Some aspects of the restoration of the 3-masted barque Glenlee now being carried out in Glasgow by the Clyde Maritime Trust Ltd.Hamish G. Hardie B.Sc.
Vice-Chairman Clyde Maritime Trust Ltd.
Chairman Glenlee Ship Committee
0141 339 0631
1. An historical summaryLength bp 245' 6" Breadth 37' 6" Depth 22' 6" 1613 tons gross 1490 tons nett
Built by Anderson Rodger of Port Glasgow for Sterling & Co Glasgow- riveted steel .She was launched fully rigged on the 3rd of December 1896 and named Glenlee.
Between 1897 and 1919 whilst trading under the red ensign she completed four circumnavigations and rounded Cape Horn sixteen times. Her last voyage under Spanish ownership was in 1969 and thereafter she was secured alongside at the Ferrol naval base as a school ship and where she was drydocked during 1981 and replated below the waterline. Her masts and yards were sent down and she was towed to Seville (45 miles up the Quadilquivir River) where she was abandoned to the sun and the vandals and where we found her in 1992 looking very sorry for herself.
The Trust had only ten days notice of the Spanish Navy auction but was able to make a successful bid of 8 million pesetas (40,000 pounds). A further 30,000 pounds was spent during 1993 to meet towing certificate requirements for the 1,400 mile tow back to the Clyde which was completed on the 9th June at an average speed of 6 knots and where she was drydocked for inspection.
2. The restoration philosophyOur key objective is to restore this last available Clydebuilt sailing ship with masts and yards rigged for permanent display on the river in the middle of Glasgow
In view of the many substantial and in some cases irreversible structural alterations to the ship over the years the Trust does not intend to restore her to her 1896 condition but rather to take advantage of some of these changes and, where appropriate, incorporate them into the restoration. It is paramount that the restoration preserves the integrity of the ship as a representative of her period and of the skills that produced her but it can also reflect that she has survived a hundred years of continuous maritime history.
The main features of the restoration plan are shown on the tri-era composite drawing (Appendix A)
500,000 pounds has been spent so far and the Trust has been awarded a further 2.1 million pounds to complete the work, hopefully, by the end of 1999.
3. New platesIt was only when she was drydocked in Scotland it became clear that the Spanish navy had replated her virtually 100% below the waterline at a draught of 4.4 metres amidships.
The method had been to remove the old plate by popping the frame rivets and weld-stitching the new plates back onto the frames through slots cut in the plates. There is no internal welding onto the frames. There are some places where the plates have been both riveted and welded.
They applied 144 anodes and apart from the tows from Ferrol to Seville and then to the Clyde she has lain in fresh or brackish water ever since. The Salvage Association drydock survey reads" The condition prior to painting was found to be very good with no evidence of pitting, corrosion or thinning of any description. "
4. Ballast problemsThe Spanish Navy installed 1260 tons of ballast in the form of thousands of iron blocks cemented between the side frames throughout the lower deck and a mixture of steel scrap and cement poured between every frame in the bottom of the ship. This of course remained in place when the bottom plates were renewed.
We believe that a ship can rot just as effectively from the inside as out so we decided that it all had to come out. It was a dreadful task achieved in eighteen months by twelve men provided free of charge by Glasgow City Council.
The ship rises 1" for every 17 tons removed and we have retained the iron blocks on board for restowing later. We have taken out 800tons and intend to reballast with old whisky barrels containing a mixture of 75% steel scrap and 25% cement and stowing them to represent a well known Scottish export although she never in fact traded from Scotland. (a hogshead so filled weighs 0.85tons)
5. Deck laying lessons learnedAll the weather decks will require to be replaced. The poop deck was destroyed by fire in Spain and the others allowed to lie in the intense Seville heat and sun without any maintenance or attention.
We are aware of the difficulties that other Trusts have experienced when replacing decks and we have taken every opportunity to discuss this as widely as possible and have consulted with TRADA (Timber Research and Development Association). Getting it right is vitally important as the decks represent such a high proportion of the total cost of the restoration.
Our researches lead us to conclude that there are two fundamental "rules"
Deck bolts are another common cause of water penetration. As the deck planks are not, in our situation, an essential element of the hull strength we will fix the deck planks to the beams with coach bolts (Appendix C) We will consider, at a later date, inserting dowels as a cosmetic exercise.
The main deck planks will be 5"x4" opepe hardwood (5"x3" over the stringer plates)
6. Masts and YardsBy the time the Trust acquired the ship the original riveted masts and yards had been replaced with a welded set and distributed to various ' unknown' locations in Spain. However when the Armada realised that we were serious about our intentions for their old ship they 'found' them and delivered them to our agent in Seville.
The larger sections were cut to facilitate this and as there is no problem about welding them we arranged for the complete set of 8 mast sections, 10 yards and 2 spars to be returned in 40 ft open top containers to our quayside workshop in Glasgow for assembly.
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