Friday, January 11, 2013

Finishing Touches

The WoW team is entering the last few days/weeks with several projects, and is making good progress on all of them.  With all staff back from end of year vacations, and a full brace/host/gaggle/pod(?) of volunteers on hand, lots of little tasks are getting finished so that completed boats will soon be rolling out the door.

Obadiah, our Marsh Cat project, has her bottom newly coated with anti-fouling paint, and her topsides completed with the final coat of white paint.  Bruce and Jeff spent time re-installing bronze rub strips, chain plates, mooring eye, etc., all of which needed re-drilling and bedding.  We know that Obadiah will be leaving us soon, since her owner brought her trailer into the shop.  When the paint is dry, we'll say goodbye.
That mirror look of the final coat.
Bruce and Jeff fasten a bronze strip on the stem.

Newly re-installed chain plate and a very smooth and shiny hull
Jeff drills screw holes for brass rub strip on bottom

Obadiah's departure is very timely, because the white oak has arrived to construct the keel of whaleboat number two, and it will be laid on a strongback in the spot where we now have the Marsh Cat.    In the meanwhile, we will need to continue ducking under, climbing over, and otherwise trying to avoid long, heavy, rough oak timbers cleverly and strategically located throughout the center of the shop in such a way as to make movement the most challenging possible.

Whaleboat number one is being fitted out with the many small and not-so-small specialized bits of equipment peculiar to her trade.  Most of them had a more or less obvious purpose; others, not quite as obvious.  Nevertheless, we are faithfully reproducing every cleat, chock, brace, and wedge that Mr. Beetle installed in his originals, more than 150 years ago.
Channel for stepping and un-stepping mast is installed forward of mast step.
A full width cedar seat pad installed between thwart knees, near stern. 
No-frills seating.  Boards go only where oarsman sits, and not an inch further.
Looking forward at mast stepping structure with partners clamped in place.
Mast partner needed to be notched into forward edge of thwart above step.

One more small cleat for a not-so-obvious purpose.
Newt installs a footrest near stern.  Additional foot brace is to his left.
Carl and Bob drill a grommet hole through inwale on port side.

As noted, many of the parts we are making and installing now are unique to whaleboats, and some are actually unique to the Beetle design.  One uncommon part is the oar shipping rest, which is installed at each oar station, opposite the side where the oar enters the water.  These rests are contoured oak blocks, with a hole bored in the side, into which the oar hand grip is inserted when the oars are shipped.  The oars, which are nearly 17 feet long, are a bit much for stowing inside the whaleboat.
Oar rests-to-be await drilling and installation after sealing. 
Steamed oak strips cooling in jig prior to installation as foot braces.

Very soon, the installation of all the remaining small components will be complete, and we will begin to apply coats of paint to the outside, and oil to the inside of our first Beetle replica whaleboat.

The third boat in the shop nearing completion is the CLC Team Dory.  Yet another coat of epoxy was applied to the outside of the hull -- surely the final one -- and it will be sanded when cured.  Then paint can be applied to the outside, and the interior finish can be completed as well.
John checks the dory for curtains and holidays in the new coat of epoxy.
The only boat in the shop that will not be moving out in the next few weeks is the L. Francis Herreshoff Meadowlark, Suzy.  She has been surrounded with a plastic skirt at her waterline, and a humidifier is running full time under the skirt to keep her bottom from shrinking excessively.  This technique works nicely for boats that spend the winter (or summer) in the relatively low humidity setting of the shop.
Suzy's new skirt.
Another improvement in Suzy is the recent removal of over 600 pounds of lead ingot that was resting in her bilge, directly on the bottom planking.  Apparently, the lead has been in that location for many years, and it is a testament to the quality of her original construction that it did not succeed in making its way to the sea bottom at some point.  Be that as it may, Suzy is definitely going to be more watertight with the lead ingots removed from their former location.
Suzy gets the lead out.

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