Wooden Ship/Men of Steel Part 2


If this is your first visit to my blog do not click on this video until you have checked out the first Wooden Ship/Men of Steel  posted yesterday.


Filed under boats

4 responses to “Wooden Ship/Men of Steel Part 2

  1. joycepa

    Fascinating videos, Richard. However, the ships he was talking about were steel, according to the first video, right? And you can see steel chain (God knows what the nautical term is) clearly.

    When was this video filmed?

    And I suppose at his age he can be a tad inconsistent! It’s not dangerous/it’s dangerous.

    I often wonder if we’re genetically programmed as humans to view certain shapes as ‘beautiful”. Certainly hydrodynamic efficiency is going to dictate how ships are built just as much as aerodynamic efficiency determines the structure of aircraft. Why should we think that beautiful? Because it’s functional? Its a question that’s intrigued me for a good part of my life.


  2. oldsalt1942

    Blame me for the “wooden ships” thing…I said that…steel ships and iron men doesn’t have the same ring. And if we look at the whole scope of seafaring time, millenia really, ships made of iron and steel are are only a blip on the screen.

    I believe that the films were put together in the 50s, though Villiers lived until 1982.

    Of course “form follows function.” In the old days new ships were designed by the creation of “half models.”

    Trident Studio, in Newport, RI explains the half model very well. “In the years before Naval Architecture had evolved, boat and ship design was developed through model construction. A master builder would fashion a hull form to the requirements of the client. The model would then be cut vertically down the center, leaving two halves. One half would be cut along the horizontal planes, known as “waterlines”, at evenly spaced distances. The other half would then be cut vertically at evenly spaced distances, known as “stations”.

    These pieces would be laid out and traced in outline on wood or parchment. The dimensions were then expanded to reflect the true size of the vessel, in what is known as the table offsets. This table was used to put the vessel lines down on the lofting floor, from which the construction forms for the centerline structure and framing systems were made. After the process was completed the “waterline” pieces of the model were reassembled and that half was mounted on a wooden backing plate, and often put in the master builder’s office to show off the boats that the yard had built.”

    Also, the trained and experienced eye had a great deal to do with the end result.

    To me, the lines of “classic” boats and ships are much more pleasing to the eye than most modern designs. They “flow” and are not necessarily functional though much of it is. For instance, a “wine glass” transom on a sailing vessel does have a function but it is also pleasing to the eye.

    But, your letter has given me the idea for a future post to the blog.

  3. joycepa

    Fascinating description of the half model process. And I’m an utter believer in the trained and experienced eye. There are some physiological explanations, but having a great deal of experience in color, I can tell you flat out that the final 5% in matching one color to another is done by the Human eye–a computer can not do it. And the human eye can pick out, fill in a pattern, do all kinds of incredible things. So yes, I would imagine a master shipbuilder capable of going beyond the model to polish the ultimate, finished product.


  4. oldsalt1942

    You’re absolutely right on color matching.

    I worked for years repairing and painting boats and yachts. There’s a difference, you know but I’m not going to get into the semantics here. You know the difference when you see them.

    The hardest part of doing good repair work was the paint job on a small area when you had to match the color of the new paint to the old so you couldn’t tell anything had been done.

    The paint job on a boat changes in an amazingly short time with exposure to the elements. The color of the vessel, and yes, white is a color, too, degrades rapidly. You can find color formulas a little of this, a little of that will give you what the original color was. But it’s only a starting point. Now you’ve got to fiddle with it to account for the sun beating on it for a few years. And the port side will be different from the starboard because of the way the sun hits it as it’s docked.

    So you add a little of this, some of that, just a tad of something else, let it dry and hold it up to the existing finish and, almost always, try again.

    You learn a few things along the way…start with something lighter in color than what you’re going to end up with. You can darken it a lot easier than you can make a dark color lighter. With weather-aged white you start, naturally with pure white, then a touch of yellow, just a hint. Sometimes a drop of very light gray or blue.

    I am remembering at the moment one job on a very expensive yacht that had gotten a foot long ding that only took a couple of hours to repair, but it took me nearly three whole days to come up with the color match. Even then, while most people couldn’t tell where the repair had been made on the 60 foot side, my eye went immediately to the spot because it wasn’t quite exact. And in the 12 or so years I did that kind of work I can only recall one instance, a yellow boat, that the color came out right on the first try and even I couldn’t tell where the repair had been made.

    L. Nathaniel Herrshoff knew a thing or two about boats and offered these guidelines for color on boats:

    Light colors make a boat look larger.

    Dark colors make a boat look smaller.

    Avoid dark colors as they absorb the heat of the sun.

    The most practical overall color is white; shade pure white, if desired, with a light-colored tint.

    Blue and green tend to fade over time.

    Gloss paint accentuates unfairness in a hull; semigloss and flat do not.

    Varnished hulls are difficult to maintain and look terrible if you don’t maintain them to the highest standards.

    Accentuate a beautiful sheer by painting the sheerstrake in contrast to the hull, or adding a gilded cove stripe below the sheer.

    Improve a poor sheer by painting a cove stripe below it to a better line.

    To de-emphasize a large house, paint the topsides white and the house light gray or light blue.

    To emphasize a small house, reverse the above color scheme.

    On deck use colors that will help identify objects and areas in the dark. A light deck is easy to see at night as are bulwarks painted white on the inside.