Friday, June 29, 2012

Race to the finish

The carvel planked Whitehall is really close to being done, and the lapstrake boat is getting there. Benches, thwarts, floorboards, and even oarlocks were fitted to the carvel, and the boat was flipped for final sanding, caulking, bunging, surfacing and painting.  In her nearly completed state, one can more fully appreciate the beauty of the design as well as the high quality job the building team has done.

Steve fitting bungs over the keel bolts
Once inverted, the first step was reefing the plank edges to accept cotton string caulking.  Unlike larger hulls, where the caulking bevel is pre-cut in the plank with bandsaw or hand plane, the reefing tool (a file with its tang bent 90 degrees and sharpened to a knife edge) is used to create the bevel.  

Carolyn working the joints to prepare them for caulking

Meanwhile, Newt puts the last coat on one more floorboard

Next step is caulking.  We used cotton string, twisted and pushed into the inter-plank bevels with a thin bladed caulking iron.  The job went very quickly, as the gaps were nice and even (thank you, plankers!) and the boat is small.  

Working the caulking cotton into the joints.  Two down, many to go.

For a structure designed to keep its occupants separated from the water, wooden boats have an awful lot of holes in them.  Steve, Carolyn, and Charles carefully rectified that problem with the carvel Whitehall. Steve cut, fitted, and glued bungs for each of the keel bolt countersink holes in the skeg and stem.  Meanwhile, Carolyn and Charles filled the hundreds of countersunk screw holes with epoxy thickened with fairing additive.  

The hull with screw holes filled.  Try to count them.
 With wet epoxy staring menacingly at us over the entire hull, we were forced to call it a day with the carvel Whitehall and turn full attention to her clinker built sister, who still  lags a few days behind.

Bruce shapes a frame, fresh from the steam bag.
 The first priority was finishing installation of the dozen or so frames left to be done.  The steamer was cranked up, white oak strips were bagged and steamed, and one by one, Bruce with the help of interns and volunteers, bent them into place and clamped them.

Ben and Max riveting frames to the hull, a noisy job at best. Frames steaming at left.
 Riveting came next.  The compressor-driven rivet gun made quick but noisy work of the task.  Time is running short to finish the boats, and everyone in the shop is pitching in to make it happen. Especially helpful are Ben and Max, WoW's new summer interns recently air expressed from Bretagne, France. 

Steve found a few minutes to fit thwarts on the lonely whaleboat.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Whitehalls are getting there

Bruce, the CHAD kids, and a gaggle of WoW volunteers have been working hard to get the two Whitehalls ready for the water.  Crunch time is here. The anticipated launch date is early July, and it is starting to look like a possibility.

The carvel planked boat is fully planked, knees, breasthook, inwales, etc. are in place, and the interior has been oiled.  She is getting her final fitting of thwarts, benches, oarlocks, etc., before being flipped for caulking and painting.
Bruce fitting starboard bench. 
John is proud of his work. The floor boards are across the shop getting painted.
All hands are working on the Whitehalls these days.  Those who are not fitting and fastening parts are milling, cutting, sanding or priming in order to finish the boats and get them into the water.
Newt is milling some pine for the port bench.
 The other Whitehall, the clinker built one, is a bit behind her carvel planked sister, still awaiting the sheerstrake.  After that, she will be fitted out just as her sister is being fitted out now.
Lapstrake planked Whitehall waiting for her sheerstrake.

Even though he was briefly caught up in the excitement of completing the Whitehalls, Captain John finally got around to his primary task of the day -- making mast wedges for his Comet.  It's nice to see John's Comet, named Chimay (after either the French village or the beer the Trappist monks brew there, not sure which,) back at the ISM dock.  She was our shopmate for many months while undergoing a thorough WoW restoration last year.
John setting his brand new mast wedges.  A fine little boat!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Greeting the tall ships

The crew at WoW had a rare opportunity yesterday to join in a parade of sail to greet two tall ships visiting for ISM's War of 1812 Bicentennial Weekend.  Captain Rick Carrion was visiting with Elf and took us down the river to escort  Bounty and Lynx into port at ISM.
Captain Rick and crew in typical activity - sanding varnish
About 5 years ago, WoW had the privilege of building a rig for Elf, an incredibly lovely restoration of a Lawley built racing yacht from 1888, likely the oldest operating racing yacht in the world! Therefore it is always a special treat to see her, still beautiful and painstakingly maintained, whenever she visits.  Sailing out to greet our arriving visitors aboard Elf was a an extra bit of fun.

Aboard Elf, leaving the dock to greet the tall ships
 The air temperature was well into the nineties when we pushed off, and the humidity was in the same range.  Elf, though she is a certainly a spectacular sailing yacht is most decidedly not air conditioned.  Fortunately, we picked up a bit of a breeze as we left the shelter of the marina and turned down river toward the Walt Whitman Bridge.  Aboard Elf, once the mainsail and two jibs were set, we were moving along beautifully, while the wind lasted.

We are sailing!
Bruce taking care of business as ships come into view

We rendezvoused with Bounty, Lynx, and their escort, the Philadelphia Fire Department fireboat Independence, fell into line, and headed back up the river to Penn's Landing.

Independence, Lynx, and Bounty, looking S toward Whitman Bridge
Bounty with Lynx in background from the deck of Elf

Bounty safely docked for the weekend alongside ISM

Bounty, Lynx, and Elf will be in port as part of ISM's War of 1812 centennial commemoration all weekend, June 22 to June 24.  Details are at the museum website

A veritable forest of masts with Elf and Lynx in foreground, Bounty behind.