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While  battling with the subject in my latest build it occurred to me that if they were made  -  as I had always thought they were - from the trunk of an elm , then they were likely to be round in cross section. Not square or octagonal or hexagonal as some models show.


Or were actual elm trunks just a first phase and the name carried on to "constructed "pumps later ?

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I too am working on solving the pump issue on my current build. I stumbled on the above reference through a google search. Having a mechanical background I found it fascinating although most would find it a dull read. Also Mondfeld has a small reference to pumps in Historic Ship Models.


The answer is that they were both depending on era and method of construction. Some were indeed elm logs turned and bored some left round some shaped. Some were made of tightly fitted planks giving them a hex or octagonal shape. Apparently not very many have survived.


The little bit of research I have done pretty much has lead me to believe that pumps as with a lot of the "deck furniture" were as varied as the craftsman who built them and the region they were in. As long as they worked when needed that was what mattered I suppose.


Best Regards

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I suspect the shape may have varied depending on the nation, era, builder, etc.   One example is the drawing of the Hampton Court 1709 decks.  https://collections.rmg.co.uk/collections/objects/384163.html   Looking at the lower gun deck  it seems clear that the chain pump tubes were square and the brake or suction (elm tree) pumps were round.    Lavery gives a good bit of detail on both chain and brake pumps pages 72-79 in the Arming and Fitting of English Ships of War and the chain pump tubes are square while the brake pumps were round.  He mentions that in 1804 metal tubes were tried but without much success and it was permitted to use pitch pine in place of elm in starting in 1807.



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  • 4 weeks later...

Hello SpyGlass. I have a book by Ron Mccarthy. Building Plank on Frame Models. Conway Maritime Press. ISBN 0-85177-991-3. In it it shows a schematic for a brake pump. It is indeed made from an elm tree and is hexagonal. He gives dimensions etc. I could post a photo or two if it does not violate copywright laws.

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