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Hi all,


There is a question that's been bugging me for months now. On the ship's  frames were the futtocks buts weatherized? With pitch and/or tar? I know that after the frames where assembled the hull was left exposed to the elements (if done properly for years) so the wood would age and mature. But rain water is different from salt water... I could not find anything in the literature I have access to or the internet. A few weeks ago I had the privilege of visiting the HMS Victory in Portsmouth and on the Orloop deck there are some gaps on the inner hull plucking and the frames are visible. I could find one of the frame's buts and as far as I could see there was no pitch or tar. But the fact that there was direct access to the frames, especially in the Orloop deck makes me think that some kind of weatherization should be made. Can anyone confirm or deny if the frames were weatherized like the deck planks?



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I am not sure when it became the practice but rock salt was used as a frame

 preservative.  There were salt stops above the air gaps in the ceiling in the

spaces.  Pitch or tar would have an adverse effect in frames.  By not peretrating

 deeply into the wood, the net effect would be to seal water inside the timber

and support fungus growth. 


I think the RN used stock that had been held in brine pools when they could.

The salt would have time to penetrate and preserve.  The wood was

said to be really hard and difficult to adz or drive a spike into.


When we get into the weeds in discussing actual framing practice as opposed

yo how contemporary model were presented, air gaps between paired frames

and at butt joints - how much and how wide are questioned.

The trick was to use well seasoned timber stock.  With a rule of thumb of

one year per inch if thickness, is it any wonder that a first rate with 11" x 11"

up to 15" x 15" inch timber bulks had rot problems because  unseasoned stock

was used?  Takes planning and a crystal ball to have timber seasoning 15 years

before you need it.


Raw wood exposed to sun and rain does not fair all that well.  My guess is that

a hulk held in frame on the ways probably had a shed like structure protecting it.

NRG member 45 years



HMS Centurion 1732 - 60-gun 4th rate - Navall Timber framing

HMS Beagle 1831 refiit  10-gun brig with a small mizzen - Navall (ish) Timber framing

The U.S. Ex. Ex. 1838-1842
Flying Fish 1838  pilot schooner -  framed - ready for stern timbers
Porpose II  1836  brigantine/brig - framed - ready for hawse and stern timbers
Vincennes  1825  Sloop-of-War  -  timbers assembled, need shaping
Peacock  1828  Sloop-of -War  -  timbers ready for assembly
Sea Gull  1838  pilot schooner -  timbers ready for assembly
Relief  1835  ship - timbers ready for assembly


Portsmouth  1843  Sloop-of-War  -  timbers ready for assembly
Le Commerce de Marseilles  1788   118 cannons - framed

La Renommee 1744 Frigate - framed - ready for hawse and stern timbers


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Better yards indeed built under a shed, if physically possible. Wood is not 'weathered', that is exposed to the elements on purpose, but rather 'seasoned' in a shed, as noted above. Leaving a ship in frames outside was rather a necessity (lack of funds, workmen, etc.) then a deliberate choice.



panta rhei - Everything is in flux



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