Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Moving Day

Many hours of work -- some painstaking, some grueling -- were completed with celebration as the 29 foot Richardson powerboat To 'N Fro, finally left the shop.  She was bright, shiny, and very grand.  More importantly, she is once again the solid and sound craft that left the builder's yard more than 80 years ago.  The owners are happy, the WoW team is happy, and soon many people who will have the pleasure of seeing her ply the lake waters of upstate New York will be happy as well.  What could be better?

Moving a big boat out of the shop is a day-long project that requires relocating tools, machines, and boats to create enough space to maneuver the  vessel through the door to the awaiting trailer.  The To 'N Fro move was no exception.  Work actually began on Monday, with the relocation of some of the floor machines to clear the way for setting up the move.
Open floor space gives a clear shot to the doorway
The whaleboat was temporarily rolled outside to allow maneuvering room on the shop floor
Before the move could begin, however, last minute punch list tasks needed to be completed, and the team worked most of Tuesday morning on those, in addition to setting up for the move.  The most time consuming task was the application of Slick Seam, a wax based product that retards the infiltration of water when the workshop-dry hull is relaunched.
A team of 5 applied Slick Seam to all underwater seams to slow down water infiltration
Bruce and Bob attach a protective strip to the transom edge
Bruce attaches new number boards to the house sides
To 'N Fro fills the WoW doorway pretty completely, at least in terms of height. Because of that, it was not possible to move her on rolling dollies, since that would have caused her house roof to hit the top of the doorway.  Instead, she was mounted on two gantries using slings.  After her blocking was removed, the slings were lowered so that the skeg was no more than four inches above the floor, and the move was begun.
Forward gantry ready to be moved into position
Setting up the straps from the chainfalls
4x4s were clamped to the gantries on both sides so they would move together
Ready to go!
Now to make that right turn out the door!
A power winch pulls the boat through the doorway
Fully emerged, and ready to turn toward the trailer
To 'N Fro was loaded onto the high-tech, hydraulically adjustable trailer by Matt of Ship Bottom Boat Towing.  They do a great job with classic boats, having moved the original Silent Maid as well as the replica Silent Maid for WoW.   
Lining her up for the trailer
The trailer backed into position and ready to take the weight.
Gantries are gone, and she's ready to roll.
Celebrating a job well done.  Now, let's fill up that space again!

Friday, August 24, 2012

What is in a name

As To 'N Fro moves closer to completion (departure scheduled for August 28) she has become more and more the center of attention in the shop.  That was truer than usual as she got her name re-painted on her newly refinished transom.  The job was done by Paul Quinn, owner of Design Brilliance.  Paul did a great job, using some techniques that are quite familiar to us, and others that were brand new.  Regardless, the finished job was a great looking, very traditional transom.
First step is taping a pre-cut template to the transom
Sizing is painted into the letter spaces and allowed to dry
Next, Paul rubs 23.5 k gold leaf onto the sizing
After removing the template, Paul burnishes the gold lettering
A closer look at the burnishing device and the beautiful effect
A black border is hand painted around each letter
The final product.  A few more coats of varnish, and it will be done, done, done!
While it was difficult to tear ourselves away from watching Paul work on the transom, we did manage to get work done on several other key projects.  Lee and Steve sanded and varnished the Comet mast, as she nears completion. While they had the brush and sandpaper out, they did a couple of other masts as well.  A broken spreader needed to be rebuilt for the Comet mast, and that was accomplished too.
Vinyl gloves and a wooden mast -- what do you think comes next?
Lee and Steve the "Spars R Us" duo, varnish up a storm.
Meanwhile, Charles was at work building a new pedestal for the Philadelphia Cup, which will recognizes winners of the Philadelphia Cup Regatta.  The Regatta, which is co-sponsored by the Corinthian Yacht Club of Philadelphia, Liberty Sailing Association, and Riverton Yacht Club, will be hosted at ISM on September 29.
Cutting mortises for the Philadelphia Cup pedestal
This ought to fit

Friday, August 17, 2012

And so it goes

More varnish, more sanding, more varnish, and so it goes.  To 'N Fro is getting a grander "wow factor" by the day.  She is scheduled to leave the shop on August 28, so the finishing touches are truly underway.  Sanding happens early each day, and to prevent airborne dust from becoming one with the varnish, tacking and varnishing are reserved for the end of the day, after the daily shop cleanup.  Alas, WoW does not have a dedicated finishing room. Aside from protecting the wood from sun and moisture, there are two purposes for varnishing a boat: varnish provides the beauty of a deep, warm finish that can be achieved in no other way, and it is a character builder and teacher of humility for boat builders and volunteers alike.
Newt sands around the window frames
Bruce gives the transom yet another coat.  Look! I can see myself!
Carolyn covers up Newt's excellent sanding with yet more varnish.

The CHAD kids are done for the Summer, so Tuesdays and Thursdays will be a bit quieter, and the mean age of the WoW team has just quadrupled until Autumn.  Before they left, however, they finished the bulk of the work on their Bevins skiff.  Since our prior post, only a week ago, they completed planking the bottom, and caulked it with cotton.  In addition, they completed the second (and final) planks on both port and starboard, riveted them in place, and even flipped the boat.
Bottom planked and sheerstrake clamped in place for riveting.
Sheerstrake rivets drilled and seated.

Caulking the bottom
Wow! Look what we did!
The Comet restoration is moving along.  Lee epoxy filled some gouges in the deck carlin, which also serves as the coaming, prior to painting it.  The new mast step got another coat of varnish, and is ready for installation. The new step will give much better strength to the mast base by distributing forces over a wider base as well as 3 instead of 2 floors. It has a full 1 inch slot instead of the old 3/4 inch slot.  As an added bonus, the new step is also consistent with the original design of the boat.

The old mast step
A new wider, longer step.
A beefier tenon was cut on the mast for added strength.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Jeez! That can of paint was full this morning.

Quarts of Interlux Brightside white paint and Schooner varnish continue to empty as coats are applied to the hull and cabin of To 'N Fro, in preparation for her return to service.  In between each coat, of course, is a thorough hand sanding.  As of today, she is due to get one more coat of white on the hull, and five or six more coats of varnish.  The varnish is already becoming deeper and more beautiful by the day.
Jeff hand sands the starboard side in preparation for the final coat of white.
 Small parts, doors, etc. that had been removed to facilitate repair and refinishing are slowly being completed and reinstalled.
Little stuff getting the sand/varnish/sand/varnish treatment on the bench.
Newt sands the transom in preparation for another coat of varnish.
The Jeffs and Bruce use a spotlight to make sure everything is just so.
Before she leaves the shop, To 'N Fro will have her bottom painted.  Prep for that step is underway as well, with final sanding, checking seams, etc. taking place.  As much as we have grown to love her, we will be delighted to see her loaded on the trailer for her trip home.
Newt in his favorite position, looking up at the sander and the bottom.
While the Richardson is the biggest project on the floor, it is not the only one that is receiving attention.  Nick, Lee, and the interns are working away on their Bevins skiff, and making excellent progress.  Molds have been completed, framework and transom are in place, and planking has begun.  The fact that there are only two planks per side makes for a quicker and less tedious process, but care and precision are still essential to building a good boat.
The first plank is test fitted on the port side....
...while the starboard side awaits.
By the end of the day, the first two planks had been spiled, cut out, and clamped in place on the framework in preparation for final shaping and fastening.  Quick work and great craftsmanship.
Two planks down, two more to go.
Meanwhile boards were planed, cut, and resawn to make bottom planks.  The bottom is cross planked, which simplifies the job.  However, it still has to keep the water out, so care and skill are important.
Bottom planks cut, jointed, and ready for installation.
The Comet restoration received some attention as well, with the mast hole being carefully cut through the deck, and mahogany mast partners fastened below the deck.
Mast opening in the deck.  Old mast step is in foreground.
One of the reasons for the restoration was to repair damage done when the old mast step failed.  Review of original Comet plans revealed that the design of the mast step that failed (shown above) was not original, so we decided to make a new step based on the plan.  It will be stronger and stiffer than the one being replaced, in that it is twice as wide, and spans three frames rather than two.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Water Play

Work continued on key projects, including the Richardson, To 'N Fro, and the new skiff.  The Richardson is getting prettier by the day, with the cabin roof fully varnished and back in place, and a final coat of white paint on the topsides.  It should not be long before she leaves the shop and is once again cruising the lake waters of New York.  We reinstalled the windows, bedding them in Dolphinite to eliminate the previous leaks.
Looking sharp with her beautifully varnished cabin roof and white topsides.
 Making an old wooden hull look beautiful is a lot more work than just applying a few coats of paint, but all that hard work has come together to restore To 'N Fro's planking to its full glory. 
You can see your face in this mirror!
The lapstrake Whitehall, now named Huffin' (Huffin' and Puffin -- you get it, right?) is in the water, and is another beautiful addition to the growing ISM fleet of largely WoW-built boats.  She is a pleasure to row, and a joy to behold.
Huffin' at rest beside her sister, Puffin.

Meanwhile, Nick and the CHAD students continued to move forward on the skiff, building the remaining molds, and shaping the transom.
Nick explains a detail of skiff design to Brijith

Nick lays out the skiff's transom as Brijith and Brianna watch.
For a long time now, we have been looking for ways to make the entrance to WoW from the Museum more inviting to the public, and Joe took a big step in that direction by making a fine, hand carved welcome sign.  Lots of us have been pointing out the lack of signage, but Joe is the one who jumped in and is doing something about it.  He seems to be having a good time doing it, as well.

Joe carving away at his new "Welcome to the Workshop on the Water" sign

A big hungry crowd at the lunch counter.  Great to see so many folks involved.

The shop was really buzzing with activity all day.  Lots of volunteers, lots of students and interns, all working away on projects.  Sometimes, one doesn't realize how big a team is working in the shop until lunchtime, when heads can be counted.

The WoW crew hung around after work for a bit of mid-summer celebration with the entire ISM staff, volunteers, friends, and family.  A great barbecue was prepared and served, boats were sailed and rowed, and a good time was had by all.  A beautiful evening, one of the few this summer, it seems, certainly helped things along.  Thanks are due to John Brady, who suggested the celebration, as well as to Jeff who organized it and the interns and volunteers who manned the barbecue, shucked and steamed the corn (in a steaming bag, just like we steam wood for bending,) set everything up, and cleaned up afterward. 
Jeff sets up for the party. 
The guys shucking a full case of corn.  It was later steamed in our wood steamer setup. 
A happy and well fed crowd.
Party attendees enjoyed the festivities, both inside and outside the shop.
Sitting on the dock, watching the boats.  What could be better?
Huffin' races past Olympia.  Olympia wasn't really trying, though.