Painting ship.

Stop up all the Gear aloft.

Stay the Masts, and Square the Yards, with the utmost care.

Haul tort all the Ropes; rack aloft and haul into Tops as many as possible, for the purpose of clearing away all you can from the Paint-work below.

Scrape off carefully every particle of Blacking; fill up all rents and holes with putty; prime all knots with red lead; and clean and plane all Wood-work which is not to be Painted.

Clear one side of Hen-Coops, and clean out the other.

Have a spare Anchor ready, and Cable clear; the Cook's Funnel well cleaned; and Awnings spread or not, as requisite.

Scrub the Paint-work well with soap and warm water, or lime and water mixed; but any place particularly dirty or greasy, rub with a rag and a little turpentine.

Holystone, wash, and clean the Decks most thoroughly.

Pumice-stone is a capital thing for making Paint lay on smooth. It ought, first of all, to be smoothed itself, by rubbing on some hard substance, such as a Flag-stone; after which, being applied with a little perseverance to the Work about to be painted, it has a wonderful effect in filling up minute crevices, smoothing rough places, and furnishing a medium of ready amalgamation between the Paint and Wood-work.

During the process of Painting inside, the Decks ought to be kept damp during the day time, and carefully swept.

Brushes are generally scarce; hot water and soap, however, will clean them so effectually and readily, that a Black Brush [p 52] may, in a few minutes, be made clean enough to paint white with.

At first Fitting out, it is prudent to avoid expense in Painting; for it is more than probable that many alterations will soon be made, which will disturb the Paint-work a good deal; and certain that a deal of blacking will sweat through, the first warm weather. This soon puts Paint-work in a very unsatisfactory condition.

Green is a favourite colour for the Upper-deck and Boats. It is handsome, always pleasant to the eye, and stands better, perhaps, than any other. It is expensive, however, and not provided by the Dock Yard. Its priming is lead-colour; that is, white deepened to the shade required by black.

Stone-colour is a handy way of painting. It does not look amiss by any means; it stands well, and is [?] only requires a little Sierra and Umber, in addition to the Paint provided by the Dock Yard. By deepening the shade in the Gills of the Ports, the Spurchetting-Piece, and Shot-racks, a pleasant variety may also be given.

Wainscot and Oak-root are very handsome; but they do not stand well when exposed to the weather, as on the Upper-deck. They are best adapted to Cabins, Ward--rooms, Gun-rooms, or 'Tween-decks; and in such places, if well taken care of, will last and look handsome for years; and, though costly at first, may prove economical in the long run. The priming is Fawn-colour, or light Dock Yard.

White, with a gold Moulding, is perhaps the most beautiful of all ways of painting a Ship; but every grain of dust, and every tough of a dirty finger, will leave a mark upon it. Nothing stands so ill, especially in a small vessel, where the people are much crowded, and work of all sorts interferes infinitely more with the Paint-work than in a large roomy vessel. White, with green relief, is, I understand, the latest Mediterranean fashion.

Vermillion, also, is a beautiful colour for Cills of Ports, a Fancy Boat, &c.; but it stands only for a very short time, and when it does get shabby, looks worse than any other colour; it is also the most expensive. Flesh-colour is the priming. Red, on the other hand, stands better than any other colour, and is often used with advantage along the Water-ways, and round the Partners of Masts. [p 53]

Verdigris is often found adulteratted, especially abroad, but it may easily be tested by a little diluted Sulphuric Acid, which dissolves real Verdigris, but leaves untouched Whitening, and that sort of stuff, with which it is likely to be mixed.

Whatever Oil is used, ought to be boiled.

Black, to shine, have a good body, and dry well and soon, must be mixed with Turpentine and Spirits.

Dead-white is composed of White Lead and Spirits, with just a drop of Oil, or what is merely sufficient to cause the Spirits and Lead to amalgate.

Some paint the Royal Masts. When that is the case, the Flying Boom ought also to be painted as far in as the Tip of the Jib-boom. Others paint Skysail Masts, but not Royal Masts. It is a frequent remark, however, that these Masts, when painted, look as if Sails were never set upon them. It is the same with the Hounds of the Topmasts, which are often scraped and greased close up to the Cross-trees, by way of looking more like work. But these are matters of taste.

In painting Canvas for the first time, stretch it out well, and tack it tight to something solid, then wet it thoroughly, and when wet, lay on the priming.

REMARK. - A general Painting will require five tolerable days; during which time, a ship in good order will have her Yards as square, her Masts as well stayed, and her Ropes as tort, as if nothing of the sort were going on.

Alexander D. Fordyce: Outline of Naval Routine.
Smith, Elder & Son, London, 1837. pp 51-53.

Transcribed by Lars Bruzelius

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Copyright © 1998 Lars Bruzelius.