The Honey Fitz
We’re headed into uncharted territory (again) so we might as well
go all the way.
the 20th century is now history, making me (and probably you, too) an historical figure, maybe it’s time
to build a 20th century boat.
Advances in materials and design tools are about the best you can say for any advances in the art of boat building
during those 100 years. And since all the decent domestic woods were sacrificed to necessities like railroad ties and pallets,
we’re a little short on wood as a building material.
Probably the only wooden boat created during that century that will have any lasting design impact
is (or was) the Chris-Craft barrel-back. That design has been immortalized in this century by the Hinckley Company (refer
to our discussion of Phi). Hats off to Hinckley.
The century was so obsessed with making
unsinkable domestic and warships that steel and plastic are our only choice unless we venture into the world of art, or in
other words, boats built for beauty and pleasure, which takes them out of the realm of the everyday. I can forgive myself
of that sin since we’ve already dabbled in the lifestyle of the pharaohs.
We could build a barrel-back, but then we’re stuck with an internal
frame and presentation best crafted by furniture makers, and a boat that might have been cursed by viewer envy.
In casting around for boats that stick
(more or less) to our theme, the search finally boiled down to historic yachts.
I have to admit I spent a lot of time with the boats of Guy Lombardo.
Whether you liked his music or not, he knew his boats and was pretty popular as a normal sort of person. There are a lot of
boats/candidates there, but again we’re stuck with the whole working man-money quandary.
I have no idea what a “boat of the people”
is or was or even could/should be, but “presidential yacht” sounds like something we the people paid for, so that
might be closer to an ethical boat than expensive toys. OK- I used the word presidential, so the ice is pretty thin.
There have been nine yachts that that
can be considered presidential vehicles, starting with the USS Despatch that carried Grover Cleveland
to the dedication of the Statue of Liberty in 1886. Of these, four are still afloat.
Harry Truman’s favorite, and probably the most celebrated in its
time, is the USS Williamsburg. She barely escaped the scrapper’s torch, but is quietly rusting
to the bottom at a dock in La Spezia, Italy (Any restoration had better start soon and be funded to the
tune of $70 million.). The USS Potomac, (once owned by Elvis Presley) is now a floating museum thanks
to the Port of Oakland and rightfully concerned citizens. Hats off again. The USS Sequoia was
privately restored and is back in DC ( After refusing to do the morally correct thing with the Williamsburg,
Congress was rebuffed in their attempt to re-purchase the Sequoia. Take your pick as to why that was, and
how well Congress served the American people.)
The Sequoia is obviously a top choice, and although I guess we can forgive
Churchill for not drinking on board while he smoked a Cuban cigar, after Nixon got done drilling hundreds of holes in her
brightwork, the blush came off the rose for me. The fact that she also served as a bureaucratic
solution to a simple problem didn't help swing my vote.
The Honey Fitz, on the other
hand, was not nearly as pivotal in US history as her sisterships, but she was an important part of JFK’s family lifestyle,
and did make many appearances beyond Foggy Bottom- those aspects of her history are a big plus. The fact that she was not
featured as an outlandish duck decoy (the Sequoia) adds another check mark to her resume, as did her restoration.
Having actually seen wartime duty might add something, too, but this yacht is definitely not government
issue. Besides, anything that Jimmy Carter thought to be imperial must make her sensible, too.
So there’s the logic, now let’s have a little fun with history.
Built in 1931 by the Defoe works, a synopsis of her life
can be found at Bowling Green State University. Follow this link: http://greatlakes.bgsu.edu/vessel/view/004251
She was built to the specifications
of Sewell Avery (1873-1960) and named after his daughter Lenore or after his wife’s middle name- or both, since she
was actually christened the Lenore. Mr. Avery did very well in the world of gypsum
monopolies, but failed miserably when he attempted to steer Montgomery Ward through the bare knuckle jungle known as competition.
He essentially created the corporate model for the Bell System and a few others who followed his lead, and fittingly, can
best be viewed in a famous photograph as he was carried out of his headquarters by a couple of Army sergeants.
Much like the whaleboat and whales,
that shouldn’t have any effect on our affection for the Lenore.
As a matter of fact, the best historical synopsis of her life
as a presidential yacht can be found at the JFK library: http://www.jfklibrary.org/Research/Research-Aids/Ready-Reference/JFK-Miscellaneous-Information/Honey-Fitz.aspx
After many presidents, many
name changes and a museum-quality restoration in 2011, she was re-commissioned as the Honey Fitz,
and has returned to her roots as a ward of the wealthy. That shouldn’t trouble us one bit,
since our government gave her up for dead.
While we’re at it, it should be noted that she was an interesting and innovative boat in her
own right. The use of a metal/wood hybrid frame was well-known (a little research on the tea clippers will bring you up to
speed here). And harking back to our discussions of hogging frames, her main frame supports were steel ( beams, thwarts and
bulkheads) that supported her twin Winton diesels. A journey through
the history of the Winton bicycle, automobile and engine companies is another side road worth taking. As it turns out, Navy
submarines, most modern locomotives and more than a few power plants were initially powered by Winton engines. Alfred Sloan
enters the mix when, at the suggestion of Ransom Olds, purchased the Winton Engine Company that evolved
into what we later knew as Cleveland Diesel. In their heyday, the marine engines were the power plant of choice (over coal),
and even though the land-based monsters were sized in the range of 15,000 cc’s and weighed in at over 50,000 pounds,
their design was brilliant, efficient and rugged.
If you doubt that, visit the web site of the yacht Portola. In a note of passing, the Williamsburg
was also powered by twin Winton diesels.
With what amounted
to a steel/wood hybrid skeleton, she was fairly light. This and her powerplant explain an extended
speed of 24 knots, making her one of the fastest commuter yachts of her time.
The Defoe Boat and Motor Works of Bay City, Michigan built the original
yacht- by the time she was built, Defoe had a solid history of building both steel and wooden hulled
ships. Whether huge or more modest like the Lenore, the yachts of the auto barons shared very common
lines, so the Lenore bears an uncanny resemblance to the larger Reomar
III, designed and built for Ransom Olds. This and more history of those men and boats can be found at http://www.gphistorical.org/pdf-files/tonnancour/autoyachts.pdf
In case you are somewhat confused
by that last paper, rest assured that Cox and Stevens, masters of the fast cruiser, never called Detroit home. And, contrary
to some sources, didn’t design the Lenore. Most of their
work was built within a daysail of their offices in downtown Manhattan, and you probably and correctly
associate them with Phil Rhodes, of Rhodes 19 fame. You may not associate them with the Lincoln Continental, but even if you
do, you should probably revisit the biography of E.T. “Bob” Gregorie. Finally, if
you know your way around the Mystic library you can gain an appreciation for Cox and Stevens' other work.
While photographs and other documents
of the Lenore are widely available, I am grateful to Bob Graham, Archivist, Historical Collections of
the Great Lakes, Jerome Library, Bowling Green State University for digging and providing copies of critical
original drawings of the unnamed yacht that was to carry many names. I was pleasantly
surprised to learn that she was designed by none other than Thomas D. Bowes.
Tom “Tugboat” Bowes, designed over 800 boats ranging from club sailing
sloops to minesweepers. His work and his colorful history are preserved at the Independence Seaport Museum as part of the
Philadelphia Area Consortium of Special Collections. This link will take you to the historical and anecdotal record: http://clir.pacscl.org/2010/08/23/thomas-d-bowes-m-e-associates-records/ . His biography is far more colorful and entertaining than Mr. Avery’s.
In case you miss it in his biography,
much of Mr. Bowes’ work was implemented in the works of the John H. Mathis Company in Camden, NJ. Mathis at the time
also employed another designer (and its president in 1939) by the name of John Trumpy, Sr.. Mr. Trumpy
was a Norwegian schooled in Germany, and when it comes to yachting history, he was to power yachting what Nathaniel Herreshoff
was to sailing. If it floated and was owned by any family that you associate with great wealth, one of these two men designed
and built it.
the most important magazine in the world of yachts and yachting was “Rudder” (it is published under that name
today by the Antique and Classic Boat Society). Mr. Bowes’ work, along with that of Defoe, Mathis, Trumpy and Herreshoff
was regularly featured. While you’re spending time at the Mystic library with Cox and Stevens, the
Seaport Museum’s list of designers and builders who were featured on the pages of “Rudder”
is a good introduction to that world.
Getting sidetracked is often a lot of fun, but back to the Lenore.The original hull was (reportedly) double-planked cedar laid on formed ribs spaced
on 8 inch centers- again, very light, strong and flexible. As fast-boat technology evolved into what it is today, you can
substitute balsa or foam for steel and an epoxy composite for cedar, and the structure of the Lenore
is being recreated (with a chop gun) in some boat factory as I am writing this.
We have a
number of choices in terms of the Lenore's decades of use. Over time she was updated to the point of near-oblivion.
Her tonnage was increased in 1971 to reflect some major renovation, as we shall see, but this does not effect the dimensions
of the build, so I'm going to pick 1962 as a reasonable date, and build her as something that JFK would have recognized.
After all, he was the one who named her the Honey Fitz.
In terms of scale, I’m going
with HO (1:87). This should make it easier to obtain decorating pieces and parts that you might want to add. Model railroaders
get together quite often for swap meets, so if you plug into one of their networks you can visit a few of these as a way of
avoiding the work involved when we fabricate parts from scratch. The model that follows will be just about 12 inches long
(12.18) by about 1 inch wide (1.08), but feel free to change the scale if you want the make this into a coffee table or a
get on with the boat
you don’t care to contact Bowling Green for a full set of architectural drawings, I’m
going to provide my working sketches that are based on this general set of drawings and photos:
The first image is from her days as a charter
yacht, probably on Long Island Sound, probably in the 1990's. I left off the upper deck because we're focusing on
the hull for now.
The second drawing was created by F. Chevalier in 2011 (probably during her restoration
by Moores Marine). This was a good attempt to remove 30 or 40 years of neglectful additions and subtractions that are obvious
in the first photo, but compared to her original drawings is not the Lenore. I have purposefully left off the upper-deck
The third is one of a series of photographs of the Lenore that were probably shot
sometime in the 1930's.
The last is a derivation from her original blueprints.
are slightly off, and I've added the emphatic lines. (After overlaying all four and fading them against each other I split
them apart again so the comparison could be made in an online image.)
It is obvious and entirely possible
that someone who spent some time wandering around the Trumpy yards in Eastport (Annapolis) decided to try to make a Defoe
look more like a Trumpy. If the irony gods are on my side, this person also participated in screwing up the Constitution.
Comparing the numbers between these, there are some other physical differences that may be the result of dates, but
we're trying to maintain scale and aspect here. Based on the Bowling Green synopsis, The Honey Fitz gained 6
tons (net 4) between 1931 and 1971. If you exercise your caliper and do the ratios on the rendering, she also lost about 14
feet. (If you would rather build a shorter, fatter Lenore, apply the lessons of this build to the Seqouia
and build a Trumpy instead of a Defoe. Or, if you prefer the Lenore, make adjustments as we go.)
with sailors is that they don't entertain theories about conspiracies, so the explanation of any difference in measurements
between 1931 and 1971 begins and ends with the fact that in 1931 they measured her LOA at 92 feet (91'6"") and
in 1971 someone used a better ruler and corrected that to 94 feet (93"6"). The gross tonnage (formalized by Archimedes)
falls out of those measurements. If you come up with a different number, feel free to deposit it in your checking account.
a minimum this is a composite view of how the bare hull section of our project should turn out. Pick and choose the details
as we go along, and to save repeating myself at every subsequent step, pick and choose the details as we go along.
Based on Mr. Bowes' very specific notes, the unnamed yacht that was christened Lenore had a LOA
(length overall) of 91'-6". Her length at the waterline (LWL) was 90'-"0", and her maximum width (beam)
was 15'-9". She enjoyed a fairly shallow draft of 4'-3".
My scale model plan is to create a hull profile based on the original drawing and photos of the Honey Fitz
without a nod to her restoration, and that's that
And while I'm going to build a cross-sectional
model, it is a whole lot easier to build a plank-on-bulkhead version. If you print two sets of the detailed hull schematics
or just trace mirrored hull profile drawings you will have a working set of full-model bulkheads. The building order ( keelson,
main deck, hull and houses) will be slightly different, but consistent with what we've already done on previous models.
So read the text but change the sequence.
Every model-building text starts with a tool
description. I built my first scratch model using a machinist's rule, a razor blade and scraps of sandpaper. That model
took awhile, and I've only added tools that fit what I needed. My advice is to read the text, figure out what tools might
be handy, and buy them only if you feel you need them. What comes next is the result of many, many models, including the ones
in this series..
While I started this series of books with
a description of a set of tools for each model, the sets began to look very similar, so here are most of the things I use
every day. ( In order left to right, top to bottom.)
one for short and one for long scraps. Indispensable.
Box. In this assortment I have rigging cords that start at .008 all the way up through sewing thread, button thread and 48
Clamp Box. In here you'll find wooden clothespins,
adjustable bar clamps, bulldog clamps and paper clamps. Almost hidden in front of that are a couple of ship model planking
clamps- I have many more, and they are very handy.
Wands. I'll describe these later. There are also some emery boards, a round, small wand and one scrap of many scraps of
Micro files. Sharp and broken-off round, plus the
normal assortment. Very handy.
Fences. These are actually metal
rulers, a machinist's rule and a machinist's square. All stainless steel, to stand up to the knife blades.
Loupe. Only handy if your eyesight is as bad as mine and the work is really
tiny.(It will be tiny as we go along.)
Glues. CA gel, craft
and wood glue. Mandatory.
Template Bin and wire. All small
templates, subassemblies and small parts I'm working with on a given model go in here or they'll get lost. We won't
be using that much wire or brass rod..
Pin Board. This once
was a piece of foam craft board that now has hat pins and various other pins that I use for marking, gluing, clamping and
other things that I forget until I need a specific pin. Stuck into the side are sewing needles of various sizes- there is
no logic to explain how they got there.
Scissors. Any sharp
pair will do.
Step gauge. You can't see this too well,
but this homemade gauge is cut (stepped off) in 1mm increments from 1-5mm. I have another one stepped off in 1/32nds. As you'll
see when we stab-mark and cut thin strips of basswood these make the job simple and repeatable. If I know I'll be working
in large increments like these, this is also how I measure and cut at the same time.
Tweezers. Large and small, and sooner or later you'll be filing the tips because they just don't
work right until you do. The tape on a couple of these is to disable the locking feature- sometimes that feature is good,
but the spring-loaded pair on the right is usually better.
tape and Q-tips..
Rigging needles. I use two types- the "big
eye" and the twisted steel beading needle. The beading needles are much easier to use on small diameter threads.
Saw (draw) blades. Fine (54 teeth per inch) and medium (40 teeth per inch).
You'll need both.
Blade pack. I rarely use anything but
X-ACTO #11 blades and I buy them in bulk. This pack of fifteen might last for years or for weeks.
Knives. I keep two of them on the table- the one on the left always has a clean, sharp
blade, and the one on the right (red paint) always has a used, not-as-sharp blade for applying glue, breaking out pieces,
cutting paper, etc.. The red one is the one I use when I know that I'm about to wreck a blade somehow.
French curves and pattern templates. The curves are indispensable.
Dividers- Map (rough) and student (fine). You can't transfer or repeat any measurement
accurately and repeatedly without them.
Beeswax. Handy for
preventing lint on cotton line, but indispensable for creating a release when gluing.
Forceps. I also use hemostats, but this is my go-to pair.
Compass and Angle rule. Both very handy. Both are worthless for tiny angles and tiny circles.
Hand gouge (chisel). Indispensable for breaking glue joints, I keep this
razor-sharp, because it comes in handy as a cutting/punch tool as well.
Rigging scissors. Cuticle scissors, suture-removal scissors and optical surgical scissors. Each is valuable for a
particular rigging task.
Large tonail clipper. The flatter
(or convex) the better.
Large T-square. For squaring
cut card stock. We'll be using a lot of card stock, and I like to keep my scrap square.
I still use the plastic one for very rough measurements, but a digital caliper spoils you for any other type.
Miniature linemen's pliers. Also a heavy wire/rod cutter. The flat face
comes in very handy for breaking pieces away (mistakes) once the glue has set.
Pin Vises. I use the pair because I usually drill a pilot hole before I drill a finished hole. These have bit storage
in the handles, so you can't see my drill bits. I suggest you start with a standard 20-bit set (#61-80, You'll quickly
discover which ones you break, lose or otherwise need- buy a few of those at a time and store them in a secure place. In my
case they're in the handles- one for 1mm and smaller and the other for larger.
(decorative) toothpicks. I forgot to put these on the table, along with bamboo skewers. Indispensable for gluing, making small
Paint Brushes. I didn't include my
paint brush collection because it might depress you. I've cut off handles to make spars, used junk brushes to apply glue,
and generally destroyed many of them. And you'll have to decide what brush material works best for you. I can say that
you'll eventually need brushes down in the X/0 range for detail work- in this case buy the best brush you can find. I
have about 4 brushes that I care about, and the rest were purchased as sets ( and I probably kept one out of every set and
wrecked the others).
The very small tools go into a large tackle
box that also contains hundred of little gil-guys, pieces and parts. If it's very small or very large and isn't used
often it goes there. Everything else goes into a rotating divided hexagonal thing that I found at a garage sale. Whatever
it once was, it's perfect now.
Let's discuss the large
sanding wands. I make these out of wooden paint stirring sticks (paddles). By applying contact cement to the stick and rough
(60 grit) sandpaper to the wide and narrow edge on one side and finer (120 grit sandpaper) to the other two sides I have an
easy-to-find tool that is also handy for everyday use. Simply cut a piece of sandpaper to a slightly larger width than the
stick, apply contact cement to the paper and the stick and when it's ready, fold the paper onto the sick. Use a sharp
knife to trim the bare edges: this is now a huge emery board and a very accurate straight-surface sander. It will be a great
loss if these paddles ever disappear.
At the extreme, these
paddles are made from clear (knot-free) pine. They are very exact, well-made and free, but getting harder to find. (I'm
guilt-free because of the small fortune I've spent on house paint.) They are very handy for drilling and other experiments-
as a matter of fact I think it might be fun to build a complete model from a single paint paddle.)
Note that the work board I use is about 18"x24" from a piece of scrap ¼
inch balsa-faced plywood (generally available at homestores). It has a number of holes drilled through it that act as
holding dogs, a cutting and clamping fence and has rounded corners. The balsa accepts things like pins and knife blades while
the plywood ensures a flat and, when needed, rigid frame. (This board replaced my earlier one that I made from a sheet of
birch veneer plywood. On that one I had glued (contact cement) a 1/8th balsa plank in front of the cutting fence.
It worked well for about 20 years until I found the balsa-faced plywood.) If you look closely, you'll see that I've
covered the area in front of the board with 1/64th aircraft plywood because it has gotten so chewed up.
A very important feature of any work board is that small cutting and clamping
fence. Mine have either 90- or 45-degree angles cut into both ends and they're the right size for any number of cutting
and clamping tasks that require a sturdy brace and guide. (The 90 is on the able. They are screwed-in from the back) The holding
dogs (holes) elsewhere on the table are used when the fence is not the right size or shape- dowels or other things can be
stuck into the holes to hold odd shapes or an entire model.
size fits between the arms of a comfortable chair and goes wherever I feel like working- including outside on a nice day.
Also, trying to work at a heavy traffic location like a dining table can be a domestic disaster unless you can move all of
your work all at once.
And keep in mind that even the right
or most expensive tool might make the job easier, but not better.
Hull, Internal Trim,
Main Deck (1)1/32x 3 x 24 Basswood
Keel, rudder, etc
(1) 1/16x 3x 24 Basswood
(1) 1/8 x 2 x 24 Basswood
(1) 1/64x 6 x 8 1/64 Birch (aircraft) plywood
Upper Deck, various
(1) 1/32x 3 x 24 Mahogany
(2) 1/32x1/32x24 Mahogany
(1) 1/16x1/8x24 Mahogany
(1) package .04 (1/32)" styrene rod
(1) package .08 (1/16)" styrene rod
A few oriental (decorative) toothpicks
Sardine can (empty), disposable
aluminum pie plate
A dozen or so (7x8mm).028x3/32 brass nails
Display Case ( See that section at the end)
to do what we've set out to do, we're going to start out with a mold of the hull, as usual. This will be similar to
the whaleboat, but with a major difference.
While the whaleboat mold
was a way to trick the wood planks into a shape that would accept the boat's internal structure, the mold in this case
will provide the internal structure that dictates the shape of the ribs and planking.
As a note of warning: if you've been building, fitting and fairing molds as we've gone along, you know that
the shapes in the drawings can only be approximations. Very close, but not the cigar. If you haven't been steaming, fitting,
building and fairing all along, you probably won't have the benefit of that experience. In other words, you're probably
For starters, I'm going to include my perpendiculars
and various reference lines on a scaled drawing, with one of the original drawings overlaid on my scribbles:
That drawing is not particularly enlightening, but it should help set
the stage for the same drawing without the overlay:
One thing I think I now know about Mr. Bowes is that he used (after
probably making them himself) two very accurate sets of drafting shapes. The first was a complete set of 90-degree triangles
set to 3 degree increments- these could have been marked off on a mechanical device, but with the precision that he obviously
demanded, it is more likely that this was a set of thin brass templates. He also had a set of compound French curves somewhere
in his studio- either that or he was very hard on his draftsman. If you recall our discussions of Phi, we've now added
the Golden Triangle to our list of design guidelines, and both were applied to the Lenore.
I may be wrong about his tools, but I'm also speculating that he applied the same subtleties
found on the hull of the Lenore to all of his other designs.
any case, the above drawing is to scale in its original form, and if you perform a screen capture and load that image into
any one of a number of free drawing programs you can scale it up or down , and if you prefer a bow-pointing-left-of-page view,
you can go ahead and flip anything that floats your boat.
Unlike the previous molds, the objective for this model will require a half-mold. The pressure on the structural
members will still be temporary, but asymmetrical- one side of the hull, being absent, can't provide the usual support
to its balanced mate.
You might try (as I did), to use our standard
paint paddle as the basic building block for the mold, but you may find that there just isn't enough material to hold
all of the pieces and parts as they are formed. So in this case I'm laying out the mold on a 1/8 x 3 x 15 inch basswood
Starting with the first drawing, I'm going to overlay
an original drawing:
Based on those dimensions, the drawing that will be the basis for the
mold is this one:
The numbered bulkheads for the mold are notched (the black areas) to
accept the three sets of stringers that will provide the skeleton for the ribs. These mold bulkheads are not in the same locations
as her actual bulkheads, and while I laid these out to occupy equal fore-aft spacing, I am not going to use all of them. You
might want to, so there you have a complete set.
Mark and cut all
the bulkheads using card stock, then mark and cut the bulkheads. I'm using 1/16th basswood, and I'll be
wasting some wood, but I want to be able to fix any bumps or runs in the mold. I can live with the wasted effort and wood.
You'll find it handy to mark and underline the numbers as you go, or you'll discover, as I did, that Mr. Bowes loved
You will also note that the first drawing
in this chapter has a different keel profile than the mold- that's true because the keel will be formed on the mold after
the basic hull profile is cut.
After the basic hull profile and the
blank bulkheads are cut, the entire collection should look something like this:
Mark the stringer lines from the drawing on the mold. Cut out the
notches, and glue the bulkheads to the hull mold. The bottom edges of the bulkheads should line up with the bottom of the
mold, and the stringer notches should line up with the lines on the mold.
As usual, the bow stem comes next. Like the whaleboat ( and pretty much every wooden boat ever built), the bow stem
will contain a notch (rabbet) that will accept the forward tips of the stringers and planks. The easiest way to accomplish
this is to steam and bend the stem as one piece composed of two sections, and notch only one section.
The steaming frame is the same one I've been using forever (see every earlier model), and I'm
using 1/8 x 1/32 strips to build up the stem. After the initial set of strips has dried, remove them, re-steam them, and while
they're still wet, glue the strips to create two separate pieces. The assembly should look like this as the glue is drying:
I already had a forming jig that was pretty close to the mold profile,
but you may need to cut one that is identical to the mold's bow profile.
Likewise, fitting the keel (I'm using a 1x8 x ¼ strip) to the mold and bow stem is a matter of holding
the stem piece in place over the keel strip and cutting through the stem and keel pieces to create a mirror joint.
At this point I have drilled bench dog holes into the workboard, and the mold, keel
and bow stem are held in place with pegs and wedges.The fixed pieces
look like this:
I have started to sand the mold edge down for the top two stringers
(but not the bottom). I'll remove the outer stem section, and continue sanding both the mold and stem inner section until
I have a 1/16th or so rabbet so that the forward edge of the inner section will accept the forward tip of the top
two sets of stringers.
The space at bottom of the bow stem between
the bulkhead and the outer edge of the stem will be filled with a solid (in my case built-up) piece cut from scrap. The top
surface of that piece should line up with the bottom of the lowest notch on bulkhead #1, and the back edge should butt
to that bulkhead. This solid piece is intended to both capture the compound curves that Mr. Bowes designed, and also to give
some support to the skeleton.
Once the piece has been traced, cut
and rough-fitted, give the bow section of the mold and the work table a coating of release (beeswax), and glue the stem pieces
together, then glue the stem to the keel. I'm using dots of CA glue, and re-clamping with wedges as I go. When this step
is complete, remove the pins holding the mold and the skeleton together.
skeleton should look like this:
This might be the place to point out that as you look at the photo
there are three layers of workboard: the mold, a small bending workboard, and at the bottom, the workboard. The hole
in the upper right of the mold is a peg hole- the mold is being held to the middle board with pegs, and pegs are also being
used just below the keel so that wedges will clamp the boat's frame as we go.
You should be able to pick up the skeleton and wiggle it as if it were a solid piece of wood. If so, let's proceed.
Reclamp and glue the stem filler piece to the stem, being careful
not to glue any of it to the mold.
The main stringer will be made
from a 1/16 x 1/8 strip, and what I'll call the deck, or upper stringers, from 1.32 x 1/8 strips. ( We could
have a lot of fun debating wales and sweeps but upper is upper.)
the stringers are steamed, the only major problem is clamping them to the mold. Clamping and gluing these on a bulkhead model
is a pretty simple step- on this model we only have air, so the stringers will have to be temporarily clamped to the mold.
There are a number of alternative ways to clamp them- thread, for example, looped around
the stringers and threaded through holes in the mold, Or temporary clamping frames. Or just weights.
I'm using brass wire scrap, holes drilled into the mold and straking clamps only because this
method worked out best for me.
Steam the stringers and clamp them
in place- like the bulkheads you don't need many clamps to achieve the proper hull shape.In the next photo the main stringer has been sanded to fit into a groove that I sanded into the
bow support piece, and clamped to the mold.
The photo also shows the pegging dogs, the clamps and the keel
What appears to be a complete hull at the top of the photo
is a prototype that looks great, with mahogany double-planking, etc., but turned out to have a hull shape that wasn't
the Lenore or the Honey Fitz. If I can find a way to use it I won't have to set it on fire.
Note that the main (and upper) stringers are being glued to the bow stem. Even with
multiple cycles of steaming and clamping, the basswood will spring slightly. To compensate for that I am going to add a temporary
bulkhead at the stern- this one will be glued to the stringers and pegged to bulkhead #12. This explains the long tail in
It is not clear to me where the 200 or so ribs of the
Lenore were formed. Wherever it was, someone had a steaming oven and complete set of forming dies and clamps. (If
you purchased the Ansel text there are some very good photos of the set that the Beetles employed, and it's possible that
a boatwright in Michigan had a similar set, but I am fairly certain that the ribs were fabricated in Camden/Philadelphia and
shipped to Bay City.)
We've already been through the tolerances
of wood, particularly basswood, so when it comes to our miniature ribs, you can either build a complete set of forming dies
and attempt to form basswood, or you can follow my lead and use 1/64th aircraft plywood. As a matter of fact, if
you study the Moore restoration, the plywood is a very good analogy for the ribs they had to fabricate.
For a spacer I'm back to the brush comb, and I've pressed into the upper stringer
to get the centers. I've sliced a handful of 2mm strips from the plywood (on the bias), and I'm steaming and gluing
as I go.
Here's the start of the process:
One of the few nice things about CA glue is that it grabs wet wood.
In the photo I've stuck the strips into a cup of very hot water, forced one end of each one down to the workboard, applied
a dot of CA glue to the dent made by the brush comb, and that's that.
You'll note the tailpiece that I mentioned earlier at the stern. I've let off on the wedge slightly to accommodate
the bottom of the wet ribs, and now it's a matter of production until the skeleton looks something like this:
We can now finish using the
At the stern, glue
a support stick at a right angle to the keel, flush to the support bulkhead. Drill a hole and pass a pin or wire through that
stick and the bulkhead to hold that stern in place to the keel.
Remove the wedges, pins and clamps, and lift the rib cage off the mold. The bottom of
the ribs will spring slightly, but the ribs will hold their shape for the next step.
While gently pushing, align a rib end to the keel and place a dot of
CA glue under that end and pin it to the keel. Repeat this for three or four ribs over the entire length- this is just to
tack things in place temporarily. All of the rib ends should be resting atop the keel and more or less aligned with the keel.
Fit a 1/16 x 1/8 strip from the stem
to the stern- this is the keelson. Apply a long strip of wood glue to the keelson, and, while holding the keelson, start at
either end and work your way down the length of the keelson, pushing the rib ends flush to the keel and keelson, and trapping
them in the wood glue sandwich. Clamp as you finish a section length. You don’t have to work too hastily, but you only
have about a minute or two to complete this step.
When the glue is ready to set, the skeleton should look something like this:
After it dries, remove the clamps, and it should look like this:
The frame looks fragile, but it is, in fact, fairly stable and strong.
Now might be a good time to sight along various lines, and you should see the finished hull lines.
The ribs and stringers will be sprung ( slightly) outward, and a few of the ribs will be offset
from the main stringer. We're about to correct that and bring the hull into its final shape.
Actual ( Model ) Bulkheads
While I have a
better copy to work with, I'm going to work from the following photo of an original drawing:
The heavy red lines represent full
structural bulkheads- these correspond fairly closely to the numbered model bulkheads in terms of outboard profile. The main
challenge at this point is to bring the frame into its final shape: if this were a traditional model we would have rigid clamping
surfaces (bulkheads or thwarts or both), but on this baby all we have is air.
The only element that is straight and sound at this point is the keel-rib-keelson
structure, and I’m going to use that as a small fulcrum to support the bulkheads laterally. This will provide some needed
strength to the skeleton, and correct any bowing of the stringers.
If your hull stringers didn’t bow outward you can ignore the next step.
What I’m creating in this step
is a tunnel- much like a very long drilled hole that will take a 1/32nd brass rod. The brass rod will act as an
invisible lever to hold the bulkheads plumb to the keel as the ribs and stringers are forced into their final shapes.
I have glued
and clamped a 1/32 x 1/16 basswood strip flush to the long edge of a squared-off scrap (4 x 8 inches) of basswood. If you
cut that strip from a blank, keep in mind that the strip and the rod will have to be anchored to the 1/8th keelson,
so there isn’t a lot of real estate left if the strip is wider than 1/16th.
The assembly starts out looking like this:
The 1/32nd brass rod isn't all that obvious in the
picture, but I already rubbed it with release, fitted the other blank in the picture tight to the rod, and then wood-glued
1/64th plywood top and bottom to complete the sandwich.
noted every time we've used the plywood, it does not absorb glue, so you may want to carefully dilute the white or wood
glue so that it spreads evenly over what are some pretty wide surfaces. Then clamp the sandwich with some heavy, even pressure.
When the bulkhead blank has dried, remove the brass rod and we're ready to fit the
Looking at the bulkhead schematic, ( the red lines),
I'm going to start at a midpoint ( in my case, bulkhead #7). I'm going to use the same templates that we used to cut
the mold bulkheads, but this time we have to add the width of the keelson to the vertical dimension, making each bulkhead
wider, and subtract the depth of the keelson from the horizontal dimension, making each one shorter. And since the actual
bulkheads lie on the keel at different points than the mold bulkheads, each will have to be fitted, sanded and glued so that
it lines up with the hull profile in all dimensions.
So placing the
bulkheads is going to take some time carefully spent. But don't get emotionally involved- I'm going to tear all of
these out as we go.
Once the bulkheads are in place the hull
should look something like this:
I used the brass rod/plywood on bulkheads 1,2,3 & 8 (counting
from the bow). After setting the sweep with (what was #7, and is now actual #5), I set the rest by branching out from that
point in both directions. When the rest were set I then had to go back, break out #5 and reset it. I also clipped off the
rib scraps from the tip stringer and lightly sanded the keel/keelson to create a cleaner keel assembly. Note that I have not
created the lazarette (deck hold) for the simple reason that on the model it's a distraction. Before I place the decks and houses, I'm going to give the skeleton a light ( rattle-can) coat
of white primer. If you've gotten this far I trust you to decide how to apply any paint(s) from now on.
As a matter of fact, if you've built any of the others you can probably complete
the rest of the model as well or better than I can: the photos on the next few pages may be helpful.
I'm going to
introduce the subject of decks and houses with a preamble.
Somewhere in a forgotten US Navy archive there is
an original work order calling for modifications to CG-92004 (Coast Guard ship 1942-1945) or Lenore II (Navy ship
1945-1952) or the Barbara Anne (Presidential yacht 1952). When that work was completed is unclear, but it was prior
to Dwight Eisenhower's first cruise with his family ( photos online at his library and elsewhere). The dates aren't
that important, but whenever it happened, the Lenore ceased to exist.
Since we're building the Honey
Fitz, there really is no cause to mourn her conversion, and the result, as seen in a number of photos, is still fairly
true to what Mr. Bowes had in mind.
The following series of photos appear to have been shot at the Washington Navy
Yard. The first two were probably shot in the 1958-1961 time frame, and the third (based on the number of ashtrays) is probably
The areas that originally served as the overheads and ports for
the two aft staterooms, the fuel tank and the engine room were flattened, and the area that Mr. Bowes named the "Main
Saloon" (or small parlor in the average home), became the presidential-sized living room shown in the last photo..
The Winton engines were indestructible, but losing all that headroom
was probably what dictated their replacement with their offspring, Detroit Diesel 6-71's. This would have appealed to
Ike, since Sherman tanks and D-Day landing craft were also powered by those engines (keyword GrayMarine). Hats off and farewell
to Winton, too.
Someone once observed that when art meets the profit
motive what you get is pornography. What happened after JFK's presidency supports that wisdom.
When you're tasked with turning a 30-year old auxiliary into a floating White House you do your
best. When you want to make money on that deal you have to sell tickets or serve booze to a lot of people. So you go about
your next conversion with the same flair for art that results in hanging farm junk on the walls of a box and calling it a
Soon after Nixon started defacing the Sequoia,
and right after the Honey Fitz became, of all things the Patricia, she passed into private hands and
became, artfully, The Presidents. So you could probably rationalize that doing to Nixon's wife's boat what
Nixon was about to do to his country was an improvement.
And if you're
the private investor who bought that boat, you can't make money unless you maintain your investment with the same enthusiasm
as the bar owner who buys an old ferry boat. In both cases you're fully depreciated when your boat sinks into some
river underneath a mountain of rot.
And all of that is better than
the current state of the Williamsburg. But if your notion of a summer cruise is floating in your inner tube in a
leech-infested mud hole in Arkansas you'll probably wind up in Congress voting to improve Arkansan mud holes instead of
Bringing us back to the restoration of the Honey
Fit , or, more accurately, her hull repairs. Anyone who was lucky enough to see her during JFK's presidency,
or has visited the JFK library will recall a trim yacht that fit well alongside sailing yachts and even fishing boats. In
Newport she looked at home. Looking at her today is like looking at a 400-pound bleach job going by the name of Marilyn Monroe.
But she's afloat (a major plus) and has a name painted in gold on her transom.
If you finish the model and like what you see, I encourage you not to go looking for her Palm Beach interpretation. The Honey
Fitz is in that pile somewhere, but you're going to have to have built her to figure out where.
Profile and Layout
When you look at the conversion of the Lenore to
a presidential yacht, some unique design challenges come into play.
Up until the time that Eisenhower made his intentions known, she was a “normal”
auxiliary craft with a minimal crew serving auxiliary passengers like protective and support staff.. When the Navy was tasked
with making her Ike’s primary watercraft there is no doubt that the Secret Service and the Pentagon got heavily involved.
When JFK was onboard, the Honey Fitz had to serve as the command center for a country that was heading into one or
JFK was an
experienced sailor. If you happen to be one of those lucky people you have spent all of your time afloat exposed to things
like weather, people and various hazards- things that we have come to accept as things that presidents must avoid.
So when you’re thinking about
protecting the leader of the free world from all harm, and simultaneously equipping the Commander in Chief with the tools
to conduct a war, and furthermore you’re stuck with a 90-foot boat with a passenger who loves being a sailor, you do
your best to fit a size 16 foot into a size 6 shoe.
Neither you nor I will ever know exactly what or who was packed into that shoe or how. Which is
good news in the sense that we don’t have to spend any time worrying about interior decorating. And if we leave any
area vacant, nobody who was involved will be allowed to tell us what or who went where. You can make a lot of mistakes if
they’re all Top Secret.That’s a long way of saying
that the next building phase is, by necessity, pretty simple.
Now is a good time to print, trace or draw the rough deck and profile outlines from
the previous sketches. I created the deck and profile insets from the following drawing:
The red lines are what they have been, the black lines are for
emphasis and the green lines are, as best I can measure it, the deck profile of the Honey Fitz c. 1961. My copy is
centered on letter paper, so cutting and taping got me to a decent fit to the model.
To conserve wood ( and the rain forests) I printed these, then cut 6mm deep gunwales for the main deck ( 6mm equates
to about 18 inches of actual depth), guessed and cut out the foredeck , and drew and cut my best approximation of the houses
( main saloon, wheelhouse and dining saloon).
Looking at various
photos of the Honey Fitz and the Barbara Anne it might seem difficult to determine undocumented dimensions
except for the fact that many of the photos include people and chairs. Harking back to our discussion of the cubit, if you
have a picture of a person's arm you can calculate a cubit. And if you want to get down to inches, the height of a dining
chair (18 inches), the height of a casual chair (16 inches) and their widths are all pretty standard. As is the distance from
the average man's knee to the ground (21 inches, including Ike, who was 5'10 ½" tall).
(While we're at it, my model, her original drawings and most of the official photos
are as seen from the starboard side. Most of the photos taken since then are from port. If you wonder why that might be, ask
a Japanese acquaintance how they feel about even numbers. Better yet, derive the word port.)
I pinned the skeleton to a piece of scrap to hold it upright, and with dots of white glue and transparent
tape I roughed-in an approximation of what I believe Eisenhower and Kennedy saw from shore. I've been studying and measuring
from a lot of source photos and drawings, so what I see in the mockup is different from what they saw, but not much.
With these rough dimensions and profiles in hand we can begin to get
serious about the model.
Keep in mind our old friend Phi (1.618),
or in Mr. Bowes case, its reciprocal, phi, or .618. (Since Phi is a world unto itself, its reciprocal is also itself minus
1.) Imagine viewing her in profile or on the horizon,, and focus amidships (her engine exhaust stack). The early Egyptians
and Greeks would have suggested a visible superstructure (painted white to make it even more distinct from a black hull) 1.618
times the height of the hull, and .618 times her length overall. In other words, a pleasant, timeless relationship.
The Navy might have raked her stack when they refitted her engines,
and they might have changed the aft sundeck to a sliding aluminum affair, but they had the good design sense to keep those
ratios ( applied to most of their ships) reasonably intact.
you're concerned about precise dimensions, keep in mind that her length overall is 91'6" and her length at the
waterline is 90'. If your ratios don't stray too far you'll be in good shape.
And, if you go looking for the Honey Fitz, that's where you'll find her.
We have four houses on the
main deck- the dining saloon (that has never really changed), the wheelhouse, the main saloon (living room) and a great mystery
amidships. A social scientist would probably draw a social conclusion from the fact that the Lenore's interior
(ceiling) in the main areas was finished hardwood while her exterior was a severe white- the Honey Fitz was exactly
the opposite. This was another dramatic departure from the Lenore's white-on-black exterior, and the
current Awlgrip shell. (I've concluded that today's look is very Cheoy Lee, if there is such a thing.)
So, if you've ever spent any time in government offices in our nation's capitol,
you have to marvel at the rate at which the rain forests are being ravaged. The sawdust and shavings can't be calculated,
but what goes onto the walls and on the floors was not woodworked by amateurs. Likewise the brightwork on the Honey Fitz.
In terms of the craftsmen who did the work, there was a time when you could have found
a Navy Carpenters Mate or even a Patternmaker who would have been up to the task of creating and finishing her exterior woodwork.
Where, by whom and when the work was done is a mystery.
The few color
photos that are available suggest a finished product that was mostly-mahogany with zero nonsense. That is to say no romantic
curves- this was an elegant boat that was all business.
be using 1/16th (1.5mm) mahogany blanks for the walls, 1/64th mahogany trim strips, and
1/32nd mahogany pieces wherever I think I need them. (These ratio-up nicely to actual, assuming that the walls
were bullet-proofed.) I'll be using 1/32nd basswood for all the trim areas that were painted white in
The next drawing is intended to be a starting point for a number
of approximations that you'll have to work into your build. I've chosen to start with the main profile and work my
way out, up and down to fill in the topsides.
The above outline was developed from the mockups and other drawings,
so when I combined this set with the other drawings and photos, the pieces and parts of the superstructure came together as
you see them in the next photo:
From the top of the photo are the foredeck and main deck cutouts
and basswood blanks, the main saloons with the forward dining saloon frame, the upper deck (with 1/16x 1/16 mahogany
trim that is not visible, the wheelhouse frame, windows and deck cutout and the basswood blank that will form the gunwales
and splash rails.
The blackout windows are the result of applying
flat black spray paint to the backside of a plastic salad container. Windows are always a problem, so solve your window dilemma
as you see fit. I did not cut the windows through because that convention (at least in my opinion) looks better on dollhouses
and toy trains.
I protruded the doors because when I tried them flush
or as insets they looked horrible. I plead guilty to this departure from actual. (The sizes are very close to actual.). It
may not be obvious, but the main house structure is constructed from 1/16th mahogany, trimmed with 1/32 basswood
(painted white), 1/32nd x 1/8th mahogany and trimmed-in using 1/16x1/16 strips.
The wheelhouse presented a problem, since I'm going for a more-or-less open area.
In this case, 1/16 x 1/8 mahogany strips were grooved to accept the window panels , and then trimmed using 1/32 x 1/16th
strips. The wheelhouse is one of the many features that is unique to Mr. Bowes' design, and you could point to this as
a forerunner of the sportfisherman or chalk it up to classic tugboat common sense.
If you decide to follow my lead and build the wheelhouse as an open structure, here's a photo of the blank:
This rabbet is very similar to those on the other models. Start with
a cut with a sharp blade, then a slightly deeper cut with a coarse razor saw blade and a final polishing using the back of
a discarded knife blade. The corners are fairly simple to miter if you also score a perpendicular (far left on the scored
All of the superstructure pieces were cut on the outside
of the pencil tracing lines, and won't be assembled until the hull is planked.
Unlike the other models, the silhouette
of the gunwales and the sweep of the splash rails are definitive- they are central to the identity of the Honey Fitz,
and as we get further along, these also play a role in her choice as a presidential yacht.
In the layout photo (above), the bottom cutout and blank are the pieces closest to the model. The
basswood blank was cut after the card stock template was cut and rough-fitted. The lines are drawn on both pieces to allow
for overlaps and wales.
The forward (prow) splash rail on the original
is flaired- this is an obviously nod to the fast sailing clippers. As a practical matter the flairing deflects spray away
from the hull, so it should have been present on many yachts of the same period, but it wasn't. As a design signature
it's important. (I suppose that at 24 knots you probably need splash flaring, but at 12 you don't.)
We had some fun on the whaleboat with trying to somehow decide if a gunwale should or
could have any number of names that include "wale". Look up "wale", and if you don't like my use of
the terms "gunwale" and "trim rail" then you don't. Or save us both the trouble by looking at our
yacht today- they're gone.
The gunwales on the Honey Fitz
were left high- almost 18 inches off the surface of the main deck aft of the foredeck ladder. I've concluded that
the only reasonable explanation for this has to do with shoes.
yacht was designed to carry Mr. Avery and his guests as they sailed the Great Lakes. I have no idea what Montgomery Ward carried
in their menswear department in 1931, but their main competitor, Sears & Roebuck only carried leather shoes. And they
weren't cheap- $4.50 a pair. (In the same catalog, a 5-room Craftsman cottage, fully assembled on "your lot"
was advertised at $30 per month.) At the time, only the lowliest seaman wore canvas slippers, so boat shoes just wouldn't
do. So my contention is that you did your best to keep your shoes (and your wife's shoes ) dry. Therefore, the 18-inch
gunwale that can still be seen in the 1961 photo of the presidential afterdeck.
So to capture the flair, raise the gunwale 5mm and achieve a very smooth swell, the sheer strake is all one piece.
As usual, steamed and clamped, the entire assembly looks like this:
The brass tubing is 7/16th, and the clothespins appear
rotated because I am decreasing the flair toward the stem. The stem fitting will be flat, so the metal rule is clamped to
keep any warp from creeping into that end. The pencil lines that I've used to line up this piece with the stringers on
the hull are visible. ( Flair and other adjustments may be needed once this piece is in place.)
While that piece is drying, we might as well take a side trip into portholes, hatches and filigree.
As built, the Lenore sported 11 starboard hatches in her doghouse (the raised
area on the main deck that was flattened in 1961). These were complemented by 6 large forward portholes (inlet to the officer's
cabin, the galley, and the crew's quarters), and 7 smaller portholes inlet to the engineroom.
By 1961 the hatches and the forward porthole (crew's quarters) were eliminated. Since then the
number of smaller portholes became a crapshoot, numbering 8, 9 or 10, depending on the decade. Since I've picked 1961
as my date, the number for me is 10, spaced closely to the way she sat during her photo shoot at the Washington Navy Yard
(above). This brings the total to 15 portholes, somewhat-unequally spaced, all the same size and aligned as two separate sets.
I'm going to cut and place each of the 2mm ( actually 1.8mm, or 6 inches actual)
portholes as I go, without any further instructions in the text.
filigree. A staple on European sailing warships and Trumpy yachts, a muted version can be detected on the original drawing
of the Lenore. Someone had the good sense to realize that losing wars and chasing bootleggers was not consistent
with a Commander in Chief, so the Honey Fitz was all business- no filigree. Pride and good taste expressed simply.
Dried, with portholes drilled and reamed, and a light coat of grey interior primer applied,
the marked gunwale strake has been fitted to the stem rabbet (remember back that far?) and glued in place at the stem. The
1/32nd basswood is flexible, so you can walk CA glue dots from stem to stern or use craft glue and clamps (ribbands).
The ribs and stringers will also bend slightly, so you should wind up with a pleasant sweep that looks like this:
There's some overhang at the stern- I have some ideas about the
fantail that aren't entirely clear yet.
at this point, most of the major screwups and assorted catastrophes have or have not happened. In either case, think of today
Planking larger models with many narrow strips is usually a fairly straightforward task- there are many
small arcs that make up each segment, and a little sanding usually makes for an apparent tight fit. And some folks like to
show their seams.
While the carvel hull on the whaleboat was practical, the hull on the Honey Fitz was mainly for show.
So each thin layer in a double-planked hull spreads any minor imperfections over a wider, filled area, especially when thin
laps are fitted well.
At this scale we don't have the real estate we need for either, so I've used two wide
planks to get down to the rounded bilge. That bilge plank is relatively wide, covering the entire transom to the keel, straight
to the bow. To accommodate the multiple angles and arcs I used the hull plan template to rough-in a card stock version, then
I fitted that card stock template to the hull and mold, and finally cut and fitted a wide 1/32nd plank. This plank
was anything but cooperative, but after multiple steamings and tapings on the mold it fitted well enough to be glued to the
ribs using dots of CA glue.
That left the garboard, which is a snap- the shape is fairly close to that of the whaleboat.Again-
start with a paper template and work it out.
The wands are pretty good fairing sanders, and after I got down to
150-grit I started the final fairing using 220 glued to a stiff foam scrap.
The hull now looks like this:
The modified mold and the final garboard template are my references-
yours will look somewhat different.
I'm not sure what the Navy
used to achieve the deep shine that the Honey Fitz obviously enjoyed. The thought of dozens of swabbies spit-shining her hull
doesn't sound credible, but there was some high-end varnish and wax involved. For the model you can replicate her current
Awlgripped hull- they do sell touch-up bottles, and that finish is unmistakable. But since I already have an open spray
can of satin (blossom, or antique) white I'm going that route. Since I'm satisfied with the hull I'm not going
to apply a black bottom paint yet- that may change.
for the hull, so on to the decks.
When I first started planning this
model I ordered the usual basswood slabs, and with the notion of a high-end presentation, ordered extra mahogany with the
thought that it would probably look as good as some modern high-end decks. If I had studied the boat as much then as I have
since then, I wouldn't have wound up with so much extra mahogany.This
is a 1930's photo of the Lenore at her pier:
For many years it was common practice to build a yacht and
leave finishing the decks as the last step, as you might expect. It was also common practice to finish the decks by laying
down varnish-soaked canvas on top of the rough decking. This produced a finished surface that was flexible, waterproof and
almost impervious to wear. It was also impervious to removal, and could outlive the hull.
In the photo, take note of
the reflections off each deck. It was a sunny day and the sun was shining off the bow.
There is no doubt that after
30 years of use the sparkling finish was scratched. It might even have been partially covered by carpeting similar to the
carpeting seen in the after deck photo from 1961. But it was still there on the Honey Fitz, so rather than guess
about who installed what carpeting when, the model gets light gray (basswood) decking throughout.
While we're on
the subject of saving the rain forests, her transom today (and probably for the past 30 years or so) has been what you might
expect today on a high-end sailing yacht: cabinet-quality mahogany. At the time JFK was onboard the transom was what you'd
have expected then on a high-end motor yacht: plain white.
The transom on a motor yacht is usually the heaviest structure
for a number of reasons, the most obvious being that it the only source of leverage for the keel. Together they have to overcome
the twisting force(s) on the hull while absorbing propeller thrust. But the transom on the Honey Fitz is an unusually
massive affair- we'll get to that mystery later.
The only stern shot that I've been able to find is this one:
Her stern profile is another departure from the Lenore.
This invocation of the barrel back is something that the strakes can take if you choose to emphasize it more. My own
profile is close, but leaves a hint of the Lenore, as you'll see.
However you choose to create the transom,
it is captured by the strakes, follows the arc shown in the drawings, and presents a smooth solid curve. I created the curve
by removing bulkhead#12 and replacing it with a 3/16th scrap that was cut and sanded to capture the arc and
the barrel. I covered this with a fitted piece of 1/32nd basswood that covered the thick piece and the stringers,
and met the gunwales to provide a base for the railings
(After removing bulkhead #12 I looked at the others and removed
most of them, too. The hull doesn't need them right now and I wanted a blank canvas for the interior work.)
provided schematics for the main decks. With all the steaming, bending and fitting that went into the hull, my schematics
would be way off from your actual (and mine, too). So it's back to a final fitting of card stock templates, cutting the
main and foredeck, and test-fitting of the main cabin(s) structure.
When the decks are cut and fitted it's time
to balance everything and see how closely things are coming to the actual. Here's where the pieces are at this point:
It isn't that obvious, but the cat who was watching this
photo shoot wagged his tail, spraying all the parts on the floor. Nothing broke, so our model is already made of pretty tough
We've spent a lot of time on precision cutting and fitting, so there shouldn't
be any reason to stop now. Except that we're back to the limits of wood, specifically mahogany. And we're about to
use some very precise pieces of a very gnarly wood.
Unlike the other models, this yacht can best be described as Bristol
fashion. So if an eyelash happens to fall on her decks it will be noticed. So cut and painted basswood is out and shining
mahogany is in.
You're going to need a small supply of 1/32x1/32 and 1/32x1/16 mahogany strips. A fact about sheet
mahogany is that is was intended to be used in sheets- the grains are all over the map. And those grains are short and hard-
brittle is a better word. So even if you have a decent laser setup in your workshop you can't cut usable lengths of strip
wood. Using the knife and any miniature milling machine will result in an expensive pile of splinters and sawdust. Feel free
to challenge these facts if you aspire to be the statue as opposed to the pigeon.
HO was chosen for this model because
is within eyesight of 1/8" scale. When you combine a mahogany problem with a scale/fitting/piece problem my solution
is to shop at Bluejacket. When it comes to model ships they sell the pieces, an entire line of model kits, and for a fair
price, the complete finished model. I cut my teeth on a couple of their models 30 years ago, and they are still very good
at what they do. Keywords: Bluejacket Ship Crafters. The rest is up to you.
Rather than continuing on with the
nail polish I'm going to spray a handful of mahogany strips and sheets with clear gloss (3 sides). I've already given
the cut decks and an assortment of basswood spray coats of flat gray and satin (antique or blossom) white, so wood finishing
is pretty much now behind me.
When you order your strips from Bluejacket you'll receive their catalog- pay close
attention to the fittings list. I can't mold, cast or turn piece parts that come close to their quality, and at their
prices I wouldn't bother if I could.
To start the rails, glue a 1/32x1/32 basswood strip on the foredeck and main gunwales, even with
the raw edge of the hull. This apparent trim piece was and is on the Honey Fitz, and supplies the beef that's
needed for the final rails. Sand all edges flush.
Next, glue in 1/16x1/16 mahogany trim. To capture the sweep at the
bow you'll probably have to do this in small sections. This is how I started:
In the photo the trim on the main gunwale is in place, and I've
started to lay in the mahogany at the bow, holding it with small strips of masking tape. (Starting in the middle and working
outward might have been a better plan.)
The clothespin (upper left)
is keeping the finished mahogany and basswood strips under control.
the curved piece of mahogany. There are three or four trim areas that are nasty, and the scoop between the two decks is probably
the worst because it has to capture 2 simultaneous arcs. For this I made a plywood (opposing grains) sandwich out of two L-shaped
squares of 1/16th mahogany and glued them to a 1/16th plank, and then began to sand down both curves.
I suggest wood glue here because there won't be any of the top "L" left in some places. You're trying to
get this assembly sanded down so that it meets and fits into both 1/16th rails, and also the scoop. This explains
why I'm leaving it on the plank until it's almost complete- you'll need something to grip as you work.
The following photo doesn't really show the outboard scoop that well, but it's
There are 2 sets of rails that we have to deal with.
The first are the half (grab) rails in the bow. These are the easiest, so I'm going
to tackle them first.
I'm using 1/32 basswood for the deck planking,
so the first step is to provide a stable base for the stanchions. I glued 1/8 x 1/6 beams to the foredeck, and while I was
at it I also included the deck beams, cut from 1.32 x 1/16 basswood. On the actual there was a deck crown that appears to
be the standard ¼ inch-to-the-foot: at this scale I can't measure that arc.
Stanchions won't be a problem if you've built the frigate. If you haven't worked at that
level of tiny, this is your introduction to dentistry.
other detail, the grab rails at various decades varied from the original set. The Lenore's foredeck grab rails
(ropes) were threaded through the first supporting post of the upper deck and anchored to the first supporting post of the
main handrail. In 1961 that rigging had changed so that a newel post at the foot of the forecastle ladder (stairway) anchored
the rope aft, and it fed through eight foredeck stanchions until it was anchored again to the foredeck. For openers that's
nine stanchions and two lengths of sailor-friendly nylon rope.
raw material is a 1/16x2 ½ inch (2mmx 65mm) hardwood dowel. (I've been using these from the same original bag since
well before the first book, and I can't seem to make the bag any smaller.) These will be turned down to about 1.1mm x
about 10mm and bored (drilled) to accept standard (heavy) upholstery thread (.2mm). The math results in a problem of how to
pass .6mm of railing material though a hole in a 1.1mm post without destroying wood that can't be any thicker than .25mm
on each side of the hole. This assumes a perfectly round peg and a perfectly centered hole.
This is one of those happy times when no manmade material can handle the job as well as wood, and
no machine tool can do the job any better than the human eye. With a tool made out of scrap.
Here's a picture of the basic setup, and I'll explain the parts and the process:
From the left, a turned peg chucked into a Dremel tool (with a
3/32 collet. You don't need the Dremel tool- I used to turn these using my thumb and index finger as a lathe.) The turned
peg is inserted into a scrap that was bored through and hole-sized to about 1.1mm. Using this scrap piece is a quick way to
test sizing as you go.
The three lines in the scrap paint paddle
(left) outline ½ of a peg with a 10mm area that will be turned. The larger length fits into your fingers or the tool.
A test peg with upholstery thread. The hole was drilled with the #76 (.5mm, .02")
bit shown chucked into the blue pin vise. It's tough to see, but right at the end of the thread is what's left of
a beading (big eye) needle that has seen a lot of action. This type has welded ends- you're better off using the type
with twisted ends.
Next is a drill guide made from a mahogany scrap.
This was deeply scored with the sharp knife, and then marked and drilled at 2mm and 5mm from the leading (right hand) edge.
A miniature rattail file created a very small, rounded valley.
cut peg is sitting between two scraps (clamps) that were clamped and glued to create a slight force-fit for the pegs as they're
being drilled. The outboard (right ) edges of the mahogany and the clamps were sanded square. The top edges of the scrap
clamps were sanded so that the peg rises very slightly above the clamps When the mahogany drill guide is placed on the peg
(valley down), everything is held more or less perfectly in place. You'll know that your setup is OK if you can feel a
very slight bump when the drill mask fits over the peg.
top of the peg is flush to the edges of the clamp and the guide, drill both your holes through the peg using the guide holes.
Inspect your first peg very carefully. If either hole is off-center (at all), drill
another peg. If that one is off-center, too, then the wood isn't the problem. Remake your guide.
The picture also shows the emery board that I'm using (that is on its last legs) and the sack
Turn down the peg to about 1.4mm and inspect the holes again.
If they aren't still perfectly centered discard the peg and start over again. (If you keep going with an off-center, one
of the peg walls will fail and tear through when you thread the hole).
the peg is down to 1.1-1.2mm it is now a stanchion. I'm using about a 12 inch length of black upholstery thread, doubled,
and two needles. So I'm simply threading each unpainted stanchion and sliding/moving each one down the line toward the
end loop. When eight are done I'm giving them all a coat of white craft paint. So long as they're all down at one
end it doesn't matter if the thread gets painted, too (but not heavily).
Starting at the aft end of the foredeck, on a parallel line about 1/16th from the deck edge, mark and
drill the stanchion mounting holes on 11mm centers using a 1mm bit. A divider or template is the only way to make the
This picture will help describe the rest of the
At lower right is a piece of 1/32nd scrap that I've filed
to fit over the ends of each stanchion. I'm resting that very lightly against the thread and trimming each one with the
knife so that its head is pretty much exactly 1/32nd above the thread. The green card stock at the left is cut
to a width of 9.5mm and 7mm. I'm cutting each stanchion away from its base exactly 9.5mm from the trimmed top edge. I‘ll
use the 7mm strip to line everybody up when they're in their holes.
place a stanchion in a hole, use a rattail minifile to dress and slightly enlarge the hole until the next post fits very snugly.
I don't know any other way to explain it.
Keep trimming and placing
from stern to bow, then gently pull the thread taut. Your foredeck should look something like this:
That's it for the foredeck for now, so on to the main deck rail.
The rails, like a number of other details, varied. In the 1961 photo series, and in
the Ike photos, the rails, stanchions and posts are plain pipes. These and a series of cables and turnbuckles supported the
canvas splash, or privacy skirt. Together this format protected a seated passenger from view, but also prevented that passenger
from seeing very much. This might have suited someone accustomed to riding in a tank, but not a sailor who was accustomed
to looking around.
The photographic evidence supports the notion
that JFK had the rails replaced to look and feel like a yacht, but he also installed seating that lined up the rail with his
shoulders, rather than the top of his head. Thus, mahogany rails. And comparing various photos with the photo of the formal
after deck setting, he also had the four aft posts and the last six feet of canopy (upper deck) removed. Apparently, any concerns
about reduced security, etc., fell on deaf ears.
Unlike the foredeck,
the main deck will not allow us to adjust the plumb. We have to hit dead center and pass a 1mm post through two rails that
are 1.58mm (1/16th) wide. Attempting to fit a pre-built rail to this particular hull is a recipe for disaster.
Having gotten my excuses out of the way I can proceed with a murky conscience.
For this one you'll need another drilling fixture (mask). The main platform consists of (2) 15x50mm 1/16th
scraps of mahogany framing a leftover scrap of bulkhead sandwich (plywood and basswood) held together by wood glue and severely
clamped. The mask is very thick because my pin vise skills don't include absolutes.
A 1/8th square of basswood was then glued to one side. When this was dry a second square
was glued- this one was separated from the first by (2) 1/32nd scrap strips of mahogany, creating a 1/6th
alleyway. This picture will help:
The center strips were marked at 11mm and pilot holes were drilled
between the strips and through the platform. This was followed by (4) finished 1mm holes. I then sanded about 1/64th
off the basswood so that the fixture would index to the railing on the model, and tested everything using 1/16th
I passed on using brass rod for the stanchions because any
type of thin paint will slough if you touch it. If your intent is to build a model of the Honey Fitz you can just
install the canvas (sailcloth) privacy panel and hide all the posts. My objective is to explore the subject of scratch-building,
so I'm going for exposed posts. For these I'll be using 1mm styrene rod (anathema but necessary).After placing, drilling and inserting, both sets of rails look like this:
After a little touchup on the fantail the rails are done (even
though the foredeck is still not permanently attached).
I think it's
time to start putting all of the pieces together, at least temporarily.
This is the other end of the cat:
Profile and Layout
you think about what Mr. Bowes had in mind when he designed the ideal commuter yacht, and what JFK had in mind when he set
sail on the ideal presidential yacht, and you combine those two congruent ideas with I had in mind when I set out to build
a scale model of that yacht, you'd be hard-pressed not to consider the matter of water. Based on the ancient notion that
anything that floats is, in fact, level, I‘m going to start at the lowest point (the keel), and build up from there,
leveling and squaring everything as I go.
We'll explore the subject
of propellers in due time, but we're going to need one. And the Lenore sailed on the Great Lakes, so any propeller
(or rudder) that isn't protected from large rocks has a very short and expensive life span. (I know this to be a truth
that is learned through great pain.)
So we need a skeg, and since
the sheer that I wound up with is less that that of the original, I'm creating clearance at the stern for a ½ inch
propeller. So I've made a template, then cut and fitted a full keel that adds about 1/8th of an inch to the
existing keel and creates the skeg and clearance at the stern.
that same curve extends throughout the keelson, I've done the same thing there, by using 1/16th basswood to
create a waterline. I then glued a 1/16th square inboard to act as a rabbet that will support a level lower deck.This is a photo after those two additions:
The scrap of pink cardstock is a testing tool, and anybody who is waiting
for me to call it a deck instead of a flat can rejoice, because I'm going to call all decks decks.
Since I'm building upward, I also have to address all of the carefully-constructed
bulkheads that I've torn out. To simplify the layout process I've drawn a rough sketch of the bulkhead and deck layouts
that probably existed before and after her 1960's refit:
The question marks are what I believe to be spaces that were converted
from their original assignments (in parenthesis). The bulkhead locations are not exact since we have no way of knowing what,
if any, changes were made to the size of the fuel tank, the lazarette, the galley and the engineroom. The main deck layout
is very close to actual.
The question of companionways and headroom
belowdecks is another mystery. It's safe to say that the ladder (stairs) from the galley to the dining saloon stayed intact.
The hatch to the crew's quarters is not obvious after 1961, so I am omitting it.
To get a feeling for the dining saloon stairway, food service area and the ever-present White House
phone, here's a photo ( probably taken in 1962 after the First Lady had the color TV installed in the living area):
Note the floral arrangements- rare on any boat. This was definitely not Eisenhower, whose First
Lady (like many other women) preferred wearing bouquets on her head. We'll be revisiting this photo in more detail
as we go.
doorways to the wheelhouse (bridge) were apparently replaced by port/starboard inboard entrances and steps. The open companionway
leading to the upper deck was closed, and access to that deck appears to be by way of a port side doorway and ladder from
the bridge. (At least that’s the only way that one photo of the bridge could have been taken, and it’s grainy,
but that entrance shows up on a couple of long-range shots.)
A doorway and ladder (probably to the engineroom) were added to the starboard side of
the bridge, probably connecting to the existing ladder that also served the forward stateroom. I sketched this as a dotted
line ( a maybe), but it makes sense.
While the stack was stylized, it wasn’t yet relocated, but the mainmast was (later on those two).
This leaves the riddle of access to
the two rear staterooms: the photographic evidence suggests light-duty elevators. I hesitate to use the term dumb waiters,
but between the Navy and the Air Force, the Pentagon had a lot of experience with light-duty elevators. So there you have
the two skinny boxes in the living area.
The horizontal-dashed lines are my best guesses for stairways, and the cross-hatches are plausible doorways.
Since both elevators, the upper deck
door and all of the other doorways and ladders were (or were approximated to be) on the port side and we’re building
the starboard, you can add what you choose, but my choice is next to nothing in terms of access to the lower deck. It’s
obvious in every photograph, by the way, that the only thing that never changed was that she was always boarded (correctly)
on her port side until she hit Palm Beach 50 years later. If you researched "port", then have fun with the whole
concept of posh (POSH), too.
using the original set of card stock templates and 1/32nd basswood to frame (full bulkhead) the galley, engine
room and fuel tank. I’ll use partial bulkheads for the rest. The galley companionway started amidships and emerged to
starboard, as in the photo, so I may add that later as a decorating touch, but for now there is no need for passageways or
doors, since there were none on that (our) side after about 1955.
This is also a good time to cut and fit the deck (flats) and ceiling (walls),.
Since I haven’t made a decision on the hawse holes, cat’s eye and anchor, I’m reserving
judgment on the forepeak.
My initial thoughts on a fuel tank include the notion that the model should have one, so if the
tank in the next photo looks a lot like the side of a sardine can, you can follow that lead or not. This might be a good place
to point out that a sardine can contains sardines, and since we're going to be cutting and wasting a lot of aluminum as
we go, a disposable aluminum pan is a far better source of raw material, costs less and doesn't contain sardines.
Nothing has been tacked
or glued yet, but the pieces all seem to fit, so here is a photo of the the belowdecks rough-in:
With all the sub-assembly and set-aside work, you may be growing suspicious
that sooner or later I'm going to sit down with a full cup of coffee, glue all the pieces and parts together and finish
everything all at one. That may be a little harsh, but that's exactly what I plan to do.
Referring back to
our colleagues in the model train business, I can assure you that even the most knowledgeable member of that group ( the owner
of the local model train shop/hangout/test track) has never heard of a diesel engine that weighs less than the Empire State
Building. And the Detroit Diesel/ Gray Marine 6-71 powered so much stuff from school buses to Alaskan trawlers that a web
search is very much like entering the word "water".
So armed with an aluminum pie pan and the desire
to build a credible 6-71, the next task is to install one (or two) in that big space amidships.
might be a good place to mention that I celebrated my 18th birthday aboard the USS Orion (AS-18). As a
gift to myself I purchased a Harley Davidson XLKH motorcycle from a Navy pilot. This particular motorcycle had been taken
on a Med cruise, and after his flight crew was done with the flathead engine, it had been bored, stroked, ported and relieved
and God knows what all else. His reason for selling it to me was that his wife wouldn't let him ride it anymore. (The
whole story is more colorful than that.)
this up to point out that I gained a whole new appreciation for the mindset of carrier jocks over the next year or so. Bringing
me back to the Honey Fitz.
As you know,
I've been wrestling with this LOA problem for quite some time. I've also been perplexed by photo comparisons of the
Lenore under full power and the Honey Fitz showing off on the Potomac. The bow and prop wakes are just too
1953, Detroit Diesel had the weight/SHP (shaft hp) ratio for the 6-71 (6 cylinder-71 cubic inches per) up to 2.1 ( 2.1 pounds
of engine generating one hp). That's decent by today's standards, and by 1956 an aluminum version got that ratio close
to 1:1. They also had the installed height of a slanted version down to 31 inches. But the horsepower remained fairly
constant- 216.8, for a single and 430 for the pair- not too far from Winton's numbers.
This GM advertisement
answers a lot of questions:
In case you can't make out the text too well, Ralph Evinrude's
yacht Chanticleer was built by the DeFoe Shipbuilding Company. Whether my earlier reference to the company name or
GM's is correct, she was a DeFoe.
An important historical sidebar
here: with a cocktail made from 1950's drug store chemicals, Mr. Evinrude's engines could be made to run at engine
speeds that are probably illegal. I know this to be true.
products were just as indestructible as Winton's- my Johnson kicker would have run for another 20 years if it hadn't
been torn off during a hurricane.
An old rule of thumb for outboard
engine fuel consumption is gallons-per-hour= horsepower divided by 10. Today's 2 cycle engines might get the divisor up
to 15. Evinrude's ratio, based on his (slow) cruise to Florida in 1956, is 30. GM's advertised horsepower for that
number is 800- my calculated number is closer to 850.
aside, and with input from Navy carrier types, it wouldn't take much to turn a staid presidential yacht into a presidential
JFK drove a PT boat. I've been a crewmember on one
of those many times, and say what you will about modern go-fasts, there is nothing like that unique full-throttle ride. If
nothing else you gain a ton of respect for the tolerances of marine plywood.
Leading me to conclude a couple of things.
First, the Commander
In Chief could not resist being the Hotrodder In Chief. I am convinced that JFK did exactly what any sensible sailor would
do- when he could, he took the helm and buried the throttles. And, key to the first, underneath him was a paired quad set
of Detroit 6-71's putting out over 850 SHP. Third, the Navy never got around to telling the Coast Guard how they had reinforced
the stern to handle a surprising increase in thrust.
my missing 2 feet and wonderment at the size of the stern timbers will never be resolved. What will be resolved is that I'm
installing a logical set of engines based on good hard speculation. ( Historians and newscasters make a living out of almost-non-fiction,
so normal people should be allowed to create a little bit of their own.)
The likely configuration that we're about to build is based onwhat I believe is a reasonable guess.
By 1957, GM was producing V- versions of the 71 series engine with horsepower in the 1800 range, and aluminum versions that
lasted about as long as any aluminum engine. I'm going with the Evinrude configuration.
Our actual engine dimensions
are 54" L x 29"W x 39"H, weighing in at 2,190 pounds. This works out to 16mm L x 8.5mm W x 11.4mm H. Even by
our standards this is not a lot of space.
There are many renderings of a single 6-71 on the web, but this
one is pretty clear:
If you discard the power takeoffs that's the basic engine. The key elements
that we're going to include are the blower set (that large rectangle on the side), the coolant set (that large box upper
right with the tubing) the rocker arm cover (top), and the fore and aft power takeoff assemblies with a crankshaft.
Once those elements were in place, this engine could run merrily along for 50 years or so. As reported, it would have
also thown a lot of oil and made a helluva racket if its blowers and exhaust weren't muffled.
the shortcomings of wood more than once, and trying to make a wooden engine look like a metal engine will result in a wooden-looking
engine. After experimenting with sardine cans, aluminum cookware and styrene, my choice is aluminum-clad wood.
From scrap or strip, cut a 32mm L x 5mm W x 11.4mm H block. ( 1 1/4 x 3/16
x ½ inch) Drill a 1/64th hole lengthwise, about 3mm from one long edge. Using light pressure on the knife, mark 2 lines,
about 3mm from the top and bottom, lengthwise. Then use the razor saw at an angle to create demarcation "v" cuts.
The top portion will become the rocker arm cover and the lower the crankcase.
Cut the block into two 16mm engine blocks and insert a 1/64th rod to hold the blocks together. This rod will
become the crankshaft, shown in the diagram as a dotted black line.
Cut (4) 3/16th x 1/8 rectangles- (2) for the water pumps and (2) for the takeoffs. Sand a slight radius onto the outer corners
of the water pump, round the tops of the takeoffs, remove the rod and glue these in place. Drill through the takeoffs and
reinsert the rod. These are shown above.
Cut a 3mm x 28mm
x 2mm scrap and round two corner. This is the blower housing, shown in blue. Cut this in half, and glue those pieces to the
For the maritime blower muffler, (the solid
blue square), fold and press a 28mm piece of aluminum (cut from a disposable pie pan or some other thin source) until you
have a 3mm wide rectangle (about 3 or four folds thick). Cut this in half and set it aside.
Using plastic or plywood scrap, cut a water inlet that's about 1/16 x 1/16. Hold a length
of 1mm styrene rod over a match until it bends at a 90-degree angle. Drill a 1mm hole in the water inlet, trim the shortest
end of the rod to 1mm, and glue it to the inlet. This inlet will attach to the front engine. For the rear engine you're
going to make a collar with a 1mm hole that will attach to the rear water pump. I used sheet styrene for both, but plywood
or aluminum will work. Set this aside.
Clad the rocker
arm cover, water pump and takeoff with aluminum strips cut from your aluminum source. When they look right, glue them in place.
Paint the engine. Reasonable color choices are GM factory (lizard green) GM custom
factory (off-white), or Navy (haze gray). (These color names are mine- you probably won't find the names at your local
Glue the front and rear engines together-
I just applied some CA glue to the brass rod and pulled it into the blocks. Glue the blower mufflers and coolant pipe in place.
Fashion an engine mount that allows the crankcase
to clear the floor of the mount and glue the engine to the engine room floor.
Here's my version of the engine, ready for positioning on the engine room floor:
After placing the assembly onboard and placing the main deck, the rocker
arm inspection hold downs can't be seen but feel free to add 4 on each engine. Likewise the coolant cap, filter/separators
and starter motors. I'm also not going to connect the piping and crankshafts to anything for now.
If you're going for realism versus interpretation, then keep going with the
genset, HVAC plant, exhaust manifold and venting, seawater cooling filters, breaker/switch panels, oil change station and
the wiring and tubing network.
Well revisit the drivetrain
a few steps from now, but it's about time we started making the main deck(s) and houses more permanent.
After placing and adjusting
the main house, main deck and foredeck so everything squares and fits, glue down the foredeck and glue the main house to the
I’m going to install 8 support columns out of the 12 or
so that were installed on the Lenore and/or the Barbara Anne. This results in the stern half-deck overhang
that shows up in a few of the JFK photos. The entire gantry assembly that is obvious in the afterdeck photo we studied earlier,
along with the pipe rails and turnbuckles were gone by the time photos of JFK that I’ve studied were shot .In their
place is a mahogany rail with a generously open fantail that you’d expect to find if you spent your summers trying to
get the most out of sunshine along the New England coast.
The column assembly
is going to be made using the same tools and technique we used on the rail posts.
I’ve traced and laid out the hole pattern on card stock, and cut (2) lengths of 1/16 x 1/16 mahogany and inserted
them into the drilling fixture we made earlier.
Drill a 1.02mm( #60 drill)
hole near one end, insert a 1mm styrene rod, and snip it flush- this will anchor the assembly. Drill a second starter hole
7mm from the first, and then skip a hole in the fixture and drill the third hole. Move the fixture along the row and insert
a rod into the first or second hole in the fixture and the last hole drilled- this is the spacer. Skip a hole and drill This is what mine looks like after I drilled
the fourth hole:
Keep going along the line until you have 7 holes. The eighth, or final
hole will have to be drilled inside the radius at the aft end of the deck, It should fit in line with the others.
Place the upper deck on top of the main house and measure from the main deck to
the overhead (ceiling) of the upper deck. Subtract 1.5mm from that number ( ½ the width of the two rails) - that's
the correct length for the styrene columns.
Run two styrene
columns- one at each end- and work the ends flush with the rails. Put a dot of thin CA glue on one side of one set to keep
the height roughly equal, and then slide all the other columns into their pairs of holes, pressing the same set of ends as
the glued ends slightly below (within) the rail. (Very slightly- the tolerances here are pretty unforgiving.)
Place the assembly between the decks. It should look like this:
My assembly hasn't been trimmed or glued yet, but it fits, so I'm
setting it aside. We still have some wiggle room (but not much) because one set of columns is unglued, So I'll do a final
trim and fit when the upper deck is ready to go.
to the interior of the main house, you have a choice. You can mirror the outer features on the back of the main structure,
do nothing, or build a separate inner liner.
choice is the liner, and at this point looks like this:
I haven't given Mr. Avery much slack, but when it came to the interior
of the Lenore, he and Mr. Bowes did a bang up job of bringing parlor and dining elegance onboard.
Here's a photo of the original dining saloon:
This photo is looking aft, but if you can make them out, pay particular attention
to the newel posts and curved mahogany rail. That stairway led to the owner's stateroom, and that same elegance was applied
to all of the companionways on board. (Also note the open beams and thwarts, the bar area and the location of the entrance
Now let's take a closer (but fuzzier) look
at JFK's dining saloon looking forward:
The detail here is blurry, but if you go up a few photos it is clearer. This
is the serving area looking forward, with what was a buffet on the left, and the stairway to the right that led to the galley.
As best I can determine it, this is the only area on the entire yacht that the Navy left in its original state (under a few
coats of Titanium White paint- at least they didn't paint it Wardroom Gray).
I think this nod to her roots deserves some acknowledgement. So I'm going to try to capture the newel post,
rail and stairway that occupied her entire actual beam and place them on a half-beam model deck More or less- you can certainly
go for less if this discussion doesn't sway your decisions on the interior.
If you've been using oriental toothpicks since we first started, the newel post should be a piece of cake.
Here's the one that I plan to use, along with that photo and a raw toothpick:
I estimated the original to be 46" high, so at our scale 13.5mm. The
doorway on the original led to a spiral stairway and a landing that served both the galley and the yacht's officer. That's
a tight fit even when you have about 8 feet to work with, so in my version I included the landing without the spirals and
It's about time to button up the interior so
I've placed steps and mahogany panels in the wheelhouse, and I've glued the column assembly in place. (I'm not
certain that a light coat of spray lacquer eliminates all of the obvious brush strokes, but it probably helps.)
The interior is ready for any decorative touches:
So it's time to finish up the exterior.
I've started by gluing a bead of 1/16th mahogany to the lower edges of
the upper deck- wherever that area won't be covered by the top edge of the column assembly.
Then I finished the wheelhouse
cutout on the upper deck and glued the column assembly and wheelhouse canopy in place.
On the Lenore, the mast assembly (mast, gaff and arms) was anchored through a boot on the
upper deck into a step on the lower deck. A collar on the mast held a pair of aft-offset shrouds and turnbuckles, and a fixed
On the Honey Fitz, the mast was shortened,
and fixed to the wheelhouse and apparently a step on the upper deck. Fore- and backstays were installed, a smaller yard was
permanently attached, and the gaff disappeared (between 1957 and 1962). Signal halyards finish the rigging ( except for RF
antennas and the masthead light.)
The easiest way to move
the mast would have been to relocate the step, shorten the mast and brace it to the wheelhouse. Which, when you're dealing
with sections of very thin objects, is a nightmare. So I'm going to create a solid, slightly-off-center mast assembly.
I'm using a length of 1/16th dowel, a scrap of 1/16th mahogany and
a leftover piece of bow stanchion for the mast, step and yard. After the frigate, this rigging job should be trivial- I'll
include it in a later photo.
The exhaust stack was moved and raked,
most probably when the doghouse was eliminated. Here's a piece of photograph with my version of the parts:
I started with the basic outline (1 square=1cm) cut from a scrap of 1/16th
basswood and beveled slightly. Then the top (inset about 3mm) and the bottom, glued to the outline. I finished it off by wrapping
and gluing 1/64th plywood to that frame. A little trimming and you have a stack.
Like the hull, the stack should be painted Navy (antique or blossom) white. Contrary to its post-1971
decoration, the stack in 1962 had a thin navy blue stripe at its head. Not the Great Seal, the Presidential Seal or a picture
of Daffy Duck.
I purchased the ship's bell, bow light, gooseneck and cowl vents, davits, propeller and ship's
wheel from Bluejacket. We've built most of these from scratch, but this model is shaping up as a much more formal presentation,
so this deviation is probably excusable. If not, please feel free to cold mold.
The stuffing box, struts, universal
and rudder are all made the same way as the engines- wooden frames enclosed in an aluminum skin. Again, brush on CA glue until
the wood is saturated, then press on the skin. The propeller is ½", the prop and drive shafts are 1/16th brass
rod, and all the other dimensions are to fit, as is the rudder.
The dinghy is a minor mystery, mainly because I
don't have a close-up photo of the Lenore. Her original plan called for dinghy and launch racks on the doghouse
amidships, but all of the photo evidence suggests a pair of dinghies hung over the side(s) on davits. This all leads me to
conclude that the dinghy onboard the Honey Fitz might be one of them.
This is a picture within a picture,
so it's grainy, but this is what I'm going for in terms of the dinghy:
Based on the American flag that was flying when this photo was shot, there
were 49 states, dating my version of the dinghy as of the summer of 1959. What appear to be cranes in the background were
storage cradles for the extensive screening that is obvious in the earlier stern photo. I have no basis for including them
on the Honey Fitz.
The davits are pretty simple-
hold a length of 2mm styrene rod against the bow stem of the mold, heat it (boiling water will work), and you have a davit.
Rigging the davits properly should also be pretty easy
if you built the frigate. I'm using 3/32nd double blocks from Bluejacket, re-bored with a #76 drill bit (that I've
been using right along). I also drilled holes in the bases of the davits to accept 1/64th wire mounting pins, and holes to
accept 1/64th wire cleats.
Here is a photo
of those assemblies:
The blocks work, and the one on the right is tensed. These can now be mounted
without ruining anything. The loose line between the davits in the photo is a grab line- used if the dinghy was ever launched
with passengers. I'll include it after I mount the davits.
The dinghy I'm using is Bluejacket's 1 7/16th. The bowed storm cover is actually bowed, and the cover is sailcloth,
with a cradle to fit. Model-making sailcloth will take a glue bead without leaching, and drilled holes, which should be obvious:
The sailcloth is held by that glue bead and trimmed with surgical scissors.
The lifting rings are through-drilled 1/64th brass wire bent to fit.
The deck box is another puzzle. It shows up in a number of photos, but it would look more at home on a dock than on a deck.
In any event it's in the wrong place on the upper deck- it's in the way of any task that comes to mind. (maybe it
served to hide an air conditioner or a handful of Marines). I'm not a big fan of including decorating touches that make
no sense, but this box must have made sense to somebody, so I'm going to build a deck box and move it around until it
makes sense. Or not.
She also carried an angled American
flag mast on the aft upper deck. Since the flag must never touch anything below it except its flagpole, you're on your
own to determine the proper angle, so long as the flag (if you use one) hangs freely- in other words outboard (and overboard).
That pretty much wraps up the amidships and main decks, so it's time to finish
up the foredeck.
The foredeck on the Lenore was home to paired sets of cowl vents
(rotating vents to direct breezes inside), a hatch to the crew's quarters, a winch and an anchor davit (used to avoid
damage to the hull when raising and lowering a large heavy anchor). If you revisit the earliest photo (at her pier), you'll
get the best view of the layout. The anchoring tackle on the Honey Fitz could have stayed the same, except for the
fact that by the time she was refitted, anchors were much lighter.
I have no idea if Ike was aware that each one of his Higgins Boats (landing craft) carried a Danforth anchor but the Navy
was, and he got a pair of them. Which would have suited JFK just fine since that anchor was a PT boat standard, too.
Providing an image of a Danforth would be like drawing an image of any rubber
band ever made, with as many minor variations. I'm just going to build an aluminum one that's the right size- you
should do the same. I estimate the length of the flukes to be 7-8mm, or about 21-24 inches actual. The tips are harpoon-shaped
so the anchors that are shown in most photos would bite more quickly than the ones you'll find today at Walmart. (They
are that common.)
I cut a single basswood fluke that looked
right, then folded an aluminum scrap to create halves. Then I cut a matching pair of flukes without cutting the fold or between
them. I slid a short length of 1/16th brass rod into the fold and CA-glued both halves, the fold and the rod to form one solid
arrow-shaped (more or less) piece. After it dried I cut a line between the flukes and around the rod. I painted it and glued
it to the hawse hole (cat's eye).
Since I'm not
going to include the raceway I didn't supply the anchor with a shank, but if you choose to do that you've built a
Danforth pretty much the way any one of them has ever been built.
The anchor davit and hatch apparently disappeared, but the winch ( or a more modern electric winch) apparently remained.
I'm not going to include a stopper or deck race (guide) because I have no photographic guidance- if you have better information,
then add away.
I've constructed the T- winch (actually
half a winch) from small pieces and parts that were in the junk compartment of my storage box. ( These look like they were
once part of a garage sale camera.) All you really need is a small round object that looks like an electric motor and a very
small drum that looks like a tiny thread spool. Bluejacket has a T-winch that will probably work or a least provide a model,
even though their drums are too narrow.
I know that I'm
using cowl vents that are smaller than the originals, and they may be smaller than the 1962 versions, but they look right.
After trimming their shafts to a height of 12mm I filed down the lower end of the shafts to create a 4mm pin and shoulder.
Since these apparently served the galley and crew areas, that's how I lined them up, in a line and centered on the deck
in front of the dining saloon. Mine are facing forward, but in reality you can face them in any direction and be correct.
Next up is the bow pennant mast. I used another of the leftover stanchions, stained
it and left a tiny bit of its original peg as a mast cap.
This leaves the not-so-inconsequential question of what lights go where and why. The Coast Guard's Inland Navigation
Rules are very clear, precise, and were followed, probably explaining the replacement of her original sidelights. Since I
liked her originals and the newer lights don't add anything, I'm just going to add a few dabs of white here and there.
Please use the keywords and look for Part C, Rule 21, and go from there.
This is where I step down my brush sizes and revisit the various pieces and parts before I begin to build a
I originally set out with the thought that this
should be a 360 degree model- a cross section that would be interesting and, hopefully, informative. If you arrived at this
paragraph because you finished the model, hat's off. If you visited any of the libraries that I have cited, three cheers.
If you've had some fun without spending a lot of money then my work is done.
I started out with an idea of what I wanted to build. Since I have never worked with clear plastic
sheets I bought the cheapest sheet of Lexan that I could find at the local Home Depot, a small can of acrylic cement (Weld-On
#4 with applicator bottle), and the smallest brass bolts I could find at a local hobby store (00-90 x ½").
I then spent a few days practicing things like cutting, sanding and drilling. When I wasn't building things that
I thought were part of the case, I was trying to destroy what I had already built. As you might suspect, I also destroyed
$5 worth of Lexan.
But I developed a much clearer picture of what I could do from scratch.
I also called
around to local glass shops to get a feeling for what they could do. If my model was a car windshield or a storefront they
could do a lot, but dealing with 84 square inches was looking like $1-2 per square inch. That compares to .093 Lexan at $.04
per square inch. Their logic and pricing makes total sense to me.
By clamping a fence (36" steel ruler) to
the sheet and using a combination of plastic and utility knives I can now score, bend and break fairly straight and clean
I also mitered the corners with a miter saw, but having done that, there is no visual advantage, since
the facing piece is transparent. And I played with framing everything in thin brass or wood to hide the edges, but that just
looked like I was trying to hide the edges.
A less charitable view is that I was just screwing around because I
didn't want to wreck another sheet of Lexan.
I wound up with a 2x6x14 inch case with a fixed front and a removable
back. This pretty much satisfies the 360-degree objective. The removable back is held fast by four (trimmed) bolts, and addresses
my conviction that a scratch-built model is never really finished.
Maybe it's a Leaves of Grass
thing. If so, I couldn't be in better company.
She's held in place by those same tiny bolts (in her keel).
They don't seem to be in the way of anything.
So here is my interpretation of the Honey Fitz. The
first is on the shelf. The second is intended to help fill in the blanks in the last sets of instructions.
Here she is on the shelf viewed from her port side
There is, as usual, no writing on her transom. And, as usual, anybody who has
ever known her already knows her.
Copyright October 2013 Dean A Beeman All Rights Reserved