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Bottled Ship Builder

Books and Research (Moved) From Build log

Dave Fellingham

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This touches on an area of confusion that has always made me a little uneasy.  Frequently listing of spar dimensions, usually for clippers,  have separate dimensions for royal and skysail masts when in most cases there is only a single continuous stick, the topgallant.  I have always assumed these dimensions identify where the topgallant stay and shrouds will be attached, therefore the hoist of the topgallant yard. and further up for the royal stay, skysail, etc.  The main advantage of these dimensions for model makers is getting a firmer idea where the yards should be.  Do you know of anything confirming this? 

I only know of a couple of big Webb clippers - Comet and Young America - that had separate royal masts, set up on doublings above the topgallants.  I have never heard of any of the smaller American frigates with skysails but have not been especially looking for them either.  Always wanted to try one of them but still haven't gotten around to it.




Again from the same book by Chapelle, in the beginning of the Appendix, he briefly comments on the lack of standards for measuring masts when surveys were made. I assume that the men taking the measurements were likely to later be involved in the re-fit to follow so it didn't really matter - to them - how they were measured, but it causes problems for those who want to use that information 200 years later. In all the tables in Chapelle he says that where head lengths are listed for lower and topsail masts, and heads aren't listed for topgallant, royal and skysail masts, that mast is one piece. As you mentioned, four piece masts were very rare and were not used until much later. Correctly interpreting the data from such tables is an area of concern for me as well.


I haven't looked at the three smaller frigates very closely either; if I ever decide to build one I'd start with the assumption that they didn't carry skysails unless I have good evidence to the contrary. To be honest, I'd be more inclined to build one of the ship-rigged sloops (Hornet, Wasp (#2), Frolic or Peacock) than Congress, Constellation or Chesapeake.

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Hi All.


I received a few older (pre-loved is the current expression, I believe) books as presents last Christmas that have proved very useful. I'm still wading through them as they contain a wealth of knowledge. All are by Harold D Underhill.


Plank on Frame Models and Scale Masting and Rigging Vols I & II

Masting and Rigging the Clipper Ship and Ocean Carrier 


All contain a wealth of information and drawings and plans. They are still available new from http://www.skipper.co.uk/ (I've no connection with these publishers other than a satisfied customer) at a reasonable price. Amazon has them as well at silly prices for new, http://www.abebooks.co.uk/ has some at more reasonable 2nd hand prices, so they are still out there.


Basil Greenhill, Basil Lubbock and David R MacGregor are other authors that are worth checking out.


Hope this helps



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I must admit to liking H Underhill's books. He spent a lifetime researching and drawing them at a time when there were still this kind of vessel out there. There seems to be an excellent number of plans in each one.There's a quick synopsis of his biography here -




The book you mention is still out there, it looks a good one. I've done a quick search of the book sites I use - its available here:


 http://www.skipper.co.uk/catalogue/item/deep-water-sail £30.00 new 


http://www.abebooks.co.uk/ has a number of used copies a lot cheaper.


Incidentally, Brown, Son & Ferguson (www.skipper.co.uk) publish 'Ship Models in Glass' (Peter Hille & Barry Young) which is an excellent book on SIBs, and it also contains a number of plans.





Edited by exwafoo
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Thanks, Gwyl, for moving this, we had inadvertently hijacked Alex Bellinger's Schooner Eagle build log, partly my fault. 


In case this topic seems as if you're coming into the middle of a discussion, the hijacking started here:


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I hope this discussion continues here as well.  They are both excellent conversations!   :)




I'll do my part to keep this topic going.


One reference book that I use constantly is "The Young Sea Officer's Sheet Anchor" by Darcy Lever, which has been continuously in print since its first edition in 1808. It is currently available in paperback, 8 1/2" x 11" format, 256 pages, from the usual sources for US$14.95. The book was originally written as a textbook of sorts for young officers "learning the ropes" on Royal Navy and East India Company ships. The book consists of extraordinary drawings on a page with text keyed to the drawing on the facing page and includes a comprehensive glossary. If I was restricted to only one reference book to use for building my SiBs I would choose this one.


There are books by Bittlecombe ("The Art of Rigging" is one, 192 pages, US$7.95) that use the long out of copyright illustrations from Lever with text that is a bit easier to read and absorb than Lever's circa 1800 writing style, but I prefer Lever because the illustrations are much larger than the 5 1/2" x 8 1/2" format of Bittlecombe's books allow.


If interested in modeling earlier than Lever, consider "The Rigging of Ships in the Days of the Spritsail Topmast, 1600 - 1720 by R. C. Anderson, 320 pages, paperback, 5 1/2" x 8 1/2", US$9.95.

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Hi Jeff


hardback, about A4 size, 154 pages plus Plans for:

Royal Yacht Induna

Pride of Baltimore (topsail schooner)

3 masted bark Belem

Revenue Cutter Swan


4 or 5 pages each


Appendices: 5 or six pages


Pattern Sheets (sails, deckhouses detailing etc




Techniques - including casting, photoetching, lightbulbs, various jigs, photographing the sib

Tools of the trade- includes plans for various bottling tools

Materials - woods, glues, paints etc

Bottles, Stand and embellishments -cleaning, decorating etc

The Sea - materials, modelling, painting etc

Seascapes and dioramas - all sorts of good modeling stuff

Hulls - basic to advanced techniques

Fitting the deck - figures, anchors, deck houses, winches, boats etc

Masts and spars -all sorts including a glossary

Rigging the model -several different methods

Sails and flags

Books plans and nautical terms





A lesser known book, but the one I go back to


Hope this helps



Edited by exwafoo
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It definitely seems hard to find now, but  there's a few out there second hand, ranging from £80 to over £250, whereas it is still advertised at £35 by the publisher. Some of these booksellers must be on something. ISBN is 978-0-85174-676-0  that may assist you in a library search. It may also be worth dropping the publisher an email to see if they have an agent on the other side of the pond.



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In all fairness, I think Brown, Son & Ferguson still have copies available (see above for web details, search their site under Peter Hille).  After hearing about  H A Underhill's 'Deep Water Sail' above, I looked it up (2nd hand still available) but decided to buy new from them. Ordered on the Sunday, delivered on the Tuesday. Super book, about a quarter of it is plans. Thanks for the tip off.


Its not the only book that gets silly prices on second hand sites. Until recently, when there was a revised edition printed. my 100 Gun Ship Victory Anatomy of a Ship was worth over £500 on Amazon. Supply and demand I suppose -  its what leads to the pirate PDF copies that sometimes surface on the web, although there are genuine free copies of some out of copyright available from some of the digital libraries.


Back to reading Underhill.





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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi All


Schooner Sunset, by Douglas Bennet mentioned in the Topsail Schooner thread looks a good book, but yet again,some very silly prices being asked.


There are some legal free downloads out their if you search- here's two I've found


The Clipper Ship Era; by Clark, Arthur Hamilton, 1841-



The China Clippers Basil Lubbock






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  • 1 month later...

Hi All,


Had to look something up last night. I found it in my copy of this. Its not a SIB, or a model book, but more of a dictionary of all things nautical, plus, its not expensive. I've included the blurb off of the web. Its worth a thought.


The Oxford Companion to Ships and the Sea


The most comprehensive and authoritative reference book of its kind, The Oxford Companion to Ships and the Sea is a completely revised and updated edition of a classic volume that was first published in 1976 to huge acclaim, hailed as 'a beguiling book' (Daily Telegraph), 'marvellous' (The Times), and 'totally absorbing' (Financial Times). It brings together more than 2,600 entries on every imaginable aspect of the seas and the vessels that sail on them, from shipbuilding, yachting, diving, and marine mammals, to tidal power, piracy, and the literature and language of the sea. This second edition provides significant new material on topics that have come to prominence in recent times, such as oceanography and marine archaeology: key contributions on these subjects from marine expert Dr Martin Angel at Southampton Oceanography Centre include climate change, environmental issues, marine pollution, and marine wildlife. Among the many brand new entries to this edition are up-to-the-minute articles on underwater vehicles, tsunamis, warfare at sea, marine pollution, the Economic Exclusion Zone, and ship preservation. This Companion also includes authoritative and fascinating entries on maritime history: its naval battles, including Pearl Harbour and Trafalgar; its great ships, from Noah's Ark and the Bounty to the Titanic and the Mary Rose; and its most famous individuals, both real and fictional, including Christopher Columbus, Horatio Nelson, and Robinson Crusoe. Entries are fully cross-referenced, and the text is illustrated with over 260 detailed drawings, making it more accessible than ever before.



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