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Brig Eagle by robnbill - 1:48

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All, I wanted everyone who is following my build to know the shipyard will be closed for a couple of months. I am getting work done on my hand so it depends on how quickly it mends how soon I can get back to the ship. I will of course still be watching/reading the forum, I just will have limited ability to work or type for awhile.

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Thanks everyone. The hand surgery went well. Now I just have to be patient to let heal. I appreciate everyone's thoughts. The good news is I should have full use of the hand which I have not had for awhile. Luckily, this is my left hand and I am righty!

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It has been a really long time since I made an update. While I have not been updating, I have been building. I started on the rigging with the construction of the lower main mast. I plan on using maple for the masting and walnut for the spars - although that is subject to change. I built the mast shaping jig and proceeded to make shavings. The first mast was a test and that was a great thing since it taught me a lot. Mostly about how to transition between the various profiles. Once thereal mast was roughed in, I made the cheeks and bibbs. Once these were fitted to the mast I banded it. I debated on whether to use rope wouldings, or iron bands.


After much back and forth (in my mind) and getting great input (Thanks Glenn and Gary) I decided to use wouldings. While all the drawings of masts show iron bands, the speed at which they built the ship tended to point me toward them using rope wouldings.


One of the points of discussion with Dr. Crisman was his use of wood hammock cranes. There was no evidence of these in the wreckage, but the Brown brothers always installed cranes on their ships. Given the time constraints, he felt they probably built them out of wood since it was readily available, quick to build and cheap. For me, this would also point towards them using wouldings since that would certainly be faster, cheaper, and readily available. Following along the same lines, I omitted the wood rings that would normally be put above and below these to protect the rope from wear.


I have the trestle trees added and am beginning to work on the mast tops. I will build these based on David Antscherl's instructions for the Swan Class.















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Here is what the main mast looks like today. I have completed the lower main mast and fighting top. The Main Topmast is mostly done. A bit more clean up, then I will work on the cross trees. I have a question regarding the mast caps. My assumption is they need to be aligned perpendicular to the mast itself rather than aligned with the fighting top. Since the main mast is raked at 8 degrees it is more pronounced. The cap that is shown in the photos is a temporary cap which will be replaced.


The fighting top was based upon that shown in the Lee book and assembled following the Swan Series Vol 4. There will be a matching top in the fore mast.


Once the top mast was shaped I used the mill to cut the groove through for the sheave. The sheave was turned in brass and a brass pin through the mast as axle. Once the sections are complete the mast will be unstacked and restacked as it is rigged.


Also shown are the spanker mast hoops. I really wanted to make these out of wood shavings but found it beyond my skill to make rings that I liked. If I made them out of paper, I would have to paint them. If I was going to paint them I might as well make them out of brass. These were blackened after soldering and cleanup.


I still am debating a bit on how many rings to actually put on the mast. I believe a hoop would have been tied to each of the same places as a laced sail which would be every 27" to 3 feet. I have 15 on here which would represent about a 27" spacing.









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Here is the Eagle as she sits in the dock today. The upper mast sections for the foremast are still to be done. On the spanker mast I decided to go with 12 rings. This was based on the Model Expo Niagara. It was slightly less than what I had calculated but given the boom and the angle of the gaff was well within the tolerances. Since the Niagara was what Dr. Crisman used as his basis for rigging, this is the rig I turn to when questions arise in my build.


Once the foremast is complete, I will start on the bowsprit assembly. The masts are currently just lightly wedged in place so ignore any misalignment. The final angles will be set with the shrouds. The mast sections are also not glued together. I plan on rigging the masts in place. Of course, as always, my plans are subject to change!









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Hey Bill


I absolutely love that middle photo of yours.  I had no idea just how long, low and sleek the Eagle's hull was, but that photo emphasises it beautifully.


Nicely done.





She was built for an inland lake and the shipyard was up a river that had a very shallow bar at it's entrance. She was unable to take on her ballast (which was magnetite ore) until she crossed the bar into the lake. There was nothing found of her rigging except the chainplates. Dr. Crisman felt she would have a tall rig, like that of the Niagara. She probably could not sail very close to the wind but that was not uncommon in those days either. Since it was an inland lake, she had no need of a deep hold for supplies. Water was readily available since they were sailing in it, food was available since they were never far from shore, so all they needed was enough room for the men and ammunition. Originally Dr Crisman put a ship's wheel on her, but after sailing on the Niagara felt it probably only had a tiller, so he revised this.


Thanks for following the build.

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Just an update on progress on the Eagle. I have been putting quite a bit of time into researching the rigging configuration for the model. Dr. Crisman has a fuzzy hand drawing of how he thinks the ship's Rigging Profile would have looked. For my purposes, I need to drill down to much further details. My model will not have sails but there will be a combination of standing and running rigging on the model.


I am using several references. The American ships were rigged following most, if not all the basic rules used for British Ship's of War. This makes things much cleaner. Given the expediency with which the Eagle was built (19 days) there were in all likelihood shortcuts in some of this. There certainly was with the hull construction. However, following these guidelines along with Crisman's expert opinions should give a good approximation of the ship as she sailed to battle. Here is a list of the reference material I am using in this effort.=


  1. Crisman's The Eagle
  2. Steel's Elements of Mastmaking, Sailmaking and Rigging
  3. Lee's Masting and Rigging of English Ship's of War
  4. Lennarth Petersson's Rigging Period Ship Models
  5. David Antscherl's Swan Vol 4, Rigging a Sixth Rate Sloop (while much earlier than the Eagle, it is a valuable treatise on actually rigging a model

The first order of business was to attempt to identify those lines shown in Crisman's drawing and record these on a new CAD drawing (I am attempting to do) of the rigged ship. I also had an email discussion with Ed Tosti asking his advice on approaching designing a detailed rigging profile. His sage advice was to develop a detailed spreadsheet that would capture all the lines as well as the details around them, i.e., size of rope, serving, color, blocks etc.


I found that the Petersson book was great in identifying lines typical to that period. I used this in conjunction with the Crisman drawing to develop a list of those lines I would be installing. This could then be cross referenced with the Steel and Lee volumes to flesh out the details.


One key aspect of this is deciding the size of the ship itself. Steel has a table for sizing ship's based on the number of guns on board. I will be using the 20 to 22 gun tables. There is a difference in line and block sizing between Steel and Lee. Steel's number tend to be slightly larger in both line circumference and blocks. However, there is also inconsistency in these tables that Lee's smooths out using common block sizing ratios. However, this does not answer which method to use. There was nothing left of the rigging in the wreck other than the lower chainplates and mast steps. However there was an inventory list for the supplies sold from Whitehall during the sell off of the Lake Champlain fleet and supplies in 1825. While circumstantial at best, it does point to those supplies that were common in the fleet. The sizes of running rigging and blocks falls more neatly into the Steel tables than Lee's So I feel comfortable using these.


I have compiled my list of lines, but have only started working on fleshing out the spreadsheet. This will be an on-going project I will be doing in conjunction with completing the masting and spars for the ship. 


I had built a manual serving machine when rigging the Connie (1:92). However at 1:48 the Eagle will show much more detail in the rigging and require much more serving to be done than I wanted to do on my old manual machine. In preparation for this, I purchased Alexey Dumanoff's powered serving machine. It seems like a great machine and I can't wait to put it into service. It will be a great match for the Byrnes ropewalk.


I also have been putting in time actually making sawdust (and brass shavings). The photos below show the ship where she stands. I have been playing with my Grizzly Milling machine trying to develop the skills to actually use it well. More on that later. For this update, I used it to build the upper mast cheeks as well as sheave slots for the masts. The sheaves were turned on the lathe out of brass stock. I decided I did not like the previous iteration of the topgallant masts that I had done. On the Eagle, Crisman call for these to be exactly the same. So I redid these building them in parallel. These like all my masting were done first by cutting square strips of Maple to the size of the widest part of the mast, then using files, chisels and sand paper shaping the various sections per the drawings. By doing the fore and main topgallants at the same time I was able to better insure they were matched section by section. I still need to build the foremast cross trees and caps. The main mast caps also still require fitting and I may decide to redo some of those before all is said and done. 


Anyway, that is where she is today. Once the foremast is complete, I will work my way through the bowsprit and jibboom, then the spars. At that point, I hope to have all the rigging spreadsheet filled out. This will give me a good estimate for the numbers and sizes of the blocks to be made as well as the inventory of rope I need to make prior to starting the rigging. 


Here is a close up of the topgallant cheek blocks.58c9a9808f165_3-15-17EagleMasting-1.thumb.jpg.39f4a2da67077ba71dee41a9f33ce321.jpg


Topmast and topgallant masts. The fids will be cut to length after the cross tree is installed.58c9a981401dd_3-15-17EagleMasting-2.thumb.jpg.7d0317c3011614cfa9708e41fe760786.jpgMain mast topmast and topgallant masts. 




Main mast topmast and topgallant mast


Main mast topmast and topgallant at cross tree.





3-15-17 Eagle  Masting - 4.jpg

3-15-17 Eagle  Masting - 6.jpg

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