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Hull "White Stuff" on 17th Century Ship


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Hi Group,

 

Doing some research on what exactly the color of this stuff would be on a 17th Century Ship. I know its off white/beige ish but Id rather get a bit more concrete evidence if its exists out there.

 

 If anyone has any useful websites - please let me know. 

Chris

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nmm_nmmg_bhc2949_large.jpg
 

 

Assuming the contemporary painting is accurate it would seem that the colour is closer to white than cream. No doubt the shade of white changed over the years and from navy to navy. 

If you apply a finish over the paint that could change the colour too, and if it is a glossy finish it would again look very different than if it was a matte finish.

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The white in these anti-fouling and anti-teredo concoctions was lime. Other ingredients included various oils, tallow, ground glass, and sulfur (as noted above). I don't think pitch was used here. Lars Brucelius also has some recipies, I believe, on his Web-site: http://www.bruzelius.info/Nautica/Nautica.html

 

I wouldn't use modern replikas as an example, as they almost certainly use some modern paint for the purpose.

 

Around the Arab peninsula they still smear such stuff onto the bottoms of the various dhows. Have a look here for instance: http://www.omanet.om/english/culture/boats.asp (but note that some of the pictures where taken at low sun, so may look rather yellowish).

 

wefalck

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Welfalck,

 

      Thank you very much for the information. Never new about that, guess I though it was white paint. Oh well learn something new everyday. This is why MSW is the best, you can learn something new everyday no matter what your age is LOL.

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I think you will find that the "white" is almost certainly based on a white lead pigment as most dockyards in the UK had their own Lead Mill to manufacture paints. This is going to have some antifouling properties being a lead compound and somewhat toxic!

 

 

Norman

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No.

 

Lime - CaOH which slowly carbonises to CaCO3, is already in an oxidised state. Its colour is brilliant white and absolutely stable - see the White Cliffs of Dover.

 

Lead White - 2PbCO3·Pb(OH)2, contains lead in an oxidised state. Again its colour is brilliant white and it is very stable.

 

I am not aware of any other component that would oxidise to a respective white.

 

 

wefalck

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@chris watton

 

I do know that, while researching and designing the Endeavour (13 years ago now, cripes!), it did state in the Anatomy of the Ship book that the hull colour was in fact nearer to brown (I think I even wrote this in the instructions, if memory serves - but that's 18th Century). So I guess it can vary - although off-white is by far the safest bet if no sources tell you otherwise.

Edited by chris watton
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It seems, judging by old time recipes, that the old-time guys concocted all sorts of mixtures hoping to keep nasty creepy-crawlings and ravaging weeds at bay. Chemical, biological and microbiological knowledge was not yet very well developed and certainly not wide-spread among the mariners. They tried to conconct something nasty that remained stuck to the ships' bottom and prevented lifely things from sticking ...

 

I would also assume that on a ship such as the Endeavour they would run out of semi-industrial supplies, such as lead-white, at some stage. Lime can be produced quite simply in a short time by burning e.g. coral rocks in a kiln, but the production of lead-white requires slabs of metal lead, vinegar, acid-proof earthen ware and lots of time.

 

wefalck

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Ok i did find some info from the Ships of Abel Tasman - heres what he states "Poor stuff was mixed with sulfur, tallow or whale-oil, which produced a whitish or grimy-yellow substance with which the hull below the waterline was treated.  

 

So it seems ill just experiment a bit with an off-white/slightly yellowish mix.  Since im going to tung oil the wood and then finish with a diluted coat of bitumen to age the wood - a pure white will be out of the question.  

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Chris

 

I would be very careful on the bitumen coat, its not really suited for a finish as it will slowly oxidise chaging its appearance - I know this from my industrial experience in formulating bitumen compounds on very large scales, processing at one point 20K Tonnes per year and dealing with a number of major petroleum companies. Thin coats will soon deteriorate from ultra violet light in normal use this is not a problem such as roads applications. Oxidation is a result of the UV light on the complex structure in bitumens (usually graded into categories into 4/5 chemical groups), the UV reacts with the many aromatic double bonds in the structures changing the properties. Depending on the grade will alter the rate such as a straight run or blown grade.

 

 

Norman

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I think you will find that the "white" is almost certainly based on a white lead pigment as most dockyards in the UK had their own Lead Mill to manufacture paints. This is going to have some antifouling properties being a lead compound and somewhat toxic!

 

 

Norman

 

My vote is for white lead also

 

Ed

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Further to Norman's caution on bitumen, it is also not stable. Old oil paintings which had bituminous brown paint used show either 'alligatored' surfaces or wrinkles. Paint containing bitumen never completely hardens.

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Bitumen is actually classified as visco elastic and continues to flow unless at low temperatures - I have more than enough reference books on the material from my old job. Its a devil of a job to clean up after.

 

Norman

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