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New England Stonington Dragger by FriedClams - FINISHED - 1:48 POB

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Thanks to all for stopping by and hitting the like button.



On 10/30/2019 at 3:56 PM, Jim Lad said:

An absolutely beautiful piece of work, Gary!

 Thank you so much John.


On 10/30/2019 at 4:08 PM, Ekis said:

One of the most successful weathering I've seen!

Thank you Ekis for your nice comments.  I’m pleased you’re inspired to perhaps give some these techniques a try for yourself, but be forewarned - weathering is addicting and the results can be unpredictable and often disappointing.  Be sure to do test trials on scrap material first.  Weathering can destroy a perfectly nice model in a heartbeat - no need to ask me how I know this.


On 10/30/2019 at 4:28 PM, Hubert Boillot said:

This site is full of outstanding build threads, but this one must be among the top 5

Thank you Hubert for your high appraisal of my work - I’m blushing like a newlywed.  I’m glad you are following along and enjoying the log.


On 10/30/2019 at 5:37 PM, KeithAug said:

In my sailing days we used to call it a Blob Knot

I am absolutely terrible at tying knots and can never seem to remember what goes under where and over the top of which.  I am lucky to get my shoes tied every morning - well most mornings anyway.  Thanks for your comment Keith.  


On 10/30/2019 at 6:29 PM, druxey said:

I can only echo the comments already made, Gary. Lovely work.

As always Druxey, thank you for your comments.



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On 10/31/2019 at 3:03 AM, G.L. said:

The hull looks remarkably clean compared to the deck and the superstructure. Will you age it as well?

Hello G.L.  Yes, the hull too will be weathered and worn to match the rest of the boat.  I agree, at this point the hull does look rather clean and maybe even out of place, but that will change.  My general approach to building a weathered model is to build it like I didn't intend to weather it and at the last moment changed my mind.  In this case I try to imagine what the real boat must have looked like sliding off the ways for the first time - clean, tough and expertly made.  Years of hard service, inconsistent upkeep and the relentlessness of Mother Nature change her appearance, but it is only cosmetic.  Thanks for stopping by.



On 11/2/2019 at 1:05 PM, TOM G said:

 is this build for your own collection, or is it going to a museum ?

Hello Tom and thanks.  If in the end it turns out well, I will offer it free to one of the maritime museums here in New England if they want it.




Edited by FriedClams
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20 hours ago, FriedClams said:

I am absolutely terrible at tying knots and can never seem to remember what goes under where and over the top of which.  I am lucky to get my shoes tied every morning - well most mornings anyway.  Thanks for your comment Keith.

Somebody on this site posted this link.......... it's niece....... because i can't tie knot's either..........  and yes you are right weathering is addicting🙂                         https://www.animatedknots.com/complete-knot-list  

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  • 2 weeks later...

Thanks to all for looking in and for the likes. 

On 11/5/2019 at 5:08 PM, druxey said:

If a museum won't take it, Gary, I volunteer

Hello Druxey.  Yes I'll keep that in mind, but does your household qualify as a non-profit organization?


On 11/6/2019 at 12:52 PM, TOM G said:

Somebody on this site posted this link..…… because i can't tie knot's either

Hey Tom.  That's a very cool and helpful site.  Thanks for the link.


Some mast stuff


I want to begin building the gallows frame, but because it has a supporting brace that attaches to the mast, I need to make up the mast and get it placed first.  But I won’t be stringing any stays or shrouds just yet.


The mast on this boat is 25.5’, which is slightly over 6.25” in 1:48.  The boom is 21’.  I mark and cut these two pieces from 1/4" dowel. 


I used the brute-force method of a spinning dowel against a moving sanding belt to gain the taper required.  You can reduce a ¼” dowel down to a toothpick in about 30 seconds with this approach - just be sure the dowel is spinning in opposition to the travel of the belt.  As the pieces are being sanded to shape, I repeatedly check the diameter of the tapers at several points along their length with calipers.


Once I get close to the proper taper, I spin the dowel into incrementally finer handheld sandpaper.  Finally I have two pointy sticks.


They were painted with acrylic paint.  Many of these boats had bright orange or red masts.  But many did not and were often painted either brown or black, which is good because I really didn’t want to paint it orange.  I tried various values and mixtures of orange, but each time it made the boat look like a toy.  So I ended up using burnt sienna and a little chalk for the lower mast and off white above the spreader.


I drew up the spreader and printed it out to be used as an assembly template.


It is made up entirely from styrene except for the center (hatched area), which is basswood.  The four eyebolts receive the shrouds.  The fore and aft stays will be connected to wire rope slings that wrap around the mast just above the spreader.  



The mast gets a collar with gussets to hold the spreader.  The band at the top of the mast will be part of an eyebolt assembly.


The spreader is slipped onto the gusset ring and glued down. 


Holes for the eyebolts are drilled through the band at the top of the mast and the eyebolts are glued in.


The close-up below shows the top eyebolt assembly that will eventually receive stays/cables.  The ring is made from wine bottle neck foil and the eyes are styrene.  The top of the mast is under a 1/8” in diameter and this foil works great for these small applications - it lays down nicely, and the scale thickness is just right.  Both the foil and eyes are dry brushed with Testors enamel “steel" and finished off with some pigment powder.


The eyebolts and the nut/bolt/washers shown in this posting are injection-molded styrene from Grandt Line Products.  The eyes (which are not their smallest) are .05” OD or 2.5” in 1:48.  The N/B/Ws are simply beyond ridiculously small and come in many styles and sizes.  I use these miniscule styrene bits guilt free and without reservation because I simply cannot make them myself.  


Down on the lower end of the mast are two bands that will be attachment points for the boom and gallows frame brace.  The wider one on the left is for the boom and has a brass attachment tab facing aft to accept the boom.  The tab is pointing down in this image and barely visible.  Again, the bands are foil and nuts/bolts styrene.


I’ve added a radio communications antenna to the model.  It is undoubtedly too short to effectively transmit given the modulation technology of the era, but it functions as a sort of visual stand-in. 


Two-way radio antenna design is a deep dive into communication electronics and is subject to variables including transmitter power, frequency, travel distance and type of modulation.  Modulation is key and refers to the method in which an RF signal (voice or data) modifies the characteristics of a steady state carrier wave.  The carrier wave with the embedded information is what gets broadcast via the transmitter.  Radiotelephone modulation in the 1920s was for all intents and purposes limited to AM double sideband w/full carrier (DSB-FC).  This method is inefficient and requires considerable transmitter power and/or antenna.  A much-improved and much less power hungry derivative of this type of modulation is single-sideband (SSB), but it wasn’t commonly available until the mid 1930s even though it was patented in 1915.


I’m beginning to babble which is a sure sign that I need to end this post.


So anyway, the aerial is made of magnet wire and stainless tubing and the strapping holding it to the mast is paper.



Thanks for stopping by to take a look.



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Thank you Druxey, John, Keith, Chris, Jim, Michael and Tom for your fine comments and continuing support.  I appreciate it.

And thanks to all for stopping in to take a look and hitting the thumbs up.


More Mast Stuff

Time to make up the mast navigation light and then place the mast on the boat.


The NAV light will be functional and the wires for the LEDs will be run through stainless tubing up the front of the mast.  Half-inch trade size electrical conduit has an outside diameter of .84”.  In 1:48 that is .0175”, and it just so happens that I have tubing with an OD of .018”.  Running conduit for wiring in marine applications even back in the 1920s was probably a code violation and required something like mineral insulated cable.  MI cable is round but somewhat smaller in diameter than conduit, so this tubing will pass for either, and I don’t know where to obtain tubing smaller than this anyway.  


This stainless tubing is seriously small.  It has a .002” wall thickness with a .013" ID.  There is no visible seam and it is straight and smooth inside and out. 


As I understand it, this tubing is manufactured for instrumentation and medical equipment and it comes in a variety of sizes. 


Because the NAV light sits out from the mast, I need to bend an offset into the tubing.  The wire sticking out the tubing is just a #34 magnet wire that I’ll use for pulling through the LED wiring.


The process of bending the tubing is simple.  A stainless wire that nearly fills the inside cross sectional area is inserted into the tubing and this keeps the sidewall from collapsing during bending.  The radius is obtained by wrapping it around an appropriately sized machine screw being careful to keep the tubing pressed tightly into the threads.  The thread walls act as a bending shoe and helps keep the tubing from blowing outwards.  The example bend below shows the stainless wire inserted and how much spring back can be expected in a simple 90-degree bend.  The insertion wire was pushed in just far enough to clear the bend.  Had I simply pushed the wire all the way in and out the other end of the tube, I probably wouldn't have been able to pull it back out.


Here is the problem with using small tubing like this for running LED wires.  The wires on pre-wired LEDs aren’t fine enough to fit through the scale pipe.


Even the smallest LED with the finest wiring I have been able to find won’t fit through.  It may look close in the image below, but it isn't.  Even with the wires untwisted and straightened – no.  And in some modeling situations, you may want to run more than a single pair of wires through the tubing.


So I solder my own surface mount LEDs with very fine wire, which also provides me with the luxury of deciding how long I want the leads to be without having to solder on wire extensions. 


When first confronted with the task of actually soldering wires on to these tiny things, it seems utterly impossible, even ridiculous.  But once I got my technique down, I found it surprisingly simple and that I could succeed almost every try - even with the smallest diodes.  And the LEDs are literally one or two cents apiece when bought off the reel, so tossing away a few mistakes is painless.


I'd be happy to show the process on soldering these if there is any interest.


Below are the most common sizes I use.  For this NAV beacon, I’m using the 0603 – the mid size one on the right.


The wire used is #39 gauge magnet wire.  Including film insulation the OD is .0039”.


The LED is placed into the light fixture and filled with clear Gallery Glass.  I previously made the light fixture when I made up the wheelhouse NAV lights - that process it is shown on page 3, post #86.


The bracket to hold the NAV beacon is made up from styrene, painted and attached to the mast.


The tubing is glued onto the mast and a couple of foil “pipe clamps” are added.  The light wires are pulled into the tubing and the beacon is glued on to the bracket.  The wire from the radio antenna is routed down along side the tubing.  Some pigment power is used to repair and touch-up scuffed areas. 


A quick check to make sure the thing still lights before the mast is set.


I am going to hold off on the boom, mast cleats and the mast coat until after the gallows and winch are made up and placed. 




Next comes the gallows frame.  Thanks for stopping in to take a look.



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Thank you Keith and Druxey for your kind comments.  Ands thanks to all for stopping in.


14 hours ago, Jim Lad said:

when you finish there I've got some electrical work here at home that could do with some attention!

Sorry John, I'm not licensed in Australia.  Thanks for looking in.


10 hours ago, mtaylor said:

If you run into this again and the wires are too thick for the conduit, only run one wire through and use the tube as your ground.

Hello Mark


Thanks for the comment and the idea of using the tubing itself as a return conductor.  That's a good idea, but as Wefalck stated, soldering copper onto stainless steel would be a challenge, especially keeping in mind the size of this material.  By using these very fine wires I am able to run up to six wires through the tubing, so I'm not limiting myself in what I can do. 


In most cases there is a work around and the tubing isn’t needed at all.  For instance, here I could have built a mast with a hollow down the middle, ran the wiring up the center and into the back of the light fixture, and a brass wire could simulate the conduit.  But that is more time consuming than soldering on the fine wires so it wouldn’t have saved me anything.  


The desire to use this small tubing is a result of situations where there is no work around and I can’t conceal the wiring.  Pendant lighting hanging from above, a gooseneck style light over a doorway, or sign illumination on the exterior of buildings are a few examples of what I mean.  Mostly non-boat/ship modeling, but once the soldering technique was worked out, the work around became unnecessary.  


Thanks again Mark

7 hours ago, wefalck said:

There are on the market also brass tubes of a similar diameter, I believe.

Hello Wefalck 


Brass in these sizes would be nice to have available and one could blacken them easily.  I'll have to do a net search following the chromatography path!  Thanks Wefalck.





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chromatography 'columns' are always stainless steel.


Albion Alloys in the UK sell brass tubes from 0.3 mm OD up with a wall thickness of 0.05 mm. In fact they sell tubes that are slide-fits into each other, so the next sizes up would be 0.4 mm OD with a wall thickness of 0.05 mm and so on. They are quite expensive though. Not sure what they are normally used for, as I don't think they are made just for modellers.


Hypdodermic needles are also stainless steel tubes essentially. The thinnest ones are those used for insulin syringes. Not sure about the size, but they could be below 0.3 mm OD. The raw material for the syringe manufacturers presumably are coils of such drawn tubes, but I don't know, whether one can come by this material as normal mortal.

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On 11/26/2019 at 11:07 AM, wefalck said:

Albion Alloys in the UK sell brass tubes from 0.3 mm OD up with a wall thickness of 0.05 mm. In fact they sell tubes that are slide-fits into each other

Thanks for the information on this supplier Wefalck,  Sounds interesting and I'm going to check them out.


23 hours ago, Roger Pellett said:

Per your comment above, what is the objection to running wire in conduit aboard ship?

Hello Roger


I apprenticed as an electrician in the early 1970s and took the Journeyman’s exam in 1975.  One of the questions on the exam went something like “what are the acceptable raceways for use on commercial marine vessels".  I answered GRC (galvanized rigid conduit).  I passed the exam but got that question wrong.  The issue as I recall is the possibility of free conductors slapping around inside a metal pipe on a pitching and rolling ship.  Insulation is very vulnerable to chaffing wherever movement or vibration occurs and especially at points where the orientation changes from vertical to horizontal - at bends in the conduit, fittings, elbows, etc.  This situation could easily cause systems failure or worse – fire.  Corrosion is also a problem.


I have been away from electrical construction work for decades and I have never been involved in any marine wiring, so I don’t know the codes or wiring systems that were or are being used.  But considering the vital nature of modern electrical/electronic systems on today’s ships, I’m sure the electrical systems are rock solid and nothing is flopping around.


Thanks for checking out my log.


22 hours ago, KeithAug said:

Nice work Gary. Thank you for the lesson on lighting.

Thanks Keith.



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Thanks Gary,


My Marine Engineering courses included electric circuits and electrical machinery but we never got into the actual physical problem of running wiring.  When I actually got involved in ship building (nuclear submarines) I was in a piping section so never thought much about wiring.  Your explanation makes perfect sense.


A great model of an unusual subject!  During the recent NRG Conference, the restaurant where we had dinner was next to the New Bedford fishing fleet.  I looked to see if there were any old timers like you are building but didn’t see any.  We did see a Western Rig boat at Mystic Seaport.





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  • 2 weeks later...

Thanks to everyone for looking in and for the likes  - I appreciate it. 


Gallows Frame

This model represents a fishing boat typical of its type in the 1920s.  Details on boats from the 1940s or 50s may not be historically valid for the era of my model.  I found this to be true when considering the gallows frame construction.


It is easy to forget that a technology as commonplace today as arc welding, really hasn’t been around for all that long.  Even though the first U.S. patent for arc welding was awarded in 1890, it was still in its infancy in the 1920s and many important improvements were years away.  Steel joinery in the 1920s was mostly riveted, bolted together or forge welded.  So construction of the gallows for this model will be riveted I-beam, angle iron and boilerplate - nothing welded.


After looking at many gallows frames, I came to discover that no two are alike unless they were on the same boat.  Evidently, there was no “Acme Gallows Frame Company" and every port had its own millwrights/smiths constructing frames for their own local needs.  But the frames generally fall into two basic styles – the inverted "U" and what I call the three-piece Stonehenge.  The photos below show these two styles.  I apologize for the poor quality of the images.




With some uncertainty I decided on a modified Stonehenge design.  One criteria for the frame was that it be strong enough to support both towing blocks.  Most trawl fishing boats carry two frames - one for each block, each towing one door (otter board).  Photos of 1920s Western-Rig Stonington boats are rare and ones detailing trawling hardware are all but non-existent.  But this photo (1950s?) shows what I believe makes realistic mechanical sense in terms of size and heft for a two-block frame.



I drew up the frame below using the above photo as a guide to what I wanted the end result to look like.  The overall dimensions of the frame and the size of the steel used to build it, came from referencing photos of newer boats and a drawing of a 1920s auxiliary fishing schooner.


The towing blocks in the drawing may seem quite large, but it matches what I found were actually used.  The pulleys alone are 12” in diameter and had to handle both wire cable and chain.  Consider the strain these blocks had to withstand reeling in tons of fish in a net that trailed a mile behind the boat.  The forces on the blocks, frame and the boat in general must have been enormous when the net gear snagged ledge or rock outcrop.  But still, when I get around to making the blocks, I’ll scale the size back if they just look too large.




I then pull apart the drawing and make cutting templates for the individual pieces.


The frame I-beams.




The gusset plates and angle iron.




And finally the top frame head plates and base.  All the small center marks indicate rivet or bolt locations.




The pieces are cut from styrene and a dressers' pin is used to mark the rivet/bolt locations.




The only fussy pieces to cut were the two head plates.  Double-sided tape was placed on the sheet styrene and the template placed on top of that, then cut through with a scalpel and finished off with needle files.




Everything is assembled.




Holes are drilled at all rivet locations and styrene rivets glued in.  The rivets scale to 1.25” in diameter.




The base is made and styrene N/B/Ws are added.




The frame is painted flat black enamel.  This is only a base coat and additional washes and weathering will be applied later.




The frame base is stained and the hinge plates and nuts are painted.  This also is just a base color.




Here the frame is temporarily placed on the base.  Why the builders of these gallows went through the trouble of making them hinge and swing down flat is a mystery to me.  In every photo I have seen of these frames they are shown chained, braced with iron pipe, and in one way or another reinforced to prevent collapse and from being torn off the boat.  They appear to have never once been moved since the day they were installed.  But there must have been a good reason for installing hinge plates.




Standing up and leaning forward in the dragging position.




Still to be done are the tow blocks and their attachment points on the gallows, some frame cleats and the rear brace that secures it to the mast.  Also some chain reinforcing.


The last step will be to add a color wash then weathering and rust the whole mess.  It needs to look worn and worked hard before it is placed on the boat.


Thanks for swinging by.





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