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When and by whom was the King Plank introduced? I rarely see it mentioned when reading the build logs and wondered if it was a fairly recent method of planking the decks. I am building the Schooner Ballahoo and wonder if I should be considering fitting it.


Patrick M.

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Great question,  I used it for my Endeavour deck planking as my research at the time indicated it was in use at that time but I do not recall where I read it.  I'll have another look at my library this evening to see if I can find it again.  I'd also be interested to see if there was any 'rule of thumb' re its dimensions in relation to the remaining planking.


Cheers from another Patrick.

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I'll have another look at my library this evening to see if I can find it

Hi Patrick


If you manage to find that source, I'd be interested if it comments on the purpose of the King Plank, was it structural, just a construction aid etc etc and if you have centre line openings could you have 2, one running either side of the openings ? ( I probably shouldn't admit it here but while I like modeling my primary interest is in how the ships were constructed and used. :-)




Mark D

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I believe it was structural.  But to cut it for hatches, etc., did ruin the integrity. It would, I guess, depend on the ship and the builder.


On many French ships, they ran larger planks down the sides of the hatchways and were scarfed.  These were also raised above the deck.  On many English ships they did the same but let them into the beams so they were flush with the deck. 

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Hi Patrick and Mark.


The reference I used was Planking Techniques for Model Ship Builders by Donald Dressel.  On page 103/105 he discusses the king plank "which will run into the hatches and mast locations, as well as any other obstruction down the middle of your deck.  It should run right down the middle of your deck with its centre matching the centreline.."  He does not provide any guidance as to its width etc.


Harold Underhill also mentions the king plank in his Plank-on-Frame-Models volume 1, but also does not provide any guidance for size etc.


David Antscherl in Volume 1 of his excellent series HMN Swan Class Sloops 1767-1780, also discusses the king plank on page 270 under the heading - The centreline plank.  "I have shown this as a 12" wide untapered plank (The modern name is the king plank).  remember that it is 3" thick, standing 1" proud of the deck flat.  The pillars for the upper deck beams will tenon into it.  The plank's edges champher down to meet the flat of the deck, and it tapers in thickness by 1/4" aft of the ladderway to meet flush with the mizzen mast partners.  Note that the plank butts against the hatch head ledges and mast partners...." 


I know I found some additional information that informed me that the king plank was wider than the deck planking width.  I had no real rule-of-thumb but I went for 3/4 the width of two plank (e.g if planks were 6" wide, then the king plank would be 9" but I STRESS I have no evidence to support this; simply what I chose at the time.  I also could not find any information as to whether the plank should be a continuous piece between obstruction or fall into the  same 'length rule' as for deck planking (based on the period in which the ship was built).  As I had several centre line obstructions (masts, hatches, etc.) I chose to use a continuous length between each obstruction.  As Mark Taylor points out, this probably had a construction aspect related to it so the less joints the better.


I hope this helps a bit?





Edited by BANYAN
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Greetings and thanks Banyan and Mark for these most useful and interesting comments. I would imagine that each deck would have been treated in the same way, all with a kingplank or none?

I had not thought it would raise much interest.

Certainly a confusing subject. I'm going to have a little dig about myself.


Edited by Ganymede
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