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Lightning by von stetina - 1/96 - extreme clipper

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I'm picking this log back up starting with the rigging stage of this model. The masts and yards are complete, and the hull's deadeyes and etc. are on.


My goal with this model is to accurately depict the appearance of a prime example of a clipper ship. My concern is to depict all components scaled correctly and to do all at the best of my ability hoping to show the highest development of the wooden merchant ship.


I like speed. I like the example these ships made in the form follows function regard. These ships came about at a period in history when speed was essential. Generally they were driven without mercy as a true racing machine should be. As an old worn out motorcycle racer and builder these clippers really grab me by the guts


You see the model after she has had a first attempt at the standing rigging stripped from her. As with most of the build I've had to do everything at least twice.


I'll post as time and health permits, hope you enjoy the rigging process.




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Bruce..I originally found your web page and marveled at the detail you kindly and skillfully retained in this fine example of a masterfully build ship.


Like yourself...clippers have had a great pull on me as well........since I was 12.


I'm looking forward to your completion of the Lightning.



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Many years ago I was commissioned to make a special bulkhead piece as a gift for a chap who owned a 65foot swan sailing yacht, showing a section of this wood the piece was mounted on two brackets that were fretted out with the profiles of the hull of the swan. it was mounted in the main cabin on one of the bulkheads. I was given this piece of wood as payment for the piece that was prepared and mounted.



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Thanks for the great replies everyone. Micheal, do you want to part with any of that wood? It would be great as part of a base.


Seeing the increase in clipper model interest on this site I thought it would be good to include several pics of where the masting and rigging is going.


I'm tying to post a pic of her real figurehead too. It's rotting away in some old guys garage down under.










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Here are some pics of the yards being built. I made the cradle to help hold them still as I worked on them. Also, here are some details of the tops and crosstrees.


My methods are the standard ones. The masts were shaped from square blanks of lemonwood taken from bow staves. Yards too. It was a lot of shaping. Timely, but really not too difficult. It gave me a lot of control.


The deadeyes and bullseyes were made using standard jig techniques.


There is a lot of metal work involved. There will be a lot of chain rigging too. I've measured a need for about 9 feet. I've made some chain, but decided to use some 40 link per inch stuff I've found. Making this much was just too much for me. So far this is the only thing I've bought ready made except for thread.


I'm making the 11 1/2 inch and 8 inch standing rigging size line right now on my rope walk. This is for the lower shrouds and stays. I'll need a lot of the 11 1/2 as the Lightning had this huge stuff all they up to her topgallant back and forstays! It may look a bit heavy, but McKay really layed on the strong stuff for some of his ships. Especially the ones for the Australian emigrant ships like Lightning.


By the way, I have a list all of the laws layed down by the captain for the passengers. PHEW !!! I'm working on a book too.


I'm still trying to load that photo of her real figurehead that's rotting in a garage down under....











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Bruce...FANTASTIC!  When I first saw images of your Lightning on your web page  I was blown away at your attention to detail...now....I'm breathless.


Fantastic job.  Makes my work look like I just toss the parts and some glue into a box and shake and what comes out is it......



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Thank you all for such kind words.


Here is a photo of the Lightnings figurehead. I hope somehow it ends up in a museum. It's in an old leaky garage with others. The figureheads arm is there too. The guy said it looks like her lightning bolt is made of bronze.


About her beautiful lines... She was the sharpest  wooden clipper built. She had the longest entrance with 16 inches of concavity ion the waterline. She was very controversial. When delivered to the Brits the wood butchers there filled in the bows. This after her record crossing which did beat the previous one by Red Jacket. The filler soon washed out and she sped back up.  Her widest point was very far back near the mainmast. This was what had been recommended by Griffiths for speed. She excelled in storms. From what I've read these types of line work best in heavy weather.




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I read about Lightning's butchering by her new owners.  Its hard to imagine doing this to a ship after such a successful opening performance, but I guess design dogma and transatlantic builder rivalry can explain a lot. 


The location of the maximum breadth is an interesting design topic.  I am sure you have seen the table in Crothers's book on this.  It shows a clear difference of approach between Webb and McKay, with Mckay placing this back close to the midline of the hull and Webb placing it far forward.  According to Crothers' table Lightning, as you say, had it 1'3" forward of mid-length and Young America 25' forward of it.  Their other ships followed suit.  On Sea Witch, the one Griffiths example in the table, it is placed 14' 9" forward.  All of this seems to demonstrate that hull design was still an art form. 


I don't know, but I guess that heavy weather performance may have been helped by the long length of these ships.  Also, I guess if captains were piling on sail even in heavy weather - at risk to the ship, of course - their heavy weather performance would look good.  An interesting topic.  Maybe some re-reading of Chapelle and MacGregor is in order.


Thanks for your comments and your resurrection of the Lightning log.


By the way, that figurehead is priceless.  In a garage?



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A shame about the figurehead, but yes the figurehead was last seen by a very old gentleman who saw my model on my website. The garage owner was a friend of his some time back. We e-mailed back and forth a few times and he stopped writing back after a bit. He was very evasive about his friends name and location. He said it had been a long time since he'd talked to him.


The web address for my site is a bit off, so here it is. It's OK to take a look if anyone wants to.





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The next step was to make jigs to space the upper deadeyes above the lower. I used a line attached to the masthead to get the angles of the shrouds lined up with the lower deadeyes. This will make sure the the two levels of deadeyes are parallel. I used plastic sheet and drilled holes through each deadeye through the plastic Then a second pin in a side hole of each to keep the deadeye from spinning. The bottom row has wires holding the plastic down in place at each deadeye.


I started with the mizzen due to the way the mizzen forestay runs. It had to drop down a deck level going through a bullseye attached to the rear of the masinmast, down a bullseye at the deck right behind the pump.

I've mentioned that this is my 2nd rigging attempt. Originally I had put a thread through this difficult to reach bullseye before installing the pump so that I could glue it to the stay and easily run the stay later. But now I had to thread this line down in there past all those fine railings and pump wheels without bending and wreaking them. Yup, it was difficult.





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The door has a wire stretched across the to to tie my rigging onto for pre-stretching. [Turn motor sign is a reminder to keep turning the crank over a few times now and then on the engine that is still good from my last motorcycle crash which totaled the very expensive show Harley I'd spent 3 years building.]


And that is my rope walk. A band of crazy Gypsies came through and built it out of assorted junk. [Not really.]


The can has Conservator's wax thinned out to make a bath for soaking my rigging. My standing rigging is dyed with India Ink cut a bit with water. Running rigging with F&W acrylic ink- raw sienna with a bit of black in it.







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