Sloop of War Austin, a soup to nuts project - scale 1:85

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Part 1 Sloop of War Austin Design
In a previous post to this forum I wrote about my model of the Texas Navy schooner Invincible. This post , about a second Texas Navy vessel I am currently working on, the sloop of war Austin, will cover a number of subjects. The first concerns the search for sources of information that would allow building a representative model and the development of a vessel plan. Next is converting the plan to templates for bulkheads and a keel piece for building a model by the plank on bulkhead (POB) method. This is followed by assembly of the framework and finally the remaining steps in constructing the model.
After the loss of the first four schooners obtained for the Texas Navy , including Invincible, during the war for independence from Mexico, a new navy was created in 1838 with the construction of 6 sailing ships by Fredrick Dawson in Baltimore and the purchase of a paddle wheel steamer ( http://www.texasmilitaryforcesmuseum.org/articles/texasnavy/texasnavy.htm). One of these ships, Austin, made history at the Battle of Campeche in 1843 by being the only sail powered vessel to fight an iron hulled steam warship to a draw.
As was the case with modeling Invincible, plans are not available for Austin. But at least for Invincible, a plan for a similar vessel by the same builder served as the basis for the model. Much less is known about Austin. The only source I have been able to locate for the designer is Howard Chapelle in his book “The American Sailing Navy” (W.W. Norton, 1949). On page 407, the design is attributed to U.S. Naval Constructor Francis Grice, but later on in the book he also says that Grice's papers remain missing so it is a mystery as to where Chapelle got his information. Her dimensions were 125' between perpendiculars, 31' breadth, and 12'6” depth of hold, corresponding to a tonnage of 600. Armament is stated to be 16 24pounders and 4 18 pounders which would require a minimum of 10 gun ports per side. Chapelle gives a significantly different depth, 15'10 1/2”, but the 12'6”depth is confirmed by a report of a survey of the Austin in 1846 stating she draws 3' less than any U.S. sloop of war which was typically about 15'.
The only known image of Austin was painted by Edward Johns who was a midshipman aboard her (Naval History and Heritage Command, www.history.navy.mil):
Screen Shot 2020-05-16 at 1.14.15 PM.png
It is obviously unfinished. Rigging and channels are only shown on the bowsprit and foremast. There is a square stern, no quarter galleries, and the head is planked in. The low placement of the guns in the hull suggests the presence of a spar deck. However, the preponderance of evidence for sloops of war from this period indicates that she would be flush decked, so the low placement is perhaps artistic license.
Given the lack of design information for Austin, any model of her would be pure conjecture, so why bother? We are all familiar with conceptual ship models. Most models of ships prior to 1700 are from plans based on maritime historians best guesses. These models, the when on public display, serve a purpose. Yes, they do not replicate the actual ship, but when based what is known about typical vessels of their era, they can certainly provide a glimpse of what sailing ships of the time looked like and emphasize the history of the events they took part in.
The sloop of war was a very popular design for U.S. Naval ships in the period following the War of 1812. Smaller than a frigate, but well armed and capable of long cruises, they filled the need to protect America's growing world wide trade. This class of vessel is extensively discussed in “Sailing Warships of the US Navy” by Donald L. Caney (Naval Institute Press, 2001) and “The American Sailing Navy”. In this latter book, Chapelle presents many sloop of war plans. In the absence of a specific plan for Austin, the only alternative for building a model is to select a plan for another vessel that is a fairly good match. The best choice was Germantown (1843) whose dimensions were 150' length between perpendiculars, 36' breadth, and 16.8' depth. This is much larger than Austin, however the length to breadth ratio is similar (4.16 vs 4.03), so reducing the size of the plan by 17% would give the desired length and breadth. However, the depth will be 14' rather than 12.5'. The reason for Austin's shallow draft may be related to her design for the Gulf of Mexico.
The plans for the Germantown from Chapelle are shown below:
Germantown plan.jpg
Fig 2b G'town body plan .jpg
Germantown has an elliptical stern and quarter galleries as compared to Austin's square stern and lack of galleries. To match Austin's appearance in the illustration above, the stern area was redrawn and the quarter galleries omitted on a revised plan. Also the gun deck was shifted down by 1/16” on the scaled plans to maintain a height of 6' (full scale) under the poop and forecastle decks. No other corrections were made in depth on the plans to better match Austin's depth.
A spectacular model of the Austin built by Wayne E. Crow, was donated by his family to the Texas Military Forces Museum in Austin, Texas. Mr. Crow has passed away so I was unable to get any information from him about his design basis. The model, as shown below, is 57” long and has a full set of ship's boats, copper plating, and furled sails among the many other details.
Fig 3 Austin hull view.jpg
The deck layout is very similar to the Germantown so he may have travelled the same road as I did in searching for a representative plan. I believe this model is likely at a scale of about 1/48. After a consideration of space limitations, a scale of 1/85 was chosen for my model. This results in a hull 20” inches long (stem to stern) and 4.25”inches wide.

Part 2 Developing Templates
In this section I will discuss converting the plans to templates for cutting out the bulkheads and keel piece for this plank on bulkhead model. But first, for any readers contemplating scratch building, I want to mention the need for some power tools. A scroll saw is useful for cutting out the bulkheads and other curved shapes on the model, and a miniature table saw is essential for converting sheet wood to planking strips. I have a PREAC saw which is no longer manufactured, but other brands are currently on the market. I also use a sanding drum in my drill press for final sanding of shapes. My bench set up is shown below:

Fig 4.jpg
The cost of these two saws would be in the vicinity of $500, but it can cost that much for a single kit, and the expense for a scratch built model in my experience is less than $100, mainly for wood. I also find a Dremel drill (or similar brand) to be essential and a Dremel drill press to be very useful.
My first step in the build was to use a copying machine to print Chapelle's plans in the desired scale. Since the model is longer than the 14” paper available in most copiers, the copies were made in sections then taped together. A template for the keel piece was obtained from the shear plan. The upper surface is determined by the position of the decks. Starting aft there is the poop deck, a drop off to the gun deck, then a rise to the forecastle deck. The deck is open under the forecastle. So that none of the keel piece will show on the model, the aft-most bulkhead under the forecastle was inset about 1.5” from the aft edge of the forecastle deck. Some plans show the top and some the underside of the deck. If the top is shown, shift the deck lines downward to account for deck thickness. Slots for the masts were drawn on the plan and slots for the bulkheads were drawn at each station line equal to half the depth of the keel piece.
The body plan, one side of which shows the vessel cross section at the forward station lines and the other half at the aft station lines, was copied to the desired scale and then copied again using the mirror image function available on most copying machines to flip the image. The original and flipped images were then carefully cut along the center line and the matching halves taped together to give full cross sections. The result is shown below.
Fig 5 G'town body plan.jpg
Duplicates of these plans were then made corresponding to the number of bulkheads on the model. Excess paper was cut away to give the outside lines for each bulkhead. To convert the plans to bulkhead templates the position of the deck has to be determined. I do this with a T-square and drawing board.
The shear plan is taped to the board with the keel horizontal. Then, one by one, each bulkhead is laid on top of the shear plan near its station line, and the water lines on the two plans are lined up to insure correct placement. Then at every station line the T-square is used to carry the height of the deck at the centreline onto the body plan at that position. This set up is shown below:
Fig 6.jpg
I also check to insure that the shear on the hull plan corresponds to the position of the shear on the bulkhead plan. One of the cross section plans for Germantown shows the camber of the deck. This was traced onto a piece of card and cut out to produce a camber guide. The guide is laid on the bulkhead plan and the entire deck line is drawn through the centerline mark. Finally, a slot was marked on the bottom on the bulkhead with depth equal to the corresponding slot on the keel piece and extensions were drawn from the deck line to the sheer to support the bulwark planking above the deck. As usual with POB construction, these will be cut off after planking is complete. Sample bulkhead templates are shown below:
Fig 7 bulkhead templates .jpg
The keel piece and bulkhead templates were then glued to plywood. I use multi-layer aircraft plywood for the keel piece for strength. I don't believe the plywood used for the bulkheads is as critical, and I often use lumber supply 1/4” or 3/16” panelling scraps.

Part 3 – Building the skeleton
To start actual construction, the keel piece and bulkheads were cut out just wide of their reference lines and then sanded to the line. The exception being the bottom of the keel which was cut to the line with the PREAC saw to get a perfectly straight cut. The bulkheads were then dry fit into the keel piece to make sure they fit squarely into their slots, as checked with a square, and the waterlines on the bulkhead templates lined up with the waterlines on the keel piece. I'll just list the steps I next took before gluing the bulkheads into the keel piece. For the keel piece:
  1. Where there was a companion way with a ladder, a section was cut out of the keel piece equal to the length of the opening and to the depth of the lower deck. A floor section of basswood was then glued to the bottom of this opening for the ladder to rest on when installed. The edges of the opening were painted black.
  2. Holes were drilled in the stem for the bobstays. Austin does not have a gammon slot, but one would be made at this time if needed.
  3. Holes were drilled in the bottom for later attaching pedestals to mount the completed model.
  4. Dowels were inserted in the mast slots to insure good fit and the right mast rake. Wood strips were then glued over the slots so the masts would be properly positioned when installed. The strips were either padded out or in if needed to give an opening equal to the mast diameter.
  5. If desired to hide the edges of the plywood, glue a 1/32'” planking strip along the stem, stern, and bottom of the keel. For Austin, the hull will be painted so strips were not used.

For the bulkheads:
  1. Using the paper template as a guide, mark the centerline on the top edge for alignment with the centerline of the keel piece when the bulkheads are glued in place.
  2. For the first bulkhead aft of the poop deck and the first bulkhead forward of the forecastle deck, locate where the gun deck intersects and glue a cambered wood strip across the face to support the ends of the deck when it is installed.

After the bulkheads were glued into the keel piece, sandpaper was wrapped around a long narrow piece of wood and a bevel was sanded along the edges of several bulkheads at a time so planking would lie flat when glued on. Test pieces of planking were next laid along the hull and any areas that were not fair were either built up or sanded down. Pieces of 1/4”x1/4” basswood were glued between the bulkheads to stiffen the hull, although that was probably not necessary for a hull of this length.
In most POB kits, the edges of the sub deck are not supported, and I have found this leads to problems later on when planking the deck. So I next cut notches for a 1/16”x1/16” deck stringer in each side of the bulkheads just under my marks on the templates for the edge of the deck. It was then glued into the notches and sanded flush with the bulkheads.
Finally, filler blocks were made to fill the space between the first and last bulkheads and the rabbets lines to support the ends of the planking at the stem and stern. The first plank layer would be 1/16” and the second 1/32” so the blocks were set 3/32” back from the rabbet lines.
Next up was to cut rabbets where needed. At the stern I cut a rabbet and also removed some material in the deadwood area under the last couple of bulkheads which do not reach the keel. This is so the plank ends in this area will be level with the keel. If the first planking is terminated short of the keel and sanded down at the ends, the depth of the rabbet only has to be 1/32” for the ends of the second planking. This is shown in the below photo.
fig 8 rabbet.png
I cut a stem rabbet, but later in the build as I am adding planks. I do not cut a rabbet along the keel for the garboard since a fit can usually be achieved without a seam showing.
To complete the skeleton of the model, a card pattern was cut out to the shape of the deck, slots were cut to fit around the bulkheads, and the profile trimmed to be flush with the hull. It was then traced onto the sub-deck material, 1/32” aircraft plywood. The sub-deck was cut out and glued to the upper surface of the bulkheads as well as the deck stringer.

Part 4 Planking the Hull
In my previous post about the Invincible, I described my planking method so it will not be repeated here. In summary, the hull is divided with battens into planking sections each containing 4-5 planks. In each section the width along the bulkheads is measured, and then planks are tapered according to these measurements to fit between battens. Planks on this model were 5/32” wide corresponding to about 13” at full scale. I take as much care with the first planking as with the second. This serves as practice to indicate where stealers will be needed and where the battens might have to be shifted the second time around. I always install the first plank in a position where it will serve as a reference for later measurements. Usually it is either at a wale or just under the gun ports. For the Austin, the first plank was set along the the line of gun ports.
Planks are pre-bent by dipping them in water then shaping them over a piece of 3/4” copper tubing that is placed over the heated barrel of a soldering iron (bending over the barrel directly burns the wood). As each plank is installed, a notch for the plank end is cut along the rabbet line at the stem. I find this works well for me to get a good fit of the planks. The hull was first planked from the gun ports down to the garboard then up to the shear, which usually goes quickly since little plank taper is needed in this area.
The model after completion of the first planking is shown below.
Fig 9 IMG_1424.JPG
The planks were sanded fair, and next was to installed the transom at the stern. The transom pattern was glued to 1/32” plywood, two ply pieces were overlaid, and two identical transoms were cut out. One (sub-transom) was glued in place and the other was saved to work on later. Windows and trim will be added to this piece on the bench, and later it will be glued to the sub-transom.
After gun ports were cut in, the second layer of cherry planking was applied. The bulkhead extensions above deck could then be cut off and the inside the bulwarks planked with cherry. The model at this stage is shown below. A trim molding has been added above the gun ports. The stem and stern fillers can be seen in this picture as well as where the gun deck rests on the deck supports glued to the faces of the appropriate bulkheads as mentioned earlier.
fig 10 IMG_1434.jpg

TO BE CONTINUED
 
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Uwe, thank you for the kind remarks. Being stuck at home for the last two months because of the corona virus has left me with a lot of time to fill, and I decided to use it by doing something that is hopefully useful to other modelers. In my Austin build log I am trying to pass along all of the procedures and methods I have found to work well.
 
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THE STORY CONTINUES
Part 5 Completing the hull
Before starting planking of the gun deck, waterways (3/16” x 1/16” basswood) were installed along the bulwarks. Deck planks were made from 1/32” aircraft plywood by slicing it into 1/8” wide strips with my PREAC saw. This is an inexpensive source of decking material, and to me, it looks good on a model. I assumed a length of 20' for the actual deck planks which would be about 3” in 1/85 scale. A pattern was laid out on paper for staggering the plank seams with a repeat every 5th plank. Starting at the deck centerline and laying planks alternately on each side, a planking strip the length of the deck was marked with the seam pattern and scored with a #11 blade at the marks. One edge of each strip was blackened with a permanent black marker to represent caulking. It was then glued in place. When the planks reached the waterway, the ends were nibbed and the waterway notched for them to fit.
The stays for the main mast pass through the forecastle deck so ends of the stays had to be belayed to eyes in the gun deck prior to the deck being installed. After this was done, a forecastle sub-deck was cut and fitted, rough openings were cut into the deck for the stays to pass through, and then the sub-deck was glued in place. The poop sub-deck was also fitted and glued. As with the gun deck, waterways were added and then these decks were planked. Due to the curvature at the bow, the forecastle waterways were sawn from a sheet of basswood. The nibbed planking on the forecastle deck is shown below (photo taken after cleats were added on deck):
Fig 11 fore deck IMG_1557.jpg
With the decks in place, bulwark rails made from cherry were added at the forecastle and poop decks. A simulated canvas cover will later be added over the hammock rail along the gun deck.
Upon completion of the major work on the hull, it was time for painting and staining. Ships were of course painted. But in all of my prior models, I preferred the look of a natural wood finish. For the Austin , I felt a closer approach to the real appearance was necessary, and decided to paint the exterior of the hull black with a white stripe as it appeared in the illustration shown earlier. Tape was placed on the hull to demarcate the outer edges of the white stripe which was painted first. After the paint dried, the tape was shifted over the white and the black was added. Minwax natural stain was applied to the interior of the hull (decks and bulwarks) followed by one coat of satin polyurethane varnish.
The final result is shown below. The photo also shows the deck pattern and waterways.Fig 12 IMG_1492.jpg
The remaining work on the hull was to complete the transom. Windows were cut out of the second transom piece, as mentioned earlier, and a translucent paper material, colored to simulate a lit cabin, was glued to the back of the openings. Strips of wood were glued in the opening for the frames and muntins. Decorative moldings were then added and the transom was painted. The ship's name was printed on the computer, glued in place, and given a coat of varnish for protection. The completed exterior of the transom was then installed by clamping and gluing it to the sub-transom added to the model previously. Finally, a 1/32” strip of cherry was glued over the assembly to form the taffrail. This is shown below:

Fig 13 transom IMG_1496.jpg
Part 6 Mounting Cradle
A mounting cradle was built next while the model could still be safely turned upside down to determine the cradle shape. A paper pattern was adjusted to fit around the keel and lower hull at the positions where holes had previously been drilled in the keel. When the fit was satisfactory, the pattern was traced onto 1/4” cherry for making the actual cradle pieces which were connected by drilling them for a 1/4” dowel. A 6d finishing nail was epoxied into a hole drilled in the notch at the base of each end of the cradle. They fit into the holes in the keel piece and will later be epoxied into the keel when the model is installed on the cradle. The assembly, which will be finished later, is shown below:
Fig 14 cradle.jpg
Part 7 Cannon
With most of the hull complete I was ready to start on deck furniture and equipment. Armament would be the first item to be installed to take advantage of the working room on the empty deck The Lumberyard for Model Shipwrights sells well made cannon in a variety of sizes, and I purchased cannon barrels from them. My only complaint about these cannon is that when the barrel is handled the blackening agent comes off very easily. So I removed this coating with steel wool and replaced it with metallic black paint. I have found that black metallic hobby paint sold in craft stores in a variety of brands gives a very nice iron appearance to cannon as well as in other applications where an iron finish is desired. Two brands I have used are shown below:
Fig 15 paint.jpg
To indicate the result after painting some sample barrels are pictured below:
Fig 16 guns.jpg
Carriages were scratch built from the plan shown below, one of the many available from a variety of sources.

Fig 16 carriage plan.jpg
The dimensions for the carriage were scaled from this plan in proportion to the length of the cannon barrels I would be using.
For reference in the description that follows, the pieces made to assemble the carriage are shown in the below photo :
Fig 17 gun carriage.jpg
Strips of cherry were cut corresponding to the height and width of each step in the side of the carriage. They were then glued together into one piece about 6” long with the shape of the carriage profile. An arc shape was sanded into the bottom along the length. A piece of this glue-up is depicted in the upper left corner of the photo. Slices 1/16” thick were cut off this piece to form the sides of the carriage (photo upper center). The carriage bottom was a single piece with tapered sides photo upper right). Wheels were sliced off a dowel and glued to axles (photo bottom). These pieces were then glued together to form the complete carriage, and notches were filed into the upper surface for the barrel trunnions. The final step was to insert eye bolts with rings into the sides for rigging lines.
I also tried making carriages from the laser cut parts sheet sold by the Lumberyard. I found my method took a lot less time and effort so stuck with it.
Because the deck is varnished, I could not glue the wheels of the carriages to the deck with water based PVA glue. CN works well, but you have one chance to position the carriage correctly before it sets. To get it right the first time, I held the carriage in the desired spot and drilled a hole with a #74 bit through the bottom of the carriage and into the deck. The hole is slightly oversized for a planking nail which when inserted holds the carriage in position but is moveable up and down. With the carriage in contact with the deck, light pencil marks are made at the edges of the wheels. It was then raised on the nail, CN applied inside the marks, and lowered back to the deck into the CN. When the cannon barrel is added, the head of the nail cannot be seen.
In this log I have mentioned planking nails a number of times because most readers will be familiar with them from kits. However, what I actually use are model railroad track fixing pins made by PECO:
Fig 20 pins.png
I have found them to be very useful in a variety of situations wherever extra hold is needed.
To complete the cannon assembly, the barrels were epoxied into the trunnion notches on the carriage, quoins were made and glued under the barrel at the rear, and blackened paper strips cut from a 3x5 card were glued over the trunnions to simulate the cap square.
The basic rigging for a gun consists of training tackles on the sides and a breaching rope in the rear. For this model, I decided to only show the breeching rope which is attached to eye bolts inserted in the bulwarks. The final results is shown in the below photo of a portion of the gun deck.
Fig 19 Cannons.jpg
 
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Part 8 Deck Furniture and Equipment

Deck furniture and equipment shown on the plans were constructed with the results depicted below:
Fig 21 deck layout.jpg
Assembly details are as follows starting forward and working aft.
Bitts
Bitts are readily made by adding a cross piece to two legs, and the only question is how best to fix them to the deck. If the legs were 1/16” or less in width, they were cut overlong and the bottom ends were rounded in a draw plate. Holes of the same size were drilled in the deck so the bitts could be firmly seated and glued. For larger widths, legs were cut to length, holes were drilled in the bottom with a #74 bit and planking nails with the heads cut off were glued into the hole with CN. Matching holes were then drilled in the deck and the bitts glued in with CN.
Gratings
Grating openings were never more than 3” full scale, so I used 1/32” laser cut grating strips purchased from Model Expo on the model. The hatch coamings were 5/32” high and the grating strips were 1/16” high so they had to be raised to be level with the top of the coamings. A piece of 3/32” thick basswood was cut to the size of the hatch opening and the grating was constructed on top. It was then glued to the deck and the coaming installed around it.
Galley stack
The stack was made from two pieces of 1/8” brass tubing soldered together into a T-shape and then painted iron black. A wood dowel was glued inside the stack, a hole was drilled in the deck for the dowel, and the stack was then glued into the deck.
Fife rails
Fife rails are fragile due to all the holes drilled in them for belaying pins. To lessen the chance of breakage, a 2-ply rail was made by gluing an upper piece of 1/32” cherry (for appearance) to a lower piece of 1/32” plywood (for strength). The rail shape was cut out and the position of the stanchions marked. It was then laid in position on the deck and 1/16” holes were drilled for the ends of the stanchions through the rail and deck so that the holes were perfectly aligned. The remaining holes for the belaying pins were then drilled in the rail. The 1/16” square stanchions had each end rounded to 1/16” diameter in a draw plate and they were glued into the rail. Bitts and rails will be glued into the matching holes deck later on after the masts are fitted. The fife rail at the mainmast is illustrated in the below figure showing the rear half of the deck.
fig 22 rear of deck.jpg
Pumps
In the plans the pump consists of 4 chambers set into a discharge box and worked with handles. The chambers were made from 1/8” diameter brass tubing and the discharge pipes in the box are 1/16” tubing. The construction is obvious from the photo.
Skylights
A basswood block was sawn in the shape of the skylight and the sides were planked with 1/32” cherry. The same translucent paper used behind the transom windows was glued to the top and then a cherry frame was added. Copper wire was used for the protective grill work.
Capstan
The capstan design on the Germantown plans makes it particularly easy to scratch build. It is type C in the below diagram:
fig 23 capstans.png
To make the capstan, a groove was sanded into a piece of 1/2” dowel mounted in my drill press with a sandpaper wrapped dowel. After the desired groove depth was achieved, the dowel was cut to length leaving a cylindrical portion at the top and bottom. Eight holes for capstan bars were needed in the upper section. To get them equally spaced, a ½” circle was drawn on a piece of paper and divided into 8 segments, 30 degrees apart, with a protractor. The circle was then cut out and pasted to the top of the capstan to serve as a drilling guide. After 1/16” holes were drilled around the periphery of the head , they were squared up with a 1/16” square punch. Whelps were glued into the groove and sanded to shape. After completion the capstan was glued to a square base which was then glued to the deck.
Wheel
A tip of the cap to anyone with the skills to scratch build a wheel. Mine was a purchased cast metal version.
Ladders
Five ladders were required and I made them all identical from 1/32” cherry. The rise from the gun deck to the poop and forecastle decks was measured and an appropriate run selected. Entering this data into a calculator gave me the angle of the ladder with the deck. A jig was made by cutting slots for the treads at the proper angle in a piece of scrap wood narrower than the tread width as shown below:
fig 24 ladder jig.jpg
Tread pieces were inserted in the jig with one edge flush with the jig surface. With the jig flat on the bench, CN was applied to the other tread edge and the rail glued on. After the glue dried, the rail was pushed to the jig surface, the jig turned over, and the second rail glued on.
Davits
Davits were cut from 1/8” cherry and the ends drilled for rigging lines. They were then glued to the rail at the stern.

Part 9 Rudder

Using the design in the plans, a rudder was cut from 3/16” cherry to match the thickness of the stern. The forward edge was rounded and the thickness from front to back was tapered with sandpaper. Notches were then cut into the forward edge for the gudgeons and pintles. I usually make these from brass strip and nail them to the rudder and hull for rudder attachment. However, with the materials available to me, they looked out of scale. So after painting, I glued the rudder to the stern and added gudgeons and pintles made from paper strips. The appearance was satisfactory as shown below:
Fig 25 rudder .jpg
To supplement the glue joint, a hole was drilled through the upper part of the rudder where it narrows and into the hull. A section of brass rod was epoxied into the hole to insure the rudder stays attached to the stern.

Part 10 Head Rails

I always save the head rails for last because I hate doing them. There is a lot of cut and try involved with accompanying sweat, tears, and language not fit for children. Austin had a closed head in which planking is added between the head rails , as opposed to the open head in earlier ships. I was unable to find a good plan or description of how this was done or how it should look, and the best information I located was in a photo of the Constellation in Baltimore:
Fig 26 connie head.png
The completed head on Austin is shown below
fig 27 head.jpg
Head construction began with the two lowest rails, the cheek pieces. At the transition between the hull and stem, they are supported by cant pieces which are installed first. The cheeks pieces were made in two sections from 1/16” double bead molding sold by the Northeastern Scale Model Company. One section followed the curve of the hull onto the stem and the the other curved upward along the stem. After the curve shape was determined it was transferred to wood templates. The moldings were then were soaked overnight and clamped to the templates to dry. Finally, they were glued in place.
The two upper head rails were made from cherry by the same method. After they were completed double bead molding was glued to the surface to give the same appearance as the cheek pieces. A taper was sanded into the rails from the hull to the stem. Firmly attaching these rails is tricky at 1/85 scale because there is little gluing surface at the ends. The joint was strengthened by drilling holes through the rail ends into the hull and stem, inserting planking nails coated with CN, then cutting off the heads.
With the rails in place, the next task was to add planking between the upper cheek piece and the lower head rail. As mentioned above, I was uncertain how this was done on a real ship. In particular was the planking supported by knees or unsupported? I decided supported was needed on the model for firm attachment of the planks. Basswood fillers were carved to fill the interior space in the head between the stem and the rails and glued in place to the stem and hull. The bowsprit had to be installed before the filler pieces in order to mount the gammon straps. Planking was then added to the filler surface between the rails. The filler was disguised by adding wood strips to the top surface to simulate a grating as shown below:
fig 28 head 2.jpg
he piece of planking that was glued to the back surface of the upper and lower head rails to close in this space can also be seen in the photo.

Part 11 Ships Boat

Austin would have had a 3 ship's boats stacked amidships and one hung on the davits at the stern. I am adding only one amidships. A cutter was constructed by the plank on bulkhead method using the plans in the “The 32 Gun Frigate Essex” by Portia Takakjian (Anatomy of a Ship series) . Details of the method were described in my earlier post in this forum on the Invincible so will not be repeated here. A photo of the completed boat is shown below. The second boat will be built later because it would just get in the way hanging it from the davits at this time.
Fig 29 boat IMG_1510.jpg

Part 12 Channels and Deadeyes

Channels were made from 1/16” cherry. They were notched on the front edge for the deadeye strops and several holes were drilled in the back edge for planking nails (heads removed). Nails, points out, were glued into the holes, and then the channels were positioned and pressed against the hull to leave nail marks. Holes were drilled at the marks for the nails, after which the channels were attached to the hull with glue along the back edge supplemented by CN on the nails inserted into the hull.
Dead eyes were purchased from Model Expo. Strops on the dead eyes were made from twisted annealed steel wire:
Fig 30 deadeyes IMG_1583.jpg
hey were inserted into the channel notches and held in place by a molding strip across the edge. A single chain link, made from the wire, was attached to the deadeye strop at one end and a chain plate, also made from wire, at the the other end. Consistent lengths of the links were obtained by bending the wire around two nails in a board. The chain plates were nailed to the hull after the angle of the shrouds at each deadeye was determined by running a line from the mast top to each deadeye. Channels with deadeyes installed are shown below:
Fig 31 channels IMG_1586.jpg
Part 13 Completed Hull

The last step to finish the hull was to glue colored paper over the hammock rail to simulate a canvas rail cover. The completed hull is shown below:
Fig 32 completed hull IMG_1555.jpg
With the hull done, its on to masting and rigging next.
 

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Part 14 Masting and Rigging Plans
As compared to the availability of ship's line plans for the hull and deck, it is uncommon to find a similar quantity of information for the masts, yards, and rigging. The exceptions are the plans provided in the Anatomy of a Ship series and similar monographs for specific vessels. To fill in the gaps there are a number of publications that provide generic rigging tables for sailing ships starting with Steel's book, “The Elements and Practice of Rigging” from 1794 which is available on line ( https://maritime.org/doc/steel/index.htm). For Austin, the most appropriate source I located was the U.S. Navy masting and rigging tables published in 1826 and also available on the internet ( https://sobco.com/ship_model/index.html). I used the entries in these comprehensive tables for 2nd class sloops.
There is a lot of rigging on a ship, and it is necessary to organize and size the rigging for a model in some fashion. The Nautical Research Guild web site provides down-loadable spread sheets that contain a list of standing and running rigging, such as provided by Steel. After a reference is located with rigging sizes appropriate for a particular class of vessel, the data can be entered into the table which then calculates the rigging sizes at model scale.
Many years ago when I began scratch building I developed my own spreadsheet for this purpose. To gather all the rigging information in one place, my spread sheet also has columns for the blocks, deadeyes, etc, and the run of the rigging from start (i.e., yardarm) to belaying point (i.e., pin rail). Two sample pages of this spread sheet are shown below, the first page, which begins with the standing rigging, and then a later page in the section on running rigging.
Fig 33 rig plan1.pngFig 34 rig plan 2.png

I couldn't find any information indicating the typical run of the lines for U.S. Navy sloops of war in the 1840's. Consequently, I relied heavily on James Lees, “The Masting and Rigging of English Ships of War”, and had to assume British and American methods would not differ that much. The Anatomy of a Ship volume by K.H. Marquardt on the Beagle was also helpful since she came from the same period. Once the runs were determined, I drew a belaying plan indicating the location all of the necessary belaying points.

Part 15 Pin Rails, Cleats, and Mast Making
Next in the construction sequence was to add pin-rails to the bulwarks and cleats to the forecastle deck for belaying the numerous lines that come inboard from forward. I used the excellent laser cut cleats sold by the Syren Ship Model company. At my scale, there is not enough gluing surface at the base to firmly anchor the cleats to the deck, so they were drilled for a planking nail through the center and into the deck. Pin-rails, made from cherry, were drilled through the top for the belaying pins and in the rear for nails to supplement the glue in attaching the rails to the bulwarks.
The bowsprit was constructed and installed earlier so that head railings could be completed. Masts were made from dowels. The end was squared for the head by drawing four lines on the surface to divide the dowel into quadrants. Flats were then filed between the lines to square the end to the needed dimension. Next the dowel was put in the drill press and sanded to the desired taper, given by Lees, as measured with a micrometer. Bibbs and hounds were cut from 1/32” plywood and glued into flats filed below the head so they would be flush with the mast surface. Finally, simulated iron mast bands made from paper were glued on, and cleats added around the periphery of the mast for belaying points. While the masts were on the bench, the trees and mast caps were also built. The last step was to refer to the rigging plan and add all the the eyes that would be needed aloft later for attaching blocks. It is tough to drill holes once the masts are installed and rigging has begun. The completed work for the fore and main masts is shown below. The mizzen mast was made the same way.
fig 35 masts IMG_1547.jpg

Part 16 Lower Mast Standing Rigging
The foremast and mainmast were aligned with the bowsprit and each other to insure there was no port or starboard tilt and then glued in place. This was followed by the mizzen. The cross tree/trestle tree assemblies were then glued to the masts. Standing rigging was next added in the order: mast tackles, shrouds and stays working progressively from fore to mizzen.
To get the ratlines properly spaced, I used the well known technique of preparing a ratline guide by drawing a series of horizontal lines on a card which were slipped behind the shrouds. I also traced out the position of the shrouds on the card to make sure they were not pulled out of alignment as the ratlines were added. This is shown below:
 Fig 36 rat guide 2.jpg

The following photos show the completed standing rigging on the lower masts and bowsprit. Note that the model is sitting on a rotating snack tray otherwise known as a lazy Susan. If you have one and can borrow it from your wife, it is very helpful in rotating the model as you work from side to side adding rigging.
fig 37 stndg rigIMG_1587.jpgfig 38 foremast rigIMG_1589.jpgFig 39 bowsprit rig.jpg
 

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Great work and an excellent and informative log.I had a moment of nostalgia seeing the Rotring drawing boardROTFI had Staedler's version at college back in the 80's.

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Great work and an excellent and informative log.I had a moment of nostalgia seeing the Rotring drawing boardROTFI had Staedler's version at college back in the 80's.

Kind Regards

Nigel
Thanks for the kind comment. To go along with the board I still have my old drawing pen but the ink is history.
 

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Part 1 Sloop of War Austin Design
In a previous post to this forum I wrote about my model of the Texas Navy schooner Invincible. This post , about a second Texas Navy vessel I am currently working on, the sloop of war Austin, will cover a number of subjects. The first concerns the search for sources of information that would allow building a representative model and the development of a vessel plan. Next is converting the plan to templates for bulkheads and a keel piece for building a model by the plank on bulkhead (POB) method. This is followed by assembly of the framework and finally the remaining steps in constructing the model.
After the loss of the first four schooners obtained for the Texas Navy , including Invincible, during the war for independence from Mexico, a new navy was created in 1838 with the construction of 6 sailing ships by Fredrick Dawson in Baltimore and the purchase of a paddle wheel steamer ( http://www.texasmilitaryforcesmuseum.org/articles/texasnavy/texasnavy.htm). One of these ships, Austin, made history at the Battle of Campeche in 1843 by being the only sail powered vessel to fight an iron hulled steam warship to a draw.
As was the case with modeling Invincible, plans are not available for Austin. But at least for Invincible, a plan for a similar vessel by the same builder served as the basis for the model. Much less is known about Austin. The only source I have been able to locate for the designer is Howard Chapelle in his book “The American Sailing Navy” (W.W. Norton, 1949). On page 407, the design is attributed to U.S. Naval Constructor Francis Grice, but later on in the book he also says that Grice's papers remain missing so it is a mystery as to where Chapelle got his information. Her dimensions were 125' between perpendiculars, 31' breadth, and 12'6” depth of hold, corresponding to a tonnage of 600. Armament is stated to be 16 24pounders and 4 18 pounders which would require a minimum of 10 gun ports per side. Chapelle gives a significantly different depth, 15'10 1/2”, but the 12'6”depth is confirmed by a report of a survey of the Austin in 1846 stating she draws 3' less than any U.S. sloop of war which was typically about 15'.
The only known image of Austin was painted by Edward Johns who was a midshipman aboard her (Naval History and Heritage Command, www.history.navy.mil):
View attachment 151588
It is obviously unfinished. Rigging and channels are only shown on the bowsprit and foremast. There is a square stern, no quarter galleries, and the head is planked in. The low placement of the guns in the hull suggests the presence of a spar deck. However, the preponderance of evidence for sloops of war from this period indicates that she would be flush decked, so the low placement is perhaps artistic license.
Given the lack of design information for Austin, any model of her would be pure conjecture, so why bother? We are all familiar with conceptual ship models. Most models of ships prior to 1700 are from plans based on maritime historians best guesses. These models, the when on public display, serve a purpose. Yes, they do not replicate the actual ship, but when based what is known about typical vessels of their era, they can certainly provide a glimpse of what sailing ships of the time looked like and emphasize the history of the events they took part in.
The sloop of war was a very popular design for U.S. Naval ships in the period following the War of 1812. Smaller than a frigate, but well armed and capable of long cruises, they filled the need to protect America's growing world wide trade. This class of vessel is extensively discussed in “Sailing Warships of the US Navy” by Donald L. Caney (Naval Institute Press, 2001) and “The American Sailing Navy”. In this latter book, Chapelle presents many sloop of war plans. In the absence of a specific plan for Austin, the only alternative for building a model is to select a plan for another vessel that is a fairly good match. The best choice was Germantown (1843) whose dimensions were 150' length between perpendiculars, 36' breadth, and 16.8' depth. This is much larger than Austin, however the length to breadth ratio is similar (4.16 vs 4.03), so reducing the size of the plan by 17% would give the desired length and breadth. However, the depth will be 14' rather than 12.5'. The reason for Austin's shallow draft may be related to her design for the Gulf of Mexico.
The plans for the Germantown from Chapelle are shown below:
View attachment 151589
View attachment 151590
Germantown has an elliptical stern and quarter galleries as compared to Austin's square stern and lack of galleries. To match Austin's appearance in the illustration above, the stern area was redrawn and the quarter galleries omitted on a revised plan. Also the gun deck was shifted down by 1/16” on the scaled plans to maintain a height of 6' (full scale) under the poop and forecastle decks. No other corrections were made in depth on the plans to better match Austin's depth.
A spectacular model of the Austin built by Wayne E. Crow, was donated by his family to the Texas Military Forces Museum in Austin, Texas. Mr. Crow has passed away so I was unable to get any information from him about his design basis. The model, as shown below, is 57” long and has a full set of ship's boats, copper plating, and furled sails among the many other details.
View attachment 151591
The deck layout is very similar to the Germantown so he may have travelled the same road as I did in searching for a representative plan. I believe this model is likely at a scale of about 1/48. After a consideration of space limitations, a scale of 1/85 was chosen for my model. This results in a hull 20” inches long (stem to stern) and 4.25”inches wide.

Part 2 Developing Templates
In this section I will discuss converting the plans to templates for cutting out the bulkheads and keel piece for this plank on bulkhead model. But first, for any readers contemplating scratch building, I want to mention the need for some power tools. A scroll saw is useful for cutting out the bulkheads and other curved shapes on the model, and a miniature table saw is essential for converting sheet wood to planking strips. I have a PREAC saw which is no longer manufactured, but other brands are currently on the market. I also use a sanding drum in my drill press for final sanding of shapes. My bench set up is shown below:

View attachment 151592
The cost of these two saws would be in the vicinity of $500, but it can cost that much for a single kit, and the expense for a scratch built model in my experience is less than $100, mainly for wood. I also find a Dremel drill (or similar brand) to be essential and a Dremel drill press to be very useful.
My first step in the build was to use a copying machine to print Chapelle's plans in the desired scale. Since the model is longer than the 14” paper available in most copiers, the copies were made in sections then taped together. A template for the keel piece was obtained from the shear plan. The upper surface is determined by the position of the decks. Starting aft there is the poop deck, a drop off to the gun deck, then a rise to the forecastle deck. The deck is open under the forecastle. So that none of the keel piece will show on the model, the aft-most bulkhead under the forecastle was inset about 1.5” from the aft edge of the forecastle deck. Some plans show the top and some the underside of the deck. If the top is shown, shift the deck lines downward to account for deck thickness. Slots for the masts were drawn on the plan and slots for the bulkheads were drawn at each station line equal to half the depth of the keel piece.
The body plan, one side of which shows the vessel cross section at the forward station lines and the other half at the aft station lines, was copied to the desired scale and then copied again using the mirror image function available on most copying machines to flip the image. The original and flipped images were then carefully cut along the center line and the matching halves taped together to give full cross sections. The result is shown below.
View attachment 151593
Duplicates of these plans were then made corresponding to the number of bulkheads on the model. Excess paper was cut away to give the outside lines for each bulkhead. To convert the plans to bulkhead templates the position of the deck has to be determined. I do this with a T-square and drawing board.
The shear plan is taped to the board with the keel horizontal. Then, one by one, each bulkhead is laid on top of the shear plan near its station line, and the water lines on the two plans are lined up to insure correct placement. Then at every station line the T-square is used to carry the height of the deck at the centreline onto the body plan at that position. This set up is shown below:
View attachment 151595
I also check to insure that the shear on the hull plan corresponds to the position of the shear on the bulkhead plan. One of the cross section plans for Germantown shows the camber of the deck. This was traced onto a piece of card and cut out to produce a camber guide. The guide is laid on the bulkhead plan and the entire deck line is drawn through the centerline mark. Finally, a slot was marked on the bottom on the bulkhead with depth equal to the corresponding slot on the keel piece and extensions were drawn from the deck line to the sheer to support the bulwark planking above the deck. As usual with POB construction, these will be cut off after planking is complete. Sample bulkhead templates are shown below:
View attachment 151596
The keel piece and bulkhead templates were then glued to plywood. I use multi-layer aircraft plywood for the keel piece for strength. I don't believe the plywood used for the bulkheads is as critical, and I often use lumber supply 1/4” or 3/16” panelling scraps.

Part 3 – Building the skeleton
To start actual construction, the keel piece and bulkheads were cut out just wide of their reference lines and then sanded to the line. The exception being the bottom of the keel which was cut to the line with the PREAC saw to get a perfectly straight cut. The bulkheads were then dry fit into the keel piece to make sure they fit squarely into their slots, as checked with a square, and the waterlines on the bulkhead templates lined up with the waterlines on the keel piece. I'll just list the steps I next took before gluing the bulkheads into the keel piece. For the keel piece:
  1. Where there was a companion way with a ladder, a section was cut out of the keel piece equal to the length of the opening and to the depth of the lower deck. A floor section of basswood was then glued to the bottom of this opening for the ladder to rest on when installed. The edges of the opening were painted black.
  2. Holes were drilled in the stem for the bobstays. Austin does not have a gammon slot, but one would be made at this time if needed.
  3. Holes were drilled in the bottom for later attaching pedestals to mount the completed model.
  4. Dowels were inserted in the mast slots to insure good fit and the right mast rake. Wood strips were then glued over the slots so the masts would be properly positioned when installed. The strips were either padded out or in if needed to give an opening equal to the mast diameter.
  5. If desired to hide the edges of the plywood, glue a 1/32'” planking strip along the stem, stern, and bottom of the keel. For Austin, the hull will be painted so strips were not used.
For the bulkheads:
  1. Using the paper template as a guide, mark the centerline on the top edge for alignment with the centerline of the keel piece when the bulkheads are glued in place.
  2. For the first bulkhead aft of the poop deck and the first bulkhead forward of the forecastle deck, locate where the gun deck intersects and glue a cambered wood strip across the face to support the ends of the deck when it is installed.

After the bulkheads were glued into the keel piece, sandpaper was wrapped around a long narrow piece of wood and a bevel was sanded along the edges of several bulkheads at a time so planking would lie flat when glued on. Test pieces of planking were next laid along the hull and any areas that were not fair were either built up or sanded down. Pieces of 1/4”x1/4” basswood were glued between the bulkheads to stiffen the hull, although that was probably not necessary for a hull of this length.
In most POB kits, the edges of the sub deck are not supported, and I have found this leads to problems later on when planking the deck. So I next cut notches for a 1/16”x1/16” deck stringer in each side of the bulkheads just under my marks on the templates for the edge of the deck. It was then glued into the notches and sanded flush with the bulkheads.
Finally, filler blocks were made to fill the space between the first and last bulkheads and the rabbets lines to support the ends of the planking at the stem and stern. The first plank layer would be 1/16” and the second 1/32” so the blocks were set 3/32” back from the rabbet lines.
Next up was to cut rabbets where needed. At the stern I cut a rabbet and also removed some material in the deadwood area under the last couple of bulkheads which do not reach the keel. This is so the plank ends in this area will be level with the keel. If the first planking is terminated short of the keel and sanded down at the ends, the depth of the rabbet only has to be 1/32” for the ends of the second planking. This is shown in the below photo.
View attachment 151597
I cut a stem rabbet, but later in the build as I am adding planks. I do not cut a rabbet along the keel for the garboard since a fit can usually be achieved without a seam showing.
To complete the skeleton of the model, a card pattern was cut out to the shape of the deck, slots were cut to fit around the bulkheads, and the profile trimmed to be flush with the hull. It was then traced onto the sub-deck material, 1/32” aircraft plywood. The sub-deck was cut out and glued to the upper surface of the bulkheads as well as the deck stringer.

Part 4 Planking the Hull
In my previous post about the Invincible, I described my planking method so it will not be repeated here. In summary, the hull is divided with battens into planking sections each containing 4-5 planks. In each section the width along the bulkheads is measured, and then planks are tapered according to these measurements to fit between battens. Planks on this model were 5/32” wide corresponding to about 13” at full scale. I take as much care with the first planking as with the second. This serves as practice to indicate where stealers will be needed and where the battens might have to be shifted the second time around. I always install the first plank in a position where it will serve as a reference for later measurements. Usually it is either at a wale or just under the gun ports. For the Austin, the first plank was set along the the line of gun ports.
Planks are pre-bent by dipping them in water then shaping them over a piece of 3/4” copper tubing that is placed over the heated barrel of a soldering iron (bending over the barrel directly burns the wood). As each plank is installed, a notch for the plank end is cut along the rabbet line at the stem. I find this works well for me to get a good fit of the planks. The hull was first planked from the gun ports down to the garboard then up to the shear, which usually goes quickly since little plank taper is needed in this area.
The model after completion of the first planking is shown below.
View attachment 151598
The planks were sanded fair, and next was to installed the transom at the stern. The transom pattern was glued to 1/32” plywood, two ply pieces were overlaid, and two identical transoms were cut out. One (sub-transom) was glued in place and the other was saved to work on later. Windows and trim will be added to this piece on the bench, and later it will be glued to the sub-transom.
After gun ports were cut in, the second layer of cherry planking was applied. The bulkhead extensions above deck could then be cut off and the inside the bulwarks planked with cherry. The model at this stage is shown below. A trim molding has been added above the gun ports. The stem and stern fillers can be seen in this picture as well as where the gun deck rests on the deck supports glued to the faces of the appropriate bulkheads as mentioned earlier.
View attachment 151599

TO BE CONTINUED

Hallo,
we wish you all the BEST and a HAPPY BIRTHDAY
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Part 17 Lower Mast Tops and Yards
First, correction of a previous error. In Part 14 I showed two pages from a spread sheet for sizing rigging. This was a version in which the conversion factor from inches to millimeters was mistyped as 22.4 instead of 25.4. The proper conversion factor had been entered into the spread sheet actually used.
With the standing rigging completed on the lower masts, next in sequence was to add the tops and lower yards. I could find no drawings of U.S. naval tops appearance in the 1840's, so mainly relied the on the tops in the Essex volume referenced above for their shape. Dimensions for the tops, as well as the mast caps, crosstrees and trestle trees made earlier, were determined from the table in W.M. Brady's “Kedge Anchor”. Tops were constructed of 1/32” plywood as shown below:
Fig 40 topsIMG_1594.jpg

Rail stanchions were made of wire because wood stanchions would be too flimsy at this scale.
Lower yards appropriate to the period were built based on the information in Lees. The yards would have had an octagonal central section composed of battens, but this is difficult to do at scale. The main and fore yards are 3/16” in diameter and adding battens of the thinest material I am comfortable working with, 1/32”, increases the diameter to 1/4” in the center as compared to 3/16” for the remainder of the yard. I didn't like this appearance. Instead, I shaped the center of the yard to an octagon by wrapping a piece of paper around the yard to measure the perimeter, dividing the paper into 8 sections, transferring the marks to the dowel used for the yard, and filing flats between the marks. After this was completed, the dowel, cut to length, was tapered in the drill press with sand paper.
On the bench, the completed yards were rigged with horses, suspended by wire stirrups, an eye for the chain sling, rigging for the truss, and blocks for the lifts and braces. Paper bands were also added to simulate iron bands. I don't put sails on my models so it is my practice to omit any yard rigging connected with sail handling. The completed main yard is shown below:
Fig 41 yard IMG_1596.jpg

During this period the lower ends of the futtock shrouds were attached to eyes inserted into the mast rather than being hitched to the lower shrouds which was the earlier practice. This was the next piece of rigging added to all of the masts while I had relatively unobstructed access to the area. Deadeyes with wire strops were then inserted into the tops, and the tops were glued to the trestle trees/crosstrees. With the tops in place, rigging of the futtock shrouds was completed and the lower yards were hung. Braces and lifts will be added later on after all of the masts and yards are in place. Working from fore to aft, the below photo shows the progress with foremast containing the lower yard, the mainmast with top and futtock shrouds, and the mizzen mast with the futtock shrouds hanging from the eyes:
Fig 42 yards on IMG_1597.jpg
A detail of the foretop is shown here:
fig 43 fore yard IMG_1598.jpg
 
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Part 18 Top Masts
After completion of the lower masts, the top masts are next in line for installation. They are the most complicated of the masts to make as indicated by the below illustration from the Anatomy of a Ship volume on the frigate Essex:
fig 44 topmasts (1).jpg

At the bottom of the heel is a short octagonal section containing a sheave for the top rope, then a square heel followed by an octagonal section about the length of the lower mast head. Next comes the tapering round mast topped by an octagonal hound and a square head.
In retrospect, it would have been easiest to do this construction starting with a square stick, but instead I started with a round dowel. At my 1/85 scale, the fore and main topmasts should be 0.18”in diameter. Starting with a 1/4” dowel, a square inscribed in the cross section will be 0.177”, just the right size. As described earlier for the lower masts, lines were drawn along the desired length of dowel to divide it into quadrants and then flats were filed between the lines to give square sections at the top and bottom . At the bottom, the octagonal section containing the top rope sheave was omitted since it would not be seen on the model and I was not including a top rope in the rigging. The heel was left square and the remaining part was chamfered to give an octagonal cross section. At the head, the dimensions were reduced to 3/32” square, the top gallant mast diameter, with the file. After the position of the hounds was marked, the dowel was put in the drill press and the round section was sanded into the desired diameter and taper. Finally, the hounds were completed.
For the mizzen top mast, the same procedure was used except starting with a 3/16” dowel to produce a 1/8” mast. The completed masts, tops and caps are shown below:
Fig 45 top masts IMG_1615.jpg

I was unable to find a depiction of a typical top mast top for a U.S. Navy vessel in the 1840's, and the illustrations I did find for tops in this period indicated a wide variety of styles. I finally settled on the design shown in the Essex book
With the carpentry completed, the fore top mast was glued in place and the standing rigging added. This consisted of first the shrouds and then the stay and preventer stay which pass thru the bees at the ends of the bowsprit and belay with thimbles at the bow. Next was two backstays and a breast stay.
The two photos below show the completed fore top mast installation and the main top mast in place and awaiting rigging.
fig 46 IMG_1617.jpgfig 47 fore and main t'masts IMG_1618.jpg
 

Uwek

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This is looking very good - and in my opinion a very good overall appearance - very good work
 
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Part 19 TopYards
After the main and mizzen top masts were installed standing rigging was applied in the same manner as the fore top mast: firstly shrouds, secondly stays, then finally back stays. The breast backstays on the fore and main top masts required a tackle as described in Lees. This was followed by the final addition of ratlines to the shrouds. For me, tying innumerable ratlines is boring, tedious and the most disagreeable task in ship modeling. I was very happy to have this job in the rear view mirror.
Top mast yards in this period resemble the lower mast yards and have the same octagonal cross section in the central section They were made in pretty much the same way as described earlier for the yards on the lower masts. Slightly oversize dowels were marked into four quadrants and filed between the marks to give a square section in the center. The corners were then chamfered to produce an octagon. The dowels were next chucked into the drill press and sanded to the correct taper for the rounded sections. When the yards were complete, an eye for the tye block was inserted, horses were added on wire stirrups, and the lift and brace blocks were placed on the yard arms. The completed top mast yards are shown below.
fig 48 top masts.jpg

The rigging process is made easier by doing as much as possible off the model. With a little planning, I have found the majority of rigging can be done in this way. As an example, the top yards are suspended by a tye which passes through a single block on the yard, two blocks on loops around each side of the masthead, and ends in a blocks, port and starboard, which form the upper part of the halliard. The lower halliard block is hooked into an eye in the channel. The below figure shows a completed tye assembled off the model.
Fig 49 tye.jpg

Once the tye and the blocks are rigged all that has to be done to mount the yard is hook the central block to the eye on the yard and pass the loops of the other two tye blocks over the mast head. The final piece of rigging added to the yards at this time was a truss to hold it close to the mast.
While on the subject of rigging procedures, for anyone new to modeling reading this I'll pass along two other simple techniques that have served me well:
1.While working around the rigging on the model move your hands very slowly to avoid destroying what you just completed.
2. Make sure your rigging runs fair before belaying the ends. (This is a Murphy's Law as applied to rigging. Rigging will foul given the slightest opportunity.)
The state of the model with the top masts in place is shown below:
fig 50 top mast rigging.jpg

The next step in the rigging process will be to add the jibboom and associated rigging.
 
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