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the Clotilda by popeye the sailor - Steingraeber - 1:60 scale - slave ship

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the flying fickle finger of fate has struck again......why it chose us,  I have no idea.   there is a short story that starts this log off...and here is the skinny.   I was browsing around the net looking at off the wall hobby shops...just a search, point and shoot kind of thing.   I'm always looking for that model that I've not seen in years.  I was browsing through an Antique store in central Washington state.    running down a list of kits this Antique store had,  I happened on the name Agilis.  it made me sit back and think........who had this model in their signature?  after batting it around for a time,  it came to me who it was .......JCT {hope I spelt your tag right J......I'm working without a net}.  $100.00.........not sure about the shipping,  I mentioned in a PM I sent him,  along with a picture of the kit.  


I hadn't seen J or any of his projects for some time.......I wonder what he was up to.   to sum up his activities...........he's been fishing with his guitar,  while watching the tube :D   it was nice to rattle his cage { I take full blame J}.  his reply came....he already has a kit.......he was waiting for someone to start a build log on the model,  so he could use it for when he decided to start his.  he said the instructions were so vague,  they'd give Billing's a run for their money!

    naturally,  this got my gears turning........the finger stopped,  pointing at me.  I suggested getting the kit and possibly starting a log.........this began the conversation.  doing a joint group build was suggested,  but shot down in fear of confusion.  as our conversation continued,  I set to work on ordering the kit.   not seeing any way to order it,  I placed a call to the shop......but.........while that was in progress I was still browsing around.  going through a number of black holes,  I ended up at the ETSY site,  and a gentleman who lives in Florida,  was selling it for $49.00 with free shipping.  with ten minutes,  I had the kit ordered and a reply from the seller!  this also started another conversation,  since I'm so chatty......he'd have in the mail the next day.  true to his word........I got notification that it had been shipped.......that was Thursday.  I received it on Monday.   meanwhile.........a call came from the Antique shop and I let her down gently,  I assure you ;)   meanwhile,  the conversations with the seller wound down.....he'd like to see pictures of the finished ship....I directed him here....or he can give me his email addy.  the conversation continues to this moment with J.......the plot is beginning to thicken.   my searches isn't bringing up any info on this ship........and neither is his.  likely,  this is a fictitious ship.  Steingraeber describes this as a clipper....to me it doesn't....it looks more like a privateer or a brig.  the last ship that was involved and subsequently "arrested" was called the Clotilda....this was in 1867.......over fifty years after slavery was deemed illegal.  later I read that the Clotilda was run aground near Mobile Alabama and set on fire to destroy the evidence.   there are a number of ships that this kit could have resembled,  but we decided to keep the name Agilis.  oh.......the reason behind my mentioning the Clotilda,  is that she was a schooner.   J suggested that this might be a Baltimore Clipper.....looking it up,  I am inclined to agree with him...it confirms both our suspicions.

Baltimore Clipper - Wikipedia


the one thing that might set it apart......and why I would mention a brig,  is the number of yards the model has......still feel it's odd,  likely can be rigged as a cutter, or even a schooner.   J is right though.....the instructions are not for the faint of heart


foot note:   I'll be building this model along with J.  we will be doing it as sort of a group build,  but without combining the log and confusing anyone.  I'm very pleased to be working along side him........I'm sure that there something we can share :) 



Edited by popeye the sailor
name change
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Hard to tell from the photo, but Baltimore clippers had a lot of drag to their keels. The model looks to me to be a brig more along the lines of Scottish Maid. I can't recall off the top of my head, but I vaguely remember that the Baltimore clippers rather quickly fell out of widespread use because their speed came at a cost of hull capacity. Can't tell you for certain whether they were commonly used in the closing stages of the North American slave trade.

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the kit is old........it is not laser cut,  but on the 3/16 sheets,  there are die cut impressions of the parts.  they need to be cut out.   I have seen other kits of this model......in later kits,  they used a light colored plywood.  in the kit I bought however,  the plywood is three layers......a light colored wood sandwiched between two layers of what looks like mahogany.   I ran into this with the Nordkap kits.......the first one supplied lighter colored woods,  while the kit I'm using to build the Progress,  was mostly mahogany {planking and parts sheets}.  in both instances,  the bulkheads were already cut out,  which leads me to believe that Billings precut them.  there is a thinner sheet that has the deck platform,  trailing boards and various parts not related to the hull aspects.  there are five different sizes of thread {rope},  a good number of different size dowels,  smaller wood parts,  and planking bound with tape {which I can't stand}....those ugly marks. 

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it comes with sail cloth,  but no diagrams to work with....one wooden boat and a couple of smaller blocks imprinted with other parts.   like someone let their kid loose with a price marker,  the numbers of the parts are scattered everywhere....some parts will need to be renumbered so I don't lose track.  the hardware is so so.....the anchors look good,  but will need rework due to age.........the blocks are metal and out of scale .......the dead eyes,  I haven't checked to see if they are plastic or wood {they can be replaced if needed}.  the brads are rusty......two sizes,  short ones and a bunch I can use as regular pins.  the eye bolts are out of scale,  as well as being the screw in type.   scrying the crystal ball........I see a lot of scratch building in my future.



you can barely see the die cut marks,  but they are there...not sure how deep they are.  to better see them,  I traced all the parts impressions with a mechanical pencil.


some of these parts......forget it.......the tops would be too thick and the boom and gaff yokes would be a joke.  as I mentioned,  scratch building will be the rule here.  the last included is the thinner sheet with the deck platform and such.  they were practically falling out of the sheet,  so I took 'em out.


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welcome to the log gents.......I have a bit more to show in the beginning follies. :)    it's going to be an interesting start.....I can tell ya!  I'll show ya why in a moment.


I'm already off the streets Lou..........as far as I know,  Steingraeber is no longer in production.   it appears that they discontinued the model manufacturing,  and became a hobby shop

Home • Steingraeber models • The specialist for historical ship model making

I'm guessing the kit is around 40 years old.  if you'd like to join in on this little venture,  here's where you can find a kit :ph34r:

OOP vintage plastic and wood boat model kits for sale Gasoline Alley Antiques

they are in Seattle....probably a short jaunt from your house ;) 


you have the same idea as I do.......once the hull is planked,  it will tell us more ;)    the rigging even has that brig look.   just looking at the box.............    I wish I had book marked the article....never mind,  I found it

Illegal Slave Trade - The Abolition of The Slave Trade

they do mention the types of ships used,  but the Wiki has a list of known ships

Slave ship - Wikipedia

Baltimore Clipper - Wikipedia

would a couple of gun ports be going too far? :ph34r:

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oh......and have fun I'm beginning to Chris.  the kit is old.......I get that.........but the plywood is showing it's age.  I cut out the keel yesterday afternoon and the face down layer of whatever this wood is took a beating!  in the beginning,  I thought that it is the new scroll saw I got for Christmas........perhaps it needs to be set up in some way.  going through the manual,  and then looking at the saw,  I noted that I'm using a rough cut blade,  likely ten teeth per inch.   my old scroll saw used the 3 inch blades.......this one uses the 5 inch blades......a lot more common,  and I can get 'em anywhere.  I have a pack from Harbor freight.....6 pack.....6 different tooth count.  I also noticed that the bottom blade holder was offset,  so I corrected it and now using a finer thinner blade.  this didn't make a difference.........chunks of the bottom layer was being torn off.

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splintering and missing chunks along the rises of the keel


a huge chunk was taken out of the bow just above the turn........I found it and glued it back on.   the other parts I've done so far though,  I haven't been so lucky.   my original thought was to allow it to happen........I have some mahogany strips.......I'll simply patch them up.  here's a piece of scrap cast off.........


what it's doing to the parts...........OH my!

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I said the heck with it,  and started to remove the damaged layer.  as you can see.........it's very easy to do.


at this point,  I was going to stay the coarse,  peel it off,  and cement them to some 1/16 basswood,  later to be cut out with my box cutter.  but I have another idea.   I'll glue them to some 1/8 plywood I have on hand and then cut them out,  separating them later.  three dots of glue......let 'em set.........and then see how it goes.



I'll clean them up after I get the rest cut.........so far,  I've only lost one bulkhead....but after I cut out the replacement ;)   as I told J..........while it would have been good to wait till I have all this done,  I would start the log now,  so that anyone with an older kit in their closet,  would benefit from this.   plastic kits have an advantage concerning this......other than brittle plastic,  that's about it.   wood on the other hand is susceptible to humidity and  temperature.   hard to say how this kit was stored.   gotta take Gibbs out now.......but I will continue cutting the bulkheads out after.   another thing I've been thinking of is the thought that this frame is going to be really flimsy.......have to try and stabilize it in some way for the faring process.  more on it later :) 

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2 hours ago, popeye the sailor said:

here's where you can find a kit :ph34r:

Just what I need, another kit! You are right, they are only about 25 miles door-to-door. I could have gotten there in just over two hours in this mornings traffic according to the new on TV! 😝 I am SO glad I no longer need to commute! I could get there in about 30 minutes right now.


2 hours ago, popeye the sailor said:

would a couple of gun ports be going too far? :ph34r:

It would be pretty common for any ship involved in illegal commerce to be fast and armed. Many slave traders were both. Fast to avoid capture and to get the product to port alive if possible. Dead slaves did not sell well at the destination but it was still common to loose all too many in each voyage. Guns were not so important, but they were not the only ships involved in illegal commerce and as we all know there is little honor among thieves.


Nice looking lines on the picture of the kit from what I can see. Looks very similar to the Schooner Flyer listed on the Steingraeber, (Spell that three times fast!) site. I would think that as you are basically starting with the normal "Box-O-Sticks" you can do pretty much anything you want with your build and still be "right".


I'll be watching though. :D

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Hello again Denis...I found it :) you forgot to mention my daily naps and following my soups on the tube!!   My log is up as well, not as far along as you are, wont get to cutting till Friday...I'm hoping for better luck then you've had so far...hope you don't mind I've added a link to your build to my log...see you in the funny pages


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hello everyone :)   welcome to the log that looks like a kit,  but builds like a scratch build :D   personally,  I think they packed too much fun in this box ;)   hey......but we'll get through this and then it may flow a bit better.

  as an update to my idea....it looks like it's gonna work.  it will take some extra time and effort,  but I think it will be worth it in the end.


thanks John........see,  I told you I'd get back to wooden ships :)   I write this log as an example of the folks we have here........how we care about one another.  I saw the kit........I thought of J......and here we are.


I believe that's 'soaps' J  ;)    in 'the Days of our Lives',  we enter 'The Secret Storm',  so we can add another to 'All my Children' {I was careful J....I didn't mention 'The Wonder Years'}.  we discussed the links......I will add yours to mine.......there....we will be blood brothers {as long as we don't slip with the x Actor}.  as mentioned,  you have the blonde plywood,  which suggests to me that your kit is a bit younger...there's no dating on the box that I've seen thus far.   doing this in the direction I'm having to go might spawn twins :stunned:........the Clotilda might be a result after all :ph34r:


Tom and Ed....hello and welcome to the log :) 


right Mark.......slaving ran until 1867....of course it's not to say that a trickle of 'Human Trafficking' didn't carry on afterwards {as we've seen in today's world}.  keen to remember that some slaves were assembled to form army units during the conflict.  sadly,  they were used as decoys and front row forces.  there  have been a few books and movies on the subject.  it really didn't start to lose it's appeal,  when the British {and I believe the French} made it illegal in 1807.....we followed a year later.


yes Lou......they found it to be more lucrative than hauling goods,  especially when the markets were low.  at the high point in the slaving trade,  the more boisterous ones were even using 'tramp' steamers to import slaves.

   I did find that the Captains sacrificed a lot of weight,  for the ability to carry more slaves,  countering their losses along the way.   most were alone,  without a crew until they got to their destination.  there they picked up the slaves,  provisions,  and a large enough crew to defend the ship,  the duties involved,  and discourage any uprisings by the slaves.  there were a few of these....the incident on The Meermin for instance.


I got busy yesterday and didn't get much further.......so far,  I have three or four cut out.  I will get more done today :) 

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3 hours ago, popeye the sailor said:

slaving ran until 1867

You might be a little off on your dates Denis.

By 1808 the only state still allowing the IMPORTATION of slaves was South Carolina. In 1808 even S. Carolina outlawed the international importation of African slaves and the IMPORTATION became illegal. But the PRACTICE of slavery continued to be legal in the southern states as a form of business until the close of the Civil War. This is what allowed the years of slave smuggling. Once the potential slaves were landed, it was somewhat hard to determine where they had come from. Records were not all that complete even if people in the south had been all that interested. Slaves continued to be sold and resold as an everyday occurrence.


What is even more interesting in many cases is the involvement of other nationalities in the American slave trade. Even though slaving was already illegal in most of Europe, much of the transporting of slaves from Africa was conducted by English, Dutch, Portuguese, and several other privateers from a number of other nations. Many of the ships would pretend to be whaling ships. Almost all of the slave trade from Africa came over on European ships and deposited in the Caribbean Islands by these European owned ships and from there transported to the US on American flagged vessels. In some cases it was even a state of war between slavers. It was not unknown for a English slaver to attack a Dutch slaver and make off with it's slaves or even the whole vessel to sell as it's own. Of course the same happened the other way around as well. It was a big sea and who was out there to stop them and who would report the theft of their illegal slave cargo? This kind of stuff went on almost 70 years until slavery was finally abolished. 


The subject as it really happened is not really told in schools these days. Americans are blamed for leaving a "Trail of bodies across the Atlantic" and the concept is so accepted that the US Government has even offered an official apology to black people. No mention seems to be made about the illegal involvement of other countries, the ownership in the US of black or other races by free black people. Slaves held by Native Americans, and other little known or at least talked about matters of the time. 


Not to say that slavery was a good thing or even necessary as some in the south claimed. All I am saying is that the story is far more complex than many may have been told over the years.    

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1867 is a long ways off from 1807 / 1808.   keep in mind that the southern states were still active in the keeping of slaves even during the war.  I'm sure there is some convoluted information out there....wouldn't be the internet we know and love without it ;)   even on paper.......can't believe everything you read.  I know J posted pictures of the instructions...I hope you can read it

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this is a small booklet tha came with the kit.   here is the complete building text......


that's it folks........not much to go on,  although it does give some of the part numbers.....especially the wood strips.   I should look to see if I can find a chart relating to dowel diameter...so far I only know of fractional diameters.  here is the two sided sheet with the side profiles,  layouts,  and assembly suggestions. 


I forgot the rigging diagram too.........it gives the appearance that there confusion between a brig and a schooner.  there are at least three different configurations that would suit this vessel....and as Lou pointed out,  a Ketch.  the planking diagram suggests........what your seeing here is double planking above the waterline.   if I were to do that,  I'd use thin strip.....narrower than what is supplied in the kit.   there's a small bundle of 5 mm,  a larger bundle of 10 mm,  and an equal bundle of thin strip that is 8 mm { looks like pine but can't be sure}.   I have other stuff on hand


the lines at the bottom are the lengths for the masts and yards.  there is a diagram for a capstan......but I think a windlass would be more appropriate.......what is that thing off to the bottom right?  not real keen on the tops either,  since they are die cut on the plywood sheet,  along with the channels.  as said.........I'll sweat over the hull and then scratch build the rest. 


the bulkhead replacements continues........I now have 6 out of the 10 bulkheads cut.  a couple of them,  I had to peel off the affected layer and re-laminate it with 1/16......1/32 would have been a better choice,  but I'm using what I have on hand.  as can be seen on the front side of the big sheet,  the frame is going to be flimsy.   it will need to be a bit more stable for the faring process.   so the bulkheads were spot glued to the new plywood,  which I had cut into wide strips.  once it has set long enough,  I will cut them out.......the glue if not totally dried,  should release rather easily.


number 7 and nine had to be re-laminated to do the cutting process properly.......here's #9


it will be clamped so it will be flat and level.  then I'll trim it and it will be ready for the cloning 

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