Direct products of timber include pit-props, railway sleepers and telegraph poles, all of which are liable to be creosoted prior to shipment. Creosoted goods are disliked by shipowners because they easily taint other cargo; are liable to drip over other cargo stowed beneath; can stain the cargo compartments wherein they are carried; whilst their lingering fumes can necessitate the complete de-odorising of cargo compartments once discharged.
A typical charterparty clause covering the carriage of creosoted goods is as follows: “Owners agree to carry a maximum of.. tonnes of creosoted railway sleepers, to be kept strictly apart from other goods by means of plywood and/or plastics or in separate cargo compartments and/or on deck at Master’s discretion. Same to be carried at Charterer’s risk and expense. Upon completion of discharge, Charterers to be responsible for cost and time of cleaning/repainting and deodorising ship’s areas affected by the creosoted goods.”
Nowadays the dimensions, weights and cubic capacities of these goods is often provided before shipment, enabling a ship’s master or trader/owner to calculate intake and space requirements fairly accurately, and such cargoes can, of course, be carried on deck if circumstances permit, although it may be possible to get a full deadweight cargo with underdeck stowage on occasions. There are, however, factors to bear in mind:
Pit-props: Normally of fir wood between 6 and 10 feet in length, pit-props are small tree trunks stripped of bark and used in the mining industry. The traditional method of measuring pit-props is by the cubic fathom – also known as the in taken piled fathom (ipj) – measuring 6 by 6 by 6 feet – thus 216 feet of cargo, requiring around 260 cubic feet in a conventional non-box type hold ship. The weight of a cubic fathom’ will depend on whether the pit-props are loaded dry or are floated alongside a ship, but usually such a fathom will weigh around 3 tonnes.
Telegraph Poles: May be measured by the Gejze Scale Standard of 100 cubic feet based on the approximate cubic content of timber.
Railway Sleepers: Sometimes called railway ties, are cut from a wide variety of woods, the stowage factor per tonne varying accordingly.