George F. Campbell

The neophyte shipmodeller`s jackstay

The mast holes

On multi-masted vessels of mid'19th century, the masts usually raked (leaned) to slightly greater angles, fore to mizzen mast. Thus the foremast might have, say, an 88 degree angle to the deck, the main mast 86 and the mizzen mast perhaps 83 or 84 degrees. On 18th century vessels the foremast often had a forward rake, the main upright and the mizzen toward aft. And schooner masts were usually parallel, Fig. 10. Note this rake when drilling mast holes. Drill the holes slightly oversize so that any error in plumb or rake may be corrected when rigging by inserting small wedges between the deck and the mast.

Bowsprit hole

A tough one due to the end-grain of the wood and the fact that the hole usually occurs at the top edge of the bow. If necessary chisel a slight flat where the bowsprit enters, then drill a small (3/32" if your bowsprit is 1/4” diameter) pilot hole, thus guiding the larger drill into the wood.


Allowed the deck to drain. Usually lead-lined holes passed thru the waterways and out the side, Fig. 9. On smaller vessels (schooners, sloops) a strip of planking might be omitted for the same purpose. Large ships sometimes had a hinged port toward the after end of the deck, to pass larger quantities of water.

Very important now are the two holes up thru the keel to take the pedestal mounting screws. Since the model will be mounted with its waterline level, drill these holes perpendicular to the waterline, not square to the keel, Fig. 10.

The machine carved hull will have its thick, end-grain transom. We recommend your knocking this out and placing on a sheet of wood, thus avoiding the fragile end'grain when the hull wood is cut to scale. Also, the wood sheet will provide for the transom wings, the rounded extensions which backed the quarter galleries, Fig. 11.

Up to and during the 16th century, large vessels had their gunports and decks parallel to the sheer, which was considerable, Fig. 12A, but later and up to about the early part of the 19th century the deckline and gunport line were made to much less sheer than the external wales and mouldings, and the ports crossed over them as in Fig. 12. The sheer of large vessels during the 19th century was much reduced and the gunports in their later days were again parallel to the wales and mouldings. Fig. 12B.

With the smaller class of flush decked vessels however the deck and gunport line was usually parallel-to the sheer of the wales and mouldings throughout the centuries, Fig. 12C