Friday, July 26, 2013

Ladies Return

The Morgan launch ceremony is over, and our two whaleboats are back in Philadelphia.  One has returned to the shop for some minor work.  As is common with a newly launched boat, swelling has caused some wood to shift, and the centerboard started to bind.  That required a few swipes with a plane, and a bottom paint touchup.  Also, a minor leak developed in her garboard, apparently as a result of her ride to Connecticut on the trailer. That will be checked out and repaired as well.  Since she will be at the ISM for the summer, and regularly rowed by our campers and others, she will also get a couple of coats of bottom paint.

Newt sands a whaleboat bottom in preparation for painting.
One of the whitehalls is getting very close to the water.  A second coat of bright red paint now graces her sheer strake, and once the remainder of the topside has been painted, she will be good to go.  

A very bright red indeed.
Meanwhile, the seats and floors of the other whitehall are painted and ready for installation.  

Whitehall seats are all painted and ready for installation.
The big event of the day was the arrival in the shop of an old friend, Misleading Lady.  She has been a part-time project at WoW for a number of years, but she is finally going to be finished.  Misleading Lady is a keel-up restoration of a classic powerboat, a 1928 Ventnor, built on the southern New Jersey coast.  The process thus far is well documented at this location.  We are looking forward to finishing her up and seeing her in the water after many, many years on the hard.

Misleading Lady on the trailer, ready for lifting.

Jeff positions the dolly beneath the Lady.

We rolled her into the shop where she awaits her fate.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Loose ends

One of the whaleboats left for Mystic Seaport on Thursday, and the other one on Friday morning, so we are a bit lonely as we wait for new projects to arrive. Misleading Lady is scheduled to come back to be completed, finally. The boatbuilders at WoW have been working on her, on and off, for years.  She is almost complete, with only seat work, rub rails, and power train installation yet to be done.  For those who have been involved with WoW for a while, it will be especially exciting to see this long term project finally reach completion.  

As of right now, however, we have finished the two sets of spars for our whaleboats, and most of the rigging, so the whaleboat project is truly completed for WoW. 

Sheave at top of mast awaits its halyard.

Boom jaws fitted, riveted, oiled, and drilled -- ready for sails.

The whaleboat oars are each a different length, to accommodate the position of each oarsman in the boat. Aside from lining up the oars side-by-side in the boat to check the length, the best way to distinguish them is by numbering them.  John S. painted stripes of ISM Whaleboat Blue on the blades of each oar to make station determination simpler.

All you need is to be able to count to five.
Lots of equipment is accompanying the whaleboats to Mystic Seaport, including mooring anchors, with chain and rode, life jackets, fenders, etc.

Everything but the galley sink ready to head north with the whaleboats,
Work continued on the two Whitehalls, with one ready to splash, and the other getting closer.  Dan, Julio, and Donstraque replaced most of the frames, cutting, steam bending and riveting them in place.  Meanwhile, Julio and Charles worked on prepping and painting the floor boards and seats which will be reinstalled as soon as the frames are done and the interior painted.

Donstraque laughs and hammers, while Dan mugs and bucks.
It's nice to see two young guys having so much fun riveting frames.
Almost done!
First coat applied to the seat sections
Jesse took a break from doing his imitation of a boiled/boiling lobster aboard Olympia to build a new neutral buoyancy vessel for the tank in the lobby. This is a constant big hit with visitors.

Now, where does the red wire go?
One more cable tie. . . .

Friday, July 12, 2013

Rigging whaleboats

Workshop on the Water is all about rigging whaleboats these days, as we hurry to complete rigging for the two boats before they head to Mystic Seaport for the Charles W. Morgan launch on July 21.  We have completed nearly all the spars -- two masts, two gaffs, and one boom are ready to go. One set of shrouds has been completed, and Jeff spent much of the day working on the second set.  The last spar, a boom, has been planed to 16 sides and is ready for final planing and sanding.  The amount of labor involved is daunting, but little by little, the "to do" pile grows smaller, and the "done" pile grows larger. We'll make it.  We always do.

Jaws are fitted to a boom prior to riveting

The first boom is finished and oiled.  It is good to go.

The second boom, planed to 8 sides, is lined out for 16 side planing.

Jeff set up his rigging station near the visitor gallery in the workshop, and demonstrated the various steps needed to prepare traditional rigging to fascinated adults and kids. While the skills involved in worming, parceling, and serving rope are not especially difficult to master, there are just not that many occasions in modern life when one is called upon to exercise them. Therefore, it is always fun when an opportunity for marlinspike seamanship does arise.  The whaleboats give us an opportunity to go "all the way" since the rope is hemp, and the wrapping materials are all natural, including the tar.

Jeff works on the splice where the shroud attaches to the top of the mast.
Rigging is one of those areas of boatbuilding that has remained essentially unchanged for centuries.  The tools are the same, the process is identical. The old rigger's ditty "Worm and parcel with the lay, turn and serve the other way," still works as well as it did two hundred years ago.

Jeff demonstrates parceling for Julio.  Perhaps the next generation rigger?
A coating of tar holds the parceling fabric in place.

Jeff works his ancient serving tool "against the lay"
A pretty good job.
A finished shroud.
Dan and Julio were working on replacing cracked frames on one of the Museum fleet Whitehalls.  The process involves removing and replacing the broken frames one at a time by cutting the old rivets, pulling the broken frame out, inserting a new frame, and finally riveting it in place. It is a great opportunity to learn about the forces that work against a wooden boat, as well as a chance to make sure an old boat stays where it belongs -- in the water. 
Julio works on filling some holes in Whitehall floorboards.
Dan rivets a new frame in place near the Whitehall's bow.

Meanwhile, the ISM summer daycamp kids had a grand time kayaking and rowing in the basin.  As a special treat, the younger kids got to row in the whaleboat, which is an experience not many of their peers who did not participate in the daycamp, can claim to have had.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

A bit of excitement

Whaleboat number 2 is back from the WoodenBoat show at Mystic Seaport for a few weeks at home. No matter what anyone else says, volunteer John S. declared that ours was the prettiest whaleboat there, but out of a misguided sense of modesty, or in deference to our competition, ISM opted not to enter the formal competition.  Consequently, the entry from Beetle was crowned "Miss Whaleboat 2013."  

At WoW, work continues on the construction of the rigs for the two whaleboats.  We want to have them completely finished when the boats return to Mystic for the launching of the Morgan in late July.  The second gaff was completed with the fastening of its jaws by Charles and oiling by Newt. The mast for the second rig was also sanded and oiled, and is ready to go. Two booms remain, and then the rope work can be completed, so we will have both standing and running rigging done for both boats.

Gaff jaws for the second gaff are fastened in place.
Charles sands the mast while . . . .
Newt oils the two gaffs with "Boat Soup"
Work continued on the Whitehall, "Culture."  Reefing completed, she was sanded and caulked by a crew of volunteers.  Lee, Joe, and a brand new volunteer, Larry, did the work.  It was great to see Larry on his first day in the shop, actively involved in the arcane craft of caulking. 

Larry and Joe caulking away at the stern of the Whitehall.
Watch those fingers.

Lee has the bow all to himself.
We had a bit of afternoon excitement in the shop when Dockmaster Dan returned from bailing the fleet in the basin with a "genuine" treasure -- a carefully sealed bottle with what appeared to be a rolled up message in it. Dan said he found it floating next to the body of a dead carp, but whether there was any connection between the two bits of flotsam was unclear. Police were not called.

Dockmaster Dan proudly displays his find while Jeff looks on in awe.
Being a maritime museum, we were bound to treat Dan's find as a potential artifact.  Possibly it had been at sea for years and years, made its way up the Delaware, and lodged on the corner of the Penn's Landing marina. Consequently, an urgent call was placed to our curator, Craig Bruns.

Craig carefully examines the bottle while Newt looks on in awe.
Craig decided that Dan should have the honor of opening the bottle, which he did. It contained a long scroll of pages sewn together end to end. Being a maritime museum, the opening was, of course, carefully documented by Museum staff.

Dan examines the scroll while the documentors document from all angles.
The scroll was wrapped in a piece of paper which directed us to a website, giving us our first hint that the bottle had not been in the water for decades. The website told us that the bottle was part of an art project which originated in Germany, but that our particular bottle, alas, had been tossed into the Delaware at Penn's landing just a couple of weeks ago.  Nevertheless, it all made for some excitement and fun on this shortened holiday week.