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18th century English Longboat - by Chuck - FINISHED - c.1760

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This 26 foot long was designed based on a contemporary model in the National Maritime Museum shown below.  This longboat was used circa 1750-1760 and was typical of this type of small craft. Plans for this model and MS kit prototype were drafted based on the contemporary drafts from the period.  The longboat has been decorated to match the NMM model that inspired it.  Even though this model was inspired by another, many other color schemes are possible. 



There are many more contemporary models that show various decorative themes.   Another very good
source of information on these small boats is “The Arming and Fitting of English Ships of War” by Brian Lavery. This book discusses the many details you sometimes find on these Longboats. 
Another good reference is "The Boats of Men of War" by W.E. May.  
Some references to these book will be mentioned throughout this project.


This scratch project was the prototype for the Model Shipways kit. An image of the finished model is posted below and can be compared to the contemporary model above.  I Also below you will find the PDF instructions for the kit which has more details.




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To start...the slotted false keel was tapered from the bearding line to the outside edge.  This created a simulated rabbet once the two keel pieces were cut to shape and glued into position.




Then the 16 bulkhead frames were added.  I had these laser cut to save time.  They were designed in a way that the center sections are removable.  They are held to the frames by small tabs.  Once the hull is planks I will file through the tabs and snap out the center sections.  Care must be taken to square up the bulkheads with the keel and ensure they are straight so the the proper hull shape can be obtained.  You could further stabilize the bulkheads by gluing a temporary batten across the tops of them which will be removed before I start filing the center sections free.  But I am not a heavy handed builder so I just started fairing the hull immediately.  I use d alight touch while beveling the outside edges of he bulkheads.  The transom and bow fillers were added just prior to the start of planking.







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To start the planking, I added two strips on each side along the sheer.  This stabilized the hull.  It was pretty amazing how sturdy the whole thing got.   Then I just continued down the hull with a few more.   Then I switched directions and started adding them from the keel upwards.  I met somewhere in the middle to finish the hull.  















The strips were pre-bent to fit the hull both edge-wise and to conform to the bow and stern shape.  When it was all done, I added teh stern post.   Then it was time to treenail.  I treenailed the hull using some Elmers wood filler. To help keep the treenails lined up I used some tape.  I ran the tape down the hull being careful to line up one edge on the center of a frame.   This was a challenge but I could hold the hull up close to teh light and see through the planking.  Then I marked the locations of all of the frames based on the shadows that shown through the planking. I drilled some tiny holes (#78 drill bit) and then filled them.   After sanding the hull I applied some wipe on poly



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Then it was time to file the center of each bulkhead free.  I used a file rather than a saw because I found that the saw teeth pulled the wood and it split the top of the frame.   Filing it with gentle pressure was easier for me.


Then the inside of the hull was faired so the frames were quite thin.  I noticed a lot of glue smears on the inside of the planking between the frames.  This looked sloppy so I used a curved Xacto blade to scrape it clean.   It really worked well.  Then a coat of Wipe on Poly was brushed on.








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Next up was to add the cap rail.  I like to press a wood sheet against the model and trace the shape of the open hull.  Then I add an extra 1/32"  to account for the overhang outboard.   Then i measure and draw another line inside of that one to create a pattern 1/8" wide or there-abouts.   I cut it out on my scroll saw and glue it on.  It looks awful at this stage.  But then I go back and file the edges so they are uniform outboard and inboard.  I tried to create a 3./32" wide cap rail or just a hair narrower than that.








Finally the friezes were added.   These were printed on my ink-jet after scanning my master.  It was sparayed with some hairspray as a fixative. Once the friezes were in position I used the bottom edge of the paper as a guide to add a strip of 1/32 x 1/32' molding.







Then it was time to paint.  The inside was carefully painted as shown in the last few photos above.  It was finally starting to look like a boat.  Although I like the natural painted planking on the exterior,  I thought I would try painting it tallow to match the NMM model.  I think it ads some interest so i decided to keep that look although many might prefer to leave planking natural.

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It was time to add some inboard details.  The floorboards were first.  These were pre-bent so they would lay against the bottom of the frames nicely.  Then the two platforms were added.  I glued some planks together edge-to-edge and then cut the proper shape using the plans as a guide.  I simulated the caulking between the planks with a pencil so they could be seen better.  The two platforms were notched along their sides to fit snug against the inboard planking and frames.  


The risers are the long timbers that stretch from bow to stern on the inboard sides of the hull.  The thwarts (seats) will rest on these risers.  It was important to make them the same height port and starboard so the seats werent noticeably crooked when I install them  I nice detail on the risers was the addition of scribed grooves.   This was shown on the NMM model so I included it.  They were made by running a sharp awl down the timber with a steel ruler as a guide.







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Thanks Pat...yes it was a fun build.  I added the front for the locker in the cockpit next.   Then I spaced the thwarts according to the plans. The thwarts had scribed grooves down each side as the NMM model showed.   The center thwart also has a different shape.  Its wider overall and is shaped in the center to support the mast.  Around the mast are four belaying pins I turned from boxwood by chocking them in my dremel.  The iron work on this thwart was just paper strips.








With all of the thwarts in position it was easy to determine the shape and size of the cockpit seats.  The seats on each side were added first.  Then a thin strip was added between them against teh transom.   The locker lid was last to be added.  The hinges are just stiff paper card painted black with a piece of wire to simulate the hinge pin.





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To finish up the hull before the rigging starts,  I added the windless.  It was cut from square stock but then shaped with eight side in the center and the ends.  The two portions that remained square had some holes in them for the windlass handles.  These are actually square holes.  After drilling round ones,  I made them square by inserting a nail that had a pointy end that was square.  Pushing it into the round holes reconfigured them as square with a little coaxing.  Handles were cut to length and shaped as shown.   There were some knees on the sides of the hull which were cut from 1/32" thick stock.  They were positioned on top of the thwarts and against the cap rail.  






The rudder was cut to shape following the plans and tapered as per typical practice.  It narrows considerable as it works aft.  It was painted and the frieze details added.  The hinges (pintles and gudgeons) are just paper.  Then the horse and oarlocks were completed with some black wire.   That finishes teh hull and its now onto the masting and rigging.  I found this particularly enjoyable as its a simple rig.




rudderlb copy.jpg








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I started the main mast first.  This was made from boxwood on my prototype but the kit has a supplied dowel.  The shape was matched to the plans.  The ball truck at the top of the mast was left off until the mast bands were completed first.






There were three of them.  The two that were used for the blocks were pretty straight forward.  I used a brass strip as shown in the photos.  The one for the boom was very similar but the small extension was twisted so the holes were on top and bottom.  I didnt bother soldering the ends together.  I just used CA.   It was filed smooth and painted.  Works just fine.






The Sheaves through the mast were simulated by drilling two small holes first and then carving the material out between them.  I usually create a stop-cut first with the point of the blade by just cutting a line on both sides from hole to hole. The material between the two lines is carefully removed and filed afterwards. 




The iron bands were slipped on the mast and painted black.  Then the ball truck was shaped and two sheaves simulated on top.  Only one will be used and it will be for the flag halliard.  Before stepping the mast  the two blocks were attached to the two mast bands.  The kit does come with blocks but they are the usual crappy ones.   I highly recommend that you scratch these.  Boxwood is preferred but any wood will do and they will no doubt be leaps and bounds better than the ones supplied.  Only a handful are needed for the entire model.  Here is a pic of the blocks being made.  Because you only need a few...take your time and there is no need to create an assembly line.  When they get done- they get done.





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Here is a PDF of the friezes.  I reduced some of the transom images further and it should be good to go.  Remember...if anyone needs a further resizing let me via PM.  All of the six transoms are different sizes so hopefully out of those posted you will find one you like.  Download it below.





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The bowsprit was easy enough to shape.  A few iron bands were made in a similar way to the ones on the mast. However,  I drilled a hole and added a small length of 22 gauge wire for one this time.  See the pics provided.  I carefully marked the locations for these two bands and glued them into position.  The one supported by the long extension was secured first.  I notched out the back of the thwart so it wouldnt wander around.  It secured it nicely.  Then the other band was secured into the stem once the proper bowsprit angle was found.




There is a sheave simulated on the end of the bowsprit.  It was all painted ahead of time before I secured the bowsprit on the model.






I also made the gaff and boom.  These were again pretty straight forward.  I made all of these from boxwood too.  The jaws for the gaff were added in two pieces.  Then the parrel beads were strung onto it. 






​The boom has a hook in it which is placed in the iron band on the mast.  I added the block to the end of the boom and painted it.   Now it was time to start rigging....the rig is simple.  It follows the NMM model exactly.  I had a few examples to research and they all matched the rig shown below.



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Rigging for the boom and gaff were completed first.  The lines were brought up to the blocks on the mast and then down to the belaying pins on the thwart.  I am going to run through these images fairly quickly as the instructions are very detailed.  This way the larger images may be useful to those building the kit in the future.








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To complete the model...the grapnel was painted and rigged. I made mine from scratch using boxwood.  I think they replaced the one in the kit with a cast metal version they had in stock,  It was added to the model so the rope looked natural.  I made some oars and placed them in there as well.  They were just cut from a 1/16" sheet and the handles rounded off.  Then they were painted.


That is essentially the end of the project.






















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  • 1 month later...


    At our community build meeting last Saturday, we were discussing the flag halyard.  What sort of flag or pennant would a longboat fly?  The only thing we came up with is the possibility of the personal flag or pennant of an embarked CO or flag officer while going to and fro.

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I couldnt come up with anything for sure and thats why it was omitted from the kit.  I did look at some contemporary paintings though.  They had such a variety that it was impossible to choose.  Go to the NMM site and search for long boat, pinnaces and cutters...it will bring up lots of paintings.  Also battle scenes which showed them but you have to get creative with teh search terms.



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With several of you folks starting to rig the longboat I figured it would be good to post these images of a rigged longboat from the NMM.  And before anyone remarks how they may be copyright...I checked into the images and they are not as long as you credit the NMM.


SO....."These images are provided generously from the NMM for our educational use"  and are not stored in our database.  Our site is pulling the images direct from the NMM site.  We are just pointing to what is already made available to the public.

  • Collection images must always credit ‘National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London’ and link to the original collection record on the NMM collections website.
  • Collections Online

    The NMM has developed an Application Programming Interface (API) to make it easy for individuals and organisations to share its collection records and images with the public. If you need to download more than 25 images at a time, you are encouraged to use the API.

    • Collection images must always credit ‘National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London’ and link to the original collection record on the NMM collections website.
    • Do not make an unreasonable number of API calls or compromise the experience of other users. As a guide, you should make no more than 3000 calls per day and no more than one request per second. We may place more formal limits on the API in the future.
    • The maximum allowed enlargement of images is 1200 pixels along the longest length of the image. Do note that these images are made available for non-commercial use only.

    Please contact the Picture Library if you would like to use the NMM’s collection records under different conditions.


Got that out of the way.



Enjoy.  They show the rigging very clearly.  Click on them and they are even larger.






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