Wooden ship construction

Home Forums Nautical Research: 1500 – 1830 Wooden ship construction

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  • #2350
    Malcolm Lewis
    Participant

    I would be grateful if a member could point me towards reading concerning the actual methods employed in building wooden vessels such as HMS Victory. I am particularly interested in the means used for shaping hull timbers and planking.

    #2351
    R.D. F
    Participant

    HMS Victory (Her Construction, Career and Restoration) by Alan McGowan (IBSN 1-84067-532-2) or Building the Wooden Fighting Ship by James Dodds and James Moore (IBSN 0-09-151250-6) should give you the sort of information you are asking for. The later book was published by Hutchinson in 1984 so may be more difficult to find.

    #2352
    Anonymous
    Guest

    Another excellent book is The Construction and Fitting of the English Man of War 1650-1850 by Peter Goodwin. It shows many construction details.

    #2353
    Malcolm Lewis
    Participant

    I am grateful to Rod Furr and Ron Wilkinson for their recommendations for the books by Peter Goodwin and Dodds & Moore, re
    the building of wooden fighting ships. The latter’s book was especially helpful in appreciating how ships were actually assembled.

    I am interested in understanding why the uncovered waist existed as part of ship design for so long. <br.<br.According to Goodwin, gangways were
    introduced in 1744 and gradually widened. In 1832, Surveyor Symonds authorised the complete closure of the waist. Victory has an open waist.

    Malcolm Lewis

    #2354
    R.D. F
    Participant

    With regard to the open waist. I suspect it was part tradition and part a slow understanding that a decked-over waist added girder strength to the ship.

    Most 16th Century and early C17th ships had nothing except a grating between the quarterdeck and forecastle. When gangways were first added they were lightweight, cantilevered walkways used mainly to aid the handling of sheets and braces. It wasn’t until the middle of the C18th that the RN started ordering ships with gangways as permanently planked extensions of the quarterdeck and forecastle, and the early C19th before they were widened into a deck with just small set of gratings down the centreline.

    However you must also consider that having a mainly open waist allowed plenty of light to reach what would have been the main working deck for most of the heavier maintenance tasks.

    Rod Furr

    #2355
    Malcolm Lewis
    Participant

    I read in the ‘Correspondence’ section of the current The Mariner’s Mirror Vol 94 February 2008, re “The French Influence on 18th c. ship building”, [Bingeman and Mack, p100 et seq] that the captured Invincible launched in 1744, contained 245 iron knees that increased hull strength and interior space.

    In 1757 the new Valiant and Triumph were ordered to be built to be EXACT copies of the Invincible. Was the use of substantial quantities of iron knees implemented in these and all new vessels after 1757?

    Did Victory, launched 1765, take advantage of this design improvement?

    Malcolm Lewis

    #2356
    Robert Legge
    Participant

    A Practical Course in Wooden Boat and Ship Building by Richard M van Gaasbeek. A paperback reprint of the 1918 edition is available from Amazon.com for about $12.
    This book covers all aspects of wooden ship building from plans, moulding, framing, etc. Written for carpenters and other woodworkers with no experience in the subject.
    The ships covered are from the later era of wooden shipbuilding America. It includes the use of machines in construction.
    The pictures are not always clear but are understandable.
    Robert G Legge

    #2357
    Anonymous
    Guest

    For a detailed look at Victory‘s construction, see The 100-Gun Ship Victory, by John McKay (Conway Maritime Press, revised edn. London 2002), part of the Anatomy of the Ship Series distributed in the US by Naval Institute Press.
    In addition to extensive drawings and photographs, there is a 1/92nd scale fold-out plan inside the dust jacket, all showing the ship in her Trafalgar condition.
    Eric Asmundsson

    #2358
    Malcolm Lewis
    Participant

    I am grateful to Robert Legge for recommending Van Gaasbeek’s Practical Course in Wooden Boat and Ship Building published in 1918. The book concerns the methods used for the mass production of “the standard wooden steam cargo carriers for the U.S. Shipping Board by the Emergency Fleet Corp” in WW1.
    Due to the demand for cargo ships to supply the armies fighting Germany and the shortage of steel, the revival of wooden ship building became necessary, centred on the East Coast of the USA. The book’s pictures show slipways of The Foundation Co of New York with as many as 10 ships under construction. A truly impressive example of American organisational methods.
    I have seen reference to some 490 wooden cargo steam ships having been built at that time.
    Are there any records as to how these wooden ships fared in service and what their operational life was?
    Malcolm Lewis

    #2359
    Robert Legge
    Participant

    Another book which would be helpful is:
    “Directions For Laying Off Ships on the Mould-loft Floor With Some Instructions For Drawing Ships In Perspective, Etc., Etc., Etc.” by John Fincham, Whittacker and Co., 1840. It is available on Google Books as a pdf file.4.4 Mb.
    You need to enter the first five words of the title and the authors name in advanced book search to find it.

    Bob Legge

    #2360
    Malcolm Lewis
    Participant

    Thank you Robert(Legge)for your recommendation.
    Re my query about wooden steamships for the U.S. Shipping Board in WW1 I have been directed to an article by Donald Shomette entitled ‘The Ghost Fleet at Mallows Bay’ on Google. A sad tale as most of these ships were taken to Mallows Bay and burnt after the war. The remains of many of the half submerged hulks can be seen there today.
    Malcolm Lewis

    #2361
    Malcolm Lewis
    Participant

    Third Rates – crew accommodation:
    Aboard first rates in Nelson’s navy the lower deck crewmen of some 750 men slung their hammocks on both the middle and lower gun decks. To my knowledge no men slung on the upper deck of which a large area was open at the waist and housed livestock and meat carcasses.
    The upper deck of a third rate with only two gun decks also had a waist housing animals. There were cabins and the wardroom at the after end of the upper deck. Can I assume that no ratings slung hammocks on this deck and therefore all rates slung on the lower gun deck?
    In a ship with a complement of over 600 officers and men some 550 would sleep on the lower gun deck; quite a squeeze especially when serving on hot overseas stations.

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