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Caution is advised regarding this name.  It was used for two different ships.  The 1799 frigate underwent the fade based evolution at a time of great change, so the year that you are representing has an affect on the dimensions.  There is data in the Appendix of HASN.

The second ship with this name still sort of exists.  It was a corvette and the last of the sailing warships for the USN.  It has undergone several severe cosmetic alterations, some pure fantasy that tried to make it into the 1799 frigate.  HASN has dimensions for Albany that are within a decade of the launch of the corvette.

The various captains had a lot of say in how these ships were spared and some were fad prone.  This is probably a situation were close enough is good enough.

 

A more important factor is to get the spared and rigged model into a protective case.  A view of restoration logs here should demonstrate the result of leaving a model of a sailing vessel open to the environment.

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Basically what Jaager said.   The original plans were lost to history for the most part.   The kit (if that's what you're building) should have those dimensions.  However, the kit is based on the cobbled ship that was displayed for many years. 

 

So basically, we need more info such as is this a scratch or a kit?  The year of launch also helps.

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Mark,

 

HIC drew the builders plan for Congress/Constellation (HIC #8)  so SI would be one possible source.

 

I am perplexed by the disdain expressed for the value of builders plans.  At base it is a chance to see how our shipyards do using the original source.

 

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The plans you mentioned sound like  a good source, Jaager.

 

I'm not distaining builders plans.  The problem was that many if not most of the Constellation plans available back in the early 1900's were cobbled, changed, and some destroyed while the ship folks worked to turn the 1854 version into the original.  They tried to make (and mostly succeeded) in getting people to believe that when the original went in, it was taken apart and rebuilt into the the 1854 version, thus the rounded stern and the ship being a bit bigger than the original.

 

 

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Mark,

 

The remark about builders plans was meant as bait for others.  It was not aimed at you.  There is/are thread/s about the USN pre War of 1812 frigates that seem to disparage builders plans and get way into the weeds, making a major production of microscopic factors.  The implied tone is that unless the plans are perfect, a model of the ship should not be attempted.  Maybe if the build was for display in a naval historical museum, I see the the validity, but otherwise, not so much.

About your above comments,  I am all but horrified when I see a model of the supposed 1799 frigate with an elliptical stern. "That's just not right."

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3 hours ago, Jaager said:

The remark about builders plans was meant as bait for others.  It was not aimed at you.  There is/are thread/s about the USN pre War of 1812 frigates that seem to disparage builders plans and get way into the weeds, making a major production of microscopic factors.  The implied tone is that unless the plans are perfect, a model of the ship should not be attempted.  Maybe if the build was for display in a naval historical museum, I see the the validity, but otherwise, not so much.

About your above comments,  I am all but horrified when I see a model of the supposed 1799 frigate with an elliptical stern. "That's just not right."

No worries. The catch is, I've seen some pretty crude models in museums that were built from kits.  Ends up making you wonder if the museum just wanted to fill the floor space.

 

As for your comment about the rounded stern.. I agree, which is why I turned my build into the 1854 ship.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Keep in mind the AL kit's hull is taken from the lines of the sloop-of-war which is longer and slightly wider than the frigate's.  The kit is basically a model of the fantasy frigate Baltimore was trying to achieve from 1956-1998.  The sail plan they presented had little to do with the frigate as they were trying to get away with using the sloop's spars they had on hand.  The bottom line is it doesn't matter what spar dimensions are used on this kit as nothing about it has anything to do with the 1797 frigate anyway, best bet is to use what the kit supplies.

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Ok, someone buys a kit of a famous ship with the intension of building a museum quality model that will become a family heirloom.  They spend a lot of money for the kit.

 

After assembling most of the kit theydecide to ask for help to make things authentic.  What they don’t understand, is that the kit itself may be based on unsound research.  Such is the case with the USF Constellation.  While accurate models have been made of the original frigate, and Jerry Todd is building one of the Civil War era corvette, the kit produces  Jackalope, a ship that never sailed.

 

How to salvage things?  Rig it in accordance with practice of the time and move on.   Contemporary references like Steele provide masting and rigging data.

 

Roger

 

 

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On 10/31/2020 at 10:51 AM, Roger Pellett said:

Ok, someone buys a kit of a famous ship with the intension of building a museum quality model that will become a family heirloom.  They spend a lot of money for the kit.

 

After assembling most of the kit theydecide to ask for help to make things authentic.  What they don’t understand, is that the kit itself may be based on unsound research.  Such is the case with the USF Constellation.  While accurate models have been made of the original frigate, and Jerry Todd is building one of the Civil War era corvette, the kit produces  Jackalope, a ship that never sailed.

 

How to salvage things?  Rig it in accordance with practice of the time and move on.   Contemporary references like Steele provide masting and rigging data.

 

Roger

 

 

Before the Internet, this wasn't a problem as people would buy a kit and believe it was accurate.  Most didn't get any model publication, etc.  Constellation was double con, not just buy AL, but the Baltimore people involved.   I took that bait when I started my Constellation after visiting it back in the early '80s.  They were convincing back then.  A few conversations with Jerry Todd and some others and my model changed directions pretty fast.

 

This site is a gold mine to say the least.

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I have a copper medallion sold by the Constellation restoration people back in the 60’s.  It is supposedly cast from copper salvaged from the ship.

 

Later, I began to buy and read Howard Chapelle’s books.  In my opinion Chapelle makes an open and shut case, later confirmed by Dana Wagner in Fouled Anchors.  The last book on the subject that I acquired is The Constellation Question that publishes differing opinions from Chapelle and Leon Pollard who  apparently led those arguing for the “Original Navy” origin of the ship.  The book includes papers presented by both sides to the Chesapeake Bay Section of the Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers back in the 50’s.  The “last word” on the subject was a book written by Gerald Footner who makes a convoluted argument that the ship is really the 1799 version because the 1850’s era corvette incorporates timbers salvaged from it.  I didn’t waste my money on it.

 

Neophite modelers would be advised to read one of Chapelle’s books or Dana Wagner’s report, which was free when it was published, before spending money on a kit.

 

Roger

 

 

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Hi Roger

The AL Constellation was my introduction into model ship building. I was able to get the kit for $120 on EBay. A small price to pay to try something I have always wanted to do but never really had the time. I also assumed the kit would be somewhat realistic and would be something I could be proud of. As it turns out it was a nothing more than practice for my current scratch build which is not a bad thing in itself. 
 

Knowing what I know now (scratch building is certainly an eye opener and learning opportunity), it is just disappointing finding out iwhat you worked so hard on is nothing more than a trinket that looks great but only to people who don’t know what they are looking at. For the prices charged for some kits versus the quality and the disappointment I now feel, it was enough for me to give up on kits and try scratch. I know there are some great kits that are done well (Syren, Watton) but the big name mass produced ones left a sour taste for now. 
 

Sorry for venting but sometimes it just feels good!  I am sure I will build kits in the future but will do more research before building and be prepared to do some kit-bashing. 
 

Tom

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22 hours ago, Roger Pellett said:

The “last word” on the subject was a book written by Gerald Footner who makes a convoluted argument that the ship is really the 1799 version because the 1850’s era corvette incorporates timbers salvaged from it.  I didn’t waste my money on it.

 

 

It did.... 4 of them which was done to justify the "rebuild" work around the Navy did at the time.

 

Tom,

I think many of went to scratch for the reasons you posted.  

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Hi Tom,

 

I have been scratch building models since completing a Model Shipways Harriet Lane kit in the late 1960’s.  While it is certainly not a museum quality model It still sits on top of my book case  in a glass case and adds atmosphere to my library.

 

My scratch built models are a different matter.  In each case I have the satisfaction of knowing the research that went into the model as well as the decisions that I made when reaching the limits of known facts.

 

I hope that you will enjoy this aspect of scratch building too.

 

Also keep in mind that there is an enormous body of knowledge on this forum.  When you have finalized your ideas about future projects, if you share your ideas, you will find people here to help you headin the right direction.

 

Roger

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I knew Jeffery Footner, worked on his house in Fells Point, and we discussed Constellation a lot over beers at the Whistling Oyster or John Stevens.  I don't know why, but he NEEDED Constellation to be the frigate.  He did a lot of good research for his book, but in the book he tried to bend it to fit his agenda.  Some of the data had been debunked long ago, but still got regurgitated as evidence.  They say you can't talk politics or religion with people, with Jeff, you didn't talk about Constellation.

Another fella that NEEDS Constellation to be the frigate has This Page claiming that a t'gallant pole as opposed to separate t'gallant and royal masts proves a drawing is Constellation somehow.

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Years ago, I bought Geoffrey Footner’s book Tidewater Triumph expecting an update on Howard Chapelle’s work on the topic, especially as it was published by Mystic Seaport.

 

Although I still have the book in my collection, I was unimpressed by it.  Footner seems more interested in semantics than substance,  He criticizes Chapelle over and over again for calling these fast Schooners Baltimore Clippers, but then presents us with a drawing from the Venice Arsenal that he purports to be the US Navy Schooner Enterprise without evidence or explanation.

 

The book left me with the impression of an author writing about a technical subject who did not understand the underlying technology.

 

Roger

 

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Well, all the above is well and good....however, the question asked by SailingAnthony1812 is regarding frigate CONSTELLATION's spar dimensions, not a discussion as to whether the ship in Baltimore's Inner Harbor is or isn't the original frigate CONSTELLATION. 

 

Many of you weren't members of the NRG when this article was published (myself included), but back in the very early days of the N.R. Journal, when it was still a black & white, stapled newsletter, there was a beautiful model of CONSTELLATION (1797) described in photos, plans, drawings, and so forth by Thomas A. Todd - the article was USF CONSTELLATION As She May Have Appeared In the Period 1797 to 1800. This is the lead article in the NRJ Volume 31, June 1985, Number 2 - and I'm looking at it as I type. The second page of the article gives the sheer plan and hull lines as well as the Spars, 1801 - I believe this draft of CONSTELLATION is the one most of us are familiar with, and is also one of the  pull-out plans in the volume Register of Officer Personnel....and Ship's Data 1801-1807, USGPO, Washington, 1945. This article by T. Todd is quite complete for a modeler to glean very useful information in not only building CONSTELLATION (or for that matter, USF CONGRESS) but most any other early U.S. Navy sailing warship of the period. He gives in addition, correspondence regarding his model's construction and a complete bibliography of his sources.

 

So, S.A.1812 - if possible, you should try to locate a copy of this article, as it would be extremely useful as I've stated above. Perhaps, in everyone's interest, NRG could reprint this particular article in full as many members today probably aren't aware of its existence. [edit] I might add that these spar dimensions are also given in the Appendix to H. I. Chapelle's HASN (pg. 483). 

 

Hank Strub

Edited by Hank
corrected sentence content; added further data
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