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10th-11th century Byzantine dromon by Louie da fly - 1:50 - FINISHED!

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I'd like to LH, but I'm afraid I've used up all the adjustment available to me - at least I think I have . . . I'll sleep on it. The castle is only dry fitted for the moment. But if I'd got my distances right in the first place this problem wouldn't have happened, and I might just have to live with it.

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It's a quandary, all right. Option 1: keep it as is, despite the slight obstruction to the rowers. Nobody else will even notice, but *you* will know, and that might disturb your enjoyment of the model. Option 2: re-build the side castles from scratch with better measurements. More work, a real shame for the beautiful side-castles that you won't use, but *you* will know you went the extra mile.


I don't envy the decision you've got on your plate.

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PhilB, I wouldn't rebuild the castles - the problem is not with them but that the spacing of the benches is unequal. Currently all the columns are evenly spaced, which is the way it ought to be, and the arches are all the same size, which looks better than if I'd lined the columns up with the benches (which is where the original mistake occurred). I'm stuck with it - short of a major rebuild of the ship I can't do anything to fix the bench spacing. And you're right - nobody will notice but me - when you're looking at the model the oarsmen under the castle aren't terribly visible anyway - the photo is taken from a viewpoint lower than normal eye level and exaggerates it (as they often do).


However, for my own peace of mind perhaps I could have the offending column come down through the bench - or at least cut it off short so it looks like it does. Again, a compromise, and I'm not sure which compromise I'd rather live with.


LH, I didn't take it as a criticism - in fact I hadn't noticed it myself. But whether I decide to cut the column short or leave it as it is and treat it as a learning experience I haven't yet decided. There are plenty of things about the model I'd have done differently if I did it again (don't ask me about the sternpost) - maybe one more won't to make too much difference. To be honest most of my attention at the moment is on how I'm going to do the rigging. Onward and upward.



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I've finished re-making both the castles. 


20200901_104112.thumb.jpg.322fed5bc553e50f0aea16ae5007009a.jpg  20200901_105908.thumb.jpg.e128789fc4b11a920286b66470e3a84f.jpg      20200901_112832.thumb.jpg.01f955e6c6f299d3c75d36b321fb8b1b.jpg



I had to juggle the spacing between the castles and the pump - basically by slotting the inboard columns further into the body of each castle. Note that I've taken off the rear uprights of the side "walls" and moved them inward, and cut a slot into the back of each column where it crosses the floor structure, so the column sits flush with the back of the "wall".    


But now there's (just) enough room for someone to get between the pump and the castles on each side. I thought about removing the capitals from those columns so people wouldn't bash themselves against them, but when it's a contest between aesthetics and practicality, aesthetics has to win (ask Frank Lloyd Wright about his beautiful - but leaky - flat roofs!)




I decided to move the castles a little aft to allow more room for the oarsmen to swing, as mentioned by Landrotten Highlander above, and cut into a couple of the benches a little to allow the columns to slot in. It seems to be the best solution. 




Unless you look really carefully you can't see that it's been done, and the oarsmen look better without their reach being obstructed by the columns. I'm not quite ready to glue the castles in place - there are other things that need to be done first - but it will be soon.





But in other ways it hasn't been my day. I discovered I'd miscalculated the number of sheaves necessary for the halyard knights - I'm really rubbish at this sort of thing - the halyard block has three sheaves, but the knight needs four so the downhaul can be pulled horizontally back to the bitts. So I had to start again from scratch to make new knights each with 4 sheaves instead of three. That's three versions of each knight I've had to discard as the build has evolved.


And the fore knight was all finished  - in fact it had been glued in - when I realised there was something wrong. In drilling the sheave holes (with a hand drill) I'd somehow got them a bit skewiff so the rope which went into hole number three came out the other side at hole number two! And the same with holes four and three. There was nothing I could do about it - I had to pull the knight out (fortunately the glue was still wet ), trash it and start again. So that's yet another knight I've had to discard and re-make!


But now I've finally completed the fore knight - everything's now all square and ok - installed the tackle from it to the halyard block, glued the foremast in place and temporarily strung the block to the mast. The halyard itself and the rest of its tackle will be added later, but the knight and its tackle had to be done before the mast was glued in place.




I think I should have added the shrouds to the mast before I put it in, but in all the excitement I forgot. I think that can be remedied without too much trouble.


Finally, I've decided to go back to "version two" of the sail configuration, with the foresail hoisted and crewmen clinging to the yard unfurling the sail with the after sail, also furled, in the process of being hoisted up. So I get to use those figures I carved after all.


Today I asked my lovely wife to take photos of my hands as I pulled on a garden hose, pretending it was the halyard downhaul, so I could get the hands correct on the carved figures.


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That's it for now. Next I have to make a new 4-sheave knight for the after halyard. Wish me luck!

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Well done with the remake of the castles.  What you had to do not what you wanted to do!


and well done too with the halliard knights- perhaps you could start a bric a brac shop with discarded knights?


I am practically certain that you have extensively researched the use of garden hoses as jury halliard.  What a sensible way to get the hand position appropriate.  
It’s not clear if you were singing a Byzantine shanty as you hauled.  Did they blow the man down? Or was that the task of the siphoneer?


Glad you went with the action decision on the sails - it will be stirring to behold.  And you can carve something less repetitive than 756 hunched rowers!  You could, of course, carve each of them as the photos above!

but not the hose

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The revised castles look good Steven, I might even suggest the core structure look even better.  Moving them to better accommodate the rowers was also a very wise choice.  Not too much any 'rivet counters' could find to fault in your model ;) :)





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Thanks for the likes and comments. One thing that is definitely true - the castles are a lot stronger than before. And I do think doing this has made the whole thing look better. I can still tidy up the benches a bit by inserting a little bit of wood to close up any minor gaps between the bench and the column. And I think this is less noticeable than leaving it as it was.

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Nice improvement Louie. Saw you were wearing the propper atire to pull on the hose. Wouldn't repositioning the columns in front of the benches give the rowers more rowing space. Pushing forward on the or requires more space for the or than pulling it backwards. Pulling your hands will not pass over your pelvis ... just reminiscing about my days as a roman galley slave :)

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Well really I should have been wearing more appropriate attire - I have all the Byzantine costume, but haven't worn it for yonks as i don't do re-enactment any more.


I did think about repositioning the columns in relation to the benches but the problem is that the benches are uneven distances apart (a mistake I made much earlier in the build). I decided the most important thing was to get the columns spaced evenly - following the uneven spacing of the benches would just look wrong, particularly as I've put arches between the columns. So no matter what I did some of the columns wouldn't be in front of the benches. It's a compromise, but in the circumstances I think it's the best one available.


Oh, and the Romans didn't have galley slaves - that's Hollywood. Galley slaves didn't become a "thing" until the Renaissance.

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One of those miscalculations trying to get ahead not sticking to the sequence ...

15 hours ago, Louie da fly said:

Oh, and the Romans didn't have galley slaves - that's Hollywood. Galley slaves didn't become a "thing" until the Renaissance.

How old do you think I am ??? :blink:

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I've been working on the shrouds and the tackle for them. Woodrat was kind enough to send me drawings of the upper fastening of shrouds on various mediaeval Mediterranean lateeners, and I've based mine on these and other contemporary representations.


image.png.42c04a175c9bb18a956598c3814e89e0.png    image.png.276e41b063793ef31a5d8daacd8252e8.png        image.png.33ede2fea38a79732fc89648718cd690.png


I used a clothes peg to hold the calcet upright so I could glue the shrouds at right angles to the sheave (i.e. on the sides of the mast)


   20200904_120957.thumb.jpg.78ab8965130b8dbe30a20c722e72a4a7.jpg   20200904_121006.thumb.jpg.e3ffb5d71eaaed7bb4212b851db0fe2c.jpg  


It was a bit more difficult on the foremast because I'd already glued it in place, so I had to deal with it standing up instead of lying on the bench. And then I wrapped wooldings around mast and shrouds as in the contemporary representations above.




The next thing was to work on the tackle for the lower ends of the shrouds. Deadeyes were an Atlantic invention, and they didn't come into use in the Mediterranean until the 16th century. Instead, shrouds were held to the hull, and tension adjusted, by pairs of blocks - the lower block single-sheaved and the upper block double-sheaved. Single-sheaved blocks have been found on Byzantine wrecks, but I haven't come across any equivalent finds of double-sheaved blocks. However, triple sheaved blocks have been found, so I extrapolated/interpolated between the singles and triples to create what I believe a Byzantine double-sheaved block would have been like.


Threading these things is very fiddly, and they often act like fencing wire - they have a mind of their own and fly off in all directions right in the middle of the process, and get twisted so you thread through in the wrong direction and have to do it all again. So I adapted a method I've seen in setting up deadeyes, which get the tackles the same length and reduces the problem with twisting.


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Rather than strops, the main rope is secured by passing through a hole in the block. I've then glued the rope in an eyelet to approximate the look of an eye-splice, which I believe is most likely how they were attached. The rope for the double-sheaved block is short and ends in a toggle. This will pass through an eye-splice in the main shroud, acting as a quick-release mechanism (this technique is still used on Mediterranean lateeners, though I haven't seen it used on shrouds). The free end of the rope from the single-sheaved block will pass through a ringbolt attached to the side of the hull and be tied off. This leaves the tackle between the blocks, which is used to adjust tension. The free end will  be belayed to a cleat near the ringbolt.


When I started organising all this I realised I'd made a mistake. There are in fact three different single-sheaved cleats that I've made copies of. The ones in the shroud tackle have a small through-hole at the end (see photo immediately above) to which the tackle between the blocks is belayed. Unfortunately, I used these ones for the tacks and vangs on the yards, when I should have used the other ones I'd made (which were identical except for the little hole in the end). So I had to undo all that work and swap the blocks around. Annoying, but it had to be done.


As I removed a pair of blocks I replaced it with the correct pair and then moved to the next pair. That way I didn't get things mixed up (very easy to do). I used a clothes peg to keep the yard upright, so the blocks would be hanging vertically from the ends of the yard.




And when the blocks had all been removed I was able to re-use them on the shrouds, which is where they were supposed to have been all the time.


More to come in due course.












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Thanks for all the likes and the comments.


PhilB, glad to be of service - but be aware that my ship is lateen rigged, while yours would be square rigged, and the rigging plan is different. And I don't believe you need to have that kind of adjustment at the lower end of your shrouds. I've added some info regarding this to your build log.


Making the blocks was rather difficult - at that scale (remembering that these are copies of real ones from archaeology) I couldn't get a drill bit the right size - the holes had to be drilled with a dressmaking pin with the head cut off. And they don't have real sheaves (pulleys) in slots - I just drilled two holes and carved a fake slot and "sheave" between them. Five sets done so far - another 7 to do; then I'll have enough to set up the shrouds.


In the meantime I've also been working on the guys hoisting the after yard. I got a legth of wire to approximate a straight rope (rope's too flexible) so I could get them all in line. Not a perfect job - some of their feet don't touch the ground! -but when I glue them to the deck and replace the wire with a rope there should be enough flexibility to allow everything to work without the slight deviation from a straight line being noticeable. I don't know if you can see that the hands are based on the photos above of me hauling on the garden hose, but I put a lot of work into that and I'm pretty happy with the result.










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Love your hose-pullers, Steven  - must be a welcome relief after the rowers.  They are a splendidly assorted team


The rigging and block-making is also interesting and challenging - I can see that the shrouds will be rigged very soon.

Seeing the pictures and reading your words it occurred to me that this resembles the current method of setting running backstays .

I have heard somewhere that only the weather shrouds are tensioned on some rigs - the lee shrouds are either loosened or unshipped.  


53 minutes ago, druxey said:

Oh: and just noticed your mot juste; d'accord!

Druxey - did you perhaps mean you juste noticed the mot?


Would a motte juste be a proper Norman Castle?  Sorry, my Franglais is rusty

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7 hours ago, liteflight said:

What they are pulling is da cord

Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear - it juste keeps getting worse . . . 


Getting back on subject (remember the build log?) if the ship was under sail I would indeed have the lee shrouds slackened off. As she's only just hoisting the sails that won't be an issue.


But the idea I have is that a favourable wind has just sprung up and they are going to take advantage of it . . .  alternatively, she's just left the harbour of Theodosius on the southern coast of the City under oars (better manoeuvrability) and is now out in the Sea of Marmara in a nice breeze and is hoisting the sails to allow the oarsmen to husband their strength for when it's needed. If on the other hand they'd been leaving from the grand harbour of the Golden Horn they would have stayed under oars, as the currents in the Bosphorus Strait are fierce - the whole of the Black Sea to the north empties into the Sea of Marmara through a strait that is less than a kilometre wide. 


Before I install the shrouds I need to re-make the mast wedges which I now realise are far too small. Unfortunately there is no direct evidence of the form these took - the nearest pictorial representations are from Spain at the other end of the Mediterranean in the middle of the 13th century 100-200 years later than the model (the first two pics) or  even later - the 1st quarter of the 14th century (the third)


1908678084_C12orC13spain-medieval-ship.jpg.04205be313f5cd1f30c561c0998381e1.jpg  376561918_cantigasdesantamaria6port295.jpg.7b77400a05e6a8de0bcdcfae189ea2cf.jpg       image.png.e614b2832d4d2f7c982a01f786848c5a.png  


and from Italy  from the 14th century (though the artistic style of this one looks very Byzantine we can't rely on the ship being anything other than Italian)




Given that all the rest of the ship pictures I've been ableto get hold of don't show the mast wedges at all, perhaps they weren't as huge in most ships as shown in the first three pictures, and I'm more willing to base my representation on the last one, where the wedges come up a certain distance from the deck and then are tied down with wooldings. 


Which nonetheless means I have to re-make all my wedges. Still I think it's worth it to get the impression as accurate as I can manage under the circumstances.


And the other thing I have to do is make some sails (furled) to put on the yards so these guys have something to hoist . . .

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I deeply regret any minor digression- all quite inadvertent, I can assure you.


Ok, so the dromon has just debouching into the Ionian Sea and there is a kind wind to rest the weary rowers.  The sail hoisting gang/mob detail are doing their thing with the lateen.

(When I learned to sail gaff-rigged schooners I was taught that “Any port wine left goes down your throat” to remember that the throat halliard is on the port side.  Always my station as an ex rugby player)


I had not realised the sheer size of the wedges- they evidently made impressions on several artists.  It would make sense to Extend them and make a joint to the mast with some flex at least ( the woolding).  I have only come across them in the clipper context where the master of a  tea clipper, faintly pursuing one of the crack ships opined that “she has knocked out the wedges and we won’t see her again this voyage”


so are you going to increase the prominence of the wedges?

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Liteflight, I'm sure you regret the digression to the full extent it deserves :P (seriously, it would get terribly boring if all we discussed was modelling).


Not the Ionian Sea - the Sea of Marmara, which washes the southern coast of Constantinople. It's connected to the Aegean Sea in the south by the straits of Gallipoli and to the Black Sea in the north by the Bosphorus strait.




Unfortunately the only information on the size of the wedges is pictorial, which immediately introduces uncertainty - were the artists portraying them accurately? And the only pictures that show them are from somewhere else and another time - hundreds of kilometres and hundreds of years. And thirdly, the great majority of mediaeval representations of ships don't show them at all. Is this because most of them were smaller than the ones in the pictures above, so don't show above the gunwale? Or have the artists just neglected to show them (which they certainly often do with other shipboard equipment which must have been there, such as blocks).


There's a lot of 'best guess' involved in reconstructing something from that long ago, and often one simply has to go with what seems right. So yes, I'm increasing the size of the wedges to something I think looks sensible - about the size shown in the last picture in my previous post. Here they are under way - for the after mast,


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and for the fore mast. Wooldings are under way at the moment - photos later.




Now that the wedges are in place I've discovered that the halyard knight for the fore yard is too close behind the mast - it gets fouled by the wedge assembly - so I'm going to have to move it back a bit.


On another note, I've finished connecting the sets of blocks together with their tackle for all the shrouds (12 of them). A rather fiddly job, and I'm glad it's finished. 




Here's one set partially installed, just to see how it all works.




I'm holding off doing any more on these till I finish another couple of things that have to be done first.



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  • ccoyle changed the title to 10th-11th century Byzantine dromon by Louie da fly - 1:50 - FINISHED!

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