Getting Back to the AL Independence

Well, it’s time to put more energy into finishing my Colonial Schooner Independence. As I mentioned in my post about repairing a model of the Santa Maria, I had a bit of an accident a couple months back. I was putting the Santa Maria back on the top of one of a pair of free-standing bookcases. I was trying to avoid some things on the floor and lost my balance and went crashing into the book case.

I made a great effort to protect everything, but did end up with a little damage on the Santa Maria model. But, when I looked up to check on the book case, I discovered the Colonial Schooner model, which had been sitting on top, was gone. It had been knocked over the other side of the shelf and landed on a cardboard box about 2-1/2′ down.

I was afraid to even look for damage right away, but over the following week looked at it bit by bit. Amazingly the damage to the model was minimal. The deadeyes on the main channel needed some tweeking and the jib boom was knocked loose. The worst damage was the bowsprit cap, which broke, but that was about it. An amazing story of survival!

Now, most of the damage has been repaired and the model cleaned up and ready for progress. I rigged the guns, which required me to prepare some more blocks. For the gun tackle, I ended up staining some of my supply of Warner Woods blocks. I am using Syren Ship Model Company’s pear wood blocks for the rest of the model, but the available sizes were either too small or too large. The Warner blocks were available in the right size, so I used those. While the styles are different between Warner and Syren, for the small size I needed, no one will ever notice.


I decided to keep things simple and wire strop the blocks with necessary beckets and hooks. For rigging line, I had been debating over using right-hand laid “Morope” or left-hand laid rope from Syren Ship Model Company. I don’t like the backwards lay of the Syren line, but the quality of the line is outstanding. Also, it’s properly turned, so it doesn’t immediately unravel when you cut it. Finally, the line is not stiff or springy and is just a joy to work with. Finally, the color of the tan line I was using was nicer than the gray color of the Morope beige line, at least for this model.

I paired up blocks and tied off lines to beckets and ran the line through the blocks, then glued the rope into coils before rigging all the carriages. With the carriages pinned in place with brass rod, it was nice to not having the guns knocking about or to worry about failing glue joints.

After hooking blocks into place on the bulwarks and gun carriages, I use a little CA to lock them into place, then I used a little white glue to secure the rope coils to the deck.

A Day of Details

Today and last night, I worked on getting caught up a bit on this project. So, in addition to rigging the guns, I also mass produced some stops from swiss pear, added them to the gaffs, and died them black.


Knowing I’d be needing cleats, I went ahead and cut a strip of swiss pear to size and started fashioning some 1/4″ long cleats.



The first of these cleats went onto the underside of the main boom.


I also started stropping some blocks to use for the vangs. While I used wire to strop the gun tackle blocks, I’m rope stropping all other blocks, including these. For the needed beckets, I used a pin for form them. The line I used to sieze the eyes of the beckets was tan thread just for artistic contrast.


These will need hooks on the other end, so I went into hook production today as well, using 26 gauge black annealed steel wire. In the process of forming the loops and hooks, some of the wire gets pretty bright colored. So, afterwards, I used Caswell Stainless Steel Blackener, which seemed to work just fine on this regular steel.


Next, I’m working on repairing the bowsprit cap. I cut a piece of beech wood to the right dimensions and now I’m in the process of making the square notch and the hole for the jib boom as close to the original as possible, so that everything will, hopefully, all fit together perfectly.

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