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I am currently building the Panart Royal Caroline. The photos on the box show the lower part of the hull painted white. Is that historically accurate? I would have thought that the lower hull would be copper plating.

 

Any advice would be most welcome. I hope that I have posted in the correct forum.

 

- Grant

 

 

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Hi Grant;

 

'White stuff' was used to cover the ship's hull below the waterline.  It was intended for use in the tropics,  where the shipworms were more active.  It was more expensive than the 'black stuff' which was used for ships in European waters.  However,  most models depict the ships with a white bottom,  as it is much more attractive.

 

In the case of the Royal Caroline,  she is shown in several paintings by John Cleveley the Elder,  and where her underwater hull is visible,  it is white.  As Cleveley was renowned for the accuracy of his paintings (also,  he was a former shipwright at Deptford Dockyard,  and was there at the time that Royal Caroline was built there)  I would take that as sufficient authority to paint her bottom white.

 

As for coppering,  this was only introduced widely in the early 1780s,  so would not have been used at the time of Royal Caroline's launch or for much of her career (not until after she was re-named the Royal Charlotte in 1761)

 

All the best,

 

Mark P

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I knew a Caroline once and ... um ... sorry.

 

From 1650 to 1730, various desultory experiments were made with sheathing techniques and materials, including planking arrayed with copper studs. After the ship launched, it didn’t take long for the copper to turn green. The French called the overall effect ‘petit pois’. I can see the English calling it pease. Have no clue whether this is the ‘pease’ bottom Druxey speaks of. It’s just that the name caught my attention and got me going.

 

Masseille, H. Notes sur la sallsure et les procédés d'entretien des carènes Immergées. Peintures Pigments Vernis, Vincennes, 1933.

 

John

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Hi John;

 

That sounds to me like a very reasonable theory.  I have read about the method of protecting the ship's bottom by hammering in thousands of copper nails so close together that the heads overlapped,  They would indeed have looked like peas once they turned green.

 

In the Royal Navy,  pea soup was a popular meal,  so there may well have been only a short distance between seeing the effect on the ship's bottom and naming it after a common food.

 

All the best,

 

Mark P

Edited by Mark P
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Interesting possibility for 'pease'/'petit pois'. The reference I came across was dated July, 1753. "...a pease Coat bottom upon her, which will last very well until  Spring." This was for a small sloop. The reference to spring suggests something less permanent than copper nails, though.

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Interesting possibility for 'pease'/'petit pois'. The reference I came across was dated July, 1753. "...a pease Coat bottom upon her, which will last very well until  Spring." This was for a small sloop. The reference to spring suggests something less permanent than copper nails, though.

Certainly agree Druxey. Was just pinging on terminology back then.

 

John

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the white color you call is in reality the "espalme"

 

the composition is:

8 brai - 3 soufre - 1 suif

 

 

Obliged of warmed to melt the pitch and the tallow, and also to obtain a smooth mixture with the sulfur which does not incorporate so easily.

 

picture of brai:

brais_10.jpg

 

 

picture of the mixture:

 

 

8_brai10.jpg

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'White stuff' is train oil (fish, seal or whale), rosin and sulphur.

'Black stuff' is tar and pitch.

'Brown stuff' is sulphur, tar and pitch.

Sheathing involved a sacrificial layer of thin plank (up to 1 inch) laid over a mixture of tar and hair.  The worms were supposed to eat through the plank and get repelled by the tar and hair.

 

Should add that is all from Brian Lavery, 'The Arming and Fitting of English Ships of War 1600-1815'.

Edited by jbshan
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Given the recipes I found were with yellow peas, I wonder if 'pease porridge' might include sulphur.  I'm thinking maybe the old 'tallow bottom' made with tallow and soap, that lasted only a few months.  If that were mixed with sulphur, maybe it would not mix well and be a bit lumpy, hence 'pease porridge' looking.

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one problem with all these suggestions is that pease pudding is usually a yellow colour, however proper mushy peas as us northerners eat with fish and chips and lots of vinegar are really green and a similar colour to copper verdigis

marrowfat peas soaked overnight cooked with salt and sugar and served with fish and chips - fantastic ha!!!!!!!!!!

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  • 2 weeks later...

Nice idea, Dafi. What you show certainly looks like peas! However, the source of my quote says:

 

"NB the Sloop has now a pease Coat bottom upon her, which will last extremely well till the Spring."

 
"till the Spring" implies a temporary rather than permanent measure, and studded nails are unlikely to be called a 'Coat'. So the mystery remains.
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  • 2 years later...

Druxey,

This  topic is old now but I read somewhere (not sure where now) that "pease" was a fore-runner to copper plating and was indeed round headed copper nails put into the hull at  intervals  below the water line.  These of course turned green in salt water and were referred to by sailors as "pease" which is the Old Enlgish spelling for the plural of "pea"

 

John

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That is an interesting theory, John. Thank you, and see Dafi's post #20. Also, one would hardly describe studded nails as a 'coat'. This implies a mixture applied by brush (e.g. "a coat of paint"). Also, copper nails would surely last longer than over a single winter.

 

Copper apparently turns green only at the waterline where there is more oxygen exposure: it would turn brownish underwater.

 

 

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Druxey

 

The term “coating” may need to be treated with some licence, especially in the language of 200 years ago.  In the book on Marine Antifouling from Woods Hole the statement is made “In the 18th century, wooden sheathing was filled with copper nails whose heads touched each other.” The article does not, however, say that this was called “Pease”. 

 

 

You are correct, Druxey, when you say that the typical green colour, which we see on copper rooves only forms in air.  It is probably mainly copper carbonate but the chemistry of the oxidation of copper is complex. Copper oxide is certainly brown but copper chloride which forms in sea-water is bluish geren when in its hydrated form.

 

Anyway, perhaps the more interesting fact is that although this treatment would possibly have prevented the attachment of barnacles and the build up of algal slime, it would not have prevented the ingress of Toredo worms which would attack the wood between the nails.  In fact, first copper plating suffered from a similar deficiency since the worms were able to penetrate the gaps between the plates.  Later a layer of canvas or felt was attached to the hull before the plates were attached so that there was no bare wood for the worms to attack.

 

In fact, I have seen these worms “in the flesh” as it were.  In a previous life I belonged to the Brisbane 18 Footers Sailing Club located on the Brisbane River.  In the early 1980’s we refurbished our wharf involving, among other things, removing the 80 year-old wooden piles and replacing them with concrete ones.  In spite of the original piles being made of Australian hard-wood, the section below the low tide mark was riddled with holes made by Toredo worms.  We could not at first see the worms themselves but when the piles were cut in half the worms were visible and could be prised from their tunnels.  The largest were about half an inch in diameter.  They had a domed carapaceous head and jaws but the intestines and other body parts had no covering of any kind.  I can only describe this part of the animal as resembling a piece of snot.  The largest were about a foot long.  The tunnels were parallel to the grain and seem to be lined with some kind of calcified material, perhaps to prevent them from collapsing. These worms apparently never emerge once they have invaded the timber and spend their whole lives in the sane piece of wood.  How boy Toredo worm meets girl Toredo worm I am not sure but adversity has never been a deterrent for this kind of activity.

 

Incidentally, for those who have never seen an 18 foot sailing boat, it is worth having a look on the web.  They are an unrestricted class of sailing boat and there are only two rules – The boat must be 18 feet long and the race starts at two o’clock.  There have been many developments over the years but they are always grossly over-canvased and capsize at the slightest provocation.

 

2008432113_18ftskiff.jpg.3619ebd6b86738ca293fc123b79d2eb6.jpg

 

John

Edited by bartley
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Greetings everyone;

 

Thank you John,  for such an informative post about the 'Teredo Navalis' worms.

 

In the days before copper plating became standard (it appears to have been used by Liverpool-based merchant ships before the Navy adopted it, as I have seen references to a letter recommending it to the Admiralty 'as has been done in Liverpool merchant vessels these last eight years') most ships were 'Sheathed', ie their bottom was covered with a sacrificial layer of timber planking,  fastened with sheathing nails.  These were presumably of copper,  and could well have been closely spaced.  As the timber was sacrificial,  it had to be removed and replaced at regular intervals,  which would account for the meaning in Druxey's post above,  that it would 'last extremely well until Spring',  that is until the timber needed to be replaced.  A layer of felt and hair was placed between the sheathing and the actual ship's bottom planking.

 

The nails in the waterline area would be seen as the ship rolled,  and would look like green peas,  as per comments above.  Those lower down would only be seen in the dockyard,  so their different colour would not be what the sailors generally saw. 

 

I bet somewhere out there a worm is morphing into one which will munch its way through fibreglass!  Eighteen footers beware!

 

All the best,

 

Mark P

Edited by Mark P
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