The fact that the positioning of the deadwoods is directly related to the lower diagonal indicates that the overall layout of La Belle's structure cannot be separated from the surmarks.
• Where the deadwoods begin is also the location of two of La Belle's surmarked mould frames—its balancing frames. The positioning of these frames, combined with the fact that the last mould frames are at the ends of the floor diagonal, indicates that the positioning of all the mould frames and thus all of La Belle's frames is inextricably tied to the surmarks. In turn, the surmarks and the diagonals they define are indicative of construction in the 1680s.
The framing bolt pattern definitely proves that every third of La Belle's frames was erected prior to the filler frames in between (Figures 11, 12). There are no anomalies to this framing pattern, in terms of the number of fastenings or their angles, which cannot be explained within the context of a single design and construction procedure. Furthermore, there are no unused fore-and-aft holes going completely through any of the framing timbers. Taken out the context of a discussion of mould versus filler frames, the double set of fore-and-aft fastenings on VIIIIA and the extra scarf fastenings on just some of the frames could be mistakenly interpreted as evidence of reuse of old timbers, repair, or rebuilding. La Belle's mould and filler frame pattern along the whole length of the hull conforms well to what is known of design methods using diagonals from seventeenth-century French drafts as well as eighteenth-century French shipbuilding treatises. Shipwrights replacing framing timbers or frame sets on an older vessel would have absolutely no reason for maintaining or recreating such a mould and filler fastening pattern—it would be impractical and unnecessary.
As with its surmark characteristics, La Belle's partial double framing arrangement (Figure 1) is not documented in French shipbuilding prior to the period of La Belle's construction. La Belle's two sets of lower surmarks are located on the floor timbers and second futtocks of every third frame. In the earlier stepped framing arrangement, the second futtocks (top timbers) are located higher up on the frames with gaps between the bottoms of the second futtocks and the heads of the floor timbers (Figure 4b). It is hard to conceive that shipwrights rebuilding an older vessel, even one with stepped framing and relatively small gaps (Album de Colbert 1670), would shift the second futtocks down till they joined the heads of the floor timbers. First, on La Belle their shapes would not fit in these lowered positions. Therefore, such a change to partial double framing would at minimum entail cutting new second futtocks for all the frames. Second, such work would leave plenty of evidence of having been done; yet there is absolutely no evidence for such alterations on La Belle's timber remains. Third, shipwrights doing such work would have no reason to maintain La Belle's documented "mould and filler frame" fastening pattern. NEXT
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