November 12, 2010

Picking some ships

Now that I am expanding the layout space I am thinking about what ships I want to build. It is important that I have an idea of which ones I will use, as I need to allow enough room in the plan to accomodate them. As I mentioned earlier, 1/48th scale  ships models are big.

A drawing showing a the USS Passiac. It was towed to Washington, DC in the
winter of 1862-63 and could have possibly stopped at Aquia Landing.
My friend, Dr. Gerry Fritzgerald, has been lobbying for a Monitor type ship. While it is possible that a Passiac Class Monitor was patrolling the Potomac in my time period, it would be a stretch to dock it at Aquia Landing, This class of ship was 200 feet long and 46 feet wide. That works out about 50 inches long and 11.5 inches wide.  It would actually be a fairly easy model to scratch build. Amazingly, they served in the Navy until after the turn of the century.

I have always liked ships with walking beam engines, paddle wheel drives and sails. The references photos show many of these type ships docked at Aquia Landing. The US Navy leased a large number of these civilian steamships for use as patrol boats and cargo ships. The challenge is finding a set of plans.

I ordered a set of the plans for the Mt Washington. As I mentioned earlier, Dumas makes a nice 1/48th scale model of this ship. These plans are actually from the kit. It is about 43 inches long and 12 inches in beam.  Here is a photo showing the plan view of the Mt Washington on a mock-up of the bench work for Yuba Dam. I placed some freight cars alongside to provide a sense of scale. The hull of the schooner Smuggler is in the background. It looks tiny in comparison. Note I've also starting layout out some of the new bench work in the far background.

The Dumas kit makes a beautiful model and is a close match to civil war era paddle wheel steamers.   Mr. H. Lauer documented his build of the kit at this link: Mt Washington kit build. Another forum has a great description of this kit including prototype information in French by the modeler Gerald Hautier. Here it is translated to English.

The question is, should I order the kit or scratch build it? The kit comes with a full hull, which I would not be able to use. Even the paddle wheels are practically hidden when the model is on the waterline.  The photo at the left shows the bottom of the hull from the H. Lauers build. It seems like a shame to buy the kit and not use the hull. But the kit comes with all the fittings, which would probably cost as much if bought separately  as buying the whole kit. Perhaps a hybrid model using the kit superstructure with a scratch built waterline hull is the way to go. Dropping a full hull model in a corresponding hole in the baseboard is another possibility.

Another kit I have been considering is the Bluejacket's Seguin. This is a large steam tug, that is very similar to screw tugs used to pull barges on the Potomac during the war, even though this one was built in 1884.  This is not a waterline model, but as you build up the hull, making it a waterline model shouldn't be too hard.

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