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Model Shipways Constitution Topmast Dimensions

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I am about to build the topmasts for the Constitution but the dimensions on the plans are not right. I made some notes to that effect on the plans but even my notes don't seem right. I searched for where I had gotten the information but can't find that either. So, any of you previous Constitution builders know what the dimensions are supposed to be. I am most concerned with the diameters of the topmasts at the various points along the length.



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Probably the best source is the sail plan from 1815. I believe drawn by Charles Ware. However, like anything related to the USSC, it is not without it's own controversy. 

I have a digital copy somewhere and will post it here shortly for you.


- Tim



Edited by Tim I.

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Thanks guys, but I think I have an answer to my own question. I realized that the topmast shown on the plans is the full size version of the main mast topmast, so I could measure the dimensions directly off the plan and ignore the dimensions written on the plan. Then I could use the written dimensions on the plan to figure out the corresponding scaled down dimensions of the mizzen and fore topmasts. Here is what I came up with:


Square section at bottom:

Fore 1/4"

Main 5/16"

Mizzen 3/16"


Transition from octagon to round

Fore 1/4"

Main 5/16"

Mizzen 3/16"


Round section under cheeks

Fore 7/32"

Main 1/4"

Mizzen 5/32"


Round section above cheeks (here the plan shows this to be narrower than below the cheeks but the dimensions are the same on the plans)

Fore 5/32"

Main 3/16"

Mizzen 1/8"


Tenon at top (these correspond to the size of the holes in the caps)

Fore 3/32"

Main 1/8"

Mizzen 1/16"


Hopefully future builders will find this post when they get to this part of the build and scratch their heads trying to use the dimensions written on the plans.

Edited by usedtosail
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Copied and pasted straight to my Constitution folder.

Thanks, Tom.

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Captain Steve, I am now thinking that 5/16" for the main topmast may be too big, as the hole in the mast cap is not near that size. I may go with something between 1/4 and 5/16 for mine, or maybe 1/4 for both the main and the fore, as I have that size in stock and that is what the plan shows.


BUT, to all, here is my other question. The plans show an octagonal section just below the upper crosstrees, which flares out from the mast to form a shoulder. The size on the plans makes this too big to pass through the lower mast cap hole, but that is OK as I can just sand this down until it fits. But, the plans also show cheeks added to this octagon section, which in no way would pass through the mast cap hole. So either the topmast can't be brought down through the lower mast cap like all other ships of this period do, or the cheeks are removable somehow? Could this be a modern addition when fastener technology got better? If so, I am going to leave the cheeks off since I am building an 1812-ish version. or add them after the lower and topmast masts are put together.



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Hi Tim. Thanks for the 1817 rigging plan. I had that in my reference material but forgot I did. I am now using it for the topgallant/royal/skysail mast dimensions, which are a little different than the MS plans. I am having trouble deciphering the scale at the bottom of the plans though. At first I though it was in feet, but that would make the ship only about 40 feet long, so it must be something else. Do you happen to know what it might be? My other alternative is take a measurement of something known off this plan and the MS plans and scale them that way.



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