Jump to content

Brigantine Leon by Beckmann - 1/48

Recommended Posts

While building the Brigantine LEON, a couple of problems and questions occured to me, which I hope to solve by sharing the progress of my work on this forum. Thanks to Doug McKenzie for encouraging me to do so, I probably wouldn't have done so otherwise.

I am already busy with the hull for a long time, due to little spare time, and I didn't took photos from the beginning.

So I start somewhere in the middle.

I have the plans from H. Underhill, wich I purchased from "The model dockyard.com". I scanned them and zoomed them to 1/48.

The quality is not very good and not very precise, but it is all I could get.

So here the first pictures:1.thumb.jpg.a2a43760e1891f66c9b9442481792fc2.jpg

I painted the hull black, I didn't know the photo of LEON at that time, showing it being painted light grey. Now I consol myself by thinking, she might have been black in her early days.


The Planks freshly glued to the plywood support.


View inside4.thumb.jpg.7405c5494a11740b4e290fef46ab2fc8.jpg

Building the deckhouse


I am not shure about white or gold for the ornaments. It was at least just a cargo vessel.


At the Moment, I am thinking about, if I should paint the bulwark white from inside or not, and how to build the railing on the aft ship section.

One other Question I have ist: Where belongs the ships bell?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 months later...

I have built this model (fully rigged) about 8 years ago. I don't have it at the moment, but I am endeavouring to get some photos to post here. I am about to build it again from the same F. Underhill plans. I didn't know where the ships bell went either (so in my haste to finish I forgot about it). Now, looking at the plans they, have reminded me that the capstan on the foredeck is not correct. (certainly with the positioning of the rigging and the size and area of the deck). I placed it as shown on the plans,  but it was never correct in my mind. 

I would like to hear from anyone who has built or is building 'Leon'.

Link to comment
Share on other sites


Boy, is she looking good!  I like the various colors you used on the house tops and hatches. 



Your comment about the forecastle capstan interested me as I had never felt that there was a problem with Underhill's placement.  So I went back to the 1880 sheer plan of Leon that Jeppe found in Norway.  There is a detail shown which suggests that the capstan was mounted about 2' 7.5" forward of the pawl bitt (which I believe is the same thing as a samson post).  Underhill has the center of the capstan at 3' 6" forward of the pawl bitt.  A lot of the difference is probably because Underhill's forecastle is longer (12' 0") than what we can estimate from the sheer plan (9' 6").  If we scale the 2' 7.5" up based on the ratio of the two forecastle lengths, we get 3' 4" which is pretty close to 3' 6"  Perhaps I should explain that Underhill agrees quite closely with the original documents on many things.  We attribute this to first, the fact that by 1880 deck layouts had become quite similar (within the variety of types that existed) and second, the fact that Underhill had the well known photo of Leon.


Going further, this detail on the sheer plan shows (what we assume to be) a cylinder about 9" in diameter which extends between the weather deck and presumably the stem deadwood - it does not extend up to the forecastle which is why I say the sheer plan only 'suggests;' a capstan.  The sheer plan has many imperfections so I don't think that this lack is a deal breaker.  To further check if this interpretation is reasonable, we can compare this 9" cylinder to the Young America's (Tosti's) forecastle capstan support which extends down at least one deck (I couldn't tell how many).  This capstan support has a diameter of 17".  If we scale it down to Leon's size with length we get 7.5" and if we scale it down with breadth we get 11".  These numbers compared to 9", I think, lend a little more support to the idea that this detail is describing the forecastle capstan support.


I haven't finished the weather deck yet so I'll be tackling the capstan laten!




PS I'm documenting my Leon in the scratch build section.

Edited by Doug McKenzie
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Was there actually a legal or customary requirement for all ships to have bells back then? Even today? I am not sure what the correct answer is. I looked on line for one, but was unable to find a definitive answer. There was an indication that some present day yachting enthusiasm use hand held bells which may have been used back in time. I built the Leon decades ago and did not included a bell since it was not on the plans if I recall correctly. I am more likely to accept that is the case when using very detailed plans from individuals with high standards thinking the bell was omitted for a reason. Possibly someone who served on the Coast Guard would know the answer.
Link to comment
Share on other sites


I got this photo from the Aust Agder Museum at Kuben / Norway (together with the permission to use it here).

So that's alle what remains from LEON. I presume, every ship of that size had a bell. Shipbells always were important for the daily routine onbord the sailships and as well as alarm Signals at night, or when ist was foggy.


Edited by Beckmann
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Beautiful little vessel...and a most wonderful job in presenting her....nice and cleanly done.



Current build:

Build log: https://modelshipworld.com/topic/25382-glory-of-the-seas-medium-clipper-1869-by-rwiederrich-196



Finished build:

Build log: of 1/128th Great Republic: http://modelshipworld.com/index.php/topic/13740-great-republic-by-rwiederrich-four-masted-extreme-clipper-1853/#


Current build(On hold):

Build log: 1/96  Donald McKay:http://modelshipworld.com/index.php?/topic/4522-donald-mckay-medium-clipper-by-rwiederrich-1855/


Completed build:  http://modelshipworld.com/index.php?/gallery/album/475-196-cutty-sark-plastic/

The LORD said, "See, I have set (them) aside...with skills of all kinds, to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver, and bronze, to cut and set stones, to work in wood, and to engage in all kinds of crafts."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I googled "Brigantine Leon" and looked at the various ship models that surfaced. Some very intricate. Only one had the bell attached to the pawl bitt. I can't tell exactly how it is attached, but it is very similar to the photo above in post #5.  That would be your best bet. The book has Leon's port of registry as Porsgrund, but I guess that doesn't have to be the name on the bell. I didn't look through the book to see if Underhill made mention of it. From the photos, you are doing a very nice job on the model and wish you continued success with it. That calking of the deck planks looks very realistic.  I built mine in the early 1970s and it sailed away from a NYC gallery. Where it is today I have no idea.

Thanks for the picture of the bell from the museum. 


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Scott, there is a page about the shipbuilder Colin Archer, who built LEON.

It says:

Year of Building: 1880

ship builder: Colin Archer

Built at: Larvik / Norwegen






Hjemsted: (Port of registry)

Arendal 1880-1900

Kragerø 1900-06

Solum, Porsgrunn 1906-15



Skipsfører: (Captain)

P. Eilertsen 1880-87

M. Andersen 1887-94

C. Jacobsen 1894-96/97

Ole I. Jobsen 1896/97-1900

I. N. Knudsen 1900-06

Isak Olsen 1906-13

Th. Halvorsen 1913-15

Eier: (Owner)

Brødr. Herlofson 1880-86

Axel Herlofson 1886-88

Axes Smith , mgr. 1888-94 (D. Herlofson, eier)

C. Jacobsen 1894-1900

Chr. Jobsen 1898

J. Schelderup 1900-03

J. M. Jensen 1903-06 (A/S Leon)

N. Realfsen 1906-15 (A/S Leon)



so that explains the inscription of the bell

Edited by Beckmann
Link to comment
Share on other sites



Great picture of the windlass.  Do you know the ship?  A feature of the photo is a comfort to me which is the relatively narrow space between the bulwark and the outboard drum - it appears to just allow  someone to walk through the space  I was forced to this same configuration on Leon because the fo'c'sle was shorter than Underhill had it hence the windlass is more forward and the bulwarks have come closer together.  I calculated a width of the windlass for Leon by looking at about 9 other vessels and plotting the length of their windlass against the length of the vessel.  It was pretty close to a line so I just picked off the length of the windlass for Leon based on her length.  But I was uncomfortable with how close the outboard drum came to the bulwark.  Because of your photo, however, I am no longer uncomfortable





Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hello Doug,

there are some fellow members of our german "association historic naval Architecture", who are incredibly well informed. One told me, that this photo originates from the catalogue of an Exhibition in Hamburg Harbour in the year 1978 about shipping on old photographs. It was subscribed: "Fischerleute des Kutters H.F. 249 um 1905" (Fishermen of the cutter H.F. About 1905). Wheras the term "cutter" is no description of a certain type of ship. In german it is a general term for fishing vessels, still used today. It was probably a vessel like the still existing H.F. 294 "President Freiherr von Maltzahn". Have a look at https://www.hf294-maltzahn.de there are plenty of photoes on this page, also many historic potos.



Link to comment
Share on other sites

A ship today is required to carry a bell or other device that will reproduce the sound of a bell. This is listed in the international regulations for the prevention of collisions at sea or simply "the Colregs". I am fairly confident the requirement was there historically as well. The bell was central to much of the daily routine in the ship, I can't imagine there was a ship that put to sea without one.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 weeks later...



I just realized that my primary contact in Norway, Jeppe,, might know something about the bell.  I sent him an email asking if he knew where the bell was hung and he respond as below:

"I don’t know, but I would think it was in the bow somewhere; forward on the mast, on the samsonpost or anchor windlass."  

Jeppe is assembling material on Colin Archer (the designer and builder of Leon) and his focus is primarily on Archer's now famous small boats.  I think Archer only built 4 bigger boats one of which was Leon.

Hope his comment helps.  I'm also hoping that Jeppe will join NRG so that others will be able to benefit from his studies.




Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

Hi Doug! 


Are you the original builder of the Little Leon square rigged sailing dinghy that you sold to John? I found it a couple days ago and wanted to reach out. I’m a Schooner captain in Camden Maine and have been looking for something fun to sail to work- unfortunately, not sure if you’re aware but the new owner (John) is attempting to sell it for $100,000. Yes you heard that right. 


Anyways, do you have plans for your build?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 month later...

Hi Tomholly,


Yes, I'm the original builder of Little Leon. John apparently has introduced a heavy discount because the last time I looked he was asking $110,000!  My friends know that I sold it to John for $1,000 (yes you heard that right) and their main concern is that he pay capital gains on the difference.  His pricing, btw, is based on an insurance valuation of $150,000 replacement cost.  I had a most fun conversation with the underwriter coming up with that figure.  You may wonder why I sold it for so little (material costs were $20,000).  The reason is that Little Leon had passed into maintenance mode and she became a white elephant for me.  I built her with found money and satisfied a lifetime dream by actually sailing a square rigger - at that point my project was complete.  John and his wife were the first people who showed any interest in owning Little Leon and I offered her up for a price they couldn't resist - I remember that his wife told John that I had put the decimal point in the wrong place!.  I believe that they had a bunch of fun with her on a lake in Kansas!  It came as no surprise to me when they choose to sell her although I did tell my friends that they would never get more than $10,000 for her.  


Thanks for your post as this is the first time that I've told the story outside of my circle of friends.  Personally, I think it's a pretty cool story as I was fortunate enough to be able to actualize such a wild dream that first arose when I was 12 years old.


BTW I only came upon your post accidently which is why I'm abit late in responding.



Sorry, I never answered your question - no, there are no plans for Little Leon.  I made plans as I needed them and then tossed them because I was not planning on building two.  Actually I didn't so much toss them as I used them in the construction and they got cut up, glued to wood and ended up as trash.  Now I'm building a pretty good model of Leon at a scale of 1 to 48. - the work is described in a scratch forum.

Edited by Doug McKenzie
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 8 months later...



I do not know why it has taken me so long to notice that you did not put a companionway aft of the  anchor winch and forward of the forward hatch as Underhill shows.  I assume this means you don't believe that Leon had a fo'c'sle.  I tend towards that same conclusion and I'm very curious as to how you came to that conclusion.


I love your pictures!


Thanks and I hope all is well with you,



Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Doug, I am fine thank you. It has been a while now, that I did some work on Leon. I was pulled away by Chuck‘s Winchelsea. But I will certainly keep working on Leon. Concerning the companionway, I am not shure. But there is so little space and the hatch is in the way. So I just did not add it yet. 

I will have to do some more research.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 9 months later...
4 hours ago, Hubertd said:

Good day   As I don't have any spec about this particular Brigantine, can any one provide me the fellowing infos? Deck lenght, Keel Lenght  beam, Depth, Gross tonnage, Net tonnage.  Thank you Hubert

You might try asking that here:  https://modelshipworld.com/forum/13-discussions-for-ships-plans-and-project-research-general-research-on-specific-vessels-and-ship-types/   

"The shipwright is slow, but the wood is patient." - me

Current Build:                                                                                             
Past Builds:
 La Belle Poule 1765 - French Frigate from ANCRE plans                             Triton Cross-Section   

                                                                                                                       USS Constellaton (kit bashed to 1854 Sloop of War  _(Gallery) Build Log

                                                                                Wasa (Gallery)

                                                                                                                        HMS Sphinx 1775 - Vanguard Models - 1:64               


Non-Ship Model:                                                                                         On hold, maybe forever:           

CH-53 Sikorsky - 1:48 - Revell - Completed                                                   Licorne - 1755 from Hahn Plans (Scratch) Version 2.0 (Abandoned)         



Link to comment
Share on other sites

Good morning Herbert. There exist detailed plans from Harold Underhill about LEON. He even wrote two books about building this model. There are lots of Informations. I suppose, you need the original dimensions? Or of the model 1:48  scale?


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
  • Create New...