Saturday, December 21, 2013


The Workshop on the Water is nicely decorated for the holiday season with a Christmas tree, garland, and assorted trim, and played host last weekend to "Santa's Workshop on the Water."  You can read more about the event and see some pictures at the WoW Facebook page.  

Tree and garland beside clamps and sawdust.
The SAILOR kids have been busily working on their strongbacks, in preparation for the construction of their Harbor Master Skiffs.  The strongbacks have been screwed together, and fastened to the floor. 

Strongback construction is underway.
Cross bracing was added.  The strongbacks must still be leveled before mold construction can begin.

Cross braced strongbacks are nearly ready to build.
John stopped in to visit over his college break, and was promptly put to work sanding Misleading Lady's hull.

Scratch sanded and ready for another coat of hull paint.
He finished too quickly, so he got to sand and apply another coat of varnish to the undersides of Misleading Lady's engine hatch covers.

John adds a coat of varnish to the hatch covers.
Charles continued engine plumbing on his Oughtred "Grey Seal", completing the shaft bore and putting the fiberglass shaft log in place.

Shaft log glued in place with 3M 5200.
With brazing help from Jeff, the Grey Seal's traveler was completed and fastened in place.

Traveler with stops brazed in place by Jeff.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Sprucing Up

With the fleet safely stored in the warehouse for the winter, it's time to put some effort into sprucing up some of the well used interactive displays in the Museum.  One of the most popular of these is a skiff that is mounted on a cleverly disguised waterbed, which kids love to sit in, rock and sway, and generally have a great time.  With so many little feet climbing in, out, and around, it is no wonder that a fresh coat of paint is warranted from time to time.  This week, the skiff was removed from its watery base and brought down to the shop where volunteers sanded and primed it, and Jeff did the honors applying fresh paint to the inside and out.  The boat will be back on display next week.

The skiff interior is now bright and shiny again.
Jeff applies the red bootstripe
One more coat, and she'll be ready for more kids.
Misleading Lady is luxuriating in a new coat of varnish over her decks and coaming.  Newt and Jeff worked as a team with Newt rolling and Jeff tipping, and the result was a perfectly even finish -- not a single "curtain" or "holiday" could be found.

That's a lot of brightwork!
Looking good. It's a shame we need to sand it to apply the next coat.
New WoW team member Dave began this week and went right to work lofting the Harbormaster Skiff that will be the main project for this year's SAILOR program students.  Teams of high school students have already begun their own lofting exercise, and are now building strongbacks in preparation for beginning construction of the skiffs.

Dave bends a batten as he lofts the Harbormaster Skiff.
Stacks of legs and braces for strongbacks await the next class day.
Next steps.
Plumbing was the order of the day for Charles and his Oughtred Grey Seal. With the shaft bore pilot hole completed, and the engine position determined, the next step was installing the raw water side (through hull, seacock, raw water filter) of the engine plumbing.  More detail on the Grey Seal project can be found on Charles' blog, Building a Grey Seal.  

The raw water filter is fastened to the cabin bulkhead.
Seacock ready for fastening.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Steaming and Drilling

A big space has been cleared at the front of the shop for students in the ongoing SAILOR Program.  Every Wednesday, the floor is filled with white painted plywood lofting boards, as the kids learn to transfer boat designs from plans to full size patterns.  The program is still gearing up, and more groups are scheduled to start soon.  

Volunteers, meanwhile, continue to work on the Beetle Cat restoration.  We are still engaging in "tag team" frame replacement, with each group of volunteers taking over from the team that worked the previous day.  Slowly but surely, the new frames are being bent and fastened.  We are well over half way in the process.

Some more oak frames-to-be steam in preparation for bending.
Bob M. contemplates his next move.
A whole line of newly bent and installed frames.
The "Holiday Boat" has left the shop and now sits in the ISM lobby as part of the seasonal decorations.  Fittingly, before being put on display, she got a fresh coat of green topside paint, applied by volunteers.

The holiday boat, a Whitehall, ready to go on display.
Charles and friends, most notably Bob F., continue the mechanical installation on the Oughtred Grey Seal.  The 1200 pound lead ballast is completely installed -- bedded, bolted in place, faired, and painted.

Ballast faired into skeg using thickened epoxy which was later sanded smooth.
The ballast is complete -- sanded and painted.

Work has turned to the engine installation.  First step was hoisting the engine, a rebuilt Yanmar 1GM, into position on the engine bearings.

The engine is lowered into position below the cockpit sole.
  Once the engine was set in its approximate location, the location and slope of the prop shaft needed to be determined.  This was accomplished by mounting a board along the centerline of the boat, using a plumb line to transfer the slope of the engine bearers to that board, and extending the slope aft.  The drill bit was then positioned at the same angle, and at the height appropriate to drill the  36 inch deep shaft hole.

Slope of engine bearers and height of engine coupling is drawn on board at centerline of hull.
Guide blocks were mounted to supports at the appropriate height to begin drilling.  The drill bit -- a 24 inch long 5/8 inch auger bit -- was inserted into the guide, and drilling began.  Because one of the major problems in drilling deep, deep holes like this is that the drill bit moves off center because of density variations in the wood, the tip of the auger had to be ground off, creating a "barefoot" auger bit.  This configuration stays much truer, but cuts very much slower.

The slope and height have been transferred to the drilling guides.

Once the drill has gone a foot and a half or so into the wood, the guides can be safely removed, and drilling can proceed.  The last foot of drilling will require the addition of a drill bit extender.

Charles drilling -- the bit is about 15 inches in at this point.


Friday, November 15, 2013

It's Getting Cold Outside

The weather outside is getting colder and the wind is up.  Fortunately, most of the work at WoW is indoors, in the comfortable heated and air conditioned shop.  

The WoW volunteers are approaching the end of the re-framing project on the Beetle Cat.  Lee and Bob M. added several more, as we move aft in the boat. Nearly all the half frames that end at the centerboard slot have been replaced, and the full frames toward the transom are being done.  It is a slow, fussy, and laborious job, but it feels good to be contributing to the survival of another classic boat.

Bob fastens a frame on the starboard side. . .
while Lee does the same on the port,
The whaleboats were the last boats to leave the basin for the year. The other members of the ISM fleet are safely tucked away for the winter in the Navy Yard warehouse.  Once out of the water, and with a new coat of oil on her interior, the second of the whaleboats was trailered to the warehouse to join the fleet.

Bob F. fastens straps on the whaleboat.
Hitched up and almost ready to go.  See you next Spring.
With a goal of launching her next Spring, work continues on Misleading Lady. Newt is in charge of the finish carpentry and the stain and varnish jobs currently being done, and is carefully adding trim to the underside of the engine hatch covers.

Newt hand sands a strip of oak trim for the hatch cover underside.
The Oughtred Grey Seal, "Lagniappe" has her keel ballast fully installed.  The ballast was bedded in BoatLife, and through-bolted to the keel with nine 1/2 inch bronze rods.  Hours were spent drilling the holes through the lead, and even more hours went into drilling countersinks in the underside of the ballast to hide the lower washers and nuts.  

Ballast clamped into position for drilling
Holes drilled, and ready for a thick layer of Boatlife caulk.
Bob is drilling holes to countersink nuts at end of keel bolts.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Preparing for Winter

The fleet has been hauled, washed, and trailered to the warehouse for winter storage.  The basin looks fairly empty now, and will be until next spring.  The whaleboats are still in the water, and may be rowed a few more times before they too are hauled.  
George ties up whaleboat rigs for winter storage.
Whaleboat sail hanging out to dry thoroughly before being stored.

Inside the shop, however, there are boats and there is an increasing level of activity. We are gearing up for the student boatbuilding program, and expect that soon there will be as many as four or five small craft under construction by students and their advisers.  The front half of the shop has been cleared for the students, a special tool cabinet and a safety equipment locker have been installed, lofting boards have gotten a new coat of white paint, and we have begun to hear young animated voices over the din of shop machinery. 

Steve built a tool cabinet for the student boatbuilding programs.
Work on the Beetle Cat continues, with volunteers moving through the laborious task of removing and replacing frames.  About half of the frames have been replaced already as we move from bow to stern.  When the frames have been replaced, we will cut a new transom to replace the present one, which is showing signs of rot and has several significant cracks.   Even though we will not be putting on a new deck for a while, volunteers have begun to mill cedar and to cut out deck boards using the old ones for patterns.

Lee and Steve plane cedar to 1/2 inch thickness for deck boards.
The new kingplank is ready for installation.
Volunteers John and Bob fasten a new frame to the sheer clamp.
Lots of new frames in place and fastened.
Meanwhile, Newt is in charge of making the Ventnor runabout, Misleading Lady, as pretty as she was when she left the factory in 1928.  Careful cycles of varnishing and sanding are the only way to do this work, and that takes lots of time.

Varnish, sand, varnish, sand, varnish, sand . . .
The shop got a new resident this week. Volunteer Charles brought in his newly built Iain Oughtred designed "Grey Seal" named Lagniappe. She is a 22 foot gunter rigged sloop. Some heavy work, much more easily accomplished at WoW than in the garage will be done.  First on the agenda is the installation of the 1200 pound lead keel ballast.  Later, the engine will be installed and some standing rigging fabricated and installed.  

Steve, Charles, and Jeff plan the move of Lagniappe into the shop.
In position next to Misleading Lady.
The lead ballast being jacked up into position.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Putting the Beetle Cat Back Together

We have pretty much stripped the Beetle Cat down to her bones, and discovered most of her warts and wrinkles, and now we have begun to fix things.  The most glaring problems, the leaky centerboard case and three broken frames under the foredeck, are our first concerns.  We are removing the broken frames, and replacing them with new ones, one by one, so as not to cause the hull to distort.  

The first step is to break up the old, damaged frame and remove it in pieces. Then, the screws holding the planks to it can be backed out.

New frame fastened in place.  Next old frame forward has been removed.
The new frames need to be steamed, and bent on a jig made from hull templates.  For each frame to be replaced, we need to make a new template, and adjust the jig to match it.

A white oak strip gets steamed.

Frame bending jig with frame just removed.
After the new frame has cooled, it is inserted between the sheer clamp and the sheer plank, and pushed gradually past the keel and into the space between clamp and sheer plank on the opposite side.

Two frames in place.  The upper one has been clamped for screwing.
The new frame is clamped in place tightly against the planks, and against the floors.  Then it is ready for fastening with bronze screws. Where possible, we use the old screw holes in the planks, but if they have widened too much, we drill new ones, and will bung the old ones later.

Screws in place, mostly in newly drilled holes.
We managed to remove three frames, and replaced two of them by day's end. That leaves something for the next crew to do.

Meanwhile, Dockmaster George was finishing cleanup chores from last weekend's Old City Seaport Festival.  Among many tasks, the cannons used in the pirate battles needed their barrels cleaned out and oiled.

Multi-talented George cleans a cannon barrel.