1807 Baltimore Clipper "Nonpareil"
Project: 1/2 inch scale RC controlled plank on frame Baltimore clipper.
- keel, wales and transom: mahogany
- single-thickness planking cherry
- frames white pine
Nonpareil is one of the most
extreme Baltimore clippers from the era of the war of 1812 for which
detailed plans have survived. "Nonpareil" was seized by the
British navy in 1807 for running the British blockade off the coast of
France. Thus, Nonpareil was
involved in aiding Napoleon's war against Nelson's England.
If Nonpareil had not
been a smuggler, she might have been a privateer, a slaver or, failing
all else, a fruit carrier. The desperate nature of her intended
applications is indicated by the complete absence of decoration.
The British honored Nonpareil's
anonymous designer and builders by making a a detailed hull plan from
the actual vessel after her capture. Howard I. Chapelle traced
the admiralty plan and published it in his book Search for Speed Under Sail.
Chapelle included a table of prismatic coefficients for all the plans
published in that volume. The prismatic coefficient is a standard
measure of "sharpness". It is noteworthy that in a book
containing plans of famous clipper ships of a later era, Nonpareil's prismatic coefficient
is the lowest in the volume. She is, therefore, one of the most
radical sailing ships on record.
The British took down only the hull lines, leaving the rigging and deck
plan to imagination. For that reason, perhaps, I know of no
existing model of Nonpareil, in spite of the unparalleled beauty of her
hull lines. The stern counter resembles a yacht's and, unusually
for Baltimore clippers, there is some hollow in her garboards forward
in lieu of the usual, convex, "cod's head" bow popular in that period.
Some construction images:
plan (June 2006)
out the frames (split on band saw to make pairs)
frame fastened (wood blocks keep frames square---removed later).
look at her shape
the rabbet (built "dory" style---adding the stem later makes it easy to
saw the hood ends off evenly).
the sheer (take your time here!)
the boundary between the upper and lower planking belts
a plank in the tuck (the cherry planks were heavy enough to require
real clamping techniques).
seams (the polyurethane glue is flexible and waterproof but foams up
and has to be chiseled out of every seam!)
a bow stealer (just follow the natural lay of the planks and make sure
you don't get the butts too close together).
stealer pattern (just press the paper against the plank edges and cut
it out to get a perfect pattern).
bow stealer pattern (this is the most complicated plank on the
planking belt complete
bow stealer (note edge clamping to keep seams tight).
view (note caulking seams and plank butts).
up (June 2009)
up, bow view
up, quarter, showing stealers