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Industrial building parts of ship fittings

Industrial building parts of ship fittings

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Ship construction

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Today the hull of Victory is braced with considerable amount of iron work, either in the form of Robert's plate knees, various designs of breast hooks and other supportive strapping. Popular consensus is such that most of this iron work was present at the period of , however closer analysis of the ship and supportive evidence suggests that this is not entirely true. What we do see on Victory is a transition in ship construction technique, albeit a preliminary countermeasure to strengthen weakened hull fabric, the form of which is merely a improvement on earlier methods.

With exception to bolts and nails and other more minor fittings, the first serious indication we have of iron being used as a substitute for timber components was circa when the naval shipwright Sir Anthony Deane, a protege of Samuel Pepys, built the 1 st rate Royal James at Portsmouth. After visiting the dockyard, he wrote to Deane stating; "that you have of your own head, without precedent, as well as without the advice, or so much as the privity, of this Board or the Commissioner upon the place, presumed to lay aside the old secure practice of fastening your beams in your new ships with standards and knees, and in the room thereof taken upon you to do it iron ".

Deane's allegations supported the fact that there was already a serious problem regarding a shortage of timber. In all probability this was incurred by resources being directed towards rebuilding London after the Great Fire of Unfortunately we have no knowledge on what the actual iron fittings looked like as the Royal James was burnt and sunk at the Battle of Solebay 28 May With respect that Deane referred to his fittings as 'iron dogs' hints that their design may have been similar to the simple iron clamps found on wrecks of Dutch colliers circa However this supposition is only theoretical, hopefully underwater archaeological survey of the Royal James wreck site may be resolve this matter.

Note: 1. Deane is renowned for his work 'Doctrine of Naval Architecture' published in '. Although there is no further mention regarding iron fittings in English ships until the introduction of the Establishment, the French had already begun experimenting with iron knees courbes de fer as early as These were introduced by M.

Golbert then Deputy Inspector of Shipbuilding. The Establishment specifications include an annex titled. From the dimensions given these fittings were of considerable size: i. Dimensions of standards fitted on a gun ship; Extract from Adm. Length of the: Arm at the Sides 6 ft 7 ins 2. Furthermore this source appears to indicate that the specification for iron work was formalized at the time two ships built to the Establishment, the Torbay 80 and Nottingham 60 , were being rebuilt in Those fitted on the gundeck of the Torbay were 4 cwt and 2 qtrs The fact that iron fittings are listed in the Establishment specifications it does not infer that they were used extensively in ships.

There are many reasons why application was limited, these are; quality of iron, cost, tradition, and personal interests. At this period, most wrought iron produced was very brittle and subject to fracture. This was mainly due to the impurities introduced from coke during the smelting process. This problem was resolved by Abraham Darby II in , 6 unfortunately little is known about how he applied this new technique.

Much of the iron industry was still centered in the south east, Kent, Sussex, and Hampshire, primarily because these areas provided a plentiful supply of wood for smelting. Because production processes were involved, iron remained an expensive commodity for the first half of the 18 th century. Costs were also high because a considerable quantity of iron was imported from Sweden and the American colonies; iron from these countries was of far better quality than English iron.

However as industrial technology improved change became inevitable. Shipbuilders, traditionally conservative in attitude, still considered timber preferable to iron and thus were often reluctant to adopt alternative materials irrespective of the advantage.

With regards to personal interests, many officials connected with the government, the navy, and the mercantile trade had private involvement with the timber trade, thus it was in their interest to support their investments. Irrespective of authorized specifications it appears that the design of iron standards and knees varied according to place of manufacture. Evidence supporting this is provided from French sources. In Blaise Gislain, under instructions from Maurepas, Minister of the Navy, visited the English dockyards of Chatham, Deptford and Woolwich to make observations of our ship construction techniques.

His report clearly indicates variations in the design of iron standards; those made at Chatham and Woolwich being rather plain with a thick throat, that from Deptford being braced with a curved stay. Such modifications, introduced by Duhamel Du Monceau are clearly shown in his treatise published in Others have the angled corner omitted, the beam being additionally supported with a second plate fitted underneath, its vertical arm abutting the ship's side.

Knees of the same fashion were being manufactured at Breast under the authority of Deslongchamps in the same year. In the English shipwright Mungo Murray translated and published Duhamel's treatise. The iron fittings illustrated in Duhamel's treatise closely resemble the iron knees found on the wreck of the Invincible 74 which foundered and sank off Spithead in Designed by M. Morineau, and launched at Rochfort in , this vessel, was later captured by Anson at the Battle off Cape Finisterre in May The Invincible was built with quite a number of iron knees, some of which were boxed in with timber, a system of which predates any similar practice adopted on English ships.

All of these iron knees dated from her construction In size the length of the iron knees fitted on Invincible measure approximately 5 ft 5. This problem was expounded especially during the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars when there was necessity to expand warship construction. Besides the improved smelting process aforesaid, other developments were happening in Britain's iron industry. In the first iron rolling mill was opened at Fareham producing stronger iron bar for bolts.

Importantly, this a site not too distant from Royal Dockyard at Portsmouth. The greatest breakthrough in technology came in when Henry Cort of Gosport patented a new method for converting pig iron into malleable wrought iron in a reverberatory furnace heated by common coal. The process involved a 'puddler' to stir the molten mass. As it was stirred the metal was decarbonized by air circulating through the furnace. The major advantage was that the iron remained separate from the coal fuel.

This innovation was not entirely accredited to Cort, as similar processes had been tried previously by both the Cranage brothers at Coalbrookedale and by Peter Onions. Instead of the old process of hammering or cutting rolled plate in a slitting mill, Cort's system could produce about 15 tons of iron bar in 12 hours. He then went on provide stronger anchors for Naval ships. To assist his experiments old iron ballast was supplied to his foundry at Funtley near Fareham from Portsmouth Dockyard.

Experiments, in the form of destructive testing, were carried out at each Royal Dockyard between items manufactured with Swedish Iron and Cort's iron. Black see Chapter 8. The overall result proved that lower grade English iron could be converted to a malleable iron far stronger than that of better quality iron supplied from Sweden.

This fact is clearly emphasized from part of the report;. Taking advantage of new technology, Gabriel Snodgrass, the Surveyor of the East India Company introduced an innovative system using iron knees, riders, and braces to the new EIC ships being built in the s. Finding his scheme successful, he submitted his proposals before the Admiralty in From contemporary publications it appears that it was at this point that Britain took the lead over France on the extent that iron was employed in ship construction.

Iron fittings, based on the Snodgrass system, appear to have been adopted on warships circa These, introduced by the sub-surveyor Mr. Roberts, comprised a combination of wooden chocks braced with iron plate knees. Such a design can be seen on the Victory and the Trincomalee today.

Their use however should be regarded more as a structural repair or strengthening measure fitted to existing ships rather than a formalized building practice. Besides Roberts, other similar designs were submitted though how extensively they were used is undetermined. In , a weighbridge was constructed at Portsmouth Dockyard to ensure that incoming loads from contractors were correctly measured.

Likewise all iron bar supplied was cut to expose its end grain and often further examined by heating the ends and beating the material to test tensile strength. Use of iron was not restricted to ships construction but other lesser fittings. During expansion in , a new furnace was installed for smelting iron and copper. With the Block Mills now operational, a metal mill was set up incorporating purpose built machinery designed by Brunel to produce iron pins for the blocks.

This was opened in And thus, the technical infrastructure of Portsmouth Dockyard moved steadily towards the iron ship building era. A similar process was undertaken at other key Royal Dockyards. After this date growth increased rapidly arising to an annual output of , tons by And within a further nine years production reached 1,, tons, an increase of one hundred percent over a century. Besides industrial expansion import restrictions caused by war also generated greater use of English iron irrespective that iron was still imported from Sweden.

Obviously it was imperative to maintain open trade links with the Baltic, however these were threatened on two occasions.

This coalition was coerced by Napoleon to ensure neutral ships to ignored the British right of search. In brief this would effect Britains's trade supplies and assist trade to France and Spain. Inevitably this forced Britain to use alternative sources and now that relations with the former Colonies had improved, iron, and other necessary ship's stores such as masts, tar, and turpentine, were again being sent from what was now the United States of America.

However, the northern coalition was soon broken with the defeat of the Danish at the Battle of Copenhagen by Nelson in This effectively brought Napoleon to heel and subsequently the war closed with the signing of the Treaty of Arniens in March Peace was not to prevail, with the failure on both sides to adhere to the recent treaty the war reopened in Baltic supplies remained restricted, only 11, ships passing through the Sound in This figure had fallen to 6, by the decrease being mainly due to Napoleon's enforcement of the Continental System which banned all European trade with Britain which effective reduced the import of crucial supplies.

After the destruction of the Danish fleet at Copenhagen in a potential threat and assistance to Napoleon was removed. From then onwards the import problem began to improve, and to counteract any further restrictions, the theatre of war was expanded into the Baltic with a British fleet led by Admiral Saumarez in the Victory. Saumarez himself re-opened diplomatic relations with Sweden ensuring that the export of iron and other raw materials to Britain was maintained.

By the trade situation had considerably improved, and by , regular supplies of raw materials, including iron were provided to the dockyards. During the war, the scarcity of timber had become relatively acute problem Attempts were made to use alternative woods such as fir and beech but these did not prove overly successful, and although introducing iron fittings would alleviate matters, the situation was further exasperated by the reservations raised by the Navy Board in April To quote "However eligible plans which have from time to time been suggested , the result has not always answered the expectations formed from them", and stated that the Board should , "act with caution".

They advised the Admiralty that, and I quote, "previous to the adoption of any general plan which has not the authority of practice, to prove the utility proposed by it however plausible it may be in appearance" 24 The fact that no formal introduction of iron was made until is supported from draughts of the Caledonia , 25 and a draught showing the modifications made to the Union in This point is wholly substantiated from Devis's painting of 'The Death of Nelson'.

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Richard Steffy The glossary is primarily relevant to the first two sections of this handbook and is not meant to be representative of the entire field of maritime archaeology. As an independent contribution, it is an exquisite source of information on ship construction terminology, but also a testament to the work of the late Mr. Steffy, whose influence has been instrumental to the understanding of wooden ship building and the interpretation of shipwrecks and archival material.

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Today the hull of Victory is braced with considerable amount of iron work, either in the form of Robert's plate knees, various designs of breast hooks and other supportive strapping. Popular consensus is such that most of this iron work was present at the period of , however closer analysis of the ship and supportive evidence suggests that this is not entirely true. What we do see on Victory is a transition in ship construction technique, albeit a preliminary countermeasure to strengthen weakened hull fabric, the form of which is merely a improvement on earlier methods. With exception to bolts and nails and other more minor fittings, the first serious indication we have of iron being used as a substitute for timber components was circa when the naval shipwright Sir Anthony Deane, a protege of Samuel Pepys, built the 1 st rate Royal James at Portsmouth. After visiting the dockyard, he wrote to Deane stating; "that you have of your own head, without precedent, as well as without the advice, or so much as the privity, of this Board or the Commissioner upon the place, presumed to lay aside the old secure practice of fastening your beams in your new ships with standards and knees, and in the room thereof taken upon you to do it iron ". Deane's allegations supported the fact that there was already a serious problem regarding a shortage of timber. In all probability this was incurred by resources being directed towards rebuilding London after the Great Fire of Unfortunately we have no knowledge on what the actual iron fittings looked like as the Royal James was burnt and sunk at the Battle of Solebay 28 May With respect that Deane referred to his fittings as 'iron dogs' hints that their design may have been similar to the simple iron clamps found on wrecks of Dutch colliers circa However this supposition is only theoretical, hopefully underwater archaeological survey of the Royal James wreck site may be resolve this matter.

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