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Young America by EdT - FINISHED - extreme clipper 1853

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Thank you, all, for your comments and likes.


Druxey:  Yes, many knees.  I'm glad they are not all as difficult to fit as the hanging knees, especially those fore and aft.  The model is a big project for sure, but I am falling in love with this ship - as did, so it seems, William Webb.


E&T: Black monofilament is perfect for simulating flush rivetted iron bolts. 


Regarding the wood structural elements:  In the 1850's America had a lot of wood and not much iron production.  Most iron had to be imported from England.  Production capabilities for good malleable iron were limited at this time.  Hence, most American built ships in this period were predominantly wood.  The situation was reversed in England where the RN had basically depleted timber resources by the end of the 18th Century, while expanding facilities for production of good quality iron - ushering in the era of iron in ships.  Of course there are many tons of iron bolts in Young America.


The offset pillars are interesting.  I don't know if they were staggered or all put to one side on a deck.  I decided to stagger them.  They permit through, tie-bolting of the pillars above, allowing all to function in tension as well as compression.  One more structural measure that helped these ships weather the forces of the Cape.



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I found your build log recently while researching a large scratch build of my own (it will also be one of Webb's ships, but probably not to this level...yet).  The build log you have created explains the processes you use very well, and shows the rest of us we also could do this.  Your work is amazing, meticulous, and inspirational.  Thank you for the time you take from working on this masterpiece to share how you are building her in minute detail.


Best Regards,


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Young America - extreme clipper 1853
Part 62 – Lower deck framing continued


Thank you all for the comments and the likes on the last posts.  Work continues.


Once the deck beams are fitted, the deck framing is all about knees.  Below is a set of lodging knees that have been fitted between two beams.




Monofilament dummy bolts have been CA glued in and sliced off flush.  The knees now will be sanded to remove all trace of the CA and to round off the bottom edge.  Note in this picture the two dashed lines on the drawing running parallel to the side.  The upper line is the inside edge of the waterway.  This will cover the butting of the knees as well as the ends of the ledges.


In the next picture one of the generic-shaped lodging cut earlier knees is being fit.




For the lodging knees this is mainly a matter of beveling the edge to fit the frames and to adjust the fore and aft width.  The next picture shows the fit from above.




In the next picture the forward pair of lodging knees and the hanging knees under the next beam have been installed.




Fitting of the hanging knees involves quite a bit of trimming of the original cut-out shapes due to the change in hull curvature.  I suspect a bit more lofting work would have been helpful. 


I am following up the beam installation progressively with the carlings and ledges.  In the next picture a ledge is being marked for cutting – held by a surgical clamp.




The ledges are not rounded, so they need to be faired off to match the beams.  A small sanding block is being used in the next picture to fair off the top of all the framing.




The last picture shows the framing completed thus far.




The waterways will put a neat cap at the side on the intersection of all these deck members with the frames at the side.



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Thanks again for the comments and likes.  I appreciate them very much.


Doug: I look forward to hearing more about your planned Webb model.


E&T: From what I have read I believe you are quite correct on Canadian timber exports to Englan during the period.


Alan:  Young America had three decks - the top being the main weather deck.  At the stern there was a poop deck and below it a cabin deck at a height midway between the main and middle decks.  There was a forecastle at the bow.



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Daniel,the keelson is massive. The lower and middle deck beams are 17" wide by 14" deep, the carlings 10" x 7" and the ledges 9" x 7". These dimensions were taken from a description of Challenge, a Webb extreme clipper launched about two years before Young America - of about the same size.  It seems a logical assumption.


The scale is 1:72 - and working space is limited toward the bow as you can see in the pictures.  Holding the hanging knees in place to check fit is awkward.  Yesterday I re-lofted the hanging knees for all decks to reduce the amount of trimming needed on the few "generic" shapes I had been using to start.



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Hi Ed,


I just noticed; the diagonal metal straps do not go all the way to the keelson except at the bow. Did they actually stop short as you show, or did you cut them back to allow showing more of the interior?



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Hi Mark,


The strapping extended from the floor heads up to the planksheer.  I left it out in three areas where there will be view ports cut out to see into the lower hull.  These will be roughly at each mast with 9 frames being removed from each from the lower futtock heads up to the middle deck clamps.  These are pencil marked "x" in the photos and will be cut out later - probably after the middle deck framing.  There will be two intermediate frames left in each opening.  As with Naiad the lower structure will be difficult to see fromm above, so I wanted a better way to view it.



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Young America - extreme clipper 1853
Part 63 – Lower deck framing continued


A lot of repetitive work remains to complete the framing of the lower deck.  In the first picture the beam just aft of the fore mast step has been glued down and the hanging knee on the port side is being fit to shape against the ceiling planks between two of the future view port “windows”.




Fitting these hanging knees is a time consuming task.  Once they are installed under a beam, the work races forward through the easier steps of fitting lodging knees, pillars, carlings and ledges.  Carling scores in the next beam are then cut, the beam is glued down and progress grinds to a crawl as the next set of hanging knees get fitted.


In the next picture the headers spanning the space around the mast are being fit where a full beam is omitted. 




These are the same depth as the beams.  They fit into the scores with half-lap joints.  These headers are not true mast partners since the masts were secured only at the step and at partners on the main deck.  Half-beams are fitted between these headers and the side.  A hanging knee is being attached to one of these in the next picture.




Although the knee was shaped before the beam aft of the mast was installed, it was easier to install it on the half-beam and then install the assembly  - not much room to attach the knee with both adjacent beams installed.


In the next picture the end of half-beam on the other side is being fit to the frames.




It will be cut to length after the other header is set.  The next picture shows both half-beams installed.




The next beam has been glued in and lodging knee installation is catching up.


The next picture shows the pillar with its top knees attached being installed under that beam after the hanging knees were attached.




In the last picture, two more beams have been set.  The setting carlings and ledges is keeping pace.




This deck framing is going faster than the Naiad deck framing – as I am sure it did in the actual construction of the two ships.  Young America had fewer but larger framing members, the spacing was very regular, and the beams were one piece.  There are more knees – 8 per beam/pillar, but except for the hanging knees they are easier to fit.  Naiad's hanging knees attached to the sides of the beams were much easier to fit.


Now for another pair of those pesky under-beam hanging knees.



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The detail you always show is really quite something to behold.  Your engineering background certainly shows through in the attention to detail. 


In your research, were the hanging knees called out as hanging knees or hanging standards as would often be called on the older English ships when the knees were  directly under  the beams versus fayed to the side of the beams? 


Are you marking the location of the knee on the side or underside of the beam once the knee is temporarily pinned in place so you can glue it off the model?  There is so little room to work, I am curious as to how you are locating the knee to get such a neat fit against the side of the hull especially in that they all have a slight taper to follow the shape hull fore and aft.


Your build continues to be a learning experience and fun to watch.  As always, thanks for sharing.




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Thanks, everyone for the comments and "likes."  I am always overwhelmed by these.


Hello, Allan.  I have not seen these hanging knees referred to as standards in any of the resources for the period in the US.  I assume that fitting these knees under the beams was enabled by the improved bolts at the time.  There appear to have been 15 to 20 of these in each knee - through the beam, frames and waterways.  With the beams centered on the frames and the knees on the beams, the assembly of knees, beams, frames and though-bolted pillars, formed a heavily bolted, fully-integrated assembly at each beam location.


I have been starting with generic knee shapes that were lofted from a few points along the hull.  The ones in the central part of the hull were satisfactory as "starters" but those at the ends were not very good, so I re-lofted a set of about eight diffeerent shapes for each deck.  These should be more accurate and involve less trimming.  We'll see on the next deck.


Once the generic shapes are cut out and slit into knees and when all the work on the previous beam is finished, I glue the next beam in place.  This provides a solid reference for fitting the knees.   I then hold - or try to hold - the knee in place to see where it needs trimming - as is shown in the first picture in the last post.  I then use the disk sander (mostly) to fit the shape to the side planking when the knee is up against the lower side of the beam.  Once the right curvature is obtained, I then bevel the vertical leg - using the disk sander and a sanding stick - until the knee fits and is parallel to the beam.  The fits are not always as perfect as I would like, but this may improve as I move to the upper (more visible) decks.  After shaping, dummy bolts are fitted in the knees.  The knees are then glued in place.  If the fit is good they do not need clamping.  Later I try to get at least one wire bolt into the knee through the beam and one through the frames from the outside.  These are copper wire, epoxied as deep in the hole as I can manage.  These bolts supplement the glue joints.  The pillar, lodging knees, carlings and ledges can then be installed.


Obviously, these knees need to be trimmed to fit against two surfaces - the beam and the side.  With side mounted knees, as on Naiad, the process is simpler, since only the face against the planking needs to be shaped initially. The knee can then be glued to the side of the beam before the beam is glued in.  The assembly can then removed to trim the top of the knee to match the top of the beam - and to install the horizontal bolts into the beam.  These glued-through bolts are functional as well.


The process would be much easier at a larger scale, but the model - especially if rigged - would get very large.  I wouldn't want to be doing this structural detail at anything smaller than the 1:72 I am using.  Hands are too big.


Any suggestions on process for would be welcomed.



Edited by EdT
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Young America - extreme clipper 1853
Part 64 – Lower deck framing continued


There are not a lot of new kinds of work going on at present – just a continuation of the lower deck framing – very repetitive.  Item for item, the hanging knees absorb much more time than any of the other deck framing components.  I mentioned earlier that I am using a few “starter” shapes that are then modified to fit a given location.  The first picture shows the three shapes initially used on the lower deck.




The center and left shapes - to be used in the central part of the hull - worked out fairly well.  The shape to the right was a guess that I took at a starting point for the knees at the ends – not as good a fit.  I eventually surrendered and lofted the more complete set of 11 different starter patterns shown at the top of the picture.  The differences between those at the ends and the single piece at the right are pronounced, so this additional lofting for the other decks is planned.  The pattern shapes are marked with frame numbers and the number required of each in parentheses.  Each pattern will yield 6 frames when cut from a 1” thick block of wood.


The new shapes are still only approximate and will require shaping to fit.  The next two pictures illustrate my process for this.




First a knee is held up under the beam and the high points noted.  These are then sanded down using the disk sander as shown above.  This is repeated until there is a match.  The knee is then beveled as shown in the next picture using the tilt table on the sander to help with uniformity. 




After fitting, the knee can receive its dummy bolts, get a final sanding and be glued in place.  To strengthen the connection, two copper wire functional bolts are installed after the glue sets.  The next picture shows a hole for one of these being drilled down through the beam into the knee.





The hole is drilled at an angle into the throat of the knee to resist it coming loose.  A copper wire is then coated with epoxy and pushed into the bottom of the hole.  Another bolt is then installed from outside the hull as shown below.




The epoxied bolt is being clipped off in this picture.  The hole for this bolt is also drilled into the throat of the knee.  Additional dummy bolts will later be added to the outside of the frames and to the top of the beam.  All will be black.


The carlings and ledges are being added in the wake of the beam setting.  The score for a ledge is being marked in the next picture.




The ledges are centered on the carlings by eye and the top corners of the carling marked with the chisel. This is much more accurate than pencil marking.  The seat is then filed out.


All the ledges are cut from straight pieces.  I did not round up the ledges on this deck.  Ledges set in the center are fixed slightly higher than the tops of the carlings, and then rounded off to match the beams by sanding as shown below.




The framing will not be finish-sanded until all bolts in the tops of the beams are installed.  The last picture shows the current state of the framing.




Wax finish is being applied progressively to the areas under the installed beams.  The last beam set in this picture is at the dead flat.  This terminology is something of a misnomer in that, unlike the configuration of most earlier ships, it is not at the widest point in the hull except in the neighborhood of the load waterline.  Above that height the breadth is slightly greater in the next frames aft and the maximum breadth in the lower hull occurs in the frames slightly forward.  The differences are small but it is an interesting point – probably the result of the original design being developed on a half-model and the offsets for construction taken from that – the nicety of a single dead flat frame being lost in the process.  This midship frame also occurs at about 25 feet forward of the midpoint of the hull – so I am not yet at the halfway point in framing this deck.



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Young America - extreme clipper 1853
Part 65 – Lower deck framing continued


More of the same, I’m afraid.  It looks like the lower deck framing is going to take about a month.  The first picture, taken from directly overhead, shows the lower deck framing back as far as the midship beam.




Once the last beam forward of the midship view port is installed, I intend to work from the stern forward so the last frames will be those at the  view port.  Having only one hanging knee to fit on these beams will reduce the fitting of these in the last tights spaces – and also to allow plenty of room for fitting the aftermost small beams by doing those first.


In the next picture a hanging knee is being fit to one of the small beams at the stern.  The limited space is apparent.




This knee was cut using the new pattern shown in the last post.  In the next picture the installation of that beam has been completed – except for the lodging knees




The next picture shows the aft framing progressed past the mizzenmast step.




A ledge is being glued in the next picture.




The next picture shows the extent of the lower deck framing currently completed.  I need to get going on some of those lodging knees.




This picture gives a good idea of how for forward the "deadflat" midship frame is placed.  Finally, a look forward below deck along the keelson.




The height of that keelson is 4 feet above the floor frames.



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