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Questions about double wale


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15 replies to this topic

#1
Erik W

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What was the point of a double wale vs. a single wale?  And how common were these?

 

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Photo location, National Maritime Museum, Greenwich: http://collections.r...ects/66415.html

 

Thanks,

Erik


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#2
Herring

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Paired lower wales were a longstanding tradition that dated to the mid seventeenth century, becoming very widely employed by the 1680s and 90s.  Prior to that, wales were placed in a variety of patterns; sometimes paired, sometimes evenly spaced along the hull according to regional preferences and traditions.  No less than four lower wales were used on the Wasa, built in the late 1620s.     

 

Paired lower wales are a ready early 18th century hallmark.  They lasted up to the 1740s or so, when a single, solid wale then became the norm.  The change was not overnight, and a few models in the NMM show this style as early as the 1720s and 30s.  That tasty third rate of 1745 in your illustration was one of the last to have the old style of paired wales, and a few ships so built painted the area between them black to imitate the newer design.   


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#3
Mark P

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Hi Erik;

 

Herring above is essentially correct,  but strictly speaking double wales were made obsolete by the 1719 establishment,  which says of wales:

 

'Wales: and the Stuff between them to be of an Equal Thickness: To be worked withe Hook and Butt'

 

It then lists the various widths and thicknesses of wales for the different rates.  For example,  60 gun ship 3'10" wide x 7" thick.

 

However,  some vessels continued to be built with double wales,  primarily first rates,  I think (I stand to be corrected on this point)

 

The Royal Yacht 'Royal Caroline' launched in 1749 had double wales also;  possibly because her predecessor had them,  and the new yacht was pretty much a copy as far as hull design was concerned. 

 

The model shown above is not firmly identified,  but features in Brian Lavery's book 'The ship of the line: a history in ship models',  where he describes several of the model's features as being rather old-fashioned,  including the double wales,  full-length lateen yard,  and location of the channels.  The model is believed to be the 'Yarmouth' built to the 1741 establishment. 

 

The 'dockyard' style of open hull framing was also going out of fashion around this time,  being replaced by the 'Georgian',  which features solid,  normally planked,  hulls.

 

It is therefore just possible that the model does not represent the vessel as actually built,  but as a traditionally-minded model builder wanted her to appear.

 

All the best,

 

Mark P


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#4
Erik W

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Herring, Mark,

 

Thanks for the info!  That answers my question in as much detail as possible. 

 

Mark, I've often wondered how accurate these models are compared to how the ships were actually built, particularly in regards to things like the elaborate painted decorations.  I guess to some extent we'll never be 100% sure, since, though a lot of the models survived, the ships themselves did not.

 

Thanks again,

Erik


Edited by Erik W, 09 January 2017 - 05:05 PM.

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#5
Mark P

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Hi Erik;

 

Your mention of painted friezes raises an interesting point.  I cannot claim to be an expert on the subject,  but from personal observation I think that these were more common than a modern observer,  thinking firstly of the expense involved,  might expect. 

 

One thing to keep in mind is that the sailing man-o'-war was the ultimate visible expression of a country's international prestige,  and was visible to a large number of people during her career.  Additionally,  it was only in the very first years of the 18th century that the custom of covering ships in swathes of elaborate carving had ceased,  and painted frieze-work would seem to be a cost effective substitute for this.

 

To pass from these more theoretical points,  to the availability of real evidence,  I can offer several examples of actual frieze painting in real vessels.

 

The picture by John Cleveley the elder,  showing the 'Royal George at Deptford for the launch of the Cambridge' shows the George with painted friezes.

 

The as-built draughts of 'Fly' and 'Bristol' show detailed depictions of frieze-work (there is a model of the 'Bristol' in the Art Gallery of Ontario,  which shows her with frieze-work which is slightly different.  This model is known to have been made by George Stockwell,  who left his name on a piece of paper inside,  and the date May 7th 1774.  He describes himself as a shipwright at Sheerness dockyard,  which is where Bristol was built.  She was ordered in 1768,  and her keel was laid in 1771.  As the model was completed? in May 1774,  but she was not launched until 25th October 1775,  it would seem reasonable to suppose that the model's frieze-work was not based on reality,  as she had probably not then been painted, 18 months prior to launching.  George Stockwell presumably created a typical design drawn from experience,  whereas the draught shows her as completed much later)

 

I have seen other draughts which give details of the painted decoration on the lower counter and quarter-galleries. 

 

Additionally,  I have seen references to decorator's bills for painted frieze-work on ships.

 

As neither 'Fly' nor 'Bristol' were vessels of any particular note at the time of their launching,  it would seem reasonable to assume that what happened to them was typical of the times.  Painted friezes probably finally vanished under the vastly increased workloads the dockyards had to carry out during the Napoleonic wars.

 

All the best,

 

Mark P


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#6
Chuck Seiler

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    Keep in mind that the wale(s) were structural members, not decoration or "fenders".  In part, they acted like barrel hoops, tying the frames together and also as a strong point for deck clamps, knees, etc.

 

    In the 1600s, and prior (not sure of the dates) each frame futtock was secured to a wale rather than it's neighboring futtock.  That is why the earlier vessels have so many wales.


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#7
Erik W

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Mark,  Good point.  I hadn't thought that though pricey, the frieze paintings would themselves have been a cost saving and time saving during construction, compared with the carved work that was falling out of favor.  I'd like to think that the real ships carried this elaborate frieze work.  Sure would've been an impressive sight to behold!

 

Chuck, It makes sense if the frame futtocks were secured directly to the wale, that you would have multiple wales.

 

Thanks guys,

Erik


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#8
Herring

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Mark is right on in that painted work was more common than assumed, and that it was used to convey a sense of capacity and presence, or what was considered fitting and right, to a ship representing its national prestige.  It was also relatively inexpensive compared to carved-work, and had a ready labor pool of skilled painters and apprentices who specialized in the work.  It was relatively simple to hire skilled workmen who could decorate a ship rapidly and with quality.  

 

I don't think contemporary models necessarily represent the actual garnishing painted on the ships but only the general style, indicating that some suitable painted work would go here, etc.  

 

The real heyday of painted work on the upper sides of superstructures was from the 1680s to the 1750s or so, after which its used less often.  Painted work on the stern and imitation draperies on the counter lasted well into the 1780s and 90s, but the general revolution of ship painting in the 1790s pretty much bright this style to a final close.   

 

Thats very interesting about single wales being mandated by the 1719 establishment.  Is there any indication why?  


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#9
Mark P

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Hi Herring;

 

Not sure,  and no reason is given.  But in general changes were made for only two reasons:  to enhance the ship's capabilities,  or to save money/timber. 

 

As the change actually used more timber,  it would seem that it was to improve the vessel's performance,  and was an increase in her structural strength;  especially as the timbers could then be laid in hook and butt,  which helped to prevent movement.

 

All the best,

 

Mark P


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#10
Erik W

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Today I received Seawatch Books The Rogers Collection of Dockyard Models by Grant H. Walker.  I stumbled upon this in the section about the 100 gun Royal William regarding double wales, " . . . a Navy Board order issued on 14 October 1715 directed that this traditional practice was to cease, and that henceforth the main wale would be made up of three strakes, all of the same thickness."

 

Erik


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#11
michaelpsutton2

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I think that there were some transitional ships built in which the middle strake was thicker than the regular plank but not yet as thick as the wales theselves. All three strakes would be paintied black and would give the appearance of a solid wale.

 

At what point were the wales constructed with the anchor stock pattern?


Edited by michaelpsutton2, 13 January 2017 - 05:08 AM.

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#12
Jaager

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A function of wales = to provide additional strength to

counter the weakness caused by gun ports?

 

There may have been a change in gun weight and/or

force produced by the powder charge that was a reason

for the addition of another thick strake.

 

Also the ledge produced by the thin strake above the lower

wale would be an entry point for water into the hull that filling

in the gape would remove.  Perhaps they got tried of doing

the extra work maintaining that caulking.


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#13
piratepete007

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Today I received Seawatch Books The Rogers Collection of Dockyard Models by Grant H. Walker.  I stumbled upon this in the section about the 100 gun Royal William regarding double wales, " . . . a Navy Board order issued on 14 October 1715 directed that this traditional practice was to cease, and that henceforth the main wale would be made up of three strakes, all of the same thickness."

 

Erik

Erik - Any chance of some more information on this order because the last refit for the Royal William was between 1714 - 1719 and I am wondering whether there was a change to the wales during this period or perhaps an intended change that did not occur ?

Pete


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#14
allanyed

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Pete

 

The below is a model of the RW built about 1719 so about the same time as the rebuild of the RW itself.    Considering the model and ship are of about the same year, the accuracy of the model may be pretty close.  

 

The 1719 Establishment scantlings refer to the wales (5' 2" from the upper to the lower edge and 10" thick for a 100 gun ship), as well as Channel Wales (2' 9" from the upper edge to the lower edge and 5 1/2" thick)  for a 100 gun ship. The strakes below and above the channel wales were to be 4" thick.  There are also scantlings for the sheer which was to be in two strakes 2'3"  broad and 4" thick.  The strakes above and below this sheer were 3" thick.  The double channel wales in the model seem to contradict what is written in the Establishment, so may be a transition style before the 1719 Establishment was implemented in all the building yards. 

 

Allan 

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Edited by allanyed, 13 January 2017 - 02:22 PM.

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#15
Erik W

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Pete,

 

The only other thing the book says about the wales on the Rogers Collection model of the Royal William is the sentences following what I had quoted above, "This produced a solid-looking main wale that became the norm for the remainder of the century.  The Royal William's main wale is solid, except that here it is made of two, not three, broad strakes, both painted black and lacquered.  The upper wales, too, are solid, though unpainted, but the channel wales are of the old, double wale construction."

 

Erik


Edited by Erik W, 13 January 2017 - 10:32 PM.

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#16
piratepete007

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Many thanks,  Allan and Erik


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