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50' 1888 Gaff-rigged Ice Yacht by Jack12477 - FINISHED - 1:24 scale

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When I posted some articles and photos about an exhibition of ice yachts at the Franklin D Roosevelt Library some time ago (long time ago now) several MSW members suggested that I build a model of one or more of the ice yachts. Drawings with accurate measurements of these historic ice yachts are hard to find and since they spend most of their time safely stored out of the elements, only to be pulled out and assembled when the lakes and or river produces ice of sufficient thickness and quality to sail on; getting hands-on measurements is also hard to do.  Fortunately, this winter provided an opportunity to obtain some measurements.   But before I begin a little history is in order.

 

About the History of Ice Yachting

 

Sailing on ice began as a utilitarian mode of transportation for the Dutch, who attached metal and wood runners to the bottoms of hulled working boats, beginning sometime in the 18th century.  Imported to the Dutch settlements of the New World, there are accounts of cargo in the form of sheep and people being transported on the Hudson River by ice boat from Athens to Albany in the early 1800's. The Dutch are the grandfathers of ice boating. They were the first to add cross planks and runners under sail boat hulls for moving cargo over the icy canals of the Netherlands. Dutch settlers of New York’s Hudson River Valley brought their custom of ice boating to the New World and ice yachting spread across North America wherever there was ice to be found. The recreational potential for sailing on ice quickly took over the imagination of Hudson River Valley residents.  Ice boats were redesigned as light frame craft without traditional hulls, but utilizing the traditional gaff-rigged sail pattern of Hudson River Valley sloops for propulsion, and cast iron ice skates (or runners) as media.  These became in fact the fastest vehicles on earth at the time, regularly beating the trains racing up and down the shores of the Hudson.

 

It did not take long for the landed gentry of the Valley to compete against one another for the biggest, fastest, most beautiful of ice yachts, commissioned by special builders.  The Hudson River led in this vein of maritime history, attracting prominent America’s Cup sailors & investors based in New York City - - along with many others, notably the Roosevelts.  The Roosevelts competed with their club, the Hudson River Ice Yacht Club, against members from ice yacht clubs in Chelsea, New Hamburg, Orange Lake, and Athens. John Aspinwall Roosevelt and his neighbor Archibald Rogers were two of the most competitive and successful Captains, successively building many boats, two of which, the ICICLE and the JACK FROST, went on to win the most significant prize in ice yacht racing, the Ice Yacht Challenge Pennant of America - - several times each.

John A. Roosevelt’s pennant-winning ICICLE is currently on display, unassembled, at the Hudson River Maritime Museum in Kingston NY.  Archibald Rogers’  ice yacht JACK FROST is owned, and sailed, by the Hudson River Ice Yacht Club.


About the Hudson River Ice Yacht Club

 

The Hudson River Ice Yacht Club (HRIYC) grew out of the Poughkeepsie Ice Yacht Club, which was founded in 1861 and was the first ice yacht club established in the country.  

The HRIYC formed in 1885 out of a dispute during a race for the Ice Yacht Challenge Pennant of America in March 1885.  Several skippers in the race made a claim of a foul against a competing yacht.  When the claim was not upheld by the regatta committee after review, hard feelings resulted, followed by the resignation of many members of the Poughkeepsie Ice Yacht Club.  Days later, yachtsman in the breakaway group formed the Hudson River club.


The HRIYC was known as having the speediest and finest-built ice yachts in the country. The club book of 1908 lists 52 ice yachts in its roster, including John A. Roosevelt’s Icicle, Vixen and Kriss, as well as Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Hawk. FDR served a term as Vice-Commodore of the Hudson River Club.

 

The growth and success of the Hudson River Ice Yacht Club in races for the Ice Yacht Challenge Pennant of America eventually led to the demise of the Poughkeepsie Ice Yacht Club.  It was all but defunct by 1899, when yet another club was formed, based out of the boathouse of the Roosevelts’ neighbor, Archibald Rogers: the Hyde Park Ice Yacht Club.  Many local sailors at the time were members of both the HRIYC and the Hyde Park Club.

 

The sport of ice yachting on the Hudson faded in the following years. The reasons included the passing of many of the older and most enthusiastic ice yacht sailors, the opening of the Hudson River channel to winter barge traffic, the World Wars, and the Great Depression.  HRIYC went dormant from 1929-1964. It was re-organized by Ray Ruge, Bob Lawrence and others in December 1964.

The HRIYC and its membership currently have the world’s largest collection of historic stern steering ice yachts. While races between the antique “stern steerers” still occur, the boats are mainly used for pleasure. The club is committed to the preservation and restoration of the yachts, as well as sailing the boats on local ice and providing rides to curious onlookers.

 

About the North Shrewsbury Ice Boat & Yacht Club

 

The North Shrewsbury Ice Boat & Yacht Club (NSIB&YC), organized in 1880  is the longest standing active iceboat club in the world that has its own club house.  The racing capital for ice boating in New Jersey is Red Bank, N.J. on the beautiful Navesink River or as it is called the North Shrewsbury River.


Rocket

The ice yacht Rocket was originally built by the North Shrewsbury Ice Boat & Yacht Club in 1888  My knowledge of its history is somewhat vague, but I do know it fell into disrepair, was found and restored by the NSIB&YC in a project spanning 10 years. More on it's restoration can be found at Rocket Ice Yacht Restoration Project .  In March 2014 members of the NSIB&YC brought the restored yacht from Red Bank NJ up to Barrytown NY to join the HRIYC for a weekend of sailing on the frozen Hudson River. This was the first time the Rocket had been sailed in about 100 years.  A YouTube video of that event can be viewed Rocket Launch - YouTube .

 

The Rocket  measures 50 feet in length with a runner plank of 30 feet with a sail area of 900 sq ft; its weight is 2500 US lbs with a crew of 2 or 3 to sail her. The Jack Frost is similar in size, weight and sail area.

 

I've chosen to model the Rocket first and later the Jack Frost and maybe Franklin D Roosevelt's Hawk, a smaller ice yacht. I will be doing it in 1:24 scale.

 

First some photos I took of the Rocket as she appear this past February (2018) on Orange Lake near Newburgh NY.

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As you can see in the previous photos the backbone is cut from two separate 40 ft long Russian White Spruce or Pine (forget what they said) and stacked atop one another. The bottom portion of the backbone insert thru a square pocket in the truss of the runner plank with the top portion of the backbone notched to fit over the top portion of the truss.  The backbone is 8 inches wide and varies in thickness from 6 inches  at the bow to 16 inches thru the mid-section to 11 inches near the stern, just forward of the "basket" as seen in the following photos. The backbone is transported as two separate pieces and assembled on site.  It takes a lot of crew and heavy lifting to assemble.

 

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The overall model will scale out at 25 inches in length and 13 inches in width; haven't calculated the mast height yet.  For the backbone I will use two 20 inch long pieces of 3/8 inch poplar which I will taper as needed to match the thickness of the original. For the runner plank I will use 3/16 inch basswood for the bottom portion and 1/16 inch basswood for the top truss portion. The chocks which hold the runners and the runners themselves will be fashioned from 1/8 x 1/4 inch basswood.  I'm still mulling over how to model the the iron blades which insert into the wood portion of the runners.

 

I have been purchasing sample scale nuts and bolts in various sizes from one of our sponsors, Scale Hardware, to determine which sizes will match the hardware on the original.

 

Edited by Jack12477

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Welcome Carl

 

I've been fiddling with the runner plank, actually made 2 of them plus a tiny mock-up half plank to fiddle with.  Been trying to match up some scale hex nuts for size. the one depicted below is a 0-80 x 10 mm hex bolt with low profile nut from Scale Hardware. I measured it with digital calipers and it scales up to about 2.2 inches in 1:1 scale, which may be slightly oversized.  Next month I will get another chance to get more measurements so I will verify what size the bolts actually are.  It's hard to tell from photos.

 

Here's some progress photos to-date.

 

The mock-up half section of plank to test the scale hex nuts.IMG_6011.JPG.a4cf5c9765a72896c90c5eef2118e941.JPGIMG_6012.JPG.71a798a33340aa8d121fd850d4ba42b0.JPG

 

 

The model dry fit together (blue tape holding two halves of backbone).

 

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The dark spacers on the original are turned spindles - looks like mahogany - on the model I duplicated them with the tops of toothpicks I found in the grocery section of our local Target store.   No, you're right on the original Carl, they used a threaded carriage bolt which I am trying to source. I just used to hex nut for perspective.  Altho the hex nut bolts are used to hold the runners in place so I can still use them there.  I'll post a photo later of the toothpicks I used.

 

Updated for picture of toothpicks used.

 

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Edited by Jack12477

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15 minutes ago, flying_dutchman2 said:

I would have loved to see them outrun a train. That must have been a sight to see

Marcus, go back to the beginning of this blog and look for the link "Rocket Launch - YouTube video" and click on it.  You'll get a front seat view of her sailing over the ice - probably going between 55-60 MPH.

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While I wait for the arrival of some scale hardware from two different sources, I decided to tackle the "basket" next.  In some historic documents, notably those of H. Percy Ashley who documented many of the early ice yachts, this is referred to as the "steering box" or "cockpit"; however I've only heard it referred to as the "basket" . The first photo below is of the basket on the Rocket.  The 2nd photo is of a basket reproduced by my friend Reid who is restoring an old ice yacht. Note the original side rail in his hand which is from the original boat that was used as a template.

 

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To make my scale model basket I took measurements from one of H Percy Ashley's articles on ice yacht which is 8 ft length by 3 3/4 feet in width and 6 inches in depth.  Scaling this down to 1:24, I then drew a rectangle  on some graph paper 4 inches long by 1 5/8 inches wide. I then found the center line of the rectangle, then used a compass placing it so the pivot was on the centerline and the pencil touched all 3 sides of the rectangle; drawing an arc on each side of the rectangle.  Transferred this to a block of scrap MDF and cut out the plug on my band-saw; I then smoothed off the curve on the miniature belt sander.  Screwed the plug to a plank for stability and ease of handling, soaked the wood overnight, then used the hair dryer on hottest setting to slowly bend the wood around the plug.  This will form the side rail.  I will add a layer of ultra thin mahogany veneer left over from one of my Artesania kits to get the mahogany look seen on Rocket.

 

Photos of the jig follow:

 

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Edited by Jack12477

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I finished the basket.  Quite challenging trying to wrap 4 different pieces of wood around the template.  I started with a 1/4 x 1/8 strip of basswood, then I added as the top piece a 1/8 x 1/8 piece of walnut to the basswood; as a final step I had two pieces (one inside, one outside) if 3-4 mm wide x .5 mm thick walnut veneer.  For the "flooring" I cut small strips of veneer and glued then to the floor which is a piece of 1/32 birch plywood cut to the shape of the basket.  As a final step I careful cut out using a razor saw the center slot where the basket fits over the backbone., sanding and filing until it fit.  For some added strength and extra glue up surface I added the two sq piece of basswood to the underside edge.

 

The thin veneer was especially hard to work with because each piece kept splitting as I tried to shape it to the curve of the basket.  It's left over 2nd planking material from several of my Artesania Latina kits. Looks great when sanded and poly'd but splinters easily.IMG_6030.JPG.73c4cb819b51050376ffabd3d42c6353.JPGIMG_6031.JPG.64ce34575f75029a2af568df840e70ac.JPGIMG_6032.JPG.3447bd6e61bb9e988e2d37425bb76549.JPG

 

Once everything is fully cured I will add a coat or two of high gloss poly.

 

 

 

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I decided to dry fit everything I've done so far to see how the overall appearance and fit is. Here's the results so far.  (the blue tape is just to temporarily hold the two halves of the backbone together) - The two fore runners are attached with a 0-80 hex bolt and nut.  Not sure how well it can be seen in the photos.

 

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The next challenge will be to fabricate the stern steering skate and steering mechanism.  Here's a drawing taken from an old 1909 book on ice yacht construction.  The 2nd photo is of the actual steering mechanism on the ice yacht Manhasset which is undergoing restoration by our club.  That is a 2 and 1/4 inch high by 3 inch diameter rubber block/bushing in the photo and labeled M in the drawing. The forged rudder post is 9 inches in length above the shoulder M, and 1 and 3/8 inches in diameter.  The tiller is 2 ft 9 inches in length and 1 inch in diameter. The measurements scale down to ridiculously small values.  Since I don't have a machine shop, lathe or milling machine, nor the skills to operate one; I will have to fabricate it from scrapes of brass I have left over from other kits and jewelry making items I've been collecting from JoAnns and Michaels which came in handy while building the Willie Bennett

 

I think I will be able to use Chuck's (SYREN) internally stropped blocks for most of the blocks on this ice yacht, or at least that's the plan at the moment. 

 

I will post more when I get this part figured out.

 

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The only thing you need to take into account is that the handle can't be  fixed on a round shaft, but at the scale you are working and the fact it won't be used, that doesn't matter. You have the side ways pivotting motion of steering, and the up and downwards motion to keep the scate flat on the ice, Pass a brass tube through the wood, trhough which you can pass a solid brass rod on which you solder the "claw" which holds the skate. You can make the bulbous shape either by adding solder, or by using multiple tubes one over the the other, soldering them together and file them into shape ...

 

The brass bands to keep the backbone from splitting are a nice piece of work from this part of the build too, I might add. A bit like the " Young America's yards" from EdT ... a nice challenge

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I was thinking along the same lines as you are, Carl, a tube within a tube.  The Rocket does not have the banding, the Manhasset is the only boat I know of that is banded like that.  And yes, I have been using EdT's build logs for guidance on the metal work.

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27 minutes ago, Jack12477 said:

The Rocket does not have the banding, the Manhasset is the only boat I know of that is banded

 

I wonder why ... I would expect the bands with such a big yacht ... maybe those have been left off after an overhaul ...

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19 minutes ago, cog said:

maybe those have been left off after an overhaul ...

The entire backbone was rebuilt from scratch. The original had rotted to the point of being unusable.  I wasn't involved in the restoration so most of what I know is 2nd hand from a couple of our club members who traveled to NJ to participate in the rebuild.

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Hi Jack

 

fascinating. The link you put in early in the posts was amazing, it's one thing to know they are fast & another to see it (even on screen). I'm guessing they were just too fast for a spinnaker?

 

There's a wire, or maybe a shroud, that looks like it goes full length below the main fore/aft frame - what does that do?

 

Mark

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For the rubber bushing, if you can get to a hardware store, you can find a large-diameter rubber o-ring of the appropriate thickness and cut a small slice out of it. A large diameter is desirable because the smaller the diameter, the tighter the curve. A small slice from a large o-ring will appear to be straight. You can drill a hole through the center of that slice so it will slip over the tiller shaft.

 

Below is an example where I used an o-ring to make the rubber bumpers on a main-sheet horse. This was at a scale of 1:32.

 

Cheers -

John

MainSheetHorse.thumb.jpg.85c0ea9133f8b1407662b8c8aff5d03a.jpg

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Hi Mark, welcome aboard.

 

1 hour ago, Mark Pearse said:

There's a wire, or maybe a shroud, that looks like it goes full length below the main fore/aft frame - what does that do?

The wire/shroud that runs along the underside of the backbone (keel) is there to strengthen/stiffen the backbone and counteract the upward pull from the mast/sails.  There are additional wires/shrouds that run from under the bow to the port and starboard side of the runner plank and again from the aft side of the port and starboard runner plank to the stern (just under the basket) - these add additional cross stability to the boat.  These are in addition to the traditional shrouds and stays attached to the masts.

 

1 hour ago, Mark Pearse said:

I'm guessing they were just too fast for a spinnaker?

I've never seen a spinnaker used on these boats. 

 

In theory they can travel at speeds of 4 to 5 times the speed of the prevailing wind, e.g. 20 knot wind = 80-100 knot speed.  In the video of the Rocket's launch she's hitting speeds of 55-60 MPH (88.5-96.5 KPH). The Jack Frost, which is the same size and class as the Rocket has been clocked at speeds of 90 MPH (144 KPH) up on a lake in New Hampshire back in the early 1990s, and record books indicate she has reached 100 MPH (160 KPH)

 

Here's an article that explains the science behind their speed; while the article talks about America's Cup "wet water" sailboats, the same physics applies to our "hard water" sailboats aka ice yachts. Because the ice yacht has almost no friction, or drag, over the ice, just as an ice skater has little or no friction/drag,  the speeds are significantly greater in an ice yacht than the America's Cup racers. How Do These Boats Sail Faster Than the Wind? | KQED Science

 

Here's some drone video done by Jordy Mathews taken this past February (2018) on Orange Lake NY of the Vixen, an 1885 Lateen rigged ice yacht approximately 40 ft in length; on this particular day she was probably reaching speeds of 40-50 MPH (64-80 KPH) on a light wind.

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