Deck of a whaler showing try-works
Whales and whaling pictures

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Whales and whaling

Deck of whaler, showing try-works, scraphopper, and utensils employed in trying-out oil, 1902. The "try-works" were central to the work of whaling until factory ships were built and more modern technology was applied to the job of getting oil from blubber. They are seen here as the rectangular chest-like structure amidships. They were closed up when not in use.

Essentially very large simple cauldrons heated by an enclosed fire separated from the deck by fire-bricks and a shallow bath filled with sea water, the try-pots accepted cut-up chunks of blubber from whales where the oil would melt and be collected into barrels. When the skin or other parts had given up all the oil they were going to, they would be fished out of the try-pots and used to fuel the fire.

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Picture used courtesy NOAA