AL Colonial Schooner "Independence" by DocBlake - 5/16" scale

DocBlake

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#1
This will be my build log for AL's "Independence 1775". First let me say that this is an entirely fictional vessel, much like Al's Swift or Harvey. It is , however, representative of the colonial schooners built in America between 1763 and 1775. Harold Hahn covers these ships in his book "The Colonial Schooner - 1763 - 1775"

I was drawn to the vessel because of her lines, and especially the bluff bow. But what convinced me to build this model was the excellent build log of Clare Hess (logged here on this forum


Clare is building the model on commission and has seriously kit-bashed the build. The result is a beautiful , if fictional, colonial schooner circa 1775.


The first problem with the kit is the scale. The box cover lists the model as 1:35 scale. At that large scale, the model would be very small...smaller in fact than "Sultana", the smallest schooner known to have been built. A vessel that tiny would never be able to be armed with 4 carriage-mounted cannons. What to do?


Clare decided to build the model in 1:48 scale. I chose a different path. After researching both the "Halifax" and "Sultana" in Hahn's book, I discovered that if I built the kit in 5/16" scale, the model would be a little smaller than "Halifax" but larger than "Sultana". She should be able to carry 4 three-pounder cannons

The 5/16" scale is unusual, and it translates to 1:38.4! Convieniently this works out to 8 mm = 1 inch, a convenient ratio. So I'll be building "Independence" using metric measurements.

I completed the hull framing and reinforced the framing with blocks. Probably overkill, but the bulkheads are plywood and very hard. Fairing the hull would put a lot of stress on them so I decided better safe than sorry.


I plan to use the same wood scheme as Clare: boxwood decking, boxwood and swiss pear hull planking. I will used redheart for the inboard bulwark planking and the deck furniture ordinarily painted red. I plan to use the barest minimum of paint possible.
 

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DocBlake

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I glued the deck segments to the framework with one hour epoxy and used the famous little yellow nails to hold until dry. These were removed and any imperfections in the sub deck filled with Elmer's wood filler. I drew a centerline on the deck and then laid out where the deck beams would be to guide the treenailing. There is nothing scientific or historically accurate in the way the deck is laid out. I just went with what was pleasing to the eye. Next is planking the deck (that's the common build order for AL kits).
 

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DocBlake

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I've completed the deck planking, including the fo'c'sle. Now it's on to treenailing. I've had problems using the Byrnes drawplate in the past, so I'm using a little different technique. I wanted the treenails to be in proper scale: about 1 scale inch in diameter or slightly larger. That translates to about .031" - a #68 drill hole would work. The problem is that if I use a toothpick as a treenail, very little of the tip will fit into that small a hole and I'd run the risk of the treenails not holding. My answer was to take a toothpick and using some pressure and twisting, force it into the 31 hole on the Byrnes draw plate, The result was a longer treenail that penetrates through the planking and false deck underneath it. Each birch toothpick gives 2 treenails. They're glued in by touching the tip in some CA and pushing firmly in the hole. I really like the look of the boxwood for the decking! Maybe better than holly.
 

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Aginvicta

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#4
That's a great looking deck, I like the way you have fitted the edge planks, not sure of the correct term for it. There is a nice shine to the deck have you used a stain or varnish on it.
Cheers Andy
 

DocBlake

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#5
Hi Andy!

Letting the planking into the margin plank is called "nibbing" and the margin plank (the one around the edge of the deck planking) is sometimes called a "nibbing strake". It's done that way to prevent the planks from ending in a sharp poiont which would cause them to rot easily. The deck is finished with Minwax wipe on polyurethane

Dave
 

lauckstreet

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#9
Ah, I remember this build Dave. I won't reveal how it ends, don't want to spoil it all for the rest of the group :lol: :lol: :lol: Let's just say it has a happy ending!

Take care,

Bob
 

DocBlake

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#10
Thanks, All!

I installed the bulwark formers (plywood), bending them at the bow with a clothes iron. The scupper bottoms need to line up with the top of the decking, The shear needs to rise gracefully toward the bow, and the top of the bulwark formers need to line up with the top of the poop deck planking. Lots of fiddly stuff, so I opted for one hour epoxy to glue the parts in place, along with the famous "little yellow nails". I got a nice flow for the shear line. I finished the first planking without too much difficulty. I admit I was intimidated by the bluff bow!

Dave
 

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DocBlake

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#11
Next I started in on replacing the stock stem, keel and stern post. Those parts are made of walnut in the kit and are shown in the first photo. They are OK, but I wanted the hull planking and those parts made of pear, so they needed to be redone. The stem was a single piece, and the keel is three sections, scarfed together. I traced the stem on a piece of paper. I'm not a naval architect, but the second photo shows my proposed layout for a built up stem. I think it looks OK and makes logical sense.



I cut out all the parts, shown in the the third photo. I fine-tuned the fit, blackened the joints to simulate caulk, and glued the parts together. The kit has no false keel, but after thinking about it, I think I'll add one made of rosewood...just for the contrast in wood colors!


Dave
 

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DocBlake

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After installing the upper wales I planked the upper hull with yellow heart and added the lower wales. They are rosewood and measure 1.5mm X 5mm. Given the bluff bow, there was no way to easily bend the lower wales so I built them up using 2 layers of stock 0.75mm in thickness. The wales actually curve under at the counter. I'm still trying to figure our how to install fashion pieces! Hull planking below the lower wale will be holly.

I completed the first 3 strakes of planking below the wale using holly. I am planning treeenails, but not at the location of every single frame that would appear on a set of plans. Too busy looking. I'll add the treenails to the locations of the bulkheads only. Stylized, but still giving the effect I'm looking for.
The toughest part of the planking is about done. To this point the upper hull planking, wales, and first three strakes below the wales have had to be applied to the extreme bluff bow - almost semi-circular in plan view. Below this point, the hull starts to approximate a more conventional bow shape, like the AVS. To this point the planks at the bow require significant edge-bending downward to fit flat. I did that with a clothing iron. Much less of that coming up, although tapering will be necessary for nearly every strake at the bow.

The last photo is the completed hull - planked and treenailed.
 

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DocBlake

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#14
I started work on the transom. I photocopied the horrible metal casting that was supposed to be the transom and rubber cemented it to a piece of 1/64" thick plywood. I was able to cut out the outline with a simple pair of scissors! I carefully removed the lights from the plywood and then removed the template and residual rubber cement. I planked the transom in swiss pear. next up are the lights (windows). I'll make them out of boxwood as I did in my AVS build,
 

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DocBlake

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#19
I started on some of the deck furniture. I didn't use any of the kit parts for any of the furniture. I finished the hatches, and added one to lead the anchor lines below. I enlarged the companionway from the plan specs. I need to add iron ring pulls for the doors. The most important change was to fabricate a galley stack from brass. The plans actually call for a "smoke stack" made of walnut! Tha ship would have caught fire after serving the crew their first dinner aboard! The woods are rosewood, swiss pear,and boxwood.
I completed two sets of bitts - one for each mast - and the ship's belfry (which also has running rigging belayed to it). I also finished the quarterdeck stairs. The plans call for a stairway on each side between the gun ports as well as boarding steps on the exterior hull above the wales. Neither Halifax, Sultana nor Chaleur had this feature, so I'm not adding the boarding stairs to this model, either!
The elmtree pumps were completed. Next is a completely rebuilt windlass.
 

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DocBlake

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#20
Here is a series of photos showing how I approached building the windlass. I took a piece of boxwood 3/8" square and cut it into an octagon on my table saw. The piece was cut to 3" in length (about 9'8" in scale). I measured in about an 1-1/8" from each end, and tapered the boxwood by sanding, maintaining the octagon profile. I measure and marked the rabbets for the supports and the center gear. They are all about 1/16' deep. Next, I cut the gear in the center to shape, using a #10 X-Acto blade. Last, I laid out where the holes for the lever rods would go and drilled 1/16" pilot holes at each location. I then took a nail that I had previously filed to a square point and tapped it into each hole, converting the round drill holes into square holes. In the photo, the holes on the left side of the windlass are still round. The windlass supports are rosewood with double timberheads cut into the top of each side.
 

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