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I have a question regarding the number of bulkheads in an admiralty model. The plans below have 18 bulkheads, but in most admiralty models there seem to be far more (check the image 2). What am I missing here - where do I get the profile for these extra ones?

 

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They aren't "bulkheads" or frames. They are station lines. The stations are depicted in a standard draft at each station line on the baseline. (The lines pictured were drawn for the purpose of modeling and have some modeling-specific information in them, however.) These station lines, together with the other lines in the draft, define the shape of the vessel. The table of offsets, correspondingly, defines the dimensions of the lines. While, in smaller craft particularly, frames may coincide with station lines, that is more a matter of coincidence than anything else. In a larger, heavier vessel, such as the one above, were every frame to be represented with a station line, the drawing would be so full of lines as to be unreadable and for the purposes of defining the shape of the hull, unnecessary.

 

Station lines have nothing to do with the construction details of the vessel.  The construction of a vessel is addressed by the construction drawings, if there are any. (And in period vessels, there rarely are, as such details were left to be worked out by the master shipwright.)  If you want to build a model using bulkheads, stations may be used to define your bulkheads.  If you wish to build a model with frames the way the vessel was actually built, as with an Admiralty model, you will have to research the methods of construction at the time the vessel was built and apply that research to determine how the parts were fashioned to build it.  The Admiralty had detailed rules for construction, sometimes called "scantlings," which you can look up in resource materials.  These scantling rules dictate, based on the overall size of a vessel, the size of framing timbers and frame spacing, the thickness of planking, and on and on.

 

The task of translating "lines," as above, to patterns for the actual parts of a vessel is called "lofting," because it was usually done on a wooden floor in a loft at the shipyards. Using the scale lines drawings and the scantling rules, the loftsman draws all the parts of the vessel full-scale and "takes up" (transfers) these "loftings" to create full-sized patterns which are then used to define the shape of all the parts that go into the vessel. If one wishes to build a model of the vessel with the lines above, they will have to "loft" the construction drawings at the desired scale and work from those in constructing the model "Admiralty style" in the same way the full-sized vessel was built. (Which, without the actual prototype available, will always be an educated approximation, since the form of the parts was often dictated by the size and shape of the raw wood available to the builders at the time.) 

 

A command of lofting is essential to using lines drawings to create scale models.  With it, one has a huge selection of vessels from which they might select a subject to model. Without it, they are left to those relatively few subjects for which plans for modelers have been drawn up and offered for sale. (This is one reason why so many models of the same few ships keep getting built from commercially produced kits. Therein lies the distinction between "kit building" and "model making.") A good basic explanation of lofting is contained in Howard I. Chapelle's book, Boatbuilding. A far more comprehensive treatment of all aspects of lofting, including, for example, the methods for determining the degree of bevel on each frame of a hull, are contained in Alan Vaites' book, Lofting. (Both are readily available.)

 

The common use of lines drawings is relatively recent, coming into use sometime in the Seventeenth Century, IIRC. Like all drafting, naval architectural drafting is a "language" which must be learned. The Lords of the Admiralty and the other bureaucrats who decided which vessel would be built were often, like most laymen, completely incapable of "reading" a set of lines on a sheet of paper. This why the Admiralty models came into being... to provide a readily understandable three-dimensional representation of the vessel proposed to be built to people who were unable to translate a two-dimensional set of lines to three-dimensions in their heads.

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Hi Bob what an amazing and thorough answer..... so basically if I wanted to build a beautiful ship like the one in the picture, I would need to have a working understanding of lofting theory. Then apply this understanding to my drawings as best I can, given the limitations of my information.  Which would mean plenty of bedtime reading, research and some technical drawing practice. The reason for my interest in this thread is I too want to improve and build ships like the one above. I think I’ll order some more books 

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Hi, I'm sure other members will reply but being in this position  40 odd or so years ago I found Underhill's

Plank on Frame Models Vol 1, and Longridge's The Anatomy of Nelson's Ships to be the most useful

books to really appreciate initially how frames can be lifted from drawings.  Both books are really towards the end

of the spectrum of wooden shipbuilding and the actual differences in period is insignificant when appreciating

how ships three dimensional shape is represented in the 2 dimensions. Both books give the introduction to 

start to understand Steel and other similar writings that look at other complex ways of describing the hull form.

I think Bob's comments are very to the point and very well explained. 

 

Regards, Nick

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Thanks everyone for taking the time to answer - with such meticulous answers. This has given me a good base to work on. I shall search for some of the suggested books. I've just commenced looking through the wealth of information that is in the archives. Apologies for any incorrect terminology I use - it will come with more research. I'm sure there will be more question to pursue. 

 

 

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There's resources here on MSW also....

 

There's the database: http://modelshipworldforum.com/ship-modeling-articles-and-downloads.php   that has some basic articles and also a CAD tutorial.

 

and then there's here:  https://modelshipworld.com/index.php?/forum/34-cad-and-3d-modellingdrafting-plans-with-software/   Which while CAD oriented might be helpful.

 

Lastely, there's here:  https://modelshipworld.com/index.php?/forum/13-ships-plans-and-project-research-general-research-on-specific-vessels-and-ship-types/  There's a pinned article at the top and for other topic, use the search.

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7 hours ago, No Idea said:

Hi Bob what an amazing and thorough answer..... so basically if I wanted to build a beautiful ship like the one in the picture, I would need to have a working understanding of lofting theory. Then apply this understanding to my drawings as best I can, given the limitations of my information.  Which would mean plenty of bedtime reading, research and some technical drawing practice. The reason for my interest in this thread is I too want to improve and build ships like the one above. I think I’ll order some more books 

It's possible to build one of a handful of ships like the ship above from kits or written instructions, but such a build will yield simply another copy of somebody else's interpretation of a particular vessel which has been built perhaps as many as hundreds of times before. That would relegate the builder's several years of dedicated work to the level of a "decorator model," albeit, if well-done, a very nice decorator model. It could certainly be a monument to the builder's skill and perseverance and a delight to the eye of the beholder, but it could never be an "original," really, nor would it possess that quality of uniqueness and accuracy which distinguishes what, for want of a better description, is called "museum quality."  Knowing how to loft would get the hull built. Then you'd need to learn the marlinespike seamanship necessary to know how to rig your model and how an Eighteenth Century British ship of the line was sailed to present it for display properly.  And, of course, that all assumes you have the tools and craft skills to do the woodworking and metalworking necessary from scratch... and in miniature. (Consider that a rigged model of a ship like the one above may have close to a thousand blocks in its top hamper.)  Put another way, "It helps a lot if you have a pretty complete knowledge of the full-scale building and sailing  procedures and practices of the period when the vessel you are modeling was built." It's a lot easier to build models when one has decades of hands-on experience sailing and maintaining classic and historic wooden vessels. Admittedly, that's a pretty tall order and even with such experience, in order to build models of ships built hundreds of years ago, reading books is essential in any event. If one wants "to build ships like the one above," I'd advise them to start with a plank-on-frame kit, such as Bluejacket Shipcrafters'  Jefferson Davis or America, keeping in mind that the manufacturer describes these as "experienced" level models. There are books, such as Davis' The Built-up Ship Model, Underhill's Plank on Frame Models (Vols. I and II,) Longridge's The Anatomy of Nelson's Ships, and lesser-known practicums which describe the building of specific fully-framed models, but be forewarned, the task isn't for the faint of heart. (See Ed Tosci's magnificent build log on his model of the clipper, Young America, at https://modelshipworld.com/index.php?/topic/3453-young-america-by-edt-extreme-clipper-1853/. I believe he is in the process of the publication in installments of a multi-volume work that should enable one to replicate his detailed interpretation of that vessel.) Frankly, the framing of a model such as the 6th Rate, Enterprize, above, is only a small part of the job. Properly rigging such a model would likely take much longer than building the hull, which is why many of the Admiralty Board models were never rigged. (The rigging schedules were also dictated by the Admiralty and one would refer to the appropriate schedule for the period when the ship was built to approximate her rig or study a contemporary model, if one exists. Again, here is where the research is required.)

 

As I mentioned above, and as Chapelle, McCaffery, and other master modelers have lamented, there is a lack of diversity in the models which are built. What these experts fail to mention, however, is that the trade skills required to build an accurate model from extant lines drawings and limited pictorial documentation would discourage most people from attempting to build a model "from scratch." Consequently, folks focus on kits and books and publications which have, to one degree of accuracy or another, done the research work for them. That's a great way to get into the hobby and that's how most all people do get started, but compared to the number of vessels which could be modeled, but for the availability of lofting and research, the available choices for the modeler are relatively limited. As Chapelle once wrote, "Do we really need another model of Nelson's Victory?" (Or words to that effect.) In my own humble opinion, the world of workboats and yachts, for one example, for which detailed construction drawings abound in the available literature, offers a multitude of subjects for spectacular models without the need to do the sort of research required to build a model of a vessel that was built two or three hundred years ago and about which much is unknown.  (See L. Francis Herreshoff's Sensible Cruising Designs for "how to build it" chapters on many exquisitely beautiful yachts which have rarely, if ever, been modeled. If one were of a mind to build an "Admiralty style" model of some of his famous clipper-bowed schooner and ketch designs, they'd be something to behold and quite unique.) The kit manufacturers are in business to make a living and I don't begrudge them their "rice bowls," but I do think some do the hobby a disservice by aggressively marketing extremely complex (and expensive) kits of vessels such as Sovereign of the Seas with the implied promise that "you, too, can build a model like this one."  To that extent, some seem like the old ads for "paint-by-numbers" kits that promised the buyer a "Rembrandt" of their very own. 

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6 hours ago, nancysqueaks said:

Hi, I'm sure other members will reply but being in this position  40 odd or so years ago I found Underhill's

Plank on Frame Models Vol 1, and Longridge's The Anatomy of Nelson's Ships to be the most useful

books to really appreciate initially how frames can be lifted from drawings.  Both books are really towards the end

of the spectrum of wooden shipbuilding and the actual differences in period is insignificant when appreciating

how ships three dimensional shape is represented in the 2 dimensions. Both books give the introduction to 

start to understand Steel and other similar writings that look at other complex ways of describing the hull form.

I think Bob's comments are very to the point and very well explained. 

 

Regards, Nick

I'd add to your excellent essential reading list the more recent volume by Crothers, The American-Built Clipper Ship.

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3 hours ago, iMack said:

Thanks everyone for taking the time to answer - with such meticulous answers. This has given me a good base to work on. I shall search for some of the suggested books. I've just commenced looking through the wealth of information that is in the archives. Apologies for any incorrect terminology I use - it will come with more research. I'm sure there will be more question to pursue. 

 

 

You need search no further than Amazon. They are all still in print and readily available.  (Some, like Davis' early books, are pushing 100 years old and still in print. They're that good.)  Don't let the retail prices throw you. There are also lots of used copies available at considerably less, since old geezers like most of us are rapidly becoming have a bad habit of dying off with some regularity and their heirs frequently have little or no appreciation whatsoever for the libraries their ancestors have spent lifetimes and tens of thousands of dollars building.

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4 hours ago, mtaylor said:

There's the database: http://modelshipworldforum.com/ship-modeling-articles-and-downloads.php   that has some basic articles and also a CAD tutorial.

 

Oh, drat! Just when I was starting to feel complete with my acquisition of a full set of Keuffel and Esser Copenhagen ship's curves, at not inconsiderable expense, I might add, CAD became sufficiently accessible to raise the question of whether the investment of money and time to acquire and master a CAD program is worth it, considering how many years one may have left on this old blue marble. I've seen the rather remarkable work produced on the more advanced programs and I envy it. For a younger, and wealthier, modeler with the time and money, or perhaps the good fortune to work with CAD for a living, it certainly is worth pursuing. For myself, however, I've decided to stick with my ship's curves and my battens and ducks and avoid the quest for the perfect Bézier curve.

 

Regardless of how neat and pretty the good CAD drawings are these days, they just don't have the dimension of "art" that is evident in the high-quality old-time pen and ink on linen draftsmanship. 

 

At the risk of thread drift, I do think there's a general discussion to be had in the hobby regarding whether or not there is a line that can be drawn between "craft' and "art" in modeling.  Is the perfect reproduction of a model part accomplished by the use of CAD and 3D printing really "art," or merely the technique of an accomplished craftsperson? (Which isn't to say there's necessarily anything "mere" about accomplished craftmanship.) The advent of digital photography certainly took a bite out of the photographic art work market.  (I'm sure professional photographers had the same complaint when Kodak came out with the "Brownie" camera for the masses a hundred years ago.) I'm wondering if 3D printing isn't poised to similarly devalue the artistic merit of ship modeling. Perhaps that's a story for another night, though.

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Bob and Nick,

 

I’ve really enjoyed this series of posts.  To the set of books recommended above, for a beginner I highly recommend the two books written by Harold Hahn.  In these books his explanation of lofting is directed at the model builder.  He also presents a method for building a plank on frame model which if carefully followed will produce excellent results.  Hahn’s method has been criticized by some builders as his framing is stylized and his method does not follow the practice of building a real ship.  I don’t agree with this.  Using his method a beginner can take a lines drawing like you show above and build a unique and beautiful model.  I have personally done this.

 

I personally enjoy making hull lines drawings (lofting) by hand.  I still have my K&E Ships curves that  I bought new as a student 50+ years ago.  I also have a set of lead drawing “ducks” that I made at the same time.  These are used to hold down a wooden spline bent around a set of plotted points.  You will not need all of this stuff to start.  You can get by with a couple of French curves bought at an office supply store.  Splines can be easily ripped from straight grained construction lumber and held down with tacks driven into an improvised MDF drawing board.

Personally, I suggest just trying to do it and erasing and redoing things as you go.  As they say, “Paper is cheap!”

 

Drafting Ducksimage.thumb.jpg.85ccbbb94b1e0a7c7ef97785a9c3c79d.jpg

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4 hours ago, Bob Cleek said:

At the risk of thread drift, I do think there's a general discussion to be had in the hobby regarding whether or not there is a line that can be drawn between "craft' and "art" in modeling.  Is the perfect reproduction of a model part accomplished by the use of CAD and 3D printing really "art," or merely the technique of an accomplished craftsperson? (Which isn't to say there's necessarily anything "mere" about accomplished craftmanship.) The advent of digital photography certainly took a bite out of the photographic art work market.  (I'm sure professional photographers had the same complaint when Kodak came out with the "Brownie" camera for the masses a hundred years ago.) I'm wondering if 3D printing isn't poised to similarly devalue the artistic merit of ship modeling. Perhaps that's a story for another night, though.

 

In brief, me thinks that "craft' and "art" apply equally to model ship building.  The "craft" is the focus on the design and getting near as possible to the real thing.  The "art" is the interpretation of the plans, details, etc. as scale.  I think the masters of model shipbuilding are masters at both the craft and the art.  There's a saying I hear decades ago... we learn our craft to produce art. So there's really not much separation in my opinion.   Anyway, enough blathering from me.

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Another suggestion,

 

Although I said above that “paper is cheap,”. If you are going to try your hand at lofting, buy several sheets of frosted Mylar drafting film.  When I learned to make lines drawings years ago we used paper and then traced the result in ink onto vellum.  The lofting process requires that you will do a lot of erasing and multiple erasures on paper can result in a smudged up mess.  Mylar film is easy to erase.

 

Roger

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20 hours ago, Roger Pellett said:

I personally enjoy making hull lines drawings (lofting) by hand.  I still have my K&E Ships curves that  I bought new as a student 50+ years ago.  I also have a set of lead drawing “ducks” that I made at the same time.  These are used to hold down a wooden spline bent around a set of plotted points.  You will not need all of this stuff to start.  You can get by with a couple of French curves bought at an office supply store.  Splines can be easily ripped from straight grained construction lumber and held down with tacks driven into an improvised MDF drawing board.

Personally, I suggest just trying to do it and erasing and redoing things as you go.  As they say, “Paper is cheap!”

I share your love of drafting, Roger.  As I expect you did also, basic mechanical drawing was a skill I acquired in high school over 50 years ago when drafting was a distinct trade at which many professionals still earned a decent living. I'm sure it's no longer taught anywhere. As a serious hobbyist, I made do with a basic set of drawing instruments until several years ago when I decided to acquire a planimeter for calculating hull displacement and searched on eBay. I discovered to my amazement that the finest instruments ever made, such as Keuffel and Esser's "Paragon" line, which in my youth I could only lust after from afar , having been made obsolete by CAD, were then available for what were extremely reasonable prices.   So I "treated" myself to a couple of years of watching the "drafting" section of eBay and amassed a pretty complete set of the best of everything Keuffel and Esser ever made that could be used for naval architectural drafting. It did cost a few bucks, but none of the purchases were particularly painful and the expenditure was stretched over a couple of years, so it wasn't noticed, if you know what I mean. :D  I was lucky to "hit the market" at the right moment when some really pristine instruments and complete sets were still available. Since then, I've watched the prices rise as the supply and the quality dwindled, because the demand increased when the "collectors" entered the market. Our mahogany-cased K&E Copenhagen curves sets have gone the way of the dodo bird. As far as I know, there is no longer anyone manufacturing them anywhere in the world. I haven't seen a complete set offered on eBay in perhaps three or four years now. The last full set went, if memory serves, for almost five hundred dollars!  If this is news to you, perhaps you might want to amend your last will and testament! :D

 

46_2.jpg

 

46_1.jpg

 

I'd add that those modelers who are interested in manual drafting should have little problem finding used high school drafting textbooks on line or in used book stores. (Sometimes titled as "Mechancal Drawing" or "Technical Drawing.") Although I've never seen a drafting textbook that specifically addressed the conventions of naval architecture and lofting, the standard texts all have chapters on the use of instruments and the general conventions of "drafting language," which suffice for anyone wanting to pick up the more specialized subject of naval architectural drawing, which will be found addressed separately in any of the boatbuilding books' chapters on lofting.

 

Any modeler who is of a mind to get into manual drafting would also be well advised to grab a high-quality decimally-scaled set of proportional dividers while there are still a few occasionally coming up on eBay. These will enable easily mechanically scaling drawings in books and on plans sheets from the scale of the original to any other scale one desires. These are still available for retail purchase. Micro-mark has a particularly cheesy small pair of proportional dividers offered for $100 which is not decimally scaled. (It's scale lists proportions as "1X, 2X, 3X," etc. A decimally scaled pair allows any scaling in any proportion expressed as a decimal by means of a geared Vernier adjustment.) Much higher quality 10" decimally scaled proportional dividers still come up on eBay occasionally for about the same price as the low quality 6" ones offered by Micro-Mark. I suppose that's not Micro-Mark's fault. The good ones aren't made anymore.

 

Below: Micro-Mark six inch "cheapos" oddly set at what appears to be equal proportions at each end.

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Below: Keuffel and Esser "Paragon" ten inch decimally scaled ("Universal") German silver proportional dividers and case.

302131454140_1.jpg

Below: Keuffel and Esser "Paragon" "three bow set" of basic German silver drawing instruments in case.

s-l1600.jpg

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12 hours ago, Jolley Roger said:

I guess you can potentially make your own out of acrylic with either scroll saw, CNC or laser cutter?

In theory, yes, but one would have to have a set to use as a pattern in the first place. Recently, one guy attempted to get enough financial backing on Kickstarter to produce a run of sets for sale, but failed because he couldn't raise the start-up costs to amortize the investment in tooling up for production. See:http://copenhagenshipcurves.com/#purchase

 

Drafting curves, be they ship curves, French curves, or engineering curves... there were many types... are all based on mathematical formulae defining a fair particular curve. This ensures that the curves, when used correctly, alone or in conjunction with one another, can produce any desired mathematically fair curve. Simply enlarging a picture of them and trying to make a set from that would probably not provide a sufficiently fine line to cut to in order to insure accuracy.

 

Proper method of using drafting curves to generate fair curves:

 

14069_92_2.jpg

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Hi Bob,

 

Although I admire your knowledge and your equipment (guess you also use it for models, bur couldn’t find anything of that work here at msw), I wonder whether you make things more difficult than necessary: you can draw ideal lines, but I guess (never tried myself) that slightly less ideal would also work. The final fairing is done when frames are set up in the model so the use of a simple pencil and ruler and a basic set of curves should do for a beginner.

 

I have even seen an admiralty type of model without lofting, using just station lines. Also Mccaffery uses such a method for his small-scale models: he cleverly builds up a layered block, and shapes it as if it were a solid hull modell. Requires some thinking and preparation, but it works without any curves or dawing let alone drafting.

 

Jan

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16 hours ago, amateur said:

Hi Bob,

 

Although I admire your knowledge and your equipment (guess you also use it for models, bur couldn’t find anything of that work here at msw), I wonder whether you make things more difficult than necessary: you can draw ideal lines, but I guess (never tried myself) that slightly less ideal would also work. The final fairing is done when frames are set up in the model so the use of a simple pencil and ruler and a basic set of curves should do for a beginner.

 

I have even seen an admiralty type of model without lofting, using just station lines. Also Mccaffery uses such a method for his small-scale models: he cleverly builds up a layered block, and shapes it as if it were a solid hull modell. Requires some thinking and preparation, but it works without any curves or dawing let alone drafting.

 

Jan

HI Jan,

 

You're quite right that there are a lot of corners that can be cut. Particularly when working at small scales the degree of latitude being inversely proportional to how anal the modeler may be, but don't forget that somebody had to draw the lines somewhere along the way and there's no way to turn those lines into a three dimensional boat without some sort of "lofting," even if done mechanically, rather than on paper.  For example, the architects who designed vessels using half-hull models, such as Nathaniel Herreshoff, often devised mechanisms to mechanically generate their offsets directly from their half-models without ever drawing plans at all. The loftsmen then lofted their patterns working from a table of offsets measured off the half-model itself without any intermediate drawings at all.  You'll find very few drawings of Herreshoff's famous works in the MIT library. The "plans" of his vessels in their much-studied "Herreshoff Collection" exist mainly as tables of offsets in his handwritten notebooks. The discussion at hand arose from a good question: "How do you get the patterns for frames," or more broadly, the construction patterns, "from a lines drawing" or from a table of offsets?  The answer is that you have to loft the vessel, which led to a discussion of naval architectural drafting. The entire context of the discussion really exists in the realm of scratch-building models of vessels for which there are not construction plans available which are suitably drawn for modeling purposes. That does, of course, "make things more difficult," as you note. It's a challenge that I expect anyone wishing to build an accurate model of a vessel nobody has modeled before, or at least for which "modeling" plans aren't available, or unavailable in the scale they wish, is going to have to accept.

 

That said, fairing the frame bevels on the set up frames is often the easiest way to go on a model, but, as the original poster here realized, one still has to get the molded shape of the frames from somewhere. I'm well-acquainted with how Lloyd McCaffery accomplishes that by "mechanically lofting" frames with his shaping-a-block-made-of-a-sandwich-of-frame-blanks method, but I submit that is a far more practical approach with the miniatures he built than with larger scales. I've had the pleasure of studying some of his models on display in the Columbia River Maritime Museum in Astoria, OR, and they are truly amazing, but however accurate they may be, their diminutive size limits their usefulness as future objects for historical study. He is more than a modeler. He's a "miniaturist." His work is in the same class as the proverbial "The Lord's Prayer" engraved on a grain of rice exhibited beneath a microscope!

 

Like some, my model building is more sporadic than I'd wish. I keep getting sidetracked restoring other people's models. With retirement on the horizon, and the physical limitations of age curtailing the work on full-size wooden boats I used to do more frequently, I'm gearing up to proceed with a number of original modeling projects I've "had on the back burner." Relative to your observation, I've been researching the Irish Hooker type the last few years for the purpose of building a model which accurately portrays certain of their characteristic construction techniques. Hookers were never built to plans, but rather to "rules of thumb" based upon the size of the boat and handed down orally. (e.g.: "the mast is as long as the length of the boat on deck.") One distinguishing feature of hookers is that their frames are built of sawn floors and futtocks which are lapped alternately with the laps fastened in a particular way. In building, the shape of the boat is defined by three molds, one midships, one forward and one aft of midships, and a transom. The mold patterns were proprietary to the builders and their descendants. Battens were set up on the molds and the floors and futtocks were shaped to fit to the inside of the battens. There are only about four accurate sets of plans that have been taken off existing hookers and, given the way the floors and frames are fashioned, trying to develop the floor and futtock shapes on paper would be a nightmare. I've concluded that the easiest way to go is to build the model the same way the original was built. In that case, yes... the lofting will be minimal, but the fitting will be a challenge.

 

"My name is Bob and I'm a tool-aholic." I consider some tools objects of beauty whether I really need them or not. Others can accomplish as much and often more as I can with far fewer tools. I certainly do hope that the discussion of the rather arcane craft of naval architectural drafting and lofting didn't scare anybody off! If one side of a model isn't shaped exactly the same as the other, one could even argue that in that respect the model might be a more accurate representation of a lot of full-sized wooden ships and boats! :D 

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One thing I have learned from following this rather technical but extremely interesting discussion is that any notion of trying my hand at a scratch build in the future has been completely blown out the window.

 

Bob

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33 minutes ago, leclaire said:

One thing I have learned from following this rather technical but extremely interesting discussion is that any notion of trying my hand at a scratch build in the future has been completely blown out the window.

 

Bob

Not to worry. If you can build a kit, you can scratch-build on your own. You don't have to worry about drafting your own plans and lofting your own pieces. Just find a simple subject vessel you like for which plans are available, use them, and GO FOR IT !  "Experience starts when you begin." as the saying goes. The fact is, every time there's something missing in a kit (and we all know how often that can be) or you break a part and have to fashion a new one on our own, or we decide to add a little detail of our own, we're "scratch-building." Most kits don't have much in them but a set of plans, a box full of sticks and string, and some cast parts and crummy blocks and deadeyes, which isn't much when you consider what they cost. So get your plans from a book, your wood at the hobby shop, and better parts that you'll ever find in a kit from the aftermarket suppliers and you'll be bucks ahead.  That's scratch building. When you come right down to it, it's not much different than building a kit, just less expensive.

 

The trick in this game is to "Do the common thing uncommonly well." Start with a "common thing" simple subject to model and do the best you can possibly do with it. That's all you have to do. The rest will take care of itself.  Accomplishment, however small, begets confidence. There's some incredibly good modelers on this forum building some incredibly complex models incredibly well. When I get the same feeling following their build logs that you get about scratch-building, I remind myself that I'm not, say, a retired master tool and die maker or micro-surgeon, that I never will be, and that I'm in it only to please myself. Learn from them, aspire to be as good at it as they are and you will be, but don't expect that to happen overnight. The more you do, the more you'll learn. Consider yourself lucky that you are at the point you are now. You will always find somebody on the MSW forum with an answer to your questions and the forum is a gold mine of tips and tricks. A lot of us who have been at it for decades really had nothing but a book or two to learn from when we started out. You've got the whole darn internet, the mother of all shopping malls, the Library of Congress, and every dirty book store in the world, all instantly available on your screen 24/7 and for free ! 

 

Kits are shop modeling's "gateway drug." They lead to harder stuff like "adding details" and "kit bashing."  The next thing you know, you're mainlining "scratch-building." There are lots worse things you could be doing with your time. :D

 

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On ‎1‎/‎24‎/‎2019 at 4:32 PM, Roger Pellett said:

Wow Bob you have some beautiful equipment.  As I said above, my ships curves were acquired during my student days and I have an abbreviated set, no mahogany box.

 

Roger

I started with a box that came with an incomplete collection of ship's curves, too, but I got hooked on checking eBay every few days and managed to complete the set by adding two or three every so often when they'd come up for auction. I think it actually was cheaper that way, since there was a big premium on complete sets, while few bid high for the "orphaned" curves that came along now and again. Eventually, I was into it more for the collecting than because I felt I needed them all. (Breaking one of my "tool rules:" "Never buy a tool until you need it." :D )

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Don't be too daunted by the idea of drafting and lofting, Bob. Broken down into a series of steps, it is quite do-able. While it's a lovely luxury to have all the equipment illustrated by Bob C, you can manage perfectly well with a set of compasses, a few inexpensive French curves and an 18" flexible curve. That's all I had when I first learned to draft and loft ships' lines.

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I have also enjoyed this thread, and I agree with Druxey regarding what can be accomplished with a few basic tools. That said I also lust after some of the old tools and instruments. and I would care to guess that many a fine ship was done by eye, by a well trained shipwright, with nothing more that a crayon or chalk.

Those sets of curves are beautiful though.

 

Michael

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14 hours ago, leclaire said:

One thing I have learned from following this rather technical but extremely interesting discussion is that any notion of trying my hand at a scratch build in the future has been completely blown out the window.

 

Bob

One interesting question is when did the contrast start between 'kits' and a rather romanticised notion of 'scratch building'? There have been many discussions about the contrast between 'scratch' and 'kit' building on this forum over the years and you might like to search for them to see the sometimes vigorous and passionate arguments. The current thread repeats many of them.

 

Until very recently 'scratch building' was the norm for hobbyists and amateur modellers. Harold Underhill produced his book on Plank on Frame Models in 1958, and this was then aimed at what was probably a thriving market. Before that there is a centuries-long history of making model boats either from plans or from memory. Even then some people would buy parts that they did not want to make, or assemble (string, wire, nails, glue, varnish, pre-cut wood planks) and 'kits' are just a continuation of this idea. The sharp distinction is unclear to me, the spectrum is not.

 

There is also the question of the number of different skills and the time required to obtain them, as has been raised already in this discussion. I think I read that Admiralty models were not built only by one person, but by teams of craftsmen and apprentices -- a number of different skills would be required (someone more knowledgeable might like to comment on this: for example was only one person responsible for drafting the plans, lofting, and making all the different parts?).

 

Another spectrum: the history of model-making includes the full range of those who try to create replicas at a lower scale (and which can never be true replicas as not every detail can be exactly miniaturised, sails being one example) to those who just build something fanciful or attractive to themselves for other reasons. In Egypt I saw some wonderful models made 4,000 years ago. People even argue about the accuracy of full-size replicas, especially when propellers are added. Just now I am 'scratch-building' a small gaff-rigged 'cutter' from a walnut shell for the grand-children (although there won't be a build log on this forum for it).

 

And another: there is an enormous number of reasons that people have when they build models. Is it for yourself, the enjoyment of others, to sell, or to impress? Is it to sail, to miniaturise, to challenge, to occupy your mind, to get away from problems, to create with your hands, to learn, or simply to enjoy your own creations?

 

So, Bob, as suggested by others in this thread, don't be put off by one particular view of 'true' scratch building (unless you really do want to mimic the original work of the modellers who worked on the Admiralty models -- and even amongst them there were quite a few differences, so you'd probably have to choose a particular model and make the tools and materials they used). There is no such thing. Just think what you'd like to achieve and then start to practice with the tools you have at hand, some plans and a good read of the variety of builds available on this forum. You might enjoy Harold Underhill's 2-volume set which you can buy used from Amazon for £20, or new from Brown, Son and Ferguson for £50. He just worked with a few basic tools and an old card table. Underhill also produced hundreds of plans of boats of very different types which are still available cheaply from Brown, Son and Ferguson -- including the small coastal craft which have been mentioned in this thread.

 

And never be ashamed of your efforts when comparing them to the skills of others. Don't forget other people had to start somewhere and gradually learn the skills they continue to master. Just determine the compromises with which you are comfortable, since whatever the model you will have to accept compromises at the altar of learning.

 

In my own model-making I try to be as objective as possible about my strengths and weaknesses, and learn from the experience of others to improve the weaknesses. That is the great strength of logging a build on this forum. There will be lots of general encouragement (which is always welcome and boosts your confidence), and there will also be people providing critical comment or advice. Should you ever ask a question you will always get a host of replies. You will also appreciate very quickly that there are numerous different approaches to whatever problem you face, so again you can make your own choices as to the type of answer you prefer.

 

Take heart, read lots of build logs, dive in and enjoy!

 

Tony

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10 hours ago, tkay11 said:

Just now I am 'scratch-building' a small gaff-rigged 'cutter' from a walnut shell for the grand-children (although there won't be a build log on this forum for it).

And why not a build log for a walnut shell boat? I think it would be quite interesting. That's a great way to get little kids interested in ship modeling. When I was about six, my dad made me my first "ship model," a simple rubber-band powered paddlewheel boat out of some wood from an apple box. I painted it myself. (My first "kit build," as it were.) I had tons of fun with it. There's a long tradition of carving shells, nuts, and stone fruit pits. Carving peach pit boats has been considered a fine art in China for centuries.  Here's some "museum quality" Chinese peach pit boats: 

 

103.jpg

 

food-art-1.jpg

 

xinnQHGR_ja4qkVC_ZNfnZNnbvnYVzuchZwd5Xcyhr6yCiT-98phu9OGq_qY

 

10 hours ago, tkay11 said:

One interesting question is when did the contrast start between 'kits' and a rather romanticised notion of 'scratch building'? There have been many discussions about the contrast between 'scratch' and 'kit' building on this forum over the years and you might like to search for them to see the sometimes vigorous and passionate arguments. The current thread repeats many of them.

I'm sure that when the cavemen were painting the walls of their caves, the guy who painted the bison thought his bison was better than the guy who traced an outline of his spread hand on the wall because the bison was painted "from scratch" and the hand was just traced. The guy who did the hand said, "Yeah, but my hand looks more like a hand than your bison looks like a bison." And we've been arguing about it ever since.

 

Any art form intended to be shared with others is, essentially, self-expression and self-expression doesn't exist in a vacuum. It expresses the declarant's point of view and invites the judgment of others, frequently in the hope of receiving their appreciation. It's a characteristic of our humanity, hardwired in our DNA. I suspect the "passion" and "romance" gets injected into the equation because the response to artistic expression invites judgmental comparisons. When we make qualitative judgments about ship models, we employ various criteria. Is the model pleasing to the eye of the beholder? Does it exhibit skill? Does it exhibit creativity? What does it say about the person who built it? What does it say to the person who experiences it? All of these qualities are not only subject to evaluation individually, but also combine to create the gestalt that determines the overall value of a given model.

 

The contrast between "kits" and "scratch building," perhaps first and foremost, is that a kit necessarily limits the artist's ability to demonstrate (if not express) both their skill and their creativity through the uniqueness of their work. Again, the "paint by number" oil paintings which were a fad now long ago provide a good example.  It takes the practiced eye of another artist to appreciate the skill and creativity which may be exhibited in the product of a kit. The unpracticed eye frequently doesn't know the difference. (And kit manufacturers often capitalize on this by offering gilt-encrusted ships-of-the-line model kits, "ship porn" for the uninitiated.) Similarly, the practiced eye instantly recognizes the artist's skill and creativity in the uniqueness of a "scratch built" ship model.

 

10 hours ago, tkay11 said:

The sharp distinction is unclear to me, the spectrum is not.

Because the spectrum is broad, when the distinction is sharply drawn, passions rise. We have to recognize the nuances. A masterfully build kit model can indeed exhibit the builder's skill and even to some extent creativity if the builder ventures beyond the confines of his kit and into the unconfined world of "scratch building." A kit model can certainly engender the builder's satisfaction and please the eye of its beholders. That is more than enough to justify its existence and merit our appreciation. Where the kit model is disadvantaged, however, is in the apparentness of those qualities, much of which is dependent upon a model's uniqueness. As some have remarked here, the gestalt of a "scratch built" model can intimidate even the knowledgeable: "I could never do that!" (The uninitiated, of course, probably won't even know it was built from scratch.) That reaction is far less likely with a kit, which, in its most basic form, limits its builder's opportunity for self-expression to that of craftsmanship alone. Essentially, kit models are assembled. "Scratch built" models are "created." (And even this distinction is nuanced. Many wood kits demand considerable craftsmanship to carve and shape the block of wood and bundle of sticks and string some manufacturers call a "kit," while others, plastic kit manufacturers particularly, may advertise that all it takes to build their kit is snapping together numbered parts.) This doesn't mean "scratch built" models are qualitatively better than kit built models. (Indeed, the distinction between the two is a bone of contention as well... "Is it really scratch built if he bought all his cannon, carriages, blocks, boats, and anchors from an aftermarket parts supplier?") It's just that when we judge a model's quality, we have to be clear about what qualities we are judging. This is why most modeling competitions award prizes in categories that distinguish between kits and scratch built entries... and why the "People's Choice" award exists to acknowledge that the uninitiated are rarely qualified to judge the quality of a ship model or to even recognize a kit model from a "scratch built" one.

 

 

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The best books, in my view, for understanding the entire scratch build process with every step spelled out, are 1)  The Fully Framed Model, HMN Swan Class Sloops 1767-1780, vols. 1,2,4 by David Antscherl and vol. 3 by Greg Herbert, and 2) Ed Tosti's books, especially for the period of your intended subject, Frigates of the Royal Navy: The Naiad Frigate. These show how much there is to do, but break it down into manageable parts with lots of drawings and photos, and clear explanations. I have learned immensely from these fine craftsmen and authors.

 

Mark

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On 1/26/2019 at 11:26 AM, leclaire said:

One thing I have learned from following this rather technical but extremely interesting discussion is that any notion of trying my hand at a scratch build in the future has been completely blown out the window.

 

Bob

Gidday Bob.

I would like to preface my reply with the following.

I have no experience in lofting, I hope that is the right tense, so please forgive my ignorance.

I agree this subject is fascinating and my interest has been piqued.

Is it possible for you to purchase plans that have already been lofted?

I am looking for the books recommended in the posts above.

I hope you are not deterred in your endeavours to begin "scratch building".

All the best with your build.

Mark.

 

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If our discussion has discouraged others from attempting to scratch build plank on frame models, I am sorry.  Lofting is nothing more than the technical term for creating full sized patterns for irregularly shaped structural members.

 

The original question involved building an “Admiralty Model.”  Most Admiralty Models were built with styilized framing that was a simplified version of the real thing.  The excellent books referenced above by David Antscherl and Ed Tosti (which are in my library) discuss building models with the more complicated Admiralty framing systems exactly like the “real thing.”  

 

I suggested Harold Hahn’s books above for three reasons:

 

1.  He explains lofting in a clear and nontechnical way.

 

2.  His method utilizes a simple jig to ensure alignment of frames.

 

3.  His simplified frames are easier to construct and will produce an accurate, attractive Admiralty style model like the one shown above.

 

An explanation of his method and lofted frame shapes for one of his Colonial Schooners can be found in Volume I of Ship Modelers Shop Notes recently republished by the Nautical Research Guild.  The frame shapes provided are ar a scale of 1:96, smaller than you may want.  Before you head for the copy machine or scanner you should realize that distortions may be a problem; the reason for lofting in the first place.  Larger scale plans with lofted frame shapes for a number of his models are apparently available from his estate.  There is an extensive thread about him and his drawings here on MSW.

 

Roger

 

 

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