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Howard W. Middleton by kayakerlarry - FINISHED - scale 1:96 - 1883 coastal coal schooner

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On a very foggy August 11, 1897 night off the coast of Maine the Howard W. Middleton was searching for a protected cove inside Richmond Island.  GPS not being what it is today, it hit a rock off of Higgins Beach, Scarborough, Maine and has spent the rest of its days there.  Today the wreck is visible at low tide and often pieces of coal appear in the ever changing sands.  I have been modeling off and on for over 30 years and have always wanted to build the Middleton but a scratch model always seemed a bit out of reach.  During my research over the years I contacted the Philadelphia Maritime Museum (the Middleton was built at Coopers Point, NJ across the river from Philadelphia) and they put me in touch with an individual (Edward Brownlee) who was interested in coastal schooners of the 1800's.  After much correspondence, Edward drew up plans of the Middleton from the original Admeasurement dated April 23, 1883.  With actual plans in hand and semi-retirement "availability" I started the model several years ago.


Plans from Admeasurement






August 20, 1897 - Middleton off Higgins Beach, Maine





Middleton Today





Model Begins Nov 2013





She was a centerboard tern



Planking complete/ready for painting - March 2014





Hull Painted - April 2014





Building Deck Houses - July/Dec 2014







Middleton coal fills holds


This one's a bit too large...


Brought down to scale...


Holds filled with scale coal from Middleton cargo...





Masting and decking - March/Sept 2015










Rudder, Fife Rails/belay pins, capstan - Nov 2015/Feb 2016








Bowsprit and Jib Boom - March/April 2016










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  • 5 months later...

And final progress on forward running rigging.  Does anyone have any input on proper positioning of the 5 sheets (3 stay sails and 2 balloon)?  I have run them outside the foremast shrouds as discussed in "American Fishing Schooner" but it looks pretty busy.



Jib, Stay Sails and Balloon Running Rigging.jpg

Jib Sheet and Halyards.jpg

Forward Running Rigging.jpg

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  • 5 weeks later...

Topsail decision point - decided not to use cloth sails so needed a way to show a "virtual" topsail.  Used the basics of the clew line to outline the top sail.  Pictures in "American Coastal Schooner" and details in "American Fishing Schooner" really helped.  Clew line starts at single block tied to bottom topmast hoop, up to block with hoop attached to halyard, out to end of gaff, down to single block with hoop for sheet, back to single block on mast hoop and down to port side belay point on rail.Topsail.thumb.jpg.3ee326c7bd24868ee674805899976fa4.jpg

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Peak and throat halyards on foremast.  Think I will tackle ratlines next as I believe they will be easier to access before I tie off all the top sail running rigging.  Still believe the backstays will be last as I know I will certainly break one of the doubling crosstree pieces if I need get into the fife rail area to tie off a line.59014ba626b0a_ThroatandPeakHalyards.thumb.jpg.832ba6a85aabd8f953a9dcc4c1f97c41.jpg


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Rudolf, thanks for the comment.  I purchased the chain at Bluejacket (http://www.bluejacketinc.com).  The bowsprit chain in the picture is 36 links per inch (part number F0987) and the chain I will use for the anchor is 20 links per inch (part number F0978).  It is brass link but can be blackened with brass black toner liquid (part number PN0052).  

Cheers, Larry

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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 3 weeks later...

Time for a change of pace.  Several years ago I found a loose treenail in the HWM wreck and dried it out for "future use" after sitting in the ocean/sand for 115 years.  Decided to see if I could cut a few timbers to lash to the deck on her return voyage from Philly to Portland.  Working on cutting several 6"x6" (1/16"x1/16") pieces out of the incredibly hard wood (from my reading they would have used locust or oak - perhaps someone can figure out which from the cross section view below).  Think I'll put it behind the forward hatch filled with the coal from the HWM.  Now back to ratlines...


Treenail cross section.jpg

Treenail lumber.jpg

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  • 2 weeks later...

Very interesting project. The details are coming along quite well. I like that you are modeling a vessel that is a little off the beaten track. Very enjoyable to see your work.


I have also made my own study of tonnage admeasurements and used them to reconstruct our local vessels for my research and modeling projects. I had heard of Brownlee's research, but it was not until quite recently that I read his American Neptune paper from 1994 on the subject. I had been studying tonnage admeasurements and creating lines drawings from them for 2 decades before I read Brownlee's work and found out I was actually doing much the same thing her had done.



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  • 2 weeks later...

Here are a few pictures I took yesterday of the Howard W. Middleton's quarter board preserved at our beach community club house.  I was originally going to simply use stick on letters on a piece of basswood to reproduce the quarter board but after reading a few posts in the carving section I am inclined to give my hand a try at carving.  If anyone has any suggestions on how to best proceed with this seeming daunting task, that would be much appreciated.





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When I built my 1:96 model of the 'Leon' many years ago I ground a few large packing needles to different shapes to use as chisels and inserted them in rough wooden handles.  The patterns were transferred to the wood using tracing paper rubbings - if you have a copy of Underhill's book (Plank on Frame Models), you'll find the process described pretty well.



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Awesome looking model. I'd say that might be locust based on what I know of it. I'm building my boat using locust but she's a 1:1 scale so not appropriate on this forum. The locust in my shop is clean and dry whereas that has been soaking for a century so it's hard to tell. The other thing is that any ship carrying coal would be covered in coal dust. It makes one heck of a mess and if there's coal on board, there's no white paint anywhere that doesn't look like it's got a film of black coal dust on it.

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John - I'll check out my Underhill book when I get home.  As the letters are all raised I will need to do a bit of wood removal to get them to show so some sort of chisel work would seem appropriate. It appears the raised sections had a goldish color but not clear what color the contrasting background was - may have to "interpret"... 


Sailor123 - thanks for the comment.  I like the input on the impact of coal dust - that means I won't have to clean up all the marks on the rails from the blackened chainplates...



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  • 1 month later...

Other than tie off the stay sail sheets, I am DONE with the foremast rigging including 392 clove hitches on 129 ratlines (for those of you counting, yes, the starboard side has one less ratline...please don't tell my wife I made a mistake!).  Now I get some time off and heading for a 3 day kayak trip in Stonington, Maine - one of the most incredibly beautiful places to kayak - not to mention that the majority of lobsters in the US are pulled by the lobstermen in Stonington.


Here are a few pics...



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  • 4 weeks later...
  • 5 months later...

A bit of a change to do some "accessorizing" today.  Lashed 1/16" x 1/16" x 1/2" (6"x6"x4') timbers to fore deck right behind coal hold.  Both coal and timbers are from the actual wreck of the Middleton - I cut timbers from a treenail.  One thing I did find out is that if you cut old wood that has been in the ocean for over 100 years and dried in furnace room for several years, you better clean up the sawdust otherwise you end up with rust on the metal saw table!  


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  • 3 months later...
  • 4 weeks later...

Mizzen mast rigging almost complete, dinghy ready and all glass and brass angles ready for case construction.  However, it's time to move the Middleton back to her final resting place at Higgins Beach, Maine for completion.  Moving truck arrives July 1st and we close on our condo in MA on July 10th and move into our house at Higgins Beach.  So signing off for a while until I can figure out where my modeling work area is going to go in a smaller house with limited storage.  And then there is the age old problem of where I am going to "display" my four completed models and make way for the one that gets top billing - the Howard W. Middleton...I guess there are bigger problems we all face!



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  • 1 month later...

Being that tonight is the 121st anniversary of the demise of the Howard W. Middleton just a short distance from where I now sit it is fitting that I spend a few minutes and update folks on my progress.  Move from Mass to Maine is complete and modeling area is set up with LOTS of boxes still to be unpacked (priorities...).  Mizzen rigging complete and now working on anchor and associated fittings (was researching anchor chain and seemed like I should build two anchor boxes).  Final list of to dos complete with probably another month of work ahead of me.   Unfortunately one of the victims of the move was "misplacing" all the 1/4" brass angle I purchased so had to reorder from K&S Metals.  Spent past two days (probably total of 5 hours) building glass case.  Had the expert help of a good friend who is a retired 777 pilot for Air Canada so we had lots of time to debate how to best measure all the pieces using either centimeters or inches - inches won.  All in cost for the case (30"L x 20"H x 7"W) is approximately $100 for brass and 1/8" glass (let's not worry about having to reorder all that brass angle...).  Cherry base will be built by a good friend who loves to build furniture so there will be some donation for that!  Attached are the final pictures of the case - we didn't have the equipment to do nice mitered edges but snips and files did the job pretty well.  






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  • 3 weeks later...

Cherry base delivered and incredibly it fits the glass case perfectly (good to have good helpers...)!  My original idea of 1/16" brass rods to support model that was planned to sit 1 1/2" above base to show 3/4" of lowered centerboard will not work unless I want to see entire model shake anytime someone walks by.  Have ordered 1 3/8" high brass pedestals that I think should properly support model and still leave enough room to display partially lowered centerboard.  Now working 1922922312_zCyvLu6oQz6r9QrflSKOA.thumb.jpg.ec7141052d44fe0b4dccdc8cf07b2791.jpg1071617437_ZKjR1LiCRW3ohnahu7Itw.thumb.jpg.f931ad7aede1132eda09796b4e41c0b0.jpgon rope coils for all the belaying pins - lots of good suggestions here.  Have also attached a picture from a kayak trip this week out to Richmond Island just off Higgins Beach.  The Middleton rounded this point in dense fog and heading into what they thought was a protected cove - it was if they headed to starboard but by heading a bit more to port they hit a rock and ended up on our beach.  For those football (American) fans in the crowd, if you look really carefully you can see Roger Godell's summer "cottage" in the distance out on Prouts Neck - and no, the local lobstermen don't care for him...


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