Surveyor's Observations in Margin, and other Documents from him appended.

I am strongly opposed to the use of treenails; bolt nails are much superior, and great improvement would be accomplished if they were general.

No good shipwright would fasten the plank as herein alluded to.


That all fastenings of shelf-pieces, water-ways, knees, and riders, be made available for fastening the outside plank and thickstuff with "double and single fastenings," and that such additional fastenings as may be required to make that system good, be made up by treenails; and where the bolts in the shelf-pieces, &c., fail to make proper butt fastenings, they be made good with through bolts of seven-eights of an inch in diameter.






[p 3]
I am strongly opposed to the use of treenails; bolt nails are much superior, and great improvement would be accomplished if they were general. No good shipwright would fasten the flank as herein alluded to, and scantling may be reduced, if treenails are done away with. Treenail fastenings, in the manner recommended, not with the unanimous approbation of the Committee, and I am still of the same opinion.

I have never conversed with any shipwright, living or departed, that objected to treenail fastenings; and, of late years, since the treenails have been mooted by a machine, they have become more efficacious, and from fitting the holes very exactly, rarely or never leak, which they formerly used sometimes to do, when mooted by an axe or plane. Their disuse would render it necessary to employ an enormous capital, equal to the value of the metal required for bolts, and bolt nails. When ships fastened entirely with metal come to be broken up, the difficulty of extracting the bolts nails would be so great, that a large proportion of them will unavoidably be sold with the old timber.

Lord Minto, in his visits to this Yard, has more than once interrogated me on this subject. I told him that our ships in the last war had gone through so much trial and service as might, perhaps, never again be required; and I had never yet heard of a ship being rendered unserviceable in consequence of a failure in the treenail fastenings; and that a large portion of the "Royal George," consisting of the [l]ower part of the stern, and inner posts, deadwood, and a considerable part of the bottom planking, exposing to view several of her butts, as well as the afterwood end, which were secured solely by treenails, were invariably in a sound state. I have known ships complain of the treenail fastenings, when made from other timber than English oak, as in the case of the "Naiad," now in this harbour, which ship has her plank fastened with African treenails. I have also known English treenails to be decayed, particularly in merchant vessels; but this has arisen from the treenails being either manufactured from green oak, or driven into unseasoned materials.

(Signed) R. BLAKE.

[p 29]
Fastening of Planking. In reference to the Surveyor's remarks, that he is "strongly opposed to the use of treenails," and that "bolt nails are superior, and great improvement would be accomplished if they were general," I observe that, at the present day, it is not a matter of opinion, but a subject on which long and universal experience has decided. The oldest ships on which I have had an opportunity of making observations were treenail fastened, as were also by far the greater proportion of British ships-of-war, during the long ware at the close of the last and the early part of the present century. And I have never seen any deficiency of strength as the consequence of using treenails, when they had been properly and judiciously employed; but I have seen treenails perfectly sound, and their security good, after having been in forty or fifty years. Instances might be cited, in which defects from the use of treenails have been fully manifest; but these defects were generally the consequence either of the badness of the treenails, or of their being improperly driven; and, latterly, it may very probably be the result of the unsuitableness of the timber used for treenails. But these facts cannot impeach the principle, provided due care be observed in applying it. It has been the case, that a partial use of bolt nails has been introduced into ships; and, in some instances, metallic fastenings have been exclusively employed: but I have always considered this alteration to be destitute of any improvement, either as to economy or advantage to the ship. It may be admitted, that bolt fastenings have a preference when great dispatch is required; but on no other consideration. The fastenings of planks on ships' bottoms may be considered requisite for a twofold purpose; first, to combine the planks firmly with the timbers; and, secondly, to resist the force of caulking the seams; and I consider that treenails are best adapted for both these purposes, when there is a sufficient quantity of fastenings to hold the plank close and firmly to the bottom until the treenails are driven: and for this purpose Mr. Blake's screws are fully adequate. I confidently believe that the oldest and the best shipwrights always considered that treenails were indispensable to resist the action of caulking, for which the bolt nail fastenings are not so suitable; and that they would not on any account have consented to give them up. And there is much greater hazard of splitting the timbers in driving these bolts than in driving the treenails. I do not consider it is necessary to use so many treenails as were formerly used, nor to drive them so large. At the same time I cannot approve of the reduction of the scantling, as recommended by the Surveyor, since the great body of timbers in the frame of a ship is not so necessary to give the required strength as to give the solidity and firmness which appear essential in a ship-of-war.


[pp 53-54]
I am strongly opposed to the use of treenails; bolt nails are much superior, and great improvement would be accomplished if they were general. No good shipwright would fasten the flank as herein alluded to.

The scantling may be reduced if threenails are done away with.

The Surveyor, by his statement that "bolt nails are much superior to treenails," proves that he has no knowledge of the proper mode of fastening a ship for "no good shipwright," nor even an indifferent one, would advocate the driving of short bolts. All bolts should be driven through and clenched. A treenail, well caulked at the ends, is a very superior fastening to a short bolt: and it is an erroneous assertion, that the doing away treenails would admit of the scantling being reduced. Bolt fastenings not only increase the expense considerably, but greatly add to the weight of the ship, and is in some degree the cause of the Surveyor's vessels swimming so deep.

(Signed) O. LANG.

[pp 67-68]

Report of the Committee of Master Shipwrights on the Construction of Ships of War; with the Observations of the Surveyor of the Navy thereon: also, remarks on the Observations of the Surveyor by the Master Shipwrights. With Tables and Plans.
W. Clowes and Sons, London, 1845.

Transcribed by Lars Bruzelius

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