[WWI] Try again - Felixstowe finish

Aidrian Bridgeman-Sutton smokeandsteam at san.rr.com
Wed Aug 18 19:48:10 EDT 2004

Try this again - the monster in the server seems to have eaten the last

Subject: Felisxtowe finish

To the best of my knowledge the Felixstowe boats were all finished in
plain marine varnish inside. Cetrainly this was the case with the F2 and
F3 boats and this fits with what is know of RNAS/RFC/RAF practice. The
famous (and ot) grey green interior finish dates from about 1932.

The lower hull on the Felixstowe boats has been sometimes described as
painted. I havem't found evidence for this on new aircraft as delivered
- according to the datafile the consruction made use of  Saunder's
patent Consuta sheathing named after the steam launch on which it was
first used.

>From Saunder's advertising in the 1900s: -
"The Saunders' Patent System of Construction consists of either two,
three, four or more skins, total thickness from one-eight inch upwards,
to suit requirements.

First, the stringers are placed in position, then a skin placed
diagonally, then a fabric waterproofed with our special solution; next,
a reverse diagonal skin, then another solutioned waterproofed fabric,
and lastly (in the case of three skins), the outer skin or planks placed
horizontally; they are then sewn together with specially annealed copper
or bronze wire with stitches varying from half-inch pitch upwards, and
are countersunk by a process which is part of the patent, resulting in a
hull of uniform strength, and while possessing great elasticity, is free
from vibration."

This is likely to be true of the Saunder's built boats. The multiple
layer hull with calico was used on the Curtiss boats, though in photos
these appear to have been nailed rather than stitched, (stitching is the
key part of the Saunder's patent). It looks as if some Felixstowe boats
were nailed as well - I guess that the other contractors weren't able to
get rights to the Saunders patent.

The finish over this looks to be marine varnish when new, but it's very
possible that boats in service may have been over painted. How long this
paint would have lasted over marine varnish is a good question - it
probably started to let go a few minutes after launching.

"And so while the great ones depart to their dinner,
The secretary stays, growing thinner and thinner
Racking his brain to record and report
What he thinks that they think that they ought to have thought."

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