A Sheer (profile) view of the majestic liner "Canberra" will we ever see such ships again?
With the advent of the computer lofting was right in the forefront of CAD and while this is not the place to go into it, when you look at the majority of ships today you will see that they have very few nice shapes to them, this in my opinion is of course a saving in time therefore money as it is easy to develop a nice flat shape and you don't need the same type of skill set to do, but the end result is somewhat poorer shall we say and leave it at that. In general commercial shipbuilding rarely will you see a beautiful raked bridge front angled on all sides with curvature all the way up, or a nice raked funnel all of which took into account the fact that a curved shape that was "fair" created less wind resistance and hence less fuel to burn to get to your destination, we are more likely to see what looks like a box structure plonked on the aft end of a boxy looking hull as this is more economical to build and should make the ship owner more money in the short term.
A typical view of a CAD model, this one shows part of a container ship's lines.
It has to be said that the American Shipbuilders (see New York Shipbuilding Company) contributed a lot to the progress of and the use of Lofting, at the turn of the 19th century they were leaders with the use of templates being made to ensure that the full size part was correct and in issuing full size templates to the plate shops the risk of a plate not fitting and there fore expensive re-work was vastly reduced.
A message that some of todays shipbuilders would do well to heed in this day of just forcing every thing to work to budget, and never mind the quality, they dont seem to see that with the more time spent getting it right first time the less overall cost and better job is produced.
Along with the need for templates for the developed shell plates complete with all the rivet holes marked, the need arose for the provision of bevels as the ships frames lie at 90degrees to the ships centre line, this means that on a frame made from angle section the flange of the angle plate needs to sit flush on the shell, and to do this the flange of the angle section had to be formed to the bevel of the frame.
Other problems solved by the Loft involved the complex areas of the bow where the anchor recess was placed and the run of the hawes pipe through the recess, this would usually be laid out on the floor at a working scale which would entail the construction of a quarter size mock up, which would be assembled in the Loft complete with scaled wooden anchor to ensure that the anchor worked when housed into the recess and the anchor did not damage the shell on raising and lowering, once the mock up was made this would be shown to the incumbent Lloyds surveyor for his satisfaction that there would be no problems with the design and workings when manufactured and in the bow of the ship. More mock up's would be made of things like stern rollers and complex funnel shapes along with bulbous bows. With the mock ups generally being made from yellow pine, a wood that is very good to work with and clean too.
Every shipyard had it's Loftsmen and most Lofts worked roughly the same way until it came to the complex problem of shell plate development, some yards used the Triangulation method as they did at Leith while some yards used the Square Line method, both were just as complex and both resulted in the shell plate expansion required, one yard which used the Square Line method and produced some of the finest looking ships was the shipyard of Charles Connell in Scotstoun, on the River Clyde.
This was a much larger shipyard than Henry Robb at Leith and as such required the use of more Loftsmen, one of the old Connells Loftsmen has kindly sent in a photograph od the Loftsmen from June 1954
The Loftsmen of the Charles Connell Shipyard, Scotstoun,
Glasgow taken in June 1953
Sent into the website by George Lamb and shown here by
the names are left to right;
back row; Harry Hamilton, George Lamb , John McManus,(assistant
foreman) John Conner, John Dalziel,
mid. row; Willie Stephen, Jackie ?, Willie McKay,
front row; David Cowan, Peter Weir, Allan Heron, John
There was also the lad who took the photograph, Ronnie McLaughlin
The Charles Connell shipyard Interestingly enough the shipyard of Charles Connell were
also well known for producing some very fine ships and they in fact built
around 17 ships from 1917 to 1967 for a very famous Leith Shipping Line namely
the Ben Line who's many fine looking ships got to be called the "Leith Yachts"
by the men who sailed with Ben Line such was there look.
A typical Ben Line "Leith Yacht" from 1958 built by Connells
The photograph is from a fine website run by Bjorn Larsson