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Bill E. is a founding member of Model Shipwrights of Western NY and has been modeling since a very early age so his builds are many and his techniques over the years have evolved and embraced modern technology to a large extent. I would have to say he is our main technologist and through him we have been introduced to these modern techniques in a first hand manner.

 

Bill's interest have almost exclusively been in the area of early America powered Navy and Civil War Era craft. He comes by the Civil War interest honestly, as his great grandfather was a captain in the RI First Calvary. Bill even wrote a book about him," Don't Tell Father I have Been Shot At" as he was a war hero and had kept many artifacts and writings about his service. There is a brief on the Amazon Book Store for those interested.

 

Many of his models have been donated or loaned to various museums around the country and you may see one of his latest works , the USS Langley at the Smithsonian. His most recent endeavor has been the USS Agawam, a double ender gunboat of the Sassacus class built during the Civil War. A reference can be found at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Sassacus_(1862). This vessel is on loan to the Military History Society of Rochester NY and is the center piece of a recent expansion of the museum.

 

What promotes Bill to the front of our group is his penchant for research, incorporation of modern technology, his vision of model end point and undying passion. Bill has been known to trot down to the National Archives, camp out nearby and bike in to research a subject. He employs computer design to fabricate laser cut intricate parts, he employs vacuum forming techniques for certain elements and he utilizes numerous finishing techniques that set his model apart.

 

Herein is not exactly a build log but a build progression hopefully showing his methodology in building Agawam. Please follow along as entries are made over a short period of time. Bill is a modest guy so if there are questions of further inquires I will get answers as this thread unfolds.

 

Joe

 

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Posted (edited)

There is a decent top level bio on Wikipedia regarding the USS Agawam. She was built in 1863 in Portland Maine and was among 28 built over a period of just 2 years (1862 -1864). with a crew of 145 to man her steam and supplementary sail propulsion she was able to navigate the inshore seas and inland waterways. Her armament consisted of 2 -100 pounders, 4 - 9 inch, 2- 24 pounders (smooth bore), 2- 12 pounders. More can be found on https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Agawam_(1863).

 

Photos were invaluable to Bill in determining deck detail. Later on you will see that Bill's model does not display the tarpaulin covers seen in this photo. But his model adds the framework for accuracy.

Joe

Agawam 2.jpg

NH 58913-a.jpg

Edited by Thistle17

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Posted (edited)

As stated earlier Bill has built numerous models over the years. He has built matchstick versions early on, solid laminated hulls and plank on bulkhead. In this case he chose to build a POB hull. Bill will scan station profiles into Corel Draw and will "piecewise" smooth the lines to achieve the desired bulkheads needed. His output is fed to a laser cutter at a local vendor he has used before. There is always some "put and take" but ultimately he achieves the desired outcome.

 

Now this model is over 5 feet long and the bulkhead alignment jig is only 3 feet long so the hull had to be made in two halves. The hull is symmetrical about the mid ship station so it was a repeat of the initial process. Obviously keel alignment had to be carefully observed. You can see the keel extension beyond the rear of the jig.

 

Here is one half of the hull on his large work table.

2016-08-06 15.35.59.jpg

Edited by Thistle17

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We all have our methods and materials we favor in model building. In the attached photo you see that Bill has begun planking the complete hull for Agawam. Do you notice the yard sticks in the foreground of the photo? Do you think they are for measurement? Well think again. They are his planking in the raw! Sometime back Bill came upon a supply of yard sticks from some manufacturer. He bought an abundant supply of them (at the right price) which he has milled to fit his needs. They are of basswood (or similar material), are quite straight and void of imperfection so they make fine 3 foot length stock for planking. Bill is always looking for solutions from all sectors. 

2016-08-19 18.49.45.jpg

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Hull planking was dispatched fairly quickly as the lines of the hull make for easy work amid ship and with symmetrical bow/stern. Open cell foam was added between bulk heads for increased rigidity after which false decking was added. In the second photo one can see that the deck detail is not overly complicated but are a bit massive so attention to detail here was paramount. The outside paddle wheel grill, if you wiil, was designed via Corel Draw and laser cut. In a case like this, that technology is a blessing!

2016-10-22 10.20.13.jpg

2016-12-26 16.47.24.jpg

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Posted (edited)

The most challenge Bill had was in the development of the paddle wheels themselves. Each unit is made up of three spoked discs separated at the center by a split hub. The hub area of the outer "discs" were not tied down but were left free to be bent inward and secured to the hub. Try making this free hand with these results. Note as well, the laser created re-enforcing plates for the radial elements. Technology and good ole Yankee Ingenuity at work here!

2017-02-08 18.26.03.jpg

IMG_1582.JPG

Edited by Thistle17

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Posted (edited)

I will pass on your comment Johann. Bill will be pleased.

 

As stated the deck furnishings were not elaborate so deck houses, mast towers, paddle wheel ladders etc were fairly straight forward. The twin deck houses were made from card patterns and replicated in basswood. Here deck planking is in place and some masting and rigging were started. I haven't asked Bill about the air vents but I will. I wonder if they were reversible for change of direction. One thing I forgot to mention is the rudders. They are replicated at each end of the vessel. When steaming forward the "front" rudder was locked in place.

 

Note the patina on the copper foil used for the simulated plating. It is quite convincing compared to the virgin material. It adds so much to the overall appearance of the model.

 

It does appear that there have been some accidents in dry dock in this picture as several workers or seaman have fallen off the build.

 

 

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Edited by Thistle17

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Posted (edited)

In the final stages of construction Bill had cannon and associated deck ware to consider as well as the lifeboats. The cannon were 100 lb, 24 pound and 12 pound. With all cannon Bill cast his own utilizing traditional methods as shown in below. Now the carriage for the 2 100 pounders is a bit unusual as wel as its aiming and tracking mechanism. I believe a 100 pounder must have weighed in at 10,00 pounds or more so the carriage had to be quite stout not only for the gun weight but for the charge. The attached pictures reveal Bill's progression in armament development. Here again Bill used computer aided design to develop the deck "track" for those guns. Note the removal of a section of the bulkwarks to enable cannon aiming.

IMG_4670.JPG

IMG_2556.JPG

Edited by Thistle17

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