Sewn-plank boat

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Sewn-plank boat

Postby Edwin Deady on March 30th, 2012, 4:24 pm

"I've been reading all about European sewn-plank boats, but I think I'll make a leather boat first since it's cheaper (for one reason) and the materials are quick and easy to get."

Jeff, sewn-plank should be easier as the planks form the boat shape for you. Would be nice to split out and hew the planks but purchased sawn will have to do for me.

As soon as I get over my immediate health challenges I will be doing a basic sewn plank boat. Money and lack of assistance have put my plans for a full-size sewn-plank version of the Roos Carr boat on hold but a utility craft is possible. I would take the Chilean Dalca as my model for the technigue to use with reference to the Ferriby Bronze Age boat that was reconstructed as a half-size version.

http://www.rivenoak.co.uk/1643/1685.html

Point is that one can create a basic boat using planked pirogue methods where the side planks control the shape.

http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=cmQb ... ue&f=false

Then the bottom plank can sewn on with its ends cut down and then curled up to act as stem and stern.

If only short planks are available then they can be sewn together. Spruce roots are used as thread in the Baltic area but I have experimented with bramble stems that would seem to work as individual stitches. Caulk and plug with beeswax/tree resin/lanolin.

Full-size Ferriby being built in Falmouth, England this year starting April and a Dover Bronze Age Boat is well under way.
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Re: Sewn-plank boat

Postby Jeff Scharp on April 1st, 2012, 3:18 am

I can see why you choose the Dalca for inspiration. What did the Roos Carr boat look like? I don't have any refences on it to know what a reconstruction might look like.

When I do make the wooden boat I'll make it with a logboat base. There is an old Sycamore tree in my yard that has the middle rotted out and I'm waiting to cut it down when I'm ready for this project...unless it falls down before then. I have to keep the finished length below 14 feet so it can be transported and I don't have to register it with the the government. The sides can be extended in any number of ways and sewn. I would like to copy the caulking method done on the Ferriby boats using all native (i.e. local) materials for caulking and stitching. Admittedly I'm years from that right now, but that gives me time for more research.

I'll admit I'm a little intimidated by the construction of some of the early boats. The use of cleats, weather inside or outside of the boat, means the planks should be 2 to 3 time thicker than the finished thickness. Each board is a sculpture in it's own right! Then there is the challenge of sourcing of enough elbow-frames to finish the boat. Once it's done those are some beautiful boats. Hats off to any reconstructionist.
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Re: Sewn-plank boat

Postby Edwin Deady on April 1st, 2012, 5:13 am

Considered opinion is that the Roos Carr is a logboat but I beg to differ for a number of reasons, and if I am honest, because I want it to represent a sewn-plank tradition. To get an idea I stretched a picture of the Roos Carr model then drew in the curve of the ends. Originall thought of the crew as being the accepted twenty plus of the 50 foot type boat examples we have but then argued that the five figures shown could have represented the whole crew thus a twenty+ foot boat could be justified and feasible.

For portability and storage I even considered building it in boltable sections but the run of the hull would have to be relatively straight for this to work well.

The Hasholme and similar craft were from very large trees but I feel that these were often a lucky find in the local rivers. They have internal rot and could easily have fallen into a river to be carried to the fortunate boat builders. More ordinary craft could well have run the whole gamut of skin, sewn and even trenailed. Much the same as the situation found in North America with many boats in use. I think we have to picture Late Bronze Age and Iron Age rivers as busy highways rather than lonely passages through the wilderness.

Weird the idea of registering boats, one of the few freedoms we have is that pleasure boats or amateur skippers do not have to be licensed or registered. Even European regulations recognise that historical boats and reconstructions should be exempt from assorted regulations.

One cheating solution to the cleat challenge would be to make them separately then glue them on. However if you reduce the size to fourteen foot overall the cleat shrinks in proportion as do the dimensions of the iles. If one uses a pirogue model then swelling amidships can make a short boat as seaworthy as a canoe but a straight run "authentic" with bottom plank iles and middle plank held by cleats and wedges is going to be very narrow especially thinking that side flare is apparently limited in the full-size versions.

An example of changes that size dictates would be an idea I had for a reduced size Hjortspring Iron Age boat. In the original the hazel supported seats are in twos, a reduced scale version could use the design but would probably have to have them as singles. As the makers of a half-size Hjortspring found out, the inverse square law is a hard task master, roughly half the size means a quarter of the crew can be carried.

What all the evidence does show that in woodwork back then they were as skilled as they were in metalwork.
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Re: Sewn-plank boat

Postby Edwin Deady on April 10th, 2012, 4:14 pm

Had the thought that even if a boat can't be done yet a paddle(s) still can be. Ideally with an axe and copy of an early bronze knife but if a problem I got a new hook knife for my birthday. Design will probably similar to this BA type
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/kent/8125561.stm
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Re: Sewn-plank boat

Postby Edwin Deady on April 16th, 2012, 6:19 am

And I will be making that other essential item especially for a sewn plank boat, a bailer. Another carving job.

Two possible types to copy.

http://nms.scran.ac.uk/database/record. ... -102-201-C

http://nms.scran.ac.uk/database/record. ... chdb=scran

I favour the open ended sort as a closed end really only works when you have a considerable depth of water in the boat which is something one would like to avoid. *smile*

A possible bailer from the Hjortspring boat looks more like a cup than a practical bailer although I suppose it would work.

See the role of the bailer from the gaelic Ship's Blessing:

Dh’ òrduicheadh a mach fear-taomaidh, ’s an fhairge
a’ bàrcadh air am muin, rompa is ’nan dèidh.
Freasdladh air leaba na taoma
Garbh laoch fuasgailt
Nach fannaich gu bràth ‟s nach tiomaich
Le gàir chuaintean;Nach lapaich ‟s nach meataich fuachd sàile
Na clach-mheallain
Laomadh mu bhroilleach ‟s mu mhuineal
‟Nam fuar-steallaibh,

A bailer was ordered up as the sea was bursting over them from the front and the back.
Let a warrier be liberated to deal with a bed of water coming into the vessel, a hero who will not ever feel weakened and will not become frightened by the roar of the oceans,
a person that the coldness of the salt sea-water and the hailstones will not weaken him as they fall around his chest and throat with cold gushing,
a man with a big, neat, rough, wooden bailing-vessel in his dark hands continually throwing out the sea which pours in,
a man who will never straighten his muscular back with stubborn confidence so that he does not leave a gill on the base or floor of the bilge.
Although her boards might grow as full of holes as a riddle, each plank of her anchor-board would be kept as dry as the plank of a cask.
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Re: Sewn-plank boat

Postby Edwin Deady on October 21st, 2012, 11:34 am

As a sort of reverse engineering exerciseI have been looking at the Chilean Dalca sewn boat and with that in mind have reexamined the Ferriby plans. Something obvious but speculative occurred to me. In Chile they think that either the three plank design came from a bark boat or the plank boat came from the bark. Whatever, progression from one to the other is very likely. In Britain, if we had Neolithics, or earlier, sewing smallish canoes together then by normal economic demand they might well have wanted
larger and larger vessels.

BUT their thinking could have been fixated on the sewn boat three plus plank idea leading to the necessity of thicker and larger planking with all the carving that that entails. Of course they might well have tried
larger currachs but rejected them because over about thirty feet sagging and hogging and flopping about become uncontrollable as well as being liable to the damage that thick planked boats can shrug off.

OK special pleading that my canoe design is valid but I see a possibility of something like it. As to evidence there is none at the moment apart from the roll of bark and evidence of the ability to sew at Star Carr along with examples of even Paeolithic planks in Dogger Land (submerged by the
North Sea).

A third-scale model would make a viable canoe as well as being quite a good "model". Sewing pattern perhaps should be different with separate lashings as in early Ferriby rather than the Dalca. And of course the fact that Ferriby designs had to have developed from something in order to have such a confident bit of carpentry and boat-building as we see in the existing boat.
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Re: Sewn-plank boat

Postby Richard Hare on February 10th, 2013, 11:16 am

Edwin,

When you get at this project, please keep us updated with lots of photos. It's things like this really interest me!
When I saw that oldest door so far discobvered in Britain, and its use of cleats, I thought That was intimidating.........never mind a cleated boat.
Have you tried willo withies for stitching? the young growth is very tough and flexible.

Thanks for the interesting thread.

Richard.
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Re: Sewn-plank boat

Postby Edwin Deady on February 10th, 2013, 12:25 pm

I will be using willow this Easter at a Bushcrasft meet called Cornwall RV (rendezvous) where lots of hairy UK Mountain Men gather to try crafts, drinking, archery, lying and hawk throwing. The idea is an open workshop for a coracle build over the weekend. I shall also have info boards on other ancient boat types including my experiment with using bramble withies for joining planks. The willow will be plaited for the gunwale of the coracle as well as for the ribs. I am trying for a very simple build so will try not using couples but single rods. If there is time we might make the frame for a bronze age kayak as well.

The Bronze Age boat build in Falmouth which is just finishing uses withies of yew branches, so far successfully.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=22chM3wYrk0

Incidentally, to return to the Iron Age I have heard that an Iron Age boat reconstruction is possible, of the Barlands Farm boat http://www.archaeologyuk.org/books/Nayling2004

In many way construction would be easier than for the Bronze Age ones as one would use reasonable flexible planks nailed to heavy timbers as described by Caesar of the Veneti ships.
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Re: Sewn-plank boat

Postby Ettore Viscontini on February 11th, 2013, 5:38 am

Interesting as usual
They fought disunited and they joined the fate of defeat
if they had been inseparable would be insurmountable
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