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Author Topic: National Maritime Museum records  (Read 895 times)

Colin Bishop

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National Maritime Museum records
« on: May 17, 2019, 11:02:56 PM »

Sometimes people are inclined to denigrate the NMM but in an effort to put things straight I would just like to highlight the free, helpful and very friendly services provided by their archival outpost at Woolwich Arsenal where the plans are kept.

I am interested in building a model of the Aberdeen liner Miltiades of 1903 and some initial research suggested that the NMM had some useful plans which indeed they had. After some email exchanges I arranged to visit with Ashley Needham this afternoon to look at their material and take photos. Many of the drawings are some 10 feet or so long and when laid out have to be photographed in sections. Model Boats magazine's R Carpenter and John Bowen have previously published 1:1200 scale waterline plans based on the NMM drawings so the priority was to get information on the underwater hull profile and more comprehensive detail on the deck plans, profile and individual equipment detail, all of which the NMM drawings had.

So I now have all the info I need for a 1:150 scale model. There is no need to purchase the NMM plans as the 1:1200 drawings show where everything is located and the photos I have taken give the required detail on individual fitting and rigging etc. I also have a comprehensive set of photos of the builder's model of Miltiades which was previously displayed in the London Science Museum but which is unfortunately now in storage.

As they say ' a good day out'

Colin
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Allnightin

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Re: National Maritime Museum records
« Reply #1 on: May 18, 2019, 09:27:14 AM »

Colin

Thanks for covering this which is useful to know, especially as an alternative to buying plans.  By any chance did you touch on the pricing structure for copies of the NMM plans while you were there?  My biggest issue is that the minimum charge is effectively 70 Pounds for a single plan, be it big or small.  I had to pay over 140 Pounds for a GA and body plan for the Mimi/Toutou WW1 launches even though these are quite small.  Ironically anyone else that now wants those plans can see them as thumbnails on the Ship Plans website and get pretty much all the info needed to build a model anyway!
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Colin Bishop

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Re: National Maritime Museum records
« Reply #2 on: May 18, 2019, 12:06:33 PM »

I was told that normal means of supplying the plan is as a jpeg high definition file which you can then print out to a manageable size or to suit your model scale. It does indeed seem that the person who first asks for a plan/file has to bear the cost of digitising but it is possible that nobody else would be interested. The NMM shop offers actual size prints but for larger vessels these would not be very practical. The Militades main plans are all around 3 metres long.

I can't really comment on the pricing structure for various plan print sizes and I can't obviously see where there is an option to select jpeg files on the website for those plans already digitised. Might be worth enquiring about that as possibly cheaper. Yesterday's session was only a 2 hour appointment for a specific purpose and we needed that to spread out and photograph around 8 plans, most of which were of the 9m size! So there wasn't time to discuss and explore the pricing options in general. I took 116 photos altogether, overlapping along the sheets.

Digitising some of these plans must be pretty difficult. They are of all shapes and sizes and made of different materials. Some are on really thick sheets which are tightly rolled up and difficult to spread out flat. Some are on 'normal' looking paper and folded while others are on a 'waxy' type of material like thick tracing paper also folded. The plans are often very fragile, the ones we looked at yesterday date back to 1903 and were of all three types and the folded plans which extend out to 3m are really delicate and almost impossible to totally flatten without risking damage along the fold lines. I can understand why it might be quite a costly process.

I am not allowed to reproduce any of my photos on here I'm afraid but they are legible despite flash understandably not being permitted. I can probably clean them up a bit in Photoshop Elements if necessary.

Colin
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SJG001

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Re: National Maritime Museum records
« Reply #3 on: May 18, 2019, 02:54:00 PM »

Most plans are relativity easy to digitise - most companies charge between £5 - £25/sheet. As you point out it depends on printing material / medium, ink, etc.


Unfortunately between 1850 and 1990 one of the main reproductive methods used a light sensitive medium which was chemically cured - These are very difficult to scan as the curing was never complete and after about 5 years the plans begin to fade. The light used in the cheaper scanning processes tends to accelerate the process.


To make matter worse the some of ink used by the draughtsmen on the originals degrades on exposure to UV or high intensity light (i.e. scanning machines). My generation of engineer used Rapidograph  type pens which all had a standard line width before moving to AutoCAD. The "pens" used before were adjusted by a screw  and they used to keep lines as fine as possible.


This is a lesson I learned painfully as I had a 95 year drawing scanned to go in a CDM package only to watch as the already faded drawing completely fades into nothing going through the machine.



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Allnightin

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Re: National Maritime Museum records
« Reply #4 on: May 18, 2019, 04:20:54 PM »

I can't really comment on the pricing structure for various plan print sizes and I can't obviously see where there is an option to select jpeg files on the website for those plans already digitised. Might be worth enquiring about that as possibly cheaper.

You have to write or email them and ask for a quote.   If you buy a copy of an existing jpg scan it still starts at 50 Pounds in my experience but at least you can get a thumbnail of the image to confirm it is going to cover what you are after in the first place.
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Bowwave

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Re: National Maritime Museum records
« Reply #5 on: May 18, 2019, 08:35:05 PM »


Ordered a set of plans from the NMM  for a future project HMS Hood 1889 .  Yes they are expensive  but it's that or  ditch the whole project   the one saving grace it that the 1:48 scale plans are reduced to  my build scale of 1:96.  As Colin has  pointed out the staff at the NMM are indeed very helpful  .
Bowwave

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raflaunches

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Re: National Maritime Museum records
« Reply #6 on: May 18, 2019, 08:53:15 PM »

I agree on all counts, tad expensive but sometimes itís something you need to do.
Andrew Choung, was, is, not sure at the moment, the curator of the NMM plans and photos section and he was absolutely fantastic at helping me choose the correct plans for some of my project several years ago. He was genuinely interested in what I was doing. I often sent him pictures of the models for his reference.
Itís a facility we should try to use to keep it going.
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Nick B

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Colin Bishop

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Re: National Maritime Museum records
« Reply #7 on: May 18, 2019, 09:33:18 PM »

Yes Nick, it was Andrew we saw yesterday. A really helpful and friendly guy. He appreciates it if you know your stuff too.

Colin
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raflaunches

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Re: National Maritime Museum records
« Reply #8 on: May 18, 2019, 09:38:30 PM »

Hi Colin


Iím glad heís still there, if it wasnít for him my model of HMS Gnat would have been harder to build. Last time I contacted the Plans and Photos Section I was told Andrew was rather busy, obviously now we know what they were up to with the digitalisation process.
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Nick B

Help! The penguins have stolen my sanity, and my hot water bottle!

Illegitimi non carborundum!

Bowwave

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Re: National Maritime Museum records
« Reply #9 on: May 19, 2019, 12:08:00 AM »


Alex Grover  assistant curator plans and photos at  the NMM  was more than helpful and  made sure that each plan was appropriate for my requirements . There is a builders model of Hood 1889  housed at Chatham and this  is available  for  inspection . Alas no half black  or shell expansion drawing  for  identifying the line of plates  :(( .
Bowwave .
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Colin Bishop

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Re: National Maritime Museum records
« Reply #10 on: May 19, 2019, 10:34:56 AM »

I think that if you want to build something out of the usual and to a reasonable standard then unless you are very lucky you have to accept that there could be significant costs entailed in gathering information. It's then a bit of a lottery as to where that information is held, how accessible it is and at what cost. In my case I don't need the NMM plans as the detail on the photographs I took of them can be correlated with the 1:1200 plans I have and my photos of the builder's model of the ship. So I have got off pretty lightly!

Colin
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redpmg

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Re: National Maritime Museum records
« Reply #11 on: May 19, 2019, 11:23:37 AM »

All I can say as someone now living in South Africa  that no matter how helpful the staff are the plan prices are way beyond our reach. Some 15 years ago I had a friend in London (who dealt with the museum often) enquire on my behalf about the plans of HMS Sandpiper, the Chinese "River Gunboat" . The cost quoted at that time was 145 pounds which works out at just over R 2600 or our entire food budget for the month ! So that plan was shelved and the model never built. I know that at least one other person had obtained a copy of those particular plans as a model he built from them was on one of the displays of the Surface Warship Club, with an acknowledgement to the NMM.
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Geoff

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Re: National Maritime Museum records
« Reply #12 on: May 22, 2019, 01:44:32 PM »

When I built my model of Iron Duke (1/96 scale) I also found the NMM were extreemley helpfull and knowledgeable and very quick in responding. I did find the prices high but found that you don't need to purchase the whole set. If I recall the whole set for ID was about £600 and I settled for three sheets about £70 if I remember. Hull lines forecastle deck and main deck all at 1/48 scale!


Incredible amounts of detail as they are builders plans and therin lies some issues as they show superimposed details and updates and not necessarily as built but they are the best available.


I do wonder if they would sell more if the cost was more reasonable but to be fair the admin and copying costs for a unique set of plans come into it and things just cost a lot these days.


Cheers


Geoff
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