Civil War Gunboats (N.Y.C. ferry conversions)
Section 3 - Research for Modeling
There is perhaps only one scale model of a ferry-gunboat type that can be built
based on photographic information only. Unfortunately,
with the conflict in identifying by name several of the better
photos, the best option boat to model might be unnamed.
Maybe sometime in the future more information will become
available. For now let us look at the one that has the most data and photographs.
This is most likely not the USS Commodore Perry, but probably the Commodore Morris and/or the Commodore
McDonough. Another possibility is the Commodore Read, which was 27-feet longer and 118 tons heavier than the Morris
Lets start off with the data and dimensions:
Commodore Perry was built in 1859 by Stack and Joyce for Williamsburg Ferries (N.Y.). At 512 tons,
she was 143 feet long, 33 feet beam, and a draft of 12 feet.
The Commodore Barney has the same dimensions and displacement as the
Commodore Perry, and was also
built for Williamsburg Ferries, but a different builder: by Perrine, Patterson.
Morris were built for Union Ferry Company. The
built in 1863, displaced 542 tons, 154 feet long, 32 feet beam, and a draft of 11 feet. The
McDonough, built in 1862, displaced 532 tons, was 154 feet long, 32-1/2 feet
beam, and a draft of 12 feet. The
Read, built in 1857, displaced 650 tons, was 179 feet long, 33-1/2 feet beam, and adraft of
Next, lets look at the matching photos and drawing:
As a scale modeler, we are treading on thin ice here.
None of us like to build a scale model that might not be to scale. So, a warning: If we really want to proceed
here we need to understand that much of the data could be wrong or no to the correct dimensions. On the flip
side, what choice do we have?
Photos 1, 2 & 3 seem to be a match. Photo 5 and
drawing 4 area a close, but not exact match. Although the first three don't
completely match 4 & 5, they are helpful in several ways.
Considering these photos are about 150 years old, they do reveal a lot of information. Unfortunately, no
photos of the under-hull exist. We need to look at other boats of the period.
Several years ago, a gentleman made a pattern for card
models of the boat in these photos. I proceeded to partially build the card model which turned out to be about
five inches long. I then photographed to model at about the same angle as two of the photos above were taken,
then compared the results. Next, we will look at the comparisons.