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Looking for some insights into how a basic cabin would be framed in real life (early 1800's)


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Posted (edited)

On my meager AL Swift 1805 build, I'd like to build the cabin up with more traditional framing rather than just pieces of ply with thin wood glued on.  The instructions show basic vertical orientation of the siding, as well as no visible corner post.

 

For the real thing, it seems there would be some framing inside to give it overall structure, and at least on most all land structures, siding is oriented horizontally rather than vertically.

 

Here are some quick sketches of how I imagine the real thing might be constructed, where...

  • A is as the kit essentially says to do it - no visible corner posts with vertical siding
  • B is the same, but now the corner posts are actually visible on the exterior
  • C is no visible posts with horizontal siding
  • D is visible posts with horizontal siding

 

51241790917_39b03b0bc4_c.jpg.1fe7807148917bfc7308bda02bbdd8c7.jpg

 

Assuming this is going to be left bright and not painted, the visible posts option does seem to offer a nicer aesthetic with a contrasting wood.  But would you actually build it that way in real life?

Edited by Tim Holt
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Posted (edited)

I'd imagine that a companionway might be framed something like this for example. The beams may be a bit too oversized, but it gets the idea across.

 

image.png.861a527548376c91fcf4125500ee5347.png

  

But then I'm just making this up so any insights of how this might actually be done would be useful.

Edited by Tim Holt
Missed a beam...
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Hi Tim

Which Swift?  There were/are 17 HMS Swifts between 1697 and the last built in 1984 so the structure of the cabins obviously changed over this time period.  Brian Lavery gives a lot of information in The Arming and Fitting of English Ships of War including permanent cabins and moveable cabin structures.  A lot depends on whether you are asking about the captain, officers, and other members of the crew that warranted their own space. 

 

If you are building the Swan Class HMS Swift 1777, David Antscherl's four volume set of books for building a Swan class ship has a ton of information that may be of help overall.  

 

Allan

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Posted (edited)

Depending upon which Swift kit you are building, there may be more detailed plans available than the ones the kit manufacturer provided. As Allanyed mentioned above, there is a ton of information available on some of the Swifts. If yours isn't one of those, you will have to exercise some judgment based on independent research and extrapolate using some "artistic licence" to add detail to your kit model. (This is the first sign of infection with the "scratch-building virus." It is highly contagious and fast moving. There is no known cure.)

 

Your structural drawing above is basically correct. Either horizontal or vertical tongue and groove planking is correct, depending upon the builder's taste. Lower cabin structures tend to favor vertical planking. Taller cabin structures seem to favor horizontal planking. Corner posts are necessary, of course. The corner trim will vary according to taste as well.

 

Check out the Historic American Engineering Record (HAER) of the Library of Congress on line. There are many extremely detailed historically recorded plans and photographs of various historic vessels. Unfortunately, the best way to search is by the name of the vessel. Their index and search engine isn't so good. If you know what you are looking for, though, you'll find a gold mine of plans and construction drawings. The one vessel with wooden deck houses that I can think of off hand which has a very good series of drawings for the aft cabin and forward deckhouse is their report on the lumber schooner C.A. Thayer, which can be found starting at https://www.loc.gov/pictures/resource/hhh.ca1506.sheet.00016a/ HAER documents are also available in "high definition" TIFF format (click on the option above the picture or drawing) which can be enlarged on your computer without degradation of the smaller drawing. Very convenient for model makers.

 

The C.A. Thayer is a larger and later ship and her aft cabin is rather fancy.  Her forward deckhouse, while larger than anything on Swift, is more "rustic" and you should be able to extrapolate construction details from that. If you want to spend hours searching HAER, you may find a vessel closer to Swift in age and appearance. You will find construction details for sliding hatches in Howard I. Chapelle's Boatbuilding and Yacht Design books, and in many other wooden boat building and design books.

 

Again, to enlarge the below drawings, click on the link to get to the Library of Congress HAER site, then click on the "TIFF" format option above the picture.  You can then enlarge the picture greatly by holding your "ctrl" key down and rolling your mouse wheel up or down. The TIFF format has a much higher pixel rate than the PDF format, which will blur the lines quickly as they are enlarged.

 

https://www.loc.gov/pictures/resource/hhh.ca1506.sheet.00016a/

Aft Cabin: Aft Elevation, Aft Forward Interior Elevations - Schooner C.A. THAYER, Hyde Street Pier, San Francisco, San Francisco County, CA

 

https://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/ca1506.sheet.00017a/resource/

Aft Cabin: Aft Interior Elevations (Mate's Cabin, Saloon, Pantry) - Schooner C.A. THAYER, Hyde Street Pier, San Francisco, San Francisco County, CA

 

https://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/ca1506.sheet.00018a/resource/

Aft Cabin: Forward Elevation (Starboard Half), Aft Interior Elevations (Side Cabin and Saloon) - Schooner C.A. THAYER, Hyde Street Pier, San Francisco, San Francisco County, CA

 

https://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/ca1506.sheet.00019a/resource/

Aft Cabin: Forward Elevation (Port Half), Aft Interior Elevations (Master's Cabin and Head) - Schooner C.A. THAYER, Hyde Street Pier, San Francisco, San Francisco County, CA

 

https://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/ca1506.sheet.00019a/resource/

Aft Cabin: Starboard Side, Port Elevations (Starboard Side Compartments) - Schooner C.A. THAYER, Hyde Street Pier, San Francisco, San Francisco County, CA

 

https://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/ca1506.sheet.00021a/resource/

 

Aft Cabin, Interiors: Port Elevations (Master's Cabin, Saloon) - Schooner C.A. THAYER, Hyde Street Pier, San Francisco, San Francisco County, CA

 

https://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/ca1506.sheet.00022a/resource/

Aft Cabin, Interiors: Port Side-Passageway, Port Side Cabins - Schooner C.A. THAYER, Hyde Street Pier, San Francisco, San Francisco County, CA

 

https://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/ca1506.sheet.00023a/resource/

Aft Cabin: Port Side, Staboard Elevations - Schooner C.A. THAYER, Hyde Street Pier, San Francisco, San Francisco County, CA

 

https://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/ca1506.sheet.00024a/resource/

Aft Cabin, Interiors: Starboard Elevations (Saloon, Master's Cabin) - Schooner C.A. THAYER, Hyde Street Pier, San Francisco, San Francisco County, CA

 

https://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/ca1506.sheet.00025a/resource/

Aft Cabin, Interiors: Port Elevation (Passageway), Port Elevations (Pantry, Cabin, Master's Bunk) - Schooner C.A. THAYER, Hyde Street Pier, San Francisco, San Francisco County, CA

 

https://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/ca1506.sheet.00026a/resource/

Aft Cabin: Reflected Overhead Plan - Schooner C.A. THAYER, Hyde Street Pier, San Francisco, San Francisco County, CA

 

https://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/ca1506.sheet.00027a/resource/

Forward Deckhouse: Starboard Elevation, Inboard Profile (Donkey Engine Room, Store Room) - Schooner C.A. THAYER, Hyde Street Pier, San Francisco, San Francisco County, CA

 

https://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/ca1506.sheet.00028a/resource/Forward Deckhouse: Starboard Elevation, Inboard Profile (Galley and Bosun's Locker) - Schooner C.A. THAYER, Hyde Street Pier, San Francisco, San Francisco County, CA

 

https://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/ca1506.sheet.00029a/resource/

Forward Deckhouse: Port Elevation, Inboard Profile (Store Room and Donkey Engine Room) - Schooner C.A. THAYER, Hyde Street Pier, San Francisco, San Francisco County, CA

 

https://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/ca1506.sheet.00030a/resource/

Forward Deckhouse: Port Elevation, Inboard Profile (Bosun's Locker, Cook's Room) - Schooner C.A. THAYER, Hyde Street Pier, San Francisco, San Francisco County, CA

 

https://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/ca1506.sheet.00031a/resource/

Forward Deckhouse: Forward Exterior Elevation, Aft Elevation of Bosun's Cabin - Schooner C.A. THAYER, Hyde Street Pier, San Francisco, San Francisco County, CA

 

https://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/ca1506.sheet.00032a/resource/Forward Deckhouse: Aft Elevations of Cook's Room and Galley, Aft Elevation of Storage Room - Schooner C.A. THAYER, Hyde Street Pier, San Francisco, San Francisco County, CA

 

https://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/ca1506.sheet.00033a/resource/

/Forward Deckhouse: Aft Elevation of Donkey Engine Room, Aft Exterior Elevation - Schooner C.A. THAYER, Hyde Street Pier, San Francisco, San Francisco County, CA

 

https://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/ca1506.sheet.00034a/resource/

 

Forward Deckhouse: Forward Elevation of Donkey Engine Room, Forward Elevation of Storage Room - Schooner C.A. THAYER, Hyde Street Pier, San Francisco, San Francisco County, CA

 

https://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/ca1506.sheet.00035a/resource/

Forward Deckhouse: Forward Elevation of Galley and Cook's Room, Forward Elevation of Bosun's Cabin - Schooner C.A. THAYER, Hyde Street Pier, San Francisco, San Francisco County, CA

 

 

 

HAER cabin drawings of the San Francisco scow schooner Alma, a smaller vessel about Swift's size: http://www.loc.gov/pictures/search/?q=alma scow schooner

Sections - Scow Schooner ALMA, Hyde Street Pier, San Francisco, San Francisco County, CA

Edited by Bob Cleek
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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Bob Cleek said:

…exercise some judgment based on independent research and extrapolate using some "artistic licence" to add detail to your kit model. (This is the first sign of infection with the "scratch-building virus." It is highly contagious and fast moving. There is no known cure.)


Trust me I got it bad already :)

 

So many things on this kit are cheaply fake it’s driving me nuts.  And at the same time I look at the faked shape of things and think, “OK but why is it shaped like that? What is the underlying structure that makes it in that form?”

 

But it’s a good learning opportunity and a good chance to make mistakes. 

Longer term I want to scratch build something. I have a huge personal stash of Alaskan Yellow Cedar, plus access to both a laser cutter as well as bench top milling  machine to do some precise shaping.  

Edited by Tim Holt
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3 hours ago, Tim Holt said:

So many things on this kit are cheaply fake it’s driving me nuts.  And at the same time I look at the faked shape of things and think, “OK but why is it shaped like that? What is the underlying structure that makes it in that form?”

 

But it’s a good learning opportunity and a good chance to make mistakes. 

Longer term I want to scratch build something. I have a huge personal stash of Alaskan Yellow Cedar, plus access to both a laser cutter as well as bench top milling  machine to do some precise shaping.  

Sounds like you're good to go. I'd suggest you do some research (or ask the MSW forumites) and see if you can get some good plans for the Swift you are already building. Then build to those plans, using what's useful in the kit (which may be little) and toss the rest. You'll learn as you go. I may be dating myself in saying that I learned manual drafting in high school fifty years ago and stayed with it throughout my lifetime and, while I'm "computer literate," I've decided that CNC laser-cutting is much more suited for kit manufacturers making dozens or hundreds of the same model, than for one-off building, but, in the power tool department, with the "Byrnes Trifecta" (Byrnes saw, thickness sander, and disk sander,) a decent small drill press, a decent scroll saw, and a small 7X14 lathe with a milling attachment, you'll be equipped to do just about anything you'll see anybody doing in here in wood or metal. You can pretty much do it all with the "Trifecta," and some sharp quality hand tools, along with the knowledge of how to use them, but the other stuff makes it a lot easier.

 

What nobody can buy, though, and what really "separates the men from the boys" is the knowledge and understanding of how real ships and boats are built and how they work. Precisely, that's what knowing "what it is in the underlying structure that makes it in that form." Nowhere more so than in naval architecture does "form follow function." The wind and the sea and the engineering limitations of wood, metal, and cordage, are the constants that define it all. Techniques and practices evolve over time, of course, and, when building period ship models, it's important to keep the specific practices of the period in mind, but, generally speaking, it's all very similar over the centuries because the wind and the sea and the wood, metal and cordage used to build ships don't change. 

 

There are many books on "how to build wooden ships and boats" and "how to build ship models" and many have "pearls of wisdom" not found in the others, but most aren't really worth the money because they simply repeat information published previously. That said, for good reason Chapelle's Boatbuilding is still in print after eighty  years and covers the entire process from drafting plans and lofting patterns to launching, most all of which is applicable to scale modeling as well. Harold A. Underhill's two volume set, Plank on Frame Models and Scale Masting and Rigging, Vol. 1. and Vol. 2. also still in print after over sixty years, in conjunction with Chapelle's Boatbuilding, will cover just about anything you'd need in a very basic reference library. All of these books are available used online inexpensively. If you get hooked on a particular vessel or period, Nineteenth Century British Admiralty ships, for example, there are many period-specific books such as C. Nepean Longridge's The Anatomy of Nelson's Ships, but you can collect those as the need arises. If you just learn what's in Chapelle and Underhill, you'll be light years ahead of the pack. 

 

Study Druxey's just-about-finished build log 28 foot American cutter by Druxey - 1:48 scale at https://modelshipworld.com/topic/28379-28-foot-american-cutter-by-druxey-148-scale/ for inspiration. Druxey's log illustrates what can be accomplished when somebody who instinctively knows how a boat is built scratch-builds a model, in this instance a very small and highly detailed one, keeping in mind that he's not following a set of instructions written for model builders. He's working from the same plans a boat builder would use to build the full-size prototype, albeit with some techniques tailored to modeling. Druxey shows how it's done. 

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Tim,  I understand (but do not have in my library so cannot confirm) that  Rif Winfield's book British Warships in the Age of Sail 1793–1817  has information on Swift and/or her sister ships.

WARNING: Studies have shown that scratch building has side effects that are difficult to overcome.  One in particular is that you may become addicted to buying books.  My library is small compared to some with 47 books from Steel to Antscherl, Franklin to Endsor. I have seen others that put mine to shame but I continue to work on getting more.    

Allan

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From your build log, it would appear that this Swift is a kit manufacturer’s idea of what a Virginia Pilot Boat should look like, although these small sailing craft typically did not have bulwarks.  They also had very little in the way of deck structures; a main hatch, a small hatch forward to ventilate the galley and a low trunk cabin aft.  This cabin would be accessed by a hatch, possibly with a sliding cover.  Here’s a picture of a Virginia Pilot Boat sketched by a British Naval who saw the real thing.

 

839B23AE-7B31-4FDC-BA92-2A39EF71050C.thumb.jpeg.598b239b55f867df423600f6e1c62b5f.jpeg

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Posted (edited)

Thanks all. 
 

This build is definitely one for experimentation and exploration. I came up with a pretty decent approach to building the the companionway that I’m going to add to my build long before long. A hint of it at 

 Just need to finish that top sliding section. 

 

Edited by Tim Holt
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Here's what I ended up creating.  I'll start with how it looks completed...

 

51252018713_520ea285d7_k.thumb.jpg.b59bf28671b237214984e3f0c444af72.jpg

 

51252018718_8807c7738f_k.thumb.jpg.bca9e0673cd4d96ed7aab968edb5ffca.jpg

 

51251091997_348b66b018_k.thumb.jpg.d4397c3cec0e5473e6f0d06a7fce7192.jpg

 

I went with corner posts, as well as horizontal siding, but deviated in a rather modern direction for the actual internal framing.  I ended up 3D printing an inner plastic form that holds it all together.  The form has cutouts on the corner for the posts, as well as cutouts on top to hold bent roof rafters.  Siding is just glued directly to the plastic of the form.  Originally I considered using it as a jig for the framing, but realized it did a really good job of making the whole thing solid and sturdy.

 

Here's the form with the posts glued on, as well as siding glued directly to the form.

 

51246936585_2baf8f0149_k.thumb.jpg.5beba947cadaa150f50109682f26b8de.jpg

 

Here's a view of the bottom.

 

51246640349_5ec18cc784_k.thumb.jpg.031d69ed04d8290e48fb59e5d1808384.jpg

 

Additional wood was used to outline the opening accessible when the hatch is slid back.

 

51246946580_9067cfdd57_k.thumb.jpg.259d0557468de721f12946874376b313.jpg

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