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Modeling the Extreme Clipper Young America 1853

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The Book is out!




Sea Watch Books and I are very proud to announce the publication of Modeling the extreme Clipper Young America 1853, Volume I.  I think you will find that the book is unique in its description of a fully-framed extreme American clipper - as well as a smaller plank-on-bulkhead version.  As with the Naiad books, the focus of this work is on modeling processes - covered in detail with many photos and drawings.  Eight full sized drawings are included for the two versions as well as a CD containing patterns, detail sheets and other data.  A second volume covering fitting out, masting and rigging is planned.


My contribution to the book has included almost three years of research, drafting,modelbuilding, taking a few thousand photos and, of course, writing.  I will let Bob Friedman comment on the effort required by Sea Watch and its various subcontrators.


However, apart from this initial announcement, the purpose of this topic is to collect comments, questions, and opinions on the book.  Bob Friedman and I will pay attention to these as the book rolls out and address questions or issues that may arise.  I will use this topic to post any addenda to the work that may become necessary or even just useful.


There are plenty of people to thank for help with an effort like this and I hope I have adequately expressed appreciation in the beginning of the book.  The late Bill Crothers (1912-2015) tops my list and therefore deserves additional mention here.  His exhaustive work on the structures of the American clipper ship were a primary resource for me and neither the model nor the book would exist but for his many years of effort and his excellent books.  It was my honor and pleasure to meet with Bill with the framed version of the model in its earlier stages and to discuss various topics by phone on a number of occasions.  I regret that he is not here to see the either the current model or the book.


So, comments and questions are most welcome.




The book can be found at:



Edited by EdT
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Ed Tosti has proven himself to be a master modeler. HIs research, plans and building are of the highest order and that is why I am so proud to be his publisher. Ed and I thought you might be interested in knowing all the steps it took to bring Ed's Young America to you in book form.


Once Ed had competed his manuscript and produced it using IN Design it went to one of the free lance editors that I use. From there it traveled to a designer who polished Ed's layouts and produced "print ready" PDFs for the printer. While this was going on, permission was obtained from the Gardner estate in The UK to use Erik Gardner's great painting for the jacket.


Our primary printer then produced proofs of all materials, made any last minute corections and went to press with the body of the book. A second printer, using digital equipment, was hired to produce the long, 48" multiple color plans. We had to resort to a nation wide search for the plans printer because of many comlications.

While all of this was going on, the body of the book was sent to a bindery where the printed book was sown and placed in its case. Yet another company prduced the die cut folder for the plans and still another company replicated the CD that is in the book.


The final trick was to bring all of the components back to the primary printer where the jacket was put on the book, the CD sleve glued to the back of the book, the plans holder glued and plans inserted, Finally each package was shrink wraped and sent to the distibution center.


When all is said and done, Ed and I wish you the inspiration to study and build. That's why we do it.




Bob Friedman

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  • 2 weeks later...

Ed,I just received your new book this week, absolutely outstanding just as the other two books on the Naiad. Of course, the plans included are extremely detailed and  are the best. I have not had a chance to read the book in its entirety; however, what I found interesting were several new building techniques that I had not thought . These will be helpful with my current build of the Naiad,  which I have just finished all of the framing. Laman.

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Ed, congratulations! I didn't know it was going to be out so soon. I've really been looking forward to this.


Unfortunately, Bob and his publishing company is a serious drain on my bank account! Okay, let me see... if I cut back on the grocery budget, put off the cable bill until next month, and get a garage sale organized, I should be okay...  :D



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Hello all,


Here is a review that appeared in my club's newsletter.  I thought I'd share it with you.  This is a remarkable book!




Young America


Volume I: Hull Construction

Text, Photos, Plans & CD by Edward J. Tosti


Distributed by: Sea Watch Books, LLC, Florence, Oregon

www.seawatchbooks.com, seawatchbooks@gmail.com


In his opening remarks, Edward Tosti, states that the drafting and construction of a fully framed extreme clipper ship can be a daunting endeavor.  Unlike the meticulous documentation available for Royal Navy vessels, the short-lived period of the extreme clipper ship provides very limited technical information.  This is reflected in the scarcity of model making books dealing with this period, and the nonexistence of publications describing framed structural models.  Tosti sites the works of William L. Crothers, and a number of other references listed in the bibliography, as the primary sources for Young America 1853.

   Although the primary focus of this book is the construction of a 1:72 scale, fully framed up model, the author has made an effort to appeal to a broader range of modelers.  The latter portion of Volume 1 deals with building a 1:96 scale, plank on bulkhead model of the Young America.  Even at this smaller scale, the hull measures a very impressive 40” in length.


   In order to accommodate this sizable amount of information, and to avoid repetition, Tosti, on occasion, makes reference to his earlier work, the Naiad Frigate.  Although not absolutely necessary, he suggests that having these additional books may compliment the process descriptions needed to construct either scale model of the Young America.

   The book starts out with a brief history of how the extreme clippers evolved, the innovative methods used to construct them, and the men who actually designed and built them.  Finally, a short description of the Young America’s career is provided.

   The second chapter, “Planning for Construction,” is unique in many ways, and exemplifies the author’s attention to detail in guiding the model builder.  Mr. Tosti discusses the many facets of planning your project.  Some of these include scope (what to build), the level of quality desired, detection and correction of errors, machine, hand and specialty tools, what species of woods to use, and of course safety.

   Actual construction begins with the keel structure.  The author goes into great detail, and includes obscure fittings such as keelson joint wedges and water stops.  The use of dark glue is also described for enhancing the visibility of glue joints.  Scrapers play a prominent part in creating rabbets, and patterns are provided for fabricating the correct shapes.

   The author goes on to describe his design for a model shipway or building board.  Although, later in the book, additional information is provided for a smaller, simpler, less costly design for the POB model, the more complex device can actually be used for both versions. 

   You might say that the three chapters dealing with the framing of the model are the heart of this book.  They begin with the square frames. Although less complex than the examples found on 17th and 18th century Royal Navy vessels, the shear number that need to be constructed on this large model present a challenge.

   The author outlines an innovative process he calls “Pin-indexed Frame Assembly.”  Tosti states that this procedure is simpler, faster, more accurate, eliminates the need for elaborate clamping fixtures, and allows the modeler to bevel the frames before erecting.  It is at this point that the author reminds the reader about the need for accuracy.  The smallest error in each frame can result in a cumulative variance that will cause major problems.


   A detailed description for mounting all the frames ensues.  This includes the square frames, keelson, fore and aft deadwoods, and half and full cant frames,.  Patterns for all these challenging components are supplied in the CD that comes with the book.  The innovative materials used for simulating iron and copper bolts are also discussed.

   One of the most intriguing aspects of the chapter that deals with the hold ceiling and deck clamps, involves the installation of a lattice of simulated iron bands that were used during the nineteenth century to prevent hogging in wooden hulls.  Tosti outlines his method for cutting, blackening, and installing the 1/16” wide copper strips on the inner hull surface.  Since the bands will be barely visible when the model is completed, the author admits to simplifying the installation.  However, he does describe how his method deviates from actual practice.


   With the hull framing completed, decks preparation is next.  This topic includes beams, hooks, knees, carlings, and pillars.  In every case, multiple pieces are required, and the author offers some helpful hints, which will expedite their construction.  Mindful that not everyone’s workshop has the same equipment, Tosti offers six different options for creating the round-up on the deck beams.

   One daunting revelation involves the fact that Young America possessed approximately 1000 knees.  Diagrams are provided in the CD for the various types, and the author offers a  solution for mass-producing them.

   With the array of different parts that have to be installed, a 23-step outline is provided that culminates with the installation of the hatchways, central deck facilities, and decking.  Tosti states that for this phase of the model, adhering to this guide is not absolutely necessary.  However, for the next sequence that deals with the topside planking and rails,  following the steps,  as listed, is highly recommended.

   This is primarily due to the fact that Ed advocates pre-painting parts before mounting them permanently.  A small bit of advice, but no less valuable than his extensive explanation for creating the model’s decorative carvings, which is worth the cost of the book by itself.


   The next segment is devoted to lower hull detailing, and is loaded with numerous hints and tips.  Procedures are outlined for fabricating waterways, binding strakes, limber channels, scuppers, hawse holes, metal sheathing, gudgeons and pintles.  Tosti’s method for mass-producing these last two items is especially innovative.

   The final chapter in Volume I that deals with information applicable to both versions of the Young America discusses work on the upper decks, and includes the poop, main deck, and forecastle.  Details for the pin rails, mast partners, hatch and cabin coamings, pump suction pipes, decking, chain pipes, mooring bits, boomkins and catheads are just a few of the items outlined.  How the aft cabins looked is not known, and Ed does an admirable job designing a typical interior for his model.  Drawings for this layout are included in the CD.


   The last two chapters are devoted entirely to building the 1:96 scale POB model.  Although this version was referred to often in previous chapters, this segment begins with basics, the constructing of the model shipway and accessories.  Going forward from there, the author’s concise style of writing, and excellent photos, provide the reader with a clear understanding of how to build this type of hull.  There’s no doubt that Tosti’s methods could apply to any scratch-built POB model.

   In addition to the CD, this book comes with a packet of eight drawings.  Six are devoted to the 1:72 scale model, and two feature the smaller 1:96 version.  This review has barely scratched the surface as to what this book has to offer, but there’s no doubt that Young America 1853 will become a classic reference for modelers and clipper ship history buffs.  SeaWatch states that Volume II is a year away, which, for many of us, can’t come soon enough!






Edited by BobF
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  • 1 month later...

Addendum 1 - correction


There is an error on the 1:72 Stem Patterns that was included on the CD in the subfolder for Chapter 3.  All parts of the apron should be sided 16” not wider at the head as incorrectly noted on the pattern sheet.  This pdf should be replaced with the attached, corrected version.  The text on p.33 is correct. 


1to72 Stem Patterns.pdf


Sorry for any inconvenience.



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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi Ed,

Thanks, no need for lengthy explanations.  Like you, I spent my career reading and writing technical documentation and contracts. Never found a perfect document.  I lost this site or I would have posted here.


Take care, Bob

P.S. Found a copy of William Crothers  "Freighters & Packets". My library is getting expansive as well as expensive. 

Edited by Capt.Bob
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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 3 weeks later...

Hi Daves,


when I saw Ed´s inside-strapping of the 1/72 YA,  I felt a bit confused :the revolutionary idea behind the installing of an iron "net" to the frames of composite clippers has been to strengthen the wooden hull by double-diagonal iron straps against warping and hogging and any other deformation by wind and sea. At least to my limited and more or less intuitive understanding of mechanical forces, this could only be achieved by bolting a net of these straps all around the outside of the hull like a string bag, thus absorbing and counteracting the flexing and compressing forces on the ship´s body by transforming them into tractive forces induced into the straps at the outside. The strapping installed at the inside of the frames would mainly pull and sheer at the fastening bolts and thus loosen them after a while, but in my opinion it can not keep the hull straight. My example of a string-bag keeping your shoppings together is maybe not so bad a picture.


As I wasn´t 100% sure about that, and because Ed is of course by far deeper in this business than me, I didn´t want to be precocious and kept this thought to myself. But to me it still seems to be the logical way of reinforcing a wooden - and of course - an iron hull.

Greetings to all.


Edited by jo conrad
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Thank you for your comments and for the opportunity for me to expand on the decision I made for the iron strapping.


While it is true that the method of iron strapping used on Young America, built in 1852-53, is uncertain, it is by no means cclear that outside strapping was widely used at the time or that internal strapping was rare.  It is true that outside strapping appears to have become more prevalent after the 1850’s.  Space did not permit a full discussion of the history of iron strapping, nor was in-depth construction history the primary purpose of the book.  I did discuss the decision to use internal strapping in Chapter 8 of the book and quote the relevant passage:


“A lattice of diagonal iron bands came into use in the early 19th century to help stiffen wooden hulls against hogging strains.  Young America had such banding.  The bands were normally about 4" wide by ¾" thick, spaced on a grid about four feet apart.  The lattice extended over most of the hull length between the floor heads and the main deck clamps.  The bands were set into scores cut into each frame to provide a flush surface for planking. They were bolted through every frame and where they overlapped.  This configuration was documented for Challenge, a similar clipper launched by Webb two years earlier.  However, it is not known whether the ironwork on either of these ships was installed inside or outside of the frames.  Both methods were in use, with outside installation becoming more common in later years.  Although it offered some technical advantage, outside strapping was much more difficult and time consuming to install.  After reviewing available information and considering the urgencies of the times on construction schedules, I decided to adopt the internal installation for the model.”


A more thorough discussion of the topic was included by Bill Crothers in his book The American-built Clipper Ship pp 195-196.  I believe he summarized the issue quite well – and the uncertainty.  As with many of the undocumented details of the model, choices have had to be made – or there would be no model.  After reviewing available information on the subject this appeared to indeed be a toss-up issue.  I was influenced in my decision by the following factors:


-          The internal or “Admiralty” system, developed for use by the Royal Navy was prevalent during the first half of the 19th Century.


-          Webb was the first American builder to adopt iron strapping on Challenge in 1851.


-          Webb used internal iron strapping on Ocean Monarch in 1856 as referenced by Crothers based on Webb’s published Plans of Wooden Vessels.


-          American Lloyds’ Registry of American and Foreign Shipping, 1859 includes the following passage under Rules for Inspection and Classification:  “Ships exceeding four times their breadth in length, should be cross(X) iron strapped diagonally on the inside – outside strapping leakage through the seams of outside plank will corrode and destroy the iron.  The bolts through the straps either from out or inside should go through and clinch.”


-          Speed of construction was a primary driver in the hectic extreme clipper rage of the early 1850’s – driven by the demands of the California gold rush market.  Outside strapping was much more time consuming to install, especially in the days before pneumatic drills, chisels and hammers.  While not a primary argument for internal installation, it was a factor considered.


On balance, while not being clear cut, I believe the decision to use internal strapping on the model was reasonable and should be considered a more likely actual scenario than a one-off rarity.





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Hello Bob,


For some reason your post of 22 December just popped up on the blog so I apologize for the delayed response.  The mislabeling of the toptimbers on pattern sheet 2f is clearly another one of those typos - if I may use that term to describe minor glitches in labeling on the drawings.  A revised pattern sheet is attached.





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  • 5 weeks later...

Richard, unfortunately it is difficult to make an accurate prediction on the next volume.  I believe it will be no less than two years considering the amount of modeling needed plus the time to write and produce the book.  The publication date will also be subject to the Seawatch publishing schedule.  I can tell you that both Seawatch and I want to get the book out as soon as we can.



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Hi Ed,

Here are a few items for the revision file.

1. Page 57 First paragraph.  Is: "...and pushed through the hole; See Figure 5-26..."  Should be: "See Figure 5-27"

2. Pattern Af: No siding reference.  Missing 2 holes in Floor (both f & a) 

3. Pattern Aa: 5th Futtocks "110"  Should that be 11 or 10?

4. Pattern 27a: Missing top hole in 5th Futtock

5. Pattern Ea: No parting line in the floor timber

6. Patterns Ea/f, Fa/f, Ga/f, Hf, Jf : No siding or futtock data



Edited by Capt.Bob
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Thanks, Bob.  I will issue revisions, of course.  I keep telling myself that in almost 300 drawings, checked only by me, that errors are inevitable, but I would still prefer not to have them.  Your attention to this level of detail is most helpful.


Fortunately, most have been in the "typo" category.





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The principal mode of structural failure in a long ship hull is hogging or sagging due to longitudinal bending. For wooden ships excessive hull flexing causes planks to move relative to each other squeezing out the caulking. The great multi masted schooners in particular suffered from this and required constant pumping.


An unbraced wooden hull can be likened to a stack of boards supported by two saw horses. If you sit in the middle. The stack flexes with each board moving relative to its neighbor. If you nail the same stack together it is much much stiffer as planks cannot slide relative to each other. The forces causing these planks to slide relative to each other are called shear forces.


In a wooden ship, the hull frames provide little or no longitudinal strength as being perpendicular to the planks they do not resist these shear forces. The iron strapping introduces a diagonal restraint into the hull to resist shear forces that move the hull planks. Strapping is not required on the ship's bottom or deck as these are subject only to tensile or compression forces, not shear.


I recently purchased a University of Michigan reprint of an Outline of Shipbuilding by T. D. Wilson, originally published in 1873. This book is also a free on line download. It reflects naval practice but the navy was still building wooden ships in 1873. The book includes a section on diagonal reinforcement. According to Wilson, standard practice was to attach strapping to the inside of the frames as it made subsequent hull repairs easier, but ships of the Congress and Severn class had strapping for 150 feet of the outside of the hull (the amidships area) as well. The Florida and Tennesee were completely strapped on both the inside and outside. These were both long, fine lined vessels, and a lack of buoyancy in their fine lined ends would have increased hogging stresses.



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Thank you for this post, Roger.  I am not familiar with the reference you cite, but will certainly get a copy.




ps.  My search on Outline of Shipbuilding by T. D. Wilson did not yield an immediate result.  Could you provide a link to the download site.  Thanks.

Edited by EdT
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