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Location on sweeps when stowed

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I'm making a 3d model of a galley frigate based on the HMS Blandford.  Seeing as the ship was a galley and there's plenty of paintings showing galley frigates using sweep I was wondering where were the sweeps stowed when not in use.  I imagine some were stowed on the gallows along with the spares but I can't image all of them being stowed there. 


And how did they put them threw the sweep doors?  From the outside or the inside?


Any idea?  Thanks.

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They would have been threaded through the sweep ports (on the diagonal, as the width of the sweep blade was wider than the port) from inboard. It would have been quite the operation, even in a dead calm.

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So...they would take these long oars, maneuver them inside and around the hot, cramped and short berth deck with the masts, pumps, ward rooms, capstan and bitts, and stick them through the sweep ports?  That sucks.  I would imagine they did not do this very often at all.  So they would stow them somewhere on the berth deck?  Suspended from the gun deck beams?  On the bulwarks?  On the berth deck?

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Hi Timboat;


Have you got the AOTS volume on Blandford.  It has loads of information you may need,  but unfortunately there is nothing there that deals with sweep stowage,  not that I can see. 


However,  I might have missed something lurking deep within the text.


All the best,


Mark P

Previously built models (long ago, aged 18-25ish) POB construction. 32 gun frigate, scratch-built sailing model, Underhill plans.

2 masted topsail schooner, Underhill plans.


Started at around that time, but unfinished: 74 gun ship 'Bellona' NMM plans. POB 


On the drawing board: POF model of Royal Caroline 1749, part-planked with interior details. My own plans, based on Admiralty draughts and archival research.


Always on the go: Research into Royal Navy sailing warship design, construction and use, from Tudor times to 1790. 


Member of NRG, SNR, NRS, SMS

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I was thinking of sweep ports on the upper deck. On the berthing deck it must have been a very different operation. I suspect using tackle from the yard arms and feeding the inboard ends of the sweeps in through the ports.

Be sure to sign up for an epic Nelson/Trafalgar project if you would like to see it made into a TV series  http://trafalgar.tv

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Don't know how it was done but a very simple method would be to store the sweeps on the weather deck using dedicated racks. When needed, pass ropes out of the forward sweep ports, one on each side, grab them with a hook and bring the ends on board to secure to the inboard end of a sweep at the rail and toss the whole thing overboard and let the, 'sweep-man or whatever he might be labeled', haul his sweep in through its port, untie and pass the rope back to the next station and repeat. Reverse, to return the sweeps to storage. Why make a simple evolution difficult?


Edited by jud
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druxey, we had about a mile of pole fencing around the ranch buildings when I was a kid. I was in school when the lodge poles were cut and hauled down to the ranch, they were 20-25+ a few 35-40 footers used for posts. I did get to take them the from the stack and place them on saw horses to peal them with a draw knife, I was about 12 and it took me most of the summer to peal all of them. When pealed I stacked them alternating ends to keep the stack level and used stickers so they would dry straight. That fall and winter the fences were built, was in school so missed most of the building. I weighed much less than 100 pounds when I pealed those poles, went in the Navy at 17 at 105 pounds, gained 20 pounds in boot camp and another 10 aboard the Ammen. Lodge pole uncured, is heavy, If I could handle it, the sailors of old accustomed to manual labor would have been well able to handle those sweeps.post-5330-0-56006800-1487701537_thumb.jpg

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Thanks!  A lot of interesting information guys.  Some stuff I didn't think about.  I have the Blandford book but no information regarding sweep stowage.

I prefer to look at things from a practical point of view.  To combine ya'll ideas they could have used the yard arm tackles (or even the stud sail lifts????) to lift the sweeps in the middle and use guidelines threaded through the sweep port to guide the sweep in.  I don't think they would let them fall in the water and pulled up to the sweep port.  The Blandford or ships like her had sort of a spar deck, but since the extra spars and boats were stowed there I can only imagine a few sweeps being stowed there?  Were they stowed on the quarter deck aft of the helm?  There seems to be quite a bit of room up there.  Interesting enough I haven't found a 6th rate frigate with sweep ports that had a light box on the quarterdeck.  Even the Pandora didn't have a lightbox.  Or were they secured to the shrouds horizontally like the fish davit?  Or even secured to the chain plates of the channels?

I actually only know of one model that shows the sweeps being deployed but none that show where they were stowed, which is kind of ironic since quite a few 6th rate frigates in the 18th century had sweep ports.

Edit: It seems the Trincomalee has sweep ports with a lightbox on the quarterdeck.

Edited by timboat
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  • 2 weeks later...

I asked a similar question a while ago and got a reply here. It seems that some at least were lashed to the side of the ship.


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  • 3 weeks later...

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