Wooden Bridge Fronts - Ships Nostalgia
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  #1  
Old 5th July 2019, 18:04
Taxonomist Taxonomist is offline  
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Wooden Bridge Fronts

Many cargo vessels and tankers built as late as the 1950s had wooden fronts to their bridges, even though the rest of their superstructures were steel. Why was this so? Was the wooden front at these late dates merely a design feature, an echo of past practice, perhaps, or were there practical reasons? All comments are welcome.
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Old 5th July 2019, 18:39
Barrie Youde Barrie Youde is offline  
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#1

All of those things: and largely unfortunate.

It was a design feature which has continued to dehumanise much of maritime life.

Many of us here are grateful that we saw things before other things happened.
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  #3  
Old 5th July 2019, 18:45
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Bridge teak front. Sad loss.

Bridge wing teak railings disappeared. Teak wheelhouse doors.
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  #4  
Old 5th July 2019, 19:34
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Originally Posted by Taxonomist View Post
Many cargo vessels and tankers built as late as the 1950s had wooden fronts to their bridges, even though the rest of their superstructures were steel. Why was this so? Was the wooden front at these late dates merely a design feature, an echo of past practice, perhaps, or were there practical reasons? All comments are welcome.


Reduce interference of magnetic field around the ship's magnetic compass. This was the reason why most of the wheelhouse is wood construction. When gyro compass cam in then it was not so critical. The wooden bridge front was a hang over from the past and 'bright work' looked very smart.


Stephen
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Old 5th July 2019, 22:03
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Marshall Meek states that (at least in some cases) it reduced weight. Since he was Blue Flue's Naval Architect for some time, I'll take his word for it. When I have time, I'll check his book, but I am sure it is one reason.
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  #6  
Old 5th July 2019, 22:13
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To give the deck crew some brightwork to varnish?
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Last edited by spongebob; 5th July 2019 at 23:01..
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Old 5th July 2019, 22:59
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To I've the deck crew some brightwork to varnish?
In Blud Funnel, that particular jkb was reserved for the middies.
I never touvhed a pot of varnish in my time there.


That's the result when you cant find your reading glasses.
The shame of it!
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Old 6th July 2019, 07:57
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In Blud Funnel, that particular jkb was reserved for the middies.
I never touvhed a pot of varnish in my time there.
Quite right, though other companies called us apprentices. Applying varnish was the easy reward for all that scraping and sanding. Teak rails would be either bare and oiled after vigorous treatment with sand and canvas, or they would be scraped, sanded and varnished, only to be scraped, oiled and sand and canvassed again whenever the a new mate with different ideas arrived.
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  #9  
Old 6th July 2019, 09:17
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In the POLAR URUGUAY built 1960, (Hamburg Sud but as Uiterwijk Lines) the hull and superstructure was steel... as usual. The top of the money island with standard compass was partly aluminium. Partly, a square plated, roughly 5m x 5m was aluminium. Not a welded connection, it was bolted together. The signal mast, quite close to the compass was all of aluminium as well. The reason? To reduce the magnetic interference.


For many ships it was definitely for cosmetic purposes. The two Furness Line ship Monarch of Bermuda and Queen of Bermuda. The wheelhouse was all of steel construction but the bridge front, wind cabs etc was all teak cladded. Served no purpose other than for cosmetic purposes. The ship were built 1931/32 and about five years later the teal was removed. To costly to maintain.

The earlier Furness m.s. Bermuda of 1928. The whole bridge, house, cabs was steel framed and then made from teak. The ship went on fire in 1931 and the whole bridge was burnt... and rest of the superstructure as well. Taken to Belfast for rebuilding the bridge was then all steel. Before completion the whole ship went on fire again!
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Old 6th July 2019, 09:21
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Quite right, though other companies called us apprentices. Applying varnish was the easy reward for all that scraping and sanding. Teak rails would be either bare and oiled after vigorous treatment with sand and canvas, or they would be scraped, sanded and varnished, only to be scraped, oiled and sand and canvassed again whenever the a new mate with different ideas arrived.
and don't forget the B O T Lime juice to bleach and bring out the grain prior varnishing, and as you say until the new mate arrives with different ideas.

Holy stoning and sand and canvas certainly built up the muscles, we didn't need on-board gyms in those days
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  #11  
Old 6th July 2019, 11:12
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The interior of plastic and steel yachts are still largely wood, a living material that people deem more pleasant to touch than any man-made material. Why this should be so, I believe nobody has satisfactorily explained.
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Old 6th July 2019, 11:28
Barrie Youde Barrie Youde is offline  
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#11

The principle, surely, is that there's no accounting for taste!

Some see beauty in large modern cruise liners and private moror-yachts (generally known as gin palaces); while others, at least equally in pursuit of pleasure, abhor such things. One man's meat is another man's poison.
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  #13  
Old 6th July 2019, 11:32
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The interior of plastic and steel yachts are still largely wood, a living material that people deem more pleasant to touch than any man-made material. Why this should be so, I believe nobody has satisfactorily explained.

How about modern cruise ships. The decks are now cladded made of some plastic composition. It is brown and even comes with black stripes to look like caulking. It might look like a wooden deck but it feels completely false. We are not easily fooled!
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Old 6th July 2019, 20:49
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It is a connection with nature for some , modernity and expediency for others .
You cannot deny that a warm sheep wool jersey is far more comfortable than a cotton based synthetic yarn .
Raw timber likewise in the ship, yacht, boat or home its natural richness adds a dimension for me .
Nowadays even the garden lawn is in the firing line as synthetic turf invades the outdoor space .

Bob
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Old 6th July 2019, 22:27
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As they used to say...

If we were supposed to have GRP boats we would have GRP trees!
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Old 6th July 2019, 23:13
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Then again, we are told that it took 100 acres of mature English Oaks to build the Mary Rose, thank goodness for iron and steel .
One of the obvious lacks of marine culture is the use of chrome plate to cover brass !!

Bob
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Old 7th July 2019, 08:08
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Originally Posted by Stephen J. Card View Post
Reduce interference of magnetic field around the ship's magnetic compass. This was the reason why most of the wheelhouse is wood construction. When gyro compass cam in then it was not so critical. The wooden bridge front was a hang over from the past and 'bright work' looked very smart.


Stephen
This is just about correct. I am suprised no deck cadet/officer has commented on this subject, and the swinging of the compass after drydock or off gibraltra.
If memory serves me correctly the standard marine compass on the ship was in a standard column, and it was cladd in wood. If one removed the outer wood, where there not staves of iron/material which was within the column and surrounding the ''inner pedestal'' and it was when swinging the compass, these rods of ''iron, material'' positionesd to give the compass a true north reading, regardless of the vessels surround steel, and iron?.
Hence the 'swinging of the compass was generally only completed after drydock where a lots of steelwork structure had been repaired/refurbished.
The standard tower/stand was a 'Binnacle' as described in ''wikileaks'' This engineer is fumbling, but still they have pictures of the 'binnacle and its balls of steel, but no internal details beneath the actual compass?? Thats for you? It may be all Balls off course???

Last edited by david freeman; 7th July 2019 at 08:21.. Reason: more info
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Old 7th July 2019, 08:38
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Originally Posted by seaman38 View Post
and don't forget the B O T Lime juice to bleach and bring out the grain prior varnishing, and as you say until the new mate arrives with different ideas.

Holy stoning and sand and canvas certainly built up the muscles, we didn't need on-board gyms in those days

or Gravy browning to darken the wood!
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Old 7th July 2019, 20:22
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This is just about correct. I am suprised no deck cadet/officer has commented on this subject, and the swinging of the compass after drydock or off gibraltra.
If memory serves me correctly the standard marine compass on the ship was in a standard column, and it was cladd in wood. If one removed the outer wood, where there not staves of iron/material which was within the column and surrounding the ''inner pedestal'' and it was when swinging the compass, these rods of ''iron, material'' positionesd to give the compass a true north reading, regardless of the vessels surround steel, and iron?.
Hence the 'swinging of the compass was generally only completed after drydock where a lots of steelwork structure had been repaired/refurbished.
The standard tower/stand was a 'Binnacle' as described in ''wikileaks'' This engineer is fumbling, but still they have pictures of the 'binnacle and its balls of steel, but no internal details beneath the actual compass?? Thats for you? It may be all Balls off course???
Nevertheless the ship only needs swinging, or the compass adjusting, after building or after repair work or alterations. So whatever the material the compass will only be affected by change of the ship's magnetic field after adjustment leading to compass deviation. This can also be caused slightly by the ship's vibration on a long run on the same course and rather more by a cargo of iron or steel. The material of which the ship is built is mainly only a factor in the initial adjustment of the compass.
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Old 8th July 2019, 02:27
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In 2010 I spent weeks sanding, scrapping, and oiling then varnishing the bridges and wheelhouses on the old South Steyne in Darling Harbour in Sydney, then when that was finished the taff rails that where on both decks, lovely sunshine no pressure.
Tugger
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Old 12th July 2019, 04:56
russellward russellward is offline  
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Many cargo vessels and tankers built as late as the 1950s had wooden fronts to their bridges, even though the rest of their superstructures were steel. Why was this so?
Was it for style or was it perchance that there was a magnetic compass close to?
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  #22  
Old 12th July 2019, 08:35
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Originally Posted by russellward View Post
Many cargo vessels and tankers built as late as the 1950s had wooden fronts to their bridges, even though the rest of their superstructures were steel. Why was this so?
Was it for style or was it perchance that there was a magnetic compass close to?
See #19 for a logical explanation. Also don't forget British shipbuilders were loathe to change their ways, that's why we lost the industry
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Old 12th July 2019, 08:41
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Originally Posted by Robert Hilton View Post
Quite right, though other companies called us apprentices. Applying varnish was the easy reward for all that scraping and sanding. Teak rails would be either bare and oiled after vigorous treatment with sand and canvas, or they would be scraped, sanded and varnished, only to be scraped, oiled and sand and canvassed again whenever the a new mate with different ideas arrived.
Robert, if it was the apprentices that were doing the sanding and varnishing, what was the carpenter doing with his time.
As I have said before I only sailed on European ships mainly Norwegian and on the ships that I sailed on it was the carpenter's job to maintain all of the woodwork around the ship and if he had a big job to do he would have another deckie to help him. But there again I have never sailed on a ship with apprentices or cadets.

Cheers Frank
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Old 12th July 2019, 08:47
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Robert, if it was the apprentices that were doing the sanding and varnishing, what was the carpenter doing with his time.
As I have said before I only sailed on European ships mainly Norwegian and on the ships that I sailed on it was the carpenter's job to maintain all of the woodwork around the ship and if he had a big job to do he would have another deckie to help him. But there again I have never sailed on a ship with apprentices or cadets.

Cheers Frank
Apprentices (cadets) were very very cheap labour and you could use them for hours on end without the need to pay them overtime. They were great value to a shipowner at 72 per annum (1950's)
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Old 12th July 2019, 10:03
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Wooden Bridge Fronts

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Apprentices (cadets) were very very cheap labour and you could use them for hours on end without the need to pay them overtime. They were great value to a shipowner at 72 per annum (1950's)
I sailed on ships as one of four and sometimes two apprentices. We were happy and well looked after. Good company and much attention was paid to our education although this did depend to a degree on the C/O or 1/O. However, it was part of our voyage routine to maintain the "brightwork" including two large gangways to the highest standard.. We all took huge pleasure in so doing and the results were a delight. No varnish work ever looked better. If the company appeared to be or were gaining cheap labour, it never occurred to any of us at that time. Wonderful days.
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