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Early 20th C. Blocks

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Hi Folks,

I'm looking for some info on blocks used before the second war. I'm going to be rigging my Chapelle sharpie soon(ish), and thought I might reproduce metal blocks, either bronze or galvanised. But I'm not sure if metal blocks were common. The design from Chapelle is from "Boatbuilding", published in 1941. There is no date on the drawings, but I'm guessing it originates in the 30's some time. the boat is not lines from a hulk or existing boat, but I'm pretty sure new from Chapelle, as he was wont to do at that time. There are many sharpie yacht derivatives penned by Chapelle that were influenced by the work boats of the day.


Running rigging is all from 1/4" to 3/8", so a 2" (full scale) block would be about right. I can buy 1/4" iron stropped blocks from Bluejacket, etc. or make my own and paint to resemble metal.


Thanks in advance-


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IIRC, Chapelle's Boatbuilding has an appendix of sorts with reproductions from the Wilcox-Crittenden or Merriman catalog showing the sort of blocks used on yachts for the first half of the Twentieth Century. They were internally bronze-stropped with ash, oak, teak, or lignam vitae cheeks and bronze sheaves. Workboat blocks were similar, but of rougher finish. They had galvanized steel strops, sometimes external, and galvanized sheaves and ash or oak cheeks which weren't as rounded over on their edges. For a variety of reasons, often economic, rope stropped blocks of various shapes continued in use as well, as they have to the present day. Cast bronze blocks in quite small sizes as well as cast bronze cheek blocks were also used. They weren't used in larger sizes due to safety and weight-aloft considerations.

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As a starting point you may want to access the MIT library of N. Herreshoff designs and drawings

of his work. They are, or have digitized, all his designs of marine fittings and hardware. He redesign

numerous yacht fittings and hardware for his yacht designs in the early 20th century and they form the basis 

for current hardware designs.  Word of warning, MIT is scanning everything, something like 14000 files!


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Hi cricket,  I am building a 1850's built ship model.  The Contract specified iron bound blocks with bronze sheaves.  However, in contemporary publications there appears a move towards more iron blocks (all iron) especially snatch blocks and the like, with the advent of steel wire rope rigging.  have a look in Harold Underhill's 'Masting and Rigging The Clipper Ship and Ocean Carrier'.


The following is an example of the type of wooden iron bound blocks used in the latter half of the 19th centuryy - sorry, cannot remember where I sourced this.







If at first you do not suceed, try, and then try again!
Current build: HMCSS Victoria (Scratch)

Next build: HMAS Vampire (3D printed resin, scratch 1:350)

Built:          Battle Station (Scratch) and HM Bark Endeavour 1768 (kit 1:64)

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Thanks everyone for your input.

Bob, Chapelle's "Boatbuilding" doesn't have an appendix, per se, but he does say that "Blocks having wooden shells are preferable for rope, those having metal shells for wire. Bronze blocks, for rope, are popular, however, because of their small, neat appearance. "American Fishing Schooners" is the one with more extensive rigging sketches and diagrams, but of course, more relevant to schooners. The Merriman suggestion, however, was spot on. I found a pdf of a 1928 Merriman catalog, available from Wooden Boat. https://www.woodenboat.com/sites/default/files/library-content/merriman1928.pdf which I downloaded. There are appropriate wood shell, and bronze shell blocks, along with shackles and turnbuckles, sheet horse fittings, etc. Great resource for my time period.





Since my sharpie is not really a working boat, but one that might have built for pleasure or racing, it seems like the small bronze yacht blocks might be appropriate. I'm going to look further to see if I can find a source for galvanised blocks. Those might have been standard hardware store issue. At any rate, I think the Merriman pattern would be suitable for a scale block that could be finished appropriately.




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