An interesting article on the day after Nelson’s birthday – after using synthetic mastic, a modern caulking material commonly used in yachts, for the last fifteen year without success, the folks restoring Nelson’s HMS Victory have returned to using hemp oakum and pitch, the caulking technique use when the ship was new. Apparently the modern caulking materials could not adequately cope with expansion and contraction of the planking and the large spaces between the planks, allowing rainwater to seep through, causing rot in ship’s structure. In this case, the tried, true and traditional method seems to be the best. Visitors to HMS Victory will be able to see the ship being caulked just as it was before the Battle of Trafalgar in1805.
So now workers carrying out a £50 million conservation project are using exactly the same processes that Nelson’s men would have employed on the man o’ war ship.
The latest restoration project could take 20 years to complete, but visitors are getting the chance to see these traditional techniques in practice.
Already the forecastle – the forward upper deck – has been caulked and the rest of the upper decks will follow, with the remainder of the ship’s timbers being processed in due course.