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Harriet Lane by trippwj - Model Shipways - 1:144 Scale

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Greetings from the illustrious maritime state of Arkansas. I started work on the Revenue Cutter Harriet Lane in March, 2012. The following information is courtesy of the US Coast Guard:

The Revenue Cutter Harriet Lane, built for the Treasury Department by William H. Webb, was launched in New York City in November 1857 and was named for the niece of lifelong bachelor United States President James Buchanan.


The  Harriet Lane served as a revenue cutter until temporarily transferred to the Navy late in 1858. Her new assignment took her to Paraguay with a squadron ordered to support the discussions of U.S. Special Commissioner James B. Bowlin with Dictator Carlos Antonio Lopez concerning reparations for damages incurred during an unprovoked attack on WATERWITCH by the Paraguayan forces 1 February 1855. This display of sea power quickly won the United States a prompt and respectful hearing which 4 years of diplomacy had failed to obtain. In his report Flag Officer W. B. Shubrick singled out Harriet Lane for special commendation on the invaluable service she rendered in extricating his other ships repeatedly running aground in the treacherous waters of the Parana River.

Returning to the United States, Harriet Lane resumed her former duties as a revenue cutter. In September 1860 she embarked Edward Albert, the Prince of Wales, the first member of the British Royal Family to visit the United States, for passage to Mount Vernon where he planted a tree and placed a wreath on the tomb of George Washington.

Harriet Lane again transferred to the Navy 30 March 1861 for service in the expedition sent to Charleston Harbor, S.C., to supply the Fort Sumter garrison. She departed New York 8 April and arrived off Charleston 11 April. The next day she fired a shot across the bow of NASHVILLE when that merchantman appeared with no colors flying. NASHVILLE avoided further attack by promptly hoisting the United States ensign, but 2 days later raised the Palmetto flag to begin her career as one of the most elusive Confederate privateers. When Major Anderson surrendered Fort Sumpter 13 April, Harriet Lane withdrew with her sister ships.

Her next important service came the following summer when a task force was sent against Fort Clark and Fort Hatteras on the outer banks of North Carolina to check blockade running in the area, The ships sortied from Hampton Roads 26 August 1861 for this first important combined amphibious operation of the war. The next morning Harriet Lane, MONTICELLO, and PAWNEE slipped close inshore to provide direct support to the landings while heavier ships pounded the forts from deeper water.

Harriet Lane ran aground while attempting to enter Pamlico Sound through Hatteras Inlet 29 August and suffered severe damage while fast on the shoal. She was refloated at the cost of her armament, rigging, stores, provisions, and everything else on board which could be heaved over the side to lighten ship. Temporary repairs completed 5 September, she proceeded to Hampton Roads, arriving 8 September 1861.

Harriet Lane sailed 10 February 1862 to join Comdr. D. D. Porter's Mortar Flotilla at Key West, where units were assembling for an attack on Confederate forts In the Mississippi River Delta below New Orleans. Comdr. Porter embarked at Washington. During her passage to Hampton Roads, Harriet Lane was taken under fire by the Confederate battery at Shipping Point, Va., which inflicted such damage to her port wheel that her departure for Key West was delayed another 2
days. On 24 February, she captured the Confederate schooner JOANNA WARD off Florida.

Following blockade duty in Mobile Bay, Harriet Lane sailed for Galveston, Tex., which she bombarded and captured with the aid of WESTFIELD, OSASCO, CLIFTON, and HENRY JAMES, 3 October 1862. She was in Galveston Harbor when the Confederates retook that base 1 January 1863 ; and, after a bitter contest in which her captain, Comdr. J. M. Wainwright and executive officer, Lt. Comdr. Edward Lea, were killed, she fell into Southern hands.


After serving the Confederate Army's Marine Department of Texas, she was sold to T. W. House, who converted her into a blockade runner named LAVINIA. She finally escaped Galveston 30 April 1864 and sailed to Havana, where she was interred.


In 1867, following the war, she was recovered from Cuba and was converted to a bark rig and renamed ELLIOTT RICHIE. She was abandoned off Pernambuco, Brazil, 13 May 1884.

Harriet Lane measured 270 feet long, 22 feet wide and 12 feet from the bottom of the hull to the main deck. Her propulsion was a double-right-angled marine engine with two side paddles, supported by two masts; the entire ship was sheathed and fastened with copper. From stern to bow, the captain's cabin and stateroom sat above an aft magazine, forward of which was a second magazine with the officer quarters above. Forward of this, in the midships was the engine machinery and coal supply, and beyond this the quarters and galley for the non-commissioned ranks which sat above a third magazine.

Edited by trippwj
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Prior to this build, my only model experience was with plastic some 40 years ago.  I don't have many early photo's, but here are a few from last September.


This first is a shot of the deck as of mid October. Still had quite a bit to do at this point.  I had started using the brass chain that came in the kit, but found it was too shiny so went and bought some black chain at the local hobby store.




A bit further along here.  Have started work on the masts.  This was Foremast version 1.2

Fore course yard has been furnished and installed to the mast at this stage. 




This was foremast version 1.6...my first attempt at shrouds and ratlines for the topmast.  Stay tuned for what happened next...it isn't pretty!



Edited by trippwj
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Hello Wayne,


I see you've got the log started. Just recently I watched a tv program about the American Queen, which is said to be the largest ever built. They are beautiful.


Thanks for sharing your log and the information.

It's always nice to learn about the history of a ship.


Looking forward to some more pictures


Take care,



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So, as time went on, I got a bit done at a time. Here was my progress in early November 2012


Took a break from working on rigging the foremast and started on some of the other bits and pieces.  Here the rudder, fife rails, bowsprit and topsail yard are in progress.








Brought on a new hand to help out - this is Almanza (an old family name).  i thought it would be useful to have something to check how the various bits looked in scale. 










Edited by trippwj
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Continuing in November - got a lot done this month!  First major uh-oh.  Almanza (my scale shipwright) did some checking and found I had not left the sides high enough.  Had to install an extender all around the hull.  Dang Naval Constructors....





For some reason he thought there would be a problem with the angle of the cannon...Wouldn't take my word that it was for protection against submarines...




Tried to show him it was up-to-specifications.  Uh-oh...




Soooo...about 1/8" too short, huh?  Really?   Are you SURE!!!!!










He even insisted on a final check of the rebuilt bulwarks and rails.  Seems content this time (Whew!) :huh:


Edited by trippwj
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So, after regrouping, moved on with some rigging work.


Stepped the foremast and ran the shrouds and backstays. In hind sight, this picture should have been a big red flag that something double plus ungood was gonna happen!




Some of the references I used for the rigging.  First two are Plans for the model.






I was rather befuddeled about rigging the bowsprit so used Underhill's Masting & Rigging The Clipper Ship & Ocean Carrier to try and sort it out.




I spent what seemed like weeks reeving those pesky 2.5 mm deadeyes...




This is about attempt 3 or 4, I think.




And another attempt...




Bowsprit has been temporarily installed.




I have been quite fortunate that my kids have taken an interest in this hobby.  This is my most dedicated apprentice (age 5) - she has her own piece of the model she is responsible for sanding and painting.  {Pardon the curlers...we were preparing for our annual ballet outing}





Edited by trippwj
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Started working on the main boom and continued with the fixed rigging on the foremast, including re-reeving the deadeyes.  They just didn't look right.  Early January now...note the re-built foremast.  Got up one morning and the topmast had snapped off completely at the mast cap.  Had to do a new topmast, and also built new tops (much nicer) and then re-stepped the mast.  Being a lot more careful with the tension on the shrouds and stays this time!


Carving the boom jaws









Fitting the boom to the main mast.  I built the saddle out of several layers of thread wrapped around the mast and hardened with CA.  Couldn't see any way I was gonna be able to master making this out of wood (mast diameter is about 3/32")









It was about this time that I walked by my workshop (well, my small corner of the living room) and noticed that the topmast had broken clean off at the mast cap.  Well, after a few choice words (I hadn't even had my coffee yet, mind you), I went to work rebuilding it.  Had to go buy some square stock and make the top mast, then re-do the tops (didn't really like the old one anyway :rolleyes: ), and also decided to take the plunge and make a new mast cap (the old one was metal - this one is wooden).


Rebuilt tops and topmast shrouds.




I was a lot more careful with the tension this time, and also installed the forestays before the backstays and shrouds.






Deadeyes look better this time, but now I am contemplating replacing these with new ones made by hand - not sure I am ready for that, though.





Edited by trippwj
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Hi Wayne, interesting build you have going. You don't see this one being built often. Your's is coming along real nice.

Thanks for stopping by my log. Yes, I am quite away into the build, but I'll try to get as much posted , leaving out some things that are  not

needed. Keep it com'n


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Augie - Aye aye, sir!  Thanks for stopping by!


Frank - afraid she'll only have 4 cannon when done, so not much support when Sjors starts rattling his sabre again.  But, if the wind is light, can pull your ships into the fight :pirate41:


Carl - I am certainly having my fair share of "Crud" events, but still loving the life!  Wish i had started this years ago!


So, have done a tad more since our last visit.  As I think I mentioned before, I took the Harriet Lane out in public for her first viewing earlier this month.   She was well recieved, and it felt good to have other folks give her a thumbs up! 


Have done a bit more fitting for the main boom.  This shot gives a pretty good idea of the saddle in relation to the jaws.  Still need to find some .75mm beads to make the parrell from.




Have done some more of the detail work around the bow.  Windlass (used the metal one that came with the kit) installed and forestay seized.  Working on building new cateyes - the ones I had built were (harumph) determined to be too short when the bulwarks were raised....





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in your last photo on the deck you have your anchor chains going into the grommets...did your kit have those extra in there or did you just add those yourself? I don't have enough of those to put them in but they sure look good there.

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Hi, Sarah.  They did not come with the kit - I think I got them at a really great price (I think it was about $1.50 for a 12 pack of 2.0mm brass airports) from Model Expo.  I knew the anchor chain needed to go belowdecks and didn't want to just leave the hole open.


Have you started on your deck yet? 

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Hi there, Sarah.  Yep - very basic info on the deckplans so a lot of room for individuality.


I got stuck for a bit trying to figure out what the coaling rings are.  Found out (via ModelShipBuilder forum) they are essentially like a manhole cover where coal was loaded.  Based on a bunch of digging etc, the ones on the HL would be about 18 inches diameter, nearly flush with the deck.  See the build log by Clare here for how he did them.  http://www.modelshipbuilder.com/e107_plugins/forum/forum_viewtopic.php?6849

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Thanks, Adam - hope to get at least a small update posted today.  Had been pondering how best to handle coppering the rudder, you may recall.  Using the tape was not viable - just didn't look right.  Tried the plates but same problem.  Also, an update on Cricket's cosntruction assistance (Cricket is my 5 year old apprentice).  Tune in later today for what seems to have worked for me for coppering the rudder and assembly by Cricket!

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I had been trying to figure out how best to copper my rudder.  I tried a couple of copper tapes and plates but couldn't get a good contoured fit.  After trying several copper paints I came across the Testor's Copper #1155.  Voila! 




Also continuing work on the main boom.  thanks to a suggestion from Adam (skerryamp) I found some teensie weensie timey whimey glass beads at my local Hobby Lobby store.  These are labeled as 11/0 seed beads and measure 2.2mm diameter.  Still a tad larger than I would prefer, but they will do!



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Nice solution with the rudder.  I had the same problem on the Phantom and ended up burnishing and burnsihing and burnishing and burnishing and oh yeah, more burnishing - I must have flattened the rudder by 1-2mm by the time I was done.  Surprised I didn't start a fire from all the rubbing.


I like your idea better!! and looks good!!


Glad the beads worked out for you!




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Augie, Anja & Sjors - thank you!  It took awhile, but i like the way it turned out!


Adam - appreciate the idea about the beads.  Haven't done anything the past week but hope to get back to her this week.


Joshukr - welcome aboard!!! 



Thanks for stopping by.  Which  kit is that you are holding in your avatar?

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An interesting subject and niced build Wayne; thanks for taking the time to repost the log.


Wish I could find a helper - Seems to have impressed the Major too! :)





Edited by BANYAN
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I am going to back up here and discuss the process I used for masting the Harriet Lane


The plans and instructions are rather basic concerning the masts.  Since the HL is built by one of the more famous American Clipper Ship builders (William Webb of New York), I used the information contained in Underhill's Masting & Rigging the Clipper Ship & Ocean Carrier.  On page 249, he provides a set of formulae that can be used to determine the size and tapering (also in Table 5, page 250).


The total length of the lower fore mast above the deck from the plans is 4.5" (converts to about 54 feet).  Extending this down to the heel tenon (where it mounts to the keelson) is 5.5" or 66 feet.  The given diameter at the base using Underhill is 22 inches, the first quarter tapers to 21 5/8, second quarter to 20.5, third quarter to 18 7/8.  The diameter is 16 1/2 at the hounds and at the head is 13 13/16.


Where the lower foremast passes through the deck, the diameter is about 21 5/8 inches or 5/32" diameter at scale.  This tapers toward the top to about 3/32" that gets squared off to fit the mast cap.  I wound up replacing the mast cap that was supplied with one carved from some of the extra wood in the kit. 


Nice and confusing, huh?


Basically, I sanded the provided dowel to get a smooth finish, then tapered it via sanding from 5/32" at the deck to 3/32" at the mast cap.  The same process is used for the main mast - which has, essentially, the same dimensions.


I did things a bit differently for the topmast - used the same reference in Underhill, but since I had a systems failure (my original topmast broke) I built the new one out of square stock, which was handy since the base of the topmast where it fits into the tree is square. 


Will describe that process in a later post!

Edited by trippwj
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The fore Top Mast is a single spar - none of the contemporary drawings show any cap and trees so used the total dimension as a single spar.  It measures 51 feet (4 1/4").  The diameter at the mast cap is same as lower mast (3/32") tapering to 1/16" at the peak.


To make this one, I started with a piece of 3/32" square basswood cut to the right length plus about 1/2", and then used a plane to get an octagon from about 1/2" above the heel to the upper end.  I then sanded the octagon to round it and obtain the taper.  Since this is so small, I hold the mast in a piece of sandpaper (started with 80 grit) and rotate while drawing through the paper.  Once it is rounded, I continue but move progressively up the spar for my starting point for each cycle.  This takes more off the top part resulting in the narrower top.  Continued until I had a gradual but consistent taper to the desired diameter at the top.  Took about 20 minutes with measuring.  Finished with 400 grit paper.


As mentioned above, I re-built the mast cap.  I wasn't real happy with the britania metal one provided.  Dimensions on the cap are as follows:

Width is twice the diameter of the topmast (3/32" x 2 = 3/16")

Length is twice the width (3/16" x 2 = 3/8")

Thickness = 5/6 the diameter of the topmast (5/64")


The top of the lower mast was squared off to about 5/64"


Hope this helps!

Edited by trippwj
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