Author Topic: French 36 Pounder  (Read 5373 times)

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Offline Pat

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Re: French 36 Pounder
« Reply #15 on: 03 Mar , 2010, 22:48 »
Another thing to build into wooden decks is a camber.  That is, just like most roadways, the middle is slightly higher than the sides, to make water run off and into the scuppers in a storm.

The typical camber in a deck was about 1 inch for every 8-10 feet of beam if I recall correctly.  (I'd have to look it up for sure - it's not a lot of camber, but it IS enough to see.

If you use veneer, itoften possible to camber a deck just by laying some strips of paper underneath the veneer, starting with one almost the width of the deck and every so often putting on a narrower strip.  I've often used photocopies of a scale plan of the deck so that I have the measurements and positioning of deck structures already marked on and therefore know exactly where to put the planks.

The decks on sailing ships also had a rise at the bow and the stern.  The lowest part of the entire deck would be in the 'waist', or middle of the ship, so that water not only drained to the sides, but also drained to the middle where most of the scuppers or drain holes were.

This cant of the deck wfrom bow to stern was more pronounced the further back in time you go.  At the time of Columbus, the decks were often so sharply slanted that it was sometimes like walking uphill to get to one end of the ship, but by the time steel hulls started to be used (like HMS Warrior for instance), the deck was almost flat and it would take a practiced eye to notice. 

(Since I've toured over 200 tall ships in my life, I've seen lots and lots of examples of all of this.)


Offline Pat

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Re: French 36 Pounder
« Reply #16 on: 03 Mar , 2010, 23:20 »
After all that's been said (I did sort of go off on a binge there, sorry), the decks on wooden ship models are actually one of the easier parts of it.

The hardest parts are getting all the guns right, and doing the rigging.  Both are extremely repetitive and you can work for days without any readily visible progress to anybody but yourself, while the decks you can see progress ever after a few minutes of work.  And cutting and laying the planks is fairly easy.  Especially when you use a veneer plank that's already to scale, like I described.  It doesn't matter then what the underlay is, since you only see the top veneer part.

So, to tie all this back to the Ernest's French cannon, and a few things that could improve the model if you ever do another one.  (Not that it doesn't look really good, it does.  But just a few inaccuracies)

The deck shouldn't be varnished as it looks in the picture.  It could be just the lighting, but it should be matt finish and uncoloured.

In that scale, you should definitely be able to see the caulking in the deck.  Probably also a few butt joints, since gunports were always positioned to have the weight of the gun over top of a couple of beams.

You could also put in some treenails wherever the deck crossed a beam or where butt ends of planks met.  Treenails (or trunnels - there's often more than one spelling in old nautical terminology) are basically wooden dowels used in stead of nails since dowels don't rust and when they get wet, they swell and are stronger than metal nails.  They often had the ends split and little wooden wedges put in like an axe handle, but you couldn't see that at this scale.

There's a ringbolt near the back of the carriage, just in front of and above the rear wheel, that the tackle to run the gun up to the port is attached.  This ringbolt should be horizontal, not vertical, to reduce the strain when the gun recoils back.

That 'run-up' tackle should go outside the breeching rope (The heavy rope that goes from the bulwarks to the cascabel of the gun).  Lines should never criss-cross if at all possible, since if they can foul each other, they invariably will.  and lines that cross each other will cause friction and wear the ropes.  Definitely not something you want when a 2 or 3 ton piece of iron is lurching back from a shot.

The cotter pins on the wheel axles look kind of large.  That's probably the kit but I might have replaced them with something smaller.

The gun barrerl still has the flashing showing at the seams where the mold came together.  Probably something that couldn't be corrected though because it might have spoiled the finish on the barrel, so something you just live with, especially when you had such an incredibly short time to do such a nice piece of work.

The cheeks or side of the gun carriage should be cut into a minimum of 3 or, as looks in this picture, maybe even up to 5 different horizontal pieces of wood.  It just wasn't possible to make a single, flat sheet of wood strong enough to take the shcock of recoil, and so they used several thick pieces stacked on top of each other.  The steps in the back of the cheeks indicate how many pieces were used in this carriage.  there should be bolts on the top of each one of the steps at the back of the cheeks, and another at the very front of the cheeks to tie all these pieces of wood together.

As well as the sponge laying on the deck beside the gun, there should also be a couple of handspikes, one on each side.  These were sort of like wooden crowbars used to put under the wheels and then lifted up to slide the carriage one way or the other.  that was the only way they had to traverse the guns other than turning the whole ship.

Does the sponge have a "worm" on the end of it?  A worm is a double helix, sort of like a wine corkscrew, that was used to extract shot from a gun that misfired.

There should be a touch-hole at the top of the gun near the breech, to fire it/  This is just a hole drilled down to the powder chamber.

Spare ringbolts on either side of the gunport, horizontal again.  These were used during storms to lash the gun to the side of the ship.  If you didn't do so, this was where the term about somebody being "a loose cannon" came from.  You definitely did not want a loose cannon on a ship bouncing around in the waves.


Keep in mind Ernest, I'm not trying to be disparaging.  I think you did a great job and the cannon looks wonderful.  It's meant to be a decorative piece after all, not the super accurate model like all of your U-boats.  These are just things to keep in mind should you one day try your hand at a tall ship build. 

You can see why some of those sailing ship models often take several years to build.  Also I guess where I decided to build my own U-boat deck out of a couple of thousand pieces of wood.  It's actually not too bad compared to some of the wooden ship decks.



Offline billp51d

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Re: French 36 Pounder
« Reply #17 on: 04 Mar , 2010, 04:59 »
         Pat...Many thanks for the deck info. and the link for the veneer. It looks like the deck alone will be a project in itself....But well worth it.
                                                      Cheers/Regards, Bill

Offline Pat

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Re: French 36 Pounder
« Reply #18 on: 04 Mar , 2010, 06:39 »
You're welcome Bill.  Glad to know that my info on decks is helpful to somebody.

I just looked at my U-boat, if you have the Revell 1/72nd German U-boat type VII/C40, you'll be able to see what I mean about 'joggling' the planks.  On either side of the deck in front of the tower, where the bulge in the casing is most pronounced (about the same area where the saddle tanks start to taper), you can see how they cut the deck planking into the sides in sort of a stepped fashion instead of letting the planks end in sharp points.  They didn't do it further forward because tapering the outside planks still left them wide enough to fasten.

Decks are actually sort of fun, as I said because you can see progress quite quickly.

the deck on my U-boat is going to be about 90% scratch (just the bow and stern plates from the kit) with all the beams underneath and most of the major hatches hinged to see down under the casing to the pressure hull and everything underneath.  Making tiny hinges is the only real difficult part, and I've sort of been putting that off because one of the hinges in the outer torpedo doors sort of discouraged me for a while. 

Offline Greif

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Re: French 36 Pounder
« Reply #19 on: 04 Mar , 2010, 13:00 »
Hi Pat, no worries about the critique, this was just the sort of feedback I wanted!  I read your posts concerning "decking".  It certainly sounds fairly complex, but I imagine it is like alot of modelling skills, it sounds, and perhaps is complex in the beginning; but once you've done it a few times and built up the skills to do the work well it gets ALOT easier.

I actually struggled with the decision to varnish the deck as I have read that the decks were not varnished in real life.  I thought it wise to do so in this case because it does make for a more "eyecatching" piece and I was not sure if the model would be displayed somewhere with alot of swings in the humidity, so I used a bit of "artist's license".  My wife's friend, and her husband, really like the look, even if it is not historically correct so I guess I made the right choice this time.  However, if and when I build for myself, the deck will be historic.

I figured I had made some mistakes in rigging the cannon.  Unfortunately the kit instructions were not clear at all on that little detail, and I sadly did not have time to research the build.  Thank you for your corrections as they will come in handy on the next wooden wall project I do.

You guessed right as to why I did not scrape the seam off the cannon barrel.  Given more time I could probably have worked out I way to do it without obvious damage, but there is an old army saying about such things - "It is what it is."!  :)

The other information is also very very helpful.  Again thank you for pointing out the errors.  Your doing so has made me a little better modeller.

Ernest

After all that's been said (I did sort of go off on a binge there, sorry), the decks on wooden ship models are actually one of the easier parts of it.

The hardest parts are getting all the guns right, and doing the rigging.  Both are extremely repetitive and you can work for days without any readily visible progress to anybody but yourself, while the decks you can see progress ever after a few minutes of work.  And cutting and laying the planks is fairly easy.  Especially when you use a veneer plank that's already to scale, like I described.  It doesn't matter then what the underlay is, since you only see the top veneer part.

So, to tie all this back to the Ernest's French cannon, and a few things that could improve the model if you ever do another one.  (Not that it doesn't look really good, it does.  But just a few inaccuracies)

The deck shouldn't be varnished as it looks in the picture.  It could be just the lighting, but it should be matt finish and uncoloured.

In that scale, you should definitely be able to see the caulking in the deck.  Probably also a few butt joints, since gunports were always positioned to have the weight of the gun over top of a couple of beams.

You could also put in some treenails wherever the deck crossed a beam or where butt ends of planks met.  Treenails (or trunnels - there's often more than one spelling in old nautical terminology) are basically wooden dowels used in stead of nails since dowels don't rust and when they get wet, they swell and are stronger than metal nails.  They often had the ends split and little wooden wedges put in like an axe handle, but you couldn't see that at this scale.

There's a ringbolt near the back of the carriage, just in front of and above the rear wheel, that the tackle to run the gun up to the port is attached.  This ringbolt should be horizontal, not vertical, to reduce the strain when the gun recoils back.

That 'run-up' tackle should go outside the breeching rope (The heavy rope that goes from the bulwarks to the cascabel of the gun).  Lines should never criss-cross if at all possible, since if they can foul each other, they invariably will.  and lines that cross each other will cause friction and wear the ropes.  Definitely not something you want when a 2 or 3 ton piece of iron is lurching back from a shot.

The cotter pins on the wheel axles look kind of large.  That's probably the kit but I might have replaced them with something smaller.

The gun barrerl still has the flashing showing at the seams where the mold came together.  Probably something that couldn't be corrected though because it might have spoiled the finish on the barrel, so something you just live with, especially when you had such an incredibly short time to do such a nice piece of work.

The cheeks or side of the gun carriage should be cut into a minimum of 3 or, as looks in this picture, maybe even up to 5 different horizontal pieces of wood.  It just wasn't possible to make a single, flat sheet of wood strong enough to take the shcock of recoil, and so they used several thick pieces stacked on top of each other.  The steps in the back of the cheeks indicate how many pieces were used in this carriage.  there should be bolts on the top of each one of the steps at the back of the cheeks, and another at the very front of the cheeks to tie all these pieces of wood together.

As well as the sponge laying on the deck beside the gun, there should also be a couple of handspikes, one on each side.  These were sort of like wooden crowbars used to put under the wheels and then lifted up to slide the carriage one way or the other.  that was the only way they had to traverse the guns other than turning the whole ship.

Does the sponge have a "worm" on the end of it?  A worm is a double helix, sort of like a wine corkscrew, that was used to extract shot from a gun that misfired.

There should be a touch-hole at the top of the gun near the breech, to fire it/  This is just a hole drilled down to the powder chamber.

Spare ringbolts on either side of the gunport, horizontal again.  These were used during storms to lash the gun to the side of the ship.  If you didn't do so, this was where the term about somebody being "a loose cannon" came from.  You definitely did not want a loose cannon on a ship bouncing around in the waves.


Keep in mind Ernest, I'm not trying to be disparaging.  I think you did a great job and the cannon looks wonderful.  It's meant to be a decorative piece after all, not the super accurate model like all of your U-boats.  These are just things to keep in mind should you one day try your hand at a tall ship build. 

You can see why some of those sailing ship models often take several years to build.  Also I guess where I decided to build my own U-boat deck out of a couple of thousand pieces of wood.  It's actually not too bad compared to some of the wooden ship decks.




Offline billp51d

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Re: French 36 Pounder
« Reply #20 on: 04 Mar , 2010, 14:00 »
         Pat...Many thanks for the deck info. and the link for the veneer. It looks like the deck alone will be a project in itself....But well worth it.
                                                      Cheers/Regards, Bill
              Pat..Thanks once again. I did notice the "jogglin". Doesn't look that awful to replecate. As far as hatches, they look fairly do-able also. Operable hinges ?..Err,..uhh,
....ummmm ?..maybe later....To be continued...

Offline Pat

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Re: French 36 Pounder
« Reply #21 on: 04 Mar , 2010, 21:18 »
I'm glad about the critique.  I didn't want to upset you, but as I was certain that the cannon was done more as a decorative piece than a realistic one (at which it succeeded wonderfully), I thought you'd appreciate knowing about the historically accurate one from the way you do your workups on the subs.  I've learned a LOT from the guys on this forum.

I built a similar cannon years ago, and I found the same way that some of the rigging insstructions were lacking a bit.  Knowing about how the rigging goes on an old sailing ship is one of the things you learn over time, sometimes by good instructions or historical manuals, and sometimes by crawling around actual ships, which I've done a lot of.  After a while, you've seen so many of them, you just know, like the part about lines never crossing over each other because they might saw apart.

BTW, never trust an old painting of ships because the artists were often landlubbers who never went to sea, and just painted what they thought they saw from shore and made quick sketches of to finish off back in their studios.

How the cannon rigging goes is also a matter of long experience, seeing real ones on ships like HMS Victory, USS Constitution, HMS Rose, Pride of Baltimore, USS Providence, HMS WArrior, HMS Bounty, and many other ships I've been on.  And also sitting back, looking at it and thinking about how it moves in real life,so where things must have to go and the physics of it all (like the angle of the eyebolts).

It doesn't hurt to have had my own sailboat for over 30 years either, and finding out what works and what doesn't.  My boat, as you might not be surprised, isn't a modern-looking rig.  I have 3 sails, a teak taffrail, teak trailboards, the teak binnacle and teak-clad mast inside, and a carved wooden cartouche (nameplate) on the stern.

You're right Ernest.  After you've done decking a few times (with veneer), it's not much different that paper collage.  Just cut sith scissors and stick.

The hardest part is the frame underneath (which you guys are already skilled at judging by the ribs visible through the long slots over the saddle tanks) and knowing the right patterns to use.  The patterns you look up in research (some are standard, like the butt stepping and joggling) and some are specific to either certain types of boats or time periods (like the framing around hatches.).

I'm glad you find I've helped you become a better modeller.  You and the others have also returned that favour to help me be better at it also.


Offline Pat

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Re: French 36 Pounder
« Reply #22 on: 04 Mar , 2010, 21:33 »
Bill, yes, the joggling is easy when you see the edge of the deck on the U-boat where I pointed out.  Once you have that idea, the only thing to remember is never let a plank come to a point, cut it off at 1/3 width (or larger).

Yes, the hinges for most of the hatches on a modern ship are very simple.  There's about 4 different types (as I explained on another thread, I think Greif's on typ VII schematics) but the main one consists of just a piece of small brass rod and some thin brass shim.

Cut the shim into 2 strips each 1/2 the width of the hinge you want to make, (I can get down to each strip being about 0.5mm making a 1mm wide hinge) and then wrap them around the rod.  Then cut the rod off so that it's just long enough to fill both strip when they're around it.  Glue (or nail with an even smaller bit of wire) one strip to the frame/deck and one strip to the door/hatch.  repeat at the other end of the hatch.

Offline Rokket

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Re: French 36 Pounder
« Reply #23 on: 05 Mar , 2010, 16:09 »
It's a great dio and Pat's info is excellent to take it to another level.

Pat, some questions: gun casting seam - did they bother filing off the casting seam in real life? Also are you a Hornblower (books and TV) and Aubrey/Maturin fan?
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Offline Pat

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Re: French 36 Pounder
« Reply #24 on: 06 Mar , 2010, 10:15 »
I'll take the second question first since it's the easiest.

Yes, I've read all of the Hornblower series.  Also all of the Richard Bolitho series (similar to Hornblower written by Alexander Kent) and the Thomas Kydd series (told from the point of view of a pressed sailor instead of a midshipman/officer written by Julian Stockwin) and many of the Rammage books also (written by Dudley Pope).  There's also been a lot of single books that I've read but can't remember the titles and authors of the top of my head.

I never really got into the Aubrey books, just his style I guess but as I have several acquaintances who were the extras who actually sailed the ship in the Russel Crowe movie, of course I had to see that.

On top of that I've also toured several dozen sailing warships, most of the ones remaining in the world and watched one fire a 21 gun salute in real life.  (USS Constitution during her annual turnaround cruise)

But I've even gone one better than that and been on board during an actual 'battle' between two ships.  Ok, we were firing water balloons across about 300 meters of open water, but the maneuvering and sail trimming during the battle were just as real as the old days.

The first time I ever sailed on a tall ship, the first officer ordered me to "ready the main throat halyard" and couldn't believe it when I went directly to the correct line on the belaying pins at the foot of the correct mast.  He knew I'd never sailed such a ship before because they asked when everybody came aboard.  LOL

Offline Pat

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Re: French 36 Pounder
« Reply #25 on: 06 Mar , 2010, 10:44 »
Now for the second question.

No, they didn't file off the casting seam because there wasn't a casting seam in the first place.

AFAIK, the guns were not cast using re-usable molds but by using a form of casting similar to the 'lost wax' method.  This was because the sheer size of the casting and the heat of such a large mass of metal made it difficult to handle and would ruin a mold too quickly to make it of use.

In the lost wax method, they first make a 'cannon' out of wax formed around either wood or straw to make the bore.  This wax gun is smoothed and shaped as desired, with any ciphers or flourishes (like that on top of Ernest's gun) cut or pressed on top.  After the wax hardens, they coat it with clay or plaster, with straws insterted to provide air release and drains for molten metal.

When the mold hardened, they heated it up over a fire and the wax melted and ran out, leaving a holoow vessel with the inside the shape of the gun.

Most cannons were made out of iron, but the very best cannons were made out of brass because they were more accurate.

Then they poured in the molten metal, and as soon as it was thought to be cool enough to hold it's shape, they'd immerse it in water, which would cause the plaster mold to shatter.

If you look closely at old cannons, you'll see that the sides aren't smooth, but failry rough because of this process, which left no seams but also didn't look like anything a lathe would do.

At this point though, the inside of the bore was also failry rough and wasn't always straight.

there were a couple of methods to drill it out (which is why they called it the "bore", but one of the easiest to explain is when they suspended the barrel over top of long auger by tying a rope around the cascabel (the round ball at the end of the breech) and then using block and tackle, raised it striaght up on sheerlegs.

They turned the auger either by use of a waterwheel mechanism or more frequently, horses or oxen, while the block and tackle was slowly let out and the weight of the cannon itself drove it down over the auger.

This produced a straight hole in the barrel of the correct diameter, with no rifling (which is why they were called 'smooth-bores'). 

The two longest parts of the process were letting the raw casting cool down enough to work, and the length of time it took to drill out the bore.

It's amazing how much weight they could lift with this methodof blocks on sheerlegs, but that was how they raised the masts to fit in and how they loaded the guns on the ship after launching.  Also in some of the stories I've read (for instance "Diamond Rock" where the Brits took the guns off a warship and raised them up the side of a high cliff on an island overlooking a straight in the Caribbean that they knew French fleet would have to sail through.  The French couldn't even elevate their guns to shoot back.  It might be where the idea for "Guns of Navarone" came from.)

Offline billp51d

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Re: French 36 Pounder
« Reply #26 on: 06 Mar , 2010, 14:52 »
        Hi Pat...In addition  when it was finally realized that smooth bores had little control over the trajectory they developed the newer "bullet" shaped round. This lead to modern rifling. This is a interesting process also, as is the old method of lowering a cannon onto the auger. If you ever viewed the bore of of a 16" gun and wondered "how the hell did did they put all those grooves (rifling) in the bore ? It's and interesting and simple process. A broaching tool is pulled through the bore from the breech to the opposite end with a long cable thus cutting and forming the rifling itself. I learned this from an old navy yard machinist when I started my own trade "longer ago then I care to remember". ::)    Thanks, though for the info on smoothbores..
                                         Cheers/Regards, Bill