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Leon by Doug McKenzie - a beautiful little brigantine

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Frank and Sailor1234567890


Frank - Thank you very much - I'm getting some of that glue that you recommend and will use it with sawdust from a sander..  If it works nicely I'll try to use an xacto knife to scratch out another rectangle that is less gross..  


Sailor1234567890 - Thanks for the correct names I particularly like Navel Pipes. I'll edit my post.  As far as the shape and position of the lumber hatch, I am following an 1880 sheer plan of Leon so maybe Leon is just different from most (as her diagonal hanging knees are).

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  • 1 month later...

I was interested in the post regarding whether the crew slept in the focsle or in the deck house. On the north European side of the pond, most vessels of this size and period the crew did sleep in a focsle. A single deck house would often have the galley and, space permitting, accommodation for ‘senior ratings’, such as the bosun, carpenter (if carried) and the cook. All others would be down below in the focsle. Typical examples include classic British West Country schooners, and similar from Germany, France and the Scandinavian countries.


Whilst I haven’t checked against the plans, I would suggest that the deck house on Leon is too small to accommodate all of the crew and the galley. There are also numerous references sources, such as the books by Basil Greenhill, that clearly show focsle accommodation for the crew. Indeed, on many coastal sailing vessels the deck house was the galley, nothing else. Another important factor, or question, is why the need for a dedicated companionway when the crew are accommodated in the deckhouse? A companionway would not be necessary to gain access to the hold, as this would be done via the hatches (and there’s plenty of photographic evidence to support this). A dedicated companionway is a clear indication of a focsle for the crew.

Edited by Torrens
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Thanks very much for your comments.  Bear in mind that I consider this question to be unresolved.  But we do know some stuff that makes the question interesting. We know that Leon had a crew of 8 when she was finished in 1915.  If maybe 3 of these were in the after house then the deck house would house 5.  I've seen a few deck house plans the same size as Leon's that house 5 crew.  Another point is that it is commonly believed that Leon was cut down to a schooner rig in her later years.  We now know this is not the case and she ended her life as a brigantine.  The confusion arises because of the Norwegian words for brigantine and schooner.  I mention this because if she had a crew of 8 as a schooner she probably had one or two more as a brigantine.  But since she was always a brigantine, we can say that her crew was 8.


An important point that you make is in regard to the companion way.  Underhill shows a companion way clearly and unambiguously in the plans.  The problem is that Underhill only had access to the well known photo taken about 30 degrees forward of the port beam.  The companionway, if one existed,  would not be visible in this photo as the bulwark would hide it if Underhill's height was correct.  To make matters worse, Underhill refers to the 'little fo'c'sle' - where he comes up with this diminutive we'll never know.  In any event,  I actually built a fo'c'sle with 5 bunks in the model.  But then I realized that it's not a sure thing and I took it out - my wife says I just wanted to model a fo'c'sle so that's why I let myself believe that there really was one.  By the way, I should mention that the 1880 sheer plan shows no evidence of either a companionway or a fo'c'sle whereas it does show hatches and houses and the pawl bitt and the lumber hatch! 


So my final solution is a little silly because it is self inconsistent - I kept the companionway as sort of a tribute to Underhill but there is no fo'c'sle and the crew quarters will be in the deck house  which I haven't built yet.


So there it is - a bunch of information, that in my opinion, leads to no sure conclusion.



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This is a particularly critical posting - covering the anchor windlass - because I used my tiny DIY woodworking lathe for the first time (in fact, first time using any lathe!) AND this is also my first time using silver soldering.


The pawl bitt has been installed for a long time and now it will support the strong back of the windlass..


The cheeks and standard knees are glued to the deck planking.  The carrick bitts are also glued to the deck planking although they should have been carried down through the deck and bolted to a deck beam.


The iron work is then installed.   Typically, the hand lever is not shown in a model (but I decided to include it to make it a little clearer how this windlass  actually works). I believe that installing this item now will not make future forward items more difficult to install.  The two vertical rods, the purchase rods, transfers the turning force from the hand lever down to the purchase rims, the two outside rings on the windlass barrel.  The center ring on the barrel is the pawl rim and prevents the windlass from reversing direction as the pawl from the pawl bitt engages the pawl rim.


This last shot faces aft.


I want to show the same kind of hardware on the bilge pumps but there the handles may interfere with the installation of other items.

Edited by Doug McKenzie
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Now that the anchor windlass is in place we can install the anchor deck.  I haven't found the scantlings of an anchor deck anywhere but on a few drawings they seem to be the same as for the weather deck.  This was a surprise to me since I expected the scantlings to be lighter.  The final answer that I settled on, came from a single sentence in the DNV Rules for Wooden Ships  (1970, page 30) where it says "Scantlings in Raised Quarterdeck should be as for Main Deck."  Carrying this logic forward to the anchor deck provides our selected answer.  BTW, we reference the 1970 Rules because an English translation was readily available.


The anchor deck beams are shown in the next photo.  The two diagonal pieces support the aft edge of the deck planks as well as the cat-heads.


The anchor deck is planked with Indian Rosewood not for authenticity but  to match the roofs of the main deck house and the aft deck house.  My designer daughter, Katie, has been calling the color shots from the beginning.  A little bit of the anchor deck beams are exposed in the spirit of maximum visibility.  The deck planks fit snugly underneath the main rail so that the main rail serves as a covering board for the deck and the bulwark planking.1818944494_anchordeck2.thumb.jpg.7c9f9ff3e14a216887613b9ffd7a9e2e.jpg

We add the tapered cat-heads.  Later we will install 2 sheaves at the end of the cat-heads as well as some iron work simulating the whisker booms.



Now we return briefly to the Lumber Hatch (Report Post #58).  The outline of the hatch was a very poorly executed item.  Frank / Mahuna (Report Post #59) suggests a way of improving the item.  He suggested using Scenic Glue mixed with same wood dust.  It made things a little better so thank you Frank / Mahuna.  So here is before and .....


..... here is after - not great but a little less jarring.





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  • 2 weeks later...

Now we'll build the quarterdeck.  Most of the quarterdeck beams will be half beams but they all start as full beams.  


The camber of the quarterdeck beams is the same as the camber of the weather deck.


Most of the beams are cut out to receive the aft deck house.   The forward most beam will be cut out as the last step as it provides temporary strength to the deck structure.


The quarterdeck planked with Indian Rosewood, like the anchor deck, with a number of starboard planks left off.  We'll come back to here after we have built the aft deck house.


But first we design and build the main deck house.....


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Now we tackle the main deck house.  Many hours went into researching reasonable internals of the main deck house.  The next photo shows the plan that I finally came up with.  The beginning of the research was a thread called "Deck House versus Forecastle for Crew Quarters" where a number of folks discussed where the crew on Leon was most likely to have been quartered.  I left this discussion leaning towards Deck House.  One detail that needed settling was whether Leon had a Donkey Winch.  If so, it would most likely have been in the aft portion of the deck house and reduced the living quarters significantly.  Jeppe says that in all his research he never found a reference to a donkey winch on Leon.  So we assume no winch.  Another very important detail is the question of the existence of a companionway which would lead to a forecastle.  Underhill shows one but remembering that his only primary source is the well known photo we see that even if there was a companionway it would not be visible in the photo because the bulwark would hide it.  Using Crothers as a guide, the plan shown is proposed.  It houses 6 crew and a cook.  It honors the two very small windows in the forward bulkhead that are seen in the photo.  There also appears to be what could be a door on the port bulkhead about one third the way aft.  This would have been a very typical location for a door leading into the crew space.  Underhill shows 2 doors in the after bulkhead but the plan shows only one because that seems to have been more common.  The plan follows Underhill's 4 windows with sliding covers on the port and starboard bulkheads.



So with the plan explained we can proceed to the construction.  Horizontal planking - 1/16" x 1/8" (3" x 6") - is used for the bulkheads.  The planks are edge glued.  Following that, the doors and windows are indicated.  



The four exterior bulkheads are assembled in a steel jig that uses magnets to align surfaces in 90 degrees both in the horizontal plane and also the vertical plane.


 The four bulkheads joined together.  


809955449_4walls.thumb.jpg.34226de547dafdaab3b2f6004f379160.jpg. The two inner bulkheads have been added.  The 12" high sill (almost black) can also be seen.  This helps prevent sea water entering at the 3 external doors.





Edited by Doug McKenzie
I built the deck house twice because the first time I made it too big following Underhill, Second time, I made it a little smaller consistent with the 1880 sheer plan.
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Is it possible that your location,  Shubenacadie NS, is the same  Shubenacadie that is about 18 miles up river from Maitland NS?  My grandfather grew up in Maitland and watched several ships built there.  He even used to tell about being in the saw pits.  


I totally agree with "sweet pretty little thing"   I am very pleased so far that her appearance doesn't seem to have suffered much from my modest woodworking skills but rather she has a sort of rustic appearance which I suspect is not too far wrong.


Are you working on a build?


Regards Doug

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  • 4 weeks later...

The Indian Rosewood trim has been added


The bunk beds are assembled separately.


and then inserted in place


The roof beams are installed and a few roof planks are placed.  You can also see the flue pipe for the stove.


The roofing is completed taking into account the need to see the internals of the deck house


Edited by Doug McKenzie
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  The aft house is now completed.  It was constructed and trimmed pretty much identically with the mid-ship house so few construction photos are shown.  In the following photo, the 4 walls of the aft house are shown tucked into the quarterdeck. Then the completed aft house is shown first facing aft and then facing forward.





The planked quarterdeck is next followed by the completed aft house nestled into the quarterdeck.



None of the internals of the aft house are being shown whereas some of the internals are shown of the mid-ship house.  The reason for this difference is that the mid-ship house played an important role in trying to answer the question, "Did Leon's crew berth in a fo'c'sle or in the mid-ship house."   There is no definitive answer but I  feel the preponderance of evidence suggests they  were in the deck house.  It seemed reasonable to show that the deck house could actually serve this function so this is why I show the the 3 double bunks, the cook's "stateroom" and the galley and mess.  This was particularly important because the size of the mid-ship house that I modeled was smaller even than Underhill's - 12.5' long compared to Underhill's 15' long.  The 12.5' figure comes from an 1880 construction sheer plan.

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I've read your log with great interest and look forward to seeing its continued progress. You must be very satisfied with what you have achieved. One question for you (or any followers of your build) - which is way out of the current timeline and goes back to the frames. The Underhill plans  and books show you how to mark out the outer face of the frames but give no clue as to the inner face. Does the frame get wider as you go down the hull or does it remain constant all the way down. If the former how do you determine it at each station ?

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Hi Ed,

You know, you are correct - I am very satisfied.  For the first year or so I bemoaned my limited 'micro carpentry' skills - other builders seemed to have joints that you couldn't see, surfaces that were ultra smooth etc etc.  But more recently when I look at her I see something that's almost alive even with her imperfections and I love it!


As far as frames go there are two separate issues.  The one I think you are asking about is referred to as the moulded dimension i.e. outside to inside.  And yes you are correct that this dimension is thickest at the bottom (at the floors) and gets gradually thinner as you approach the upper most deck.  The way I quantified this thinning was to look at some ships about the same size as Leon and assigning the positional value of 0 to the moulded thickness of the frame at the bottom (at the keel)- the actual thickness I gave as 100% because I'm expressing all the moulded thicknesses as % of the largest value at the bottom.  Then I assigned the positional value of 1 to the moulded thickness at the deck and gave the actual thickness as, lets say, 56%.  I think I then marked off positional values at 25%, 50% and 75% and assigned them actual thickness values as percentages of the max thickness.  I compared these percentage curves for a few ships and generated a curve just by judgement that I used for Leon. I used the same curve for all the frames that went down to the keel.  I don't remember how I adapted the curve for the frames that terminated on the deadwood rather than going all the way down to the keel.


Another point, you need to have a diagram that shows both the outer curve of the mid-ship frame and also shows the inner curve.  You probably will not find this on a plan but rather in a diagram in a book that shows a cross section of the construction of mid-ships.  PS I only generated the curve for the mid-ship frame.  I assumed that the same curve could be used for all the other frames.


The second issue has to do with the other thickness of the frame - the sided dimension i.e. the fore-aft thickness.  Every model I have built (and the vast majority of models that I've seen) have no tapering in this direction BUT in real life this is tapered also.   I've seen that the segments (futtocks) that go into a real frame are a little thinner as you go up so the fore and aft surfaces of the frame are not smooth because each time a futtock gets thinner it introduces a little jog in the surface.  I don't know if each futtock is also tapered a little. but I'll guess not.


I'm attaching 2 drawings one for the moulded tapering and how I analyzed it to compare different ships and one for the sided tapering but remember I know very little about this.

Good luck - I hope this is clear and helpful.






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Hi Doug

That's really helpful - thank you. I now understand it and at least I wasn't being dumb over the plans ! The reason for the question - many years ago (before the days of internet forums) I started on Leon using Underhill plans and Plank on Frames. I built the keel and deadwood, the counter frames and a few main frames. I realised that unless I knew how to mark up the 'moulded' sides the interior was never going to be right and the internal stringers, planking etc wouldn't lie correctly - so I gave up. Most bits got lost over the years but I still have the keel and deadwood which I would occasionally wistfully look at. Your log is making me think that it may be worth taking up the cudgel again.

Just to end with a paraphrase of Longridge in his 2 volume book on the Cutty Sark - it's important to remember throughout a build that you should devote significant time to sitting back and admiring what you have just done....

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Great idea to start Leon again after all where are you going to find a more beautiful ship.  If you do start her again and if your planning to show the interior then I'll send you the 1880 DNV survey which will tell you the correct number of frames, the correct sided dimension used for all the frames and the correct moulded dimensions of the mid-ship frame (and a LOT more).  I had to use my 'curve' method for the moulded dimensions because I didn't find the survey until I was finished most of the planking.  And of course be sure to start a log!  I totally agree with Longridge.


On a completely different topic I just recently came up with the idea of comparing the model with the well known photo of Leon and this is shown in the picture below. 




This is actually a difficult comparison to make because the photo of the model has to match 3 parameters of the photo of the real ship.

1 -  The angles forward of the port beam have to be the same.  The model has an angle of about 10 degrees and I believe the real ship's angle is more like 20 degrees

2 -  The distances from the ship have to be the same.  The distance for the model photo is 770' which might be pretty good.

3-  The roll angle of the two photos have to be the same.  In this case you can see that the starboard rail on the photo of the real ship is not visible but on the photo of the model it is very visible.

In any event we certainly get the impression that the the model's bowsprit is steved a little too high and that both the foremast and the mainmast have too much rake.

I have some ideas about how to determine better parameters for the model photo in order to check these impressions.  I took the rakes off of a 1880 sheer plan but unfortunately those kinds of plans can be  inaccurate.


Good luck and many blessings,



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This posting includes some miscellaneous items as well as the beginning results of comparing the model to the picture.  Having purchased all the miniature rope that I'll need from Syren, I realized that I needed to do some organizing.  So first, I wound all the different sizes on 2" sections of 2" cardboard roller.  Then, I stacked these 'spools' on two poles - one for the 7 sizes of standing rigging and the other for the 4 sizes of running rigging - voila!  well organized with a small footprint.  The little bucket with little sticks of all sizes and types of wood has also greatly reduced clutter on the bench top -  I don't know why I didn't discover this years ago.




Next, I've glued up all of the the 4 part spars - each spar has an extra inch at each end.  As far as I can tell most ship modelers use a single stick for their spars and they have no problem with twisting or bending.  For some reason, I've gotten it into my head that I need to make each spar from four sticks confident that they will then stay straight - I don't know where I got this idea.




Comparing the model to the photo for the aft cabin showed that the companionway roof was too steep and that the skylight was too far aft and too high.  Before and after photos follow.  Unfortunately , I don't have a useful before picture so we make do.






And lastly we compare the profile of the stem.  We actually have two views of the stem one being from the photo and the other being from the 1880 construction sheer plan.  It's encouraging that the photo and the construction sheer plan are basically the same as this means we can probably also trust the below waterline curve that the construction sheer plan shows.. Unfortunately, the model stem is straight and differs significantly from the true stem.  It is not at all clear why Underhill did not follow the curve so clearly evident in the photo.  Another disappointment is that I do not see how to 'fix' the model to match more closely to the photo.  My son, Nate, trained as a naval architect, is not ready to throw in the towel on this.  In addition he has software which constructs a 3-D model from a 2-D photo.  We hope to extract further quantitative information from the photo.


I'll remove some of the mystery of what's coming up by saying that I think I'll be building a third mid-ship deck house based on the photo.  The good news is that it needs to be bigger hence making the case for housing the crew even more plausible.



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  • 2 weeks later...

Ed,  I also was pretty flabbergasted by the difference between Underhill's stem and the true stem.  It is really odd since the photo shows the correct profile very clearly.  As to 'other details of the plan' the good news is that the 1880 construction sheer plan agrees with the photo.  I've read that these construction plans are not always trustworthy and yet, in this case, the stem shape is accurately reproduced..  And we know from previous posts that Underhill's deck layout is pretty close to the layout shown in the 1880 sheer plan so apparently we can be satisfied with the deck paraphernalia.


This is a short posting but many hours of thought have gone into the result.  I really wanted to modify the model to reflect the true stem.  But no matter how many problems I solved more would arise and then I had the idea of 'painting' the true stem onto the model.  This is practical because at every elevation the true stem is inboard of the model stem hence nowhere does the true stem project forward of the model stem.  My ability to 'paint' the true stem is very marginal (you may remember the lumber hatch) therefore I asked a professional artist, Lisa Brown, to help.  She proposed using 1/8" wide tape.  She showed me how to ease the tape into position where there are curves.  The final result is seen in the photo below.



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  • 4 weeks later...

Some miscellaneous items on the deck -  First is the spanker sheets.  These are a problem because the double block shackled to the deck would be very difficult to install after the wheel box is in place. and even more difficult would be threading the sheet itself through the sheaves of that block.  Therefore the whole tackle is assembled and installed.




The fife rail and bilge pumps are next.  The hand-bars for the bilge pump are included so that the operation of the pump is clear.



The anchor operation is shown next.  The anchor chain can be seen entering the hause pipe which it passes through to the anchor windlass which can't be seen in this picture.  The head of the anchor is seen hanging from the cat-head tackle which has been taken to the warping capstan to provide the power to lift the head of the anchor from hanging below the hause pipe to hanging below the cat-head.  Lastly, a large hook at the bottom of the treble block fish tackle engages one of the flukes and the tackle lifts the fluke over the rail.  The bill board is the wood plank that prevents the flukes from damaging the planking, the wale and the rail.  This is the way the starboard anchor will be displayed in the final model.  The port anchor will be stowed.



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  • 3 weeks later...

At this point I figured that if I'm going to do the scroll work I better do it now.  There was no way I was going to carve the scroll work  or paint it so I asked if anyone would be willing to take on a commission of doing the carving for me.  What I got instead was great advice from David Antscherl, aka druxey.  Instead of carving out the wood, he said, why not build up the filigree with something.  He recommended trying string and gesso.  I don't have the skill to paint the gesso freehand so I used kite string coated with  4 coats of gesso.


The first picture shows the kite string strung between nails.  The second pictures shows the kite string coated with 4 coats of gesso.  We'll try to reduce the unevenness of the gesso but that comes later.





This gesso coated string is then easily bent to follow the curves on the tracing of the scroll work .  The end of the string is first tacked to the tracing paper with CA.  Then with needle pointed tweezers, the string is bent around the curves of the scroll work tacking it in place with CA when ever necessary to hold the curves.   The following pictures show first, the filigree right after gluing the gesso coated string to the pattern.  The second picture shows the filigree after it has been cleaned up.  The clean up is done with tiny files and  consists of 1)   removing the tracing paper so that it won't be visible and 2)  Rounding off kinks and corners so that the curves are all smooth.  The last picture shows the filigree glued onto the .hull.  It's pretty rough but at least I was able to do it.

















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  • 3 weeks later...

Thanks GrandpaPhil,


I think this modeling must really be a labor of love otherwise why would we ( graciously? ) accept all the failed experiments.


Meanwhile, I've painted the scrollwork black because of the drawing that Beckman posted on December 14, 2018 from Aust-Agder-Museum.


I'll post more pictures when I finish all the scrollwork


Thanks again for the affirmation,,



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  • 2 weeks later...

All the scroll work is finished - first shown is the quarter board, then the trailing board and finally the transom.  The only new technique was typing the name and home port on tracing paper and then adding the actual scroll work.  When gluing the finished work to the hull the tracing paper should have a very thin layer of glue.  Then the wood becomes visible as seen on the transom.  If this is not done then the tracing paper itself is seen as on the quarter board.  Thanks again to David for his suggestion of string and gesso!







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  • 4 weeks later...

I've started on the spars beginning with the bowsprit and jibboom.  I don't yet feel up to the metal work for the bands so I used Chartpak Graphic Art Tape (matte) from Amazon.  I have  4 width - 1/32" 1/16", 3/32" and 1/8" (full size 1.5", 3", 4.5", 6").  The adhesive is not all that strong when wrapped so I use CA also.  If a band has eyes, an eye is used to tack the end of the tape.  If there are no eyes,  mini nails (3/32" long) from Micro-Mark are used.   Two sizes of eyebolts are used.  The most common is 1/32" (full size 1.5") and less common 1/16" (full scale 3").  Both come from Bluejacket.  The second photo is taken a bit off the starboard bow to show some of the eyebolts more clearly.  In addition, the focus is much better on this photo so zooming in gives a sharper image


I should also mention Drill Bits Unlimited.  They supply drill bits that are normally used in machinery but can be used in a pin-vise or drill press.   They come in many small sizes.  These drill bits are very sharp and very brittle - they break frequently.  However, with care, they are a blessing to work with.  Incidentally, in these pictures it looks as if the jibboom is tapered towards it's heel rather than it's head - please believe me, this is an illusion.


A detail for research -  I tried to find how the battens were fastened to the bowsprit - I assume it was with bolts or such.  But I found no information so I left them blank.





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  • 3 weeks later...

The steeve of the jibboom / bowsprit and the rake of the masts (along with sheer) are some of the first impressions that an observer gets of a model sailing ship.  I noticed almost immediately that the jibboom in Underhill’s plans seemed a lot flatter than the jibboom in the well-known photo of Leon.  I figured I could do some research and get a better idea of what these parameters really were.


The photo below shows the model with masts done except for some paraphernalia.  The steeve and rakes are selected based on the research documented below.  The picture was taken so that the camera was nearly on the same level as the waterline and as directly off the beam as possible.  These conditions provide the best estimates for the 3 angles.  Values for the other photos are likely more error prone for not satisfying these conditions.





All the numbers are in the picture below.  We’ll talk about just the jibboom because it is the simplest and yet still gives a good idea of what the research entailed.  The masts are more complicated because there is more variation between the sources and also we consider not just the rake of each mast but the difference in the two rakes.  A note on the use of one decimal place for the angles - it is not meant to imply great accuracy rather it makes it ease to see exactly where a number in the text comes from in the table below.  It's a trick from actuarial practice which was the profession I retired from.




The first step of the analysis was  to divide the variety of sources into 3 categories.  The first is what values was Underhill basing his plans on.  The second is what values were used in 1880 when Leon was launched.  The third is what values were appropriate later in her life in 1912  (the year of her photo) when she was 32 years just three years before she was lost.  Beginning the research, I had no idea that there might be changes in these angles over time, but I think there were, at least in the jibboom steeve.


3 sources were identified for determining Underhill’s values.  1-- Underhill’s plans, 2-- A photo of Underhill’s model and 3-- A photo of his friend’s, Favez, model.  The two model photos are consistent (26.0 and 24.7) but Underhill’s plans (19.3) is lower by about 6 degrees.  All these values are in degrees.  A question arises as to why both models are significantly larger than Underhill’s plan.  It is easy to imagine that when building their models, the photo of Leon was disconcerting as it’s steeve is significantly steeper than Underhill’s plan.


3 sources were also identified for determining the As Built in 1880 values.  These three sources are quite consistent.  The Construction Sheer Plan gives 16.7, the Builders Sail Plan (my term) gives 17.7 and a drawing of Leon under sail gives 17.2.


Only one source is identified to determine the values As She Was Circa 1912.  The well-known photo of Leon gives 29.4.  Absent any other explanation for the increase in steeve angle of 12.2 degrees, maybe it was a change made during a refit.  The rakes of the two masts As She Was Circa 1912 are much closer to their As Built in 1880 values  being about 1 degree less.  



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  • 1 month later...

The two lower masts are installed, held in-place with wedges that are covered with the mast coats.  In order to make the mast coats look like canvas a little fine material was varnished over the imitation mast coat made of wood.   The two lower masts were installed so that the chain plates for the shrouds could be angled accurately.  The backstay chain plates will similarly need the top masts to be installed.




I had given a lot of thought, over a period of months, as to how I was going to fabricate the deadeye strops, the chain plates and the chain plate cleats (aka backing cleats) since my miniature metal working skills are very limited (my large scale metal working skills also).   I settled on the following techniques:  First, I used 1 1/2" round copper rods for the chain plates as Underhill made the comment that Leon had round chain plates (how he knew this is a mystery but it was very convenient for me).  I wrapped this rod around the Syren deadeyes to form simplified strops.  The chain plate cleats were fabricated along the lines of a posting in MSW for the Victory.  (When I tried to find it again, to give credit, I couldn't find it!)   In the photo below, we first see the 'strop' on the completed assembly on the far left.  On the far right,  a fine wire wrapped twice around two pins is the beginning of the backing cleat.  Then, moving to the left, the wire is crimped between the two pins and then removed from the two pins.  One more to the left and the crimped wires are soldered and the two tails are removed.  The upper eye is one wire thick and the lower eye is two wires thick.  One more to the left and the single wire eye has been cut forming two prongs.  These prongs are straightened and soldered around the bottom end of the chain plate to complete the assembly.  The thin wire was doubled in order to make the top of the dummy chain plate cleat about the same size as the lower part. 




The 5 assemblies for the port fore lower mast shrouds are shown in the next photo.  Underhill talks about blackening brass (or copper) with thinned black paint.  Up to now I have always used a chemical blackening agent but I figured I'd give the thinned paint a try.  I found it easy and effective but not so durable as the chemical blackening agent.  You can also see in this picture that little slots were cut in the rail to meet the holes that had been drilled.  This allowed the entire strop / chain plate / backing cleat assembly to be fabricated off the ship and then installed finally plugging the slot.




On the starboard side the viewing ports do not permit the full chain plate assembly to be installed so the chainplate is bent around the wale and terminated there as seen in the following photo.




Edited by Doug McKenzie
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  • 1 month later...


The rigging has started in earnest.  The fore shrouds are up but the lanyards have only been adjusted once trying to get the upper deadeyes to be in line with each other.  They will keep being adjusted over time.  The fore stay is up also.  Jeppe found a signed contract dated a month before Leon was launched which specified that the fore-aft stays were to be wire and the shrouds were to be rope.  This is why the forestay is so thin compared with the shrouds even though it's doubled.  The green cards help keep some lines which are not ready to be installed yet neat - these are the main stay, the main middle stay and the main topmast stay - these were fitted to the foremast before stepping the mast for ease of handling.  At the end of the bowsprit are the martingale and the two heart-lanyard fittings waiting for the bobstay chain.  




The masthead shot below shows some of the details.  My target is to serve everywhere that it was done on a full scale ship.  So far there is one deviation.  I haven't served the lower ends of the shrouds going around the top deadeye   My serving material is 0.006" diameter thread, full scale 0.29" which is too big.  Mostly, it seems to be OK but in conjunction with the deadeyes and the shrouds being rope it seems too big so the serving was left off.


This is a good place to mention that the mast caps were probably iron but I have made them out of wood.  The reason is simple - when I tried to construct them from brass or copper,  my silver soldering skills were grossly inadequate. 


The dimensions of all rigging both standing and running were taken from tables in Underhill's Masting and Rigging the Clipper Ship & Ocean Carrier,  In other sources we found that the length of a rope block should be roughly 3x the line's circumference.  This formula was used to size all of the blocks.



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