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Messenger - Small Bateau

April, 2019
I am starting a new scratch-build project - Messenger - a small Chesapeake Bay bateau.

Flattie PlansI am using plans drawn by Howard I. Chapelle as shown in his book, American Small Sailing Craft (see pg. 324). Full-size plans (at 1:16 scale) are available from the Smithsonian.

The lines for these plans were taken off an existing boat that was built around 1900 for an oyster pirate. This type boat was known as a bateau or skipjack. It was used to drag an oyster dredge that was raised and lowered by a manually operated "winder" or winch.The original was just over 48 feet long from the tip of the bowsprit to the aft end of the rudder. The model is at 3/4" scale (1:16) will be just over 36" long. You will note its similarity to the flattie I built a couple years ago. The deck layout is similar, as is the rig, but the flattie didn't have a bowsprit and this boat is about 13 feet longer. There are differences in hull construction as well.

April 8, 2019
I actually started this boat back on the 22nd of March. It took me about 6 days to draw out all the molds, cut them out and bevel them, and get them glued down to the build board (there were other chores I had to take care of during those 6 days). When I got to looking at how the chine log should lie on the molds, something just didn't look right. I spent at least a day trying to figure out what was wrong and never could. So I decided to start over. I redrew the molds begin as careful about dimensions as I possibly could. Did my best to cut out the molds properly, and once the new ones were glued to the build board, things still weren't good with the chine log. I have never been able to figure out why despite spending hours checking and rechecking dimensions and my drawings. It remains a mystery to this day. In the end, I wound up adjusting some of the notches for the chine logs and decided to just move on. Since then, I've got the keelson, skeg, and transom built, the chine logs glued on, and the first side plank glued on just a short time ago.

Molds and Keelson
Molds and Keelson
Molds and Keelson
Molds and Keelson

April, 9 2019
I spent yesterday afternoon and all of today planking the bottom of the hull. Of course, the edges need to be trimmed and the chunks carved to shape. I will likely tackle that tomorrow morning. Then I'll get the frames in and the remaining side planks.

Bottom Planking
Bottom Planking
Bottom Planking
Bottom Planking

April, 15 2019
I am still working on the hull. Yard work has intervened on several days, so as expected, progress is slow. Before adding the frames, I decided to make myself a little angle gauge. Very simple to do and it proved to be quite helpful in determining the angles of the bottoms of the frames since they are all different. As you can see in the second pic, I have the strongbacks and frames installed. Next step will be to add the remainder of the side planks, then trim them to the sheer line.

Angle Gauge
Angle Gauge
Hull Interior
Hull Interior

April, 19 2019
Not a ton of progress lately. I have all the side planks on, the floors made for inside the hatch and steering well, and the centerboard case partially done. Something that just fascinates me about these boats is the appearance that the stern rises sharply aft of midships. It's largely an optical illusion. The chine log (and the lowest plank on top of it) is just as straight as the metal bar on the vise holding the hull. It curves in and out from bow to stern, of course, but it is straight vertically. It's not spiled or edge-set at all. You'd never think it just to look at it. Next step is the deck clamp and all the deck beams, of which there are many.

Interior
Interior
Hull Side
Hull Side

April, 23 2019
Still working on the deck framing. It's slow going and other non-modeling things are taking time away from the boatyard. I figure another day or two to finish.

Bulkhead
Bulkhead
Deck Framing
Deck Framing

April, 25 2019
It was a long slog, but the deck framing is finally finished. Can't say I enjoyed it and it's pretty ugly, but it will all get covered up anyway. I plan to do a bit of shop clean-up tomorrow - lots of sawdust everywhere. Not sure what I'll work on next. I think I'll have to get the inside of the hull painted before I do much else. It will be harder to see once the deck is on. There are a couple of boards to add to the centerboard trunk. I haven't quite figured out how things are supposed to be in that area, so it's going to take a little bit of study before I attach those.

Deck Framing
Deck Framing
Deck Framing
Deck Framing

April, 26 2019
First thing this morning, I finished off that little remaining bit of the centerboard trunk. Then, before I started anything else, I got busy giving the boatyard a good cleaning. There was lots of dust and wood scraps and it was just messy in general. One thing I hate is working at a cluttered workbench. I used to have a big problem with just laying hand tools down anywhere and then not being able to find them. A couple years ago, I bought the drawers that you see in the picture below. They have made a tremendous difference! Now, each hand tool has its appropriate drawer and I find myself putting them back in there when I no longer need them for the task at hand. It really helps with the clutter and I always know where to find any tool I'm looking for. The drawers are made by a company called Bisley and I got them at The Container Store. Highly recommended!

This afternoon, I got some paint on the inside of the hull and got the first two deck planks laid down. Took a while to make sure they were spaced the same distance apart all the way along but I finally got them aligned and I'm happy with them. The rest should go pretty easily now.

Drawers
Drawers
Deck Planks
Deck Planks

April, 29 2019

Finished planking the deck yesterday. Today, I made and installed the rub rails and bulwarks. I think the next thing I'll focus on is the stem. I waited until now to work on it for fear of breaking it while working on the rest of the boat. But the remaining work now includes things where I won't have to handle the hull so much like coamings and the deckhouse. The stem is pretty complex - very similar to a larger skipjack except the trailboards are not carved. Whew!

Completed Decking
Completed Decking
Completed Decking
Completed Decking

May 3, 2019

I have turned my attention to the cutwater and bowsprit now. It took me two tries to get something that vaguely resembles a bowsprit. It is a fairly complex shape. It's square at the samson post, then it turns octagonal for about 3-1/2 inches, then has to be 16-sided for another 3 inches or so, and finally round for the last half inch. On top of that, it curves downward (what Chapelle calls "hog"). I cut the first one out of pine and as I started shaping the sides, I realized it was just too soft a wood. Took me most of a day to get to that point before I tossed it into the wood stove kindling box. So I cut the second one out of poplar and that worked better. It's far from perfect but probably about as good as I can do at my skill level. Yesterday, I made the chainplates that will eventually be used for the bobstay, and today I worked on the gammon iron. I am awaiting some small nuts and bolts I ordered from Scale Hardware so I can't fully complete all the hardware on the bowsprit yet. As well, there are other wood parts to make for that area. So I'll be working on this for a while longer.

Bowsprit
Bowsprit
Gammon Iron
Gammon Iron

May 29, 2019

I have taken a very long break from modeling. I wish I could blame it entirely on yard work, but the fact is, I just didn't feel like modeling much of the time. I finally got back into the boatyard this morning to finish up the iron work on the bowsprit. I had to get that done before I could add the remaining wood parts up there. Whether or not I'm fully back in working mode remains to be seen. The little bolt you can see in the right-hand image below is only a 0.8mm bolt. Teeny tiny! Working with those things can certainly try your patience! The iron work will all get painted white eventually, so that's why I left it as natural brass.

Iron Work
Iron Work
Iron Work
Iron Work

June 1, 2019

A couple days of some very fiddly work! There was no part of this that was easy! But I now have the trailboards and head rails on and that, at last, finishes the cutwater. I expect I will move on to the coaming around the hatch and steering well next, followed by the little cabin.

Cutwater
Cutwater
Cutwater
Cutwater

June 18, 2019

Yet another long break from modeling. But I got back to it over the past few days. I have decided to turn this into a diorama. The boat will be under construction. The mast will be lying on saw horses, maybe being oiled or shaped. The cabin will be under construction. Still lots of things I haven't decided on yet. The baseboard will get covered with "gravel" and "grass." As you can see in the pics, the boat is painted on the outside. I don't intend to paint the deck except for right around the bowsprit and Samson post. There will be bracing under the hull to hold it upright.

Baseboard
Baseboard
Mounting Blocks
Mounting

June 22, 2019

I now have the base material (sand) down on the baseboard. I'll add some "grass" later on once I get things placed where I want them. Over the past two days, I made a stack of raw lumber and an outhouse..

Outhouse
Outhouse
Lumber
Lumber

August 9, 2019

Despite appearances, I am still alive. I just haven't been working in the boatyard at all lately. No idea when I'll get back to it.

September 3, 2019

I got back to modeling four days ago. I have no idea why I started in on it again, but things have been rolling along since then. There are a few things in the pics below I'd made earlier but never posted pictures. In the overall shot, you can see that I have the boat mounted on the baseboard. I decided a piece of real tree might make an interesting mast under construction. There's a draw knife on the log being used to strip off the bark. Then, the builder will change to the foot adze and broad axe for finish shaping. I also used real sticks for the supports under the boat. The cabin and tools took three days to complete beginning last Saturday. Still plenty more things to make.

Overall
Overall
Tools
Tools
Support Post
Support Post
Cabin
Cabin

September 16, 2019

Still plugging away at it although not every day. There are always other chores that need attention. But I seem to be on-track to finishing before November.

Bucket & Brush
Bucket & Brush
Rudder
Rudder
Peavey
Peavey
Cat & Mouse
Cat & Mouse

September 19, 2019

Been working on the anchor off and on the past couple of days. Finished that up this morning. Also made a little Jorgensen clamp.

Anchor
Anchor
Clamp
Clamp

September 28, 2019

I'm continuing to work on details - filling up empty spaces. I want there to be plenty of things to see so you have to look it over several times to see it all. I haven't totally nailed down the placement of everything. I find it works better for me to put things where I think they should go but let them sit for a good while to make sure I want them there. Gluing everything down will be pretty much the last thing. That time is drawing near, in fact. I need something to go in the steering well - it looks too empty - but I haven't figured that out yet.

Outhouse Signs
Outhouse Signs
Barrels
Barrels
Hatch
Hatch
Toolbox
Toolbox

September 30, 2019

I'm not much at modeling animals but I decided this one needed a sea gull, so I gave it a try.

Gull
Gull
Gull
Gull

October 1, 2019

This morning, I made a shaving horse and small draw knife so the tiller could be shaped. That is pretty much the last thing I intend to do to this one, so I guess I'm calling it DONE!

Shaving Horse
Shaving Horse
Overall
Overall