Jump to content

The Ketch-rigged Sloop Speedwell of 1752 Volume II, Hull Details and Rigging

Recommended Posts

The Ketch-rigged Sloop

Speedwell of 1752

Volume II, Hull Details and Rigging

by Greg Herbert and David Antscherl

Distributed by: Sea Watch Books, LLC, Florence, Oregon

8 1/2” x 11”, hardcover, 184 pages, bibliography, index

ISBN 978-1-7320162-5-5


It is appropriate that, with Bob Friedman’s impending retirement, the final book being published by Sea Watch Books, LLC should be authored by David Antscherl and Greg Herbert.  These three gentlemen have teamed up to produce some benchmark references for our hobby.  Among the most noteworthy are the classic Swan series The Fully Framed Model, HMN Swan Class Sloops, 1767-1780, The Royal Navy Fireship Comet of 1783, and The Hayling Hoy of 1759-1760.


   The final offering, The Ketch-rigged Sloop Speedwell of 1752, Volume II, completes the treatise on a project that offers the modeler a subject that is attractive, less complex, and at 1:48 scale is of a reasonable size.  The book is broken down into three basic segments.  The first chapters discuss the final hull details and remaining fittings.  Although Herbert’s version is not painted, the opening notes provide information on a possible color scheme if you wish to paint your model.  The description is based in a fine example in the Royal Museums Greenwich (RMG) Collection. This model is one of the primary references used throughout the book.

    When researching a project, David Antscherl invariably discovers unique features about the subject.  One such item on Speedwell is the heads (privies) that are located within the forecastle.  Their unique shape and location are not seen on contemporary models very often.  Herbert’s approach for fabricating these pieces is noteworthy.


   Speedwell is a small vessel, but she possesses many graceful features.  Two of them are the stern lights with their pleasing pilasters, and the various ornate components that adorn the bow of the ship.  They include the cheeks, hair brackets, cat head supporters, main and lower rails, and those pesky head timbers.  Herbert goes into considerable detail, and makes extensive use of templates for all of these challenging pieces.



    The next segment deals with the carved works, and is discussed in great detail.  Arguably, this portion of Volume II, by itself, may be worth the cost of the book.  For such a small ship, Speedwell possessed considerable ornamentation.  The authors obtained a copy of a letter addressed to the Admiralty Board that carefully outlined the scope of this work and its cost.  The letter included a list of carved works with their overall dimensions.  It’s interesting to note that the information matched very closely the carvings on the RMG model.


   The authors start out with an explanation of the two different processes that are used when producing miniature carvings.  They are the subtractive process and the additive process,  The former version is as the name implies, the removal of material from a larger block, usually wood.


   The additive technique involves the use of a modeling clay that can be heat-hardened.  In addition to suggested brands, cautions are also provided when using this material.  One interesting recommendation is the use of maquettes or study models prior to creating the final pieces.


These are made from a non-hardening clay and can be up to four times the size of the final work.  The author feels that this helps improve the modeler’s perspective when working out three dimensional problems on the actual piece, both additive and subtractive.

    The final portion of this treatise is devoted to the construction of the masts, spars, blocks and rigging.  An odd feature on the RMG model is the tops.  Rather than the usual plank and batten construction, these are made with very coarse grating that features apertures that measure about 6” across.  Although  they appear  to be original, there is little doubt that they would have presented a safety hazard for topmen.  These unique pieces are included in the plans, and a method is provided for their construction.  However, Herbert opted for the conventional tops that were in vogue at that time, and he provides a detailed explanation for their construction.




   It is interesting to note that nowhere in this second volume do photographs appear of Herbert’s rigged model.  At the beginning of the final chapters that deal with rigging, David Antscherl explains the reason for this.  He states:

   As our publisher is retiring (2020), we made the decision to complete this book before Greg was able to rig his model.  Therefore there are no photographs of this process.  However, much of the rigging is very similar to that described in Volume IV of the The Fully Framed Model, HMN Swan Class Sloops 1767-1780, and we refer you to that book.  It should be easy to follow the descriptions and illustrations provided in both volumes together with the accompanying rigging plans in this book to successfully complete a model.”


   The four rigging plans that accompany this book are all to 1:48, and are well done.  They are based on spar dimensions provided in a draught and the contemporary model of Speedwell in the RMG collection.  Antscherl states that the rigging was interpreted from photographs, and may be suspect in some cases since all the lines may not be entirely original.

    In addition to the plans, this final Sea Watch offering features 7 pages of color photos, an index and bibliography.  At a scale of 1:48, this treatise will produce a model with a modest overall hull length of 21 1/2”.  Add the massive bowsprit and jib-boom, and its length increases to over 33 inches.

   The Speedwell was a unique, yet beautiful ship.  Whether you are inclined to build her or not, “The Ketch-rigged Sloop Speedwell of 1752” Volumes I and II would be an excellent addition to any ship modeler’s library.  These books are highly recommended.







Link to comment
Share on other sites

Off topic, slightly.   Does Bob's retirement mean that Seawatch will be closing and all the books will become unavailable?   

"The shipwright is slow, but the wood is patient." - me

Current Build:                                                                                             
Past Builds:
 La Belle Poule 1765 - French Frigate from ANCRE plans - ON HOLD           Triton Cross-Section   

 NRG Hallf Hull Planking Kit                                                                            HMS Sphinx 1775 - Vanguard Models - 1:64               


Non-Ship Model:                                                                                         On hold, maybe forever:           

CH-53 Sikorsky - 1:48 - Revell - Completed                                                   Licorne - 1755 from Hahn Plans (Scratch) Version 2.0 (Abandoned)         



Link to comment
Share on other sites

That's because it's an older http:// (non-secure) site rather than an https:// (encrypted) site.  Most browsers are now not allowing connection without a couple of additional clicks that you really want to go there (e.g. Show details -> visit this website in Safari).  The risk is pretty small if you're not providing credit card or other data while on the site.


The site is still up, last updated in summer 2020.  No mention of post-retirement plans.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This looks like a wonderful addition.  These books from this publisher have been an excellent resource for our community and will be sorely missed.  Wish him well in retirement.  (was really hoping that a Rogers III was in the works although that ship has sailed)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

13 hours ago, MEDDO said:

This looks like a wonderful addition.  These books from this publisher have been an excellent resource for our community and will be sorely missed.  Wish him well in retirement.  (was really hoping that a Rogers III was in the works although that ship has sailed)

Me too, Michael. I was really looking forward to Rogers III. Bob busted his but to get that published but the author just had enough I suppose.


Admiralty Models

moderator Echo Cross-section build
Admiralty Models Cross-section Build

Finished build
Pegasus, 1776, cross-section

Current build
Speedwell, 1752

Link to comment
Share on other sites

17 hours ago, mtaylor said:

Does Bob's retirement mean that Seawatch will be closing and all the books will become unavailable? 

I was told there will be no new books but I am sure Bob will continue to sell the remaining books on hand.  If you want any buy them ASAP.

Kurt Van Dahm






Nautical Research & Model Ship Society of Chicago

Midwest Model Shipwrights

North Shore Deadeyes

The Society of Model Shipwrights

Butch O'Hare - IPMS

Link to comment
Share on other sites

53 minutes ago, uss frolick said:

Too bad about Rogers III being cancelled. I really wanted to read about the Swan class sloop, the Frigate Shannon, and the Fair American models.

Yup I was so looking forward to the Swan/not-Swan analysis and a look at the other frigates.  I know lots of people love the big ones but I definitely like the 5th and 6th rates the best

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 year later...

The seawatch site now states: "

This site is temporarily closed pending the possible sale of the company. More news should be available soon. Thank you very much for your patronage and your patience. Check back on this site in January.

-- Cathy and Bob"

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
  • Create New...