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Old 06-23-2020, 12:13 PM
gregbal gregbal is offline
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USS MAINE Torpedo Boat (c.1896) SCRATCH-BUILD (WIP)

During my recent build of HMV's 1/250 armored cruiser USS Maine, I became interested in the design of one of the curious 'ship's boats' included with all the other longboats, whaleboats and pinnaces: a steam-powered 63-foot torpedo launch, designed to deploy the then-state-of-the-art 18" Whitehead torpedo from a single launch-tube at the bow. Both the Maine as-designed and her distaff 'sister' ship the (pre-dreadnought) USS Texas were each intended to carry a pair of these launches as an extra mobile 'sting' in battle; but it turns out neither vessel ever shipped these novel auxiliaries.




(Taken from a Tapatalk model boat-builder's forum, origin and copyright unknown; reproduced here for purposes of discussion only.)

Not much info to be found on the inter-web, but I did turn up a few tidbits. A single prototype was actually built by the New York Navy Yard in the mid-1890s...and proved less-than-impressive, being able to work up to a mere 12 knot top speed (against a projected one of 18 knots, which would have been respectable for the era). The plan to equip the major battleships then-building was therefore abandoned. The prototype -- which as best I can figure never really received a name, always simply referred to as 'the Maine's torpedo boat' -- apparently spent its days as a test/utility hull at the Navy's Newport Torpedo Station. I have been unable to discover any information as to the length of its career, or its eventual fate.

[I was excited to discover that an impressive scratchbuilt 1/12 model of the craft was featured in the November 2013 issue of Marine Modelling International. My excitement cooled somewhat when I discovered that the magazine seems to have gone belly-up in 2017 when its publisher, Taplet Publications, went into receivership. Still hunting for the back-issue.]

Nevertheless, something about the sleek lines and the steam-era elegance of the craft had me hooked, and it seemed the ideal size and degree-of-difficulty to attempt a scratch-build. I was able to find numerous copies of a beautiful 2-view drawing by an "R. Lefevre" online -- apparently, originally, a part of the Taplet magazine article -- but it turned out that it was only page 1 of what was probably 2 pages. The 1st page profile was clearly marked and numbered for sections...but no sign of 'page 2' or those vital hull-curve plan sections could be found.

I have no experience with CAD drawing programs...which probably would have made the task a bit faster; however, I've had some experience with drafting ever since the age of 8, when my electrical-engineer father made me stop playing 'hatchet' with his T-square, and actually started teaching me the rudiments of the drafting art. I took a number of classes in technical drawing and drafting through junior-high and high-school...the last time I actually lofted any hull lines with the use of tables (thank you Mr. King)...but I remembered the basics, and figured it was a small enough project to give it a go.

MS-paint's 'curved line tool' proved a useful alternative to my old plastic French curves...and after a few hours I had what seemed a reasonable approximation of hull lines, interpolated from the artist's rendition shown above, and the slightly-different lines of the Lefevre drawings. (The acid-test, of course, will be seeing how it all transfers to three dimensions.)
I decided to setlle for a workable 1/72 scale...which will make the model approximately 10.5 inches. I reduced the plans accordingly and printed a number of 'to scale' copies to play with, to help figure out potential lofting errors and general construction issues.

The shot below shows the working sections I came up with...along with some of the 'fun stuff,' some home-made graphics for the fore and aft well-cabins with their slat bulkheads and bench seating.



And my 'test' profile, backed with manila folder stock, both before and after the experimental sections are applied.







Though I fully intended this 'first' version to be basically a test-run...I decided I'll just keep building on it until I run into some snag that makes me go back and have to retool to start again. For fun, I built the forward well area to test-fit...and she looks good, so far.





No photos, but I've started adding longitudinal braces (of plain cardboard strip) between my hull formers, to stabilize the structure and make sure she's 'true' from fore-to-aft. None of this is very 'pretty' -- done by eye and 'on the fly' rather than bothering with pre-printed graphics -- but since this will be a 'one off' (and all that structure will be covered up in the end), it doesn't matter what it looks like...as long as it works .

More as things develop.
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Old 06-23-2020, 12:37 PM
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Doubting Thomas Doubting Thomas is offline
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Looking good so far. Keep going. A real version of the fictional "Sand Pebble" or USS San Pablo, but earlier in history.

Jeff
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Old 06-23-2020, 02:22 PM
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Michael Mash Michael Mash is offline
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Ah . . . exciting choice!
This torpedo boat design is one of the best.
Looking forward to watching this scratch-build.
I don't know if it will be helpful, but here is an image I had of a model of this type of torpedo boat.
Not certain what materials were used, probably wood.
Mike
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USS MAINE Torpedo Boat (c.1896) SCRATCH-BUILD (WIP)-torpedo-boat.jpg  
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Old 06-23-2020, 03:08 PM
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Don Boose Don Boose is offline
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Excellent work on this sleek torpedo launch.

Don
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Old 06-23-2020, 04:59 PM
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Wyvern Wyvern is offline
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This is fascinating!

Wyvern
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Old 06-23-2020, 05:30 PM
gregbal gregbal is offline
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Thanks to all! I appreciate the good vibes.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Mash View Post
Ah . . . exciting choice!
This torpedo boat design is one of the best.
Looking forward to watching this scratch-build.
I don't know if it will be helpful, but here is an image I had of a model of this type of torpedo boat.
Not certain what materials were used, probably wood.
Mike
Mike, I appreciate the photo. It happens to be one I already have -- I skimmed a few from that Tapatalk discussion I referenced -- but oddly enough, that photo is the one I was studying when it popped into my head..."I think I could actually build this!"
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Old 06-24-2020, 05:19 AM
PAPER FAN PAPER FAN is online now
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Very slick project, expect it will be a gem when you are done.
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Old 06-24-2020, 06:34 AM
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SCEtoAUX SCEtoAUX is online now
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That boat has some neat lines to it. The model looks like it is turning out good.
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Old 06-24-2020, 09:44 AM
rifleman rifleman is offline
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looking good can we have some more photos please
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Old 06-24-2020, 01:41 PM
Thumb Dog Thumb Dog is offline
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Hi All,

And hi, gregbal. Nicely written thread describing an interesting and little-known type. I also appreciate you tackling this project with pen and ink. My Faber-Castell pens haven't seen much use lately, but that's what I use for scratch building on my bench.

For those interesting in more discussion and photographs for the steam powered model above, see: https://www.tapatalk.com/groups/mode...ed-t60539.html

The discussion also includes another photo of a second large build, showing a very different hull form.

Best of luck,

Score and fold,

Thumb Dog
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