Jump to content

QQ Gunports and planking - 1719 Establishment period. Questions:

Recommended Posts

I am cutting the rough openings for the Gundeck  ports. of HMS Centurion.

I use a standard 4" for the port sill and 3" for the lintel.  This is my standard for all decks.  Most of their bulk will be planked over, so any difference from prototype thickness does not matter.

How much if any of the top outer edge of the sill and bottom lower edge of the intel shows when planked?  Is there a mortise for the port lid at the top and bottom? Or is the planking flush there?


The sides:  rather than try to sand a flat plane at each side and try to make the width exact for the frames at each side, I plan to frame the sides with veneer.   For determining a minimum thickness for this veneer,  the question is = what is the mortise at each side?  How far short does the planking fall?  What is the width of the lid mortise at each side?


My intent is to dye the sill, lintel, and side fillers red - the shade is yet to be determined.  A color chart from the first generation ANCRE monographs only has one real red : vermilion.   I am thinking that like most colors, the stark, prismatic, pure colors had to wait about 200 years for the German chemical industry to develop.  The pigment would be a natural mineral.  The interior of a ship is a large surface area so the mineral pigment would need to be an economical one. 

The red that is the aniline dye red is probably too pure a red.  Toning it down is going to be work.  My past experience is that a little added black goes a long, long way.  A grey would be easier, but there are no white dyes to add to the black.

Edited by Jaager
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks John,


That does make it much easier to fabricate.  I just checked Goodwin - and the cover art shows lids with a mortise on all four sides, but the text affirms your observation.   The figure with the text shows a bevel at the top and bottom, but no provision for a hermetic type plug for a lid.   They are just two layer plywood.  The outer layer is a continuation of the planking that it interrupts - with a goal to make it invisible when closed.  The inner layer is 1.5" thick vertical boards - 4 of them.  The two middle ones are equal and the same stock width and the two outer boards trimmed to fit the width.  


Because wood only changes dimension across wood fibers and not along them, the simple design would avoid jamming if the lid environment had a higher water concentration than that of its construction environment.  The inner layer is too thin to pose a problem if swollen.


Link to comment
Share on other sites


Not sure exactly what you mean.  A drawing would help.   In the meantime 😀................

The lid is two layers, one horizontal, one vertical. Total thickness of the two layers matches the thickness of the outboard planking so when it is closed and rests against the stops on the sides and bottom of the port the outside of the lid is flush with the surrounding planking. Unless the side of the hull is perfectly vertical  the bottom of the lid has a slight bevel to  match up the opening.   The top of the bottom sills are not visible whether the lid is open or closed as there is a stopper piece.  The bottom of the upper sill can be seen as there is no stopper piece.  The outboard sides of all the sills are covered with the hull planking.  Hope the following photo of a contemporary model in the Rogers collection will help a bit.     TFFM Volume II has excellent drawings and description of the port lids &c.   



Link to comment
Share on other sites



It is the inside the port  - of the sill - at frame level  - raised - not flush with the outside planking level -  (shown with your JPEG model) that I am asking about.  

The Goodwin cover art also shows it like this, but the inner layer of the lid is reduced to fit inside the sill and sides - the outside layer being as thick as the outside planking it closes into.

The Goodwin text does not seem to address this, or I am not seeing it if he does.


If I leave the lids closed,  the question of flush or raised will be moot.  One point for that option.


Another part - I think English style was for interior planking to cover the inside edge of the sill.  The French seem to have had the sill extend over the interior planking and have a lip that was farther inside - like a picture frame.

Link to comment
Share on other sites


It is the inside the port  - of the sill - at frame level  - raised - not flush with the outside planking level-   I must be a bit dense tonight as I cannot figure, for sure, what you are describing.   I am sure it is just me so sorry about that 🙃.    Can you perhaps post a picture? 


Reading Goodwin's comment on page 188 in The Construction and Fitting  he indeed calls for the inner layer of wood to be smaller than the outside of the port lid, with the outside matching the thickness of the planking but I cannot find any photos of contemporary models with this kind of construction.  To the contrary, all of the photos I can find show the lid total thickness with both layers of wood is the same as that of the planking.   Additional photos from Preble Hall follow.   I think Goodwin is a VERY important work, but as with any "modern" book, it is usually a good idea to research contemporary sources IF available to confirm anything.   It could very well be that both styles of construction were used at some points in time.  I would love to see contemporary information and/or models showing the lids as Goodwin describes as I have used Goodwin's description in at least one previous build.  




Link to comment
Share on other sites

10 hours ago, allanyed said:

Can you perhaps post a picture? 



I am just too out of practice to draw .   I will use JPG and scans to try to show what I am asking about.  In doing this, I have found that there is a lot of confusing and ambiguous .......  between the contemporary models that you have provided and within Goodwin itself.


























My interpretation is that old model makers, who were making models of specific ships ( as opposed to the very rare classroom instruction models )  were just as prone to use shortcuts as we later modelers for the minor parts.    This would answer why the single layer lids.  Going elaborate for 50-120 lids that few would even notice would extend the building time.


I wonder if the two layer tight plug ( plastic foam cooler lid type seal)  comes from  hulks.  Old survivor ships that in the late 19th century and early 20th century had become living quarters and office space could have had the gunports and lids "upgraded" to be more weather tight.    Something that a couple of generations later would be mistaken as being how the ships were when in actual service.

Edited by Jaager
Link to comment
Share on other sites


You may be right  but I would be disappointed to learn that the old model makers were lazy and took short cuts in this manner.  As the lids are all painted, possibly we just cannot see that there are two layers.   


 Sorry for the quality of the third photo.   There are lips on these ports on the sides and top if I remember correctly same as the other models created by the linings.   


I did find a French contemporary model, the Ville de Paris which has lids with the inner layer smaller than the outer layer, but so far I cannot find any British models with this construction.  Photo of her ports is below.   I checked another dozen or so contemporary models and the lids were all constructed with the inner and outer layers being the same outside dimensions.   


As you said earlier, if the ports are closed, the construction style you decide to go with will not be seen 😀.   


You mention a thin layer over the end grains.   Which photo/drawing is this?  I looked in Goodwin and cannot find this.  THANKS




Link to comment
Share on other sites

5 hours ago, allanyed said:

You mention a thin layer over the end grains.   Which photo/drawing is this?

Thanks Allan,


Figure 7/5  on page 189


It is probably just the artist did not draw the ends of the outside planking as the planks lay on the face of the frame.  I misread the caption.  7/5 are all gunports, and not the alternate under the quarterdeck/poopdeck  "windows" that I had imagined..

In any case, the linings on the sides, sill, lintel allow for the use of "veneer"  to make them.  This is much easier.  

To be a bit self serving about my choice in framing above the wale:

For a model, it sort of makes it an unnecessary effort to shift top timbers so that they precisely frame a port - if complete outside and inside planking will be used.  I compound this further by having a solid wall topside.  No spaces.  It makes an otherwise fragile zone quite strong.   An advantage of POF is that the frames make it easy to locate the gunports.  The lining means that the rough opening does not need to be "pretty".

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have been following this discussion because I went through a similar search a year or two back.


Wolfram zu Mondfeld's Historic Ship Models (Sterling Publishing, New York, 1989) shows the construction of gun ports (page 96) and gun port lids (page 176) in pretty good detail.


I realize many modelers play down Mondfeld's book because it isn't specific to any particular ship or nationality, and he doesn't list his references. This is true. But the book's greatest virtue is the descriptions of parts of ships as they evolved over the centuries and in different parts of the world. For example, he describes gun port lids for British, French and other Continental navies from before 1550 through 1890. Much of what this thread is about is discussed in his book.


The book isn't perfect, but it does explain many of the differences you see in contemporary models from different nations and time periods.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
  • Create New...