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I'm working on a 1775 vessel that was built too early to be coppered. All the models I've seen of ship's of that period show a white coating below the waterline which I assume is some sort of white lead to combat worms and other destructive organisms.

 

My question is: In order to accurately represent that underwater coating should I assume it was put on so thick that individual planks were not really visible and therefore I should use filler on my completed planking in that area so that I will have a smooth finish. Most builds I've seen seem to have smooth, off-white underwater hulls but usually the photos are not close-up enough to tell about the plank seams.

 

Any feedback would be appreciated.

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6 hours ago, schooner said:

Most builds I've seen seem to have smooth, off-white underwater hulls but usually the photos are not close-up enough to tell about the plank seams.

When viewed from "scale distances," hull plank seams are barely visible, if at all, and more so the smaller the scale is (and thus, the farther the viewing distance,) even in old museum ships.  A young, well-kept ship in commission shouldn't be "showing her seams" when viewed from a distance. Many models can be faulted for exaggerated, out of scale details, such as trunnels of contrasting color, overly-wide plank seams, and over-scale copper plating laps and tacks. Studying really great models in museums soon makes it apparent that creating an impression of reality in a model is often an artistic exercise in subtle suggestion. You mileage may vary, of course.

 

 

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Scale: If your scale is 1:48, when you look at your model from a distance of 1ft, it is as if you would be seeing the real thing from a distance of 48 ft, 1:64-64ft, etc.

 

So the question that you need to answer is how much detail would you be likely to see on the real thing at the distance equivalent to that from which the model is to be viewed.

 

Roger

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This is a thought experiment that I have mentally run from time to time.
It may be fun to do a seminar style thought experiment.

 

I do not see the technology and chemistry if the time in question allowing for 000,000,000 white.
It would likely tend toward yellow, gray, or red, or blue,  but which one?

 

If the hull is carved from a solid or laminated wood stock.  or has a planking that I am less than proud of:
fill, seal, prime, paint

 

If the hull has been planked and I wish that work to be on display:

It is my understanding that there are no white inks  or dyes. Using just any species for the bottom planking and then using a dye on it does not appear to be a good option.  

 

Option one - paint with wood.
A blond species of wood is one possibility.
This could be one place where Holly would serve.  Expensive.  Holly accepts dyes well.   It also can be bent.  The Holly planking above the waterline can be dyed to match most any other darker species.  
A problem that I imagine having is this:   How to get a well defined waterline?
The run of planking "never" has a planking seam that follows the waterline. Just switching species of or pre dyed  whole  planks there is not a realistic option.
A paint or stain should play nice with painters tape.  Using a stain or paint on a high quality wood species just seems wrong.
A dye will migrate along the wood fibers and be unaffected by any surface masking.
My best mental solution is to use a cut line at the waterline that severs the fibers - maybe even leaving the razor blade in place while the dye is applied.
The alternative that I imagine is to use a different species for planking above the waterline.  Doing it in a way that has the planking strakes look as though it is all a single board appears as an almost impossible challenge.

 

Option two -  use a white paint wash. Use enough to state the color but not so much that it totally obscures.  It would mask most of the grain, but that is not necessarily a bad thing.  Done well, the planking strakes would show.

 

Option three - use shellac and take advantage of its reaction with water.  It turns white.  It may turn to be too white.  It may be too variable to serve.

 

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On 8/25/2020 at 10:08 AM, schooner said:

I'm working on a 1775 vessel that was built too early to be coppered. All the models I've seen of ship's of that period show a white coating below the waterline which I assume is some sort of white lead to combat worms and other destructive organisms.

 

My question is: In order to accurately represent that underwater coating should I assume it was put on so thick that individual planks were not really visible and therefore I should use filler on my completed planking in that area so that I will have a smooth finish. Most builds I've seen seem to have smooth, off-white underwater hulls but usually the photos are not close-up enough to tell about the plank seams.

 

Any feedback would be appreciated.

Tim,

Well, this is just an opinion and certainly not in contradiction with any previous replies.

 

During that time period, many vessels were "tallowed" - i.e. a mixture of rendered animal fats that produced a thick coating and applied to bottoms of ships to prevent rot, insect boring, and other destructive elements from wreaking havoc on a ship's outer hull planking. When appllied, it looks like a yellowish/white/tan/gray color depending, I guess, on the consistency of the mixture.

You used to be able to buy Tallow Coat enamel paint which was a color that came somewhat close to this for wooden models. It was under the brand Floquil Marine Paints #818672 - I still have 4 or 5 bottles, but their present condition is anyone's guess!!! I used this for both my Armed Virginia Privateer model and Royal Caroline as both were ships of the pre-copper period (1768 and 1748 respectively). Here is a photo of AVS to give you an idea of the color:

713986952_STBDSIDE(med).jpg.16a3d2c2355b2e1ac42a000d884879a8.jpg

I concur with other replies as to how thick to apply the coating. On AVS, I did not take this into consideration and the hull planking does show the individual lines. On Royal Caroline, I did put enough on to cover all the hull plank seams and I think this would be advisable.

 

Hope this helps,

 

Hank

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