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Thread: Largest Wooden Ship Ever?

  1. #1

    Default Largest Wooden Ship Ever?

    Hello

    My brother, his long-time friend and I have been researching a train ferry, the SOLANO (1879-1930) for over 15 years. The SOLANO was conceived, designed and built by the Central Pacific Railroad and traversed the Carquinez Strait in the far northeast San Francisco Bay area, serving as a vital rail link between Oakland and Sacramento on the CP/UP Transcontinental Railroad (later the Southern Pacific RR). A few months ago we received an email from a Brit who happened to be interested in our HO scale model of the SOLANO. Within his email he casually mentioned that the SOLANO was almost as large as the WYOMING, a six-masted schooner commonly cited as "the world's largest wooden ship"! Our friend went on to say that the WYOMING's 450' length wasn't all that much larger than the SOLANO's 424' length.

    I didn't think much more about our friend's comment till the other week when a review of his comment prompted me to do a little Web research to compare these two vessels. What I found surprised me. Yes, the WYOMING was indeed 450' long, from the tip of the front sail boom all the way to the rear most sail boom (forgive me, I am not a "boat guy" so I don't know the proper terms). The "surprise" was that the WYOMING's hull was only 350' x 50". The SOLANO's hull, at 402' x 60' was definitely larger. And if one measured the SOLANO's overall deck size, including guards, she was even larger ...at 424' x 116'.

    <img src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3146/3098084691_018e331dfd_o.jpg">

    My Question: In your view, could the SOLANO actually be "the largest verifiable wooden ship ever"? Or does something disqualify the SOLANO in your eyes?

    The SOLANO was an all-wooden ship but she did have iron reinforcing bolts and also an intricate cable/post hogging system (BTW, she was also one of the few side paddlewheel vessels to be powered by TWO independent walking beam engines). I should mention that the SOLANO was later joined by her sister ferry, the CONTRA COSTA, in 1914 and that the CONTRA was 11 feet longer. However, the CONTRA had steel pilot house bridges that were an integral part of her structure so she may not qualify as an "all wood" boat in some circles. My guess is that there were other ships, such as the GREAT REPUBLIC, that might arguably surpass the WYOMING. But do any surpass the SOLANO?

    Your comments are welcome!

    Thomas
    Last edited by Solano Ferry; 12-12-2008 at 07:09 PM.

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    Default Re: Largest Wooden Ship Ever?

    Welcome to the Forum!

    Sadly, there is no "verifiable" as there is no hard and fast definition of "wooden ship".

    Some folks may define a wooden ship as one with all-wood framing, hull and decks, other definitions differ.

    We've has similar discussions many times on this forum. The answer usually arrived at is that almost all boats that we regard as "wooden" are in fact composite boats, made from many different materials.

    In a purist's eye, the only completely and totally wooden boat would be the old dugout log - no metal, paint, cordage or other non-wooden components.

    You'll also have problems (as you discovered) with how to "count" bowsprits, boomkins, etc. Some measurers always count 'em, others disregard 'em as they are not an intergral part of the hull and can be replaced with longer or shorter spars.
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    Default Re: Largest Wooden Ship Ever?






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    Default Re: Largest Wooden Ship Ever?

    Hi Thomas,

    This Solano? http://cprr.org/Museum/Solano/index.html

    Really nice web site

    Looking at Gross Registered Tons Wyoming 3,730 is a bit larger than Solano at 3,541 (sources: Wikipedia, and the web site above)

    I'm of the opinion that you have to count the whole ship when you are measuring largest. Certainly the marnina owner counts the bowsprit when they charge you for your slip.

    Tonnage is a better measure than length though, some long boats are thin and actually rather small. Not the Solano though, she really was huge.

    Interesting question, lets see what others have to say.
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    Default Re: Largest Wooden Ship Ever?

    Interesting question. I've always thought there were two practical measures for this sort of comparison. For "longest", it should taken as the "length between perpendiculars", with the Ps dropped from the extremes of the stern post and stem, with some room for argument when there is an extended stemhead or beakhead structure. Bowsprits, boomkins, rudders and overhanging rigs don't count. For "Largest", gross tonnage is a good measure, but you could use displacement as well.

    That makes Solano longer, and Wyoming larger.

    Norm

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    Default Re: Largest Wooden Ship Ever?

    Although I grew up with "length between perpindiculars" as the criteria of overall length measurment there is a new breed of experts, namely marina agents, who consider the total length between all spars to be the length of a boat as related to slip rental rates.

    The Romans during the rein of Caligula built a pair of massive boats on Lake Nemi that were intended to be used as pleasure palaces. They were some 200' in length with a beam of 60'. Even earlier, it is believed that the Emperor of China during the Ming Dynesty had a treasure ship constructed that was some 521' in length.
    Jay

  7. #7

    Default Re: Largest Wooden Ship Ever?

    Thanks for the input! Being new to this forum, I was not able to successfully link a Solano vs Wyoming slide to my first post, so let's try this. Click this...

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/2460024...n/photostream/

    ...to see a revealing side-by-side size difference between these two ships!

    As one of you had noted, the early SOLANO was rated at 3459 gross tons, yet her sister ferry CONTRA COSTA, nearly identical in size and overall configuration, was 5373 gross tons. This is conjecture on my part, but I think the SOLANO's gross tonnage was upgraded through the years as she was made beefier for the ever increasing weight of the newer rail cars and engines that now traversed her decks (she was originally designed for little Class A1 and A2 engines, yet at the end of her 51 years of service she would typically carry two far larger Class P3's plus a switcher plus heavy weight train cars in a single crossing!)

    I have an unconfirmed rating for the SOLANO at 5455 gross tons and right now I believe that to be closer to her real gross tonnage since it closely matches her sister ferry's tonnage.

    I very much understand the difficulties in listing "the largest wooden ship" given all the variations and conditions involved. What surprised me though is that the SOLANO is apparently not on anybody's list as "the largest", yet it looks as if it is giving the WYOMING and perhaps other possible contenders quite a run, don't you think?

    Yet this ferry is relatively unknown. Tom Hunter's reply above (good researching Tom!) cites the CPRR Museum...

    <http://cprr.org/Museum/Solano/index.html>

    ...yet the museum people didn't know anything about the SOLANO till we sent them the information that they now display on their site. Yet the SOLANO was designed and built by the Central Pacific Railroad.

    I find today's relative obscurity of the SOLANO fascinating. The SOLANO loudly claimed to be the "largest train ferry in the world" during her time (1879-1930) ...and yet few know about her these days. And now the SOLANO may possibly hold yet another accolade ...perhaps as one of the largest wooden ships in the world. That's pretty cool.

    Thomas
    Last edited by Solano Ferry; 12-12-2008 at 09:10 PM.

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    Talking Re: Largest Wooden Ship Ever?

    Had to be the ark...

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    Default Re: Largest Wooden Ship Ever?

    Simpler is better, except when complicated looks really cool.

  10. #10

    Default Re: Largest Wooden Ship Ever?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jay Greer View Post
    The Romans during the rein of Caligula built a pair of massive boats on Lake Nemi that were intended to be used as pleasure palaces. They were some 200' in length with a beam of 60'. Even earlier, it is believed that the Emperor of China during the Ming Dynesty had a treasure ship constructed that was some 521' in length.
    Jay
    Yes. The Italians drained that lake and were studying one of the vessels but the Nazis burned the remains when they were forced to retreat. Nice guys, them Nazis! Am not sure how verifiable the size of that Emperor of China's ship is. Many think Noah's Ark was around 437' long x 73' wide by 44' high. That hull would top the Solano's, but not by much.

    Thanks, Paul, for getting that slide to show on the forum!

    Thomas
    Last edited by Solano Ferry; 12-12-2008 at 09:29 PM.

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    Default Re: Largest Wooden Ship Ever?

    Hey Thomas

    The comparison drawing is very interesting.

    If your higher tonnage figure is correct then Solano could be the largest.

    Solano and Wyoming are both butting up against the size limit for wooden vessels. A bit larger and the strength of the wood is not great enough to maintain the integrity of the structure. That is one of the reasons that it is hard to believe that the Chinese built something much larger.

    A very cool find if you can document it. I would try insurance records to find more tonnage information, they might include that.
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    Default Re: Largest Wooden Ship Ever?

    Here is what wikipedia has to say:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of...t_wooden_ships

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    Default Re: Largest Wooden Ship Ever?

    The Solano still exists - sort of...
    For those familier with the Sacramento Delta you can see it here and again here
    Recently on PBS I saw a documentary about this vessel and they interviewed people still alive that remember using that ferry daily. There are film archives showing the Solano crossing the river.
    Google > solano, wreck

  14. #14

    Default Re: Largest Wooden Ship Ever?

    Solano and Wyoming are both butting up against the size limit for wooden vessels. A bit larger and the strength of the wood is not great enough to maintain the integrity of the structure. That is one of the reasons that it is hard to believe that the Chinese built something much larger.
    The type of ship construction the WYOMING represents might have indeed reached it's limits. Some quick Web research had uncovered some comments that the WYOMING would bend under load and her hull boards would separate, causing water to come in. She had water pumps for just that reason. Another commented that under certain conditions her rudder was not very effective. Instead of turning the ship, hard rudder would warp the hull!

    Designed by a railroad, the SOLANO was built more like a series of upside-down side-by-side open truss bridges. Unlike the WYOMING, the SOLANO's load was pretty much topside so the inside hull could have all sorts of structural obstructions (she had 13 water tight compartments, for instance). The WYOMING held coal so she had to have relatively unobstructive hull bins. The WYOMING was also built for heavy seas and long sails. The SOLANO was built to navigate one mile of flat water with 10 knot bi-directional currents. Very different waters!

    SOLANO's biggest challenge was withstanding constantly shifting load weights as heavier and heavier rail equipment traversed her decks. At her height she averaged a new load every half hour 24 hours a day till her sister ferry, the CONTRA COSTA, could come online. The Southern Pacific had to beef the SOLANO up for these tremendous stresses with heavier "ramp bumpers", new boilers (she had 8), and reworked hogging posts to keep her operational. Yet her basic overall configuration remained the same as when she was new in 1879.

    My feeling is that even though the WYOMING's design had possibly reached a size limit, the SOLANO's design did not. With some beefing-up here and there she handled well and worked hard for 51 years despite heavier loads on her deck. And that makes me wonder if other huge wooden ships, such as Noah's Ark and that Ming ship, might have been at least structurally possible.

  15. #15

    Default Re: Largest Wooden Ship Ever?

    Quote Originally Posted by Canoeyawl View Post
    The Solano still exists - sort of...
    For those familier with the Sacramento Delta you can see it here and again here
    Recently on PBS I saw a documentary about this vessel and they interviewed people still alive that remember using that ferry daily. There are film archives showing the Solano crossing the river.
    Google > solano, wreck
    Yes, Huell Howser flew us out to California to do a California's Gold segment on the SOLANO. It was a great time! The video is not very in-depth, but that's okay since all we wanted to do was let people know this vessel existed.

    Putzing around the SOLANO wreck via a pontoon boat was great! By then we could recognize many structural details of the wreck.

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    Default Re: Largest Wooden Ship Ever?

    I have sailed in that area for many years and have approached the wreck closely (and carefully) so am familiar with it and was certainly surprised to see it on the TV. Good job!

    There are other steamboat wrecks in the Delta that are impressive and fun to explore, but they are going back to earth pretty fast now...

  17. #17

    Default Re: Largest Wooden Ship Ever?

    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew Craig-Bennett View Post
    What an interesting thread!

    The difference in gross tonnage may have a very simple explanation - did the CONTRA COSTA have more in the way of deckhouses than the SOLANO?
    The CONTRA COSTA, built in 1916, had a nearly identical wooden hull as the 1879 SOLANO. But the new CONTRA was significantly different layout wise, mostly due to her updated engines which could be mounted over her guards. That allowed for the CONTRA's tracks to be straight. The SOLANO's huge twin A-frame engines where located in tandem centered on her keel, forcing her 4-tracks to curve around center cabins. The CONTRA's design also nixed the forest of hogging posts that the SOLANO was bundled in in favor of 4 simple hogging posts and a set of steel pilot house bridges that structurally kept the ship together.

    But the CONTRA paid a heavy price for placing so much weight (all eight boilers, 2-side wheels and 2-engines) all hung out on her guards while sporting such reduced hogging. Thoughout her life this ferry had a tendency to spit down the middle and had to be taken out of service for repairs more than her owners would have liked. She also reportedly suffered uneven "paddle dipping," making her a bear to captain if her loads were slightly unbalanced.

    Sporting a forest of hogging posts and a center cabin and two huge wooden A-frame engines that the CONTRA didn't have, I'd bet the SOLANO weighed more than the CONTRA, which was 11' longer and 2' narrower that the SOLANO. SOLANO's unconfirmed 5455 gross tonnage figure vs 5373 for the CONTRA, if accurate, agrees with my hunch.

    Gross tonnage as then calculated included deck erections provided they were capable of being closed (by way of doors, hatches, and so on)...
    Not sure how you calculate gross tonnage on ships where the cargo is on deck, not in a hold. BTW, one Website claimed that the WYOMING's gross tonnage was closer to 6000 tons, but most other sources parrot 3731 tons.
    Last edited by Solano Ferry; 12-13-2008 at 03:32 PM.

  18. #18

    Default Re: Largest Wooden Ship Ever?

    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew Craig-Bennett View Post

    ...I am intrigued that she carried locomotives. This was unusual for train ferries,so far as I am aware - a locomotive weighs substantially more than freight cars or passenger cars. It was more usual for rolling stock to be shunted into a train ferry by a switcher and hauled off the ferry by another switcher.

    (nb not "hull bins" - holds.)
    Yes, most rail ferries were "car" ferries or floats. They never accepted engines on their decks, just train cars, for weight reasons (in some setups it was the track ramp that could not support the weight of an engine). The SOLANO however was a true "train" ferry in that it loaded the whole train, including the engine.

    The Solano was also a double-ended "drive on/drive off" ferry, so loading times and crossing times were very efficient and short. The station to station train schedules for the Benicia/Port Costa SOLANO crossings show times as short as 15 minutes! That would include leaving the station, the loading, the one-mile sail, unloading the train, and the arrival at the other station. The story goes that some train passengers were not even aware they were crossing on a ferry. They thought they were just stopped at yet another station ...unless they detected the gentle roll of a boat under sail from their passenger car.

    I have a Solano Website I can steer you towards that has pictures and whatnot. Just note that this site is really a hodge podge mess right now and is in need of reorganization. Just go to...

    http://solanoferry.org/SolanoFerrySite/Welcome.html

    ...and poke around a bit.

    Sorry about using "hull bins" instead of "hold" nomenclation. I am not a "boat people" so proper boat terms are very new to me.

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    Default Re: Largest Wooden Ship Ever?

    Historical records from the document "History of the Ming dynasty" claim that the largest Chinese Treasure Ships were more than 400 feet (120 m) long.[34] However, the size of treasure ships is still disputed[35][36][37][38] and some scholars argue that they were probably closer to 200-250 feet in length,[39] while others argue that they were actually 309-408 feet in length and 160-166 feet in width. [40]
    With that beam and length, the treasure ships must have carried quite a bit of displacement.

    Here's a replica. From the Seoul Times:


    The legendary Chinese admiral Zheng He (鄭和: 1371-1433)'s sailing ship was restored in Nanjing (南京), China on Sept. 25, 2006. Launching ceremony for his flag "treasure ship (寶船) was held on the day in the Ming Dynasty's Royal Shipbuilding Park in Nanjing. The restored 1,300-ton ship is 63.3 meters long, 13.8 meters wide, and it can carry 400 people. Zheng He's original ship was believed to be twice larger than this restored one. Zheng He was a famous Chinese mariner, explorer, diplomat and fleet admiral, who led his fleet of 240 ships for circumnavigation of the world nearly one century prior to Christopher Columbus.



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    Default Re: Largest Wooden Ship Ever?

    I would be a bit careful about the comments on Wyoming flexing, letting in water, and needing pumps.

    Not because it did not happen to Wyoming, but because it was very common for wooden ships to have some flex in a seaway. Much smaller fishing schooners flexed and wept and needed pumping from time to time too. It may have seemed exceptional to a modern wikipedia writer but would have been less exceptional at the time.

    Very interesting stuff.
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    Default Re: Largest Wooden Ship Ever?

    Quote Originally Posted by Woxbox View Post
    The legendary Chinese admiral Zheng He (鄭和: 1371-1433)'s sailing ship was restored in Nanjing (南京), China on Sept. 25, 2006. Launching ceremony for his flag "treasure ship (寶船) was held on the day in the Ming Dynasty's Royal Shipbuilding Park in Nanjing. The restored 1,300-ton ship is 63.3 meters long, 13.8 meters wide, and it can carry 400 people. Zheng He's original ship was believed to be twice larger than this restored one. Zheng He was a famous Chinese mariner, explorer, diplomat and fleet admiral, who led his fleet of 240 ships for circumnavigation of the world nearly one century prior to Christopher Columbus.
    I don't want to argue about this. I just want to note for the record that the claim that Zheng He circumnavigated the world is, to put it mildly, controversial. The theory is not quite as out there as, say, the theories about Vikings visiting Minnesota in pre-Columbian times, but I don't think it has achieved any real widespread acceptance amongst those who are most knowledgeable about these things. Yes, there was a book written about the idea. I also heard the theories in that book pretty well ripped to shreads.

    As I said, I don't want to argue about this. I just don't want someone going away assuming that it is settled fact that Zheng He circumnavigated the world.

    Edited to add...on the other side of the coin, how far Zheng He went with the ship does not really relate to how big it was, which is a separate matter. As far as I know there is little dispute that he made a lengthy voyage (to at least as far as E. Africa as I recall). I am not familiar with where the research stands with regards to the size of his ship.
    Last edited by Bruce Hooke; 12-13-2008 at 06:14 PM.

  22. #22

    Default Re: Largest Wooden Ship Ever?

    I would be a bit careful about the comments on Wyoming flexing, letting in water, and needing pumps...
    That's why I wanted to talk to "boat people!" about this. I appreciate all of your knowledge. It gets so confusicating for us landlubbers so I'm hoping you'll straighten me out when I come to a wrong conclusion.

    BTW, regarding hull flex: there is a video on Utube of a modern tanker in high seas. Most of it is the usual pitching and wave crashing action on the bow. But the amazing footage was a telephoto shot taken straight down a long narrow corridor apparently just under the deck. The corridor is actually bending up and down, side to side!!!

    For the avoidance of doubt, a brief note on the computation of ships' tonnages. This is hugely over-simplified, but it will give you the general picture...
    I knew when going into this discussion that tonnage figures would be the hardest to straighten out. In the SOLANO's case, the engines that traversed SOLONO's decks, for instance, practically quadrupled in weight over her 51 years. So the ferry was reinforced but her deck areas remained relatively unchanged. So what tonnage figure would best reflect that? It looks like deadweight tonnage is the answer. But that's a bum. Most references to most ships seem to quote Gross Tonnage.

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    Default Re: Largest Wooden Ship Ever?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bruce Hooke View Post
    I don't want to argue about this. I just want to note for the record that the claim that Zheng He circumnavigated the world is, to put it mildly, controversial. The theory is not quite as out there as, say, the theories about Vikings visiting Minnesota in pre-Columbian times, but I don't think it has achieved any real widespread acceptance amongst those who are most knowledgeable about these things. Yes, there was a book written about the idea. I also heard the theories in that book pretty well ripped to shreads.

    As I said, I don't want to argue about this. I just don't want someone going away assuming that it is settled fact that Zheng He circumnavigated the world.

    Edited to add...on the other side of the coin, how far Zheng He went with the ship does not really relate to how big it was, which is a separate matter. As far as I know there is little dispute that he made a lengthy voyage (to at least as far as E. Africa as I recall). I am not familiar with where the research stands with regards to the size of his ship.
    As a matter of note, as of thirty years ago, Chinese Anchor stones have been found in the waters just below Point Conception CA in the area known as Gaviota.
    They being rather large would have been carried on a large vessle.
    Jay

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    Default Re: Largest Wooden Ship Ever?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jay Greer View Post
    As a matter of note, as of thirty years ago, Chinese Anchor stones have been found in the waters just below Point Conception CA in the area known as Gaviota.
    They being rather large would have been carried on a large vessle.
    Jay
    I had not heard about this but the immediate question this raises is, of course, how certain is it that they are in fact Chinese anchor stones of pre-Columbian origin. I saw one reference on-line that suggested these stones were much more likely from 19th Century Chinese fisherman who had emigrate to California and retained certain practices from their homeland.

    However, I don't want this to take over this thread so if there is going to be further discussion of this maybe it ought to go to a new thread.

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    Default Re: Largest Wooden Ship Ever?

    A math question: If the half-scale replica made in China displaces 1,300 tons, what would the full-size ship displace? 1,300 x 8? If so, even if the size of the ship is overestimated, it still has a good chance of being the biggest ever.

    As to tonnage, our Kalmar Nyckel is a "200 ton pinnace" because the original could stuff 200 of those ton barrels in her hold. But she displaces just under 300 tons. The volume under the weather deck would be another figure alltogether, but I don't know what that is.

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    Default Re: Largest Wooden Ship Ever?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jay Greer View Post
    As a matter of note, as of thirty years ago, Chinese Anchor stones have been found in the waters just below Point Conception CA in the area known as Gaviota.
    They being rather large would have been carried on a large vessle.
    Jay
    It's my understanding that the stones were tested in the early 80s and were found to be made from stone quarried in California, most likely Monterrey shale. Moreover, in the 18th and 19th centuries large Chinese fishing junks were operating in the area, and the fishermen would have used similar stones. Is there any evidence that the stones are older than that?
    Last edited by Steve Paskey; 12-13-2008 at 07:52 PM.

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    Default Re: Largest Wooden Ship Ever?

    Quote Originally Posted by outofthenorm View Post
    Interesting question. I've always thought there were two practical measures for this sort of comparison. For "longest", it should taken as the "length between perpendiculars", with the Ps dropped from the extremes of the stern post and stem, with some room for argument when there is an extended stemhead or beakhead structure. Bowsprits, boomkins, rudders and overhanging rigs don't count. For "Largest", gross tonnage is a good measure, but you could use displacement as well.

    That makes Solano longer, and Wyoming larger.

    Norm
    I absolutely agree. The calculations of marina owners aren't relevant here -- they're trying to make as much money as possible from leasing a finite amount of space.

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    Default Re: Largest Wooden Ship Ever?

    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Paskey View Post
    It's my understanding that the stones were tested in the early 80s and were found to be made from stone quarried in California, most likely Monterrey shale. Moreover, in the 18th and 19th centuries large Chinese fishing junks were operating in the area, and the fishermen would have used similar stones. Is there any evidence that the stones are older than that?
    In as much as I have not persued the hisrory of the stones I mentioned, I have no historical proof as to dispute or validate their
    origin other than the fact that it is a matter of maritime archaeological interest to me.
    Jay

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    Default Re: Largest Wooden Ship Ever?

    As A C-B outlined, there is no relationship between `tunŽand `tonŽ The tun is a barrel, a word still used in many latin languages, and a ton is a measure of weight. The tun was a tax measurement. Thames tunnage is about volume of the `cargoŽ space as well. Causes confusion in small yacht so measured.
    Andrew

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    Default Re: Largest Wooden Ship Ever?

    A real slough of confusion.
    Especially when you have three measures of mass, short ton, long ton and tonne. Practising Naval Architects (no it is not a perversion) usually keep it clear in conversation by using "displacement" = "lightship" + "deadweight" without referring to the unit of mass, and to " Gross tonnage" and "Net Tonnage" when they are discussed at all.
    Ship owners are interested in lightship, 'cos that drives the purchase price, deadweight 'cos that drives the earning value, and tonnage, which very rarely relates to the others in quantity, and which as has been referred to above drives harbour dues and all of the other dues charged to the vessel.
    The difficulty of calculating tonnage has caused some interesting drivers on vessel design, for example the extreme tumble home of the Dutch fluyt in the age when tonnage was based on length and breadth of the main deck.
    It really is quite difficult to build an ugly wooden boat.

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    Default Re: Largest Wooden Ship Ever?

    Back on topic

    The idea that Solano could be as large, or perhaps larger, than the practical maximum for a wooden ship is pretty interesting.

    Ships are built to carry stuff, which means hold space is important for almost all of them. The 6,000 tons for Wyoming mentioned up above is not a displacement figure, it seems to be the actual weight of coal she could carry. Maybe Andrew can clarify, but I guess this means that the space taken up by 3,000+ barrells of wine can be filled by almost twice as much wieght of coal.

    Solano did not need space in the hull for cargo, and she did not need to be seaworthy in the sense of being able to survive on the open ocean. That opens up design options that were not avialable to the people who built Wyoming. So she could be the largest wooden vessel built, or used for commercial service.
    Yachting, the only sport where you get to be a mechanic, electrician, plumber and carpenter

  32. #32
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    Default Re: Largest Wooden Ship Ever?

    Well, Andrew Craig-Bennett has shared most of the important information. Sad to say, perhaps, comparing Solano to Wyoming is like comparing apples to oranges. First, there's the impossibility of determining the "biggest." Does that mean "longest," greatest carrying capacity, and if so, by volume or weight, and then, also "what is a ship?"

    Really, Wyoming is the largest "ocean-going wooden vessel," but she is not "longer" than Solano. Marina operators measure boats like monkeys measure their dicks... from the end of their tails. There are really only two nautically relevant length measurements, "between perpendiculars" and "waterline length." Solano wins on "length" either way.

    However, while we might call Solano a "wooden ship," she is not a seagoing vessel. Not to demean her in any way, she is, after all, simply a powered barge intended as a "floating railyard" which operated in short runs over relatively sheltered waters. This is an entirely different set of construction challenges from a sailing ship of equivalent size operating offshore at sea. Thus, Wyoming wins as the largest ocean-going vessel, but Solano takes the prize as the largest wooden vessel overall.

    Whatever floats your boat, I'd guess.

    BTW, I would LOVE to see a photo posted of your HO scale model! Please do!

  33. #33
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    Default Re: Largest Wooden Ship Ever?

    There was a very good article about the ancient Chinese fleet in National Geographic last year I believe. Lots of good info buried there regarding the ships and the voyages etc.
    Fly Fishing Washington's Olympic Peninsula
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  34. #34

    Default Re: Largest Wooden Ship Ever?

    Thanks to you all for your input. Whether the SOLANO is actually so many gross or dead or net tons or tuns or whatever isn't as important to me as that she truly belongs as a worthy "player" on most "largest wood boat" lists. When we first started researching this vessel, we had no idea she would qualify for such a list. It was never mentioned in any historical or current narrative we ever dug up. And that's why I kept thinkin' something is going to knock her off such a list, but she stayed seaworthy ...at least through this discussion.

    I can only imagine what the WYOMING, with her 450' long and 130' (or so) vertical wall of sails, must have looked like back then as she headed to sea. It must have been one hell of a sight worth dropping whatever you were doing to see.

    Bob, here are some pics of the Solano model. This is HO scaled...










  35. #35
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    Default Re: Largest Wooden Ship Ever?

    Very nice model. She really was huge.

    You need to build a Wyoming to put next to her

    By any measure Solano is a contender for largest wooden ship. Thanks for posting here, this has been a really interesting thread.
    Yachting, the only sport where you get to be a mechanic, electrician, plumber and carpenter

  36. #36
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    Default Re: Largest Wooden Ship Ever?

    At the Maine Maritime Museum, site of the Wyoming's construction, they have a mock up of just how big she really was. Her stern was near the water's edge and her bowsprit stuck out over the road. I thought they were going to build this mock up with all the frames in place and they still might, but for now it's just the bow section and transom section. When you see it in person it is truly enormous.


  37. #37
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    Default Re: Largest Wooden Ship Ever?

    The Museum makes no claim about her being the largest wooden boat, they claim the Wyoming is the largest wooden commercial sailing vessel ever built.

    Plans are available from the Museum.


    Steven

  38. #38
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    Default Re: Largest Wooden Ship Ever?

    That is a phenomenal model. A real work of art. most impressive.
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  39. #39
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    Default Re: Largest Wooden Ship Ever?

    We once had a railway pier and ferry here in Port Townsend. That magnificen HO Scale model brings to mind that our Historical Society once had a wild hair to build an HO Scale model of the PT Waterfront as it was during the heyday of shipping here. I still think it is an intriguing idea! But then, most of us are busy building boats.
    Jay

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