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Caldercraft Agamemnon riding bitts


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I am well into construction of my Caldercraft  Aggie, but I modified the construction along the way, by framing out all the gunports before planking, instead of cutting them all out later (thankfully it worked!). The hull is now planked and coppered, and I've begun working on the innards.


I am about to start fitting out the gun deck, and here is where I ran into a problem.  According to the kit instructions, the big riding bitts go here, just in front of the stove.  But according to my references, on two-deckers these bitts should be one deck lower, on the lower gun deck. This is the arrangement (stove on the gun deck, riding bitts on the lower gun deck, below the hearth) according to the fold-out plans of the 74-gun ship in Rees ("Naval Architecture"). Furthermore, Peter Goodwin ("construction and fitting of the English Man of War 1650-1850, p. 175) is quite emphatic; "They were always found on the lower gun deck of two-decked ships and on the gun deck of frigates and sloops." 


Sorry if this has been discussed elsewhere, but I would like to know if there is evidence that Agamemnon's design differed from other two-deckers in this respect? Has anybody seen the original plans? Should I leave off the riding bitts? Seems a pity, because they add a nice detail.. but not at the expense of accuracy.



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You can view the NMM plans here - http://collections.rmg.co.uk/collections/objects/81071.html.  They seem to show  bitts on the lower deck, but there is a possibility that it ALSO shows bitts around the stove,the outline is rather faint.  On page 119 of Peter Goodwins "Nelson's Ships", it also shows an extra set of bitts near the stove.  Unfortunately I can't help with why this is the case, or what evidence there is to support this, or whether it is a unique feature that fed into the Agamemnon kit design.

Edited by Beef Wellington


"Which it will be ready when it is ready!"
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HMS Jason (c.1794: Artois Class 38 gun frigate)

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Hi Jason,

Many thanks for your observations and for the link to the NMM plans. I see what you mean about the faint outline of bitts near the stove. I don't want to second guess this, but maybe the draftsman originally drew them on the upper gun deck, then realized the mistake and tried to erase them? Who knows? But riding bitts located on the upper gun deck seem pointless, because there's no evidence that the anchor cables passed through this level. As you point out, the draft also shows the more typical arrangement of bitts, stove, capstans etc., which certainly makes more sense if the anchor cables passed along the lower gun deck (and that also agrees with the position of the hawse holes).


So, regretfully, I think I am going to leave the riding bitts in my spares box.. there's no way I can retro-fit them on the lower gun deck.  Instead, I might add a second capstan farther back on the upper gun deck, although it will be mostly hidden. 



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  • 1 month later...

Belatedly, I can report that I was in fact able to insert the riding bitts into the lower gun deck (at least the rearmost ones). Having put so much work into making the thing, I decided it would only annoy me every time I saw it in the spares box, so I decided it would either go through the hatch or be broken in the process. Of course, with the other decks and planking already in place, I was only able to glue it, not pin it, but it won't be taking any load so I wasn't concerned. But it was a real exercise in pretzel folding my fingers to get it through the hatch, and I lost hold of it a couple of times, but persistence won the day. Of course, you can barely see the bitts through the open hatch (which will be partly blocked off by the stairway later on), but at least I know it's there... 

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What popeye said.

I can't think why you would put riding bitts on a deck that didn't have the anchor cable.  The legs would extend a deck further down, but if there is no cable to put on the bitts...




I checked my Bellona (AOS) book and the riding bitts are on the same deck as the hawse holes, the lower gun deck, and their legs extend to the level of the keelson.  There are fore sheet and fore jeer bitts on the forecastle deck with legs extending to the upper gun deck where the stove is located.

Edited by jbshan
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That's the whole point. On the Caldercraft plans, the bitts are shown on the UPPER gun deck, along with the stove. But this the hawse holes DO NOT open onto the upper gun deck.  They are on the same level as the LOWER gun deck. Hence my moving them one deck lower, which is where they are typically located on two-deckers (as discussed earlier).  

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