Friday, December 21, 2012

Heading into the home stretch

With a hard commitment to start whaleboat number two in early January, we are working diligently to finish the relatively few remaining tasks on the first boat.  The fussy process of installing the thwart knees and spacers is almost done.  Only 4 remain out of the total of 14, and they should be done within the next few days.  The oarlock pads are bedded and screwed down.  The rudder parts have all been milled and cut out of white oak, fitted to the boat, and are ready for the installation of pintles and gudgeons.  Then the rudder cheeks can be attached.  After that, most of what remains is finishing, which will be part paint and part oil.
John and Bob test fit a knee and spacer
All fitted, bedded, and ready for riveting
One of five oarlock pads bedded and screwed
The Marsh Cat got her hull covered with a layer of carbon fiber fabric this  week.  A couple of coats of epoxy were applied and sanded, followed by primer.  The waterline was marked using a laser level.  She is now ready for painting, and then turning over to begin the needed interior work.
Marsh Cat hull covered with carbon fiber and painted.  Note penciled waterline.
Laser level used to mark the waterline on Marsh Cat Obadiah.
Bob is making progress on the Herreshoff Meadow Lark, Suzy.  Cutting of the bulkheads has been completed, and a step for the mainmast compression post has been fashioned.  
New bulkhead configuration shows the new "open" floorplan.
New mast step for mainmast compression post.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Whales: Beware!

The main attraction in the shop these days is definitely the whaleboat replica.  Newt is commanding a veritable army of volunteers as the boat nears completion.  Thwart knees continue to be installed, rubrails and outwales are being fastened, and the many components that made these vessels effective whale killers are being riveted and screwed in place.  We hope to finish this boat in the next few weeks, and plan to lay the keel for the next one in January.

The job of fabricating and fastening knees is a lengthy and fussy and time consuming one. As noted previously, it involves steam bending kerfed and tapered white oak strips, forcing each one into its place along the appropriate thwart, scribing and cutting a pine insert between the knee and the adjacent planks, and fastening the whole thing together with copper rivets.  There are one, and sometimes two knees on each side of each thwart, and with so many thwarts to do, the process does drag on. 

While the original whaleboats were built to last only one voyage, we want this boat to be around for a good long time. Therefore, in addition to using exclusively non-ferrous fastenings, we are taking extra steps to avoid water infiltration.  All places where wood contacts wood are primed or sealed, and the bedded with Dolphinite.  While it is messy and takes more time, it will produce a better, and longer lasting end product.  These steps are being done with thwart knee installation as well as all other component installation on the boat.
Steam bent knee clamped in position on thwart prior to riveting 
Volunteer Carl works on knee installation.
With the completion of the bow chock installation, it became possible to install the adjacent outwale, and volunteers Steve and Lee worked on this.  Again, they sealed the mating surfaces of the sheer plank and the outwale, and bedded with Dolphinite before screwing the outwale in place.
Steve and Lee finish up the outwale installation on the starboard side.

The completed pow assembly on the portside
Having completed the bow chock installation, volunteer Charles moved on to installing the cleats that sit atop the gunwale aft of the bowchocks.  These had been fabricated earlier this year and set aside and we were finally ready to bed and copper rivet them in place.
Charles' completed installation of  cleat on starboard side.  Port cleat is clamped in place awaiting riveting.
Next up were the oarlock pads.  Again, they had been fabricated and set aside months ago.  Charles positioned each of the 5 pads, per plan, 12 1/4 inches aft of each thwart, alternating port to starboard.
Oarlock pad clamped in position.
While most of the action was at the whaleboat station in the front of the shop, lots of other activity was also taking place on other boats.  Bob has gotten to work on the Herreshoff Meadow Lark, Suzy, making some of the cabin changes requested by the owner.  He will be adding a compression post beneath the mainmast, to replace a keel to roof bulkhead that has more-or-less supported the mast heretofore.  Much of that bulkhead will be removed in order to allow better use of the belowdecks space.
Bob works on removing bulkhead sections in Suzy's cabin.
A 2x4 stands in for the compression post to be.
Bruce continued work on the Marsh Cat Obadiah, prefitting carbon fiber fabric over the beautifully faired hull.  Carbon fiber was chosen because, even though it is more expensive than glass fiber, it will be stronger, stiffer, and considerably lighter, once installed.
Bruce positions the carbon fiber fabric.
All ready for the bedding coat of epoxy
Meanwhile, another coat of epoxy has been applied to the stitch and glue Chesepeake Light Craft (CLC) crew rowing dory built by Bruce and Nick.  Volunteer John sanded and vacuumed the interior, and she is now ready for the first coat of varnish.  CLC has posted some construction photos of Bruce, Nick, and others working on the build.
John finishes up the pre-varnish vacuuming of the CLC rowing dory.

Friday, December 7, 2012

The Elephant in the Room

It's difficult to ignore the newest arrival on the WoW shop floor.  She is a 36' Francis Herreshoff designed Meadow Lark sharpie.  While she has been at the ISM dock since October, and we have all gotten used to seeing her, she looks much bigger inside the shop.  Water does, indeed, shrink boats.  

Moving her the few yards from the dock into the shop was a multi-day adventure, beginning with running her up river to Riverton, NJ. to be hauled, and then trucked across the river and south, back to WoW.  From there, tricky maneuvering by Jeff, Bruce, Newt, and a host of volunteers resulted in her reaching her present location, ready for repairs and rehabilitation.
36' Herreshoff Meadow Lark sharpie is a real presence on the shop floor.
Needless to say, the Meadow Lark will be a center of attention in the shop in the weeks ahead.

Sometimes you get to feel like the "shoemaker's children" working at WoW.  Spending every hour working on building and fixing stuff for others, and never doing anything for yourself, but thanks to some considerable effort by staff and volunteers, we now have a brand new top on the long work counter on the south side of the shop.  Having gotten 17 years of hard use out of the old one, replacement was certainly due.
New bench top -- shiny and smooth
Work continued in earnest on the Beetle whaleboat replica.  Newt and volunteers Lee, Steve, and John got well into the process of installing knees on each of the thwarts.  This is a time consuming process (aren't they all) involving steam bending oak to almost a 90 degree curve, fitting it, and then scribing and cutting a cedar backer between the oak and the inner surface of the planks.
Newt clamps an oak knee in place
Adjusting the knee for the perfect fit.
Lee primes a thwart prior to bedding a knee.
At both ends of the whaleboat, work was taking place as well.  At the stern, Charles fitted the loggerhead through the lion's tongue, and beveled its bottom so the loggerhead would sit level with the waterline.  Also, the ceiling was notched where the shaft of the loggerhead is inserted.
Cutting the bevel on the loggerhead base
Loggerhead shaft let into ceiling.
Loggerhead set into lion's tongue for strength and rigidity.
On the other end, the bow chocks were finally bedded and fastened in place.  These mighty oak chocks were used to hold the position of the harpoon line once the whale was harpooned.
Bow chocks bedded, screwed, and bunged.

Bow chocks from the side.

Meanwhile, the Marsh Cat was not being ignored.  Bruce did his final fairing and sanding on the bottom in preparation for the application of a layer of fiberglas over the repaired bottom.
More fairing, more sanding.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Loggerheads and lumber

Lots of projects are underway, and good progress is being made on all of them.  In addition, a great load of white oak and another of white cedar arrived at the shop and were stickered and stacked in anticipation of boats yet to be built.  The shop was busy with the staff and a half dozen volunteers scurrying about nearly all day on Thursday.

The whaleboat is in the trim phase now that the ceiling is completely installed and primed.  Charles worked on fastening the aft deck, along with Newt.  They also installed and fastened the lion's tongue, which gives stability to the loggerhead, and began the installation of the loggerhead.
The aft deck installed, and primed.  Square hole is for loggerhead.

Lion's tongue bedded and screwed.  Loggerhead in position.
Loggerhead leveled and ready for installation.
The loggerhead post needs to be let into the ceiling on the port side so that it will sit flush on the deck and be supported by the hull.  Then, the loggerhead base can be scribed and cut to allow it to sit level on the aft deck.  A tenon inserted through the post below the deck will keep it from popping out. At that point, the aft deck will be essentially done and ready for painting.

Bruce has been working hard on the Marsh Cat Obadiah, repairing delaminations  in the outer layer of the cold molded hull.  The process has been to remove the damaged delaminated areas, fill them with epoxy thickened with fairing filler, and sand smooth.  Later, a layer of fiberglas will be installed on the outside of the hull.
Bruce sanding the patches prior to installing fiberglas.

A close look at the better-than-new repaired hull.
The stitch and glue rowing boat built in Annapolis by Bruce and Nick is in the shop for some cosmetic finishing.  She is a pretty boat, beautifully constructed, and will obviously be a joy to row.
The stitch and glue rowing boat gets a good pre-varnish sanding
Lee works on sanding the transom.

Mid-day, work stopped to receive and stack a pile of cedar, fresh from the forests of Maine.  Nearly the whole crew got involved because there was a LOT of wood to unload and stack.
Steve, Charlie and John sticker and stack white cedar boards
One more cartload rolled in by Lee, Charlie and Jeff.
ISM is preparing for the holiday season, and so the Whitehall Puffin was brought into the shop to be used in a holiday display.  The green topsides and red bottom makes her a very Christmas-y boat indeed.

Puffin with her temporary display base nearly ready for Santa.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Getting cold outside

While it's getting colder outside, the shop is a pleasant temperature, and projects are moving along nicely.  On a beautiful, sunny, late Autumn day, there are not many nicer places to work.  Lots of activity is taking place on the whaleboat, most of it focused on the ceiling.  Each plank needs to be milled from rough cedar, knots drilled out and bunged, spiled, bottoms and edges painted, and finally fitted and screwed in place.

Next-to-last ceiling plank being fitted adjacent to centerboard case
Board planed to 1/2" with knots drilled out, bunged, and surfaced before sanding
The last plank on each side had to be spiled to fit between the two adjacent ones, just like the whiskey plank in a carvel hull.  Newt and Charles took care of this, and finally hammered home the last ceiling plank yesterday afternoon.
Port side finished, starboard one ceiling plank to go.
Finally!  All ceiling planks cut and fastened into place.
A good sanding is all that's left before painting the ceiling.
Meanwhile, elsewhere in the shop, John S. was preparing the thwarts for installation by priming them.  The thwart installation will take place as soon as the ceiling is painted.  
Thwarts painted and awaiting installation.
The whaleboat may be the biggest project in the shop right now, but it is not the only one.  The Lightning is gone.  Work was completed and it was delivered to its owner yesterday.  In its place is a vintage Marsh Cat, called Obadiah.  She is in the shop for repair of centerboard case leaks, but some potentially serious de-lamination was discovered in her cold molded hull in at least one location.  Bruce will examine her carefully for other hidden problems and the repair work will begin.
A view of the inside of the Marsh Cat -- a roomy and solid boat.
A de-laminated section of the hull near the stem.
To facilitate examination of the hull, we turned the boat over.  The task was made somewhat more difficult because WoW's boat flipping wizard, Jeff, was off delivering the completed Lightening, Flying Jib II to her owner.  Nevertheless, with some head scratching, a review of old blog photos, and a "What's the worst thing that could happen?" philosophy, we managed to flip her without incident.
Safely flipped, and secure on saw horses, her bottom can be carefully examined
First, the centerboard is pulled
 A bit of bad luck for John N's Comet -- when she had her first splash in October, a bad leak was discovered along the centerboard case.  While the bottom was not part of the original scope of the restoration, she is back in the shop and once again bottoms up as the WoW team works on fixing the leak.  Bruce removed and rebuilt the case, using splines to join the boards in the case sides.  He also repaired two splits in the keel adjacent to the case prior to refastening the case to the keel.
The wood alongside the slot on the Comet has been repaired and sanded.

Bruce ends the day by showing how to hold a push broom