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Bruce Foxworthy

INTRIGUING SIB BUILDING FROM FATHER TO SON TO ME

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Twenty seven years ago there was a Sunday feature article about my SIB's in The Detroit News, our local newspaper. Lots of closeup pictures and such. Within a week of it being published I get a phone call out of nowhere from an old lady asking me if I would be interested in having her husbands sea chest which had unfinished and broken SIBs in it. I asked her what kind of ships and she said mostly clipper ships she thought. Of course I jumped on it and went over to meet her in a near by town. When I got to her home she showed me three or four (can't remember), SIBs her late husband had made. They were All Clippers and in a diorama setting. One had a lighthouse another had a village like scene or maybe it was a port. They were pretty nice. She told me they were all made at sea. We talked for a while and this is what I scribbled down while we were talking.

Her husband, Anders Christian Henriksen was born in 1904 and was the son of Nils Henriksen both natives of Denmark. Nils taught Anders the art of building ships in bottles. Anders started sailing in 1918 at the age of 14 yrs. old on a Danish training ship called The Joseph Conrad. Anders became a US citizen in the early 1940's. His father Nils sailed on square riggers most of his life. I'm pretty sure Mrs. Henriksen told me that Anders, was a ships carpenter and last worked sailing square riggers on the Great Lakes before he retired. So he too, like his father spent most of his life at sea.

I googled the Joseph Conrad the other day and found out it still exists and is part of the Mystic Seaport museum here in the states. Go figure. 

I spend a lot of time reading and learning things from this forum. It just so happened that this past weekend I read back to back two threads about rigging clippers and about evaluating ages of SIBs. Anyway It dawned on me that I still had this guys stuff and maybe this was the time to look through it again. I have always wanted to build clippers and I thought one day I'll figure out how Anders did his and build one. 

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This is a picture of Anders and I'm guessing he's in his early 20's here. So still a citizen of Denmark. Maybe someone might know what the numbers mean? Passport? Crew ID?

 

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This is a small wooden box from his sea chest that had all the ships in it. There is a ton of tangled up lines in here that I'm going to take the time and unsnarl to see what I got.

 

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As far as I can tell this is the only identifiable ship in the bunch. It's the Thomas W. Lawson. The only seven masted schooner ever built. Maiden voyage 1902, sank in 1907.

This model doesn't seem to be damaged at all so my guess is he had maybe broken a string or two when he was trying to raise it in the bottle.

More to come tomorrow. This gets really interesting.  Stay tuned.

 

 

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You been sitting on that for 27 years? 

Looks like a Rainy day project. The lines look right in the 7 masted for and aft schooner. Most would get buried under ythe ship and concealed into the sea once the mast are pulled up. 

Hope this helps.

 

image.jpg

Edited by Jeff B

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Chasseur:

I certainly will. There's a lot to cover in this thread I've opened. Some things about Ander's technique I've not seen before in books I've read or on this forum but here they are as you will come to see. Keeping in mind that what's in this box I've been sitting on all these years is the culmination of two generations of dudes who spent their lives on tall ships and had built SIBs in the truest sense of the art.

Jeff B.:

Thanks so much for the drawing. Now I know for sure what and where the jigger Mast is. I feel kind of like a fish out of water discussing this stuff as I'm not all that familiar with the nomenclature of square riggers or SIB's in general so if I make an obvious blunder in my discourse here, please correct me as I consider myself a neophyte compared to some of you guys and I would appreciate it very much.

 

 

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Bruce - This is incredible.  Thank you very much for sharing with us.  I wonder if Mystic would have the old logs of the Joseph Conrad.  It would be interesting if Anders is mentioned.  At the very least they may be interested in the history of a sailor that was on the ship. 

The seven masted ship is reminiscent of the Lawson but the Lawson is typically black or white and not green.  Perhaps he just wanted to try doing a seven masted vessel and put his own colors to it.  I think seven is the pinnacle in ship in bottle building.  If you can bottle a seven masted ship you can bottle anything. 

I have seen the technique of running the lines under the ship before.  I want to say Tubjugger introduced me to it.  I tried it once and it was a total catastrophe.  I was very new to ship in bottle building at the time though.  I should try it again.  There's a couple ways this is done.  One is to run the lines out the front of the bow near the water line.  Another method was to run them out through a hole on deck.  Once the lines were cut on deck a deck house or hatch was placed over them to cover them up.    

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When I first started making ships in bottles some 47 years ago, the lines under the hull was the method I used. Normally I would cut them off and push the ends into the putty or plasticine sea. In some of my later models i started running the lines through a short very thin plastic tube glued into a groove in the bottom of the hull. Later still I found the best way was to run the lines out through holes in the deck and then disguise them, as mentioned, with hatches and other kinds of deck furniture.

Edited by Bernard Kelly

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Bernard - do you know what type of putty was used in early ship in bottle building.  I would think plastacine is fairly recent since I think its petroleum based.  I'm curious to know what was used prior to that.  My closest guess would be something like plumbers putty.   

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Bernard, Daniel:

I like the idea of the lines coming up through a common hole in the deck and then covered with a deck house after they are glued and cut off. Pretty cool. I'll look at that link too. I certainly will consider using that approach in the future.

As far as the sea material goes, what is left on the two finished builds, ( that were obviously at one time in the stuff), is as hard as a rock and sticks to the ship with a ferocious tenacity. I'm not sure in my own mind what kind of stuff it is. I'm going to see if I can find a lab somewhere that can analyze its chemical makeup. It sure looks awfully grainy to be a putty?? And it looks as though it has been colored with something??

IMG-7259.thumb.JPG.7c7e98590d37e15940c8db5a131149d6.JPG

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So here we go again. I hope to cover a lot of ground this afternoon.  IMG-7190.thumb.jpg.edea991907dd8e52acde3371996273dc.jpg This was also in Anders's sea chest. Pretty sure it's his control board and it has a nice hollowed out recess that would complement a bottle just fine.

Notice that there are only 8 nails on the side of the board. Initially I thought to myself, That can't be enough? However, the more I see,( realize), things in his rigging process, the more I'm beginning to think that he probably didn't need more than these. I don't know it for sure yet cause I'm still looking at it, but I think the only lines he had to pull were the Masts, that makes 4, The fore-stays, which double as jib stays too. That could possibly be 4 more lines. I'm assuming a lot here but I'm going to figure it out for sure when I do the autopsy while I'm in the process of bringing her back.

 

IMG-7191.thumb.jpg.2cbbd3c7311b6a997a069388abe1ba02.jpg  This is the flip side of that board. There are definable, three separate drawings here. The first drawing says "single G." next to it. The second drawing says " Double G."next to it"s self. The third drawing says nothing next to it. Your guess is as good as mine as to what these three drawing represent in the course of his building process.  If anyone has seen similar drawings like these clue me in, please. Or we could speculate and have some fun. I'm thinking we may never know what it's about for sure. One thing I'm noting about these drawings is that the words are written in English. Not Danish. This bilingual thing comes up again further into what we're looking at.

 

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Basically what I have here to figure out his building technique is three builds in one state of disrepair or another. The first one you've seen above, of the seven masted schooner, Thomas W. Lawson. The second one is a little brigantine, and the third one is a three masted clipper. So lets take a look at the clipper more carefully.

 

 

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This one has deck furniture.

 

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It looks like it has a bowsprit but that's all one piece of wood carved like that. That's important later and is telling about a period of time when carving the hull included carving the bowsprit integrally with it.

 

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This is the clipper that I think only has 8 lines to pull to erect her inside the bottle, maybe one less because it's only three masted. Time will tell.

 

 

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I'm going to Segway from the clipper but in a round about way involve it in these next few picture anyway.

IMG-7218.thumb.jpg.849d05db6efa4f6a359a58c63c8ecf21.jpg

This is the Danish cigar box inside the larger box that for lack of anything better, I'm calling his, build kit box.

So inside here there are masts, some already drilled.  Various sizes of yards having only one hole in the dead center.  As far as I can tell there are no holes at the ends of any yards on these three builds I have. Interesting. Which also may explain how they are able to have such a nice taper to them. Finally we have an assortment of.... OH MY GOD! BRASS SAILS.!!! The nerve of this young wiper snapper!! Why, the very idea!! Who ever would of heard of such a thing!! Yes, indeedy folks, this is one's for the books!

These pieces of brass shim stock are, .090mm or around .004 thousands of an inch thick. Pretty close to paper thickness. They are painted white somewhere along in his process of the build. They seem to hold their shape very well and are pretty flexible, too. I like them and I'm suggesting that we can ascribe this as an identifiable Anders Henriksen signature attribute. Unless you guys have seen this before, I will then stand corrected???

This picture below is a piece of quarter inch thick wood,( I think stained), and it was laying on top of the little cigar box that holds all the parts. I took these masts and yards out of the parts box to see if they lined up with the grooves cut into the board and as you can see they do. I can tell that there was drilling going on because the bottom of the two grooves for the masts are pot-marked with what looks like needle pokes. You'll also notice that there are two pencil drawn pictures top and bottom that I'm pretty sure are calling out locations to drill as well. 

Notice the top mast laying in the middle of the board just above the pencil drawing. At it's left end there is what looks like a small dowel on it's tip. It's actually carved on there and I'm pretty sure that the little oval you see on the end of the drawing below it there indicates, that that is where the bead goes on the top of the mast. Once again a signature element of this building style and perhaps time, as all the builds masts, that I have here, are topped with beads. White ones.

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This next picture is the flip side of this wooden fixture and is really intriguing. A real mystery!

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Daniel:

I just read that article in the 1930 Popular Science you linked us too. Fascinating. First time I've heard of "pegging" a line. I'm assuming you drill a hole and then lay the line on top of that and the use something like a pointed round tooth pick and jam the line in the hole to fasten it there. Sweet, no glue. Going to put this link in my files.

Thanks.

Oh, I'm thinking Anders, never new the color of the Lawson but knew it existed possibly from black and white photographs. Not much color in those days.

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Onni:

Yes for sure there is a historical evolution of SIB"s technique here and I'm going to figure it out as best I can. 

Glad you read this as I've been thinking of writing you in regards to the next picture coming up that is the flip side of this one above.

As Denmark is not all that far from Finland where you are I'm wondering if you know anyone there that can read Danish?

If you do and get them to look at this I'm sure it would be helpful to understanding Anders's process.

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17 hours ago, DSiemens said:

Bernard - do you know what type of putty was used in early ship in bottle building.  I would think plastacine is fairly recent since I think its petroleum based.  I'm curious to know what was used prior to that.  My closest guess would be something like plumbers putty.   

I always used plumbers putty at first. I tried plasticine some time later and found it to be a lot less messy. I remember as a kid in the early fifties we had plasticine,  I am not sure what the old sailors used but i should think it was a kind of plumbers putty. I cannot remember the ingredients exactly but I once looked up making plumbers putty and it is quite easy if you can get the ingredients, mainly linseed oil. I should think that the old sailors had access to something like that.

Bernard

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14 hours ago, Bruce Foxworthy said:

Bernard, Daniel:

I like the idea of the lines coming up through a common hole in the deck and then covered with a deck house after they are glued and cut off. Pretty cool. I'll look at that link too. I certainly will consider using that approach in the future.

As far as the sea material goes, what is left on the two finished builds, ( that were obviously at one time in the stuff), is as hard as a rock and sticks to the ship with a ferocious tenacity. I'm not sure in my own mind what kind of stuff it is. I'm going to see if I can find a lab somewhere that can analyze its chemical makeup. It sure looks awfully grainy to be a putty?? And it looks as though it has been colored with something??

IMG-7259.thumb.JPG.7c7e98590d37e15940c8db5a131149d6.JPG

Hi Bruce

I remember once trying to make my putty a little less sloppy so I added fine sawdust. This could be what is making the sea look grainy. It seemed to harden the putty faster too.

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29 minutes ago, Bruce Foxworthy said:

Onni:

Yes for sure there is a historical evolution of SIB"s technique here and I'm going to figure it out as best I can. 

Glad you read this as I've been thinking of writing you in regards to the next picture coming up that is the flip side of this one above.

As Denmark is not all that far from Finland where you are I'm wondering if you know anyone there that can read Danish?

If you do and get them to look at this I'm sure it would be helpful to understanding Anders's process.

Bruce,Sorry, I don't know anyone here who speaks Danish. Finland is in fact along way from Denmark (about 1,120 km in fact) and the language is completly different.

 

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On the other side of the drilling and assembly fixture are these words in script written with a fountain pen and I think there's some words that were gone over with pencil, which is curious to me. IMG-7216.thumb.jpg.e465eeea09f5eac4e3f2a7029b1987c0.jpg

The reason I say that is, it looks as though the ink in that bottom portion was beginning to fade or rub away and Anders wanted to preserve those words so he wouldn't loose whatever knowledge is here?

Now just what exactly is this all about? I can make out the words "over" and "under" and the numbers 1 and 2 but that's all. So I'm thinking this is mostly Danish? Was Anders in the process of learning English at this time? Remember the flip side of his control board was clearly English so he must have learned it by the time that template was made? Or is it possible that his father Nils, wrote these words or even made this fixture for him when he was teaching Anders how to build SIB's?? What does it say? Are these rigging instructions because clearly there is a lot of fancy knitting going on in the rigging process of the square sails? Or perhaps this was some method of tying some kind of a knot? A lot of speculation going on here on my part for sure. 

So Onni, this is what I was referring to when I just wrote back to you. Maybe someone out there can read this and glean the gist of it's intention???? Help You guys????

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Bernard Kelly:

Somewhere in the back of my mind as a kid I remember making a putty that dried hard out of salt, flour, backing soda, or some combination like that there. There might have been some Borax in it too, which was commonly used for laundry detergent back in the 50"s . All these things would have been available on a ship at sea. I should think anyway. Again I'm speculating that what Anders used for his sea material he made himself. That's why I'm going to figure out how to get it analyzed. So for now that ball is out of the court until further evidence can be brought to light. This is like a huge detective story or something. Just fascinating to me. But then I'm an old nut case. Just ask my wife she'll tell you I'm off my rocker.

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Bruce here is a suggestion for consideration for you. All of this information would make an outstanding article for our upcoming December release of our next Bottled ShipWright journal. I am positive this saga would be a fascinating read not only for our members but others who download our journal. You seem to have a knack for research and writing.  I could definitely use a co-editor to take some pressure off of me.

Thoughts?

Daniel, when you read this are you still up for writing an article for our December release?

Jeff

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Jeff -  I'm still up for writing articles.  I'm in a better spot for it now that I have school out of my way.  Just got to pass the four big tests and I'm home free. 

 

I'm very curious about what was written there.  I agree it appears to be knot but which one? Turks head? ratlines? Sail wraping?  I tried putting some words in google translate but I didn't get anything.  

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Chasseur:

Funny you should say this. What I'm doing here is not too far removed from the work I did in my professional life as process development engineer. I also realize that I have an opportunity through all this exploration to capture a range of building technique that starts in the mid 1800"s and culminates probably in the later 1900"s which is when Anders retired.

Because this forum exists it is a wonderful way to preserve the data I'm collecting. Truthfully, by the time I get done restoring these three ships Anders, made I will be able to draw a bunch of conclusions about his and his fathers processes. However that probably won't be before your deadline for the publication your speaking to. That said, should I get done with all of this in time I would be happy to write an article for you guys. Keeping it short would probably be problematic as there is so much data here and even more than I have yet come to realize. So consider that as well. I'm looking at a hundred years in this box. Frankly it blows my mind sometimes. I'm having revelations on a daily basis with no end in sight. Now I'm getting dogmatic. Rest assured that I'll keep going on this because I love to back engineer things and I am in love with this subject.

I'll also talk to Daniel about all this. Thank you for the offered opportunity. I really do appreciate that.

Regards Bruce

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