Interesting restoration work… oh, wait, never mind.

The upper ceilings are all now installed in Roann. Those are the ones between the bilge stringers and the sheer clamp. The last thing to do before calling them done and over was to bung the holes and pare down the protruding bungs. There were a lot of bungs. A veritable Wall O’ Bungs.

And they extended the whole length of the boat.

Kind of reminds me of the sea of holes in Yellow Submarine. After the epoxy dries we pare each one down to flush with the ceiling. Continue reading “Interesting restoration work… oh, wait, never mind.”

When clamps want to stay

So, here you are, happily putting in your final ceiling planks.  You have space above that next to last plank to insert a clamp to hold that plank in place… just barely.  You bang the tapered end of the plank down into the thin little slot at one end, and start screwing your plank in.  Everything is good and happy.

Here’s exactly such a plank.  It’s the 2nd one above the painted plank.  Nice little taper there, don’t you think?

So, you’re done screwing this plank in, and it’s time to remove the clamp.

This clamp.

The space that allowed the clamp in behind the ceiling has closed up just a little bit as you screwed the plank down.  Now the clamp wants to stay.  Forever.  It simply won’t be levered out.  Oy, what to do?

  • remove the plank… can’t do it because the taper is tightly wedged in between the planks above and below it.  That sucker is permanent, short of destroying it.
  • leave the clamp there…. now, come on, you can’t be serious.  First of all, the next plank goes in the space where the clamp is sticking out.  Second of all, who is going to buy the argument that it’s a useful feature, handy for a thousand uses?
  • take the clamp apart.   Now you’re talkin‘. 

You could take the clamp apart by cutting the horizontal bar, but why destroy a perfectly good F clamp?  No, the task is to drill out the pin that holds the orange end onto the bar and then drive what’s left of the pin out.  You can see it barely there in the photo above (sorry for the crappy quality… camera phone).  Drill that thing out, whang the pin through, and the bar should pull out of the end.  Then the end will fall down behind the ceiling into … where else?  … the bilge, where it can be retrieved. 

Here you can see that the the pin’s been drilled out.  The other clamp on the left is used to hold the first clamp steady while I drill it and force out the pin with a punch.

Whew.  Now, back to actual work.  That’s a morning I’ll never get back.

The shutter plank for the ceiling is a little tricky, because there’s no way to get a clamp on it.  With a little head scratching, however, I remembered a suggestion that Walt had a while ago.  He thought that one could screw a ring into the ceiling below the shutter plank, drop a board into the ring and fasten the board to the deck beams above.  This would create a vertical surface that you can now wedge against. 

I went to the metal shop, and Scott whipped me something up in no time that allowed me to do what Walt was thinking about, but without having to put a new hole in the ceilings.  He welded a U-shaped chunk of steel to a small plate (at an angle… you’ll see why in a sec) and then we drilled a hole in the plate.  Here’s the deal:

The hole is sized so that I can simply remove one of the ceiling screws and use the same screw and hole to fasten this sucker onto the ceiling.  No new holes!  Note how the U-shaped iron is angled slightly down.

That’s so when you insert a board, it can lean back and out a bit.  Like so:

You need it to angle back so that you can fit it up against the sheer clamp and the deck beam above.  See?  Next, we clamp this board both outboard and to the deck beam to hold it in place.  Now we’ve got a solid, vertical thingy.

Next, I made a wedge with grooves that allow it slide along the board.

And then added a couple of wedges between that and the plank I need to force down.  Voila!  The plank can now be pressed down into place with a huge amount of force.  Unfortunately, I don’t have any photos of that actually happening.  I was kind of busy actually wrestling that dog into place. 

So, now we’re down to the final shutters.  I didn’t exactly spile mine, but I did have to map out the taper along its length since it wasn’t consistent.  Here you can see a segment of the plank with the taper lines drawn on it. 

What I did was to put a tapered piece of scrap from a previous cut into the space where the shutter goes, and then measured up at various locations to see how much wider the actual taper was than the scrap at various locations.  I then traced the outline of the scrap onto a new plank, added in the measurements I took, faired it out, and voila… a tapered ceiling plank.  This only works if one of your surfaces is more or less flat.  If both edges of the your plank had odd tapers on them it wouldn’t work and you’d need to spile.

Here’s a pan shot looking aft from the stem. 

I put in my last shutter (the one on the left) this morning, and Shawn will finish his tomorrow. 

I’ve started working on the mast step with a new guy, Jeff from CA while Shawn finishes up.  Next, we’ll remove the staging, work out where the sole will go, install the sole, and then finish installing the ceilings that go down between the stringers (the gray boards) and the sole. 

There’s a lot of stopping to think at this stage.  You have to think out every operation a few (or more than a few) steps ahead to see if what you’re doing now will cause trouble for a future operation.  10 minutes of thought is worth hours of pulling something up and re-doing it just because you buried a screw behind that piece you just installed.

The Emma C Berry Rises

Mystic has a new lift dock that’s been in the works for a long time. A lift dock is a dock that drops down in the water. You drive your boat up over the dock, brace it underwater, and then the dock slowly rise up with the boat on it. A few weeks ago the builders did the final load tests by lifting a barge filled with water (woah, LOTS of weight).

Last week we did our first actual boat lift with it, the Emma C Berry.

First they sailed her in and tied her up to keep her centered.

Rob donned diving gear to make sure that the boat was centered on the blocks and to set up the poppets that would brace her once she was out of the water.

And then she slowly came up over about a 15 minute period.

Pretty cool, eh? The boat gets lifted all the way to the level of the surrounding dock where folks are standing, but I didn’t take a photo of that.

The motors are housed inside the little red covered boxes along the side. They’re actually quite small, but they drive a big reduction gear that drives a series of pulleys. They’re amazingly powerful units.

There’s a set of wide-spaced railroad tracks installed on the dock.

The next phase of the project is to build a railway to match on the land. Boats will come in and rest on platforms built on railway wheels. They’ll be rolled off the dock, and then rolled sideways to a little siding where we’ll work on them.

The next big shop project is planking the Morgan, our whaling ship. That won’t start until late fall / early winter, but it’ll be pretty huge.

My 1:52 of fame. 13:08 left.

Oh yes, now that I’m on YouTube, it’s going to be party over here, party over there, woop woop. Everyone knows that once you make it to YouTube, the Celebrity Star Machine cranks up full bore.Ok, now that the meds have kicked in again, here’s the story. Gina works as an editor for Fine Woodworking magazine and does a lot with the on line side of things. Some time back she asked me to review a book for the FW blog, and we’ve been in contact off and on since then. Gina’s taking a class in video production, so a few weeks ago she asked if she could interview me about life as a newbie boat builder. Here’s the result.It’s a sweet little piece that manages to steer clear of the less savory aspects of this line of work (i.e., low pay, tough on the old bod, that kind of thing). But, as she says, people’s attention span on the net is pretty dang short, so you’ve got to edit quite a bit.This past week on Roann at the Mystic Seaport has been, well, more of the same. I’ve probably said it before, but when you work on a big boat, you don’t see a lot of rapid progress. In my case, as we’ve been working on the ceilings now for 3 weeks or so, it’s really tough to see progress on a daily basis. It helps to have a little time lapse photography to see that in fact things are changing. Continue reading “My 1:52 of fame. 13:08 left.”

An Embarrassment of Riches

That’s about how things seem around here sometimes. I was reading in the living room the other night and outside came a huge noise… no, it wasn’t the 4th, but it might as well have been.

Out of the blue, fireworks down the street.

And not your average, “Hey, I’ve got some stuff from the fireworks guy” stuff, this was big time.

Continue reading “An Embarrassment of Riches”