch in more modern construction when wire cable standing rigging and better cordage with less stretch came into use (and certainly later, when synthetic cordage came along.) I do recall an old timer from the "Big Boat" ocean racing fraternity telling me how a lot of the large ocean racers suffered a lot of busted gear, broken frames, deck leaks, and such when everybody went to Dacron line and sailcloth and hydraulic backstay tensioners and big geared deck winches to squeeze a bit more speed out of their boats. They were then able to really crank down on the rigging far beyond what the boats had ever been engineered to handle. Those "buffered" sheet horses may have been some attempt to compensate for some of that. I don't know, but they are certainly an interesting and impressive fitting.
  10. Perhaps you're joking. If not, actually, the fittings are bronze (always bronze, never brass) and, properly, they are left unpolished and left to weather and form a patina, as with bronze statues.
  11. I've seen more "gold platers" in my day than most, having once worked for a classic yacht brokerage many years ago, and I thought I'd seen everything, but I have to say that I've never, ever, seen blocks with fitted leather covers sewn on them to keep them from getting nicked up! I guess they're the nautical equivalent of the old Porsche hood "bras." (That application generally is addressed by a "thump mat," a Turk's head spread flat and placed with the eye bolt passing through the middle.)
  12. There are various ways of doing it. The problem, of course, is that full-sized blocks are stropped with strops that are laid up from a single strand of rope laid back on itself to form a continuous loop. A seizing is then worked around a thimble which tightens the strop around the block and the thimble. (The thimble in the photo is incorrect. It is a thimble made for modern wire cable, not fiber cordage. I got the photo off of google images, so...) You can lay up your own strops if you are really anal about it, but that's very difficult at small scales. I used to say "impossible," but from what I've seen of some people's work on this forum, I don't use that word when speaking about ship modeling anymore! Frankly, I've always found even making strops for full-size blocks a difficult bit of work, primarily because the modern synthetic rope used for it modernly does not hold it's shape or "twist" the way hemp rope does. Others have their favorite methods of depicting a stropped blocks for models. Some books recommend gluing the line together on the block, generally at the bottom, opposite the thimble or wetting the end of a tail with some glue and then whipping it, for tailed blocks. I've never liked that option so much because I don't trust glue to hold the kinds of stresses rigging lines are sometimes subject to. I try to devise a way to knot the line so as to achieve a real "strop" that holds the block as in full-size rigging practice. I tie a loop the size of the strop I need, and then place the knot (usually a square knot) at the point of the juncture between the thimble (or the loop in the strop, if a thimble isn't being used,) and then tie the customary racking seizing on top of the knot so that it is hidden from view. Whether the strop is served depends on the scale. If it's to be served, it has to be done before it is placed over the block and thimble. The connecting knot can be hidden in the service, obviously, and then concealed by the seizing. I then apply a clear shellac to the cordage. The shellac sold in paint and hardware stores is "two pound cut," (the thickness of the mixture ratio of alcohol and shellac flakes) and this is generally very thin, so it wicks in easily with just a touch of a paintbrush. There's no need to mask the block, if you are careful applying the shellac. It will be invisible when dry and will "cement" the strop and seizing very well. (Some swear by CA ("super glue") for this application. It's just my preference, but I avoid using CA for anything unless absolutely necessary. I follow the USN/Mystic Seaport archival materials standards to the greatest extent possible. Shellac is soluble in alcohol and can be washed off and undone, unlike some other adhesives. See post #1572 and following on page 53 of archjofo's scratch-build log for La Creole (1827) if you want to learn how to make blocks that will knock your lights out. He's working at a quarter inch to the foot. Note how he actually splices his strops at the bottom, leaving the splice unserved so it appears as a "pudding" at the bottom of the block, which is perfectly accurate. The puddings were used to protect the strop where it was exposed to the most chafe and impacts.
  13. The proper nomenclature is a good way to know quickly whether somebody really knows what they are talking about. That said, let's not forget that there are more than a few ship model builders who have never set foot upon an ocean-going vessel, let alone one propelled by the wind and, when addressing the subject of vessels hundreds of years old, we're all pretty much speaking "nautical as a second language!"

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