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I started this build waaaay back in 2013 after I finished my Triton cross section, but really didn't want to start a build log until I had some substantial progress done (I'm a really slow builder). I was also lofting my own frames and lived in perpetual fear up until recently that I made some mistake that would only become apparent when I started fairing the hull and would end in the ruin of my build. I figured having a multipage build log when that happened would make it that much harder to recover my confidence. Well, I got past that point and it turns out my drawings worked, so a slow day at work seemed like a good time as any to start a log.

 

So- the Eagle... built on Lake Champlain in 1814 in 19 days (the irony of spending nearly six years making a model of a ship built in 19 days is not lost on me) to help Thomas Macdonough's fleet stop the British from taking control of the lake and essentially cut New England off from the rest of the country. He succeeded at the battle of Plattsburgh, helping keep the British from having any claims for territory in the Treaty of Ghent. After her long, illustrious career of a few months she was laid up in ordinary where she lasted about as long as you would expect a ship of such quality as that of one built in 19 days would last. The wreck sat on the bottom of the Poultney River until 1981 when it was rediscovered and the archaeological study started by the great people of the Texas A&M Nautical Archaeology program (a career choice I found out about 20 years too late in life).

 

I started the model using the book done on the study (and one worth every penny if the subject interests you), The Eagle: An American Brig on Lake Champlain during the War of 1812, and Gen Bodnar's practicum for the Eagle found on modelshipbuilder.com. The practicum was invaluable for lofting frames and giving some direction on order of building but I have pretty much moved away from it at this point. I've probably used roughly a billion other references at this point but here's a couple that have been in heavy rotation..

 

Robnbill's build log of the Eagle- Bill did a great job of documenting things. When I don't feel like reinventing the wheel I like to check in with his log :)

Coffins of the Brave: lake Shipwrecks of the War of 1812- some updated info on the eagle and have gleaned some building practices of the time from it. Excellent read.

The Texas A&M ship model laboratory model of the Jefferson- not the same builder but helped me wrap my head around drawing up a stern. Also, just a really nice model.

 

 

So anyway, that's some backstory. I don't want to make a "how-to" log like I did with my cross section and plan to just keep it picture heavy. If there's any questions feel free to ask and I'll happily answer. A few photos to cover the first five and a half years...

 

Starting with the plans. Frames, deadwood, etc... I tried to work off my primary source, The Eagle: An American Brig on Lake Champlain (from here on out "The Eagle book") as much as possible and make this model as accurate as possible. Drawing everything was a job and learning experience in itself. 

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Keel laid. Model to be made from pear, ebony, and maple

 

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Frames started going up. The pear will be finished in Danish oil, so I had done the keel, deadwood and the sides of the frames as i went along to save having to go in between every frame later on.

 

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..and this is the point where life outside of modeling took over for a few years. I have two little ones that I spend tons of time doing stuff with, and also moved to a house that required some attention to drag it out of the 70's. Framing moved along slowly and I wanted to put a nice stern together, which took some research (the stem and stern of the wreck were pretty much gone). Fast forward to a few months ago and inside and out are faired. The Eagle's frames were all over the place and I used those locations for the model, which is why a keen observer may think I was drunk while lofting frames.

 

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Work has progressed a bit farther, but it's about high time to break out the real camera and retire the iphone for this build log. 

 

 

Chad

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1 hour ago, mtaylor said:

It's great to see you back, Chad.  Nice work you're doing.  I wouldn't try to do it 14 days.   From what I gathered, the real one didnt' look all that great and was pretty rough.

Thanks! I've definitely been lurking but with kids I've found that I can either spend my precious little time reading forums or actually building, and it's very easy to fall down the rabbit hole of build logs and next thing you know two hours is gone.

 

Yes, I do find it a bit humorous that I'm essentially building a fine art piece of a subject where the frames were found to still have bark on them. I guess that could go for the entire world of model ship building... nearly all models are a glamorization of the real thing. It's kind of a fun subject to think about!

 

Chad

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Over the last few weeks I've worked on finishing the interior of the hull. It's been oiled with Danish oil and the clamp and keel riveted as per the Eagle book. Tonight I finished installing the berthing deck beams, which will still need some kind of fastener on the end. The entire berthing deck was missing from the wreck so it is entirely conjectural. I decided to make the beams closer in the area of where the stove will go, thinking there may be additional support in that area.

 

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Chad

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As I understand it, most of those purpose built ships didn't have a berthing deck as such.  It was more of a hold, storage area. The crew slept either on the beach or on the deck.  Some (and I don't remember if Eagle had one) did have a small stove for cooking.

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Very impressive model so far. I am actually wanting to build this beautiful ship next. Robnbill's blog of this ship has been an inspiration to me as well. Eagle and her other sister ship from 1000 miles apart (Niagara) were actually built in 90 days, not 19. It still is an extremely fast build.

 

Brian D.

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20 hours ago, mtaylor said:

As I understand it, most of those purpose built ships didn't have a berthing deck as such.  It was more of a hold, storage area. The crew slept either on the beach or on the deck.  Some (and I don't remember if Eagle had one) did have a small stove for cooking.

 

Mark, most likely the Eagle did have a birth deck (or so that's what Dr.Crisman says in his thesis) but with the shallow draft I imagine it was fairly cramped and may have been mostly for officer's quarters. I know Bill did a good job in his log (link in first post) of laying out his take on what it may have looked like, but I plan on keeping it to the shot locker and Brodie Stove. On that point- the Eagle also had a stove which was most likely the one taken out of the Alert.
 

11 hours ago, bdgiantman2 said:

Very impressive model so far. I am actually wanting to build this beautiful ship next. Robnbill's blog of this ship has been an inspiration to me as well. Eagle and her other sister ship from 1000 miles apart (Niagara) were actually built in 90 days, not 19. It still is an extremely fast build.

 

Brian D.

Brian, the Eagle was indeed built in 19 days- Adam Brown had the keel  scarphed together on July 23rd and she slid into the water Aug 11th. 

 

The Brown brothers were incredible builders- Noah built the Niagara, Lawrence, a couple gunboats and a schooner on Lake Erie during the first half of 1813, then went back to New York where him and his brother knocked out the Peacock in the second half of the year. After that Noah went to Lake Champlain and knocked out the Saratoga and six galleys (he only needed to build five but built an extra one for the hell of it) in by the end of April of 1814- LESS THAN TWO MONTHS. Then... THEN(!!)... while he was there him and Macdonough found a partially completed steamboat on the stocks, bought it, and turned it into the Ticonderoga by MAY 12TH!! Noah then headed back to NY where he probably planned to sleep for a week straight. Meanwhile, Macdonough found out the British had a bunch of frames shipped to the lake to add to their fleet, so he immediately starts bugging the Navy Secretary for another ship. The secretary turned him down but Madison overruled, so the Browns were to build ANOTHER ship on Lake Champlain. This time little brother Adam headed up (I'm assuming Noah just looked at him and said "your turn") to the lake and actually beat the letter informing Mcdonough that the Browns were to build him another ship. He had arrived July 18th, laid the keel on the 23rd, the Eagle (actually named the Surprise at that point) slid into the lake on August 11th, and the Battle of Plattsburgh Bay kicked off a month later on Sept 11th. The war of 1812 would probably have had a very different outcome if it wasn't for those two!

 

 

Chad

 

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  • 2 months later...

Work has been progressing a little faster (compared to MY normal building speed!) now that the kids are back in school. I ended up adding a bunch more berth deck beams and completed the planking. I had a tough time finding the balance between how much to plank and how much to leave open for viewing of the keelson/frames/beams. I'm not 100% happy with the decision I came up with but the draft of the Eagle is so small that once the main deck beams, carlings, and planking is in the viewing is going to be pretty limited anyway.  The middle open spot is for viewing the keelson and the opening near the aft mast step is where the well will be. The small hole aft is where the capstan will seat.

I spent more time than I like to admit researching the mast steps. The steps were missing from the wreck and the bolt patterns were the only clues that were left as to what it looked like. The pattern didn't match up with that of a standard English mast step, so a bit of digging brought me to the wreck of the brig Linnet, another ship built on Lake Champlain. The Linnet's step was still partially in place and the patterns were identical, so it was what I went with. I am by no means an expert when it comes to ship construction so for me to say this would be a standard setup of the time is a stretch, but it at least lets me sleep at night! We do know that the step would be very simple based on build time so this fit the bill.
 Since most gluing is done below decks I've finished with danish oil and a coat of minwax floor paste to give it a bit of a glow.

 

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Chad

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On 7/21/2019 at 9:26 PM, mtaylor said:

Just incredible what they did without power towels, isn't it?  

If I remember correctly from the original thesis by Dr. Crisman, they did have saws "powered" by waterfalls or similar way by river currents. Now not the same as our modern power equipment, but I know what you mean. In another book I have about ships from the same time period, another popular device used is rough rock blocks dubbed "Holy Stones" because the same size as average Bible from that time for sanding decks and hull.

 

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10 hours ago, ChadB said:

I missed your comment the first time around! The first time I read it I saw "Just incredible what they did without paper towels, isn't it?" 😂  But, yes- it is!

Well, I totally fat fingered the keyboard on that one.   :blush:

 

I would think you're on pretty solid ground with the assumption on the mast steps, etc.  Wasn't Linnet built at the same time by the same crew?  I'll have to go reread his thesis again I guess.

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12 hours ago, mtaylor said:

Well, I totally fat fingered the keyboard on that one.   :blush:

 

I would think you're on pretty solid ground with the assumption on the mast steps, etc.  Wasn't Linnet built at the same time by the same crew?  I'll have to go reread his thesis again I guess.

Same time- yes, same builders- no. The Linnet was British and not built under such a time crunch so the practices were probably a bit difference. I'm still assuming that this type of step was a somewhat standard construction.... if you find information otherwise don't tell me or I'll be forced to rip them out and redo them!!

 

 

Chad

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  • 1 month later...

Not a huge update but a couple small projects that took quite a bit of time. Finished the pump well and shot locker and the Brodie Stove. I did quite  bit of research on the well and shot locker and really never nailed down anything better than this. I'm happy with it and my kids thought it was awesome that the little sliding windows actually worked. The Brodie stove is actually my second one- the first I completed and then realized that it was too big. I had gotten lazy and pretty much copied the size directly from TFFM books. Second go around followed scale best I could (the stove on the Eagle was the one pulled out of the Alert- the first capture of the war by the Essex) and added a bit more detail I was able to find on a model from the Royal Museums Greenwich**. The stove will go somewhere safe until it's ready to go in. Next up is deck beams and some metalwork for the outside of the hull.

 

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Chad

**  https://collections.rmg.co.uk/collections/objects/37331.html

 

 

 

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2 hours ago, Edwardkenway said:

Ditto Chad, I'm in awe of you getting that much detail into something so small. 😲😲

Thanks guys. I have a good friend who does ships and plastic models who turned me on to evergreen plastics when I was lamenting how much of a pain making the stove was going to be. It was a great material for some of the smaller details. I ended up using just about everything under the sun- plastic, aluminum, brass, copper, piano wire, HO train axles, and scale chain. Here is a photo before airbrushing that shows the hodgepodge (the black is plastic parts cannibalized from the first stove)!

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Chad

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On 4/16/2020 at 5:41 PM, Schooners said:

Chad,

Hey, I am checking in to see how your are doing on the Eagle  Love this ship and your build.  Let me know.  Am I greedy for wanting more frequent updates?

 

Schooners- thanks for checking in! Sorry I am just seeing your message now as I have been off the forums pretty much since my last update and nose down in decking or just enjoying the summer! Now that the rain has arrived back in the PNW I will most likely be getting back to work!

JpR62, stuglo- thanks for the kind words and for checking in!

Not a huge update and kind of a boring photo from my phone but deck framing has been completed. I am currently working on waterways.

-Chad

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