Great Republic 1853, 1/128 Extreme Clipper Barque by Rwiederrich

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I'm entering this log long after I have laid the keel....and am entering the sail install. I do apologize.
I will refer back to other build aspects as I progress.

This last week I set the mizzen mast. This build has taken me down another math of construction I have never traveled. I rigged each mast with yards and sails to the upper topsail...leaving off the lower topsail and main course to afford easier access to rig the main shrouds and ratlines.

I have much to do, but here is the state she is currently in.
And an image of a painting she will represent.

Don't see a signiture on the painting but is it the Butterworth painting?
 
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Hello Rob. I finally got time to get back to you on the GR. You've added several pictures and I must say your rigging is very good looking. You bear out my theory of rigging from stem to stern and from midship out to the rails.
I received my Crother's book in March of 2001 and I've been studying it ever since. There was a great deal of confusion about how the ship was rigged and I never have gotten to studying the sails yet as Crother's didn't go into a lot of detail on them. You would think that there would have been at least one picture of her launching and maybe a few more after she was rigged out and sailed for NYC. What a shame that she only made it that far with her original set up. Now we'll never know if she would have set any records or not.
I started corresponding with Mr. Crothers and he sent me several sheets of plans for a model of the GR which I had copied and returned his sheets to him as requested. I explained to him that I thought the model I would build ought to be 1/4" to the foot in scale and that would make a huge model (as the GR was huge) and he wished good luck with that. I think I toned it down some since then to a ship about 7 feet long and that's big enough.
Next I found that there was no way I could build a model like that in my present home so I am currently looking for a place to buy, big enough to build this model. I'm still looking. Meantime I have assembled enough odds and ends of plans to make one big plan and I thought I'd use the rigging plans from the Revell Cutty Sark as a guide to the rigging since they are both Clipper Ships but built in different countries. The main mast is the only mast that has a sky sail so only going up to the main royal wouldn't be any problem. It should be easy enough to do the spanker mast following the rigging pattern of the other masts. Don't know yet if the spanker mast has any sails on it or not. All I can do for now is keep a sharp eye on your build until I can get the room to start my own.
Your pictures are very good and easy to see the details. Hope to see lots more soon. Pete
 
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Don't see a signiture on the painting but is it the Butterworth painting?
No..His painting depicted her after her rebuild. I'm not all that sure who is the author of the painting I posted...I can't find were I stored that info. I'm sure I'll come by it. This is Butterworth's rendering.Great-Republic_resize_md.jpg
 
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Hello Rob. I finally got time to get back to you on the GR. You've added several pictures and I must say your rigging is very good looking. You bear out my theory of rigging from stem to stern and from midship out to the rails.
I received my Crother's book in March of 2001 and I've been studying it ever since. There was a great deal of confusion about how the ship was rigged and I never have gotten to studying the sails yet as Crother's didn't go into a lot of detail on them. You would think that there would have been at least one picture of her launching and maybe a few more after she was rigged out and sailed for NYC. What a shame that she only made it that far with her original set up. Now we'll never know if she would have set any records or not.
I started corresponding with Mr. Crothers and he sent me several sheets of plans for a model of the GR which I had copied and returned his sheets to him as requested. I explained to him that I thought the model I would build ought to be 1/4" to the foot in scale and that would make a huge model (as the GR was huge) and he wished good luck with that. I think I toned it down some since then to a ship about 7 feet long and that's big enough.
Next I found that there was no way I could build a model like that in my present home so I am currently looking for a place to buy, big enough to build this model. I'm still looking. Meantime I have assembled enough odds and ends of plans to make one big plan and I thought I'd use the rigging plans from the Revell Cutty Sark as a guide to the rigging since they are both Clipper Ships but built in different countries. The main mast is the only mast that has a sky sail so only going up to the main royal wouldn't be any problem. It should be easy enough to do the spanker mast following the rigging pattern of the other masts. Don't know yet if the spanker mast has any sails on it or not. All I can do for now is keep a sharp eye on your build until I can get the room to start my own.
Your pictures are very good and easy to see the details. Hope to see lots more soon. Pete
Pete...I recall the feelings I felt(similar to your own), when I decided to build the GR myself. I put a lot of study into the project...and dug up as much commentary as I could. One in particular that quotes Mr Forbes as saying that his design for double topsails was actually not used on the GR, but a more modified version that included Forbes much longer main/yop mast doublings..but did not set the top mast aft of the main, as some early plans depict. All of the photographs we do have of her are after her rebuild..so no true definitive evidence is available accept first hand written accounts. Crothers plans are probably the same that are available, but are in 3/32.
Photography had not become widely used until after 1855 and beyond...so my Great Republic would have fallen just in the notch of time when it would have been most appreciated.
I personally chose to retain the plan scale of 3/32, because of just that fact the GR was so large(twice as large as her next competitor).
Draw your rigging scheme from many sources. Many rigged items on the Gr were unique to her(Namely her mobile lower topsail, Forbes design) not fixed like in Howes design on the mast head... the design the Cutty Sark used.
The main mast skysail probably was designed, but conflicting eyewitness accounts state she had no higher sails then Royals. Other paintings depict her with only royals and even her original sailing card...the one designed(Reportedly) by Donald McKay depicts only Royals. I chose to follow this evidence when I decided on my build.
I am so glad you find my log informative.....When I began...all I could find was info of what she looked like when she was rebuilt...and even some of that info was a mixed bag depicting her with former and latter details mixed.
Notice her spar deck railing, original design.

Here are some images/painting of her with only royals38402-650x447.jpg1167-85-1794_468x382.jpg
 
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Because there were no reference materials available to show you the comparativeness and size difference of clippers. I built a plaque depicting many famous clippers..their weights, dates built and lengths all to scale to one another. The Great Republic was so much larger then the next largest(average) clipper it is just amazing.

Robhalf hull model comparison.jpg
 

Uwek

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No..His painting depicted her after her rebuild. I'm not all that sure who is the author of the painting I posted...I can't find were I stored that info. I'm sure I'll come by it. This is Butterworth's rendering.
I tried to check it.....seems, that this painting is from Butteworth, but he made several more or less similar versions of this paiting, also f.e. mirror-inverted.
I found a very informative site about the Great Republic with some photos
https://doriccolumns.wordpress.com/industry/shipbuilding/clipper-ships/donald-mckay/great-republic/
This ship was really a very interesting vessel......

PS: and from the NMM:
https://collections.rmg.co.uk/colle...el-316459;browseBy=vessel;vesselFacetLetter=G

pw7750.jpg
 
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I tried to check it.....seems, that this painting is from Butteworth, but he made several more or less similar versions of this paiting, also f.e. mirror-inverted.
I found a very informative site about the Great Republic with some photos
https://doriccolumns.wordpress.com/industry/shipbuilding/clipper-ships/donald-mckay/great-republic/
This ship was really a very interesting vessel......

PS: and from the NMM:
https://collections.rmg.co.uk/colle...el-316459;browseBy=vessel;vesselFacetLetter=G

View attachment 91435
Thanks for the infor Uwek. this rendering is of her second rebuild after she was purchased by the Merchants Trading Company of Liverpool... and renamed the Denmark and cut down to a full rigged ship.

If you look closely at the sailing card I posted. She only had royals, but most fail to realize that her sails were enormous and proportionally they were balanced. When Palmer cut her sail plan down...he added the skysails..., but STILL she had 20% less sail area then when McKay built her. Her masts were shortened by 20ft and her main yard shortened also by 20ft. This shortening was proportional up along all the sails and yards..
In reality...more sails were added but actually LESS sail area was the result.

Rob
 
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One more telling piece of information...when originally built she required 100 men plus 30 boys to operate her sails....when cut down she only required 50 men.....
That is significant information.

Rob
 
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That sure is a lot of info. I've seen those pictures and the bare bones one was interesting but all the running rigging is down along with the sails. One thing about rigging the model of this ship is that there is so little info on it that you could almost rig it anyway you want and nobody could say your wrong. The Currier and Ives print above looks strange with only three masts . It does show the running rig pretty well but not the way we are looking for. Never saw her picture with that flag at the main mast either. One point that always bothered me a bit was about the fire. They say she burnt to the water line and that's just not true. Water was pumped aboard to save the cargo of lumber. So much water that she in fact was on the bottom. That's why only the top deck was lost. Otherwise she would have been scrapped. I'll have to save all this and study it as time allows. It's good to talk with somebody else who's interested in this ship.
I love the plaque you made Rob. You put a lot of time and effort into that and it shows. Very handsome to say the least.
Maybe the sailing card is the clue to the sails. depending on it's authenticity. I've not seen that before either but probably there were a lot of them made and finding a few more could verify McKay's picture of the GR. You would also think there would be plans for such a massive undertaking but as far as I could ever find none remain. The McKay family have all of the remaining documents from Donald's time and no plans exist apparently. I have hope that these plans and other things will someday be found in somebodies attic and all the questions will be resolved.
 
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Pete...I recall the feelings I felt(similar to your own), when I decided to build the GR myself. I put a lot of study into the project...and dug up as much commentary as I could. One in particular that quotes Mr Forbes as saying that his design for double topsails was actually not used on the GR, but a more modified version that included Forbes much longer main/yop mast doublings..but did not set the top mast aft of the main, as some early plans depict. All of the photographs we do have of her are after her rebuild..so no true definitive evidence is available accept first hand written accounts. Crothers plans are probably the same that are available, but are in 3/32.
Photography had not become widely used until after 1855 and beyond...so my Great Republic would have fallen just in the notch of time when it would have been most appreciated.
I personally chose to retail the plan scale because of just that fact the GR was so large(twice as large as her next competitor).
Draw your rigging scheme from many sources. Many rigged items on the Gr were unique to her(Namely her mobile lower topsail, Forbes design) not fixed like in Howes design... the design the Cutty Sark used.
The main mast skysail probably was designed, but conflicting eyewitness accounts state she had no higher sails then Royals. Other paintings depict her with only royals and even her sailing card...the one designed(Reportedly) by Donald McKay depicts only Royals. I chose to follow this evidence when I decided on my build.
I am so glad you find my log informative.....When I began...all I could find was info of what she looked like when she was rebuilt...and even some of that info was a mixed bag of depicting her with former and latter details mixed.

Here are some images/painting of her with only royalsView attachment 91432View attachment 91433
I see more than enough room for sky-sails in both of these pictures so I would go with the sky-sails. There is no reason to have masts that tall if no sky-sails were ever used. And how about stun s'ls that a lot of ships used for extra speed like the Cutty Sark? The GR surely could have benefited from a set of those. I see no stay sails between the masts either. Just about every clipper had those at one time or another. They caught the wind that slipped between the masts and sails for more power.
 
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That sure is a lot of info. I've seen those pictures and the bare bones one was interesting but all the running rigging is down along with the sails. One thing about rigging the model of this ship is that there is so little info on it that you could almost rig it anyway you want and nobody could say your wrong. The Currier and Ives print above looks strange with only three masts . It does show the running rig pretty well but not the way we are looking for. Never saw her picture with that flag at the main mast either. One point that always bothered me a bit was about the fire. They say she burnt to the water line and that's just not true. Water was pumped aboard to save the cargo of lumber. So much water that she in fact was on the bottom. That's why only the top deck was lost. Otherwise she would have been scrapped. I'll have to save all this and study it as time allows. It's good to talk with somebody else who's interested in this ship.
I love the plaque you made Rob. You put a lot of time and effort into that and it shows. Very handsome to say the least.
Maybe the sailing card is the clue to the sails. depending on it's authenticity. I've not seen that before either but probably there were a lot of them made and finding a few more could verify McKay's picture of the GR. You would also think there would be plans for such a massive undertaking but as far as I could ever find none remain. The McKay family have all of the remaining documents from Donald's time and no plans exist apparently. I have hope that these plans and other things will someday be found in somebodies attic and all the questions will be resolved.
Duncan McLean has a written description of her in his recollection writings about her.
It takes some deduction to conclude that much of what we know about her is from after her rebuild.....BUT eyewitness accounts of her during her travels from Boston to New York being towed by the tug N.B. Palmer(Named after the man who rebuilt her) can give us many clues to what she looked like and then it requires the discriminating researcher to sift through that data and determine what is *reconstruction* and what is *Original*.

As far as her rigging, the significant identifier is she had a modified Forbes topsail rig... early paintings and even Crothers corroborate this, however, the lower topsail was NOT fixed to the mast head as what is found in Howes design, but traveled up and down the doublings length...much as the top topsail did with Howes design.
It can be accurately assumed she had generally accepted sail and control designed rigging....apart from the mentioned Forbes lower topsail yard differences.
It must NOT be forgotten, that we have KNOWN yard and mast dimensions... so it can be calculated the size of the sail plan based on mast height and main sail size.

Rob
 
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I see more than enough room for sky-sails in both of these pictures so I would go with the sky-sails. There is no reason to have masts that tall if no sky-sails were ever used. And how about stun s'ls that a lot of ships used for extra speed like the Cutty Sark? The GR surely could have benefited from a set of those. I see no stay sails between the masts either. Just about every clipper had those at one time or another. They caught the wind that slipped between the masts and sails for more power.
If the sail plan is proportional, based upon the size of the main course. If one logically reduces the sail/yard size upward as is described in every eyewitness account(and as the shipping card shows). then once the royal mast is reached, the need for a skysail is not apparent.
However, if they are in your plan...add them.
Basically....if you balance the 5 large stepped sails upward, you will indeed have used the entire mast. If you reduce the sail/yard size, then you can easily fir a skysail on each mast(As is the case on the rebuild).

There is indication that she did sport stunsails...however, they were not used during the time of my builds representation...so I left them off fore clarity. It is suggested, her original design forgo them because of the massive sail area already provided with her immense sail plan already. She had plenty of stay sails....

Rob(great conversations)
 
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Another interesting fact...Donald McKay had intended the Great Republic for Australia service and her size was a gamble to compensate for the Southern latitudes she was going to routinely traverse. The winds and weather in the Southern hemisphere was brutal and a set of stunsails was generally provided to ships who traveled the lighter trade wind routes....so because of her robust design and size...not to mention her enormous sail plan...stunsails were an option, I found questionable thus I chose not to add them.
Because much of what McKay had intended for the GR had never materialized,...it can never really be definitively clear as to how he actually fitted her out . As mentioned, eyewitness accounts are relied upon heavily in my build, but others can be more cautious and follow a more conservative and accepted perception of what they may think she looked like and by adding stunsails and skysails. Who's to say you are totally wrong and how many true historians of this vessel will you ever come across to view your representation of her and add their opinion?

I appreciate the lively conversations concerning this beautiful vessel...she was quite unique...and however you choose to depict her..she still was the largest (extreme) clipper ever made.

Thanks everyone for your comments and likes.

Rob
 
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I thought it would be interesting to share some of my observations and point out some inconsistencies so the readers can have a greater respect for the complexity needed when researching and evaluating that research.

First lets look at the contemporary drawings made(probably by Duncan Mcann and referenced by many, such as Crothers.
Here is an example of several interesting inconsistancies….we know the GR sported a modified Forbes double topsail rig as represented here. the mast and topmast doublings are extremely long....outlined by Forbes. to were he slung the lower topsail..and so it could run up and down the outer topmast doubling.
inconsistency #1, by measuring the height of the mast(In scale) it is determined the main yard is not long enough....thus creating a sequential step error in subsequent sail dimensions.
Inconsistency #2, this drawing depicts her with a bulwark, NOT a flush spar deck with her turned post railing. She did not have Forbes rigging when sporting bulwarks...she had Howes topsail rig.
Inconsistency #3, eyewitness accounts say she had no higher sails then Royals....which causes me to question this drawing because of the other blatant issues to include the extra long Royal masts.
45768991_2099293396782437_5051455833058050048_o.jpg
 
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I have a big problem with "eye witness accounts" and artists who never were aboard a ship, painting accurate pictures especially of clippers and other sailing vessels.
As for the drawing do you have any idea who did it? If we are talking about the original rigging hardly anyone even saw it. The boat was towed to NYC so probably had very little sail showing if any at all. After that the configuration was different. Some say she only had royals and some say she had sky sails. Maybe the day they saw only the royals there was a hard wind blowing and they,the sky sails, were taken in. Who knows what somebody "saw?"The extra long mast pieces would say that she most likely had sky sails. Other wise why the long mast sections and long doubling? It wouldn't make sense to have upper masts ten or fifteen feet longer than needed.
Now the Forbes rig was one larger sail at the top and Howes rig had that sail split into two sails for easier handling and reefing right? Or do I have that backwards? If I'm right then the drawing shows Howes rig. Personally I like the sails as shown in the drawing whoever's rig it is.:eek:
 
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I have a big problem with "eye witness accounts" and artists who never were aboard a ship, painting accurate pictures especially of clippers and other sailing vessels.
As for the drawing do you have any idea who did it? If we are talking about the original rigging hardly anyone even saw it. The boat was towed to NYC so probably had very little sail showing if any at all. After that the configuration was different. Some say she only had royals and some say she had sky sails. Maybe the day they saw only the royals there was a hard wind blowing and they,the sky sails, were taken in. Who knows what somebody "saw?"The extra long mast pieces would say that she most likely had sky sails. Other wise why the long mast sections and long doubling? It wouldn't make sense to have upper masts ten or fifteen feet longer than needed.
Now the Forbes rig was one larger sail at the top and Howes rig had that sail split into two sails for easier handling and reefing right? Or do I have that backwards? If I'm right then the drawing shows Howes rig. Personally I like the sails as shown in the drawing whoever's rig it is.:eek:
Let me try to explain.
With clippers the sail plan saw important changes ...namely the division of the topsail into two smaller separate sails called the upper topsail and the lower topsail. In 1841 the American captain Forbes(who invented the system), devised a means of dividing the topsail into 2 parts. this was to reduce the difficult process of hauling in the one large topsail with a limited crew. The doubling of the lower and top masts was made longer than usual and an extra yard was added below the cap which could then be raised and lowered on its parrel between the cap and the top(Like I did on my GR).
Above this the shortened topsail was lowered to the cap as before. So this was the origin of the double topsail
This simple division of the sail was easier to work and quicker, then the old single topsail as the upper topsail yard could be lowered from the deck and its sail fell in front of the lower portion(Lower topsail) and was blanked by it.

In 1853 capt. Howes brought an improvement to the arrangement. In his version, the new lower topsail was fixed to the lower mast cap with a movable crane and was additionally supported by an iron bar. (Cutty sark employs this system). This yard did not move up and down as it did in the Forbes design. The upper topsails foot was then laced directly to the lower topsails jackstay, presenting it without any gap...thus creating both sails as one...but with the simplicity of a split sail(two yards) for reefing.
The doubling of lower and top mast was reduced to the normal or what was usual distance.

This drawing was most likely made by a gentleman and close friend of Donald McKay named Duncan McLean. He wrote a short book describing the Great Republics construction.
The drawing shows her Forbes rig....note the lower topsail mast is just below the mast cap..permitting its up and down motion...while the upper topsail yard is placed in the normal position, which can be lowered to the mast cap. The extreme length of the doubling is evident of the Forbes design....permitting the lower yard some distance to travel.
Additional drawings can be found by Capt. Armitage McCann..who provided drawings of her for a model...and it is those plans I used to build my GR. However, his masting plan does not follow the drawing from Duncan Mclean...but depicts her with an unmodified Forbes design...with the topmast being fiddled aft of the main mast.
In Richard C. McKay,s fine book, *Some Famous Sailing Ships and their Builder Donald McKay* he states she carried nothing higher then Royals. This coupled with many other *eyewitness accounts of her in port and at her Revealing where thousands of people paid a *York shilling*to board and see the ship in port. Not withstanding the etchings available.
This in principle is the main reasons why I chose to build her as I did. Each person will gain the mileage they can gain from their own study and assimilation of the known data.

Yes she was towed to Hew York from Boston...but she did set topsails and the courses and did indeed pass her tow and practical drug it to Hew York

I am looking forward to your build and surely these conversations will add to your own research.
I'm very excited for you and am glad I can help in any way.

Rob
 
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Looks like I had it part right at least. You sure can argue his point from now on and nobody really knows. Good story about the tow to NYC. At least the Captain and crew had one short chance to set the sails and get an idea of what the GR could do. That must have been thrilling.
 
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Looks like I had it part right at least. You sure can argue his point from now on and nobody really knows. Good story about the tow to NYC. At least the Captain and crew had one short chance to set the sails and get an idea of what the GR could do. That must have been thrilling.
I,m sorry for appearing to be *Hysterical* about her sail plan...but it has taken me many years to deduct...and in the end it is only my opinion and most really don't care. But I have to defend my position when asked why I didn't set skysails or six sails per mast...that everyone seams to know her with.
The real troubles comes with there is just not enough evidence..since she burned on her maiden evening....before she even got to prove anything.
This lithographic carving that was color enhanced depicts her as she arrived in New York and was etched by a reputable reported that was printed in the local paper from what I gather. Here she does sport a single skysail on the main mast...Forbes rig is present.

I have much more info on other folks build and restorations of models of the GReat Republic.

Most importantly..is that she doesn't fall into bolivian and is forgotten entirely........
She was magnificent in no matter what rig she is depicted.

Have you settled on the scale for your own version? 1/4=1ft is pretty significant.

Rob007tall.jpg
 
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