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Spirit of Massachusetts


Alex Bellinger
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Schooner Spirit of Massachusetts was launched in 1984 to be a floating classroom to educate all about the experience and legacy of a working schooner under sail.  Many youngsters fondly remember spending a week at sea aboard.  My customer is the father of one of these youngsters.  She also visited many Massachusetts ports and offered day sails.  My wife and I celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary aboard on such a sail out of Newburyport.post-23-0-73101100-1428150962_thumb.jpgpost-23-0-99138700-1428150995_thumb.jpg

 

Plans for the schooner came from a booklet published not long after the launch, “Spirit of Massachusetts”, Thorndike Press.  It had hull lines and a sail plan, but little information on the deck layout.  Much of that information was available in pictures around the web.

 

I often build two models at once for three reasons.  First, it saves time.  The amount of time it takes to set up a process is often the main commitment.  Repeating the process takes very little time.  Secondly, it can impact the quality.  How often have you said, “Well, next time I’ll do this better”.  The next time is right there.  Finally, it’s a great test of ability.  Ideally, each should the exact twin of the other.  I’d love it if the two were so similar I got them mixed.  That hasn’t happened yetpost-23-0-75704900-1428151070_thumb.jpg

 

The hulls are of pine and were planked with thin strips of the same wood sawn down in a Preac table saw.  The bulwarks are built up on the foredeck first, with waterways and timberheads added, and then the quarter deck bulwarks are added in the same way.  A cap rail finishes off the timberheads and bulwarks and establishes the sheer.  A monkey board is moistened with hot water, bent around a form and added to the bulwarks around the quarterdeck while a narrow splash rail covers the rail at the bow.  Finally a finer cap rail covers the monkey board.post-23-0-85302600-1428151184_thumb.jpg

 

 

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Alex,  

 

What a beautiful ship to model.  And having a personal story about the ship is even better.  I'll bet those kids remember some of those experiences for the rest of their lives.

 

 

You model looks wonderful.  The frames/timberheads detail really bring this to life. Excellent workmanship on the rails.  Very scale looking.  On your planking, what is the thickness is of your planks?

 

Looking forward to more as progress is made! 

 

Gwyl

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Thanks Gwyl,

 

Actually, the model is done but I stopped the log there because I was unsure how much I could post in a single run.

The photos were taken mostly to keep the gentleman who asked me to build this schooner up to date on progress, so they may not have an even flow like a build log.  Resuming...

 

The main cabin trunk is planked like the decks and outer trim – stem, transom, bowsprit – are added to the hulls.  By the way, planks are about .0025" wide, a little over scale. With woodwork done, all the surfaces to be painted are given a few thin coats of acrylic gesso and sanded in between coats.  When the gesso is sufficiently built up and dry, hull planks are scribed into the hull sides with a sharp pin.  Thin strips of paper glued to the sides represent the chain plates.  Other deck features, such as the windlass, rudder box and companionway get started.

 

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The sooner the bottle is prepared the better, to allow sufficient time for the putty to firm.  In this case, it’s a 2 liter lab bottle.  These models are about 4” high and 6” long.  Specifically, the scale is 24’ = 1”. 

 

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The masts and spars go quickly compared with all the more involved, and in this case, unusual pieces of deck furniture.  Each vessel has four skylights, bitts and a number of lockers.  As well as the life preserver pods on her cabin roof, she always carries a motor launch for connecting with the shore.  Each model also has a surprisingly large number of eyebolts on the hull and in the spars for rigging.

 

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Alex,

 

This build is absolutely amazing and beautiful.  The detail on the deck, and the masts are very convincing!  I sure would like to see more photos.  I learn so much, and most importantly, what can be done, when looking at others work.

 

BTW,  you can post up to 10 images per post and if you have more images to post, Just create an additional reply and then add more images.

 

 

Gwyl

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 By the way, planks are about .0025" wide, a little over scale. 

 

Perhaps you have an extra zero here. 24' = 1" scale is the same as 1:288 scale. 288 X .0025 = 0.72 inches. Surely, the real deck planks are not that narrow. 288 X .025 = 7.2 inches makes more sense and the planks look to be about .025" on the model. I'm sure it's just a typo.

 

I don't dare try building two at a time. I'm afraid I'd get caught in a feedback loop of sorts going back and forth between the two trying to make them the same. I think my OCD would run amok.  :blink:  I do enough re-work as it is.

 

I like your work very much.

Edited by Dave Fellingham
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Perhaps you have an extra zero here. 24' = 1" scale is the same as 1:288 scale. 288 X .0025 = 0.72 inches. Surely, the real deck planks are not that narrow. 288 X .025 = 7.2 inches makes more sense and the planks look to be about .025" on the model. I'm sure it's just a typo.

 

I don't dare try building two at a time. I'm afraid I'd get caught in a feedback loop of sorts going back and forth between the two trying to make them the same. I think my OCD would run amok.  :blink:  I do enough re-work as it is.

 

I like your work very much.

Thank you Dave.  You are probably right, arithmetic was never my strong point, especially when it comes to "where do you put the decimal point".  The more frightening aspect of building in pairs is whether the second one will ever be finished.  Imagine John Fox, who builds in threes.  Good possibility of getting quite sick of the project by the end.

 

Alex

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Alex nice trick to model the planks on the hull by coating with gesso then scribing. I would of never thought of that. Thanks thinking outside of the box. Way to go!

Jeff

That is something I learned from Erik Ronnberg of Rockport, Mass.  He is one of the best, if not the best, ship modeler in America today.  Many people know of his exceptional work with fishing schooners.  He has been very generous in helping other modelers and everything he taught me has worked,  How often can you say that of someone's guidance?

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That is something I learned from Erik Ronnberg of Rockport, Mass.  He is one of the best, if not the best, ship modeler in America today.  Many people know of his exceptional work with fishing schooners.  He has been very generous in helping other modelers and everything he taught me has worked,  How often can you say that of someone's guidance?

Hi Alex,  Yes I have heard of Eric.  His reputation is one that will live on for a very long time, as an accomplished modeler.

 

Gwyl

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Hi Alex,  Yes I have heard of Eric.  His reputation is one that will live on for a very long time, as an accomplished modeler.

 

Gwyl

If you ever meet him, he's Erik A. R. Ronnberg Jr.  Erik Ronnberg Sr. was a true wind jammer sailor who had gone around the Cape of Good Hope, not Horn, in a square rigger.  He was also a model maker and unlike his son, built ships in bottles.  Erik Jr. still has one of his father's bottle, with the ship Preussen in it, in his workshop.

 

Alex

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As the small details were concluded I lost interest in taking photographs for a while.  These were mostly intended to keep the gentleman who requested the model up to date.  There is also no doubt there were a number of “ugly duckling” days in here that did not inspire taking pictures.

 

 

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When at last all the fussy small stuff is done everything can be painted as it will appear and the rigging can begin.  Gaffs and booms are attached to the masts which are held in proper place by the stays and lines that will support the staysails.  In this shot the lower shrouds are all in and most of the running rigging is at least tied in.  Just about the only things to still be added are the fore peak halyards,  ratlines, topmast shrouds and sheets.

 

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Finally come the sails.  That foretopsail is rarely set, but there were enough pictures of it to decide it was fair to include it.  The flags are painted by hand and xerographically reduced to correct size.  The second schooner will just have to wait her turn. 

 

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The bottling went fine, or at least so I remember.  The stand is mahogany, of a design inspired by a similar one by Gil Charbonneau, of Edgecomb, Maine.  The project took 164 hours, but it will take finishing off the second lady to really know how long each schooner will take.

 

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Alex,

 

I did not know that Eric Sr. was a model builder, let alone ships in bottles.  I had only know about his son.

 

These last pictures of The Spirit Of Massachusetts are awe inspiring.  She is beautiful.  I'm glad you included the fore topsail.  It show  how grand this ship is.  Magnificent work.  

 

Gwyl

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Incredible work.  The sails in particular are very detailed.  What type of bottle is that?  I like the clarity it has.   

Thanks Dan.  The bottle is a 2 liter Shott bottle, which is made in Germany and sold in the United States through a company that used to be Glass Warehouse but has since become part of Wheaton Industries.  One of the guys taking my class many years ago, Dick Casey, tracked these down for me.  They come in 1, 2 5, 10 and 20 liter sizes.  The smaller two sizes, 1 and 2 liters, are only sold in boxes of 10 but all of the larger sizes can be purchased individually.  They are molded but do have good clarity and are not cheap, especially for the larger sizes.

I believe Wheaton Industries works primarily with laboratories and government contractors, less familiar with working with small fry like me,  so it can be complicated ordering from them. 

Alex

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I'm using an almost identical bottle made by Pyrex in my insanity ice racing yacht. They are pricey being made from borosilicate glass (and autoclaveable) and are called reagent bottles. They can be found individually on the web in the 1 and 2 liter sizes and at considerable savings for all sizes over the manufacturer's pricing for the same product. Lab glass is far superior in wall thickness uniformity and glass clarity than any of the single use throw-away commercial bottles. Stay away from the cheap Chinese copies of many kinds of lab glass that are made with ordinary glass (and not autoclaveable) and no better than commercial glass.

Edited by Dave Fellingham
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That is good advice Dave,

 

After taking the time to build  ship the best  I can, I always try to choose the best bottles available.  Of course when I was starting out, it seemed like any bottle would do.  But as experience and skill grows, so does my choice of bottles.  I'm always on the look out for good bottles.

 

I do like this bottle that Alex used in this build.  It fits the ship perfectly.

 

Gwyl

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I'm using an almost identical bottle made by Pyrex in my insanity ice racing yacht. They are pricey being made from borosilicate glass (and autoclaveable) and are called reagent bottles. They can be found individually on the web in the 1 and 2 liter sizes and at considerable savings for all sizes over the manufacturer's pricing for the same product. Lab glass is far superior in wall thickness uniformity and glass clarity than any of the single use throw-away commercial bottles. Stay away from the cheap Chinese copies of many kinds of lab glass that are made with ordinary glass (and not autoclaveable) and no better than commercial glass.

I appreciate this clarification.  I have seen the term "borosilicate" but not "autoclaveable". And yes, the Shott bottles are reagent bottles.  I have always imagined typical light bulb glass is a softer (sodium? lime?) glass and this is why some never seem to lose the faint haze. Anybody know for sure? 

I also have some Florence boiling flasks with their capacity, 2000 ml and the manufacturer's name "baked" onto the glass.  Anyone got any good ideas for getting this off?  So far, steel wool does not have any noticeable effect.

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I appreciate this clarification.  I have seen the term "borosilicate" but not "autoclaveable". And yes, the Shott bottles are reagent bottles.  I have always imagined typical light bulb glass is a softer (sodium? lime?) glass and this is why some never seem to lose the faint haze. Anybody know for sure? 

I also have some Florence boiling flasks with their capacity, 2000 ml and the manufacturer's name "baked" onto the glass.  Anyone got any good ideas for getting this off?  So far, steel wool does not have any noticeable effect.

 

 

I too am interested in how to get these names and graphics off.  I have tried the steel wool as mentioned by Alex, I have had some success with sandpaper, but this technique has it's downside. After sanding I have tried to polish the glass.  It can be done but it is very labor intensive.  

 

Short of hard sanding, and possible grinding the bottle I'm at a lose on this one.

 

Gwyl

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I also have some Florence boiling flasks with their capacity, 2000 ml and the manufacturer's name "baked" onto the glass.  Anyone got any good ideas for getting this off?  So far, steel wool does not have any noticeable effect.

 

I too am interested in how to get these names and graphics off.  I have tried the steel wool as mentioned by Alex, I have had some success with sandpaper, but this technique has it's downside. After sanding I have tried to polish the glass.  It can be done but it is very labor intensive.  

 

Short of hard sanding, and possible grinding the bottle I'm at a lose on this one.

 

Gwyl

 

I had good luck with just using the cutting edge of a box cutter to scrape off the baked-on "Pyrex" label from the reagent bottle I mentioned. It took some time and repeated scrapings but it did not damage the glass. I am unable to find any trace of that label. I had considered sanding but rejected it over concerns that the abrasive was hard enough to scratch the glass.

 
One drawback to reagent bottles is that they usually have ground necks and matching ground glass stoppers, both of which add to the cost. The glass stopper does look good however.
 

I also looked into boiling flasks (basically a sphere with a necked opening) and was rather excited by the possibilities they offer. They are available in a wide range of sizes with a variety of neck diameters and lengths, some short enough to use in a neck down display to hide the neck and opening. Versions with flat bottoms are also available. They can even be had with 2 or 3 parallel necks but I don't see any point to using one of these for an SiB.

 

Another possibility I've seen to good effect are Erlenmeyer flasks (round cone-shape with a short neck). I think these are awesome neck up with modern single-mast Bermuda rigs that have an overall triangular profile, and also work very well with other single mast vessels. A triangle inside a similarly proportioned triangle has good eye appeal. 

 

Other than on one current project, I don't use what I call "commercial" glass - single-use throw-away glass containers - on my projects. I want my work seen at its best without wavy, nonuniform thickness, pebbly surfaced glass distorting or obscuring it. I used a custom hand-blown sphere with just a hole on my most recent. It was expensive, but worth every penny. I am unable to distinguish between close-up detail photos taken before and after bottling except for reflections in the glass. I was so pleased with the glass that I gave the glass blower a by-line on my name plates for this project. The only defects I found were 2 or 3 smaller-than-pinhead sized bubbles that are almost unavoidable in hand-blown glass. It's taking me a while to realize that I'm not limited to the bottles I find - I can have one made if the project calls for it.

 

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Greetings Dave & All,

 

All of your reasons for avoiding consumer glass bottles are exactly the reason I started working with light bulbs. I've had my ups and downs with getting them opened, without doing any damage that would cause cracking later. But the upside is the clarity and evenness of the glass in most cases, plus they can be had in a wide variety of sizes and shapes. I also agree that laboratory equipment of borosilicate glass is quite good, but considerably more expensive than a similarly sized light bulb. Once getting the opening conquered properly, light bulbs are surprisingly sturdy, I've dropped a few models in 3" globe light bulbs accidentally and had no problems with breakage. I've shipped them all over the world, and never had a problem.

 

The big thing is, once you reach a certain level of detailing, it is a pure shame to then put the model into something that does not allow that detailing to be observed.

 

Anchor's A Weigh!

John Fox III

Ladysmith, WI

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Thanks Dave, John,

 

Here are two Eastport pinkys in round containers, one a 1 liter Florence boiling flask and one in a 4 1/2" light.  Please forgive my limits as a photographer.  I hope the "haze" of the light bulb glass shows in comparison with the harder borosilicate glass.  In this case, both were pretty inexpensive, having been given to me.   The mark on the flask, just ahead of the bowsprit, is there, but in this case, too subtle to be much of a concern

 

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The big thing is, once you reach a certain level of detailing, it is a pure shame to then put the model into something that does not allow that detailing to be observed.

 

Anchor's A Weigh!

John Fox III

Ladysmith, WI

 

I somewhat disagree in that it's a shame to not display one's work - at any skill level - to its best advantage.

 

Thanks Dave, John,

 

Here are two Eastport pinkys in round containers, one a 1 liter Florence boiling flask and one in a 4 1/2" light.  Please forgive my limits as a photographer.  I hope the "haze" of the light bulb glass shows in comparison with the harder borosilicate glass.  In this case, both were pretty inexpensive, having been given to me.   The mark on the flask, just ahead of the bowsprit, is there, but in this case, too subtle to be much of a concern

 

 

I find spherical containers particularly difficult to photograph because no matter where I position the lighting I get reflected glare from both the inner and outer surfaces of the glass. I've used inner surface light reflections to highlight details in close-ups with good effect.

 

The haze is fairly obvious once it's pointed out. I like the display base for the light bulb, it's attractive and interesting without being a distraction from the subject.

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Greetings Alex,

 

Was that haze originally in the light bulb?? I ask because I had a real problem with hazing for the first few light bulb models I built. Whether or not it is/was the cause in my cases, it developed over time, getting worse and worse. I decided it might be due to outgassing from epoxy and cyano glues, possibly the mixture of both, and now use an aquarium pump to force air into any bulb model I build after completion, for 7 days, 24/7. I also no longer fully seal any bulb models, instead I use a piece of fine mesh brass screen sandwiched between two rubber washers that just fit into the opening of the metal left on the bulb. Since I've started doing this, not one bulb has developed any hazing, so I must be doing something right! <G>

 

The boiling flask is great! I look around every once in a while, but anything I've seen used has deposits inside, making them useless for our purposes. I suppose I should just buck up and buy some new ones! <G>

 

Both models look terrific by the way.

 

Anchor's A Weigh!

John Fox III

Ladysmith, WI

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