The Whaleship Charles

W. Morgan in Miniature

In the late 1970s, Mystic Seaport Museum began preparations for restoration of their whaleship, Charles W. Morgan, built in 1841 at New Bedford .

The staff undertook an enormous research project to understand traditional shipbuilding techniques and materials, and the work started in earnest in 1978.

I first saw the Morgan in 198 1 while she was hauled out on the lift dock at the DuPont preservation shipyard.

I moved to the Mystic area that year and continued my visits to the ship .

As I watched the progress, I reali zed that I had access to information most modelmakers could only dream about:

As part of the preservation effort, the staff devoted considerable effort to documenting the ship and the work done on her.

Robert Allyn , naval architect at Mystic, made dozens of measured drawings showing details of the planking,

the disposition of the frames and the construction of the many joints in her timbers.

Kathy Bray kept a daily log of every change made on the ship and also completed 100 perspecti ve drawings of critical parts of the hull.

This beautiful series details how the various joints are fitted ,

and how the timbers relate to one another. With solid documentation available to me ,

as well as the possibility of watching the work in progress, I started construction of a miniature model of the Morgan , to a scale of l 6ft = I in.

The finished hull is about 73/sin long, and the whole model is about 103/sin.

I chose this scale because it results in a jewel-like mini ature

and because it is a real challenge to reproduce every detail on the original construction.

My style of modelmaking usually involves completing the starboard side of the model as she would appear when pl anked , painted and coppered.

The port side is left partly in frame to reveal all interior details such as deck beams and knees, the stowage of oil casks in the hold and the bulkhead divisions.

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