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Liberty Ship Hatch Covers


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#1 hink441

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Posted 25 June 2018 - 06:05 PM

I recently found this Liberty Sip hatch cover that was made into an end table. These are really heavy and show the years of hard use. I have this end table and a larger one that is used as a coffee table.

Anyone else have any hatch covers they are using for furniture?

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#2 hink441

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Posted 25 June 2018 - 06:07 PM

Another pic of the end table.

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This is the larger coffee table.

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#3 The Meatcan

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Posted 25 June 2018 - 06:13 PM

Hink, that's one unique and cool piece!
Terry

#4 hink441

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Posted 25 June 2018 - 06:16 PM

Hink, that's one unique and cool piece!
Terry


Thanks Terry,

I run into these occasionally in the Hampton Roads area. I have found another one in rough condition, I just have to convince the owner he really needs to let it go!!

Chris

#5 aznation

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Posted 25 June 2018 - 07:28 PM

Here's one I found currently listed on Craigslist and its description.  Note:  It's not my listing.

 

The hatch cover was salvaged from the Victory ship DIAMOND HEAD (AE 19). A brass label mounted on the front states SUB-SEA ARTIFACTS, ANNAPOLIS, MARYLAND and DIAMOND HEAD 1945.

 

The table measures 61in long x 35in wide x 30in tall. The hatch cover table top thickness is 2-3/8 in. The hatch is made of 3 hardwood boards banded together at the ends and a bolt driven through the width of the hatch to keep it together. In 2 corners of the hatch are hemispherical cut-outs with steel banding to be used as handles. The table can still be lifted by the handles. The hatch patent is stamped into the banding -stating Cocks Patent No. 354232. Cock's hatch covers were patented in the 1930s and were preferred hatch covers on naval vessels.

 

The table has been kept in storage for the better part of 20 years. Always covered. The finish is in remarkably good condition given its age. The storage building was not climate controlled, so there is some new cracking in the table top.

 

The USS Diamond Head (AE-19) was built by the North Carolina Shipbuilding Co. and launched February 3, 1945. The ship was captained by Lieutenant Commander F. C. Snow, US Navy, and served in the Atlantic and Pacific as an ammunitions support ship during the Korean War. It traveled the Panama Canal, Pearl Harbor, and Vietnam before eventually being decommissioned in the 1970s.

 

https://oklahomacity...6618245031.html

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Edited by aznation, 25 June 2018 - 07:30 PM.


#6 aznation

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Posted 25 June 2018 - 07:29 PM

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#7 doyler

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Posted 25 June 2018 - 07:46 PM

Chris...very cool

#8 hink441

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Posted 26 June 2018 - 03:21 AM

Thanks for the comments everyone.

That one on Craigslist is in remarkable shape and is a true beauty. There is currently a company in Annapolis that still does these tables. I wonder if this is one of their older pieces?

Chris

Edited by hink441, 26 June 2018 - 03:21 AM.


#9 hbtcoveralls

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Posted 26 June 2018 - 07:46 AM

I've always wanted one but they're not cheap.

 

I really like yours it's a fantastic find



#10 Dave

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Posted 26 June 2018 - 08:41 AM

Those are really cool! Interestingly, my father in law's retirement gift from the Navy was a hatch cover coffee table. However, they included all of his insignia and several engraved brass plates with his career milestones on top. They then went and added about 2 inches of resin to encase it all. Needless to say, I would estimate that the table weighs an easy 200+ pounds!  I'd snag a photo of it, but unfortunately it's in storage at the moment. Quite interesting!



#11 aznation

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Posted 26 June 2018 - 03:56 PM

Thanks for the comments everyone.

That one on Craigslist is in remarkable shape and is a true beauty. There is currently a company in Annapolis that still does these tables. I wonder if this is one of their older pieces?

Chris

 

Hi Chris,

 

Yes, I think the one on Craigslist is one of their older pieces.

 

By the way, I found this article from the Washington Post from 1978 regarding hatch tables/furniture that's interesting.

 

Ship Shape

 

By Roger Piantadosi

 

April 23, 1978

 

The argument can certainly be made that buyers - and builders - of hatchcover furniture are ecologically upstanding folk. They are, after all, recycling what would otherwise be nautical trash into useful tables, benches, bar tops, mantels or desks.

 

And they're helping to perpetuate the memory of at least one near-extinct species of marine life - the nearly 3,000 slow-but-sturdy Liberty Ships whipped together during World War II to carry commercial cargo, troops and oil across submarine-infested seas. Lots of the now homebound hatchcovers even carry small brass plates engraved with the namesof their mother ships, each of which carried up to 500 hatchcovers; history thus lives in the dining room.

 

All of this, however, is somewhat irrelevant.

 

This is relevant: The restored hatchcover makes for pleasingly rustic, properly heavy and extremely durable furniture that complements countless decors. And when compared to the mass-produced items of like cost and dubious personality available at the local furniture store, they can constitute your basic Bargain.

 

Genuine Liberty Ship hatchcovers - perhaps best described as three weathered boards about the size of railroad ties bound into a slab by steel bands at either end - are destined to appreciate in value because of their limited population. But fear not: A good hatchcover is still not hard to find, and for as little as $50 - if you can stand some elbow bending.

 

It's been about 12 years since Ross Lodato of United Housewrecking in Stamford, Conn., started selling Liberty Ship hatchcovers and hatchcover furniture, and Lodato says the demand hasn't decreased much since.

 

"About the only thing that's changed is that there are not as many around now," said Lodato, whose United Housewrecking was one of the first large-scale hatchcover dealers. "There're just a few of us still selling the real thing - a lot of reproductions are going around."

 

United Housewrecking, said Lodato, has about another year's supply of hatchcovers - which he sells unfinished for $50 ("Used to be $15 when we started . . .") and finished with legs for about $160, depending on size. As long as he can find more, he said, he'll keep selling them.

 

Conspicuously unlike the instructions that came with the box of bicycle parts you wrestled with last Christmas, the sanding and finishing instructions from The Ship's Hatch conclude with the following bit of friendliness: "Please feel free to call us if you have any questions."

 

The Ship's Hatch is really Tom and Mary Beth Cox of Burke, Va., and the validity of their typewritten instructions - included with every unfinished or semi-finished hatchcover they sell from their home-based, weekends-and-spare-time business - is borne out daily in their own basement.

 

The Coxes got into the hatchcover business about four years ago, primarily on the authority of fate and a loan from her parents, and since have sold some 500 rough hatchcovers ($50), sanded hatchcovers ($95), finished hatchcovers ($145), coffee tables ($200) and dining tables ($275). They hope to keep it up for another year or so, says Mary Beth, or until the hatchcovers run out.

 

The instructions for those who buy the unfinished slabs give you a good idea of what Tom, on weekdays a contract specialist with the federal government, does on weekends for customers who buy the finished pieces. Sanding must be done with disc, belt and vibrating sanders (available at tool rental shops or hardware stores), and will usually take six hours. The top and edges of the hatchcover should get about five or six coats of varnish (the Coxes use a polyurethane satin-finish varnish), with sanding between coats.

 

William Harlan of Sub-Sea Artifacts hopes not to run out of Liberty Ship hatchcovers for a couple of years (and even then the Annapolis-based nautical furniture and relics outlet plans to be dealing soon in a "new line of salvaged wood," Harlan says, from ships scrapped in the Great Lakes region). In the meantime, all of Sub-Sea's Liberty Ship hatchcovers not only come with a brass plate engraved with the name of its ship but also with a certificate documenting the ship's historical significance."At Sub-Sea, which has been selling hatchcover works for about seven years, the prices range from $198 for a bench made from a single hatchcover slat to $348 for a hatchcover coffee table, and $697 to a 6-foot-long hatchcover bar. Sub-Sea also specializes in complete nautical interiors, commercial and residential.

 

You know hatchcovers can't be that hard to find if Hechinger's is carrying them. Which they are.

 

"I looked for five years for someone who could sell me hatchcovers," says George Kelly, Hechinger's building materials buyer. Kelly says he's glad he kept his eyes open, because they led him last winter to two rail carloads full of Liberty Ship hatchcovers. And all Hechinger's outlets except in the District and Alexandria are now selling them - unfinished only for $49.95. A recent sale had them going for $10 less.

 

There's one place you shouldn't call if you're looking to buy a hatchcover, and that's the Navy.

 

"You're writing a story about hatchcovers?" asked John Reilly of the Ships' History Branch of the Washington Navy Yard. "Oh my . . ."

 

Reilly, who said he's had calls ranging from people who want to buy hatchcovers to people who already own a hatchcover and are counting on the Navy to tell them exactly which ship it came from, is largely unable to do either of those things. The office does keep a file on Liberty Ships, however, and the best information Reilly gave for those who want to know more about the seagoing sources of their furniture was the following list of books:

 

Liberty Ships: The Ugly Ducklings of WWII by John Bunker (1972: Naval Institute Press, Annapolis, Md.).

 

The Liberty Ships by Leonard Sawyer and W.H. Mitchell (1970: Cornell Maritime Press, Cambridge, Md.)

 

Ships for Victory; A History of Shipbuilding Under the U.S. Maritime Commission in WWII by Frederic C. Lane (1951: Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore).

 

HATCHCOVER HELP

 

Hechinger stores (except D.C and Alexandria), building materials department.

 

The Ships Hatch , Tom and Mary Beth Cox, 6123 Covered Bridge Rd., Burke, Va. 22015 691-0733.

 

Sub-Sea Artifacts Inc., 16 Market Space, Annapolis, Md. 21404 301/268-5885.

 

United Housewrecking Inc., 328 Selleck St.; Stamford, Conn. 66902 203/348-5371.



#12 aznation

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Posted 26 June 2018 - 03:58 PM

I've been SO tempted to make that guy an offer on the table on Craigslist.  Reason being, once these Liberty ship hatches are gone, they're gone.  They won't make them anymore, unless they're reproductions.  I just live about 35 minutes from him.  Just haven't made up my mind yet.


Edited by aznation, 26 June 2018 - 04:00 PM.


#13 hink441

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Posted 26 June 2018 - 04:14 PM

I've been SO tempted to make that guy an offer on the table on Craigslist.  Reason being, once these Liberty ship hatches are gone, they're gone.  They won't make them anymore, unless they're reproductions.  I just live about 35 minutes from him.  Just haven't made up my mind yet.


That is a great article on hatch covers!! It has been awhile since Hechinger's went out of business. I never knew they were selling hatch covers though!!

That table on Craigslist really is nice and it is attributed a specific ship. I have seen them sell for much more than the $450 it is listed for. If I was close by I would definitely stop by and put an offer in. Who knows might get a deal.

Let us know what you decide.

Chris

#14 aznation

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Posted 26 June 2018 - 04:18 PM

That is a great article on hatch covers!! It has been awhile since Hechinger's went out of business. I never knew they were selling hatch covers though!!

That table on Craigslist really is nice and it is attributed a specific ship. I have seen them sell for much more than the $450 it is listed for. If I was close by I would definitely stop by and put an offer in. Who knows might get a deal.

Let us know what you decide.

Chris

 

Will do Chris.



#15 hink441

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Posted 26 June 2018 - 04:26 PM

Those are really cool! Interestingly, my father in law's retirement gift from the Navy was a hatch cover coffee table. However, they included all of his insignia and several engraved brass plates with his career milestones on top. They then went and added about 2 inches of resin to encase it all. Needless to say, I would estimate that the table weighs an easy 200+ pounds!  I'd snag a photo of it, but unfortunately it's in storage at the moment. Quite interesting!


Hi Dave,

I have seen some really beautiful tables done for individual retirements during my time in the Navy. I really like the rope fancywork done on some of the ones I have seen. Would love to eventually see a picture of your Father in Law's table!

Chris

#16 aznation

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Posted 01 July 2018 - 06:33 PM

I've been SO tempted to make that guy an offer on the table on Craigslist.  Reason being, once these Liberty ship hatches are gone, they're gone.  They won't make them anymore, unless they're reproductions.  I just live about 35 minutes from him.  Just haven't made up my mind yet.

 

 

UPDATE:  Today, after days of back and forth negotiation I picked up and brought home the Liberty Ship Hatch Table that was advertised on Craigslist.  The price started at $450 and I ended up buying it for $375.  I started negotiating from $325.  Overall, I'm very pleased with the purchase, the table looks great, and I love the history of the piece. 

 

The hatch was salvaged from the Victory ship DIAMOND HEAD (AE 19). A brass label mounted on the front states SUB-SEA ARTIFACTS, ANNAPOLIS, MARYLAND and DIAMOND HEAD 1945.

 

The table measures 61in long x 35in wide x 30in tall. The hatch cover table top thickness is 2-3/8 in. The hatch is made of 3 hardwood boards banded together at the ends and a bolt driven through the width of the hatch to keep it together. In 2 corners of the hatch are hemispherical cut-outs with steel banding to be used as handles. The table can still be lifted by the handles. The hatch patent is stamped into the banding stating Cocks Patent No. 354232. Cock's hatch covers were patented in the 1930s and were preferred hatch covers on naval vessels.

 

The USS Diamond Head (AE-19) was built by the North Carolina Shipbuilding Co. and launched February 3, 1945. The ship was captained by Lieutenant Commander F. C. Snow, US Navy, and served in the Atlantic and Pacific as an ammunitions support ship during the Korean War. It traveled the Panama Canal, Pearl Harbor, and Vietnam before eventually being decommissioned in the 1970s.



#17 hink441

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Posted 01 July 2018 - 07:01 PM

Awesome!! I think you did great on the price!! Congrats!

Chris

#18 tdogchristy90

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Posted 01 July 2018 - 07:05 PM

It's not very often I'm blown away by something history related. But now that I know this is a thing, I MUST HAVE ONE. Congrats man.

Edited by tdogchristy90, 01 July 2018 - 07:06 PM.


#19 aznation

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Posted 01 July 2018 - 07:07 PM

Thank you very much Chris and tdogchristy90.  I think the table is awesome.


Edited by aznation, 01 July 2018 - 07:08 PM.


#20 sgtdorango

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Posted 04 July 2018 - 05:18 PM

Thank you very much Chris and tdogchristy90.  I think the table is awesome.

Glad to see you got it!...would love to see a pic of it in your war room when you get a chance.....mike



#21 MastersMate

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Posted 04 July 2018 - 07:00 PM

About eight years back, I had to pick up some specific ship equipment for a project at work.  The boss and I ended up at a ship breaker operation down in Brownsville Texas.  Their collectable department manager had first sweep of the ship after the haz mat abatement. All the portlights, brass, helm and other nautical stuff was his first prioroty. He had a huge warehouse of all kinds of holy grail collectables.  Ons corner had stacks of the hatch covers from all the different break bulk cargo ships that they were cutting up..  Ship breakers might still be a viable source for original 'stuff'...



#22 hink441

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Posted 09 October 2018 - 06:09 PM

I found another one, this one is painted green. The reverse side still has remnants of some haze gray Navy paint.

I am trying to decide what to do with this one. I want to make a coffee table but I don't know about the green paint. Should I strip it to bare wood, or leave it as is??

Chris

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#23 hink441

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Posted 10 October 2018 - 05:45 PM

I cleaned the hatch cover up. I might just leave it the way it is now. I kinda like the green.

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Edited by hink441, 10 October 2018 - 05:48 PM.


#24 aznation

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Posted 11 October 2018 - 02:47 AM

Looks pretty good cleaned up Chris.  Good luck with the coffee table.  -- Matt



#25 Ronnie

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Posted 14 October 2018 - 06:00 PM

Great pick up aznation. I have a buddy, also in the hobby, and he has one of the coffee tables in his den. Beautiful piece of furniture.
You did well.
Ronnie


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