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Tim Reynaga

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  1. Here's a build I completed recently of Pyro's venerable Santa María kit from the early 1950s:
  2. c The scale disconnect does still bother me a bit. I initially thought to display the ships separately to mask the size discrepancies, but the little models seemed to get lost on my bookshelves. So for now the fleet is back together again!
  3. Thanks guys! Bertie, I agree about the books... I was simply experimenting with the display, but now you mention it they might just end up being a hazard!
  4. Thanks Bertie! The final touch to the Santa María was to attach the previously painted swallowtail pennant to the lateen spar at the mizzen. And done! It is fun to display Columbus’ ships together, but the nao Santa María is clearly out of scale with the caravelas Pinta and Niña. Pyro’s old box-scale models are all the same size, but Santa María should really be half-again larger than Pinta, and Niña should be smallest of all. Still, it is nice to have the little fleet completed!
  5. Doing a bit of inspirational reading to keep me motivated as I approach the conclusion of this build, I discovered that most estimates of Santa María’s tonnage place her at about 90-100 tons. However, unlike modern nomenclature, 15th Century tonnage didn’t refer to water displacement by the hull but rather to the amount of cargo the ship could carry measured in “tuns,” or barrels, of roughly 252 US gallons capacity each. The tonelada of the Santa María thus meant she could safely carry about 100 of these large barrels. Anyway, all this got me thinking that it might be fun to include a few barrels on the deck, so I picked up some N and Z scale items. I realize that the cargo would have been safely stowed away below decks, but I reasoned that there might also have been smaller casks on deck for washing or refreshment purposes, so I painted up a few. What really sold me, though, was that each of the larger 3D printed casks would have been roughly equivalent to a half-tun sized barrel, or “pipe” (about 126 US gallons), also known as a “butt.” Now how could I resist providing my thirsty Spaniards with a couple of buttloads of wine?
  6. Now to fit the anchors. As with many details, it isn’t precisely clear just how the anchors were stowed aboard the Santa María. The 1892 replica ship and most reference drawings show the anchors as test fitted here on the starboard side, but I thought securing the anchors a bit farther forward would have made more sense since otherwise men moving topside would have had to dodge those flukes overhanging the deck. In the absence of any definitive information I went ahead and installed the anchors my way, but it would have been better to have secured them earlier in the build. Having to maneuver through the rigging to tie off the anchor tackle, I couldn’t avoid knocking some of the lines loose! At least fixing the hawser from the pipe to the anchor ring was simple... Hawsers attached and rigging repaired, the ship’s boat is now aboard as well.
  7. Interesting question. Columbus sailed at a time when nautical technology was rapidly evolving with ships getting bigger and crews larger, but Santa Maria was still a fairly small ship with a crew of only about 40 and a fairly simple sail plan. There were not yet the large numbers of sailors working the complex sails aloft like we see in a man 'o war of the 1800s, so ships didn't yet need the masses of ratlines. Some ships in the 1490s apparently began to have ratlines, some not. Some Santa Maria references show traditional ratlines on the shrouds, some show only single rope ladders leading aloft. For simplicity sake, I have chosen the latter option!
  8. I had at first thought the sheet line looked ok, but a friend suggested that it looks like the line is seized to the boomkin with no way to take in or let out the sail... and I agree – sticking out back there with nothing around it, it does draw the eye! Accordingly, I cut the sheet off and added a little block made from a .028 inch disc punched from .020 inch plastic (for a block about 4 - 4½ inches round in scale.) Attaching the sheet line to the little block, I also rethought having the line go into the cabin. Instead, I reattached the end to pass through the stern bulwark at the weather deck (presumably through a reeving sheave there), and a little coil of rope inside the stern bulwark suggests where the working end of the sheet line is tied off.
  9. The final sail, the spritsail at the bow, has now been attached. Some old books stacked on my desk make a temporary working platform while rigging the ship. I find it easier to bring the model a little closer to eye level as I work on what can sometimes feel like an intricate puzzle! After adding a second forestay, I attached the lifts to it and then added the tacks at the spritsail yard and the sheets to the bottom of the sail. I’m not sure what they were called, but plans also showed a set of lines going from the tips of the yard to the end of the bowsprit, so I added those as well. The rigging is now complete! All that remains is to attach the anchors (one is test fitted here), the ship’s boat, and the swallowtail pennant.
  10. Thanks Bertie! The foresail rigging was next with the braces (at the ends of the yard) and sheets (at the lower corners of the sail) all tied off at the fife rail at the base of the mainmast.
  11. Thanks Stuart. Smaller scales are actually easier in some respects - you can get away with adding less detail! The topsail is has now been remounted at its adjusted angle. Here the lifts which supported the yard are being attached. The mast still needs a little touch up where the white plastic is showing from when I removed the topsail before... After fitting the braces from the topsail yard which converged on the mizzen, the topsail is done. I’m not so sure of Pyro’s kit design here, though; the lookout in the crow’s nest surely couldn’t see forward when that topsail was set!
  12. I began the running rigging – the lines used to control the sails – with the mizzen lateen sail. The sheet line was attached to the lower corner of the sail with a dot of super glue... ...then the line was set to the boomkin (that little spar sticking out from the stern). I also added the brace line to the lower end of the lateen yard... ...which was then attached it to the aft fife rail. The upper brace was secured to the portside rail. Finally, I added the horizontal control line (the one with the two bridles) from the mizzen yard to the mainmast just below the crow’s nest. Also added were the lifts, braces, and sheet lines on the mainsail. This may sound like a lot, but it is all actually quite simplified; I’m going for “representational” rather than full rigging so as not to overwhelm this tiny model.
  13. Two steps forward, one step back... I agree, gentlemen - as I finished the standing rigging and prepared to move on to the running lines, the orientation of the sails began to bother me. I had aligned them with the-fore-and aft molded flags with the ship running before the wind (i.e., the wind directly astern). In this situation, the mainsail should have been hauled up so as not to steal the wind from the foresail (illustration F in the diagram from John Harland's Seamanship in the Age of Sail) So I bent the flags and remounted the sails a few degrees to the left to suggest that the ship was heading slightly off the wind, sailing free (illustration D). The difference isn’t dramatic, but at least it can better explain how both the main and fore sails are full! Now on to that running rigging...
  14. Before continuing with the rigging I took break to prep the anchors – but I wasn’t particularly happy with Pyro’s interpretation of them! One of Santa María’s anchors has actually been preserved and may be seen at the Musée du Panthéon National Haïtien in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Although it apparently shared the unusual stockless design of Pyro’s Santa María kit anchors, it was clearly much more slender. Fortunately, the anchor parts provided in Pyro’s Pinta kit come closer to the original, and I had a spare kit on hand. I decided to mount these on Santa María just as I had done on my Pinta build. Then the Santa María kit boxart caught my eye; contrary to the real anchor in the museum, it showed the anchor as having the usual prominent wooden stock at the top just below the ring. Curious, I consulted Xavier Pastor’s Anatomy of the Ship: The Ships of Christopher Columbus – and sure enough, the illustration there also showed the anchor to have had a stock! What was going on here? Then I realized... that preserved anchor in the Haitian museum had been recovered in 1796, over three hundred years after it was lost at sea – the original wooden stock had simply rotted away! Examples of this are not uncommon. When an anchor from Blackbeard’s Queen Anne’s Revenge, lost in 1717, was recovered 300 years later, it too showed no signs of the wooden stock it was known to have had. And so I cut the tops off the Pyro Pinta anchors and inserted sheet plastic stocks. Here is one of the anchors painted up and test fitted.
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