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USS Harriet Lane (Pyro Blockade Runner) questions

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  • Member since
    May 2003
  • From: Greenville, NC
Posted by jtilley on Wednesday, August 22, 2007 2:05 PM

Very interesting indeed!  The practice (or, at any rate, the use of the phrase "United States Ship") was common before then, but that EO must have made it official.

It's worth remembering, though, that "U.S.S." is only applicable to Navy vessels (and Army ones; the Army actually operated more vessels - when all types, small and large, are included - in World War II than the Navy did).  Coast Guard vessels are designated "U.S.C.G.C."  The original Harriet Lane was gone long before the modern Coast Guard was established; as a ship of the Revenue Cutter Service, she was "U.S.R.C."  (And, as we've established, there would have been no regulation to stop anybody from calling her "U.S.S.")

Youth, talent, hard work, and enthusiasm are no match for old age and treachery.

  • Member since
    June 2007
  • From: Albuquerque, NM, USA
Posted by styrenegyrene on Wednesday, August 22, 2007 10:23 PM

scattershots....  I have read somewhere that the Harriet Lane was previously called the Star of the West, and it was under that name that she was involved in the attempt to resupply Ft. Sumpter.  From what has been said herein, it seems there were two ships involved in that attempt.  What say ye?

For a bit over 30 years I have been a reenactor of the 4th Texas Mounted Volunteers, one of the outfits that captured the Harriet Lane at Galveston.  I have read a couple of journal entrys from Confederate veterans, and there was no mention of color or the prefix USS.

A dear friend, now gone across the river, had a double-barrelled 10 ga. FLINTLOCK stamped "US Revenue Service," and made in the 1820's.  It had pretty short barrels for that era - about 23-24 inches, as I recall, and the most exquisite red-blonde, curly maple stock I've ever seen on a shotgun.  There's one something like it in the battlefield museum at Gettysburg.  It's about 6" across the cleanout screwheads!

on names and PC - In the National Cemetery in Santa Fe, NM, there are several stones with the inscription "USCT."  It took me quite a while to figure out that was for "United States Colored Troops." Those guys suffered terribly, fought like demons, and yet the Army wouldn't even put what it cosidered "real" soldier's stones over their bones.  (One battalion of USCT MARCHED out here from Michigan, and then MARCHED all over the Southwest in pursuit of Apaches.  Some fun, eh?)

Turning styrene into fantasies for 50 years!
  • Member since
    May 2003
  • From: Greenville, NC
Posted by jtilley on Wednesday, August 22, 2007 11:55 PM

Harriet Lane was the original name of the vessel in question - and the name she retained throughout her U.S. government service.  The Star of the West was another ship involved in the siege of Ft. Sumpter.  Here's a link to a Wikipedia entry on her:

At the risk of straying considerably from the topic - Styrenegyrene's reference to the "USCT" reminded me of an article I read about a monument in North Carolina.  (I haven't been able to find it myself, but I remember the reference pretty clearly.)  It was a big stone plaque honoring a city's veterans of the Spanish-American War.  The principal feature of it was a long, alphabetical list of names, which stretched into several columns.  Then came an odd-looking rectangular space, where something obviously had been chiseled away from the stone fairly recently.  Then another, considerably shorter, alphabetical list of names started.

The chiseled rectangle had originally contained the word "Colored."

Such monuments present some really interesting - and emotionally charged - problems for preservationists. 

Youth, talent, hard work, and enthusiasm are no match for old age and treachery.

  • Member since
    August 2005
  • From: vernon hills illinois
Posted by sumpter250 on Thursday, August 23, 2007 1:44 PM

Such monuments present some really interesting - and emotionally charged - problems for preservationists. 

   The problems, interesting - and emotionally charged, are all based in political correctness. It is the job of a preservationist to restore and preserve what was, not what is desired. Facing, and understanding our thruths, in the end, helps us grow as a society. Denying our past, promotes bigottry, and discrimination. Erasing the memory of our mistakes, only makes it easier to repeat them, and guarantees that they will be repeated.

   I'll go to my corner, and shut up now.

Lead me not into temptation ..................I can find it myself

  • Member since
    July 2013
Posted by Lightbringer on Tuesday, April 29, 2014 4:06 PM

years passed by since the last reply ... most of this threads pics are unfortunately no more available.

Now its 2014 and finally the old Pyro Harriet Lane civil war blockade runner is reissued again by Lindberg / round 2

Of course I already bought a copy and I am trying to improve it a little bit.

Since most interesting questions are already in this thread I would like to go on and add another one.

My question is about the shaft between the steam engine and the paddlewheels.

Other than  similar steamers like the Sirius or Sphinx, where the shaft is hidden "under deck", its higher than the decks surface. Obviously a good place to stumble and/or hurt yourself.

Its like in this graphic:

Sooooo ... how did it actually (probably) look like ?

Or was there a typical solution on other similar sidewheelers for that detail ?

I spent hours searching for a convincing detail ... but no result !

Was it running unprotected like in the graphic above ?

Thats like it is in the kit, but the kits shaft seems to be way too massive

Was it protected by a bigger tube ?

Or covered by a low square box ?

Or was there some kind of low stairs to step over it ?

Or a combination of these ?

Would be nice if you could help me a little. Thanks

  • Member since
    December 2010
  • From: Salem, Oregon
Posted by 1943Mike on Tuesday, April 29, 2014 5:56 PM

Holy Mackerel Lightbringer!

I must be way behind in my perusing the model ship forums since I was not aware of the reissue at all.

There seems to be a reissue of the 1/240 Olympic as well.

If it weren't for my ridiculously large ship stash which my time on planet Earth most likely won't allow me to complete, I'd buy it right now!

My thanks to you for this new (to me) and most interesting  information.

I certainly hope you'll be posting a WIP for the Harriet Lane



"Le temps est un grand maître, mais malheureusement, il tue tous ses élèves."

Hector Berlioz

  • Member since
    May 2003
  • From: Greenville, NC
Posted by jtilley on Tuesday, April 29, 2014 11:15 PM

Very interesting question.  I did some digging into the Harriet Lane's story and documents some years ago, and I don't have an answer.

Here's a drawing of her that I made a long time ago for the Coast Guard Historian's Office, but I don't think it will help: .

I dug through all the documentation the CGHO had on her, but I can't recall having found a really detailed deck plan - which is what most likely would answer the question. 

I think all the possibilities raised by Lightbringer are reasonable.  Having that big chunk of metal spinning around a foot or two off the deck would be an invitation to trouble, but stranger things have appeared on board ships.

This seems to be a good time for Harriet Lane modelers.  I hadn't heard that the Pyro/Lindberg kit had been reissued.  (I'm not so sure it was ever officially discontinued.  Lindberg has had a twisted history over the past few years; I'm not convinced that all the kits advertised on its website were ever actually produced.)  And the Model Shipways kit, which Model Expo listed as out of stock for a long time, has reappeared. Here's the link: .

The old Pyro kit (of which the Lindberg one is a reissue) was pirated from the Model Shipways one back in the early fifties.  (The two gents who founded Model Shipways referred to Pyro as "Pirate Plastics.")  The kit Model Expo is selling now is a somewhat updated version of that old kit.  Model Expo sells the plans for it; they might be a big help in building the Pyro/Lindberg kit. And the instruction book is available for free online.

On the other hand, the plastic version has a lot going for it.  Like Pyro's other first-generation sailing ships, it's a simple but basically sound kit.  And Pyro handled the paddle wheels better than Model Shipways did.  (In the Model Shipways kit, the paddle boxes are solid blocks of wood and the "paddles" are metal castings representing the parts that project below the boxes.)  It's occurred to me that a really nifty model could be built by combining the two kits.  (I'm pretty sure they're on the same scale.) 

One idea that would really help the plastic kit.  As I remember, the hull below the waterline is smooth plastic.  One could plate it with the pressure-sensitive copper tape that Model Expo and Bluejacket sell. The stuff would be too wide, but it's easy to cut with an Xacto knife. Sheathing a hull of that size isn't as intimidating as lots of people think.  My guess is that it could be done in a couple of evenings.

One small point:  the Harriet Lane wasn't a Navy ship, so she wasn't officially "U.S.S."  She was a unit of the Revenue Cutter Service (or Revenue Marine), so she was officially the U.S.R.C. Harriet Lane.  She was a beautiful ship, and a rather important one.  Some years earlier the Revenue Cutter Service had made a spectacle of itself by spending a lot of money on super high-tech, iron-hulled steamships propelled by contraptions called  "Hunter Wheels."  The Hunter Wheel, invented by a naval officer named Lt. William Hunter, was a paddle wheel mounted on its side below the waterline, with a few of its blades sticking out a hole in the side.  It was a colossal dud, and as a result the Congress revoked the Revenue Cutter Service's authority to build ships for several years.  The Harriet Lane, designed by the great clipper ship designer William Webb, got the service back on the right track.

She makes a beautiful model.  Good luck.  And I'm sorry I can't answer Lightbringer's question.

[Later edit:  I just scrolled through this thread, which I hadn't looked at in years.  It seems I shot my mouth off several times in it.  I don't really have much to add to what I wrote previously.]

Youth, talent, hard work, and enthusiasm are no match for old age and treachery.

  • Member since
    July 2013
Posted by Lightbringer on Thursday, May 1, 2014 1:33 PM


Yes ... also the Olympic and many more

I must say that I am deeply impressed what Round 2 is doing.

I think last year they integrated Linberg into their modeling area.

Often brands do disappear. But in this case its fantastic.

There is literally a flood of very rare kits reissued.

lots of old Lindberg and Pyro ships. And I mean lots !

Also spaceships, planes, cars, figures, guns, coaches.

Lindberg did announce them for years and nothing happened.

But now they are already in the shops or on their website and you can actually buy them !

I already bought several of them and I must say that they do a good job.

The molds seem to be still crisp or they refurbished them in a good way.

There is very little flesh on the parts, the molds are good aligned cause they have very little separation seams.

Simply nice to work with ... thinking that most of these molds do have half a century.

For example the reissued Harriet Lane / Blockade Runner comes in a box which is printed in the style of the old midsixties Pyro boxes.

Inside its molded in tan, grey and green.

A real metal chain, black and tan thread for rigging, and a set of excellent decals for three different flags

As you can see I am really happy with it.


  • Member since
    July 2013
Posted by Lightbringer on Thursday, May 1, 2014 1:35 PM

@ John: Thanks a lot for helping !

I feared that the documentation is as difficult as it is with most historic ships.
We always seem to build models somewhere between fiction and reality.
often way more fiction ... only sometimes less ...
Just hoped that this would improve in the 19th century ... more plans, paintings, first photographies.

I already used your links and added the pics and infos to my "Harriet Kit folder"
Your big drawing is great ...
I will use the self adhesive copperband to make the underwater coating as it is in your drawing

The openings in the wheel houses are so different in almost all the paintings, drawings, etches.
But which ones are correct ?
or did they change them after each battle because they were too damaged ?

I am still thinking how to replace the area with the ornaments on the outside of the wheelhouse.
I want to give it a semi-transparent look with a view on the wheel.

Today I found this pic of the Eppleton Hall tug ...
gives a nice idea how most of them were constructed (probably)
Suppose these parts did rott away pretty fast
On the other hand it seems that they were quite easy to replace
Maybe thats why they changed the ornaments look several times.
Just an idea
Ray Clary seems to be more or less a contemporary painter ...
he could have seen it in his youth.

Some do show, like in the kit, a small podest on top of the wheelhouse ...
It seems to have an extra high pilot house, why ?
And the gunport is completely open on top !
Was this change made for the heavier arms ?

others have there nothing ...

on another one is with a kind of railings in a half circle around the wheel house ...
probably with small steps on the wheel house

There exist drawings with only two lifeboats ... as it is in the kit ...
most others like your drawing are with four ... when was there a change ?

The shipsways model shows on the side of the toilet houses a small round window ...
is it just fiction ... its nowhere in all the paintings ?
I think there should be one ... but was it only one ... or two ... or could it be somewhere else ?

Actually I have little idea about all the weapons
in the kit there is a Parrot ...
was it more or less like this ?
or more like that one ?

And how did the mortars look like ?
The text says that this one was at about the same time on the Mathew Vassar
Where on the HLs did they use something like this ?

Do exist little modelkits in a matching scale ?

I know ... again lots of thoughts

  • Member since
    September 2012
Posted by GMorrison on Thursday, May 1, 2014 3:54 PM

You all should post hot links it would make reading the sites easier.


 Modeling is an excuse to buy books.


  • Member since
    September 2005
  • From: Illinois: Hive of Scum and Villany
Posted by Sprue-ce Goose on Thursday, May 1, 2014 5:07 PM

Great information !

I have noticed the recent issues of old collectible kits and am buying as my wallet permits.

Best of luck on that Harriet Lane build ...Big Smile

Tags: Lindberg , Pyro
  • Member since
    May 2003
  • From: Greenville, NC
Posted by jtilley on Thursday, May 1, 2014 5:58 PM

Markus, I'm afraid most of your questions just don't have answers.  We're dealing with a remarkably badly documented ship.  (The sailing Revenue Cutter Service didn't keep as good records as the Navy did - and the Navy wasn't exactly thorough about it.)

Here's a link to what the Coast Guard Historian's Office has to offer: .  There's a portrait of Harriet Lane with the ship in the background - in a white color scheme that I've seen nowhere else.  I don't know just what that painting is, but I question whether it's contemporary with the ship.  (It shows what obviously is the Washington Monument in the background.  The Washington Monument was completed in 1884; when the ship was built the monument had barely been started.)

I'm unaware of any reliable contemporary painting of the ship.  The nearest things are William Webb's plans (which don't show any detail) and those engravings from The Century magazine.

The painting by Clary Ray looks reasonable, but I don't think it was based on personal observation.  The Navy says ( ) it was painted in about 1898.

A ship like this had to have a tall pilothouse, so the helmsman and the officer of the watch could see what was going on beyond the ship.  I don't know anything about windows in the latrines.

The Coast Guard Historian's site lists the known armament of the ship at three points in her career.  So far as I know, that's all anybody has found about that topic.  I imagine the mortars you're talking about were just put on board temporarily.

In the 1850s gunports were made in a number of ways.  The lid might be hinged at the bottom, so it flopped down under the port (on the outside of the hull) when it was opened.  Or it might be completely removable.  In any case, the lid probably included the railing on top.  But I don't think there's any way to be certain.

How many boats she carried I have no idea.  I borrowed Merrit's interpretation of them too.  For a ship to have a pair of davits added or removed would not be remarkable.  It seems reasonable to think that she had extra boats during the Civil War; photos from that period show warships virtually surrounded by boats.

All I can tell you about the openings in the paddle boxes is that I based the ones in my drawing on the one made by Merrit Edson, who did his on commission from the Smithsonian Institution.  So far as I know there is no record of what changes, if any, were made to the decorations on the paddle boxes.

Just what scale that kit is on seems to be debatable.  Model Shipways currently says its kit (which I think is the same size as the Pyro/Lifelike/Linberg one) is on 3/32"=1' (1/128).  I have a pretty firm recollection that, years ago, the Model Shipways catalog said it was on 1/12"=1' (1/144).  There's not much difference.  The only other kits I know of that are close to that scale are the Revell H.M.S. Bounty, the Airfix Endeavour, and the Revell harbor tug Long Beach (which has been reissued under several other names.)  I can't think of any other wood kit that's on a similar scale, but there may be one.  And, of course, there are a few modern warship kits on 1/144; the most obvious is the Revell Fletcher.

One thing I've always wondered about:  why did Pyro (and Lifelike, and Lindberg) mold the hull in green?  So far as I know there's no documentary justification for that.

I'm afraid I haven't helped much.  Unfortunately the bottom line is that anybody building a model of an American sailing revenue cutter has to do a considerable amount of guesswork.

Good luck.

I'm afraid I haven't helped much

Youth, talent, hard work, and enthusiasm are no match for old age and treachery.

  • Member since
    May 2003
  • From: Greenville, NC
Posted by jtilley on Friday, May 2, 2014 11:02 AM

I'm having trouble finding the "Civil War Blockade Runner" (i.e., the Harriet Lane) on the Round 2 Models website.  (The Lindberg section is marked "under construction"; that may be at least part of the reason.)  I seem to remember finding it just a few days ago.  Has anybody else had better luck somewhere on the web?

Round 2 seems to have gotten hold of the molds for all sorts of kits that Lindberg was selling in its last incarnation.  They originated in all sorts of places.  Some were original Lindberg products.  The Sea Witch, as we've discussed many times, is an old Marx kit with some modifications (e.g., the replacement of the metal decks with plastic ones).  Lots of the car kits originated with Pyro, as did quite a few of the ships.  At least one airplane (the P-6, in 1/48) appears to be an old Aurora kit (though I'm not sure about that one).  For a while, Lindberg was selling (or at least advertising) the wonderful old 1/48 aircraft from the short-lived British company Inpact; the only one I found on the Round 2 site was the Gloster Gladiator (at least I think that's the iInpact kit).  Oh, if they'd bring back the Inpact Fairey Flycatcher and those "Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines" kits!

On my wish list are the Pyro skipjack, the "Independence War Schooner" (aka Roger B. Taney), and the "American Cup Racer" (aka Getrude L. Thebaud).  I have a pragmatic reason for wanting that last one.  I'm about to start a wood model of a Gloucester fishing schooner, and I think the plastic dories in the old Pyro kit would work on it.  But there are, if I remember right,  four in the Pyro kit, and the typical Gloucesterman would have about ten.  And the prices of old, original, Pyro (or Lifelike) kits on the web are prohibitive for my wallet.

I could swear I saw a bunch of old Pyro/Lindberg sailing ships on the Round 2 website just a few days ago.  Maybe they'll be back tomorrow.  Does anybody know what's going on there?

Youth, talent, hard work, and enthusiasm are no match for old age and treachery.

  • Member since
    July 2013
Posted by Lightbringer on Friday, May 2, 2014 3:10 PM

Hi John .. again thanks a lot !

I have the impression that the interesting kits like the Harriet are selling fast.
But they are still available in several webshops for reasonable prices.

The Fairey Flycatcher is already reissued and you can buy it.
The Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines kits are announced for June or July. I saw at least four of them; Deperdussin, Avro, Martin Handasyde, Bleriot.

Why dont you make resin copies of that Cup Racer dory ? seems not so complicated


Actually you do help a me lot to find my way to my personal Harriet Lane ...
also by excluding things ... and adding facts which are known as tecnical features of that time ... for example about the gunports ... and I do like the four boats ... its like an interesting history puzzle.

I also saw this painting of Clary Ray (1865-191?) and I think that it's not reliable.
The Harriet Lane existed from 1858-1884. But 1867 she was converted to a bark rig and renamed Elliot Richie. Thats a point of time where he was a two year old Baby.
He never had a chance to see her as Harriet Lane. The same with his other HL paintings.
Maybe he saw her later when he was 18 as the converted Elliot Richie and added the missing details.

Its a nice painting but its too positive with everything you can see.
As you said the monument wasn't finished in ´67 when the HL was converted and renamed ... the monuments construction was stopped in 1854 when it had about 150 feet ... and went on in 1879 to be finished in 1884 .. when the ship was already on the ground of the sea.

So it was impossible at 1884 to see her as a paddle steamer ...
with the name written on the wheel houses as if she were a Mississippi steamer ....
if you look closer its also missing the latrines at the wheelhouses ...

But I must say that the ship itself is very attractive with the white color as if it were a luxury steam yacht.
Everything is too good in that painting ... even the weather seems too good ....
and the blonde beauty in front is also by far too beautyful when comparing her with actual contemporary photographies.


I found on Wikipedia written that the Harriet Lane was coated with copper ...
not only the underwater ship ...
"... the entire ship was sheathed and fastened with copper ..."
Is this possible ? I suppose that this must be an error ...


As you mentioned the given scale seems wrong ...
I compared the kit with other similar scaled kits and used figures out of them ...
ITCs Clermont 1/124 ... ITCs Yacht Corsair 1/130 ... Lindbergs La Flore 1/130 ...

The figures of the 1/124 Clermont seem to be giants on the Harriet ...
either the HL is not 1/124 or the ITC Clermont is made in a bigger scale or both ...
the difference is tremendous.

But the decks houses and doors of the ITC Corsair 1/130 seem to be exactly the same scale.
And the figures and other details of the La Flore/Flying Dutchman 1/130 seem to have the ideal size.
So I do think that the HL is somewhere close to 1/130.


With the colors of the kit I cannot agree.
PYROs first issue as Harriet Lane in 1956 was made with a black plastic body and a light tan or grey decks insert.
The boxart was with an attractive painting ... it showed the ship with a dark red painted body and white bulwarks.

In 1957 she was also sold under the KLEEWARE label (#1515) in England ... with black plastic body parts and the same Pyro boxart.

The PYRO 1966/67 reissue as Blockade Runner came with green body boxart and green body parts.

The PYRO 1968 reissue came with a drawing instead of a painting of the ship ... again with a green body

The LIFE-LIKE version of 1968/9 was more or less identical ...
just with the brands name changed.

The 1985 LINDBERG reissue shows a boxart of the built model with black body and a red painted underwater ship ... I suppose its inside also with a black plastic body.

Now the ROUND 2 / LINDBERG 2013/14 reissue comes again with the mid 60ies Pyro boxart with the green body and the green pastic body parts.


Another question: (hope this is not boring for you)
The Harriet Lane was a quite modern ship at its time.
What do you think about the possibility that they used a steam powered windlass/capstan to raise the anchors (and hoist sails if necessary) ?
The same with bilge pumps ...
( of course both could be manpowered if necessary )
According to Chapelle / Baker these technologies were developped between 1815 and 1840 and were in common use by 1855.
The era is matching ... and they had more than enough steampower on board.

  • Member since
    May 2003
  • From: Greenville, NC
Posted by jtilley on Saturday, May 3, 2014 12:27 PM

Markus, I suspect you can claim to be the world's most erudite expert on the history of that kit!

I built it for the first time when I was about 12 years old.  The one I bought was in a Pyro box, labeled "Civil War Blockade Runner," with the green hull.  (By the way, in standard English usage ships don't have bodies; they have hulls.  I gather your native language is German or Dutch.  Do those languages use the same word for both English equivalents?)

You can work out the scale of the kit accurately if you start with my drawing on the CG Historian's website.  (Don't rely on published dimensions; it's too hard to figure out just what they mean with reference to the model. "Length of keel" doesn't help you, for instance, because you can't tell just where the forward end of the model's keel is.) 

Make a printout of the drawing with your printer.  Down at the bottom of the drawing, forward of the bow, is a scale bar, marked in imperial feet.  (I never put written scales, like "Scale:  1/8"=1'," on drawings.  I have no way of knowing if they're going to be enlarged or reduced by some publisher.)  You can rely on that scale; it originated with the Webb plans. Using a straightedge, draw a line between two conspicuous points that can be found on one kit part (say, from the tip of the taffrail to the tip of the figurehead).   Using the scale bar and a pair of dividers or something similar, figure out how long that line is in the actual ship.  Then measure the same dimension on the kit hull.  Divide the full-size dimension by the kit dimension and you've got the scale of the kit.  My guess is that it will turn out to be either 1/144 or 1/128 - the two scales that the Model Shipways kit has claimed to be.  I'd be interested to know.

There is, of course, no absolute guarantee that the kit designers got all the proportions right.  You might fine that the kit is on one scale in terms of length, and another in terms of beam.

The Round 2 website looks a lot different today than it did yesterday.  The "Blockade Runner" and the Inpact kits are on it now.  The "Blockade Runner" sells for $29.95 - not bad by today's standards (though Round 2, with no design or mold-making expenses, must be making a big profit on it).  When I clicked on "Buy Now" on the Flycatcher and Avro Biplane pages, I got "The page cannot be found."  But I suspect that will change in the next few days.

Long ago there were two similar-sized Clermonts on the market:  one from Lindberg and one from ITC.  (I don't think Pyro ever did a Clermont.)  I'm pretty sure the Round 2 version is the Lindberg one (I recognize the box art) - and that's a good thing.  It was a really ingenious kit.  Originally it had an electric motor, and it's about the only motorized kit that I wouldn't mind building again complete with the motor.  In the real ship all the machinery was exposed, and so it was on the model.  The paddlewheels, scale gears, and flywheels turned, and the piston moved up and down in the cylinder.  The electric motor was hidden under the forecastle deck, with just a little tiny plastic worm gear sticking out into the "engine room."  Great fun. The only problem was that, as Old Timers like me vividly remember, a pair of 1960s AA-size batteries would only run the model for a few yards.  But I guess Round 2 doesn't include the motor and associated parts.

The Southern Belle was a nice kit too - motorized, so the big, external cranks turned the paddle.

Don't waste your time on the Lindberg/Pyro Olympia.  It was a pretty awful kit even when it was new.  The old Revell one (recently reissued with wood decks and photo-etched parts by Encore Models) isn't up to the current state of the art either, but it's a whole lot better.

I agree with your ideas regarding the various paintings.  The only really reliable contemporary views of the Harriet Lane seem to be the simple drawings by the designer, William Webb, and that faint smear in the photograph I referred to earlier in this thread.  The magazine engravings on the CG Historian's website may qualify;  those magazines sent artists around with the armies, and it's quite possible, I suppose, that the guy who did the drawings on which the engravings were based witnessed the capture of the ship.  But they don't show much that helps the modeler.

That account of the hull being sheathed entirely with copper is obviously nonsense.  My guess is that the person who wrote it didn't quite understand the source he was looking at, and didn't quite quote it correctly.  It's entirely possible that the hull was fastened entirely with copper spikes and bolts, but sheathing it above the waterline with copper would be ridiculous.  It would cost a lot of money and have no practical benefit whatever.

I'm no expert on CIvil War warships, but I've never heard of one with a steam-powered capstan.  But I guess it's possible.  I don't think there's any way to find out if the Harriet Lane had one.  Every rendition of her that I've seen has had a horizontal windlass - but I suspect that's just educated guesswork.

I think the best approach to my dory problem is to make them out of either holly veneer or bristol board, shaped to match the actual hull strakes.  But I haven't tried it.  I've also considered investing in Micromark's new vac-forming machine, and forming the hulls over a carved master.  That problem, fortunately, is a long way down the road.  I haven't even started the model yet.

Youth, talent, hard work, and enthusiasm are no match for old age and treachery.

  • Member since
    December 2010
  • From: Salem, Oregon
Posted by 1943Mike on Saturday, May 3, 2014 1:49 PM


Is this the drawing you did?

I copied the URL from a Wikipedia article. Here's the link to the article:




"Le temps est un grand maître, mais malheureusement, il tue tous ses élèves."

Hector Berlioz

  • Member since
    May 2003
  • From: Greenville, NC
Posted by jtilley on Saturday, May 3, 2014 2:42 PM

Yeah, that's it.  I had no idea I was in Wikipedia.  There's nothing legally improper about that; since the moment the Coast Guard paid me for the drawing, it's been in the public domain.  Anybody can reproduce it or make any use of it, anyplace.  The only person on the planet who can't legally make money off it is me - since the government already paid me for it.

There's a color version on the Coast Guard Historian's website: .  The colors were added (with the help of a very nice and patient lady at a local printing firm) with Photoshop to a copy of the original drawing.

I just noticed a rather noticeable discrepancy between the drawing and the Pyro/Lindberg kit.  The drawing shows an eagle for a figurehead.  That's what Merrit Edson's drawing showed; I don't know where he got his information, but he was mighty careful with things like that.  If I were building a model of her I'd give her an eagle for a figurehead.  The Model Shipways kit also has an eagle.  But as I recall, the Pyro/Lindberg kit doesn't.

That kit really is pretty crude - even by the standards of its time (the mid-fifties).  But it's the only plastic one available - and in some ways better detailed than the Model Shipways one.  I just can't reconcile myself to those solid wood paddleboxes with the partial paddlewheels sticking out the bottoms.

By the way - don't pay much attention to the photos of the completed model on the Model Shipways boxtop or the Modelexpo website.  That model is something of a mess.  The huge brass chains used for the paddlewheel box trusses and stack guys are way out of scale, as are the jackstays; the rigging is a mess, and the gaff on the mainmast is in the wrong place.  (It belongs below the crosstrees.)  The MS instruction book, which is available online at the ME website, is much better.

Youth, talent, hard work, and enthusiasm are no match for old age and treachery.

  • Member since
    December 2002
  • From: Derry, New Hampshire, USA
Posted by rcboater on Saturday, October 28, 2017 9:33 PM

(Posting in this old thread because I could never get too much Harriet Lane talk!)

I went looking for the colorized verizon of the USCG print. The link provided in 2014 is now broken, the CG website appears to have been moved to a new domain. The old link gives a general redirection to the home page of the new site. I've been looking through the History section there, but the search function seems weak, and many items are poorly tagged.... If anyone finds the original on the site, pls post the new link.....

Webmaster, Marine Modelers Club of New England


  • Member since
    December 2002
  • From: Derry, New Hampshire, USA
Posted by rcboater on Tuesday, July 9, 2019 7:35 PM


 There's a portrait of Harriet Lane with the ship in the background - in a white color scheme that I've seen nowhere else.  I don't know just what that painting is, but I question whether it's contemporary with the ship.  (It shows what obviously is the Washington Monument in the background.  The Washington Monument was completed in 1884; when the ship was built the monument had barely been started.)

Following up on this topic...

The painting the late Dr. Tilley was referring to is at the Coast Guard Museum at the USCG Academy in New London, CT. ( My Alma Mater!)   Here’s the image:

I called the Museum’s curator and asked her about the painting. I asked when it was painted, as it obviously wasn’t from 1858.   She  told me it was painted in 1975, as part of a series of portraits of famous Coast Guard namesakes. 

I’ll also point out that the young Miss Lane in the painting doesn’t look anything like her photo.  (She was acting First Lady for her uncle, the batchelor James Buchanan during his Presidency- so there are a number of photos of her on line.)

I  get the sense that the artist took a lot of liberties when painting this...  So I’m discounting it as a credible reference for painting a model.....!


Webmaster, Marine Modelers Club of New England


  • Member since
    September 2012
Posted by GMorrison on Tuesday, July 9, 2019 10:31 PM

We always wondered why our nuns/ teachers picked the blonde to be the Blessed Mother at the pageant.

 Modeling is an excuse to buy books.


  • Member since
    February 2019
  • From: Yes
Posted by Hirnsausen on Wednesday, July 10, 2019 4:11 AM

Strange - I cannot see any photos in this thread nor any photo links, yet some people here write that the model ship looks great!

  • Member since
    November 2005
  • From: Formerly Bryan, now Arlington, Texas
Posted by CapnMac82 on Wednesday, July 10, 2019 8:33 PM


Strange - I cannot see any photos in this thread nor any photo links, yet some people here write that the model ship looks great!

Well, that because this is a thread from 2007 fo rone.

For another no longer hosts photos.  (There was the middling recent hotoBucket debacle, which has rendered tens of thousands of forum posts ointless, too.)

Such threads sark nostalgia, as our revered Dr Tilley has since assed away.


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