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GforGermany

Royal Navy harbour taxi?

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Here's a picture of my boat.

What I know: she's a 40' wooden vessel powered by a Ford diesel engine.  She used to have 2 masts but one of these has been removed.  At some point she was full of Italian radio and sonar equipment.

Stuff I'm not able to confirm but seems plausible: built by Thornycroft as a pinnace.  Converted at some point early in her career to a harbour taxi.  Possibly based at HMS Vernon.

Don't know the year she was built - previous owner claimed 1939 but I think this might be just so he could claim she was at Dunkerque (which I doubt).  It was also said she had a Hotchkiss gun mounted at the bow (not convinced about that either).

Would like to know some history - I have asked at Portsmouth museum and they have no records of small craft.  Have also asked at the Thornycroft Archive but no luck.

_20180528_131511.JPG

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Just a cursory look but it does not look like Thornycroft work. Possibly Mitchell, IoW.or Laurence, Leith. Good luck with your project.

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2 minutes ago, john1950 said:

 does not look like Thornycroft work.

That's interesting - what makes you say that then?  Maybe I've been barking up the wrong tree  🙂

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It may just be me but just the hull construction does not look Thornycroft.. There were traditional boat builders building work boats for both harbour transport and warships, when these warships were disposed of  the workboats  were sometimes used on harbour duties. It will have an interesting history.

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You probably will have to go bilge diving to find numbers on the keel. There will be some information deep down. Major bulkheads may reveal some information. Boat/shipbuilders, always leave there footprint. Its partly pride in their work. I think early pinnace power after steam was Perkins S6 and Thornycroft db2.

Edited by john1950
addition

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May l suggest that launches of this type were not only used by the royal navy but also used by  RASC companies a number been built by PHILIPS ANDERSON & CO of GRANTON /EDINBURGH a place l spent many happy hour when a child from what l know have you looked up in the bow because it was common practise to stamp WD there if you find any details it may be worth contacting the RLC museum at DEEPCUT SURREY who hold the records for rasc water companies

Edited by wally dugan
spelling mistake

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15 hours ago, wally dugan said:

May l suggest 

Thanks,

I haven't managed to find any details or markings anywhere.  The previous owners lived on her full-time so a fair amount of alteration has been done below decks.  I do have some photos from before the restoration (circa 2000) and she was in a rum owd state.  

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You gave the overall length as 40 feet, If you have the measurement for the beam and moulded depth It may be possible to pinpoint the type and builder. I think at 40 feet that rules out a ships workboat.

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Thornycroft small vessel construction for the Navy seems to have been concentrated on the Thames at the Hampton Launch Works. Production of the fast and large vessels being at Southampton. Have you tried The Medusa Trust, they may have some information.

Edited by john1950
addition

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I must say she has the elegance of function. Not 'Pretty' but the feeling that you get in ask her to do it, she will.

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Maybe not conclusive but pretty convincing evidence of its provenance at last.

Well done and good luck.

Steve.

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On 8/15/2018 at 4:34 PM, john1950 said:

You gave the overall length as 40 feet, If you have the measurement for the beam and moulded depth It may be possible to pinpoint the type and builder. I think at 40 feet that rules out a ships workboat.

I'm not sure what the largest pinnace would have been, but Steam Pinnace 199, now in the National Historic Ships collection, was a 50 footer, and is believed to have been carried on "super-dreadnought" HMS Monarch.

https://www.nationalhistoricships.org.uk/register/40/steam-pinnace-199

Sadly I can offer absolutely no help I this case,  but I look forward hopefully to reading more in this thread. 

 

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1 hour ago, GforGermany said:

Something else: is this a size or a date?

Diameter and pitch of the prop would be my first check.

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FWIW, my feeling would be that it is more like to be a date given the era from which it originates. That layout was not uncommon then. Does 21/10/14 seem plausible?

Do "21" and "18" bear any resemblance to the dimensions of the prop?

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1 hour ago, utt61 said:

FWIW, my feeling would be that it is more like to be a date given the era from which it originates. That layout was not uncommon then. Does 21/10/14 seem plausible?

Do "21" and "18" bear any resemblance to the dimensions of the prop?

I (respectfully) beg to differ. Why use a mixture of standard and Roman numerals to refer to a date?  Look closely and you will see that the numbers refer to inches: 21” x 14”.  Simon Brown is correct, this is the usual way to mark the diameter and pitch of a propeller. 

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55 minutes ago, mtskull said:

I (respectfully) beg to differ. Why use a mixture of standard and Roman numerals to refer to a date?  Look closely and you will see that the numbers refer to inches: 21” x 14”.  Simon Brown is correct, this is the usual way to mark the diameter and pitch of a propeller. 

I am totally happy to accept this, although I have however seen dates expressed in the (anachronistic) form of standard and Roman numerals in several applications from around the turn of the 20C, hence my erroneous conclusion.

I also had failed to appreciate the " over the numbers, mistaking them for witness marks, however the improbability of identical marks happening by chance over both numbers does seem so remote as to be absurd.

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3 minutes ago, utt61 said:

although I have however seen dates expressed in the (anachronistic) form of standard and Roman numerals in several applications

Yes: I have seen that too.  My initial thought were that it was the size of the screw, but someone else asked if it was a date.  The previous owner said he had the prop re-balanced, which would've been around 2014.  ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

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I would say Diameter and Pitch, the theoretical distance in inches one revolution of the propeller will move the boat forward. In practice this is usually discounted by about 1/3d, in ideal conditions. 

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