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.

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