Saturday, 17 May 2014

LIGHTSHIP CORMORANT / LADY DIXON - Chapter 45




Some time ago Simon bought himself a canoe, but unfortunately it was holed in a storm – sounds romantic but actually it was tied down on the roof of the superstructure and something fell on it!  Anyway, it is now repaired and this excellent weather has tempted Simon to christen it and take some photos of the hull from sea level. The hull was constructed with two layers of teak planking and covered by a sheet of ‘yellow metal’. This was Muntz metal - a form of alpha-beta brass with about 60% copper, 40% zinc and a trace of iron. It is named after George Frederick Muntz, a metal-roller of Birmingham, England who commercialised the alloy following his patent of 1832. Its original application was as a replacement for copper sheathing on the bottom of boats, as it maintained the anti-fouling abilities of the pure copper at around two thirds of the price. It became the material of choice for this application and Muntz made his fortune.  
A notable use of Muntz Metal was in the hull of the Cutty Sark and I believe that only three vessels still exist which have the teak planks on iron frame with Muntz cladding construction – Cutty Sark, Simon’s lightship and one other.
Simon’s canoe-based survey showed that, in places, the Muntz is crumbling at the edges (aren’t we all?).  There is a definite limiting line just above water level – which would make sense.


In places the Muntz is in good shape

 and in others it looks like a patchwork quilt – or a piece of modern art!


On a more serious note, there are areas of the hull that are in need of some serious TLC. Thank goodness these are well above the waterline, but will need to be done nonetheless.


Some areas look fine, although still needing work.


David