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I recently ordered Rigging Period Fore-And-Aft Craft by Lennarth Petersson.  I picked it up from Amazon in the paperback edition for about $24.00.  I would highly recommend this book, especially for anyone new to ship modeling that may be confused by the multitude of rigging lines.

 

It’s 111 pages long with about 200 diagrams that clearly show you where each separate item of both standing and running rigging lines are fitted, led, and belayed.  The book is divided into three 18th century ship types.  The first one is an English 18 gun naval cutter similar to the Expedition.  The second section is a French 8 gun 3 masted lugger similar to the Le Coureur.  The last section deals with a 2 masted American schooner similar to the Experiment.

 

The book clearly illustrates the details of the connections of the various lines including their attachment points and tackle arrangements.  I found it to be well worth the investment.  As a matter of fact I plan on getting a copy of his previous book Rigging Period Ship Models.

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I'm going to post a dissenting opinion of this book and warn model builders to keep a strong sense of skepticism in their model building minds when taking information from it. Peterson says he's based all his rigging on only three unidentified models for the three rigs he is describing. Red flags should pop up right there. That's not a strong base to build on. Although there are many detailed illustrations in this book I see inconsistencies and inaccuracies on almost every page on every drawing. How much of this was due to Peterson not understanding what he was seeing and how much is due to the models themselves having built in inaccuracies, we will never know. But my point is that there are SURELY a lot of inaccuracies in the book.

sadly, there aren't easily available alternatives for the subject matter he is dealing with. There SHOULD  be a real Rigging book available for those interested in rigging these great smaller vessels. I'm surprised these books don't already exist.but this book is NOT the source it should be for accurate information. There are Schooners  Cutters and Lugers sailing today, there shouldn't be any reason we can't have a book that is perfectly accurate.

if anyone wants discussion on examples I've found of bogus information in the book I would be happy to go into detail. But I will point out just one example so as not to make this too long. Page 18 is devoted to the Toprope. It's the line used to set and strike the Topmast. He's depicted it with a tackl rove to disadvantage SPLICED onto its hauling end. This line is now too short to allow the spar to lower to the deck AND with the block rigged in its end, it can not be unrove. The spar can't reach the deck since you will two-block at the odd masthead sheave with the spar only halfway down the mast. Even if you could reach the deck, you couldn't move it away from the base of the mast since you can't cast off the tackle. In actual practice a Ships Toprope is not left in place but rather it's only rigged when setting or removing the Topmast, so it shouldn't even be on the model. It does NOT require, nor can it have, tackle on its end for hauling, as in actual practice the line is taken to the windlass. With the tackle rove upside down, hauling the spar aloft is made unnecessarily difficult and shows someone didnt understand the use of blocks and tackle. The block spliced to the end of the too short line completes the picture of a giant inaccuracy. The idea that Peterson devotes an entire page and two drawings to this suggests to me that he was not being carefull when planning the book, he should have caught this mistake or at least explained that it was an eccentricity of the source material, if that's what it was. It's damaging to our shared understanding of rigging that this book is out there in the world full of so many inaccuracies, allowing model builders to unwittingly perpetuate mistakes. This is one of the worst examples in the book but believe me: there are MANY other  issues with this book.

IMG_2155.JPG

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No one should be inhibited from building their model of choice to their own satisfaction and abilities. Very few have the resources to build into their model complete historical accuracy. It is their hobby too. I agree it is laudible to do the best you can, but don't spoil another's pleasure in their past-time. Who knows, their next project may be very different. Encouragement is what is needed.

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7 hours ago, shipman said:

No one should be inhibited from building their model of choice to their own satisfaction and abilities.

Is someone being prevented from doing so? I’ve never seen a hint of that here. One can find ship models of every skill level here on Model Ship World but I have NEVER seen anything like condemnation of someone’s efforts or mean-spirited dissmisiveness of a model. Far from it! It’s very rare to see even the most gentle criticism of some small detail in a build log. I’ve simply NEVER seen anyone being discouraged from building a model or sharing photos of it here. 

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I agree with Frankie that there are many inaccuracies in Petersson's book. However I found it invaluable as a simple guide to the names and principles of rigging. The reason is that it separates each aspect and its function which, for a beginner who has never sailed, is really helpful. Of course, as soon as I started rigging I went to Steel and Marquardt as well as others to make it more accurate, and I received really helpful criticism on this forum when I made mistakes, but without this beginner's guide I would have been lost in the complexity of drawings and explanations that are so often provided.

 

Tony

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Posted (edited)

Since this topic was resurrected after two years, during which time we have kicked Petersson and his books around quite a bit, I think it is good that anyone new to the discussion, note that Petersson documented the rigging, errors included, that he found on contemporary models, without any apparent reference to other authorities or sources such as Steel.  I think he would have done well to have made this more clear in the books, and advised serious modelers to compare his observations to other sources.  It is certainly not a good idea to recommend this book as a primary reference source for model rigging without pointing out it's shortcomings.

 

It also provides an important lesson, in that it shows contemporary models are not without their faults, and not the final word on how we should pursue this hobby; at least not for me.

 

I am glad we have members on the forum who know enough about this stuff to point out some of the serious errors Petersson included in his books without any research beyond the models he examined.

 

Meanwhile, I have his two books and I find them useful as a quick reference, and really admire the drawings from an artistic standpoint.

However, I have learned to verify what I see in the books when it comes to rigging my own models.

Edited by Gregory

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I recently picked up used hardcover copies of Petersson's books after reading some discussion of them. I had other original sources, such as Steel, as well as many of the "usual suspects," books of varying degrees of reliability and utility that have been published over the years. I found Petersson's books to be as Frankie described. I share Frankie's annoyance that the industry of ship model publications is one where the accuracy bar seems too often set unacceptably low and particularly so in the area of material marketed for "beginners." A "bad ship model kit" only causes pain for a little while, but bad information in a ship modeling book can bedevil a reader forever.

 

In the Age of Sail, it was the captain's prerogative to rig his ship as he saw fit (or delegate the same to his chief bosun.) There was a wide variety of rigging arrangements with the choice of one over the other simply a matter of style or opinion. As the saying went, "Different ships, different long splices." Those variations, however, do not entitle those who hold their work out as being accurate miniature representations of the real thing to simply "make it up as they go along" regardless of the principles of physics and engineering.  I sometimes see errors in rigging or construction details published in otherwise artistically beautiful and often expensive books. I often also see the authors of such beautiful and expensive books representing to the book-buying public that their books contain detailed instructions for building historically accurate models of this or that particular vessel down to the last drift and trunnel when, in fact, there is no contemporary data upon which to base such certainties. Indeed, most of such details were left to the discretion of the master shipwrights, shipsmiths, and riggers and no historical record ever existed of them in the first place. At best, these "super accurate" models, technical modeling tours d' force as they may be, can really only represent the expert modeler's interpretation of the original construction and rigging details based on contemporary manuals, specifications, and "rules of thumb." The same is true of most, if not all, "contemporary models" found in museums and respected private collections.

 

In recent decades, much credence has been given to the accuracy of "contemporary models" and we see errors obvious to the mariner's eyes in these doggedly replicated despite constructive criticism because "that's the way it is on the contemporary model." (A critical consideration is always what restoration or modification may have been done in the hundreds of years since it was built!) One may find that to be acceptable if one is building "a model of a model" rather than a model of a vessel, but that risks polluting the historical record going forward. Anyone who has done academic historical research using primary sources knows the frustration of encountering inaccurate threads in the historical narrative which have been perpetuated far into the future by author after author because somebody somewhere way back when was too lazy to check their sources. Somewhat uniquely, ship models often become part of the "historical record" as we see with the Navy Board and builder's yard models. We should, to the extent we are able, respect the fact that it is possible, however remote, that three or five hundred years from now, that Constitution or Cutty Sark we build today may be the only record posterity has of those ships. Striving for excellence should be appreciated as a characteristic of our hobby.

 

Ship modeling, if it is to have much meaning or offer much satisfaction at all, must be subject to standards. Absolute perfection may well be only a theoretical objective, but it is really the object of the game. Every effort, however much it falls short, should be applauded and encouraged, but let's face it, in any endeavor in which skill increases with practice and experience, nobody is done any favors by withholding constructive criticism and outright damage is done by publishers who print technical books for the profit of it without regard to the quality of their content. 

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I own both Lee’s rigging book and Sieele’s Masting, Rigging, and Sailmaking Book.   For fore and aft rigged vessels Lee’s book is of little help as it focuses on large square rigged vessels.  Steele provides details for rigging a cutter which is useful but dismisses anything smaller only stressing that they are lightly rigged.        

 

My interest is building 1:32 scale warships boats.  I just finished my third boat in the series, a rigged longboat.  The book that I found most useful was Tom Cunliffe’s Hand, Reef, and Steer that deals with traditionally rigged fore and aft sailing craft. While this does not give explicit directions for rigging a longboat, it does explain in detail the various lines required to control a flying job, jib foresail, and gaff mainsail, the way that these sails and their controlling  lines work, and practical advice for handling the rig.  This was a great help in achieving what I believe is an accurate representation of the rig.  

 

BTW-  I have a paperback edition of Peterson’s Rigging Fore and Aft Rigged Period Craft.  If despite the legitimate criticism posted above, you still feel that you must own a copy, send me a PM and I’ll pop it in the mail to you.  US addresses only.  This way it will be worth what you paid for it!

 

Roger

 

 

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Posted (edited)
54 minutes ago, Roger Pellett said:

The book that I found most useful was Tom Cunliffe’s Hand, Reef, and Steer that deals with traditionally rigged fore and aft sailing craft. While this does not give explicit directions for rigging a longboat, it does explain in detail the various lines required to control a flying job, jib foresail, and gaff mainsail, the way that these sails and their controlling  lines work, and practical advice for handling the rig.  This was a great help in achieving what I believe is an accurate representation of the rig.  

Yes, it's pretty difficult to build a model of a boat if you don't know how it works! There are many excellent books like the one you've mentioned that go into great detail addressing full-sized rigging and hull construction details. They won't have the word "model" in the title, but they are often more accurate in many details than the books written for the modeling market. Rigging errors in full-sized applications are a lot more apparent the minute you try to sail the thing!

 

Other similar "full-size boat" books that modelers would find helpful are Gaff Rig, by John Leather, Building Small Boats, by Greg Rossel; Lofting, by Alan Vaitses, How to Build a Wooden Boat, by Bud McInosh, Boatbuilding and Yacht Designing and Planning by Howard Chapelle, The Whaleboat, by Willits Ansel, The Ashlely Book of Knots, by Clifford Ashley, The Sailmaker's Apprentice, by Emilliano Marino, and The Complete Rigger's Apprentice, by Brion Toss. While these books primarily address traditional wooden small boat construction, the construction and engineering principles for small boats are essentially the same as for ships, just smaller. An understanding of traditional wooden ship and boat building practices is essential for building really good wooden models. 

Edited by Bob Cleek

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No book is 100% accurate; errors will creep in despite authors' best efforts. I'm not excusing egregious mistakes like the example cited, but Murphy can intrude. As an example, right now I'm researching mid-18th century ketch rig. There is a lovely contemporary rigged model in Chatham. However, this must have had 'restoration' of rigging at some point. If I took it at face value I would be wrong. One forestay is simply wrapped several times around the bowsprit heel, for example. The repair looks very old, so could be mistaken for 'original practice'. And there are other weird anomalies as well. An historian friend of mine put it well: "Read elsewhere and read critically, always."

 

Of course, if you are model-making simply for fun, it really doesn't matter!

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I try to love everyone. There are those who choose not to be loved.

 

Certainly freshened up this dormant post with new perspectives

 

Not one perfectly built and rigged model ship can replace all the love in your world.

Don't sail for too long in icy seas.

 

If I was (improbably) gifted an obscure, original 18th century model of a Cutter by the NMM collection, I don't think I'd have the discourtesy to say, 'Well, that's all well and good, but aren't you going to have the forestay re-rigged first?'

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1 hour ago, shipman said:

If I was (improbably) gifted an obscure, original 18th century model of a Cutter by the NMM collection, I don't think I'd have the discourtesy to say, 'Well, that's all well and good, but aren't you going to have the forestay re-rigged first?'

You probably wouldn't say anything but "Thank you!," but the real question would be whether you started thinking about correcting that forestay as soon as you got it home or not. :D

 

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Hi Bob.

Actually, I would be bowled over; but realistically I'd be honest. Flattered and grateful as I would be, I'd have to say I'm in no position to accept the responsibility. It would be better where it was.

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Druxey,I assume (hopefully) that your research is for the second volume of your HMS Speedwell 1752. I wish you every success in this. I started on the POB version a couple of weeks ago. I've much to learn but looking forward to the challenge over the next few years.

 

Dave :dancetl6:  

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Just to add to Druxey's comment, have a look at these photos of the cutter Hawke I was shown in the Chatham Historic Dockyard (the same Hawke, I think, that was shown in a better state in the AOTS book on the Alert). The curator thought it must have been the result of a handler knocking the model against something and then hurriedly trying to 'repair it' in what he thought was the correct way. He groaned when he saw it brought from the store. However, I don't think anyone seeing this would think of it as historically accurate because of being contemporary.

P1000965_DxOs.thumb.jpg.c3ee673912062dd73a360aded75908f7.jpg

P1000981s.thumb.jpg.dd2dcf832100f7decf69f5254e3eaef3.jpg

You can see the remaining photos in the gallery at

 

Tony

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Hi, 

I'm no expert on the rigging of sailing ships ( War or Merchant )  and what I've read about the USS United States and USS Constitution , they may have been sister's but the rig of both ships where different due to the ship's captain's so having a book or books saying " This is how it was done "  isn't giving the modeller the right signals to make a good job of his or her project.  As someone has already pointed out it will give a in- sight into the workings of a ships rigging of what rope does what to the beginner . I know I'm going to get some "Flak" over this but isn't this the idea of this forum to enlighten people in a nice way.

Niallmhor

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"Captain's choice" was pretty much an accepted fact by most navies of the period.  Some didn't use the "book" but relied on their own experience and even testing.  Same for the mast angle.  They'd test it for how they preferred it for performance and as the load changed due to stores being consumed, change it as needed.

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Posted (edited)

Some captains were notorious for re-rigging their ships to their own specifications. With the exception of the Providence, John Paul Jones was a prime example. He did little or nothing to alter the Providence as he did not consider himself a well versed seaman on fore-and-aft rigged vessels. He instead relied heavily on John Rathbun, an expert on both the Providence and fore-and-aft rigged ships to obtain the best out of the ships abilities. This was not the case on all of his other ships, most notably the Ranger and later the Alliance. In all cases, it is reported that Jones' improvements made the ships better and faster sailing vessels. But no matter how things may have been desired I would think that form would have to follow function and no matter how radical the captain's desires may have been they would still have to be understood by the Sailing Master and the crewmen who would have to locate and handle the lines.

 

Just a personal thought. I don't even pretend to be an authority on rigging or sailing of any type.  

Edited by lmagna

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Davy (davyboy): Your assumption is correct! That model's rigging has a number of peculiarities. The issue is that the (presumed) repairs are very old, so are far from obvious.

 

Tony: (tkay11): I'm surprised that in an institution like RMG that someone would have accidentally damaged a model, not reported it and tried to fix it so that no-one would notice. Really!

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6 hours ago, druxey said:

Tony: (tkay11): I'm surprised that in an institution like RMG that someone would have accidentally damaged a model, not reported it and tried to fix it so that no-one would notice. Really!

    There is no accounting for the dishonesty or lack of integrity of some people when they do something that they think no one has witnessed.  Working at a lumber yard where I had worked for 20 some years and was (I thought) friendly with my fellow employees, there was an accident in the parking lot where our trucks are often loaded or semis unloaded.           

     My new car (purchased just two days prior to the mishap) had some long and deep scratches on the rear bumper that I was unaware of until leaving work for the day.  It was obviously done by one of the yard workers running a forklift of lumber across the yard way too close to my car, but asking if anyone knew what happened, no one would fess up to doing it or even witnessing the accident and of course you know who had to pay for it!

     I have suffered several other incidents very similar in nature, so I personally tend to believe that things like that happen all the time.:angry:

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A long time ago I had a temporary job in Bedford Museum as a dogsbody, doing whatever I was asked to do. One task was to make a display of a pile of Victorian ivory fans. Unfortunately I dropped a lovely pierced filigree example which shattered into a zillion pieces! OMG I was truly mortified. It would have been easy to sweep it up and pretend it hadn't happened. With my guilty heart in my mouth I reported it to the curator, expecting dismissal on the spot. 'Mmm,' he said, 'follow me'. Which I did, knuckles dragging on the floor. He took me to a vast wall of mahogany drawers and silently slid one open. 'Don't fret, lad, we've plenty more here'. This drawer must have contained over a hundred of fans similar to the one I'd destroyed. It turned out ok, I'd proven my honesty and was allowed anywhere to look at and touch anything in the museum. Sadly my three months were soon over; I left with a heavy heart. I'd had the most wonderful time and learned valuable lessons. 

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Getting back to the topic I see some people are suggesting that some of the rigging problems in the book can be chalked up to “captains choice” in that variations in real-world use could explain away discrepancies. Yet many of the issues in the book are simply illogical or unworkable, such as the Cutter toprope issue I wrote about in this thread way back in 2017. Glancing again at the book I see the illustration for the Schooners Toprope is ALSO flawed, and the brief blurb saying “two different solutions” suggests that the author was NOT using a single schooner model as an example. One of his odd “solutions “ is to run the Toprope through a block, circled in red, that performs no function whatsoever, the line in this example could not run. And as I mentioned back in 2017, topropes are not fixed parts of the rig, they are in use only when lowering or raising the topmast and so would never be spliced to anything, at either end.

68F90C07-373E-43E9-A5DF-8B5ABB3A6779.jpeg

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    My recommendation of the book Rigging Period Fore-And-Aft Craft by Lennarth Petersson seems to have stirred up a bit of controversy over its net worth as a reference.  From some of the reactions, I feel that I need to offer some defense of my recommendation. 

    Some of us, me included, find it and its companion book, Rigging Period Ship Models, to be useful additions to our maritime libraries.  Others seem to think that the books are just rip-offs of some sort.  I’d like to let everyone else here decide the merits of the books for themselves.  Here is some food for thought.

    If one would just read the introductions of these books by the author you would find that he is not saying that his book should be taken as some kind of gospel on rigging, but rather a review of the rigging on some actual models that were built in the same time period that the ships being modeled existed.  Some restorations may have been done incorrectly or the original model may even have been done in error to start with,  but then again, correcting errors was not the stated purpose of his books.

     In any case, right or wrong, the illustrations he made were done to show the way the rigging was done on the MODEL, not necessarily the actual SHIP.  After all, if you were like the author, who admittedly was just an amateur modeler himself, would you have the presumption to second guess the modelers details found in a respected museum made by knowledgeable people with first hand information that you could never have?  I would think that the very fact that they were in a museum would lead me to believe that they must have had some measure of accuracy and quality to be there in the first place.

    And one more thought here, as far as historical accuracy goes, who would know beter how it actually was on that particular ship anyway,……a model builder from the same era of the ship, or someone else critiquing that model centuries removed? 

     Here are some actual excerpts I have taken from the introduction on page 1 of Rigging Period Ship Models by Lennarth Petersson:

 

…..”I felt it important, both for the sake of accuracy and for the benefit of modelers, to draw from a contemporary model, and I decided on an English frigate which should have retained most of its original rigging.  By going to a three dimensional source I hoped to be able to depict the intricate details in the clearest possible manner, and by choosing a contemporary model create a scheme which was authentic.  With the help of my publisher I found a suitable model, with much of its original rigging intact, in the Bristol Industrial Museum.  It is a beautiful model of the Melampus, a 36-gun, 18-pounder frigate.  It was donated to the museum in 1844 and while it has received the attention of restorers over the years its rigging is considered a reliable representation.  I photographed and sketched the model from every angle and the results of the exercise were the source for the drawings in this book”.

    “She is one of four models of ships which were built by the Bristol yard of James Martin Millhouse and is assumed to have been commissioned by the builders.”

     “I hope this book will make the task of rigging easier for modelmakers at all levels.  Certainly, researching and drawing out the illustrations answered a lot of questions for me.  There are other works which any modelmaker needs to refer to and which have been stalwart guides for me.  Foremost are James Lee’s The Masting and Rigging of English Ships of War 1625-1860, and C N Longridge’s The Anatomy of Nelson’s Ships.  Any modeler's book shelf also requires The Ashley Book of Knots.

    Finally, the journal Seaways and The Nautical Research Journal, from Nautical Research Guild in the US, have been useful guides for me.”

 

     As you can see above, he has even suggested some sources to refer to for more clarification on the details.  (Notice that he has even listed The Nautical Research Journal there.)

    And here are a couple more excerpts I have taken from the introduction on pages 7 and 8 of Rigging Fore-And-Aft Craft by Lennarth Petersson:

 

…”the more I became familiar with the ships, the more I have realized the limits of my own knowledge.  I have, as in the previous book, attempted to describe and illustrate no more than the rigs of these vessels.  Readers wanting more information on the design, construction and careers of these sorts of craft will need to look elsewhere.”

     “The book is not intended to be an academic contribution to the field of maritime historical research; as a visual study based solely on three models it is rather intended as an accessible guide for the enthusiast and model shipwright.  These contemporary models were all made by people well acquainted with the vessels of the period, and so they can be seen as representing some of the best evidence of the way these craft were rigged.”

 

    I think that in the first line of the last excerpt he has stated his purpose of writing these books quite clearly.  Some of us may still feel that he did not, but that is an opinion which is something that we are all entitled to have.  

   As I said, we each have our own opinions on the mater, but mine is that one should not really expect this book (that is freely admitted by the author in the introductions to be merely illustrating a specific models’ details) to be some kind of technical manual of proper rigging methods. The author has again provided his readers with other sources to do just that with.

 

On 7/17/2019 at 12:19 PM, JerseyCity Frankie said:

One can find ship models of every skill level here on Model Ship World but I have NEVER seen anything like condemnation of someone’s efforts or mean-spirited dissmisiveness of a model. 

    I hate to say this, but isn’t that what you are doing concerning the efforts of the model builders work that is described by the author, not to mention the authors efforts to illustrate them?  I personally feel that there is too much destructive criticism here (and apparently previously back in 2017) about the models and the books illustrating them.  While you have shown that there were certainly errors shown in the book, (what book doesn't have them?) there must be be some redeeming qualities in it since you seem to have a copy yourself that you continue referring to. 

     Might I suggest that rather than just pointing out what you feel to be incorrect details in the book, could you show us the correct method to clarify the way you think it should have been shown?  I think constructive criticism on the subject would be of much more use to the rest of us.   

    I apologize if I have stepped on some toes here, but as I think I have shown in this post here, my opinion (for what it's worth) is that as the books in question here were never intended to be technical manuals don't try using them as such. B)

                                                     

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