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Louie da fly

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

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First deck planking. Beginning the decking on the prymne

prymne0.thumb.jpg.51de15ef43c451d84fb6fc104778fea2.jpg 

Also I've run a temporary batten tacked in place with a few spots of glue, with one edge running along the centre line of the ship to fix the run of the main deck planks.

prymne1.thumb.jpg.cfbeeaa036b209ff7e558393436cd1a3.jpg

prymne5.thumb.jpg.48d8ff368948e298a745e87471c522b3.jpg

And I've completed the plating on the spur.

 prymne4.thumb.jpg.d05403be959bd87c34359125652fa990.jpg

Prymne decking complete and partly sanded. One plank has been glued next to the batten between the break of the poop and the hatch; once all that line of planks are in place the batten will be removed.

 prymne3.thumb.jpg.9c056db95b1c6301b94130f19fe20540.jpg prymne2.thumb.jpg.c9a9c41dd5e00238335a8ed4b8684584.jpg

I still have to complete the sanding on the prymne and cut off the planks in a straight line at the break of the poop. And then get onto the main planking in earnest. (It's important to be Earnest - ask Oscar Wilde)

 

Steven


 

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You could be right, Druxey. None of the Yenikapi galleys had deck planks because they were only single-banked. The archaeological drawing of YK4 has hull planking widths which do vary somewhat, from about 350 to 500mm. However, the wider planks are closest to the keel, and it's a bit hard to tell whether the variation is real or an illusion caused by looking straight down on the curve of the hull at the turn of the bilge.

 

I don't know that there is any particular reason the deck planks should all be the same width, but I'll think about it.

 

Steven   

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According to Age of the Dromon:

 

". . . there were also periboloi on either side at the prow, from which the anchors were lowered. Periboloi were also listed in the inventories for the Cretan expedition of 949 . . . Our best suggestion for the meaning of peribolos is “cathead”. On Greek triereis the epotides, the transverse “cheek timbers” of the outriggers at the bows, had apparently served for this purpose; however, with their passing something like catheads must have become necessary on galleys. Other ships of any size must always have had something like catheads. Leo VI . . .  said that it was the duty of one of the two oarsmen at the bow to cast, (ballein), the anchors into the sea."

 

59bd02ddee6d4_ScrapingboatdeMateriaMedicaConstantinoplemid10thcenturym652.240ra.jpg.b15229a77313b866ffd334e8f9433b9c.jpg

 

In this picture there are two vertical pieces of wood at the bow which I believe are the periboloi. Not catheads as such, but performing a similar function. The anchor cables would have run around these, leading thence to the windlass at the break of the forecastle.

 

And here's my interpretation of them:

1024815223_20180904_0847401.thumb.jpg.6660cb39253943f267d935dfa2cb2926.jpg

The edges are rounded to minimise chafing, and they are fixed to the beam shelf and, at the bottom, to the nearest frame.

 

Steven

Edited by Louie da fly

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More deck planking. I'm following Druxey's suggestion to have the planks different widths. It doesn't look all that different (widths vary from 3.5 to 5mm), but it's closer to the likely reality.

1461594591_20180906_0816451.thumb.jpg.ac68aa57092d6618b35eca27bef996df.jpg

The socket for the spur. I've made it out of pine, and will smooth it off and paint it to resemble iron.

834468914_20180906_0813201.thumb.jpg.174d5073c84d7d16728321c0112cb4e9.jpg 

I've had to cut it away in places to allow for the stempost and the wales. There also will be reinforcements to the socket following the line of the wales, perhaps to be made of wood, but painted to resemble iron.

1873547700_20180906_1316121.thumb.jpg.e1c1db4ebd2bbbd435f8e487ee02559d.jpg

I've also made a trial piece for the iron-shod head of the spur. Not very happy with it. I'm thinking of doing it in aluminium sheet instead, because wood really doesn't do the job or look good.

1967592705_20180906_0813051.thumb.jpg.d7208aed60317536ff781ee4cbc9d024.jpg 

Steven

 

 

Edited by Louie da fly

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More planking:

20180910_085457.thumb.jpg.b12389ed7187875704db902e91b66e4d.jpg 20180910_085530.thumb.jpg.dfb1cb095f828e52d817d68dda67b291.jpg

As the planks are now out past the opening for the companionway, they have a longer run. So I've put in scarph joints similar to those on the strakes.

20180910_085608.thumb.jpg.70e53edac8ca5c9bf86ed75562130881.jpg 20180910_090023.thumb.jpg.d40b34f4d4f8857418add44ed2e4bcd2.jpg

I faked the first one - I just cut the plank into two lengths with a curved line and glued it back together.

20180910_090035.thumb.jpg.def99569a1148bcece33edf9ce0b8bcf.jpg

But the second one is the real thing.

 20180910_090046.thumb.jpg.9cbd43ca4f493216b5f368965d61cf86.jpg 20180910_090100.thumb.jpg.6231722c78c3b7804961ea34899801a3.jpg 

Adding yet more planks, including completing the scarph joint:

20180911_100556.thumb.jpg.d4464b7fc34c9e1e2b44668e2c5f5f1c.jpg 20180911_100624.thumb.jpg.d92e415ad00398a0e2700422a3e865ac.jpg

 

And I've made a start on the anchors. Photocopied to scale and glued to a 1mm thick sheet of brass.

20180911_110302.thumb.jpg.3a6ebb20ab731ae499ea0cf7d5f28e7c.jpg

And cut roughly to shape. 

20180911_134913.thumb.jpg.814ea7ef8785943b5a02a893f9d8a03d.jpg

Next thing to do is file it to shape, except where I'll be leaving it a bit wide where the real anchors are a little thicker, so I can bash it a bit sideways to make it more than 1mm thick at those points.

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Thanks everybody for all the likes, and Christos and Druxey for the kind comments. The scarph is of course conjectural, based upon the hull planking, because to the best of my knowledge no deck planks have ever been recovered from Byzantine ships.

 

More planking.

20180911_162324.thumb.jpg.e925d607dd42c2bf5c8ecdb3b9670665.jpg

And now I'm going way out on a theoretical limb, doing something for which there is absolutely no evidence, archaeological or pictorial. But to me it seems  necessary. According to Professor John Pryor, the author of Age of the Dromon, a rower needs 0.5 cubic metres of air flow per minute to enable sweat to evaporate sufficiently to keep at peak performance. For a trireme he proposes oarboxes open at the bottom and louvred decks overhead to allow this amount of airflow.

 

Unfortunately, dromons didn't have oarboxes - the lower oars go through the sides of the vessel. Professor Pryor states that the 50 lower deck oarsmen of a dromon would need 4250 cubic metres of airflow per hour with a complete replacement of the air below decks about 30 times an hour. He proposes forced ventilation using "some contrivance such as wind sails or cowls".

 

I've no idea how that would work in a large enough scale to achieve what he suggests. What I decided to do is make openings in the deck above the oarsmen and hope it's enough. I'm putting three deck planks 2.5mm (125mm/5") wide running the full length of the main deck each side of the centre planking, with gaps 1mm wide (50mm/2" in full scale) between them, and on either edge next to the fully planked sections, making 8 gaps in all, providing ventilation for the lower oarsmen. Here's a test run to see how it would look. (In the final form, the fully planked section would also continue to the sides of the ship).

 

20180912_075438.thumb.jpg.d98588870e2285c00303e06a28d08f9e.jpg

20180912_075711.thumb.jpg.ebf435190a6ec805dbe89b33cfc44164.jpg

And here's the first plank going into place. I used a bit of plank on edge as a guide to form the gaps.

20180912_093553.thumb.jpg.e83206c9e3d7b5edd81c32aa4c1c237f.jpg

20180912_091617.thumb.jpg.6ca52c847edb8a743869a5320fbb7983.jpg 20180912_094031.thumb.jpg.5deb256992298a5a759cba72d88c8d1a.jpg 20180912_095811.thumb.jpg.225ed1e9beb7bb477daef099d0ed51a5.jpg 


20180913_174244.thumb.jpg.3bfabcd707c7c414852a9c44c9fd1876.jpg 

20180913_174440.thumb.jpg.f0a063cad6b08161252ff3c844059c78.jpg

The planks are wide enough to give good footing and a 50mm gap is narrow enough not to be a major trip hazard. Though Prof Pryor recommends that the airflow come from below I can't see any way to do this on a dromon. However, as I see it in any sort of a breeze, or even with the dromon on the move,  there should be pretty decent airflow from bow to stern and from one side of the vessel to the other. I'd intended to have these openings run only as far as there were oarsmen so the maindeck at the bow would be fully decked. But I couldn't figure out how to make the transition, and the gaps would still have run almost the full length of the deck, so I ran them all the way.

 

I'm aware this presents a risk of flooding in heavy rain, but perhaps they would have covered the gaps with tarpaulins under these circumstances. And in any kind of heavy seas a galley was so vulnerable anyway it would make straight for port, and the extra openings in the deck should make very little difference to its chances of survival in a storm. In any case, that's the best I can come up with to solve the ventilation problem.     

20180912_091617.jpg

Edited by Louie da fly

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Without evidence I think you are making some reasonable assumptions here Steven; well informed assumptions at that.  Your progress and work is looking good.

 

cheers

 

Pat

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Thanks, Pat. On reflection and referring back to Age of the Dromon, I'm actually wondering if I shouldn't have made the whole deck this way. Prof Pryor states that a dromon  should have at least 8 square metres for air entry and somewhat more for it to exit. I'm struggling to get 8 overall, even taking the hatch and the companionway into account. 

 

However, as I've already committed myself and I'm not prepared to rip up the planks I've already laid, I'll leave it as it is. I might increase the number of isolated deck planks to four or even five, but I'll have to see how that looks.

 

Another consideration is that I want solid planking beneath the upper oarsmen - I certainly wouldn't want to be sitting below a bunch of guys dripping with sweat . . . 

 

Steven 

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You wrote:

Another consideration is that I want solid planking beneath the upper oarsmen - I certainly wouldn't want to be sitting below a bunch of guys dripping with sweat . . . 

 

Are you projecting 21st century standards on ancient ones? I understand, for instance, that in the West even weekly bathing was a fairly recent adoption - quite revolutionary after an annual bath only!

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Thanks for all the likes. It's good to feel others are following along with the build and enjoying it, and perhaps even think I'm on the right track, (something I sometimes have doubts about).

 

Though the argument for dromons being fully decked is as usual based on far too little information and indirect references in contemporary records, from the evidence he provides I am satisfied that Prof Pryor is correct in stating that they were fully decked. The most telling in my view is the testimony of John Kaminiates who had been forced to row in a dromon captured by Arabs in 904: 

 

“ ... the barbarians with us put themselves on the upper benches and left the lower [benches] to us, which were full of deep gloom and evil smells, and could only be described as a floating grave”.

 

However, I don't believe this invalidates my idea of planking with small gaps between - below decks would still have received little light under these circumstances. I'd been hoping that his using the word "gloom" instead of "dark" would have reinforced this idea, but unfortunately that's how it was translated, not how it reads in the original Greek, which has "much darkness" (or perhaps "great darkness").

 

By the way, I was recently lucky enough to be shown a number of pinus nigra (black pine) trees growing in a forest planted over 100 years ago in Creswick, about 20 minutes drive from home.

20180903_131309.thumb.jpg.d3bf477811b2b7d6d051850143ce59ec.jpg

This is the timber the planks of my dromon should have been made of if I'd had access to it, instead of the ubiquitous pinus radiata from the local hardware shop I was obliged to use. I took home a (small) fallen branch and was pleasantly surprised to find the two timbers look very similar.

 

Steven 

Edited by Louie da fly

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Hi Steven,

 

there is an argument against the entire deck being spaced - bracing. Decking laid side by side has tremendous bracing & would help in stabilising the hull. It's not fo certain the hulls would have need bracing, but a long skinny hull would probably benefit from it. It would not need to be full width - a centre strip of solid decking would do a lot - like a big piece of laminated timber laid flat. 

 

Mark

Edited by Mark Pearse

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That's a very good point, Mark. So maybe I did the right thing after all, albeit unknowingly.

 

Certainly, there is a lot of bracing in the hull in the shape of stringers and wales,and in fact Prof Pryor did make the point that the decking would have provided much needed stiffness to a hull that was very long and thin - I'd just forgotten that he'd done so (a senior moment,perhaps?).

 

Steven

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More planking. I've decided that 4 isolated planks each side is enough for my purposes - more than that looks wrong. So I've started on the other side.

20180919_135556.thumb.jpg.7fd3f4473ba3c2bad5ca1add21ce5cb0.jpg
 

Here's the first anchor under construction.

20180918_092423.thumb.jpg.406c02bd2e9ddd9190292eae1bfcfaba.jpg 20180919_125030.thumb.jpg.d1e896bd865404a6077407f1e2e70ad3.jpg

 

It's almost complete - compare it with the pictures on the previous page. I will blacken it and add a stock in due course.

 

The dromons of the Crete expedition were to be provided with 6 anchors each. Anchors of the time were relatively light - the Serce Limani wreck had 9 wrought iron anchors ranging in weight from 50 to 65 kilograms (100 to 130 lb), all to the same basic design, arranged in two stacks on the foredeck. It appears that the snapping of the stern anchor (the snapped anchor has been recovered) as the ship sought refuge in the bay from a storm was the cause of the ship's loss - they didn't have time to drop another anchor. 

 

And the anchor on the foredeck to give an idea of scale.

20180919_135718.thumb.jpg.0b43abac6fe9ee2347b53b81bb2ccf7d.jpg

 

And here's one of the spars of the lateen yard in progress.

20180919_125221.thumb.jpg.f0f056ddcc2e45d4c8d84e1e5138d344.jpg

Steven

Edited by Louie da fly

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Mark,

 

Yes, if by a lateral bar you mean the anchor stock.

 

In fact, the original picture I was working from has since been superseded by more accurate drawings of all the Serce Limani anchors in the book Serçe Limani: An Eleventh-Century Shipwreck Vol. 1, The Ship and Its  Anchorage, Crew, and Passengers by G. F. Bass, S. D. Matthews, J. R. Steffy, and F. H. Van Doorninck. A preview can be seen at https://books.google.com.au/books?id=E6ZJ-05aC-sC&pg=PA237&lpg=PA237&dq=serce+limani+wreck+anchor&source=bl&ots=2c7A-6VvFY&sig=RSqn4jY5rzHnXn7M80QDf6Wdq9Y&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwj40c_1v8PdAhUD57wKHV-oCHUQ6AEwC3oECAAQAQ#v=onepage&q=serce limani wreck anchor&f=false, (you'll have to do a bit of scrolling to get to the right bit)

 

I've had to somewhat revise the form the anchor has taken, but only in fairly minor details - the hole for the stock turns out to be circular and the housing for it is diamond-shaped, and the shank is also circular in section.  I wasn't all that happy with the first anchor anyway, but I've made it as close as I could to the later version. I'll probably still use it - otherwise it's a lot of work wasted.

 

It's not surprising that the drawings have been revised - there was a lot of rust and concretions which would disguise the true form of the anchor on first investigation. After all, it's been at the bottom of the sea for almost 1000 years (the ship probably sank in about 1025 AD, judging by the coins she had on board).

 

Steven 

Edited by Louie da fly

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Just working on the second spar of the lateen yard and - AAAARGHHH!!.

 20180920_103132.thumb.jpg.2c3ffb0980bc1efd6e79e67794f44cc0.jpg 

 

There must have been a flaw in the wood. I was filing it all smooth after having trimmed it almost to shape with a Stanley knife, and the end broke clean off. Nothing I can do. If I glue it back together it will just break again, probably at the most inconvenient possible time. I thought maybe a pin joining the two ends, but I really don't have the equipment (or the skill) to drill to that level of precision.

 

And after all that work, too. Still, I'd rather have it happen now than later.

 

And I have plenty more wood, so off we go again with a new piece, starting all over again.

 

By the way, I should have been a little more informative regarding the Serce Limani anchor. It would originally have had a stock, but being made of wood it would have disintegrated in the 1000 years underwater since she sank.

 

Steven

Edited by Louie da fly

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These things happen mate.  If it is not too late one easier way to mate these is to glue the item back together, then drill down if it is not too great a distance.  Then insert the pin with a good coating of glue to reinforce it.

 

Good luck

 

cheers

 

Pat

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Deck planking finished to the point where I have to stop for the time being. I need to leave a certain amount open to see through so I know where to fix the lower bank of oars.

 

20180925_111303.thumb.jpg.36e78afab32e17631873cea43e25aff8.jpg

And second anchor roughly cut to shape.

20180925_182950.thumb.jpg.b3004c8f69afd2042d1e0149f53f5ecf.jpg

Steven

Edited by Louie da fly

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Lest it be thought revisiting the Great Harry has caused me to neglect the dromon, I've been working on the yards and trying to reconcile the yard lengths and mast heights with what's in the contemporary records, what's theoretically best for sailing, and what looks right.

 

Here are the yards squared off but not yet rounded.

20180928_150833.thumb.jpg.14105339ead57394ac66b5cb810d62eb.jpg

Then rounded off.

20181011_184321.thumb.jpg.6d979d787b84499f73bb9cdd2610624a.jpg

The masts and yards are made of walnut from the neighbour's tree which died some years ago and which I've been gradually using up. I have a suspicion that masts would have been made of fir, but contemporary pictures show a dark timber, so I feel justified using walnut.

 

Once I'd dry fitted the masts and yards they looked too long, likely to capsize the ship, so I've revisited both I ended up making the yards the length of the foreyard estimated in  Age of the Dromon and made new masts [edit: which were shorter, but longer than the masts in the book], that look right with the yards. As the yards are each made of two spars, I just had to slide the spars past each other till the overlap gave me the length I wanted.

 

Here is the ship with the long masts and yards (temporarily held in place with rubber bands).

20181011_180831.thumb.jpg.6fa4d42d56c27be2726d731ef9391124.jpg

And here it is with the shorter ones.

20181011_180439.thumb.jpg.7bc738faba7ee1e1a518519d7808938a.jpg

The shorter ones look better to me, and if I decide to go with them I'll be shortening the spars that make up the yards to fit within the range of overlaps shown in contemporary pictures. There's a lot of theoretical speculation in all of this and the best I can do in the long run is go with what I think is right. 

 

Steven  

Edited by Louie da fly
clarification re mast lengths

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