Friday, May 10, 2013

A Big Empty Space

Suzy, the L. Francis Herreshoff Meadow Lark, left the shop on Tuesday, headed for Riverside, NJ and her return to the water.  She will return, via the river, to WoW shortly for rigging.  Her departure left the shop with a ballroom size space -- at least for a few hours.  It seems as if boatshops, like nature, abhor a vacuum. Consequently, by the end of Tuesday, a host of new nautical objects had been established and the shop is once again, happily crowded.

Suzy is hooked up and ready to roll
Bob gets ready for the big turn
Made it!
Bon Voyage, Suzy!

Much of the space is now occupied by huge Douglas fir timbers that are becoming masts for the whaleboats.  The masts are solid and will be heavy. The thought of stepping and unstepping them while at sea boggles the mind, but that is what was routinely during the whaling era.  The image that comes to mind is the flag raising at Iwo Jima, except that the platform on which the crew stood to raise the mast was narrow, uneven, and rocking unpredictably.
Suzy's former home is now a mast fabrication area.
Aside from being solid rather than hollow, and fir instead of Sitka spruce, the method of building the mast is the same as we always use.  First, the four sided timber is tapered per the design. Next, the timber is lined out into eight sides. Then, using a power plane, the square is shaved to the lines to make an octogon.  Next, the eight sided timber is lined out and planed again to 16 sides.  Finally, using a hand plane with a curved iron, the mast is rounded to its final shape.
Bruce planes the mast-to-be to 16 sides.
Also occupying Suzy's space is the Whitehall "Huffin."  She was the unfortnate victim of an overly exuberant youthful docking effort following a recent afternoon of rowing.  The top half of the transom, which in Whitehalls arches well over the sheer, slammed the dock full force -- one can only wonder how this was accomplished -- and it snapped off.  The repair involves fully removing the top section of the transom, cutting a new one, and installing it.  While Huffin is in the shop, she is being cleaned, sanded, painted, and varnished.
Honest! I had nothing to do with it!
Removing the remaining part of the upper plank.
With the boat out of the water and in the shop, it is a good time to remove, repair, and repaint parts that have seen hard duty, as well as a winter on the dock.  The Wooden Boat Factory kids applied a couple of coats of new paint to the Whitehall sole sections.
Sole and thwarts painted and drying.
Our whaleboat launch is now four weeks away, and the last bits of whaling equipment are being fabricated and installed.  Nick put the finishing touches on the rudder for whaleboat number two, attaching pintels and cheeks with bedding compound and copper rivets. The rudder was lofted, a pattern cut, and the actual material machined, all by students in the shop.
The rudder clamped up for some final sanding.
Charles worked on the aft deck of whaleboat number two, carving the builder signature in the lion's tongue, and fastening the steering oar bracket and the remainder of the aft deck in place.  Then, the lion's tongue was bedded and screwed down to the deck.

The patterns for ISM - WoW are taped to the lion's tongue
The completed lion's tongue awaits fastening.

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