SS America Under Construction


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Detail of the keel during the early days of construction.    A view of the stern and aft upper deck and promenade.    A 'half model' used to model and mold hull plates.

These photos were kindly given to me by Bill Lee, SS America historian and enthusiast.

The photos were taken from the book 'The Modern Shipfitters Handbook' circa 1941. It discusses in general terms how a ship was built in those days and all of the step by step illustrations are of SS America.

Perhaps the most interesting of these three photos is the one of a large half model (centreline to starboard) from layout plans (to a smaller scale). Plating was planned and marked on the model, then the 3D dimensions were hand lifted, recorded and taken to the mold loft, where full size patterns were developed. At both the model and mold loft stages, any minor irregularities in the shapes were smoothed out - what's called 'fairing the lines'. Nowadays, all this is done by CADCAM computer programs. While many of these working models found their way into museums - the SS United States' half model is in the Mariners Museum - no one seems to know what happened to the one for SS America.

More photos in this series will be added soon.

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