Wappen von Hamburg 1667 - RC Groups
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Dec 29, 2011, 06:05 AM
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D Hughes's Avatar

Wappen von Hamburg 1667

Hello all,

Am new to scale sailing ships, but have for sometime wished to build a square rigger. After lots of deliberation about what to build I simply started building and then decided that at some critical point I would have to choose a particular boat and then build around that. Initially I had many choices should I base this boat on say, Vasa, Sovereign of the seas. I knew I wanted to build something that was 16th century ish. I'm glad I did'nt eventually go with "sovereign of the Seas" ( The detailing would have probably have given me a heart attack) After the hull was in it's basic form I finally came across a boat that I generally liked and was overall "conforming" to the shape I was already working with.

So I decided on Wappen von Hamburg, a german merchant escort. Approx50 guns she would have been probably a 3rd or 4th rate ship of the line. Designed to protect the merchant fleet of hamburg and launched in 1667.

I am not the worlds neatest builder. I also tend to build rather quickly. This boat has taken me about 4 months. So she is not finely detailed. I tend not to get bogged down in detail and won't agonize over the accuracy of a deck fitting. I can be finicky about more subtle but larger proportions that may be out.

I decided to do a traditional plank on frame construction. The frames are made of plywood cut and filed to shape. Being and industrial Arts teacher and have a large scrap box of timber to work with at school, I could get hold of some pretty nice stuff to work with. The lower hull below the waterline is pine strip cut 20mm wide. Above the water line its mainly cedar. The whales and the darker sections of hull and detail pieces are made from a beautiful Australian Native timber called "Jarrah" This is an australian Eucalypt and can be quite expensive. A senior student made his major work out of this wood and did'nt want the left overs!

Jarrah is a hard timber to work with, it is very dense. It will blunten tools and smoke drillbits!

The ship has an overall length of about 800mm. The minimum size that is practical for a ship like this. She has three servos, 2 drum winch servos. 1 for the foremast and the other for the Main and mizzen. Then there is a standard servo for the rudder.

I laid down the planking with a hot glue gun. Great for holding down pesky planks that don't want to retain shape not matter how much you steam bend.
Then I puttied in between. Lots and lotsof sanding in between. After this I would simply apply some coats of polyester resin on the inside of the hull.

I will continue the building notes later.

David Hughes
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Dec 29, 2011, 01:20 PM
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Brooks's Avatar
This looks very neat, thanks for posting.
Dec 29, 2011, 03:10 PM
Dragon Slayer
ropanach's Avatar
D Hughes:
Good start on a fine ship.
Dec 30, 2011, 06:14 PM
Wasserkuppe wannabe
D Hughes's Avatar
G'day all,

After a layer or two of polyester resin inside the hull, I started working out the location of the servos and their mountings. The servos would be mounted on rafters themselves mounted to the upright sections of the frames. In order to do this I needed to then work out roughly where the masts were to go.

I would them mark out the locations of the baseof the mastsin relation to the keel and then put in the servos. I would raise the servo's up nice and high so i could access them easily. At this point I would also have to drill holes and mount the brass tube for the Drop keel. My drop keelwould be made of Polycarbonate and have a moulded fibreglass "bulb" filled with sinkers. I mounted the brass tube and fibreglassed in place. I then glassed the top of the brass tube to a horizontal support inside the hull further up to give lateral support.

I also had to accomodate a battery. I decided on using a big Sealed lead acid battery. I have been using these for years on my submarines and have found themto be ideal. And having a really big boat meant I could put in a really big one. The battery is a 6v 3.5amp/ 20hr. I made an aluminium tray for it so sit on and a rubber band to hold it there.

I started at the bow of the boat. It took me ages to work out the geometry of the bow sprit and all the fine detail work. Jarrah does'nt like being introduced to a coping saw so some of the fine detail pieces were cut from plywood. The knee of the head is two big pieces of jarrah and the front decking also includes some of the timber. The masts are just dowells.

The decking is just made of pieces of pine glued end on end. Once done I simply would draw the pattern of the timber planks on and then give a light coating of polyester resin.

As mentioned the whales are made of jarrah and the gunports are etched out using a dremel tool. Yes I could have had the gunports open, but this would have created an enormous amount more work, would have been a drama with waterproofing and I think that most of the time these boats probably would have sailed around with the ports shut.

David H
Dec 31, 2011, 07:23 AM
Wasserkuppe wannabe
D Hughes's Avatar

Drum braces unravelling.

As I have mentioned in this building log. I am using 2 drum winch servo's. Since i've started sailing the Wappen von Hamburg I have had major drama's with the braces unravelling from the Drum. This is starting to get INFURIATING. It seems as though the side that is slack and unravelling is not paying out quick enough and even though I have sinkers on the brace it still unravells and goes underneath the drum and tangles with the other brace coming out the other side.

Is this a common problem? Are there several remedies? This is really the onlything holding me back from really getting this boat going. The few times she has run before this problem has reared it's ugly head have been great.


Dave H
Dec 31, 2011, 08:34 AM
Damp and Dizzy member
Brooks's Avatar
Slack is generated by the geometry of braces; they do not pay out/take up at the same rate, and the greater the angle of the yards, the worse the problem. There is no way to eliminate this; on a real ship, the braces are tended on each side by crew, so they can adjust accordingly.

DanL and Paratrooper can tell you how to tension your braces so that the slack is less of a problem. Using rubber bungie cord on the yard end of the brace is one method. DanL runs the bungies along the yard, so they are not noticable, at least to my eye. Using lead weights to tension the lines is another method, but as you have experienced, weights are not as reliable as bungies.

The only way to get equal travel of the braces, that I know of and use, is to rig with the "parallelogram method". Arm-style servos work well for this. The parallelogram method is less scale in that the braces can't be attached to the yardarm, but must be attached farther in. You'd have to replace your winches with standard servos, probably not something you'd want to do as a fix, at least not until you've tried DanL's bungie method.

Schooner expert John Doud builds a tight box around his winch drum. This keeps the excess slack from entangling other objects below deck. While not a squarerigger, his method may help you. But I think adding bungies would be the preferred way, based on the success of DanL's brig.

I installed a slick plastic plate (cut from a plastic file folder) between the brace servos of my Aldebaran. This reduces the chance of the foremast braces entangling the mainmast braces. I use the para.method, so slack is not normally present. But, if my braces stretch and develop slack during a cruise, then the plate helps keep the slack lines from interfering with the lower servo.
Last edited by Brooks; Dec 31, 2011 at 08:46 AM.
Dec 31, 2011, 08:56 AM
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Brooks's Avatar
Your ship is Very pretty on the water :-).

Sailing to windward -
Not knowing your experience in squareriggers, I may be stating the obvious to you, sorry. Your hull will generate a lot of windage, with consequent leeway. If the leeway inhibits your ability to sail to windward, the first thing to change would be to make your fin keel bigger. Square riggers sail slower than the typical RC racing sloop. Thus, the squarerigger keel does not develop the same amount of lift RC sailors are used to. Without sufficient lift to counter the hull (and rigging) windage, the ship sags off to leeward excessively. Since 80% of your squarerigger sailing time will be spent on a beat, optimizing your ship for windward preformance will make sailing her more fun.

I sail a topsail schooner "bottle boat" (hull made from a plastic juice bottle). This hull has a lot of windage since it floats so high out of the water. The only way I could make the ship work to windward was to install a fin keel about as long as the hull, and about 1.5x as deep as the masts. Looks funny on land, but works well in the water :-). The keels for my wooden-hulled squareriggers are not quite as big, but they are very much bigger than what a sloop sailor would be used to.

Once you have gained some experience with sailing your model, you'll likely find it goes much faster than scale speeds (Aldebaran will achieve a scale 60 knots on a reach, for example). So, the extra drag of a large fin keel is not significant during a moderate breeze. The extra lift of a large fin keel is essential in a light breeze - there is just so much more windage generated by square rigger rigging compared to a sloop. Its quite common to see model squarerigger videos in which the ship is sagging to leeward on a beat (the Stad Amsterdam clipper comes to mind) . This sag would be eliminated if the builder installed a bigger fin keel.
Last edited by Brooks; Dec 31, 2011 at 09:17 AM.
Dec 31, 2011, 01:33 PM
Registered User
unless i'm missing something....i can't believe how fast this went together.....i really must be getting old and slow
Dec 31, 2011, 08:04 PM
Wasserkuppe wannabe
D Hughes's Avatar
thankyou Yankovitch and Brooks,

A heap of information I will have to troll through. This is my first square rigger and I anticipated a steep learning curve. This boat is my 8th ship and only the 2nd one that remains on the surface. My other 6 boats are all submarines. So I can tell you all about neutral bouyancy and Snap roll!

Some questions, where do you get this bungee cord from? The only bungee cord I remember is the stuff I used 20 years ago to launch my Sailplanes into the thermals but that stuff was thick diametre about 5-10mm thick.

Also, are there drawings for these setups or good photos? A drawing is very easy for me to follow. I can make all the mechanical parts I need and won't shy from a mechanical challenge. ( Hey I get enough of them with subs!)

This boat shows potential when the drums behave themselves she pics up speed quick and looks great. I am also not a good helmsman and simply need more practice so the full potential of this boat has simply not been realised.

thankyou for your comments

david H
Jan 01, 2012, 05:50 AM
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D Hughes's Avatar
Back again,

Once I fibreglassed in the masts I could start working out the Brace arrangement for the servos. I got hold of a book on scale saling boats by Vaughn williams and then through my inexperience chose a rigging system that soon confused me no end.

After a while I gave up on that and came to the profound conclusion that for my own sanity I should keep it simple. I was trying to initially brace every sail. (ditch that Idea) I have since hooked up one servo to one sail and then attach all other relevant sails to the braced one.

Anyway, with the hull I have simply worked my way back from the bow to the amidships and then stern. Laying up whales and then giving a coat of polyester resin. For this boat I have used a mixture of glues. Hot glue gun. ( temporary fix) great as it,s almost instantaneous but that's about it. Super glue, I'm an expert in pulling my fingers apart! and a Polyurethane wood glue that is fantastic if a little slow and bubbly and finally good old polyester resin.

Once the masts were up I could'nt help but get onto some top hamper action. Lots of thread and needle work. I glued and lashed some little brass tubes to the masts to act as a support for the yards. The yards would be attached to the tubes using a bent brass "L" shaped rod that fits into the tube and simply swivells.

Anyway it's now bed time so I'll bore you with the rest of the details some other time.


David H
Jan 03, 2012, 06:13 AM
Wasserkuppe wannabe
D Hughes's Avatar
Back again.

It was time to start thinking about the Drop keel. I'd looked around and seen that some people were really talented at moulding and casting lead. Me, no chance so stick to what I know well, Fibreglass and lead sinkers. I decided because the drop keel is and can be an unsightly non scale affair that to some extent I would try and hide it. I decided to go with a polycarbonate fin with a lead bulb attached to the bottom.

The polcarbonate sheet is about 7-8mm thick and is about 300 mm long. I then had to drill a 4mm hole in the top to fit the 4mm stainless rod that would eventually require a 4mm thread cut into it. I would then need to drill another 4mm hole further behind to act as the register point for the keel alighnment.

To make the bulb I had first make a plug. So on the lathe at school I turned up the "Teardrop" shape to my approval, split it and mounted one half on a shadowboard.

Then I laid up the release agent. I use a PVA (Poly vinyl alcohol) and after 2 coats I can lay up the first gelcoat. Once I have laid these up i can then lay up the rest of the mould.

Once done and cured I removed the mould form the plug with an almighty crack! Cleaned up the mould lightly sanded it and then gave two coats of PVA. Lay up a gelcoat and then 4-5 fibreglass layers. I made this pretty thick as it has to take a fair amount of weight in sinkers. Repeat the process and you have the two halves of the bulb.

David H
Jan 03, 2012, 12:08 PM
Damp and Dizzy member
Brooks's Avatar
Send a private message to DanL asking for a diagram of his bungee setup and sources of bungee cord. It's all there on his build log, but the thread is so big, I don't remember the page or post#, sorry.

You might also find it on the sticky thread:"Design Details for R/C Square Rigger Operating Systems" at the top of the scale sailboats page.
Jan 05, 2012, 08:53 PM
Wasserkuppe wannabe
D Hughes's Avatar
Back again,

After producing the keel I bought a bag of sinkers and simply slid them onto some wire to make a nice "lead necklace". This would make it easier to control all those little sinkers rolling around inside the bulb.

To attach the upper half of the bulb to the polycarb keel I first drilled two small holes at the base of the polycarb fin. I then cut out the rectangular profile for the bulb to slide up a small way onto the keep and then I took two pieces of flat Fibreglass sheet and drilled two holes to correspond with the position on the Polycarb. I then pushed the bulb to the location I wanted for it on the polycarb and then fibre glassed the two sides up against the polycarb butted up against the inside of the bulb.

I drilled to holes up the top of the bulb either side of the polycarb fin for water to ingress/ egress and a small hole at the bottom of the bulb for the same reason.

Once the bulb had been completed and with boths halves of the bulb screwed in place I simply needed to put an "O" ring at the base of the stianless rod that runs up through the keel. This will help stop water running up and into the boat.

From here there was simply working my way back along the length of the boat. I had started at the Bow and was slowly working towards the stern.

Before I could complete the shrouds on the mainsail and mizzen I really needed to work on the side planking, all the section that is in green. This planking would be easiest to achieve with balsa as it was clinker built and quite fine in size. I simply prefabricated these sections before installing. It would be difficult to build these sections with the shrouds and other rigging getting in the way.
Jan 06, 2012, 04:09 PM
Damp and Dizzy member
Brooks's Avatar
I use clear plastic, cut from a blister pack, for my rudder extenders. For ease in transport, you could bolt on the rudder extender with a 2-56 machine bolt&nut, then pivot the extender up out of the way when not on the water. I favor shallow, long extenders, rather than narrow deep ones. That way, the rudder can be used for sculling the ship, either back home if the wind fails, or to complete a tack or wear while you are learning to sail squareriggers.
Jan 10, 2012, 06:18 AM
Wasserkuppe wannabe
D Hughes's Avatar
back again,

Because of the tumblehome of the hull I would need to fix the rear raised decks in place before fixing the side planking. I would fix these at reasonable intervals in height. I have not really consulted the drawings of Wappen and have chosen the intervals in deck height more for practical reasons.

I needed to start the construction of the rear side planking. The green section that extends all the way up the stern of the boat. Before I installed this I would need to cut ou the locations for the gun ports. As far as I can see these upper deck gunports did not have doors that could be lowered and were pretty much open. I had to make sure that they would not conflict with where a deck would be placed and so forth.

Once I had made the clinker panels and glued them to the Balsa backing I would glue them to the top of the highest cedar planking that made up the hull. All the planking and strakes had a curve to them and this is what had been such a nightmare in producing the hull from the Garboard strake onwards. However now it meant that the curve of the hull would fit beautifully with the curve of the lower clinkered panelling at the topstern section of the boat. (If you get my drift.)

This would then allow me to really get stuck into doing the top hamper. All the rigging, sails, yards and all that stuff.

The sails are simply made from a brown cotton material. Very cheap and plain. I decided to use a simple wire frame around the outside of the sails to help them keep their shape. Fold over to enclose then stitch. This would require me to be really carefull with the sewing machine and not hit the wire. ( which I did twice!) I found some thread that was similiar in colour that could do the job and simply started cutting. I don't just teach Woodwork but also textiles and this was one of those moments when all my teaching kids about how to use the sewing machine really helped.

More later...

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