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When did the British start coppering their hulls?


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Quick question, when did the Royal Navy start coppering their hulls?

Building: 1:64 HMS Revenge (Victory Models plans)

1:64 Cat Esther (17th Century Dutch Merchant Ships)
 

On the building slip: 1:72 French Ironclad Magenta (original shipyard plans)

 

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"The hardest part is deciding to try." - me

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From

The Introduction and Use of Copper Sheathing - A History

Bulletin of the Australian Institute of Maritime Archaeology, 1985

Mark Staniforth

image.thumb.png.006f8eeaf957362fede0b943eac97d0a.png

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Richard

Richard

Current Build: Early 19th Century US Revenue Cutter (Artesania Latina "Dallas" - messed about)

Completed Build: Yakatabune - Japanese - Woody Joe mini

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Further to Richard's reply above, the main drawback to the use of copper was its electrolytic reaction with seawater and the iron bolts holding the timbers together, causing rapid corrosion and weakening of the fastenings. This was overcome by replacing all of a ship's bolts below water level with ones made of a bronze-based metal, or 'mixt metal' as it was called. I believe that 'Muntz metal' was another name for this.

 

Once the Navy Board and Admiralty had agreed the necessity for this, and swallowed the expense, a programme of coppering all ships as they came into dock for routine maintenance was adopted. This programme was well underway by the mid 1770s, and by 1780 it is safe to assume that all Naval ships were coppered.

 

Further interesting points are that coppering had apparently been used for a number of years prior to the Alarm experiment, by Liverpool-based merchant ships.

 

And when the warrant for coppering Alarm was sent to Woolwich dockyard, it gave strict instructions that all workmen involved were to be publicly gathered and 'that they may be in no doubt', were to be told that any attempts to embezzle or secrete (steal, basically) any quantity of offcuts of copper would result in instant dismissal, and being proceeded against with the full force of the law. Copper was valuable stuff, and the temptation to men whose pay was months or years in arrears must have been high.

 

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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Regards, Patrick

 

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Would the Triton of 1773 have been coppered as built?

Building: 1:64 HMS Revenge (Victory Models plans)

1:64 Cat Esther (17th Century Dutch Merchant Ships)
 

On the building slip: 1:72 French Ironclad Magenta (original shipyard plans)

 

On hold: 1:98 Mantua HMS Victory (kit bash), 1:96 Shipyard HMS Mercury

 

Favorite finished builds:  1:60 Sampang Good Fortune (Amati plans), 1:200 Orel Ironclad Solferino, 1:72 Schooner Hannah (Hahn plans), 1:72 Privateer Prince de Neufchatel (Chapelle plans), Model Shipways Sultana, Heller La Reale, Encore USS Olympia

 

Goal: Become better than I was yesterday

 

"The hardest part is deciding to try." - me

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Good question Phil as I'm doing Triton now and I haven't gave coppering a thought. 

 

Current builds;

 Henry Ramey Upcher 1:25

Providence whaleboat- 1:25     HMS Winchelsea 1764 1:48 

Completed:

HM Cutter Sherbourne- 1:64- finished    Triton cross section scratch- 1:60 - finished 

Non ship:  SBD-3 Dauntless 1:48 Hasegawa -FINISHED

 

 

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Good Morning Phil & Edward;

 

Rif Winfield's book British Warships of the Sailing Navy lists Triton as being coppered at Chatham from February to April 1779. This is probably taken from the ship's progress book in the National Archives, which lists the main dockyard events in the lives of all Navy vessels. If you are depicting Triton as first launched, I would not copper her.

 

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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She certainly had copper by 1778. From an entry in NMM Caird Library:

'Propose that the Triton may be ordered to be refitted and sheathed with copper at Chatham instead of Sheerness.'

This sounds like a first installation of copper but is not conclusive. Typical wording in these letters for replacing copper would be more direct, such as 'strip and sheath with new copper.

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STAY SAFE

 

A model shipwright and an amateur historian are heads & tails of the same coin

current builds:

HMS Berwick 1775, 1/192 scratchbuild; a Slade 74 in the Navy Board style

Mediator sloop, 1/48 - an 18th century transport scratchbuild 

French longboat - CAF - 1/48, on hold

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Good Evening Bruce;

 

It is likely that your reference is the date of the decision to order her to be coppered. What is the date of the letter you are quoting? It would seem normal enough for the order to precede the action by some months, which would seem to be corroborated by the fact that the letter you mention changes the dockyard where the work is to be done, to Chatham as mentioned in Rif Winfield's book extract above.

 

The actual work being carried out was then dependent upon a dry dock being available. Bringing in a new ship to work on was normally planned some time in advance, to take place as soon as work on a dock's current occupant was completed. 

 

As the book lists the coppering being commenced in February the following year, this would seem consistent with the letter you quote, if it is dated a few months prior to then, in Autumn or late 1778.

 

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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Hi Mark,

The letter is dated January 2, 1778.

 

HTH

Bruce

🌻

STAY SAFE

 

A model shipwright and an amateur historian are heads & tails of the same coin

current builds:

HMS Berwick 1775, 1/192 scratchbuild; a Slade 74 in the Navy Board style

Mediator sloop, 1/48 - an 18th century transport scratchbuild 

French longboat - CAF - 1/48, on hold

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Good Evening Bruce;

 

Thanks for the clarification. Thirteen months would seem an excessive delay, certainly. I think the most likely answer is a typo in Rif Winfield's book. It should probably read that the work was done in Feb-May 1778, not 1779. 

 

One factor that may influence this is that until 1750 the official New Year began on the 25th March, Lady Day, one of the year's quarter days. So prior to 1750, any documents dated from January to 24th March in any year would nowadays be dated to the following year. It is possible that this mindset may have caused an error to creep in to the entry. With so many dates to think of when compiling his book, and many prior to 1750 needing to be updated, I would not be surprised if this was the case.

 

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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8 minutes ago, Mark P said:

... until 1750 the official New Year began on the 25th March...

... and I have been caught out as well. Red-face saved because I wasn't alone.

When I go to the National Archives in a couple of weeks I can look into it if it is important to anyone, let me know.

🌻

STAY SAFE

 

A model shipwright and an amateur historian are heads & tails of the same coin

current builds:

HMS Berwick 1775, 1/192 scratchbuild; a Slade 74 in the Navy Board style

Mediator sloop, 1/48 - an 18th century transport scratchbuild 

French longboat - CAF - 1/48, on hold

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Good Evening Bruce;

 

Unless I have misunderstood your last post, there is no mistake in your earlier postings. The date of your letter is post 1750. I only mentioned the previous New Year custom as a possible reason for a mistake on Rif Winfield's part (or his assistant)

 

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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If showing a model as 'first launched' she would not have been coppered. After launch, if any leak were found it would be fixed on docking her before applying copper sheathing. So, as Mark said (post #7).

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15 minutes ago, Mark P said:

Unless I have misunderstood your last post, there is no mistake in your earlier postings. The date of your letter is post 1750. I only mentioned the previous New Year custom as a possible reason for a mistake on Rif Winfield's part (or his assistant)

My boo-boo was on an earlier occasion and consisted of me trying to rewrite history because I thought I had 'discovered' an error.

🌻

STAY SAFE

 

A model shipwright and an amateur historian are heads & tails of the same coin

current builds:

HMS Berwick 1775, 1/192 scratchbuild; a Slade 74 in the Navy Board style

Mediator sloop, 1/48 - an 18th century transport scratchbuild 

French longboat - CAF - 1/48, on hold

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Thank you all!

Building: 1:64 HMS Revenge (Victory Models plans)

1:64 Cat Esther (17th Century Dutch Merchant Ships)
 

On the building slip: 1:72 French Ironclad Magenta (original shipyard plans)

 

On hold: 1:98 Mantua HMS Victory (kit bash), 1:96 Shipyard HMS Mercury

 

Favorite finished builds:  1:60 Sampang Good Fortune (Amati plans), 1:200 Orel Ironclad Solferino, 1:72 Schooner Hannah (Hahn plans), 1:72 Privateer Prince de Neufchatel (Chapelle plans), Model Shipways Sultana, Heller La Reale, Encore USS Olympia

 

Goal: Become better than I was yesterday

 

"The hardest part is deciding to try." - me

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And thanks from me as well 

Current builds;

 Henry Ramey Upcher 1:25

Providence whaleboat- 1:25     HMS Winchelsea 1764 1:48 

Completed:

HM Cutter Sherbourne- 1:64- finished    Triton cross section scratch- 1:60 - finished 

Non ship:  SBD-3 Dauntless 1:48 Hasegawa -FINISHED

 

 

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