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I am ready to build a capstain in 1/4 scale.  It will be put on a 50 gun ship circa 1706.   I wish to make it as accurate as possible.  Does anyone know of an article where I can see photos of other peoples work and/or possible read about the methods used in constructing such a replica.  Thank You.


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There is a very good capstan model on the Institute for Nautical Archeology (INA) web site listed below.  This is a very good model of the main capstan on HMS Victory.  The model was made by Glen Grieco and is used in a class at the University by Dr. Kevin Chrisman.  Both of these gentlemen were featured speakers at this year's NRG Conference last month in St. Louis.  This should give you a good start.



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Hi Russell,


For authoritative details on a capstan from the early 18th century, check out William Sutherland's book Shipbuilding Unvail'd, which has one of the earliest known descriptions for both a main and a jeer capstan (pages 63-65).  This book is available for free viewing online at:




The book was a compilation of Sutherland's experiences working in the Royal Dockyards from about 1696 to 1717, so it's very applicable to your project. 


Now, Sutherland lays out the dimensions of all the parts of his capstan based on proportions, so you must have the dimension of at least one component of a capstan to use as a starting point.  Sutherland uses barrel diameter as his base dimension.  The 1719 Establishment specifies diameter of the capstan's spindle in the partners (1ft 8in for a 50 gun ship).  Using Sutherland's comment that spindle diameter is 19/21 of the barrel diameter, you get a barrel diameter of about 22 inches to use as your reference.  From there, follow his instructions and illustrations to get the size and shape of the rest.  Check out Lavery's Arming and Fitting of English Ships of War for additional detail (this should be available for sale on Abebooks.com or through an inter-library loan at a public library).


Hope that helps,



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Hi Russel,


I see that was your first post, so welcome.  Which ship? 

If you go to the NMM site, you may find a little information there.  http://collections.rmg.co.uk/collections/objects/66179.html ,  fourth photo, shows a castan on a 50 gunship from 1703.  Obviously sizes cannot be taken, but what I found a little different is that the  top is not round, but rather a decagon with 10 square openings for the bars.  The above concerning Lavery and the 1719 Establishment is great advice but as I have found is very often the case, there is conflicting information.  The scantlings in the 1719 Establishment calls for 12 bars, not ten.  1703 is obviously closer to your 1706 vessel than the 1719 Scantlings thus may be more accurate.  Choose your own poison.  I doubt anyone will fault you on whatever you choose.



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