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 Request for Information: Cranes and Derricks 
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Post Request for Information: Cranes and Derricks
I'm interested in finding out more about dockside cranes and derricks used in the period. Several period manuals have illustrations and explanations of sheers and their usage. I'm looking for similar information and detail. Illustrations would also be helpful.
Thanks,
PT


Sat Nov 05, 2005 2:59 pm
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Post Re: Request for Information: Cranes and Derricks
PT wrote:
I'm interested in finding out more about dockside cranes and derricks used in the period. Several period manuals have illustrations and explanations of sheers and their usage. I'm looking for similar information and detail. Illustrations would also be helpful.
Thanks,
PT


I believe you will be disappointed. My guess is anything other than sheer legs (which could be dismantled and stored away) did not exist in yards until the late 19th Century.

Basic methods such as levers, rollers, inclined planes, parbuckles, block and tackle were applied on a ship by ship basis up until the general acceptance of the steam engine and with the decline of the sailing ship.

Simple block and tackle (pronounced TAYKLE) did the majority of the work and was readily available as part of the ship's running rigging.

Ship's themselves could be adapted to function as cranes. Ships were the most complex and capable engineering platforms of the age. Why mount cranes ashore when they'd get repeated use afloat? Why purchase anything that could not be stored in the hold of a ship? The larger part of the seafaring experience was doing repairs far from the nearest yard.

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Sun Nov 06, 2005 5:02 pm
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Hi PT,

Roger Morriss, in his book The Royal Dockyards during the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars states:

"These [Nicholas Pocock's paintings of the various dockyards], used in conjuntion with plans of the yards, show a similarity of arrangement between the larger yards—Portsmouth, Plymouth and Chatham—and the smaller ones—Deptford, Woolwich and Sheerness. Along the harbour or river frontage were wharves and jetties, mounting the occasional horse-powered crane."

I haven't had time to really look into this, but I'll let you know if I find more information.

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Sun Nov 06, 2005 5:40 pm
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A Sixth Rate on the Stocks - There is a capstan-powered crane in this painting.
Holmen, Copenhagen - 2nd photo from the top

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Sun Nov 06, 2005 6:14 pm
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....and using the excellent Port Cities UK site, is Three-Cranes Wharf, London, for perusal.

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Mon Nov 07, 2005 11:20 am
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Thanks to all of you that took the time to help me delve deeper into this subject. I particularly liked the site on the Port Cities. I also found this image there:
<a href="http://www.portcities.org.uk/london/server/show/conMediaFile.577/The-West-India-Docks-by-Samuel-Owen.html"> West Indies Docks</a>

Seems to me I have a vague memories of leaving Southampton as a small child, all those years ago.

Thanks again,
PT


Mon Nov 07, 2005 4:08 pm
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From a really cool site, the Science and Society Picture Library:

Here is an engraving of a horse-powered crane from 1764.
Cranes at Sheerness in 1830.
Model of a Wharf Jib crane
Model of a Rat's Tail crane
Model of James Ferguson's crane

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Mon Nov 07, 2005 9:54 pm
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susan wrote:
From a really cool site, the Science and Society Picture Library:

Here is an engraving of a horse-powered crane from 1764.




...... interesting .... how did they get the horse on the first floor? :D

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Tue Nov 08, 2005 6:52 am
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susan wrote:
From a really cool site, the Science and Society Picture Library:




That truly is a very useful and informative site, Susan. Thanks for that; I have bookmarked it for future use, and what we didn't know about cranes, we certainly do now.

:D

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Tue Nov 08, 2005 2:12 pm
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Post Re: Thanks
PT wrote:
Thanks to all of you that took the time to help me delve deeper into this subject.



I think it's been fun hunting around for this stuff, and others that some of us may know little of.

Incidentally, PT, in The Times of March 16, 1811, I came across a Parliamentary debate which read, among other things, relating to the Navy, and talking about expenditure:

" ....This increase, which must at first appear considerable, was to be accounted for on the ground of the buildings which were necessary to be erected in the different dockards, which should not possibly be dispensed with, and also by the expense incurred in suppling an additional number of cranes to the yards at Portsmouth and Plymouth where they were greatly wanted.... "

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Tue Nov 08, 2005 2:20 pm
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There is a list of the costs for work done at the dockyard at Plymouth in The Naval Miscellany (Volume VI), published by the Navy Records Society. It was based on a survey done in October 1694. One of the entries is for two house cranes. The cost: £296.

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Sat Nov 19, 2005 5:36 am
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From the October 1837 USJ:

"The Admiralty have directed sheers to be erected in this Dockyard [Portsmouth] for the purpose of taking out and putting in the masts and bowsprits of ships without their going into the basin. Three derricks are fixing, each 147 feet in length, parallel with those now in constant use, but only available for employment on ships in that basin. It is then expected the floating sheers will not be required any longer."

Then from the next issue:

"The additional pair of sheers for masting ships, erected on the Dockyard jetty facing the harbour, the foundation being piles driven into the mud, are nearly ready, and when completed will be tried with the main-mast of a first-rate, or other substance of equal weight."

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Tue Jan 10, 2006 9:02 pm
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Thanks again to all those who took the time to respond to my query. I'm still digesting some of the information you all have found and some of my own research. My quest for information on lifting heavy objects in the period has taken me far afield, partly because I couldn't find a reasonably priced copy of Brian Lavery's Arming and Fitting of English Ships of War; I think I've located one and have just ordered it.
Another book I've used is William Brady's The Kedge-Anchor written at the end of the age of fighting sail here in the States. It is also online though difficult to access without searching for it.
I have found information on derricks, sheers and something called a gin which was actually used by the military to mount heavy artillery in the period. According to one definition a derrick and sheers use one and two legs respectively and are held upright by guys. A gin has three legs: two like a sheers though joined by a crossbar and one called a pry pole to elevate the other two.
Thanks again,
PT


Wed Jan 11, 2006 6:46 pm
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susan wrote:
Roger Morriss, in his book The Royal Dockyards during the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars states:... Along the harbour or river frontage were wharves and jetties, mounting the occasional horse-powered crane."

Susan, I also noticed this book in your bibliography and found that it's a very detailed and interesting look at the dockyards. I think I liked the "workforce" section the best. Great paintings and a wonderfull map on the endpages.

Don


Sun Oct 08, 2006 12:37 pm
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.....just adding this to our collection of information of the subject: Blackwall. (compliments of the NMM site)

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Thu Sep 27, 2007 5:35 pm
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