Digital Preservation of Edwin Fox, a very old merchant ship
Digital Preservation of Edwin Fox, a very old merchant ship
The Edwin Fox is likely the oldest surviving merchant ship in the world. We are creating a high resolution 3D digital model of the ship
The Edwin Fox is likely the oldest surviving merchant ship in the world. We are creating a high resolution 3D digital model of the ship Read more
Edwin Fox sailing vessel.
The Edwin Fox is a vessel of great cultural and historical value to New Zealand but she has also played a significant global logistical role. Built in Sulkea in the Ganges region of India in 1853 by shipbuilder Thomas Reeves, it has served as a troop transport, an immigrant and a cargo ship.
With a length of 48 m and beam of 9, she is the world’s oldest surviving merchant ship and the only surviving ship that transported convicts to Australia and settlers to Australia and New Zealand. She is now dry-docked at the Edwin Fox Maritime Museum at Picton in New Zealand.
Some interesting facts:
On her maiden voyage from India to the UK she carried 10 passengers and general cargo.
In 1854 she was commandeered as troop transport for the Crimean War and on her first voyage she carried 15 officers and 481 men from Calais (after being waved off by Napoleon) to Bomarsund in the Baltic Sea. (Florence Nightingale likely was a passenger on one return trip) After several voyages at the end of the war she was re-fitted to carry general cargo and passengers in 1856.
On 11 August 1858 the Fox left Gravesend with 280 prisoners and 67 Prison Guards (with their families) onboard and arrived at the Swan River in Australia on 22 November with the addition of 3 babies born to wives of the guards.
On 14 February 1860 she set sail from for Bombay from London with a general cargo which included a substantial quantity of Taylor Walker's India Pale Ale. Several alcohol laden voyages followed earning her the nick name "Booze Barge"
The first migrants to New Zealand on the Fox embarked at the Blackwall Depot in London on 25 January 1873. 95 Passengers were bound for Otago and a similar number for Canterbury. After experiencing a severe storm she ended up in Brest on the 5 February. 23 of the passengers decided they had enough and the after repairs the Fox cleared Brest on 5 March 1873 and arrived in Lyttleton Harbour on 27 June 1873.
The advent of steam powered vessels brought an end to the era of trade by sailing ships and the Fox underwent a major refit in London to convert her to a refrigeration vessel. Her last voyage under her own power started 25 June 1885 when she left London for Otago where she arrived 17 October 1885. After serving in many ports as a refrigeration vessel she was finally towed to Picton in January 1897 where she served in this role until June 1900. During this period she broke a record by freezing 12000 carcasses (to be exported to London) in 43 days.
The Fox lashed to a steamer unloading frozen carcasses.
The completion of a freezing works just west of Picton saw the Fox being stripped of the refrigeration plant and turned into a coal hulk to store coal for the new freezing works.. She served in this role for the next 50 years and was finally de-registered on 29 October 1953.
The Edwin Fox Restoration Society was formed in May 1965. Their initial campaign to have the vessel restored ultimately failed but they were the driving force behind a local effort to have her cleaned out, re-floated and finally towed to Shakespeare Bay where she remained for 19 years and was effectively shipwrecked.
In 1980, volunteers managed to re-float and tow her into Picton Harbour where a mooring was found.
The current Edwin Fox museum was opened in 1990 facilitated by grants of $50 000 from both the NZ Government as well as the Picton Pakeke Lions. In 1993 the centre won an award for Historic/Cultural/Arts and Crafts Visitor attraction and attracts around 10 000 visitors a year.
All efforts to rebuild the vessel eventually petered out and there was concern that she would not stay afloat indefinitely. On the 18 May1999 the Edwin Fox was pushed into a custom built dry-dock with financial assistance from various sources such as The Lotteries Board,Marlborough District Council, Canterbury Community Trust, Port Marlborough and the Picton Lions.
Costley, N. (2014). Teak and tide : the ebbs and eddies of the Edwin Fox : from the Ganges to Picton, New Zealand : the changing fortunes of the last surviving 19th century merchantman. Nelson, New Zealand: Nikau Press.
New Zealand is rich in natural and cultural heritage and artefacts. Using 3D scanning is the only safeguard against total loss or damage through natural disasters such as earthquakes, fire and floods. The availability of 3D models is beneficial to learning institutes, researchers and the public on a global basis.
Due to financial constraints the New Zealand organisations that are responsible for the traditional preservation of these items currently do not have the resources to embark on a project of this nature to any significant extent.
In recent years a large number of precious historical buildings, monuments, artefacts and specimens have been at least partially destroyed through natural as well as human made disasters.
3D modelling is the ideal technique for safeguarding the most important attributes of collections with external visual appearance, dimensional accuracy and the ability to re-construct using either traditional or more high tech methods like 3 D printing. As an added bonus the models are stored off premises and can easily be made available to any number of interested parties.
The benefits of 3D modelling include:
§ Being able to replicate objects through 3D printing or even traditional model building.
§ Allowing high accuracy measurements to be made directly on the model.
§ Comparing objects of similar nature easily.
§ As a non-contact, non-invasive technology with extremely low risk of damage to objects.
§ Offering an exciting visual impact that can greatly enhance the learning experience of students and create more public awareness.
§ Enabling museums to give public visual access to artefacts not on display for reasons related to security, fragility, lack of space, etc.
§ Allowing the custodian or owner of the object to retain full control over access to models.
§ Allowing researchers the potential of risk-free access to material of interest on a global scale
New Zealand straddles the Australian and Pacific tectonic plates and as a result experiences frequent earthquakes. The most recent of significance struck the top of the South Island (Kaikoura on Nov 14 2016) and caused considerable damage to infrastructure. The ferry terminal in Picton (about 100m away from the Edwin Fox Museum) suffered minor damage during this quake and caused minor disruption to the Ferry services. The Edwin Fox faces a very real risk of being severely damaged in the occurrence of a major event.
Photo credit Geoff Lang
The seabed lifted by about a meter in Kaikoura after the earthquake. Should this happen in Picton the Edwin Fox is likely to topple from her props and suffer extensive damage.
Scanning The Edwin Fox
On 17 & 18 December 2016 the team from 3D Scans scanned the Edwin Fox as well as certain items on display in the museum.
The team used a Faro Scene Laser Scanner to capture around 48 scans as well as Nikon D3S, Nikon D800 and Nikon 7200 cameras to take just over 7700 high resolution photographs. Point cloud generation was done separately for the interior, exterior and loose parts using both scans as well as photographs in Reality Capture software. The raw data created in Reality Capture software for both interior and exterior of the vessel consists of more than 380million polygons each.
The point cloud data was converted to polygonal meshes, which has undergone preliminary clean-up and were assembled to create one data set for both interior as well as exterior of the vessel.
Polygonal meshes assembled in Zbrush software to form exterior of the vessel.
The current work involves further cleaning up, removing unwanted objects and restoring obscured portions of the polygonal meshes.
Work in progress for cleaning up the interior of the vessel.The top image shows initial cleaning up competed whilst the bottom one shows the same segment after restoration.
As the cleaning up and restoration process is finalised, the model will be textured and optimised for being uploaded and viewed online on a 3D platform from either personal computers or smartphones. The ultimate goal in the restoration process is to digitally preserve all the original timber of the vessel in a highly detailed model which will potentially be available for anyone to enjoy and explore online from any part of the wolrd.
Any funds received in excess of our project goal will be applied towards completion of the next stages which are:
A full digital reconstruction of the vessel to one of its original sailing states, a cinematic sequence and a VR experience.
All the models created as well as the raw data will eventually be the property of the Edwin Fox Society.
We have contributed about NZ$10 000 and more than 500 man hours to date and really need your support to bring this project to fruition.
Risks and challenges
Risks and challenges
The vessel was scanned in December 2016 resulting in high quality digital data collected. Approximately 40% of the work has already been done to complete the model and the only risk to completion on due date would be if something happens to our CGI Artist.
Some of the awards are 3D printed by specialists from our data and there could be minor production delays affecting delivery times of these awards.
- (30 days)