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Sparkman & Stephens Lightning by Dave W - 1:16 - SMALL

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I am building a 1:16 scale model of the Lightning, a 19' centerboard sloop designed by Sparkman & Stephens in 1938. Over 15,000 Lightnings have been built. Since around 1960 most Lightnings have been made of fiberglass. I am using the full scale plans to model a "typical" wooden Lightning, not a specific hull number.


I didn't plan to do a build log. I thought maybe I would post a few pictures when the model is done. But I decided to start this topic now, halfway through the build, when I saw Andrew J.'s Lightning build log started here last week. I hope to share something here that others find helpful or entertaining.


This is my first model boat. I thought the Lightning would be a good subject because I like small sailboats and the hard chined hull looked relatively easy to build. I decided to scratch build after examining the Dumas kit and realizing it's really just a semi-scale model. I have experience building model airplanes and I like scratch building. Still, I wouldn't attempt a new hobby like boat building without any help. So I joined a local group, the Hyde Street Pier Model Shipwrights, where I met some very accomplished model makers who are advising me.


I started building my Lightning about one-and-a-half years ago. The project has sat idle for months at a time, and the work has taken longer than I expected. I've made mistakes -- and some big ones -- every step of the way. But I'm having fun and satisfied with my progress. This is where I'm at now: the hull, centerboard trunk, and framing for the deck and seats is done. Next step is to paint the inside (and outside) of the hull before installing the deck.




I will continue this build log, going back and starting at the beginning. As a kind of disclaimer, I don't know how long it will take to finish this model, but I will try to get it done by the end of 2016.


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Starting at the beginning...


As I mentioned in my last post, I joined a local group called the Hyde Street Pier Model Shipwrights. I went to a few of their monthly meetings before deciding to build the Lightning. It was really helpful to see the different types of models these guys were building. When I finally decided on the Lightning, one of the members offered to work with me on the project. It turned out he's a former Lightning owner and a prolific maker of museum-quality model yachts, so good for me!


Next, I contacted the International Lightning Class Association. Their website not only provides a lot of useful information, it also shows that the Lightning is a very popular and active class of sailboats in many parts of the world. The ILCA own the design, so this is where to buy plans. I ordered a set of the original Sparkman & Stephens plans for $50. My plans are for reference only, which is fine if you're repairing a full scale boat or building a model. If you want to build a full scale Lightning, the cost is $100 which entitles you to build one boat and have an official ILCA number assigned, and includes updated supplemental plans and a copy of the Wooden Boat Magazine article on building the Lightning.


The Wooden Boat Magazine article (in three parts, issues 153-155) is definitely worth having. I got a PDF copy from the reference library at the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park.


I also joined the Classic Lightning Class Sailboats Yahoo Group. This may be the best place online to find people who are building or maintaining wooden Lightnings. There are lots of photos and an active discussion board. For the most part I've been lurking on that site, but I have asked one or two questions and gotten helpful replies.


I've tried to find wooden Lightnings to use as a reference. There aren't many Lightnings in the Bay Area, where I live, which is kind of ironic considering this is a major sailing area. There are a few wooden Lightnings kicking around here, and I did photograph one of them before starting my model, but it was pretty beat up and not something I would want to replicate. I also visited Mystic Seaport where I (naively) expected to find Lightning Number One on display, available for my inspection. No such luck: I think it was stored in a warehouse at the time, or maybe moved to Skaneateles. Anyway, I decided my model would have to be a typical Lightning because I lacked the references needed to represent a specific boat.


If anyone knows of other Lightning references, please let me know.


Next up: starting construction.

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Hi, Dave. It seems that maybe you haven't seen my first build log for the Dumas kit. Here I have posted many pictures of Lightning #1, which is on display at the Skaneateles Historical Society. http://modelshipworld.com/index.php/topic/11596-lightning-sailboat-by-andrew-j-dumas-scale-112/page-4


My own profile picture is actually one of my pictures of Lightning #1.

Edited by Andrew J.
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  • 8 months later...

Any more progress on this? I remember you said you wished to have it completed by the end of this year.

I've been reluctant to start a new build log after my previous two fell by the wayside, but I have been making good progress with a new 1:12 scratch built lightning.

I really hope you haven't given up on yours like I did with my previous ones! :)


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  • 5 years later...


Have you contacted the designers, Sparkman and Stephens: Sparkman & Stephens (sparkmanstephens.com) and the Lightning Class Association: Home - International Lightning Class Association ? The class association appears to sell plans on their website.


The Woodenboat Store sells a sailing pond model Lightning kit: Lightning Model Kit – The WoodenBoat Store


There are bits and pieces of Lightning plans all over the internet. They look to be "dory built," so any table of offsets for these hard-chined flat-sided boats and dimensions wouldn't be much. You can pretty much get all you need for modeling purposes from this drawing, although you'll have to take the measurements from the baseline at each frame to generate the curve of the plank keel and enlarge the drawing to trace the shape of the rudder and stem. There's a bit of a curve to the floors, as well which is easy enough to gauge. Aside from that, it's all straight stuff. 




Edited by Bob Cleek
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