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Cat Head dimensions


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I am hoping the more experienced modellers here may have an answer to a question about the dimensions of the cat head that I have been trying to resolve for awhile.

 

From the contract documentation I have been able to determine that the cat head sided and moulded dimensions were 13 inches (square) which ties in with other literature I have read.  From a reasonable lithograph, and interpreting the other literature such as Goodwin, the most likely design for the cat head would have been the upward canted design as evidenced in HMS Warrior (contemporary to the ship I am researching - HMCSS Victoria).  The following link shows this design with the upward canted cathead and knee support.  http://www.stvincent.ac.uk/heritage/warrior/anchor.html

 

What I have not been able to find is a rule of thumb, or formula that determines the length of the Cat Head overall - I have found the formula for the knee in Goodwin and one for the Cat Tail (also in Goodwin).  I am assuming that the overall length of the 13" square timber would have been determined by the angle of the cant and ensuring sufficient clearance from the ship's side for the anchor not to strike/foul on her sides when catted.  Is there any rule of thumb / formula for determining this length, or at least some guidance on what offset distance (from the hull) to use?

 

A related question, is the fitting of whiskers, again stipulated in the Contract and indistinctly shown in the lithograph.  From 'The Kedge Anchor'  I understand that these were the iron outriggers with sheaves, fitted to the cathead, which had guys reeved through them to set up the fore chains.  I am trying to determine at what sort of angle (direction and length) these protruded?  Can anyone point me to a reference or provide a clearer understanding please?

 

cheers

 

Pat

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Pat,

 

I think the answers to both your questions is somewhat along the same  lines as,"How long is a piece of string". :(  It's strange that there aren't other clear contemporary illustrations of this important ship.

 

If all the evidence that you have so far indicates that the design of the catheads was upward sloping, then why not use the design of other contemporary naval ships as the basis.

 

As for the whisker booms - merchant practice was for the booms to be on the after side of the cathead with simple thumb cleats for the rigging to pass over.  They were generally just long enough for the head rigging to clear the clutter around the forecastle.

 

Not much help, I know, but there comes a time when you have to stop beating your head against a brick wall and just build the model.  The art of good research, of course, is to know when to stop beating and start building.

 

John

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Hi Modeler12, as indicated above I am researching the HMCSS Victoria, a steam screw sloop (gun vessel) built for the Colony of Victoria in Limehouse in late 1855.  The contract stated 13" sided and moulded (square) timber for the cat head but that is all.  She was designed as a one off ship by Oliver W Lang and had very similar design characteristics as contemporary RN ships (Gun Vessels) of her time.  In particular the Arrow class (1854) and Vigilant class (1856).  I have the NMM plans for those classes but they do not depict whether they had the canted cat head design. As a one -off  ship design, to be used as a warship and as a type of armed Yacht for transporting dignitaries, she had an opulent fit-out but the fluid lines of a clipper.  She was fitted with the absolute latest fittings at the time taking the best from the Naval and mercantile design worlds.

 

See: http://www.cerberus.com.au/hmcs_victoria.html  and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HMVS_Victoria_(1855) and https://sites.google.com/site/whowasoliverlang/h-m-v-s-victoria

 

The lithograph I have shows a canted design with a supporting knee very similar to that in use in clippers at the time, but also as shown in the HMS Warrior (1860) link provided above.  

 

cheers

 

Pat

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Hi John, thanks for the feedback.  I have some drawings of upward canted catheads as fitted in clippers, but only a photo of one in a warship.  These are enough to create a best-guess design for the Victoria which I can use the width of the anchor arm as an indicative (or minimum) distance to place the tip from the hull.  However, I was hoping there might be some guidance somewhere that naval architects may have used.  if I cannot find anything more definitive I am going to use the plan view off-set distance shown for the Vigilant Class ships, but translate this to incorporate the upward cant.  I am just hoping someone somewhere may have seen a rule-of-thumb or the like that stated something like anchor arm length x 1.22 or something for the off-set distance; the rest I could interpolate.

 

I think I have tracked down almost all known drawings, lithographs, plans, photos etc of this ship and yep, a great pity the Government, Navy or other authority did not keep any significant records etc.  it is almost like they washed their hands of the Victorian Colonial Navy :)

 

There is only one painting that I am aware of that I do not have a copy of.  I have managed to purchase copies of all known photographs, wood cut etching (London Illustrated News) and lithographs etc.  The owner of the only known surviving/existing plan for the ship (single sheet as drawn by Lang and include the side profile, sheer and waterlines, and a separate drawing of the boilers) has kindly let us take a copy in return for the model to go on display in his Museum when it is completed.  The other known set of plans have disappeared from the Victorian Records Office (and  no, the set discussed earlier are not those :)).  I have also assembled every newspaper article, journal articles, magazine articles I can find, and a copy of the Geoffrey Ingleton documents,  etc etc. 

 

I have also engaged a researcher in the UK whom has tracked down and provided copies of a lot of the correspondence between the various parties, authorities and family embers etc ( includes Lang, the ship's agent, overseer, Colonial office etc).  She even located a folio of drawing by Lang that has proven very useful.  The rest of the materials have come from searching contemporary articles, journals, records, reports, publications etc for the listed equipment and fittings stated in the Contract.   I have also had some very useful help from a historian and author whom has done a lot of research on the history of the ship, but not the ship itself. 

 

I am reasonably confident, or may dare venture, that at this stage I probably have the most complete collection of information about this ship in existence (by that I mean all collected together - there is nothing new)   :).  I am currently trying to draw up a series of deck arrangement and profile plans/illustrations to build a representative model, but as no formal deck arrangement drawings have been found - this is at best "A Best Guess" .  I will need to get someone with a little more talent to make them presentable though!

 

I will be donating the information collected to an interested party on completion, probably either the Australian War Memorial or Navy Heritage Centre, but as the Naval heritage/history people do not seem to rate this ship it will probably be the earlier :)

 

cheers

 

Pat

 

p.s.  The hull has been built, we are making and fitting the screw and then onto the deck planking - so hint taken and implemented :)

Edited by BANYAN
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Hi Pat

 

Afraid I don't have a bunch of time to search out my references so I'm going from memory here but regardless I think this is one of those cases where you need to put yourself in the shoes of the people at the time and apply the basic rule, 'simple & functional' then decorate.

 

The cat heads would have been just long enough to keep the largest anchor clear of the hull, the longer it is the greater the danger sending men out there, life might have been cheaper then than now but you didn't throw away good seamen. Also, when you then haul the anchor up to the billboards you don't want to be pulling it into the hull as well as lifting it, ships were hard work, you don't want to make it harder.

 

The whisker booms were designed to spread the jibboom stays but they needed to be kept in line, if there was any upward or downward force on the whisker it would fold up as soon as you started taking up on the shrouds. So by placing the shrouds in place without the whisker and laying the whisker under or on top of the shrouds as appropriate will give you the line required, then push the shrouds out along that line. Basically you need to push them out to enough to clear any headwork, but if that doesn't give you enough side support to the jibboom you may need to go a little further, other warships of the period will give you an idea of what the navy considered an adequate angle.

 

As you pointed out merchant ships and naval ships were rigged with different criteria, man power, redundancy, weight considerations were all quite different so while the physics may be the same the arrangement may not be.

 

I do have a couple of books on rigging warships at home which I'll look at tonight and see if there's anything there that might help you but those books all relate to pure sailing ships 1750-1820 so there are likely differences to a later steamer with auxiliary sails.

 

BTW have you considered showing your research to Gary Renshaw at Modellers Shipyard, he may be interested in including it in his Colonial Ship series of model kits. I'm a little afraid if you only give it to the AWM it will disappear into their archives never to be seen again, much better to spread 'the word' first then give the material to a safe place and tell everyone where it is.

 

Not really surprised by the Navy Heritage Centre disinterest, the Australian military seem to think that they popped into existance in their modern form, they don't acknowledge their early heritage.

 

Mark D

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Very many thanks Mark, appreciate the feedback, especially on the whiskers.

 

As to the Cathead, last night I took the Arrow class drawings and used that as the basis for drawing Victoria's catheads.  The basis of theoverall length question is that, according to Goodwin, the sheave slot length is 2 x sheave diameter.  The sheave diameter is determine by 25/32 the breadth of the cathead ( which in this case I know to be 13" from the Contract records) - so 10.16" sheave diameter. 

 

The overall offset length of the cathead (so I am only considering the offset distance clear of the hull, not the overall length taking into account the cranked/canted upward slope) is 36 inches (enough to clear the anchor arm).  However, by Goodwin's guidance etc, this means the overall length of 36 inches (from Arrow class), with the sheave slots ending about 13 inches from the end according to Goodwin, and each sheave slot being about 20.32" long.  This would have the crown under the fish davit much further out, and the anchor shackle less than half way out along the cathead as you look down on it (all fits if the stock is canted along the sloping cathead - a la HMS Warrior - JUST!) but it sure does look strange having such long slots in such a relatively short cathead, and them being so close into the hull slots ends being just 3" out board, shackle being 13" outboard).  Most other depictions of catheads I have seen do not have the slots anywhere near this big or this close to the hull.  Hence the question :)   I understand that the 20" slots would have been along the overall length which would look foreshortened in an overhead/plan view - but even so, they would still be close to the hull and looks very strange.

 

Cheers, and thanks again for the input.

 

Pat

Edited by BANYAN
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The lithograph I have shows a canted design with a supporting knee very similar to that in use in clippers at the time, but also as shown in the HMS Warrior (1860) link provided above.  

Hi Pat,

 

I'm curious about what the lithograph you mention shows, in the photo you linked in your initial post it shows the steve of the Warriors cat head to be rather extreme, does the lithograph of the Victoria show her cat head to be canted at such an extreme angle ?

 

Mark D

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Hi Mark,

 

The attached show the cathead 1.  At launch (from a woodcut etching in the London Illustrated News) and 2. the lithograph.

 

I am unsure what the near vertical sloping long beam aft of the cathead is, as in the litho (not shown in the woodcut) the anchor stock is clearly evident as a separate part, but the ornamentation of the knee (I think) is evident in the litho.  The knee is not shown in the woodcut, but there is a rebate where it was to be fitted?

 

cheers

 

Pat

post-385-0-82918000-1392329847.jpg

post-385-0-38368300-1392329849.jpg

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  • 1 month later...

Hi John,

 

I believe that to be one of the whiskers?

 

And just to show we are making some progress :)  The shiny coat is purely protective (shellac) which will be rubbed back as required to apply the copper plates and then paint the hull black.  I am about to make a start on the deck planking.

post-385-0-96313400-1395535409_thumb.jpg

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  • 1 year later...

Hi folks an update and a further question re HMCSS Victoria.

 

First the updates - there is still some tidy-up work required on the copper plates.  Yep - the screw does turn :) but does not feather :( .  We have yet to add the holding mechanism (from the top) for the screw when it was feathered.

 

post-385-0-72495700-1429229427_thumb.jpg  post-385-0-42629200-1429229519_thumb.jpg

 

As you can deduce, the next work is to complete the major fittings to the hull to allow painting and the deck to be fitted. Therein the question.

 

I have not been able to find any contemporary information about the width (extension out from the hull) of the channels in this era in 1855 (the ship was built on the cusp of the sail to steam transition).  I have been able to determine the positioning and lengths of the channels form photographs and lithographs (adjusted for perspective etc) but not the width.  According to Lees, the width of the channels was 3 feet for smaller vessels (in the Age of Sail) but this is when there was a large tumblehome.  Using 3 feet in the drawings makes the channel look completely inappropriate for size etc.

 

Can anyone provide a pointer or any relevant information for the width of the channels in this era?  PLEASE????

 

cheers

 

Pat

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Looking good, Pat!!

 

I have no info on the Victoria, however:-

 

The packet ships Edwin Fox (Calcutta, 1853) and Egeria (St Johns, 1859) have no channels, the chainplates being bolted directly onto the hull.

 

HMS Warrior (1860) had very narrow channels as can be seen in this old photo out of my collection.

 

Hope this very vague information is of some use to you.

 

John

 

post-5-0-05461000-1429232809_thumb.jpg

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Thanks John,

 

Warrior has a lot of common fittings and equipment to the Victoria and what is shown makes complete sense - I will do something similar using Mark's suggestion of clearing the bulwarks and cap rail etc also (thanks Mark)

 

cheers

 

Pat

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  • 5 months later...

Hi folks, another update to the HMCSS Victoria - and yep - another question?

 

We are progressing quite well as can be seen from the photos with the bulwarks now added and some decorations applied.  We are using some experimental techniques with this build as it is a club project where we can all learn so what better subject.  The photos show the deck (printed wood veneer), which turned out great.

 

The bulwarks are fitted with all ports scribed (not opened) and these were son delicate we had to make a special jig to support them while they were fitted (and be reused if we open any of the ports).  The jig has a base with two sliding outriggers which have the pattern (negative) of the roughtree timbers etc spaced as needed. The jig is screwed to the deck in places where the holes will later be covered and the outriggers extended to the edge of the hull to support the bulwarks etc.  the photo shows the jig only partially inserted to provide a hinty of how it was fitted; I will post another when fully fitted when/if we do open any ports The yellow and black stuff is tape to stop the glue holding in these areas. Once the bulwark had been glued in place, the outriggers were slid inboard and the jig removed. 

 

At a scale of 1:72, the decorations were just too fine to carve.  Our talented member hit on the idea of scribing the pattern into the wood, then applying appropriately sized thread that had been soaked in PVA, pushing it into the scribed pattern to form the decorative pattern.  When the glue dried, it held the thread in place and stiffened it sufficiently to make it look presentable.  With some cleaning up and some further hull furniture still to do, the whole lot will be painted black (Victoria did not have gilding or highlight colours according to the Contract and log book evidence).

 

The Question: All the photos we have are of Victoria in harbour with the guns run out and poking through their ports.  We are trying to determine whether the guns would have been run-in and the gun port lids closed when at sea?  In support of having them run-in:

1.  There was no threat of war or immediate action in this area/era

2.  The ventilation skylight hatches were open (midships around the funnel) which only had iron gratings.  Closing the ports would have reduced any shipped water.

 

Against that though, a couple of watercolour lithographs based on etchings, show her with ports open.

 

What do you think folks?

 

cheers

 

Pat

 

post-385-0-94401600-1444550375_thumb.jpg  post-385-0-99243800-1444550360_thumb.jpg

 

post-385-0-83259200-1444550369_thumb.jpg   post-385-0-07030600-1444551025_thumb.jpg

 

post-385-0-53193500-1444550383_thumb.jpg   post-385-0-32172500-1444550391_thumb.jpg

 

 

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