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Biloxi schooner by Russ - 1/48 scale POB - Finished

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Hello everyone.

When I first reposted this log, I did so in a hurried fashion and did not include any background details on this vessel type or the nature of this build. Here is a short thumbnail of the history behind this vessel type.


The Biloxi schooner is a two masted gaff rigged, centerboard working schooner. These schooners were built along the Mississippi coast as early as the 1830s and the last pure sailing schooner was built at Biloxi in 1929. The hull form is characterized by a markedly shallow draft, broad beam, with a midsection having a low, hard turn of bilge. The cross sections were most always rounded with no hard chine. The stern is usually flat or slightly curved across its face and set with a moderate rake. The stem is usually a clipper style stem with a stem head reaching out under the bowsprit. Sometimes, we see a more upright stem, and in a few cases, the stem was rounded and called a spoon bow. In the more usual clipper bows, there is a simple head trim. The sheer in the earlier schooners was more marked than in later boats.


These boats were used for fishing, harvesting mostly shrimp and oysters, but also some other types of seafood in local waters. With the development of the local seafood canning industry in the 1880s, fishing schooners were built larger over time. While earlier fishing schooners averaged about 40-45 ft in length, the later schooners of the 1920s averaged around 60-65 ft.


The fishing schooners were built in large numbers in the early 1900s because of a 1902 state law that prohibited oyster dredging under motor power. The Bowers oyster law shaped the way the seafood industry did business and inadvertently kept the fishing schooners around for another 30-40 years. The law allowed shrimping under motor power and so there was a trend towards building auxiliary schooners in the period beginning in the early 1900s, but the development of purely motor powered shrimpers developed alongside the schooners.


During the mid to late 19th century, freight schooners were built larger and heavier than the smaller fishing schooners, carrying, lumber, charcoal, and locally produced naval stores. They were either carried out to the deep water harbor at Ship Island, about 10 miles off the coast for shipment abroad, or over to New Orleans, by way of Lake Ponchartrain and the basin canals for local sale. With the development of railroads and trucking, these schooners lost their place in the coastal freight industry. Many of them were abandoned in local rivers etc, but some found a new life in the seafood industry in the 1920s and 30s.


Although this type of schooner was built in several different locations In Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and the Florida pan handle, Biloxi was a single place where more were built than anywhere else. That is why it became known as the Biloxi schooner. In fact, in the Smithsonian's National Watercraft Collection, Howard Chapelle applied that name to this type of schooner.


This model is a commission, but the client is a good friend of mine who is allowing me to build at my own speed. The model is intended as a gift and it will be named for the recipient. Thus I will withold the model's name until the end.


The plans were developed from a several years study of customs house records, local contemporary photographs, newspapers, builder's half models, various private collections, and some personal archaelogical studies. The most interesting and useful documents I have found are the old tonnage admeasurements from the customs house. These admeasurements contain detailed internal measurements of the hull that were used to determine tonnage. I have studied these documents and the federal regulations that governed them and I can now use them to "reconstruct" plans for some of these schooners. This is how the plans for this model were developed.


The model is loosely based on a design for a Biloxi fishing schooner built in 1900 by Martin Fountain, Sr., called American Girl. I have reduced the size of the model to fit what the client wants in an overal finished model. The plans for this model yield a schooner about 41 ft on deck and about 8 tons. This would be a typical schooner for the 1890s.


Here are some pics of the components and the beginning of the construction. Comments welcomed.



false deck fitting.jpg

stern rabbet.jpg

stem rabbet.jpg


knightheads installed staboard.jpg

mast socket.jpg

centerboard slot.jpg



Edited by russ
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Here is a look at the fitting of the spar blanks. You can see the overall scale of the model. The bowsprit has been shaped, but the others are just square stock of the proper length.


More to come.


Questions and comments welcomed.



fitting spar blanks.jpg

Edited by russ
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 Hello Russ it is great to see your build log almost completely intact . A great inspiration to both old and new members.  I must admit in this last week its like walking around after a disaster and experiencing a sense of relief when one encounters a familiar face.

 Thank you,


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Things are recovering around here very quickly. I think it will be no time at all before we are back to normal.



Thanks for those very kind words. It is appreciated.



Thanks. I enjoyed the planking on this hull very much.



Look forward to seeing your build. Have fun.



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Good to see you back. That is some tiny carving! I think my eyes would have fallen out. Nice!

Thanks for reposting this. I would never ask for the circumstances that required it, but I am kind of enjoying all the "Reader Digest Condensed" versions of f the couple of build logs I have had a chance to look at.


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