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Young America by EdT - FINISHED - extreme clipper 1853

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Druxey, I meant to comment on your comment.  The forward extension of the truss from the mast really helped with bracing of these yards by increasing the range of rotation before interfering with other rigging.  I don't know what the actual extension on Young America was, but another ship of the type was documented to have the yard 7' forward of the mast on a truss of this general type.  The lower topsail yard will also be hung forward of the cap by about, I think, 4 feet - on a similar swivel truss.


Roger, just another comment. although the starting point in forming the truss was a 1/8" plate, the final shaped size is smaller, perhaps on the order of 6" - still a lot of iron.



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Harbours in the old days could become very congested with the often long waiting times to complete the loading. As yards were considerably longer than the width of the hull, at least the lower yards were lifted up at an angle in order not get entangled with neigbouring ship or harbour cranes etc. The universal joint would help in this. Before these forged universal joints were introduced in the late 1840s(?), the truss and parrel would have to be loosened for the purpose.

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That is my understanding, wefalck, in fact here is one of the photos of Young America where she is docked in New York with her main yard topped up and another of Black Hawk.  In this position the yards could also be used for handling cargo, I believe.  Comments on this last point welcome.






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I gather the yards would have been used, when no other equipment was available, e.g. when moored in a river or so and discharging into/loading from barges.

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According to the ASME historic landmark program the steam forging hammer was invented in France in 1839. They do not say when it migrated to the US but you are right the trip hammers used to forge anchors certainly could have forged this sort of ironwork.


My biography of Webb unfortunately says almost nothing about his yard operations, except that he did not build the machinery for the steamships that he built.  After launch they were towed to an engine builder to be fitted with machinery.



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Thank you, Roger, Peter and all for the likes.


Roger, I have not found much about Webb's yard - except about the large bell at the gate - so I can't really comment, except to say that Webb was one of the largest, if not the largest yard in America at mid-century and as a thriving shipbuilding city, New York had an impressive array of contractors supporting the industry, so I am inclined to believe that the latest equipment would have been in use.  I have read that McKay's yard in Boston at the time was equipped with a steam-driven saw that could bevel frames - pretty sophisticated.  I doubt that Webb would have been outdone in equipment capability - but I don't really know.


Nice words, Peter.  Always good to hear.



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Young America - extreme clipper 1853
Part 251 – Sheet Blocks


Each square yard, except for the skysail yards at the tops of the masts, will be fitted with an iron sheet block suspended from an eyebolt below its center.  These "cloverleaf" type blocks contain two sheaves, one for each of the two chain sheets for the sail directly above.  The sheets pass through sheaves in the yardarms, or cheek blocks on the larger yards, through fairleads under the yard, then to the sheet blocks.  The blocks direct the sheets downward to tackles that are belayed on deck in most cases.  The first picture shows the seven fabricated, 21" sheet blocks with eyebolts attached.




Two of these have been blackened.  This size will be used on lower, lower topsail, and upper topsail yards on the fore and main masts and on the crojack yard on the mizzen.  The remaining yards will be fitted with smaller, 15" blocks of this type.


To make these efficiently, some "mass production" was used.  In the first step, holes for all the plate casings were drilled as shown in the next picture, through two long strips of .010" brass, ¾" at 1:72 scale.




The holes were drilled using the mill as a drill press, with holes spaced using the calibration wheels, in a prescribed sequence using calculated spacings.  The resulting strips, for both block sizes are shown in the next picture.




Part of the drilling guide sheet may be seen in the picture.  It shows each movement in a numbered sequence, with penciled spacings calculated from the full size dimensions.  The punch marks on the strips were added for matching. 


In the next picture two dressmaker pins have been inserted through the holes on the vertical centerline of two matching plates. 




The rough shape of the block was cut through both plates using scissors.  The two pins are close fitting, and in the picture below are clamped in a vise where the triangle shapes are being sized with a file.




There is a thin, drilled wood shim under the two plates for clearance above the vise.  In the next picture the triangular shape has been filed, the plates separated, and the pins have been replaced with lengths of drawn copper wire.




One of these wires has been threaded through a turned sheave.  In the next picture, with both sheaves fitted, the lower ends of the pin wires are clamped in the vise.




In this picture the upper wire ends have been clipped off just above the top plate and then peened to form rivet heads.  The assembly was then turned over and placed on an anvil.  The long bolt ends were then clipped and peened.  In the next picture the central pin has been peened on both sides in the same way and the top pin has been inserted through a spun eyebolt.




As before, the lower ends of the pin wires are clamped in the vise for peening the first side.  The block was then flipped over to clip and peen the other ends, completing the assembly.  The lower block in the picture below shows this stage.




Each side of the triangle was then filed concave, shaped to match the pattern and polished. The fourteen smaller sheet blocks will be made later.



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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.



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Were these cheek-block housings actually so square ? I seem to have seen examples with rounded-off contours, presumably to reduce chafing, when the upper sails are taken down and to provide more clearance for the chain.

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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.




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