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In 2008 I decided it was time to make my first expedition into scratch-built ship modeling. This log will follow my progress both past and future as work continues.

Some of you may recognize this project. As I started and progressed through my models, I posted progress photos and discussions of my work on several model ship internet sites including the predecessor to “Model Ship World”. All of those sites and posts are now gone.


Starting in 2008 I made steady progress on the Dove up until 2012 when my progress came to a rather abrupt halt. I stopped for a variety of personal reasons without ever losing interest in the project and now have resumed my work. I hope to complete the work in the next year. So, this build log will include a lot that’s old and with a little luck something new.


Previous to this project, I had completed two somewhat challenging kits: Model Shipways Prince de Neufchatel and Model Shipways Benjamin Latham (both now posted in the gallery). As many of you may know, like many commercial kits, each of these kits fail to include the full range of details a modeler may want to represent and also include features which are distinctly out of scale or crude. In both cases I sought and found (largely in Howard Chapelle’s works) supplementary modeling data and I spent a fair amount of time on each adding to or correcting elements of the models.




Two Doves, well underway


With two completed kits below my belt, I began searching for a new project. It would be a scratch build. I decided that the project should be challenging but not too challenging, should be not too big and should generally follow along the lines of my previous work. In Chapelle’s The American Fishing Schooners I came across the Dove plans and decided that in addition to being fairly complete plans, the ship itself met my criteria fairly well, somewhat challenging, not too big and like the Prince and the Latham an American built schooner. I purchased a set of plans from the Smithsonian and I was off.





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  • ccoyle changed the title to Pinky Schooner Dove by jlefever - 1:48

Basically the plans available from the Smithsonian are the plans prepared for Chapelle's books. They are typically his drawings at the scale he prepared them (not as printed). For example the Dove is presented in four 1:24 scale sheets three of which appear in Fishing Schooners and an unpublished table of offsets. I think the draftsmanship is more than acceptable but the originals are a bit worn. 


I believe in most cases the plans available are those that appear in one of Chapelle's books so checking out a specific ship in his books is a good way to know what you will get. Generally if it's not in the book, it's not in the plans.



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Posted (edited)

The Smithsonian plans were all drawn by Howard Chapelle, who had traced the builder’s plans and half model which was then in the hands of the builder’s son.

In The American Fishing Schooner Chapelle reports that the Dove, a pinky schooner, was designed and built by Sylvester S. Baltzer in 1875 at Preaux Minus Basin Nova Scotia for Captain James George a pilot operating in the Bay of Fundy. She was 42’-11” between perpendiculars, 13’-0” beam molded, the depth was 6’-0 ¼” and she drew 6’-3” at the post.  The Dove was noted for her sailing qualities and for being unusually yacht like. I wonder if the provenance may be important in ways that could affect the accuracy of my model.  Per Chapelle’s report, the builder’s son who had held onto the plans was himself an accomplished boat builder. He retained the half model and construction plans because he intended to build a copy for himself. While the Dove was a late design of the type I believe it’s possible the son may have updated the plans even more with modern schooner fittings as he thought about building it another time.


Chapelle tells us that while intended as a pilot’s vessel, she had the general arrangement and rig of a fisherman. I’m assuming that her use as a pilot allows me to show a finer finish that typical for a fisherman. For example, noting the inscription “Copper Line” on the plans, I decided to use copper plate rather than the typical red anti-fouling paint.


The plans come as four large sheets each featuring half inch to the foot scale drawings all executed in Chapelle’s typical clean descriptive style. The sheets I received were black line copies made from originals that showed some wear presumably from repeated examination and copying. Also probably resulting from the copying process, two of the sheets had minor scale issues.


As  the site hosts have noted at the bottom of this post my original images were in violation of a copyright and appropriately removed. It was also pointed out that if I post an extract from the image it would be acceptable under "Fair Use" rules. This is what I now do. (if you wish to see the full images you can refer to Chapelle's The American Fishing Schooners where they are included).


Hull Plan

The plans included a hull plan featuring all the lines you would expect along with dimensional information. The lines of the rail and bow treatment are indicated and a scantling Section with helpful framing dimensions is included.


Figure 21 - Dove Lines


Framing Plan

A framing plan with considerable detail about the frame layout and member sizes, Cabin and other below deck features are included and two small sections describe the construction of the Dove’s pinked stern rail.


Figure 22 - Dove Framing Plan


Sail Plan

A larger sheet with a sail plan (still at 1:24 scale), a table indicating spar dimensions and limited indication of the rigging arrangement. The Dove appears to have many of the rigging features of later fishing schooners. There are also color and finish hints as well as an indication of bow decoration.


Figure 23 - Dove Sail Plan


Table of Offsets

And finally, a sheet featuring the profiles of the bow and stern and most interesting a complete table of offsets. A legend on this sheet indicates that the offsets were taken off “the half model”.


Figure 24 - Dove Table of Offsets


Nice as they are, these plans are not complete. Missing information includes: complete rigging details, a deck plan and a plan showing the rigging line terminations at the miscellaneous pins and cleats. There is also very little on deck furnishings and detailing of the masts and rigging. I believed I would be able to approximate the missing information using Chapelle’s The American Fishing Schooners where the Dove’s plans had originally been published.


As I studied the freshly delivered plans, I started to plan my adventure. Several early decisions would do a lot to shape the following years of effort. They included:

·         While the plans were 1:24 scale, I would make my model 1:48 scale matching the Latham’s scale and allowing comparison between the models.

·         Since I had easy access to fairly powerful CAD (AutoCAD) I would use that software and the Table of Offsets to develop my model rather than tracing and scaling the lines off the drawings.

·         Since this would be an exploration of scratch-built modeling techniques, I would explore more than one technique. Initially I thought I would look at “plank on bulkhead,” “Plank on frame” and solid hull “bread and butter” modeling techniques.

·         As near as possible, the models would be 100% scratch work.


Eventually a measure of sanity wedged its way into my thinking. I had already built two plank-on-bulkhead models and wasn’t all that crazy about the method. I decided I’d do the Dove twice, two models in parallel, one model using the plank on frame method, and the other bread and butter methods to create a solid hull.


So, I had a plan and it was time to begin, I was on my way. I had no idea of how long it would take me to get anywhere close to finished. I’m still on the way.




EDIT:  Jim, those plans have been pulled due to copyright and may not be reproduced.   Here's the text from the Smithsonian:   The catalogs and plans belonging to the Smithsonian Institution are copyrighted and may not be reproduced in any form without prior written permission.  

Edited by jlefever
correct copyright issues
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Perhaps the first eccentric step in my process was the decision to use the Table of Offsets to shape my model, discarding at least temporarily the three other sheets of plans in the set. 


The table purports to be numeric or digital representation of the hull form (coming from a very non-digital time). Being numeric it is scale independent but can be used by the loftsman to directly layout out each of the ships lines without needing to make scaled measurements from the plans.


The next two posts describe how I used the table. (Those of you who already understand the process or find it tedious may want to skip ahead to future posts where wood is actually cut.)


Using the table presupposes an imaginary grid stretching the length of the Dove’s hull. The base line of the grid is a line at the center of the top of the keel. The horizontal lines of the grid are parallel to the keel and spaced vertically at 12 inches intervals numbered 1 through 7 from the bottom up. The vertical lines of the grid, called stations, are spaced 18 inches apart and are numbered outward from the widest portion of the vessel or station -0-. Stations forward of -0- are actually lettered A-L. Stations aft of -0- are numbered 1-14.


Figure 32 Basic Layout Grid for the Dove


The first lines I extracted from the table were the half breadth lines. These lines define vertical sections through the hull and are often, as in the Doves case, equivalent to the center line of the ribs. As an example, to extract the half breadth line for station -0- you read from the half breadth section of the table along the vertical line labeled -0-. At WL1,-0- we find the offset 1 6 4. Read in feet and inches this is 1’-6 ½” (The final 4 representing 4/8s inch). Proceeding upwards we find the offsets: 3’-11”, 5’-10 ¼”, 6’-3 7/8”,6’-5 ½”, 6’-6” and at the plank shear 6’-6” and at the rail cap 6’-5 7/8”. At the base line and the stem and stern posts, the vertical offset will always be 2”s allowing for the measure from the centerline to the back of the planking bevel.


Half Breadth Lines

In my CAD software (AutoCAD), I constructed the grid then at each intersection along station -0- I added a vertical (Z direction) line matching the offset lengths from the table. Finally, I used the CAD system’s spline tool to connect each offset line. My first half breadth line.


Figure 33 - Offsetting a Half Breadth Line


1992164211_20hball.jpg.3d036b766aef6b9432517b1d510ee6f8.jpgAdding offsets and splines at each station results in our first 3D look at the hull form.


Figure 34 - A Full Set of Half Breadth Lines


In the Dove’s case stations A, C, E, 1, 3, and 5 are omitted from the table, I believe because they produce half breadth lines perceived as being too similar to the adjacent lines. Since it is my intention to create a rib for each station line, I will need to interpolate lines for the missing stations.

Water Lines

The next lines to be extracted from the table are the “water lines”. These are sections constructed parallel to the top of the keel. However, as the keel of the Dove has significant rake, the water lines are not in fact parallel to the Dove’s actual water line. Here the process is quite similar to the construction of the half breadth lines and in fact uses the same portion of the offset table this time reading the offsets from the table horizontally rather than vertically. Below are the offsets and spline for water line 4.


Figure 35 - Offsets to Construct a Water Line


The Dove’s seven water lines give us this form:


Figure 36 - A Full Set of Water Lines


My next post will cover buttock lines, diagonals and my fairing process.






Edited by jlefever
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