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Young America by EdT - FINISHED - extreme clipper 1853

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Fantastic work Ed-something to aspire to.


Maybe a dumb question, but I'm a little thick headed these days anyway-why are there 4 holes in the block? I understand the 2 for the sheaves and the 1 for attachment, but I don't know what the hole in the middle does-other than to hold the plates together should the block be disassembled for maintenance. Just curious. . .

Thanks again for enlightening us with such beautiful work and clear instructions.



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Wow.  I am overwhelmed by the very generous comments on the last post - but a little disoriented in thinking about the possibility that Druxey would consider "fudging" something.  That does not compute.


As with many tasks on the model, this one had its fits and starts - mostly on the question of how to make all of them efficiently.  Once over that hurdle and with some help from CAD, it was downhill.  Deciding not to solder was a key decision and really simplified the work - and... thank you, Sherline.  I don't know what we would do without those calibration wheels.


There are no dumb questions Harvey, only dumb answers.  I took the design of the sheet blocks from a detail on one of the drawings in Underhill, Masting and Rigging of the Clipper Ship and Ocean Carrier - a truly wonderful resource.  I did not think too much about the four pins, but I believe that the central pin is important structurally, to maintain spacing, and to allow sheaves or the top pin to be removed without the whole assembly coming apart.  There was probably a spacer boss on the center pin.  


Again, thank you all for following and for the flattering comments.



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Young America - extreme clipper 1853
Part 252 – Cheek Blocks


Iron cheek blocks will be bolted to the aft sides of the larger yards, on the square section just inboard of the yardarms.  Small upper yards will have sheaves set in mortises at this location.  These blocks direct the chain sheets inboard below the yard toward the sheet blocks described in the last post.  The first picture shows one of the fabricated, larger, 16" blocks.




The chain is threaded through as a test to ensure that it will pass.  The casings and sheaves on these are brass.  The large central pin/bolt is copper and will pass through the yard horizontally.  Two smaller bolts will be added to the flanges later when the block is installed.  The first fabrication step is shown below.




A length of square brass tube was sliced to yield the U-shaped cap, shown silver-soldered to a flat plate.  The blocks will eventually be sliced from this piece, after drilling all the necessary holes.  This drilling is shown below.




Again, the mill's calibration wheels were used to space the holes.  The center holes were drilled first, then one row of the smaller flange holes, then the flange holes on the opposite side.  The next picture shows the blocks being sliced off in the milling machine fitted with a thin slotting saw blade.




The strip was clamped for this.  The position of the fence and the downward blade rotation at the cut serve to keep the pieces from flying off.  The next picture shows an assembled block and the separate parts.




The sheave, conveniently, is the diameter of a brass tube, so sheaves merely had to be sliced off.  This is being done with a razor saw in the next photo, using a jig with holes of different depths and diameters that was described earlier.




The 2" deep hole was used for these.  The sheaves were also filed clean and polished in the jig.  In the next picture the sheave has been positioned and the axle pin/bolt inserted.




With the long end gripped in the vise, the outer end of the bolt was clipped and peened to form a rivet head as described in the last post.



Four of these 16" size are required – for the fore and main lower yards.  Fourteen of the smaller, 14" size will be used on the crojack, and the six topsail yards.  The smaller blocks will be made later.


The last picture shows one of these test-mounted on the port arm of the fore lower yard.




This picture also shows some rework that was done on the outer boom iron - the "Pacific" iron - and its inner partner (not shown).  An earlier picture showed these positioning the boom quite far out from the yard.  This has been corrected.



Edited by EdT
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Thank you Mr. EdT.  I'm truly amazed although I don't seek your level of expertise.


What I do love is to realize what is possible, this you show very well,  and this is for me a wonderful incentive to progress a step or two further with my own project.


Just wonderful, many thanks for showing your efforts.




PS:  Concerning the old photos with the tilted main yards, of course they were used for hauling bulk goods.  Yet another reason for heavy winches located behind masts. 

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Young America - extreme clipper 1853
Part 253 – Wooden Blocks


There are well over 500 blocks on the model, ranging from 15" in shell length down to 4".  These include triple, double, and single blocks.  Some will be iron strapped, some spliced to pendants, but most will be rope strapped.  "Strap" seems to be the American usage for the word "strop" so I will adopt it for this American ship.


Some of these blocks, in a range of sizes, will need to be fitted to the lower fore yard before it is installed.  To avoid getting into one-at-a-time, piecemeal work, some mass production was adopted.  So the next major task will be to make at least a substantial portion of the full requirement.  The few blocks installed so far were leftovers from a previous model.


At the outset of the rigging work a detailed "Rigging List" was developed to describe every line on the model, including its components.  From this, a count of blocks of each type of block was tabulated.  To that was added an estimate for studding sail blocks.  Those lines are not included on the list.


The blocks are being made from my best quality European boxwood – for hardness, strength, and color.  Whenever I dip into what I have left of this wood, I immediately get frugal about waste.  For the full supply of blocks, I sliced off a wood blank about 2" wide, 8" long, and slightly thicker than the shell breadth of the largest size, 15" blocks.  The first picture shows strips sliced from this plank for all the larger blocks – down to 9" singles.




Using the thickness sander, the 2" wide blank was first reduced in thickness to the shell breadth of the 15" blocks.  A single strip was then sliced from this at the single block width.  There are no 15" doubles or triples.  For the next size down, the 12" blocks, the blank was again reduced in thickness.  Adequate strips for triple, double and single widths were sliced off that – and so on.  This one blank may suffice for all the blocks.


The pictures below show work on the 12" triple blocks.  I was surprised at the number of these – about 25 as I recall.  Their use in triple-purchase tackles for topsail sheets account for most of these.


To mass produce the blocks to specified dimensions, a table of block dimensions for each size was used to produce a drilling pattern and sequence.  This was used to drill correctly spaced holes in each strip, starting with transverse holes at the ends of the shells to delineate length and also to provide a slight top and bottom groove to seat the strapping.  This is shown in the next picture.




Before drilling, a shallow groove was scraped along the strip on both outer shell sides.  This is a modeling convenience that helps in seating the straps, especially  the round copper wire "iron" straps that will be filed flat on the outside.  Scrapers for this were made by machine grinding a razor blade for each shell breadth. 


  The next picture shows the strip rotated in the vise for drilling of the smaller, 1½" (.022") sheave holes – six in each of these triple blocks.




All holes were located using the calculated spacings, set by the mill's calibrated wheels. In the picture, the center row has been drilled and one of the outer rows is in progress.  These holes are very close together, so sharp bits, short bit projection, high speed, and very light feed are essential.  Even at that, the entry point of the drill in these unmarked holes may vary by a few thousandths as may be seen in the next photo.




Next, slots were pared out between the sheave holes and the sheave curvature cut, using a small chisel as shown in the next picture.




The chisel width was ground to match the drill size and then downsized for each smaller size of block.  The next picture shows the strip after this slotting work.




A knife edge file was then used to mark all four faces at the separation points using the first-drilled, transverse holes as guides.  The blocks were then given a preliminary rounding with a barrette file while still attached as shown in the next picture.



 The next picture shows blocks being cut from the strip using a fine-bladed jewelers saw. 




Each block was then rounded to its final shape using a sanding strip.  The last picture shows the finished set of 12" blocks, including two with iron strapping and hooks.




The strapping on the two blocks shown will be blackened.  The single blocks to the left have not yet been fully rounded.




Edited by EdT
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Thanks for the comments, guys - and also for the likes..


Maury the copper wire was filed flat to simulate iron strap after it was put on the shell.


Frank, an end mill could of course be used,  It is probably a trade off to make the different sized scrapers vs. setting up and aligning each different sized strip.  Once made the scraper is very fast.  I used to use scrapers to shape the sheave grooves, but that involves a lot of scrapers and the resulting blocks are not as good in my opinion.



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I have a question on your Mill. You have mentioned on a couple of occasions concerning measurements using the mills controls.


"All holes were located using the calculated spacings, set by the mill's calibrated wheels"


Are you referring to the factory x and y aluminum handwheels? Or have you added a degree, decimal or inch wheel to monitor movement



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Hi Steve,


I bought my mill quite a few years ago.  It was equipped with zero adjustable handwheels.  The zero adjustment is very important because it allows you to set the wheel at zero before turning to a specified setting.  This avoids having to calcualte the increments from the current position - something I unfortunately still have to do on my old Unimat.  Here is a link to the adjustable wheels.





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1 hour ago, EdT said:

Hi Steve,


I bought my mill quite a few years ago.  It was equipped with zero adjustable handwheels.  The zero adjustment is very important because it allows you to set the wheel at zero before turning to a specified setting.  This avoids having to calcualte the increments from the current position - something I unfortunately still have to do on my old Unimat.  Here is a link to the adjustable wheels.

Ed, have you ever considered buying a Digital Readout for it? I find mine indispensable for tasks like this. I start by making a Spreadsheet with all the relevant XYZ data points. I believe Sherline sells the DRO for a couple of hundred bucks, from memory mine was about $AU350.00 with freight to Oz.


:cheers:  Danny

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Young America - extreme clipper 1853
Part 254 – Fore Yard 4


Work has continued on the lower fore yard over the past couple weeks while various necessary parts were being "mass" produced.  Some of these were described in the last few posts.  Among the most numerous of these parts are the stanchions for the jackstays that run along the top of every yard   The jackstays were 1" diameter iron rods, threaded through iron stanchions spaced about 30" apart.  Given the number and the small size of these stanchions I made these as simple eyebolts that would just pass the jackstays that were made from straight, blackened brass wire.  One of the eyebolts is being spun in the first picture.




These are spun from 28 gauge copper wire.  Holes along the top of the yard were described earlier.  The holes were sized so these stanchions could be pushed in without the use of glue.  Some of these are shown fitted to the central part of the yard in the next picture.




The bands and metal fittings in the center of the yard were blackened and the yard finished with diluted Tung oil preceding the work at the ends.  This was done to preserve the blackening of these parts through the continual handling of the yard during work on the outer ends.  In the picture, one of the boom irons is being positioned using an angle template with the yard supported at the correct angle.  These will be pinned with copper wire "bolts."  I believe I mentioned earlier that these irons had to be modified to bring the boom closer to the yard – after this picture was taken, I believe.


The next picture shows one of the yardarms during assembly.




The yardarm band and the boom iron support bands are shown.  The holes in the band for eyebolts have not yet been drilled.  The cheek block is inserted temporarily before blackening.  It will be secured by the large central pin and two small bolts through the side flanges.  The next picture shows the yard hung temporarily with the jackstays and some of the blocks installed.




The 4" footropes on the aft side of the yard were suspended from 3½" rope stirrups 3'6" long.  These had eyes at each end – the upper eyes for lashing to jackstay stanchions and the lower eyes threaded through with the foot rope.  In the next picture the six stirrups for this yard are being fabricated.




The method for spliced eyes used on the ratlines is also used here.  The pins in the fixture ensure equal lengths.  The next picture shows the yard held in an assembly fixture for addition of various parts.




This holder allowed all the required blocks, the lift pendants, the studding sail booms, and the footropes to be installed with minimal handling of the yard.  The taped threads are used to straighten the footrope stirrups which were then treated with diluted dark glue.  This process had to be repeated later after the yard was set and other work completed.  The next picture shows the completed yard assembly, ready for setting.




In the next picture the yard has been set. 




A permanent pin was fitted to the truss and the eyebolt on the chain sling was glued into the mast with CA.  The last picture shows the starboard end of the yard.




The foot rope stirrups are still misbehaving.  The lift pendant is draped over the studding sail boom which is fitted with jewel blocks.  The block shackled to the underside of the yardarm band is part of the reef tackle that will be installed later.  The other suspended block is to support the lower studding sail yard that will not be installed.  The blocks along the top of the yard are for bunt and leech lines. 



Edited by EdT
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