Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Spring work

The student-built Harbormaster skiffs are moving along nicely now, and are not far from being ready to launch.  Bottom paint has been applied to several, and frames are being fastened. The seemingly endless job of cleaning up Sikaflex ooze is always there whenever anyone has a free minute or two.

The kids had a brief ceremony and an extended photo-op when they turned over two of the skiffs last week.  Several learned that it is tough to take a "selfie" on your cell phone while holding a boat up over your head.  

Up, up, and . . .
Hold that pose!
Over she goes.
Volunteers, along with boatshop educators Dave and Jen, have been working together with the students to make sure the launch can occur on time.  Planks were milled, frames fastened, paint applied, knot holes bunged, etc.

Joe finishes up milling a plank.  They are all done now.
Larry scrapes oozed Sikaflex in one of the skiffs before frames are attached.
Dave protects his frames against attackers, real or imagined.
Two bottoms painted, two more to go.
Charles continues to work on the new companionway hatch cover for Hard Tack.  The goal is to replicate the original  (same shape, material, color, and overall appearance) while improving the watertight capability. 

Squaring up the edges for addition of end caps.
Charles is also proceeding with the rigging of the sloop Lagniappe, an Iain Oughtred designed Grey Seal gunter rigged sloop.  The mast has been rigged, and installed on the boat. The next order of business is acquiring sails.

Lagniappe's mast rigged and ready to be stepped.
John and Larry hold the mast in place while Charles fastens the headstay turnbuckle.
The mast installation crew: Larry, Jeff, John, and Joe.
Starting to look like a sailboat.
Speaking of masts, a new arrival in the shop is a vintage sandbagger mast currently being used as a flagpole. This huge structure is in the shop for some rot repair and a thorough refinishing. It was in before, five or six years ago, and received 10 coats of varnish at the time.  They held up well, but no finish lasts forever, and it is time to do some maintenance.

Levi scrapes the topmast prior to sanding.
The huge mast covers more than half the length of the shop.
The Beetle Cat is moving along.  Volunteers have been cutting planks, and also fitting the new stern post to the keel and transom.

Bob mortises the skeg to receive the gudgeon end.
Joe rivets the gudgeon to the new sternpost
The surest sign that spring is close at hand is the annual visit of the A. J. Meerwald, the New Jersey state tall ship.  Meerwald came up the river from her home port in Bivalve, NJ. 

Busy dock with Meerwald, Patriot, Lagniappe, and a few Whitehalls to boot.

Friday, April 4, 2014

You've got to have wood.

The Harbormaster skiffs are progressing very nicely thanks to the combined effort of students, volunteers, and especially Dave and Jen.  All four bottoms have been planked, and the first two boats have had their skegs fastened and have been turned upright for interior work.  The other two will be flipped by the SAILOR program students next week.

Once upright, one can see that the skiffs are really very pretty little boats.  

Flipped and looking good.
There is still a lot of work to be done, and Jen, Dave, and volunteer Robinson were working hard at the remaining tasks.  The two remaining skegs needed bolts to be fabricated, and that task was handled by Jen and Robinson.

Robinson threads a copper rod to make a keel bolt.
Jen and students contemplate fastening a bottom.
Dave spent some time fairing the edges of the bottom planks before turning the last two skiffs.  He also began fastening the frames and floors in the two upright boats.

Molds have been removed, and will be stored for use in the future.

Dave checks the fairness of the transom.
Most of the frames are in place in this boat.
We got a good batch of New Jersey white cedar from Chip and Kurt at Medford Cedar last week.  Bad weather delayed milling, but the wood is definitely worth having waited for. It is especially nice to be able to buy good quality wood grown locally, just as local boatbuilders have done for many years.

Now that there is plenty of cedar in the shop, work is proceeding on the Beetle catboat.  

Lee and John select cedar for Beetle Cat planking.  Jeff offers sage advice.
John and Lee feed a board through the planer.
The first garboard plank for the Beetle Cat has been cut and fitted.  It's a good and welcome start, but there are many more planks to go.

Lee test fits a garboard plank.
One down, LOTS to go.
Charles began making a replacement companionway hatch cover for the Herreshoff sloop Hard Tack. The original cover blew off on the highway as the boat was being trailered to the museum last fall.  The old mahogany assembly suffered too much damage and had to be replaced in time for spring sailing this year.

/The old hatch cover has seen better days-- too many of them.
A stack of mahogany boards and splines will be turned into a new hatch cover.
Fitting the top around curved mahogany beams.
Screwed in place, awaiting bungs.
Volunteer Dave drew the assignment of sanding and staining the many lengths of mahogany which will become the ceiling in Misleading Lady's interior.  The work is fussy because any scratches in the wood will be emphasized once stain is applied.  Dave did a great job and the ceiling boards look perfect.

Dave sands boards for Misleading Lady ceiling.
Dave applies stain while Jerry looks on. Note completed boards on horses below.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Skiffs, sloops, and runabouts

Our very snowy Winter seems to be over at last.  It is, after all, officially Spring. However, one of the byproducts of the winter was a bunch of days on which school and ISM were closed.  This has set us way behind on the completion of the four SAILOR program Harbormaster skiffs.  To pick up the pace and have the boats ready for Spring rowing, instructors Dave and Jen, as well as several WoW volunteers have been devoting time to skiff construction. Their efforts are paying off, as good progress is being made and the skiffs are coming closer to completion.

Jeff shows Jen how to drill bolt holes in a skiff skeg.
Jen takes over, and another skeg gets ready for installation.
Lots of pieces need to be cut, both for planking and for the cross-planked bottoms of the skiffs.  Volunteers Joe and Bob took on that task, and roared through a pile of white cedar in a day.

Bob selects boards while Joe gets ready to joint their edges.
A properly jointed edge keeps the water out.  That's pretty important in a boat.
Dave assesses the next board to be machined.
Dave rounds over the edges of a skeg prior to installation.
The orders of the day for the next session with the kids.
In addition to the skiffs, Newt and volunteers worked on several projects for Misleading Lady.  Newt has been doing finish work on the acres of brightwork she will display.  He is finishing the boards on the bench, with mahogany stain, two coats of sealer, and the first four of 8 coats of varnish.  Then, he installs those parts that will be permanently attached (bulkheads, seats, etc.,) fastening them with countersunk screws and bunging the screw holes. Then it's a matter of staining and sealing the bungs, and proceeding with the remaining coats of varnish. It is a time consuming, labor intensive job.

Newt works on bungs in the engine compartment forward bulkhead.
The bleary eyed bung setter. That's a lot of holes.
Meanwhile, Bob took a break from skiff work to machine and hand sand many feet of wood which will soon comprise Misleading Lady's ceiling.  Like everything else on this vessel which will be stained and varnished, the ceiling must be carefully sanded to be absolutely scratch-free.

Bob gets ready to sand another strip of ceiling.  Note completed pile on right of table saw.
The 22' Oughtred Grey Seal that was in the shop for ballast and engine installation this winter is now tied up at the floating dock outside WoW's window.  This was accomplished by a whole gang of staff and volunteers last week.  She was lifted off her stands using the shop's two gantries, rolled into position by the sliding doors, and her trailer was rolled underneath.  Then, she was towed to Butch Greco's dock in Essington, PA to be put in the water.

Ready for the trailer
A full crew of supervisors watch Lee fasten a strap to the trailer.
Ready for hookup.
In she goes at Butch's in Essington
Jeff, and John S joined owner/voluteer Charles and his wife on a three hour cruise up the Delaware. The engine performed flawlessly, and the boat, named Lagniappe (LAN-yap) is now tied up at the ISM dock awaiting rigging. Rigging is underway back in the shop, where it is much more pleasant to work on early Spring days than is the dock.

Throat halyard block will be attached to strop on mast.
Shrouds and forestay fastened to mastband and taped.
For a traditional look, steam bent oak mast hoops will be used.