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Thread: Swallow - the dinghy

  1. #1
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    Default Swallow - the dinghy

    As mentioned a few days ago, I'm tasked with making a model of Swallow, Ransome's dinghy. I've torn through the books (again) to expose the known knowns <tm>, and dipped into the original which inspired the books.

    The original Swallow gets a good write up here and a few more photos and info here. And that's pretty much it.

    What is known is, to be honest, precious little.:

    1. Traditional wooden clinker-built dinghy. Maybe 12 strakes?
    2. Ex-working boat, beamy, heavy, with strips added to support the clinkers at the beam.
    3. Between 13 and 14 feet long.
    4. Deep keel, no centreboard.
    5. Painted - unlike varnished (pine-built) Amazon. Black below w/l, white above. Black or brown at gunwale. Insides? Who knows?
    6. Standing lug ... unlashed boom, lashed yard.
    7. Brown sail with a patch. Three reefing lines.
    8. Two cleats on the underside of the fore (mast) thwart. Cleats are for yard halyard and kicking strap (or is it flag halyard?)
    9. Kicking strap (vang).
    10. Rowlocks.
    11. Sculling notch on transom.
    12. Traveller and mast sheave. No shrouds. Flag halyard runs through a ring at the masthead.
    13. Bottom boards.
    14. Ballast pigs.
    15. No horse or bridle - possible use of peg (removable?) at quarter knees to take some sheet pressure.


    ...and that's about it.

    Now, I love the freedom this gives me: I can build the model in the spirit of the methods, time, location, and come up with a reasonable "Yes, that's deffo a Swallow". But am I missing anything?

    I have some questions ... How would the pigs be placed? The bottom boards appear not to be fixed - how can that work?

    More known unknowns to come. I'll keep this thread going when building starts, but please feel free to chip in and point out errors in my interpretation.

    Cheers, Andy
    "We were schooner-rigged and rakish, with a long and lissome hull ..."

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    Default Re: Swallow - the dinghy

    Built by Crossfield at Arnside. Arnside is on the unprotected and very tidal Morecambe bay. The tide goes out more than 10 miles. She'll probably have had outside stringers at the turn of the bilge, to protect her when her mooring dries.

    Nick may know more.
    Last edited by Hwyl; 09-20-2018 at 06:03 PM.

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    Default Re: Swallow - the dinghy

    I am quite sure he does!

    Andy
    "We were schooner-rigged and rakish, with a long and lissome hull ..."

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    Default Re: Swallow - the dinghy

    Painted - unlike varnished (pine-built) Amazon. Black below w/l, white above. Black or brown at gunwale. Insides? Who knows?
    Probably wood grained inside, with plain scrubbed bottom boards, coming up fuzzy cream.
    As a working boat probably had a wine glass transom with a tuck above the built down stern.
    Like this

    or the sort of punt that you would find hanging in the davits of a Thames Barge.
    It really is quite difficult to build an ugly wooden boat.

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    Default Re: Swallow - the dinghy

    Quote Originally Posted by Hwyl View Post
    Built by Crossfield at Arnside. Arnside is on the unprotected and very tidal Morecambe bay. The tide goes out more than 10 miles. She'll probably have had outside stringers at the turn of the bilge, to protect her when her mooring dries.

    Nick may know more.
    Crossfields Beach Walk boat shed

    from https://www.facebook.com/groups/1834985743436748/

    More Arnside
    It really is quite difficult to build an ugly wooden boat.

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    Default Re: Swallow - the dinghy

    Without doing a lot of research on RA's books, here's what comes up first:

    1. I'd guess more like 6-8 strakes but don't know.
    2. Not sure what you mean. As Hwyl says she may have had stringers / runners to protect her hull partway up the sides. I'm not too familiar with UK workboats of this size, having only seen a few small lapstrake powerboats on the beach at Beer, but those had one or two stringers / rubbing rails on each side of the hull at the turn of the bilge.
    4. Not really a deep keel in the usual sense. Looking at Leather's _Spritsails & Lugsails_ he shows a lot of small lapstrake lugsail hulls with keels in the 3-8" range, and a lot of the artwork in the book shows them sitting relatively upright. Ransome's drawings also show Swallow fairly upright when beached.

    9. I'm guessing the kicker (vang) is discussed in the books, not really seeing it in the few RA drawings I looked at. Didn't know they were used with standing lugsails...
    12. What do you (and RA) mean by "traveler"? Us Yanks seem to use the word for the block or ring that "travels" back and forth on the line or metal rod running athwartships at the transom, sometimes for the line or bar itself. And the Swallow burgee looks like it's on a pig stick in illustrations in Swallowdale, but that would still use a flag halyard to set the stick.
    14. The lead pigs would just be carefully laid between the steamed ribs / sawn frames and covered with the floorboards, which rest on the frames and possibly some cleats attached to the floorboards. I have friends with a similar boat who use lead ballast pigs and that's how theirs works...and what a pain it is to set up!



    Quote Originally Posted by AndyG View Post
    As mentioned a few days ago, I'm tasked with making a model of Swallow, Ransome's dinghy. I've torn through the books (again) to expose the known knowns <tm>, and dipped into the original which inspired the books.

    The original Swallow gets a good write up here and a few more photos and info here. And that's pretty much it.

    What is known is, to be honest, precious little.:

    1. Traditional wooden clinker-built dinghy. Maybe 12 strakes?
    2. Ex-working boat, beamy, heavy, with strips added to support the clinkers at the beam.
    3. Between 13 and 14 feet long.
    4. Deep keel, no centreboard.
    5. Painted - unlike varnished (pine-built) Amazon. Black below w/l, white above. Black or brown at gunwale. Insides? Who knows?
    6. Standing lug ... unlashed boom, lashed yard.
    7. Brown sail with a patch. Three reefing lines.
    8. Two cleats on the underside of the fore (mast) thwart. Cleats are for yard halyard and kicking strap (or is it flag halyard?)
    9. Kicking strap (vang).
    10. Rowlocks.
    11. Sculling notch on transom.
    12. Traveller and mast sheave. No shrouds. Flag halyard runs through a ring at the masthead.
    13. Bottom boards.
    14. Ballast pigs.
    15. No horse or bridle - possible use of peg (removable?) at quarter knees to take some sheet pressure.


    ...and that's about it.

    Now, I love the freedom this gives me: I can build the model in the spirit of the methods, time, location, and come up with a reasonable "Yes, that's deffo a Swallow". But am I missing anything?

    I have some questions ... How would the pigs be placed? The bottom boards appear not to be fixed - how can that work?

    More known unknowns to come. I'll keep this thread going when building starts, but please feel free to chip in and point out errors in my interpretation.

    Cheers, Andy
    Last edited by Thorne; 09-20-2018 at 11:20 PM.
    "The enemies of reason have a certain blind look."
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  7. #7
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    Default Re: Swallow - the dinghy

    A very early issue of WoodenBoat had an article on "The Boats of Swallows and Amazons" with photos, descriptions, etc. of Ransome's own boats said to be the inspiration. You could probably find it on the WoodenBoat index.

    Or now that I think of it, I think it was a 1970s-era Classic Boat issue. Might be useful if you can track it down. As of July, there was a copy in the lounge of the municipal marina in Spanish, Ontario. Got time for a visit to Lake Huron's North Channel?

    Tom
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  8. #8

    Default Re: Swallow - the dinghy

    I have the S and A books and also the volume about the Nancy Blackett ("Good Little Ship" by Peter Willis), which gives some history of all of Ransomes' boats. Here's some condensed points from Willis's book (not much new, I'm afraid):

    Heavily built and more suited to estuary sailing than lakes.
    About 14 ft.
    Six-inch deep keel.
    Six pigs of lead totaling 100 lbs.
    Painted white with a deep contrasting sheer-strake (color?).
    Brown sail.

    Neither here nor in any of the S and A books do I recall any mention of a kicking strap. Oddly, the next owner of the boat (Roger Fothergill, from 1935 to 1939), said that he didn't believe that Crosfields built the boat. They looked after her for two years for him and Fred Crosfield never mentioned having built her. So there's a mystery to solve. Fothergill also improved the boat by adding a jib tacked down to a "short iron bumkin" that projected from her bow about 9 inches and recasting the lead pigs into a ballast keel that raked down to about a foot at the stern. "Greatly improved her performance."

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    Default Re: Swallow - the dinghy

    "But to make the sail set properly you must pull the boom down. That'll take those wrinkles out."

    "Is that what those blocks (pulleys) are for hooked to a ring in the kelson close to where the mast is stepped? But they are all muddled up."

    "Isn't there another ring under the boom, close to the mast?"

    "Got it," said Captain John. "One block hooks to the ring under the boom, and one to the ring in the bottom of the boat. Then it's as easy as anything to haul the boom down. How's that?"

    ...S&A, hardback page 29-30, 'Making Ready'. Definitely a kicking strap!

    Andy
    "We were schooner-rigged and rakish, with a long and lissome hull ..."

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    Default Re: Swallow - the dinghy

    Quote Originally Posted by AndyG View Post
    A
    1. Two cleats on the underside of the fore (mast) thwart. Cleats are for yard halyard and kicking strap (or is it flag halyard?)
    2. Kicking strap (vang).


    Cheers, Andy
    Quote Originally Posted by Brian W. View Post

    Neither here nor in any of the S and A books do I recall any mention of a kicking strap. "
    Quote Originally Posted by AndyG View Post
    "But to make the sail set properly you must pull the boom down. That'll take those wrinkles out."

    "Is that what those blocks (pulleys) are for hooked to a ring in the kelson close to where the mast is stepped? But they are all muddled up."

    "Isn't there another ring under the boom, close to the mast?"

    "Got it," said Captain John. "One block hooks to the ring under the boom, and one to the ring in the bottom of the boat. Then it's as easy as anything to haul the boom down. How's that?"

    ...S&A, hardback page 29-30, 'Making Ready'. Definitely a kicking strap!

    Andy
    Tack down haul.
    http://www.allthingsransome.net/arbo...s/sanda.html#1

    Profile and sail plan of the Swallow, reconstructed from all characteristics of the Swallow described by Arthur Ransome, and from conventional clinker sailing dinghy design. This drawing is described as "exactly like her" by Mr. Roger Fothergill who owned the Swallow after Arthur Ransome.
    It really is quite difficult to build an ugly wooden boat.

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    Default Re: Swallow - the dinghy

    Ah! Thanks, Nick...but what of the "ring under the boom"? That sounds a bit more vangy than saying "the tack cringle". Or is Ransome concerned that too many dinghy-words will put off the reader?

    So tack downhaul it is. I've never sailed a lugsailed dinghy - is this enough to keep the tack at the jaws on the boom?

    Cheers, Andy
    "We were schooner-rigged and rakish, with a long and lissome hull ..."

  12. #12

    Default Re: Swallow - the dinghy

    Yeah, I knew about the downhaul for the boom, but I didn't know that it was called a kicking strap. I was thinking of the types you see on some Goat Island Skiffs and other Luggers who want to improve their rigs. I think us S and A fans have that first sail scene memorized (that and the first chapter of "Swallowdale"!).

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    Default Re: Swallow - the dinghy

    Quote Originally Posted by AndyG View Post
    Ah! Thanks, Nick...but what of the "ring under the boom"? That sounds a bit more vangy than saying "the tack cringle". Or is Ransome concerned that too many dinghy-words will put off the reader?

    So tack downhaul it is. I've never sailed a lugsailed dinghy - is this enough to keep the tack at the jaws on the boom?

    Cheers, Andy
    Yes, both luff tension and downhaul tension pull the boom forwards. There is usually so much luff tension to get the sail to stand that the boom won't go anywhere anyway.

    Quote Originally Posted by Brian W. View Post
    Yeah, I knew about the downhaul for the boom, but I didn't know that it was called a kicking strap. I was thinking of the types you see on some Goat Island Skiffs and other Luggers who want to improve their rigs. I think us S and A fans have that first sail scene memorized (that and the first chapter of "Swallowdale"!).
    A kicking strap runs aft at 45 deg to stop the boom from lifting when off the wind. Least-aways that was the case when I started sailing bermudan dinghy's over here.
    It really is quite difficult to build an ugly wooden boat.

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    Default Re: Swallow - the dinghy

    AndyG, my old father in law was a shipwright and what you refer to as the "re-inforcing pieces" on the clinker laps he called "chafing pieces" they were to take abrasions, always fitted on ships life-boats and other craft that lay alongside frequently.

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    Default Re: Swallow - the dinghy

    Quote Originally Posted by rayman View Post
    AndyG, my old father in law was a shipwright and what you refer to as the "re-inforcing pieces" on the clinker laps he called "chafing pieces" they were to take abrasions, always fitted on ships life-boats and other craft that lay alongside frequently.
    AKA "Land lists"
    It really is quite difficult to build an ugly wooden boat.

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    Default Re: Swallow - the dinghy

    Great stuff, thanks!

    Andy
    "We were schooner-rigged and rakish, with a long and lissome hull ..."

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    Default Re: Swallow - the dinghy

    Ah-HA! So it is really the downhaul for the standing lug -- now I get it!



    Both my sailing dinghies have small belaying pins in the mast partner for the halyards, and in the case of Goblin's balanced lugsail main, the downhaul. Note that the excellent link provided by Peerie Ma talks about some brass belaying pins mentioned in later books. That could be RA's "error" (I REALLY don't care about slight variations in settings/story history by authors of fiction!!) or if we have to be fussy, it could have been an improvement made to Swallow at some time. And also note that it says the lugsail was laced to BOTH yard and boom, a very standard setup for lugsails.

    "The halyard was made fast to cleats under the forward thwart, or tied to the middle thwart, so that the skipper or crew could let go in a hurry - this is a fine thing for mountain lake sailing where sudden strong gusts can strike from any direction with little warning. The "cleats" may be the brass belaying pins referred to elsewhere in the books. There was a small tackle connecting the boom near the mast to the keel to pull down the boom. The lead of the sheet is not described in the books; based on Ransome's drawings, it may have run directly from boom to hand, with no traveler or blocks. The sail had reef points, and it was laced to both the boom and the yard."


    http://www.allthingsransome.net/arbo...s/sanda.html#1

    And based on the scale for the drawing at the link above, the keel looks to be roughly 6-7" tall / deep.
    Last edited by Thorne; 09-21-2018 at 09:39 AM.
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    Default Re: Swallow - the dinghy

    So ... If the sail is laced to the boom, presumably with a turn around the boom jaws, and there is then a ring on the boom to provide downforce via the tack downhaul with the blocks, as described, this would work?

    Any photos of a set-up like this?

    Enquiring minds, etc.

    Andy
    "We were schooner-rigged and rakish, with a long and lissome hull ..."

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    Default Re: Swallow - the dinghy

    Quote Originally Posted by AndyG View Post
    So ... If the sail is laced to the boom, presumably with a turn around the boom jaws, and there is then a ring on the boom to provide downforce via the tack downhaul with the blocks, as described, this would work?

    Any photos of a set-up like this?

    Enquiring minds, etc.

    Andy
    Not round the boom jaws, but through a couple of holes in the jaws.

    It really is quite difficult to build an ugly wooden boat.

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    Default Re: Swallow - the dinghy

    Wouldn't it be correct to describe the downhaul as the feature that makes the lug self-vanging?A few years ago we had the Laser 4000 introduced to the market with a strut acting downwards on the boom and I believe the talented New Zealand designer John Spencer did the same a bit earlier and added another way to restrict sail twist.The essence of the matter is that a downhaul causes a load to be applied to a luff forward of the mast and mirrors the effect of a tackle at 45 degrees aft of the mast and below the boom.

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    Default Re: Swallow - the dinghy

    Quote Originally Posted by John Meachen View Post
    Wouldn't it be correct to describe the downhaul as the feature that makes the lug self-vanging?A few years ago we had the Laser 4000 introduced to the market with a strut acting downwards on the boom and I believe the talented New Zealand designer John Spencer did the same a bit earlier and added another way to restrict sail twist.The essence of the matter is that a downhaul causes a load to be applied to a luff forward of the mast and mirrors the effect of a tackle at 45 degrees aft of the mast and below the boom.
    You are thinking of a balanced lug perhaps. The downhaul on a standing lug is normally as close to being in a line extending to the halyard as can be, forming an axle around which the sail rotates and twists.
    It really is quite difficult to build an ugly wooden boat.

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    Default Re: Swallow - the dinghy

    And we're off.

    "We were schooner-rigged and rakish, with a long and lissome hull ..."

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    Default Re: Swallow - the dinghy

    Bevel plank edges, cut the lands, measure up a cardboard plank, trial fit it, adjust when required, cut the plank, cut the lands, fit plank, glue and clamp. Rinse and repeat. I have a strong sense of no progress, but the turn of the bilge is in sight, so I must be getting somewhere, and the planks are comforming more easily (after that evil garboard!) Photos to follow.

    Andy
    "We were schooner-rigged and rakish, with a long and lissome hull ..."

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    Default Re: Swallow - the dinghy

    Wait. That looks little. Isn’t this a full scale model?

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    Default Re: Swallow - the dinghy

    Squeeze that sucker down!



    The strakes, incidentally, are limewood courtesy of Ikea, from a blind that was demolished by the kitten.
    "We were schooner-rigged and rakish, with a long and lissome hull ..."

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    Default Re: Swallow - the dinghy

    Oh yeah.

    "We were schooner-rigged and rakish, with a long and lissome hull ..."

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    Default Re: Swallow - the dinghy

    Five strakes before she's off the molds.



    Steering thing:



    Looking good (enough)!



    Andy
    "We were schooner-rigged and rakish, with a long and lissome hull ..."

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    Default Re: Swallow - the dinghy

    That skeg looks a bit chunky, what thickness is that supposed to be?
    It really is quite difficult to build an ugly wooden boat.

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    Default Re: Swallow - the dinghy

    It'll be thinned widthwise fore and aft once the hull is done, but it has to be six/eight inches deep.

    Andy
    "We were schooner-rigged and rakish, with a long and lissome hull ..."

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    Default Re: Swallow - the dinghy

    Quote Originally Posted by AndyG View Post
    It'll be thinned widthwise fore and aft once the hull is done, but it has to be six/eight inches deep.

    Andy
    Yes, it is the sideing that I query, not the moulding.
    It really is quite difficult to build an ugly wooden boat.

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    Default Re: Swallow - the dinghy

    Ten milimetres is about 3.15 inches. It'll be thinned toward the stern.

    Andy
    "We were schooner-rigged and rakish, with a long and lissome hull ..."

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    Default Re: Swallow - the dinghy

    Millimeters measure distance?! Well, that explains a LOT!

    Lovely, boat, eh.

    Peace,
    Robert

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    Default Re: Swallow - the dinghy

    Quote Originally Posted by amish rob View Post
    Millimeters measure distance?! Well, that explains a LOT!

    Lovely, boat, eh.

    Peace,
    Robert
    When are you guys going to join the 21 st century and adopt metric ? .....On second thoughts ....forget I even asked ....

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    Default Re: Swallow - the dinghy

    Quote Originally Posted by AndyG View Post
    Ten milimetres is about 3.15 inches. It'll be thinned toward the stern.

    Andy
    10 mm is about 3/8''
    1 inch equals 25.4 mm
    '' You ain't gonna learn what you don't want to know. ''
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    Default Re: Swallow - the dinghy

    Quote Originally Posted by PeterSibley View Post
    10 mm is about 3/8''
    1 inch equals 25.4 mm

    I think Andy is talking about 10mm on the model representing those 3.1 inches in full size Peter ?

    swallow016.jpg

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