American-Built Packets and Freighters of the 1850s

An Illustrated Study of Their Characteristics and Construction

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About the Book

Up and down the Eastern seaboard during the 1850s, American shipyards constructed numerous large wooden merchant sailing vessels that formed the backbone of the commercial shipping industry. This comprehensive volume appraises in minute detail the construction of these ships, outlining basic design criteria and enumerating and examining every plank and piece of timber involved in the process, including the keel, frames, hull and deck planking, stanchions, knees, deck houses, bulworks, railings, interior structures and arrangements. More than 150 illustrations illuminate the size, shape, location and pertinent specifics of each item. Complete with a glossary of contemporary industry terms, this work represents the definitive study of the mid-nineteenth century’s great American-built square rigged ships.

About the Author(s)

Before his retirement in 1972, William L. Crothers worked as a draftsman in the design division of the Philadelphia Navy Yard. He is also the author of books on the construction of American clipper ships American packets and freighters of the 1850s.

Bibliographic Details

William L. Crothers
Format: softcover (8.5 x 11)
Pages: 408
Bibliographic Info: 164 illustrations, tables, glossary, appendix, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2013
pISBN: 978-0-7864-7006-8
eISBN: 978-0-7864-9085-1
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Table of Contents


Acknowledgments v

Preface 1

Introduction 2

American-Built Packets and Freighters of the 1850s 6

Alphabetical List of Vessels 8

Chronological List of Vessels 10

One. Preparation for Construction 17

Two. Woods Used in Ship Construction 32

Three. General Characteristics of Packet and Freighter Hulls 42

Four. Fastenings 62

Five. Scarphs 73

Six. Representative Midship Sections 81

Seven. Keel Assembly 98

Eight. Stem and Sternpost Assemblies 105

Nine. Square Frames and Floors 119

Ten. Keelson and Deadwood Assemblies 130

Eleven. Half Frames, Cant Frames, and Bow and Stern Timbering 146

Twelve. Stiffening the Hull; Hold Ceiling 165

Thirteen. Hooks and Pointers 181

Fourteen. Stanchions 190

Fifteen. Beams and Knees 199

Sixteen. Mast Steps and Mast Trusses 215

Seventeen. Clamps, Waterways, Binding Strakes, and Tween Decks Ceiling 220

Eighteen. Planksheer, Bulwarks and Rails 228

Nineteen. Forecastle and Poop Decks, Hatch Coamings, Bitts, and Deck Planking 238

Twenty. Salting, Exterior Hull Planking, Head of Ship, and Moulded Edges 249

Twenty-One. Cargo Ports, Scuppers, Channels, Rudder, and Side Lights 264

Twenty-Two. Metal Sheathing 272

Twenty-Three. Colors of the Ships 279

Twenty-Four. Hull Ornamentation 285

Twenty-Five. Figureheads and Billetheads 295

Twenty-Six. Weather Deck Arrangements 301

Twenty-Seven. The Ship’s Outfit 314

Twenty-Eight. Ships’ Interiors 322

Twenty-Nine. Masting Arrangements 336

Thirty. Rigging 351

Thirty-One. Flags and Signals 374

Thirty-Two. The Wake of the Ships 377

Conclusion 382

Appendix: Contract for Ingalls and Shephard, Sullivan, Maine, to Build a Hermaphrodite Brig, 1855 385

Glossary 387

References 392

Index 395

Book Reviews & Awards

“an absolutely essential book”—Nautical Research Journal; “a brilliant analysis of how American wood-built packets and freighters were constructed in the 1850s and their subsequent development. Crothers has made a valuable contribution to our understanding of American maritime history…definitive”—The Northern Mariner/Le marin du nord.