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Gun port lids and sweeps, on small vessels


Stockholm tar
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This has particularly to do with the Sherbourne which I, and several others, are working on but obviously includes other small vessels, up to about frigate size. The Sherbourne kit, as produced, has no gunport lids fitted and is provided with sweep ports, but I am wondering about both these points.

 

Even though I have not (as yet) fitted lids to my Sherbourne, I am coming to the conclusion that they were generally in use – especially in connection with the bow ports, which I imagine would almost certainly have had them, for obvious reasons! The AOTS book of the cutter Alarm shows that she did not have them apart from those in the bow, presumably as the rail amidships was rather low, but photographs and paintings I have seen – including the ones in the book of the model of 1785, do not show them. Perhaps it was down to the design of the vessel concerned and perhaps the period.

 

My other query has to do with the use of sweeps, or large oars, which were used on small vessels. The Sherbourne is pierced for four per side, but the AOTS book shows that the Alarm didn't have them, nor do any of the photographs of the other cutters depict them. Admittedly, the Alarm, and the model of the Hawke in the photographs, both had low rails so they might have been fitted above, perhaps in metal crutches.

 

However my other point has to do with the practicality of their use. I had thought of fitting sweeps to my model, but collecting together just the four scale length shafts for one side, and attempting to fit them to one side the main hatch, was all but impossible. There was just nowhere to put them, where they did not get in the way of something else. Racks on the bulwarks also didn't appear to work. Apart from that, their practical operation must have been made very difficult, if not impossible, with all the deck fittings, mast, boom etc, in place. In the end I left them off, citing that their impracticability in use, and the fact that the English Channel where Sherbourne operated is rarely calm and without wind, as factors!

 

I'd be interested in other's views.

Edited by Stockholm tar
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Are you thinking of the AOTS book on the Alert, Kester? The Alarm I don't know. Anyway, your points are interesting. Without sweep ports it would be much easire to fit longer shot racks in my build!

 

The following shot is of the model of the cutter 'Trial' of 1790 at the NMM in Greenwich. It shows sweep ports.

 

post-229-0-40335700-1390653864_thumb.jpg

 

Tony

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The original draughts of the Sherbourne (CHN1012 or CHN0224), unfortunately not available on the NMM 'Collections' site, show a sweep port between each gun port and aft of the aftermost one. Also indicated are port lids. These are two-part lids, hinged at the sides.

 

If you are interested in extreme detail, you might wish to invest in one of those two drawings (the other is a copy of the same drawing). Both plans also include all the spar dimensions. The deck plans for Sherbourne are on sheet ZAZ6382.

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Thanks, Druxey. Valuable info. In relation to the side-opening gun port lids, we had a discussion a while back about the feasibility of this. The easily-available plans show one of the ports with lids only, and these were indeed side-opening. The questions were how they would be held to the side and whether they would interfere with the channels. So it's interesting that the more detailed plans do indeed show side-opening lids.

 

By the way, did you build a Sherbourne?

 

Tony

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Yes, it was from an original draught, but it appears to be for only one of the ports. The discussion hinged (sorry, we're talking about lids after all) on whether it was easy enough to open them and whether this was just something fanciful on the part of the draughtsman. Are there other examples of side-opening gun port lids?

 

Thanks, Dirk, for the detailed plan. It is terrific to see that much detail. In particular it is interesting to note the gun ports are cut right up to the rail.

 

Tony

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Have been down sick for a spell; now that I'm starting to feel human again, it's been fun catching up on all the great club Sherbourne posts that everyone has made recently--great work and excellent reading! :)

 

I've enjoyed reading through the discussion here, and figured I'd throw in my 2 cents worth. 

 

First I’ll chime in on the sweep ports and gun port lids.  Druxey is 100% accurate in what he stated about the Sherbourne.  I’m working off all 3 draughts that he cited:  two draughts are her as-built and the 3rd is of her as-designed. 

 

In all plans, 4 sweep ports are present. 

 

In both her as-built draughts, a port lid is present on the 4th port (going from aft forward).  Of the several other draughts of the Sherbourne’s period that I have looked at, none showed port lids.  Why is only one port lid depicted in the Sherbourne’s plans?  I conjecture that only one port lid was drawn in for the same reason that a half breadth plan is only a half view or that a body plan is on one side an aft body view and on the other side a fore body view of the ship:  why be redundant?  In other words, including lids on all the plan ports would have been redundant where depicting just one port lid suffices to convey meaningful, relevant information.

 

After diving pretty deeply into how draughts were created and etc. these past several months, I conjecture that the port lid was not a fanciful addition by the individual(s) that drafted the Sherbourne’s 2 as-built draughts.  From Deane through Steel, the art of creating a draught is anything but fanciful:  The methods laid out are fairly strict and somewhat rigid, which makes sense given that Royal Navy ships had to be built to reasonably survive both the sea and its weather as well as combat.  Sticking in port lids out of fancy doesn’t seem consistent with the discipline.  Likewise, seeing fanciful inclusions in two separate as-built draughts doesn’t seem consistent.  Lastly as an overall organization, the Royal Navy during that period was one that was pragmatic and frugal…fanciful license in draughts doesn’t seem consistent with that culture. 

 

To the contrary, the port lids may be a bonus detail of the ship that may have been omitted from her contemporaries’ as-built plans.  In fact, the Sherbourne is a remarkably well-documented ship in comparison to her contemporaries or at least more of her plans are extant than others.  When I first looked at the port lids some months back, their side-opening feature didn’t seem practical.  As I’ve worked on her over these past several months, I’ve come around on that opinion.  I’ve been curious about if the port hinges allowed for removing the ports—very easily done with side-hinge port lids.  Once I begin getting further into her details, perhaps more information about her port lids will surface.  With that said, at this point I am more inclined to include them in a build than I am to omit them. 

 

Next I’m going to talk at length about the AOS Alert.

 

While I've obliquely mentioned it here and there in the past, I'm going to be explicit here about Goodwin and AOS Alert.  To be quite blunt, I strongly believe that large swaths of Goodwin's material should be viewed with healthy skepticism and here's why.

 

Let me first begin by providing some of my background.  By profession I am a researcher.  Essentially all that I do is evidence based upon source documentation, verifiable numbers, and etc.  In my written work, all is supported by underlying, verifiable documentation.  When inferences are drawn from a wealth of evidence, a statement to that effect is made.  Before any of my written work goes public, it is peer reviewed.  All statements and assertions I make are reviewed by independent reviewers to ensure everything is fully supported with verifiable evidence.  Our process is very similar to academia in particular:  Peer review of scholarly published writing is a cornerstone of that material and thus its veracity.

 

So when I use the term skepticism it here does not imply looking at things as falsehoods, it simply means being as objective as possible--neutral--and drawing conclusions based on verifiable evidence and or on reproducible results (by this latter, I mean that if you are told 2 + 2 = 4, you can use those facts and reproduce the same results).

 

I next want to mention the fallacy of authority.  This logic error results when someone in a position of authority makes an alleged fact-based statement and we in-turn believe that statement to be true on the basis of the person’s position rather than the material they are giving and the authenticity of its underlying facts.  We can encounter this fallacy with published material:  It has been published, therefore it must be true.  Similarly if a person is an expert in their field, what they tell us about their field of expertise must be true.  In both cases, it ain’t necessarily so, and this is where skepticism comes into play:  Rather than look at the book or the individual, one must weigh the material that is presented.  Is it supported with verifiable evidence?, do conclusions reasonably follow from evidence?, and so forth.

 

Goodwin presents a lot of interesting material in AOS Alert.  However, note that much of his textual material is not directly cited.  Yes, Goodwin provides a bibliography, but that is far different than providing in-text citations!  At one time, it was acceptable practice to include a source in one’s bibliography if the book was consulted though material from it was not directly used to materially support one’s written work (when used excessively, it's called "bib. padding").  Here's an excellent example of what I mean about the lack of citations:  Goodwin asserts, “Prior to the turn of the eighteenth century all cutters were clinker-built.”  Skepticism dictates that we neither believe that claim is true nor is false.  However, skepticism further propels us to ask the question, “Upon what evidence?”  “All” is a powerful assertion and this evidence Goodwin does not provide:  Upon what factual supporting documentation is he supporting this claim with?  Where and what is the evidence that we can also go to, read, and say, "Yep, that's true!  Every single bloomin' cutter ever built prior to the 18th century was clinker planked."  On the other hand, if we were to find just one instance of a cutter being carvel planked prior to the turn of the 18th century, then his entire assertion is false (“all cutters”).

 

Note that in the scantlings Goodwin provides for Alert he does not cite a source.  Did he obtain his scantlings from the Rattlesnake’s draught, or are they from The Shipbuilder’s Repository (SBR), which he cites on page 12 but fails to list in his bibliography, or a combination of both?  Where does this scantling information come from? 

 

I spot checked some of Goodwin’s scantlings against the SBR and this perhaps is partially his source.  For example, the SBR lists for a cutter a 2’-2” room and space, 18 as the number of rooms in the after body, and 13 as the number of rooms in the fore body (SBR, 258).  Those numbers are identical to the ones given by Goodwin in his room and space section (Alert, 24).  On the other hand, the room and space for the Rattlesnake (Alert, 46-47) and the Sprightly (Alert, 48-49) measure at 2’-0” using their respective scales—perhaps reproduction errors?…  It's also worth noting that those SBR numbers are for a keel length (i.e. by the keel for tonnage) of 58'-6" (SBR, 234) whereas for the Alert that measurement is 52' (Alert, 23)…we're looking at a 6'-6" difference but the same room and space!  The question remains:  From where did Goodwin source his information?

 

After his room and space scantlings, Goodwin provides frame bolt scantlings.  The verbiage Goodwin uses here (Alert, 24) is clearly and obviously directly lifted from the SBR (SBR, 258-260):  Although plagiarism was a relatively acceptable practice in 18th century, it certainly was not in the 20th or in the 21st!!  But back to frame bolts:  Although the number of bolts is the same—2—between Goodwin and the SBR, the bolt diameters are not.  Goodwin states a 1/2" diameter while the SBR states a 3/4" diameter.  What’s the big deal there?  Where did Goodwin get 1/2" from—what is his source?  In both the SBR (260-261) and in Steel (Naval, Folio V), the smallest bolt diameter given is 3/4."  Indeed, Steel cites a 3/4" diameter bolt for his smallest ship listed:  a 60 ton sloop (Naval, Folio V).  I’d like to point out that in his The Construction and Fitting of the Sailing Man of War 1650 – 1850, Goodwin provides on page 14 a visual description of room and space that is inconsistent with that given in most other sources (for instance see Steel’s Naval Architecture pages 57 and 191).  

 

While I have may missed it during this quick re-skim of Alert, I do not believe Goodwin gives a burthen in tons for the Alert.  The as-built burthen given for the Rattlesnake is 184 54/94 tons (Alert, 47) and the Sprightly’s is listed as 150 6/94 tons (Alert, 49).  Compare those numbers to the 273 ton cutter in the SBR (which incidentally is listed as a vessel with 16 carriage guns and 22 swivel guns (SBR, 226)).  Now think of scantlings between those sizes of ship and ask the question, “Are we looking at apples to apples or at apples to oranges if Goodwin selectively used SBR scantlings for the Alert?

 

Am I saying that all of AOS Alert is wrong?  No! I am saying that too much of the book’s material in not adequately supported to sources and there are too many unexplained inconsistencies.  Furthermore when I see obviously plagiarized material, I am immediately extremely doubtful about an author and about the validity of their scholarly material with which I am being presented.  To be very blunt, Goodwin’s AOS Alert would not pass a peer review as it is written (its un-cited, plagiarized material alone is an immediate fail).  Compare AOS Alert work to May’s The Boats of Men-of-War (which Goodwin cites in his bib.):  May provides nearly 200 citations to his sources in his 122 (as shown in my copy) page book.

 

While Goodwin’s AOS Alert has its merits, I would be very hesitant to use his material to base essential areas of a build on or from which to make claims upon without additional, independent verification.

 

Cheers,

Jay

 

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I would suspect they Rigged something in heavy weather to cover the Ports, though in really heavy conditions the water is going to come over the rail regardless, these boats didn't have much freeboard and heel due to wind pressing her down would severely lessen what freeboard there was not to mention open ports will quickly let water out as well as in, else there would be many tons of the stuff sloshing about the lee side as the scuppers would be effectively underwater.. not a good thing on small boats as you can imagine! (remember only 1 cubic meter of water weighs 1 metric ton, picture how many cubic meters of water would fit on the lee side of Sherbourne even under shortened sail in a bit of a blow)

I would imagine the sweeps were very very long, especially to be effective. Storing them on a small vessel would be difficult but they were no doubt a resourceful lot, they are sailors after all.

 

Eamonn

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Thank you, Jay for your well reasoned arguments and conclusions. There are many time-hallowed 'facts' that are repeated as gospel truth in this, as in other fields of endeavour.

 

As for side opening ports, top opening ones are not feasible as there is insufficient ship's fabric to support and bolt them to. There is only a sheer rail above the ports.

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This is turning into a very good discussion – just as I thought it might. :)

 

Tony,

 

I am 'alarmed', and indeed did mean Alert – I must have had a mental 'blip'. Interesting picture of the Trial with, I think with those 'trial' sliding keels? Yes, she has sweep ports, but you'll note, no actual sweeps.

 

Jay,

 

Thanks for your thoughtful post. I have my doubts about the AOTS book myself, but you put it very eloquently. A lot there to think about. I hope you're feeling better.

 

Eamonn,

 

Good point about the water needing to escape the deck, being important. Gunport lids would obviously hinder that.

 

So whether Sherbourne had ports, regular, side opening, or none at all, is obviously still open to question. On the face of if, and since I'm probably well past their fitting stage, I think I'll leave them off – unless, of course anything definitive crops up. :huh:

 

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I really appreciate Jay's excellent critical analysis, and druxey's equally thoughtful direction to the detail of the plans, along with Dirk's initial prompting to look at the lids and Kester's stimulation to look at this in more detail. Many of us come from academic, nautical, professional or analytic backgrounds, and it's great to be reminded of the care needed should we aim at historical accuracy. In addition it's great fun to have something like this for the analytic mind to chew on.

 

However, this made me think a bit. Why was it that I went to the AOTS Alert book in order to inform the build of the Sherbourne kit? Well, the simple answer is that I was desperate for information of any kind over and above what the kit offered. Not having had any sailing experience, modelling experience, or any knowledge whatsoever of the construction of ships, it was certainly attractive to have a source that was relatively easily available which gave measurements and drawings of the construction of a vessel of the same type and roughly the same period. I had read remarks by a number of commentators that Goodwin wasn't to be relied on for everything, but I didn't mind that too much as long as I could get a hang of what it might mean to build a cutter of that period.

 

I also went to the National Maritime Museum (a short tube ride from my house) to see how the models there would look, and I bought Franklin's 'Navy Board Ship Models' to see how the modellers at that time would approach their work.

 

It does seem that there is and was a huge variety of approaches and the set of reasons for building a contemporary model were as wide then as they are now -- with the resulting wide set of levels of detail or accuracy that were and are provided.

 

That said, I am left unclear as to how to approach this question of the lids. The sweep ports seem to be there in the NMM model I pictured earlier, so I am happy with leaving them as is. But should I aim to fit the Sherbourne with gun port lids?

 

The evidence so far is mixed, with one lid being shown on one port in three sets of plans. Jay and Druxey are clear here.

 

Kester makes the suggestion that the gun ports at the bow may have had gun port lids for the reason that this is where the waves mostly would come in. Could it be that the single port lid should have been at the bow? Kester also says that none of the paintings or photographs he has seen show lids. Similarly, the model I have shown from the NMM does not have lids, and the other cutters and brigs that are modelled nowadays (e.g. Lady Nelson) do not have gun port lids. The modellers of all these clearly did their own research. It was Chris Watton who designed the Sherbourne kit, and as we know he is a thorough researcher, it might be a good idea to ask him about this question. I would feel confident that he had reasons for leaving off the lids -- even though the answer might be that they would have been too much for a beginner's model.

 

The final aspect that I noticed from the plans provided by Dirk was that the gun ports were cut right up to the rail. I don't know if that makes it any the easier to lean over and open any lids to lock them on to some outside ringbolt, but given that the sweep ports were open, and there is almost no difference in height over the Alert's sides where there is no rail and there are no lids shown, is there any real function for the ports, other than at the bow?

 

As I was writing this Kester's most recent post came in. I am with him for the moment. I'll leave the lids off. Besides, I am so inexperienced it is hard enough for me to make the rest of the kit properly!

 

Thanks for tolerating this rather rambling reply and it in no way detracts from a more thorough understanding that may or may not throw up more evidence either way!

 

Tony

Edited by tkay11
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Tony: the 'single' port lid is, as mentioned by Jay, a 'one stands for all' convention. On other ships' plans I've seen similar 'shorthand'. In the instance of the fireship I'm currently building, there is only one port lid detailed. This is because it hinges downward, not upward. However, all the ports were fitted in the same manner.

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I have seen contemporary models with lids on every port.  These tended to be earlier.  When I designed Cheerful though there was no indication of port lids at all.  I will leave those off.   The older cutters seemed to have some meat above the ports to bolt them in place.  On the later cutters like cheerful this wasnt the case.  Yes it is true they could be side hinged.  But unless you see it on the draft for that particular cutter or any of its sisters I wouldnt paint with a broad brush.   I probably would have included the side hinged ports on Sherourne.  Only because its such an interesting feature.  Who could argue that its wrong since it was clearly shown on  the draft.  Not being the case on many other contemporary models and plans though...its just safer to just leave them off.   Case in point.  Here is a photo of an early cutter with port lids.   And another of Cheerful.  

 

If Cheerful (1803) didnt have any port lids....why the rabbet shown around each port opening.  Why not have the planking end flush against the port  framing.  These questions will drive you nuts.  There comes a time when you must decide whether you want a conservative approach or if you want to take a leap of faith based on thin assumptions.  In the end...whatever you decide it certainly wont be the end of the world if you are wrong.  I imagine it would pretty darn tough for anyone to prove that with certainty anyway, unless of course they are just being unreasonably self indulgent and full of themselves.  Absolutes are pretty tough when considering these details.

 

Oh and I realize that Cheerful was designed after 1800,  but it was clearly carvel planked in my opinion.   The outboard and inboard planking expansions are available.   The outboard expansion shows a drop plank under the wales and an interesting shape of the rabbet that leads me to believe that it was clinker planked.  I have never seen a clinker planked hull with drop planks at the bow.   Does this mean I am absolutely correct.  Not at all.  But its just my opinion...and that is all any of this is.  Even if it is based on primary sources such is the case with my planking example.  I am sure someone will run across a model or a planking plan prior to 1800 that shows the same.  So painting with such road strokes is dangerous.  Yet I see it all the time.  After examining so many plans you will see exceptions all the time.  You will also see weird experimental features that may be unique to a particular ship.

 

Check out the somewhat unique head facilities on the Niger class drafts.   I dont think they were built but could have been on one of the many in her class.  Who knows.

 

portlids1.jpg

 

portlids.jpg

 

unique head fascilities on niger.jpg

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This is an excellent discussion; thanks everyone for weighing in and adding to the dialogue—this ability to share and discuss ideas within our community is one of the many outstanding aspects that makes MSW so great!   :dancetl6: 

I mentioned yesterday that I didn’t see port lids on the several other circa 1763 cutter draughts I’ve looked at.  If I were building one of those ships, I would definitely leave port lids off those builds unless I found proof that they where used by that ship in that ship’s primary source documentation (for instance, its logs).  From just the draughts though, there just is no evidence that those ships had or used port lids.

 

In the case of the Sherbourne, the lids definitely are in both of her as-built draughts as opposed to her as-designed draught. 

 

CHN 0224: As Built

post-4129-0-37046900-1390770747_thumb.jpg

 

CHN 0102: As Built

post-4129-0-21819500-1390770744_thumb.jpg

 

ZAZ 6381: As Designed

post-4129-0-36165400-1390770742_thumb.jpg

 

So for the Sherbourne, I believe a builder is on very solid ground if they choose to include them in their build. 

 

To take the ports lids a step further, yesterday I theorized that the side-hinged port lids may have been removable using a hinge system similar to a rudder gudgeon-and-pintle arrangement. 

 

Rough Drawing:

post-4129-0-29653400-1390770746_thumb.jpg

 

Here are some facts along with some of my assumptions behind that theory:

 

We can see where half of a lid will be over backstays at the aft port in both as-built draughts:  perhaps not a great thing with permanently mounted lids; also, the lids wouldn't fully swinging open.

 

Aft port of both as-built draughts:

post-4129-0-17607800-1390770745_thumb.jpg  post-4129-0-22285900-1390770743_thumb.jpg

 

One of the highest deck-to-sheer-rail-top locations is the forward port at about 3'-3" (~1m), while the distance from the sheer rail to a port-lid lower edge is about 2' (~61cm):  a lower port-lid edge would be within about an arm’s reach of a sailor bending over the sheer rail.  From quick measurements, I get 9-1/2” w x 11” h x 1” thick (~24cm x ~28cm x ~2.5cm) dimensions for a half lid:  the lids wouldn’t be too heavy to lift (a down-and-dirty weight for a square foot (~0.3 sq m) of oak is ~4lbs. - ~1.8kg).  The channel is inset by about 6” (~15cm) from the 2nd port opening and about 9” (~23cm) from the 3rd port opening and thus would interfere with fully swinging open both those port half lids:  potentially two more reasons for removable lids.  With the exceptions of heavy seas, overall I can see how permanent mounted side-hinged lids could be generally a pain in the rear.   

 

The theory I just presented also can be a basis for not attaching lids:  Pintles at the ports would make for some nice details, too.  :) 

 

However, all of this extra about removable port lids is just a theory based on a combination of facts and my assumptions that is fun stuff to share and consider about the ship.  :P   I wouldn't pass this off as anything other than as a theory that’s wholly open to debate and to differing opinions unless I came across information in Sherbourne primary source documentation, like ship logs or etc., that either conclusively proved or disproved that the lids were removable.  Plus, how many folks will even notice this type of detail in a 1:64 or a 1:48 build?  

 

The draughts on their own simply don’t offer enough information on this to say one-way or the other that her port lids were removable or that port lids were even used throughout her entire career!  At this point, all I can definitely state about port lids are that they are depicted on both her as-built draughts.  ;) 

 

Cheers,

Jay

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Interesting theory about shippable port half-lids. In other draughts that show lid hinges, the pintles always oppose each other, so the lid could not accidentally unship. I see no reason to unship the half-lid, as long as it could open far enough to clear the muzzle of the cannon. 

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OK, just to throw in a couple of spurious questions:

 

1. When the lids are closed, the guns have to be rolled back and held tight by their ropes since the muzzles could not be raised and held fast against the rail. Would there be enough room for this on a cutter of this width without interfering with the day-to-day sailing?

 

2. Re muzzles clearing the half-lids, I am tempted to suggest that side-hinged lids are an ingenious method of preparing for firing very rapidly, without the bother of locking the lids open. When the guns are rolled out for firing, wouldn't the muzzle length would keep the doors open if they are side opening? (The side lids would be shorter than a top lid), Though this might mean the noise of their flapping against the muzzle would irritate the crew. I suppose if the worst came to the worst and they started firing a bit too rapidly, the cannon ball leaving the gun would ensure the lids would part, albeit with a little bit of damage here and there as well as a few injuries with splinters.

 

OK, the second question was not truly serious. I am loathe to use smileys to indicate a poor joke. But I'm interested in answers to the first question.

 

Tony

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Muzzle Blast is a real and damaging force, therefore you would not want flapping doors or not fully opened and secured doors unless there is a fetish in building replacements and repairing hinges. Have seen first aid and phone boxes blown from splinter shields by muzzle blast. When I had Mount 32 on the Helena and the main battery 8" guns were firing we would leave the gun, when we re maned the mount, it was not unusual to find the above mentioned boxes on the deck and the loader covers blown off of the loaders.

jud

Edited by jud
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I had no idea I was touching on actuality! Don't worry -- I realise the terrible potential of blast. At a much smaller scale, I remember the kick-back and the deafening noise just of a .303 rifle when I was in the army cadet force as a teenager at school. It put me off going near guns for the rest of my life -- let alone tamper with one of these 3 pounder beasties.

 

Tony

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Adding to what Druxey said about unshipping the half lids, the arrangement I theorized about could also unship in heavy seas and thus defeat the purpose of using port lids in the first place!  Gotta be objective and look neutrally at all the possibilities...I guess it's a good habit gained from my work (but taking two sides to an issue can be irritating to some).  In the meantime I'm going to just keep pluggin' away at getting some plans drafted...that's enough challenge and then some for now!    

 

Tony, this isn't a definitive answer to your 1st question but I think there would be enough room with the cannons ran in.  Lavery gives a length of 4'-6" (~1.4m) for a post 1743 7cwt 3 pounder (Arming, 103).  Eventually I'll drill down into researching cannon and carriage lengths in-depth, but using Lavery's numbers as a quick guide, it looks like there'd be room everywhere except in the bow (won't comment much on whether or not cannon were even regularly placed in the bow--looks pretty tight once the bowsprit is factored in, plus I'm guessing it'd be a serious chore hoisting a darn gun into position up there...I think a 7cwt cannon weighs in at close to 785 lbs / 356 kg). 

 

Cheers,

Jay

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Removable port lids don't seem to be that rare.   The split lids on 1854 Constellation and others had the top lid being removable. The lower one just hung down the side. While these are not the same as those under discussion, it might be relevant.   Xebecs use a single side hinged lid per port and some were removable, others not.  And then there's my current headache...err... project..  Had lids as built in 1755 but after the rebuild it seems the lids disappeared.  

 

Which gives rise to another question.. could lids have been "captain's choice"??? 

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Here's another thought. If the Sherbourne did have gun port lids, then they would have to be side-opening, wouldn't they? My reasoning is based on the drawings showing the gunports right up to the rail, which might mean there was no way of fitting them unless the rail was considered strong enough.

 

Ignore at will if this is not logical!

 

Tony

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Well, I don't know, you leave a subject for five minutes, and... :o:huh:

 

Honestly though, this is fantastic stuff, with several equally interesting and feasible suggestions :) – but none, as yet, definitive! :(

 

I'm of the belief it will remain that way (that is it not being definitive) with no absolute proof one way or the other – at least not yet! There are many different computations to take into account, but certainly half port lids would seem to be more and more likely. However, we just can't be sure. I have a theory that there is some thing written down somewhere, perhaps in a log or letter, which would give us a clearer idea. I can see it now: 'Dearest mother, I have been kept awake for two nights this week, due to the captain having deciding to fit half lids to the gunports... in the middle of the night, too.' It may only be a mere mention, but it would be something.

 

Jay, I like your idea of removable half ports, able to be quickly lifted off by one man. From the measurements you give, that certainly seems feasible. As to the lids lifting off the pintles, what if there was a fitting such as used on rudders, which would have prevented it.

 

Tony, I think I agree with you, about there being only the room for half opening ports. I was also somewhat amused by the picture of the crew being 'irritated' by the ports flapping against the gun muzzles. :D I think, however they would be even more irritated when the ports flew into splinters at the first recoil!

Edited by Stockholm tar
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Right, Tony on the lids.  There's just no "meat" between the upper port edges and the rail.  I haven't yet worked out the scantlings for the rail widths, but am pretty sure they will overhang the ship both in- and outboard, which would likely make it even more difficult for mounting hinges.  Additionally, the rail either has a lip or an indention that is a 1/2" (~1.3 cm) above the lower rail edge (that feature probably is not distinct in the plan photos I attached--but if you see a faint line just above the lower rail edges, it runs the entire length of the rails and it is what I'm referring to) and this feature likely might further complicate mounting hinges.

 

Spot on Kester--ya leave for a spell and the thread goes wild! ;)  Kidding aside, I'm with you about this being great discussion!

 

At this point, the only thing we can state that's beyond doubt is that lids are shown on the 2 as-build draughts.  Everything from there on is just conjecture unless information on these details show up, like you say, in primary source documents.  I'm planning on obtaining some primary source material as I move further into the project, and hopefully it will shine some light on a number of details.  Perhaps by this coming spring, I can shift gears a little and spend more time on research after I am closer to finishing my initial draughts.  At the rate I'm going though, those draughts may take years...there's been lots of do-overs...lol! 

 

Cheers,

Jay  

 

    

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My compliments to Jmaitri for a very thought provoking comment. I consider my self to be a good researcher and his "fallacy of authority" concept is as neatly phrased as any I have seen,

 

Please teach me about sweep ports.

 

On the draughts they are mostly square (pleae note I never use the forbidden word ALL). There are a few that are round with a slot to pass the blade of the sweep.

 

Do they pierce a frame or are they situated between frames with short lintels above and below like ports?

 

Were they the same size in the inboard and outboard sides?

 

What was it like, attempting to row with a round peg inserted in a square hole through a bulkwark as much as a foot thick?  Were there some kind of fitting in the sweep ports to make them a little more oar friendly. If I were a designer I would tend to make my sweep ports shaped like a truncated cone with the small end inboard.

 

Lastly I have seen some models with lids on the sweep ports, but mostly when these ports were placed below the weather deck

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