Builder's Half Model, William H. Conner

Builder's half model of the ship William H. Conner, built in Searsport in 1877 by Marlboro Packard, her master builder, working in the Carver yard.

The Conner was the last and largest full-rigged ship built in Searsport , costing over $100,000. Apparently in three voyages she earned her construction costs, but that was the exception; 15% was closer to the rule. Listed in the Register (shipping registers listed all merchant vessels) until 1898, she was finally turned into a barge and sunk off Sandy Hook.


Mallet used in a Searsport, Maine shipyard by Peter Ward of Searsport. Mallets like this would be used to drive trunnels (wooden "tree nails").

Shipbuilding Auger

Shipbuilding spiral bit auger with crank handle, for drilling holes for treenails ( trunnels) or metal drifts (rods.) A blacksmith would take a auger bit and weld on a handle suited to the depth of hole to be drilled. This type was called a barefoot auger as is did not have the small spurs common to most bits which helped cut fast but risked having the auger go off line on a deep hole.

Demonstration of Shipbuilding: Dubbing

Using an adze to cut off the head of a driven treenail, making the planking smooth. Dubbing is the adze-users word for trimming small amounts of wood. This is a small vessel under repair; some of the planking is being replaced, mostly that above the waterline, in a process called retopping. This is the plank that is subject to drying from the sun, and often is most vulnerable to rot.

Hold of a Down Easter

This photograph shows the large volume of a Down Easter available for cargo. There is another deck below for carrying more. The L-shaped pieces of wood called hanging knees support the deck beams and resist twisting. They are typically made from the hackmatack trees of Maine. The hackmatack (or tamarack or larch) root leaves the trunk at a right angle, creating wood with a grain that bends in an L. Similar L-shaped pieces between the deck beams are called lodging knees.

Cross-Section of a Wooden Sailing Ship

Cross-sectional diagram of a sailing ship, showing keel, frames, planking, ceiling, deck beams, deck planking, stanchions, and bulwarks.

From Capt. H. Paasch, Illustrated Marine Encyclopedia, 1890, Plate 7.

Carter Shipyard, Belfast

An etching of the Carter Shipyard in Belfast on the 1855 Map of the City of Belfast, Waldo County, Maine. A ship is ready for launch, while the one in the foreground has been framed up and is being planked. The ramp at the bow lets wood be carried in.

Stern of Schooner George W. Wells

The schooner George W. Wells was the first six-masted schooner ever built, launched in Camden in 1900. This stern view shows the deck being planked, and the decking and sides of the after deckhouse going on.

Poster Advertising Clipper Red Jacket

Poster advertising the clipper ship Red Jacket, reporting its fast voyage from Liverpool to Melbourne, Australia in a record 69 days. Red Jacket was built in Rockland, Maine in 1853, and after her first voyage, a record breaking passage to Liverpool in January 1854, was sold in April to Pilkington & Wilson of Liverpool. They managed her as part of the White Star Line. The White Star Line operated the chief passenger service to Australia and later became one of the main transatlantic lines, the owners of the ill-fated Titanic.

Clipper Flying Cloud Model

Gus Skoog, the Vinalhaven boat builder, also built models. Here is his model of the famous Donald McKay-built clipper ship Flying Cloud, a common subject for model builders.


Subscribe to RSS - Shipbuilding