Saturday, 6 September 2014


Scale cross section of Crozier's personal quarters (at Station 12).
Note that the double planking and ice channels on the hull aren't shown here.

As part of my research on the Terror’s lower deck, I created a series of elevations of the fittings and accommodations. In my previous post, I provided  a cross section of the captain’s great cabin, which was the most spacious and lavishly appointed room on the ship. This stood in contrast to Crozier’s bed cabin which appears to have been as small and spare as the other officer cabins (in fact, it was among the smaller bed cabins on the vessel). It had just enough space for a simple bed, a washstand, and a small fixed writing table (in contrast to the larger folding writing tables in the other cabins).
This elevation is based on details derived from the Terror’s 1836 lower deck plans (modified in 1845), the somewhat more detailed 1839 lower deck plans, and the 1839 midships section plan. Further information was taken from images of fittings on HMS Unicorn, HMS Trincomalee, and HMS Warrior.
The cross section shown here provides some interesting information about how the ship was modified for polar exploration. The square-shaped hot air heating funnel can be seen just behind the bed. Heated air must have escaped from holes in the upper surface of the funnel, rising through the space between the bed and the spirketting caused by the knee, as the 1836 plans (and others) show that these beds were built flush to the deck. The “thick” waterway was fitted in 1836 and, in addition to its traditional function of protecting the beam and plank ends, worked as a sort of reverse shelf piece/deck clamp to support strain on the decks from ice pressure. The six inch thick shelf piece itself was as robust as ships of 60 to 90 guns, and its run and position is specifically noted on both the 1836 and 1839 profile plans, suggesting it was a new modification to both ships. 

The right-angle iron knee was a relatively standard design of the era and examples can be found on the gun deck of Seppings' HMS Unicorn. We know similar knees were retrofitted to HMS investigator and I expect the same occurred on the Terror, and the partial section on the 1836 plans shows a clamp/shelf design commonly used with iron knees (although the iron knee isn't shown until the 1845 midships section). The knee was bolted to the beam, the bolts passing through the shelf piece, the chock, the frame, and the first layer of the outside hull planking. Uniquely, its heel was supported by a massive six inch thick plank bolted to the spirketting. Again, the run of this plank was shown on both the 1836 and 1839 profile plans, suggesting it was a critical modification to both ships.  On the Investigator, both the shelf piece and the supporting plank below the chock were made from elm, but Rice (Ross 1847) indicates they were made of oak on the Franklin vessels .
The massive knees severely impacted the available space in the cabins, and the iron knee itself must have been a constant source of discomfort to Crozier’s sleep. In a personal letter to  his friend and former commander, James Clark Ross, Crozier admitted his misgivings about the expedition and confided his deep loneliness. As I developed these plans, I repeatedly pictured Crozier writing alone in his uncomfortable little cabin, the most probable place for him to put down a very private last letter to his best friend.
Ross, Sir James Clark
1847 A Voyage of Discovery and Research in the Southern and Antarctic Regions, During the Years 1839-1843: Volume I. John Murray, London.


  1. Hey! You surely know this at this point but they have just found one of the ships. I wonder if you could help to identify if it is the Terror or the Erebus:

    1. Thank you Andres. Yes I've seen the wonderful news. My plans could possibly be useful, and I have done some interesting comparisons. But really, It's up to Parks Canada to make those determinations and I wouldn't want to make any speculations out of turn (though I do have some private thoughts).

  2. I just found your blog and I LOVE it. Are you going to make all of the interior details as well, like these room fittings?

  3. Hello Grace,

    Thank you! This project is plank on bulkhead so there won't be any interior details, but I may eventually build a longitudinal cross section which shows the interior...some day!

  4. Brian Pearson, Calgary20 November 2014 at 09:32

    I read Canadian Geographic and when I saw the plan details I thought building a model of the Erebus would be a fascinating project for the winter now that I am retired. I have numerous ship models built from kits but last winter I scratch built a Liberty class motor vessel model based on the first ship I was engineer cadet in. Similar to your method of re-drawing the plans I did the same in CorelDraw based on plans I found on the internet. I wanted to do the hull bread and butter method so I had to transcribe the sections into the layers. I would be very much interested in using your plans and scaling them up for the different size from Terror to Erebus. Is there some way you could lend or sell me a copy of your plans.

  5. Brian Pearson, Calgary20 November 2014 at 09:38

    Just to clarify, I approached the original shipbuilder (Harland & Wolf, Belfast, Ireland) for the Liberty ship plans but they no longer kept such and their local museum had nothing either.

  6. Hello Brian. I hope you understand, but I'm not releasing plans right now. I know some (like the profile plans) have errors, and the rest haven't been proven by construction. When I'm done my model I'll correct all the errors and make them available, but until then folks may have to be patient. I've had dozens of requests from modelers for my plans and I'll certianly make them available at some point. Thanks so much for your interest!