Ever wonder where the term "batten down the hatches" came from? Or wondered what one of these "hatches" looked like? Well, here you will see and possibly have for your very own the last true wooden hatch covers made specifically for the World War II Liberty Ships.
These wooden hatch covers covered the cargo holds of the war materiel being sent both to Europe and the Far East and as fighting cargo ships they were instrumental in supplying our troops and were found in all of the naval invasions and battles in both theaters of the war.
To "batten down the hatches", there was first a long sheet of thick waterproof canvas stretched tight across the open cargo hold. Then these wooden hatch covers were placed tightly side by side across top of the canvas. Lastly a "batten" which is a long heavy pole made of wood or steel, was then laid across the top of the hatch covers. Each end of the batten was then tightly secured to prevent it from moving off of the hatch covers.
This was the only thing preventing the heavy seas from gaining entry into the cargo holds and sinking the Liberty Ship!
In general, all of these hatches are approximately 59.5" long x 29" wide x 2.5" thick, weighing 90lbs and consists of 3 rough cut pine boards. Though rare sometimes only 2 pine boards were used, and sometimes the dimensions varied such as some hatch covers measured 26.5" wide.
Each hatch cover has 2 thick metal bands wrapped around the ends of each hatch and secured with rivets. If you ever wondered what "Rosie the Riveter" did this is a perfect example of WWII riveting. Sometimes instead of rivets large counter-sunk flat-head industrial wood screws were used. These hatch covers actually had a patent associated with them which is recorded at the US Patent and Trademark Office. Though rare, the patent no. is sometimes foundon these securing metal bands.
Each Liberty Ship Hatch Cover also has a securing metal rod located in the center of the hatch going through all three pine boards and rivted. This was to stabilize and help keep the heavy boards from warping. The boards themselves were separated from each other by a .25 to .50" wide gap which allowed for expansion swelling when wet due to salt water.
Each hatch cover also has a 4.5" x 2.75" handle scoop cut out of each opposite end with a 7.5" x 1" metal handle secured across the top of the scoop with rivets. These grips allowed the sailors and deck hands to either manually lift them off or onto the ship's hatches, or in most cases they used hooks from a crane to do the lifting.
All of the metal used on Liberty Ship Hatch Covers was some sort of zinc-based or galvanized steel since you will never see them really getting rusted at all. We have seen brass used for the handles, but this is exceptionally rare and quite handsome after restoration as the golden brass really sets off the weather pine.
First, select which liberty ship hatch cover you desire. Each is unique and different, all have alot of character! Take notice of the color of the stain, texture of the wood, and condition of the hatch itself.
Second, if it is just a hatch cover ($895) you want and you already have legs or a trestle to sit it on then just email email@example.com or call 540-659-6210 to obtain shipping costs.
Third, if you do not have anything for the hatch cover to sit on, you may want The Pirate's Lair to provide you with one of our nautical-looking coffee table trestles ($450) or desk/kitchen table trestles ($575).
(We will match stain the trestle as close as possible, re-stain the hatch cover if possible, apply a beautiful restorative finish with Spar Varnish as a base which dries into a hard glossy coat. We will also pre-drill holes into the hatch cover to match the trestle and provide 4 lag-bolts to secure the hatch cover)
Fourth, we will professionally package and ship the hatch cover and trestle in 2 or more boxes with simple easy to use assembly instructions.
Delivery Time: Allow for 1 week to prep a hatch cover by itself. Allow for approximately 2 to 3 weeks to construct, stain, and prep both a hatch cover and a trestle.