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Swallow 1779 by tlevine

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Thanks for the comments and the likes.  The wale has been painted and the decorative strip applied.  The wale has five coats of very dilute artist's acrylic paint.  The strip was painted before installing on the hull.  The steps were installed next.  They are not shown on the plan so I placed them where they are located on the model.  The profile of the step was made with a scraper and the ends were shaped with files and sandpaper.  The step overlying the wale will be painted black.  Sorry for the sawdust between the steps.



At this point I ran into a problem that I have not completely resolved.  When you look at the bow section of the plan, you can see that the bowsprit is lashed to a stem head.  There is a little decorative carving on it but most importantly, it appears to be rotated to starboard and the lower end of the stem head protrudes into the stem.  Also, the stem rises above the rail.  These are the reasons I initially decided that the bowsprit exits the ship on the port side of the stem.  When I lined everything up, nothing made sense.  The stem would need to be cut back severely on the port side to accommodate the bowsprit and the leading edge of the stem would need to flare  because of the rotated stem head.  The plan shows that there is no flare.  The three photos help illustrate the problem.





I did a search of all sloops plans in the RMG built between 1750 and 1820.  There was not a single one with the configuration shown on the plans.  The closest I found was Weazle 1799, built twenty years after Swallow but also built at Dover.  On this ship, the top of the stem is shorter and the stem head does not show any rotation.  My guts tell me to place it in the midline but I am willing to hear anyone's opinion on this.




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Your idea that: "There is a little decorative carving on it but most importantly, it appears to be rotated to starboard and the lower end of the stem head protrudes into the stem." is, I think, misinterpreting the  plan. The head knee is central and let in with a shallow scarphed mortise on to the stem head. The shading at the tip of the knee is indicative only of the carved detail. The bowsprit is centered between the two bollard timbers. There is a minimal shallow groove centrally on the breast hook for the bowsprit. I suspect that the stem head proper was cut down and is either shown before it was revised or is erroneously drawn. If the bowsprit were offset, it was more frequently done to starboard, not port. The only reason to offset a bowsprit was to run it inboard past the mast, as on a Revenue cutter. In that case, it would never be lashed to the knee of the stem as shown.


Other opinions?

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Posted (edited)


The bowsprit is lashed to the knee which is then mortised into the stem on the plan. This does not appear to agree with an offset bowsprit.
This also seems to be the case with the model pictures referred to in earlier posts (even if the bowsprit is omitted, it's position is prepared between the bollard timbers).


Model is looking great, I really like the subject.



Edited by baskerbosse
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Time for some modeling surgery.  In order to position the bowsprit in the midline, the step needs to be moved.  The holes were already made in the deck for the step.  One of the holes will be hidden by the center part of the step but the port side one needed to be repaired.  My options were: remove and replace the two deck planks where the hole passed or make a plug and insert it in the hole.  My concern was that I would probably do more damage to the surrounding planks and waterway by doing so.  Look at the June 5th post to see that these were not typical planks.  I opted for a plug.  The repair is not perfect, but I believe this was the more prudent approach.  



Next, the stem head was installed.  This has a shallow mortise at its foot into the stem.  A small scroll is carved at the fore end.







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Posted (edited)

What plug? Nice progress, Toni! My only comment is that I interpret the shaded are at the tip of the knee as being shaved away to a blunt point as seen from above. If you can do that, the carving will look even nicer. Oh, and don't forget the shallow notch for the gammoning. See the Weazle draught.

Edited by druxey
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The anchor lining is a very prominent comma-shape on the model.  The lining is not shown on the plan but I decided to follow the model.  The upper part of the lining extends to the plankshear.  It extends over the wale and continues down almost to the water line.  These boards were added clinker-style but the outboard surface of the lining is smooth.  There is also a smooth transition from the lower hull over the wale.  




Four scuppers are visible on the model but are not shown on the plan.  They were lined with copper tubing blackened in situ with liver of sulfur (LoS).  I have also started work on the fashion piece.  Although the model shows painted scrolls and gold leaf, my model will be much simpler.  I have not decided on its final appearance but most likely will simply paint it black.


I have refined the top of the stem, narrowing it and incorporating the hances into the tip.  As you can see, all the black paint will need touching up.



The hawse holes are 10 inches in diameter.  These were drilled out and then sanded to their final size.  The pipes are copper.  After the outboard shape of the pipe was determined, a piece of copper tube one size larger was shaped and soldered onto the end to simulate the rolled edge of the pipe.  The inboard profile was then shaped.  The hawse pipers were blackened with LoS after all of the excess solder was filed off.  LoS will not blacken silver, only copper.




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Tony, I've just discovered your build log for the swallow and she looks great!  I built your planking tutorial a year or so ago and it turned out fantastic.  Lat Christmas I built a half hull of a English Cutter, I got the plans on SOS, and built it with a clinker hull.  I used and batten above each to kick out the next plank and it worked well except for some sinking between the bulkheads.  Some filing and sanding fixed that but your method looks a lot better.  I attached a photo of the cutter.  I just down loaded you capstan planks from the NRG store and it looks like it is going to be a lot of fun but I really liked doing the half hulls.  Since you started the Swallow doing a half hull, do you think you might do another half hull kit or develop the plans for sale in the store?  Either way I will be following your progress with the Swallow.  I'm learning a lot from your expertise.  Thanks ctmike 


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Mike, your cutter looks very nice. 


The purpose of the half hull project was to teach beginners how to plank a hull.  Because the planking is a standard thickness, it can be removed and replanked a few times for more practice.  Never say never but at this point I do not have any plans to produce another half hull project.  If I do, the builder could choose between clinker and carvel planking.  Swallow has spent too much time being ignored while developing the capstan project.  She is a bit jealous and demands that I finish her before doing anything else.



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The plankshear was installed next.  These planks are 2.5" thick, are flush with the inner planking and extend 3" beyond the outer hull planking.  Each plank is approximately 15 feet long and ends in a scarf joint.  A simple double-beaded edge was made with a scraper.  I made them from pear, the same wood the lower hull planking is from, for a slight contrast in color.  The knees at the stern have also been installed.  The capping rail was shaped by wetting it and clamping it in place overnight.  The edges were then shaped, putting the same edge treatment on the stern side.  The  fashion pieces were cut down to their final height and the corners rounded over.



The bollard timbers help secure the bowsprit.  A dowel wrapped in sandpaper (the bowsprit) was temporarily installed and the bollard timbers were sanded against the dowel to get the correct shape.  


I had been trying to decide on how much decoration to show on the model.  The model in the RMG has a lot of fancy work, including gold leaf.  Considering the type of ship, I thought a little bit of painting was appropriate but just at the stern.  I wanted a pop of color and so decided on black edging with a field of red.  The double bead motif was extended onto the aft end of the fashion piece.  The mottled appearance of the red is the wood grain.  I made this from pear.  


The black extends over the capping rail.  The same paint pattern was put on the fashion pieces.  Just for fun, I added red to the depths of the double-beading.






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Looking lovely, Toni. However, might I point out that the bollard timberheads are extensions of the bollard timbers themselves? This means that their athwartship faces are parallel to the keel, not at right angles to the sheer rail. That way they have a bearing face on each side of the bowsprit.

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  • 2 weeks later...

The bollard timber heads have been remade.  As I was making version one, I knew there was something wrong but could not figure it out.  As druxey stated, the inner and outer (athwartship) faces of the bollard head runs parallel to the keel. I have made an opening in the sheer rail for the timber rather than gluing it on top, as I did in version one.  A thin piece of boxwood was bent around a dowel and used to fill simulate the bollard timbers alongside and below the bowsprit.




Treenails in the grating were simulated with a punch.  A pencil was twisted in the depression to represent the treenail.  Bolts made of blackened brass wire have been added to the bowsprit step, bitts and anchor lining.  Mast wedges for the fore and main masts were made up from four smaller pieces of castelo, glued together.  These were turned on the lathe.  The opening was made using a mill with a rotary table since I did not have bits the correct diameter.  The multiple wedges were simulated with an 11 blade.  The skylight was glazed with sheet mica.




Most of the external details (other than the channels and deadeyes) have been finished.  While it was still safe to hold the hull upside down, I installed the horse shoes, ribbons and gudgeons.  The horse shoes and ribbons are left over from the photoetch sheet once sold by Admiralty Models.  Recesses were carved in the stem, sternpost and keel for them.  The pintles and gudgeons were made from brass square stock, strips and wire.  They were silver soldered and blackened.  I used the method shown in TFFM.  The sequence is shown in the diagram.  First the brass rod and strips are cut to length.  Next, slots are filed into the brass rod to accept the strips.  They are soldered and the face of the rod is shaped.  A hole is drilled near the front.  For the pintles, wire is inserted into the hole and soldered in place.  Once I was sure that the rudder could be unshipped, I removed it for safe storage.   Question: would a ship of this size have a spectacle plate or would some other way to secure the rudder been used?  There is no spectacle plate shown on the plan or the model.





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Nice job on the pintles and gudgeons, and the bollard timbers look much improved!


As the position of the upper pintle strap is about where a spectacle plate would be, I suspect that there was simply an eyebolt through the tip of the strap on each side for preventer chains. This is just a conjecture, though.

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  • 1 month later...

It has been almost two months since my last post but I have been busy doing small projects.  Having recently completed a capstan in 1:16 scale, it was time to duplicate my efforts at 1:48.  If you have purchased the Capstan Project, I used the approach outlined in the advanced version.  The capstan on a ship of this size and from this era has five whelps and six bars.  I turned the spindle in a lathe and then used a mill to make it ten-sided.  The pencil marks are to help the edges stand out.  


The whelps were glued-up as a sandwich; the thickness was the maximal thickness of the whelp.  The sandwich was then glued to a block of wood, which was put into the mill vice.  The face was milled and the whelps were separated by soaking in isopropanol.  I made a few extra to allow for mistakes.  The whelp is wider at the bottom and on its face.  The final shape was achieved with a sanding stick.


The drumhead was made from four semicircular pieces and a cap.  I used thin adhesive-backed copper sheet as the iron ring.  I used liver of sulfur to give the copper a patina.


After the whelps were glued to the spindle, the chocks were made and installed and the bolts were installed.  The iron ring looks much better than the photo would suggest.  And the final result...


The next item I needed to address was the decorative molding.  The plans show the molding at the level of the bottom of the gunports.  The model shows the molding halfway up the gun ports.  The plan shows the bottom of the oar ports raised by the width of the molding.  The model shows them at the same level as the gun ports.

537137288_Oarport.jpg.9bdb5656c720625a9a179958bc922759.jpg 588956296_Swallow(1779)-Warship-Brig-Sloop-14-guns-1a.jpg.ac7b3c0252e9b36bea34f3920ccf6ab1.jpg

As it turned out, I (accidentally) built them at the same level, as shown on the model.  If I left the molding where it is seen in the plan, it would have gone through the oar ports.  So my choices were to rebuild the upper works to lower the oar ports or raise the molding, as seen on the model.  I went to the RMG site and looked at other models with oar ports; they were most commonly positioned at the same level as the gun ports.  Therefore, I decided to move the molding instead of the oar ports.  


The ship has eleven swivel gun mounts on each side, although she only carried eight guns.  These were located per the plan.  They were notched to fit over the rail.  Bolt holes were drilled.  The metal work will be installed later.  



The cathead and cathead knee were made next.  The cathead was sawn from a single piece wood.  Two sheaves were installed.  The cathead knee was made up of three pieces, as seen in the picture below; the final shape was attained with sanding drum and disc.  The cathead and knee were then temporarily installed.  No finish has been applied to either the swivel posts or the cathead.  As you can see in the third picture, the tops of the swivel posts have not been shaped yet.  They will be horizontal across ship and will parallel the shear when seen from the side.  Also temporarily fitted are the first oar port and gun port covers.  They will all be hinged horizontally.




Other small items which have been installed are the cleats (three per side) and the mast coats.  The entry ladders, pumps and capstan are temorarily in place.  




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Hello, Toni. The whole boat looks beautiful. I hope you don't mind me asking, but the problem I see in the stern of a ship is that the hull plate presses directly on the stern plate. But you have a "tag" at the end (name unknown, allow me to call it that) . Was this part of the ship designed this way or was it added for its beauty?



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That is a very practical detail, called the fashion piece. It is actually part of the framing of the stern. It is rebated two ways, one to end the bottom planks into and the other way for the stern planks. The reason is that if that were not there, the plank ends would be exposed. Water penetration quickly causes rot. 


There are other places in a ship where the end grain of wood is protected for the same reason. This is a detail most ship modelers are either not aware of or choose not to show. It is a difficult piece to model, as the rabbet for the bottom planks keeps changing angle. Toni has done a fine job of it.

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In fact, I had the same idea when I first came into contact with sailboats. Either as shown in figure, or chamfering contact. With no reliable information to go on, I've always wondered how it was handled there. As you said, exposing the end of the plank will accelerate the rot. But a friend of mine told me that it's usually on the side of the tailgate. Perhaps the surface has been embalmed. But what I saw today raises questions again.  I just want to know if the real hull is treated like this? After all, it wasn't hard to make this part.

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Thanks to everyone for the likes.


Thank you, druxey.  Your explanation was much more explanatory than anything I would have said.  The fashion piece was a pain to fabricate because of the compound curves.  But by following the little-bit-at-a time approach, I ended up pleased with the result.   As you can see in the picture, the model does not have a fashion piece.  In fact, the aft ends of the hull planks are unusual; typically the lapstrake would have gradually diminished to a smooth surface.


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