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Brig Fair American circa 1780 by Pete Jaquith - Model Shipways - 1:48 scale


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14 Gun Brig “Fair American”, Circa 1780

 

The 14 Gun Brig Fair American, circa 1780 is based on Model No. 60 of the Henry Huddleston Rodgers ship model collection at the U.S. Naval Academy Museum, Annapolis, Maryland.  Due to the number of vessels named Fair American that participated in the American Revolution and the amount of conflicting data pertaining to these names, it has not been possible to identify the specific vessel the model represents.  However, the model is representative of many of the small ships used as privateers during the American War of Independence.  The brig Fair American had a length of 68’ 0”, beam of 24’ 0”, depth of 8’ 0”, and tonnage of 130 tons.

 

The model is based on the Model Shipways Fair American kit developed by Erik A. Ronnberg, Jr. and updated by Ben Lankford.  Additional research was conducted using Steel’s Elements of Mastmaking, Sailmaking, and Rigging (1794) and by examining the original Fair American model at the U.S. Naval Academy.  The model is plank on bulkhead construction at 1/4” to the foot scale (1:48) with single planking and scratch built details/fittings.  Paint colors are based on examination of the original Model No. 60 and contemporary practice.

 

Planned enhancements to the Model Shipways kit include: (a) main deck planking will incorporate hooked scarphs outboard; (B) quarter deck planking will utilize curved/tapered planks; © cannons/carriages will be from Kingshouse Cannons and the Lumberyard; (d) the stern lantern will be from Caldercraft Scale Ship Models; (e) proportional linen rigging line will be from Bluejacket Ship Crafters and Warner Woods West; and, (f) rigging blocks will be from Warner Woods West.  In order to more fully evaluate these changes, cannon port clearances, bulwark, and hull straking; a Bulwark and Deck at Side mockup was constructed from frame 2 to frame 4.8 starboard.

 

 

Pete Jaquith

Shipbuilder

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Welcome to the Brig "Fair American" circa 1780 build log,

 

"Fair American" is a fine looking war ship from the American War of Independence.  I have long admired her, and fine looks are behind my decision to model her.

 

One note of caution:  The plans for Model Shipways kit appear to be various scales (e.g. plans, elevations, sections, and details are +/- from 1:48 scale.  I tried to compensate by printing individual plan sheets at different scales, and eventually decided to print each drawing section at the appropriate scale.  Even with this approach, I found it necessary to measure each component from adjacent structure.

 

Pete Jaquith

Shipbuilder

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Welcome to the Brig "Fair American" circa 1780 build log,

 

To evaluate construction details, bulwark height, and paint collors I decided to build a test piece of the main deck and bulwark from Station 2 to 4.8 starboard.  Key points include:

 

>>> Test piece includes deck, bulwark, and hull planking Station 2 to 4.8 starboard

>>> Test piece includes (2) cannons and cannon tackle

>>> Deck planking 1/16" x 3/16" (9" planks) with hooked scarfs

>>> Deck, bulwark, and hull planking widths representative of period practice 

>>> Deck scupper 5/64" thin wall brass tubing

>>> Paint is Floquil model railroad acrylic colors

>>> Bulwark height increased ~3/32" to accomodate cannon assemblies

 

Pete Jaquith

Shipbuilder

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Continuing with the "Fair American" bulwark test piece.  Key points include:

 

>>> Chain plates were silver soldered brass wire rings formed around deadeyes

>>> Test piece confirms need to add ~3/32" to bulwark height

>>> Deck, bulwark, and hull planking widths will be per test piece

>>> Deck will be planked 1/16" x 3/16" curved planks with hooked scarfs

>>> Paint and color selection confirmed through test piece

 

When starting a new model or applying new modeling techniques, I often use test pieces for evaluation vs the model

 

Pete Jaquith

Shipbuilder

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Welcome to the Brig "Fair American" circa 1780 build log,

 

Floyd and Robert, thank you for your supportive comments.

 

Moving ahead with construction, the center keel assembly was prepared.  Key points include:

 

>>> Centerline bulkhead beveled for planking rabbet prior to assembly

>>> Stem, keel, stern post, and rudder built up per period practice

>>> Rudder fitted to center keel assembly

>>> Figure head fitted to center keel assembly

>>> Stem and rudder tapered

>>> Center keel assembly drilled for pedestal mounting holes

>>> Note: pedestals were located to maintain waterline level, a 1/4" mahogany pad will be fitted under forward pedestal to maintain rake

 

Pete Jaquith

Shipbuilder

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Welcome to the Brig "Fair American" circa 1780 build log,

 

Next step was preparing the bulkheads and assembling the hull assemply.  Key points include:

 

>>> Undersize bulkheads were built up prior to assembly

>>> Spacers were added to midship bulkheads before assembly

>>> Filler pieces were added to fwd/aft bulkheads before assembly

>>> All subassemblies were dry fitted before final assembly

>>> LESSONS LEARNED: I DECIDED TO ADD FILLER BLOCKS (BASSWOOD) BETWEEN THE FWD/AFT BULKHEADS IN ORDER TO ASSIST IN FAIRING AND ADD SUPPORT TO HULL PLANKING: ALTHOUGH IT LOOKED LIKE A LOT OF MATERIAL TO REMOVE IT WENT WELL AND I WOULD DEFINITELY USE THIS TECHNIQUE IN THE FUTURE

>>> Future posts will cover the hull fairing process

 

Pete Jaquith

Shipbuilder

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Welcome to the Brig "Fair American" circa 1780 build log,

 

Continuing with hull assembly and fairing, key points include:

 

>>> Keel reinforcing pieces were added in way of pedestal holes

>>> Keel reinforcing pieces were added in way of mast steps

>>> Deck fillers were added to support plank ends outboard

>>> Deck fillers were added to support plank ends in way of hatches

>>> Hull planking reinforcing pieces were added in way of chain plates

>>> Bow/stern filler blocks were fitted after initial hull fairing

>>> Knight heads/timberheads fwd were fitted after initial hull fairing

>>> Initial hull fairing was accomplished with #80 grit sand paper wrapped around 1 1/4" and 1 1/2" dowels

>>> Final hull fairing was accomplished with #120 & #150 sand paper wrapped around 1 1/4" and 1 1/2" dowels

>>> Hull fairing was checked with flexible battens (1/16" & 3/32" strip wood)

>>> Waterline templates were used in hull fairing fwd

>>> Buttock templates were used in hull fairing aft

>>> During fairing process; stem, keel, and stern post were protected with blue painters tape

>>> Deck surface was faired with flexible sanding sticks

 

Pete Jaquith

Shipbuilder

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Floyd, Nils,

 

Thank you for your interest in my Brig "Fair American" circa 1780 build. Preliminary dry fit of hull framing showed that the kit had significant accuracy issues and that hull fairing could become an issue. As a result, I added the filler blocks so the bow/stern are essentially solid hull. Although it looks like a lot of material to remove, initial or rough fairing took less than four hours per quarter (total 12-15 hours). The #80 open grit paper really removes a lot of material when wrapped around a large piece of wooden dowel.

 

Regards,

Pete

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Welcome to the Brig "Fair American" circa 1780 build log,

 

Continuing with hull construction, next steps are stern and transom construction. Key points include:

 

>>> Stern filler blocks faired using buttock templates

>>> Wales projected to counter to assist in shaping filler blocks; note that some bulkhead timberheads will require extension

>>> Counter and transom construction followed plans and instruction sequence

>>> Counter and transom construction required lots of plan work and a bit of judgement; curve of transom and transom profile shaped by eye; final transom shaping performed in place

>>> This work gives one great respect for the craftsmen who built these vessels

 

Pete Jaquith

Shipbuilder

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Welcome to the 14 Gun Brig "Fair American" circa 1780 build log,

 

Continuing with the transom planking, key points include:

 

>>> Counter planking was straight

>>> Counter/transom plank widths to suit conditions

>>> Transom planking laid out with cambered planks (by eye)

>>> Transom planking cut from sheet stock

>>> Transom planking cut with aid of ship's curves

>>> Transom windows formed to follow curve of transom planking

 

Pete Jaquith

Shipbuilder

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Hi Pete -  Your workmanship is impressive, and the quality of your build log equally so.  You have provided much valuable information for future builders of "Fair American".  For someone starting out, it is very useful to envision what the build should look like during various stages of assembly.  Your photos and narration are clear and concise, and sharing the lessons you have learned makes the information doubly valuable.  Please continue to share your great work.

 

<<Gary>>

 

p.s.  Please see our recent discussion on KenW's buildlog regarding blocks under the tops.  Any thoughts there?

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Welcome to the Brig "Fair American" circa 1780 build log,

 

Rowan, Gary,

 

Thank you for your interest and support. "Fair American" is a fine looking ship from the American War of Independance. Having had the opportunity to study the original model, I decided to model her as she would likely have been built. I will try to note major departures from the kit plans as I move forward with postings.

 

Regards,

Pete

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Welcome to the Brig "Fair American" circa 1780 build log,

 

With the transom complete, next step was deck planking. Key points include:

 

>>> Thick planks were 3/32" x 3/16" basswood stripwood; PLAN DEPARTURE

>>> Outboard planking 1/16" x 3/16" basswood stripwood; PLAN DEPARTURE

>>> Curved/tapered planks with hooked scarfs outboard; PLAN DEPARTURE

>>> Planking fitted around hatch coamings

>>> Plank butts staggered per period practice

>>> Construction sequenced to facilitate staining/finishing deck planking

>>> These details are shown on the construction drawing posted below

 

Pete Jaquith

Shipbuilder

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Welcome to the Brig "Fair American" circa 1780 build log,

 

In preparation for deck planking, the following was accomplished:

 

>>> Inner timberheads faired (some buildup required)

>>> Lower deck fitted

>>> Hatch gratings fabricated

>>> Hatch coamings fabricated

>>> Deck planking will be fitted around coamings

>>> Coamings fabricated with lapped corner joints

 

Pete Jaquith

Shipbuilder

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Welcome to the Brig "Fair American" circa 1780 build log,

 

Starting with deck planking, the following key points apply:

 

>>> Waterway fitted and left loose for deck staining/finishing

>>> Margin planks fitted with scarf joints

>>> Thick planking fitted around coamings from CL outboard

>>> Outer planking fitted from CL outboard

>>> Tapered/curved planks w hooked scarfs used outboard

>>> Planking layout follows design sketch

>>> Planking cut with use of ship's curves

 

Pete Jaquith

Shipbuilder

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Welcome to the Brig "Fair American" circa 1780 build log,

 

Rich - thank you for your comments

 

Continuing with deck planking, the following notes apply:

 

>>> Deck planking stained with Minwax Ipswich Pine (oil stain)

>>> Deck planking finished with Bartley's Gel Wiping Varnish (oil based satin finish)

>>> Deck rubbed down with 0000XF steel wool

>>> Waterways installed after deck finishing

 

Pete Jaquith

Shipbuilder

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Welcome to the Brig "Fair American" circa 1780 build log,

 

With the main deck complete, I have attached pictures of some of the planning and design tools used in my "Fair American" circa 1780 build:

 

>>> Construction work sequenced based on initial plan review (allows a look ahead re next steps)

>>> Some construction resequencing takes place based on conditions

>>> Hull planking butts laid out per period practice

 

Pete Jaquith

Shipbuilder

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Welcome to the Brig "Fair American" circa 1780 build log,

 

Continuing with bulwark construction, key points include:

 

>>> Bulwark and gun port framing fitted

>>> Bulwark ceiling (interior planking) fitted

>>> Bulwark sheeves fitted with ceiling planking

>>> Waterway drilled for deck scuppers (will be fitted later)

>>> Bulwark filler pieces added in way of hause holes, bulwark sheeves, rigging attachments

>>> Outer bulwark planking fitted

>>> Bulwark sheeves fitted with outer bulwark planking

>>> Aft gun port cover fitted (modeled in closed position)

 

Pete Jaquith

Shipbuilder

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Welcome to the Brig "Fair American" circa 1780 build log,

 

Nils: Thank you for your interest

 

Moving on to the transom rail and fashion pieces, key points include:

 

>>> Transom cap rail is curved in both section and elevation

>>> Transom cap rail might well have been fabricated in several pieces

>>> Transom cap rail was formed in one piece of sufficient width to accomodate the forward sweep required to follow the line of the transom

>>> Forming jig used to form the cap rail (see picture)

>>> Transom cap rail was shaped to fit the transom prior to installation

>>> Transom cap rail was installed with extra length and faired in place

>>> False scarfs were cut into the transom cap rail after installation

>>> Fashion pieces were partially formed prior to installation

>>> Fashion piece final forming was performed in place

>>> Bulwark planking, black strake, and whales were fitted and faired into counter planking

 

Note: This area has a complex and distinctive geometry typical of many ships of the period. It is critical that design and construction of the transom, transom cap rail, fashion pieces, bulwark planking, black strake, and whales all fit together.

 

Pete Jaquith

Shipbuilder

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Greetings Peter,

 

The large scale mock-ups are fine, but you lost me when you said their purpose is to "evaluate construction details". What construction details are you evaluating that aren't already clearly shown on the drawings that come with the kit? Plus, there are at least two other FAs on MSW that show this kit being built from top to bottom. Apart from an exercise, I don't see what your mock-ups add the the information already available on this ship. What am I missing?

 

Nice work on the mock-ups, but page 15 of the MS kit instructions (assuming you have them) specifically note that a margin plank and joggled plank ends are inappropriate for a ship of this era. Do you have other information that would supersede the MS instructions?

 

wq3296

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wq3296,

 

With respect to building the "Fair American" mockup, I had several objectives in mind:

 

>>> Bulwark Height - this problem was previously identified in Bob Hunt's practicum on building the MS Armed Virginia Sloop circa 1768; FA drawings and bulkheads were inconsistent; and as I was using replacement cannons the bulwark had to be increased in height

>>> Bulwark and Upper Hull Planking Widths - plank widths were established to suit gun port height

>>> Waterway Construction Details - evaluate construction sequence

>>> Deck Planking Construction Details - evaluate planned design/construction details

>>> Deck Scupper Construction Details - evaluate construction sequence

>>> Silver Soldered Chain Plate Construction - evaluate new construction techniques and silver soldered ring diameters

>>> Cannon Tackle Arrangements - evaluate ring bolt locations, tackle lengths, and installation sequence

>>> Paint Colors - evaluate use of Floquil model railroad acrylic colors

>>> Go Ahead Decision on Modeling "Fair American" - mockup was constructed as I was building "Newsboy" and I was still evaluating a FA build

 

With respect to deck planking design:

 

>>> As I recall, the latest FA kit provides 1/8" or 6" wide deck planks; 3/16" or 8-9" wide deck planks would be more typical of the period

>>> Allowing deck planks to end in long tapers was considered poor practice as effective caulking of these joints was not possible

>>> I agree that OB nibbing of deck planks would not be appropriate as this construction detail was typical of the 1800's after machine cut planks came into general use

>>> I therefore chose to use curved planks with hooked scarfs more typical of hand cut planks of the 1700's

>>> Note that curved planks were also used on the poop deck

 

With respect to my modeling practice: I strive to model ships as they might well have appeared based on period construction practice. Therefore, I will deviate from model kit plans and instructions where experience suggests alternate details and arrangements apply.

 

Pete Jaquith

Shipbuilder

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