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Trusses and Lifts and Jeers, Oh My (Fair American)


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I am starting to rig my Model Shipways "Fair American" and have been studying the rigging diagram, belaying pin plan, and instruction manual.  As best I can figure for the lower yards, the plans call for slings and trusses but only lifts to raise the yards...and not jeers.  The instructions for the llifts are shown below.  I am puzzled by the lift pendants crossing over the cap as shown.  This does not look right to me.  Shouldn't there be blocks there instead?  And why didn't they utilize jeers on this vessel?  Any insight from you 18th century guys will be appreciated.  Thanks





Edited by GaryKap
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Gary, you tried to help me with my Swift question so I'm going to try to return the favor. Page 24 of Petersson's book shows a single block on bottom of each side of the cap. Do you by chance have fax capability? I would be glad to shoot that page to you.

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Hi Ron -

Thank you for your offer.  I don't have fax capability, but I do have Petersson's book.  And I have checked out page 24.  Yes, that is what I would expect to see.

Regarding your Swift question, Russ has been very helpful to me with my past questions and always correct in his responses.  If you are building a Virginia pilot boat, you made the right decision.  Interestingly, the AL kit also included two cannons...not found on pilot boats. 



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Hi Gary,


Personally, I wouldn't be too quick to disregard Erik Ronnberg, Jr's instructions. He's an outstanding model builder and researcher who's work is very well known. Petersson's books are great, but I think people put too much emphasis on them. His drawings are extremely useful, but generally taken from a single contemporary model – A British warship model donated to the Briston Industrial Museum in 1844. So, what period does the rig represent exactly?


Anyway, I had to look up what you were referring to because something didn't seem right.


That lift arrangement you show is only for the lower yard lifts. These yards are fixed, so they aren't raised or lowered by the lifts. My take is that if necessary, temporary jeers could be rigged up to lower or raise the yard down as needed. Otherwise, the lifts only serve to keep the yard steady. But, I was surprised at your mention of no slings, so I looked through the instructions again and there is in fact an illustration, fig 38, that shows the lower yard sling in place.


Though I never built her, the Fair American was one of those life-long loves in ship modeling for me. Hope you are enjoying the build – I'm quite envious!



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Hello Claire -

Thank you for your input.  We also chased this topic a bit in KenW's "Fair American" build log.  The upshot is that the rigging plans and diagram provided with the Model Shipways kit probably reflect the model in the Rogers Collection at Annapolis that the kit is attempting to duplicate.   As Russ pointed out, an actual ship would have had blocks and references Lees on page 69 of The Masting and Rigging of English Ships of War, 1625-1860.


You must have misread my original post.  where I say the plans call for slings.  I simply never mentioned them again in subsequent comments.


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  • 8 years later...

Sorry for the late reply but perhaps this will be useful to others.


Darcy Lever's "Young Sea Officers Sheet Anchor", P. 34, Fig 221 shows the lifts for the lower yards as Ronnberg drew in his instructions. Lever states that the lift would have to be leathered in the wake of the cap and sometimes a saddled was placed on the cap for the lifts to rest in. Says it is found this way in the Merchant Service to answer very well. Ronnberg has consistently tried to use rigging methods that were used for small ships and brigs rather than those of a 74 gun ship of the Line.


Lever also mentions, p35, fig 229, that "ships which carry no jeers" frequently have two pair of slings (one being a preventer). He also states that "when no jeers are carried" the yard is swayed up by the hawser which hove it on board, taken to the capstern by tackles.... Point being that some ships did not carry Jeers. Once again I suspect Ronnberg is keeping things simple for small vessels.


The model in the museum has single lower lifts, tarred, and fed thru blocks attached to a span at the mast cap. However, much of the original rigging was replaced in restorations by Fred Avery in 1922 and Charles Davis in 1933 (Art Herrick, NRJ), so you can run your lifts several ways and still be period correct.


Nautical Research Journal (article reprints available from their website)

In Search of Fair American, Art Herrick    Part 1, vol 45: pp 133-140

                                                                                Part 2, vol 45: pp 213-232

                                                                                Part 3, vol 46: pp 3-11

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