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Tom E

US Brig Niagara by Tom E - Model Shipways - 1:64 Scale

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I think we've all done this!

Officially the first time Niagara has drew blood. Not bad for this vicinity!


Its good to work in the health care industry. During the course of my day, my pockets are kept stuffed with alcohol pads.

I usually forget to leave them at work, unintentionally of course, and they end up at home. 

I have several years supply of these things. 

But do I have 1 Band-aid............nope!



In between slicing my finger, I was working on the Foremast Top.

Concerning the 2 Cross Trees underneath the top, the plans indicate a groove at the end of just the aft cross tree.

1) Is it just the aft cross tree that has the groove? (that's how I see it)

2) Does it run vertical to the horizon?


Tom E 

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I remember slicing the crap out of my fingers on a router bit and my buddy yelling “ Whatever the hell you do, do not get blood on my White Oak. It stains” The compassion of woodworkers, also a learning moment about using push blocks😁

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Its on sheet 4 (Hull and Spar Details).


As I interpret it......

All of this based of the dotted "centerline" drawn thru the Cross Trees and the drawing of the Top its self to the right. It has a dotted centerline as well. 

It looks like there being shown as if we were looking from the top as they lay underneath the platform.

On the forward Crosstree no slot.

The aft one has a slot, that I interpret as straight up and down, not left to right.

For the deadeyes/rigging in this area?


I have a feeling I'm over thinking it.


Tom E


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I 'd send a photo but mine is all black and you can't see much. I was drawing a blank with that notch. Doesn't seem to serve much purpose as the crosstrees don't even extend out from under the platform. However a closer look made me think - the aft crosstree runs almost the full width of the platform.  If you have made notches or holes in your platform for the deadeyes and placed those according to the plan, the aft crosstree terminates right at one of the holes on both edges. All I can figure is the notch in the crosstree is to provide clearance for the deadeye wire coming thru the hole.


Pretty pointless really. It doesn't look like I made the notch. Knowing my own laziness, I probably shortened the crosstree enough (just a hair) so that the ends do not interfere with the deadeye.


My best guess...

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Hope everyone is well. 

Been a bit for an update. Not much to show, mostly planking, planking then more planking.

Plus some side projects to keep me busy.



I have 3 planks installed for Belt D, after the third one was installed I started Belt B.

Do a few in belt B then 1 or 2 in Belt D so they meet towards the bottom.




I'll clean up the edges after all planking is done.



Slowly closing up the hull!





I started the Cross Trees for the Foremast Top.

Below is the rough cut, they'll be cut to shape after I can seat them easily in the notches.



I took your advice and sanded down the cheeks.

Enough, but not enough to look too thin. 






I also started shaping the Sling Bolster and the Port and Starboard Bolsters.

They look a bit thick in the pic but they have been sanded down.

Nothing glued yet, just tinkering.




Tom E


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I just had some time to get caught up on your build.


I agree with Mike regarding the cross trees.


Look on the bright side. Your encounter with your exacto knife produced a good example of a dark red color that if matched, would be outstanding for your gun platforms, ports, and waterway. Probably better that you harvest it from a local paint supplier than your finger though.


Everything looks real good.

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Time for an update, albeit not much.

Planking continues. 


Man, there is a lot to learn while planking.

I know, I'm not thinning the planks enough from the bow. There's a "learning experience" heading right at me somewhere later.




When the planking is done and I clean up the edges at the Ceiling, I'm thinking about "beefing up" those fashion pieces.

They look tiny with rough plank edges. 

I will wait until after the hull is done. Lets see what they look like after all of that.




There's some waviness to the lay of the planks, but not bad.

There is a pleasing flow to the wood. 

Not bad for a rook!



On a side note. 

I made my first Gun Tackle.

Using 3mm hooks, a 1/8th double and single block with 0.012 Tan rope all from Syren.

This stuff is so cool!



It took most of the morning, but it was pretty fun working with real rope and great looking blocks.

I know I didn't darken the hooks, the others will be, but this one I'm gonna let go as is.


Can these hooks be darkened chemically?

I was thinking of trying Jax Metal Finishing Solution.

I can see paint flaking right off these with handling.



Tom E


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I blackened my hooks, and they are so small, and have to be handled gently anyway, I did not have a problem knocking off any of the finish. Way... way easier than painting.


Planking looks good. Sanding, filler and paint will remedy all of your ills.

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Tom - I'll differ with Darrel on my experience. I started with blackening - BlueJacket products. I found I was always finding spots that lost the coating. Once installed all you can do is hit them with a paint brush. So my reasoning ended up being (and still is) forget blackening and paint. It seems much more durable. There are a lot of good "metal" colors out there - you don't have to use black.


There are some VERY fine detail paint brushes that can be used for touchups. Some so fine you can literally count the hairs. Those have worked well for me.


FYI - this topic tends to be discussed a lot. There is the blacken camp and the paint camp. They don't agree on much.

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Thought I would check in. Been a while since I last posted.


Absolutely no building has been done. The entire Shipyard has been temporarily shut down.

I'm in the process of moving to a new apartment.

Its killing me that I have made no progress!


I miss the smell of glue and paint! 


Oh well.

Below is the old Shipyard. Had it just the way I wanted it.

Hope to have the new Shipyard up and running soon.

With what I have in mind for the new place, It should be pretty sweet.



Tom E 

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Sorry to hear about the move Tom. There's nothing worse - with or without a shop.  You're not moving out from that cold weather are you?

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It is soooooooo  good to be back at the Niagara.

I've got a lot of reading to do to catch up with all that I "follow".

Last I updated I was in the process of moving. Not moving from the colder climates, don't think I could.

I'm a New England kid, always have been, always will be.


Honestly, It was the easiest move I have ever done. Only 2 doors down from where I was.

The big difference, heat and hot water are included in the rent.

So hopefully wont be shelling out close to $500 per month for oil during the winter.


Below, the old Shipyard.



Now onto the new Shipyard.

Lots of space and great light! 








The apartment came with the below painting.

There are no names on the ships, so I have no idea what it is depicting.

There's a name of J. Harvey on the bottom right.

Looks like something you would find in a souvenir shop at the beach.

I like it and moved it right above my main build table. 

Anyone recognize it?




Also, today had to be one of the nicest spring days we've had so far.

Beautiful sunset.

T-storms came thru light night, cleared out the humidity. Cool and comfortable. 

Pink sky at night, sailors delight!



I should have a build update soon.

Now that most things have found there place, time to resume planking the hull.


Tom E 


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So Tom - are those residential structures turned into rentals?


Nice abode for that painting to show up in. There's a lot to Google for John Harvey. Looks like he did quite a few similar pieces. He seemed to like the galleons, and I would say that's what is in yours. Sounds like he did a few artist renderings of real subjects, but also a lot of made up scenes too. In scanning around I did not see your exact picture - there's 3 boats there. Another piece looks almost identical to yours but only 2 boats. That's what 2 minutes turned up.

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Hi Mike,

They are residential with apartments.

Very common practice up here to have the house and then an apartment to rent.

Where I live is an Ivy League college town. Dartmouth is 5 minutes up the road in Hanover NH, I live in Lebanon NH.

That means there are plenty of rentals.

And not your typical college town rentals either, these kids have money.


In my case I live above a business, a Gun shop (Welch's Gun Shop).

The owner/landlord lives here as well, great lady. She's been in the gun business in some way for over 60 years.

She started as a kid loading shells for her Dad.

Most of the area buys supplies from her, all the cops do!


Tom E 

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Hi, Tom

Been following your Niagara build with interest, as I am (more or less) scratch building her sister ship, Lawrence. I’ve found you can depend on the advice of Mikiek and 6ohiocav with confidence. 

On an aside, several times a year we drive through your neck of the woods (White River Junction ... eat at Thyme restaurant) on our trips between Illinois and Maine. Hard to beat that scenery along the Connecticut River valley. 

Good luck with your build. 

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As they did with the original Niagara, time to raise this build from the bottom of Misery Bay!


That's what it kind of feels like.

I hate moving. My shipyard has moved 3 times as other things found there place in the new apartment.

As seen below, I have found a nice back room that should serve me well.


Time to flex some modeling muscles!

Sheesh I missed this!!!!!!



Its a place to build and store some of my Knick knacks. 



Below is the current state of affairs as of today.

Just to ease myself back into things I focused on moving forward with the Foremast and Top mast.

Planking is almost done, but my focus has been else where. 

The Bowsprit will be carved soon.



Niagara is starting to get some height with the Fore Topmast. 



Starting small, I hung some 1/8th double blocks underneath the cross trees.

Looking at the plans its 2 blocks per each side of the cross trees. The Main mast has a row of single blocks on the inside row, and doubles on the outside row.  

Yet, I've seen some examples of 3 blocks being hung underneath.

Am I missing something?




I stropped some Syren 1/8th doubles with rope supplied in the kit. It should serve its purpose.

I'll save the good Syren rope for other things more readily visible. 



Attaching eyebolts to each block, I drilled an appropriate sized hole for the eyebolts.






The cleats went on next. 

Should these be painted black?




Ahhhhhhhhh…….its good to be settled in the new apartment.

Let the building resume!!!


Yet so much reading to catch up with tho!

I follow sooooooooo many builds and strings!


Tom E 


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Most of the time cleats were wood back then. Of course try painting woodgrain on those little jewels. A lot of people actually replace the pewter ones with hand made wood ones. If you stay with the pewter I would paint them some inconspicuous color.

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Time for an update.

With things settling down at home, the Shipyard has been busy.



I looked into those cleats and I'm sold.

It gives me a reason to place and order. I guarantee there will be some other goodies from Syren with the cleat order!

By the way, absolutely loving your Ice boat build. She's beautiful!

I see those boats on Lake Champlain most winters. Some have some serious speed!


Below, I started carving the bottom of the Topmast.

Little bit of a hack job at first, but it sanded up well.


It fits well, still needs some shaping tho.

I opened the hole in the Foremast cap. Just to keep the Topmast a bit beefier.....but not by much!

The Octagon flare at the top is unique to say the least! But, I think I got it with some carving and sanding.


She's getting some height!



I also marked my Bowsprit for shaping.

Reading other builds, I kept a close eye on angles and curves. Eg...the top is flat but round underneath near the front.



It was somewhere between the Fore Topmast and the Bowsprit I figured out how to carve!

Of all the pieces I have built for this ship, the Bowsprit came out the best so far......I think.


Might have been fueled by the large Dunkin Donuts coffee in the background.....<_< 


The cap area will be shaped to receive the Bowsprit Cap. 



In the back of my mind, I still remember you saying don't attach too much or you wont get it in.

So I'm holding back on footsteps, cleats, and the like until the very end.



Tom E 


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18 hours ago, Tom E said:

By the way, absolutely loving your Ice boat build. She's beautiful!

I see those boats on Lake Champlain most winters. Some have some serious speed!

Thanks Tom.  Yes some real serious speed.  Back in the early 1990s a couple of our club members took our Class 1 50 ft ice yacht Jack Frost up to Lake Winnipesaukee for some serious sailing. They clocked it, using their GPS, at 91 MPH on a 16 mile long run down the lake.  This is a 2,000 lb boat. 

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Another update from the Shipyard.


Thought I would update the planking process. 

Shockingly I'm still at it! :blink:   I know I know.....sheesh Tom what the!?!?!?

Oh well, It was a learning process, Niagara is my first large tall ship.


Excuses excuses.....:D


With what was done over the weekend, I should have it done by next weekend, hopefully!!!

The below photos don't really show how close I am to finishing. 

I'm at the point where the clips don't fit anymore and it's just the pins holding the planks. 


I'm getting to the point where Bands C and D are done, and I'll close the rest up in Band B.

Since I never really trimmed the planks properly, I was towards the end after I learned how, I'll have to form and place the remaining planks.


I'm ashamed to say its taken me 3 months to plank the hull.

I do think I've learned a lot and should show in future builds...….hopefully! :blush:


I continued on with the Bowsprit. I attached the Bees, with the tiny holes pre made before gluing. 

The Bowsprit cap is not glued on yet.


The Bees will get some more shaping.

Used a wood glue for these and they where still drying when I took the pic. 



There's a brass piece that wraps around the Bowsprit thru the Bees. I do believe its for the Jib Boom (?).

Instead of trying to drill out the Bees to accept the brass piece, I'll use a 2 piece approach.

One piece on the top, one piece on the bottom. It should "appear" to go thru the bees.


Who knows, maybe I'll just drill!!


Tom E 



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Not sure what that brass strap is for. I put one on but it is not used. Definately doesn't do anything for the boom.

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I took a look back at the plans, I was pretty sure I miss labeled that brass strap in my post.


Looks like a "Bobstay Wye Iron", per the plans. Its where the front Bobstay attaches to the Bowsprit.

Did you use an eyebolt there?


Tom E 

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It's hard to say if we're talking about the same piece. I was referring to a brass strap that wraps over the sprit, thru some slots in the bees and then glued together on the underside of the sprit. The glued part extends down a bit and there is a hole drilled thru it. I would take a pic but it's all black on the sprit and hard to make things out.


As I mentioned, I didn't use it for anything. Darrell might be the one to ask. He did a more extensive rigging than I did.

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Definitely the Bobstay Wye Iron. I used a piece of brass strip to wrap around the bowspirit. I soldered the end and left a short tail. I filed it to shape and drilled a small hole. In fact if I remember I drilled the hole first then wrapped it around the bowspirit.  I finished it off by seizing a bullseye to the hole and rigged the lower Bobstay to the bullseye with a lanyard. Here is a photo. 


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