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.

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