America's Most Historic Yacht

Progress through December 2009

Posted By on May 26, 2010

December 2009

Work on the stem continued throughout December.  The stem had been lofted full scale on the lofting floor, so it made sense to build the actual stem right on top of the lofting.

The stem is made up of multiple parts, so being able to lay it right on top of the drawing allowed the shipwrights to make sure that the joined parts followed the curve exactly right.  You can imagine how a small deviation in the joint angle could easily translate into a large deviation farther along the stem.

One way to make sure that everything aligns properly is to screw small wooden blocks to the lofting right on the lines that you want to follow.

You can see the wooden block here, just to the left of some wedges that hold the angled side of the stem.

When you slide your part so that it just touches these blocks, you know that you’re right on the money.

Of course, moving these parts around would be prohibitively slow without the help of a gantry crane.

You’ll be seeing a lot of this puppy in coming months.  With a wireless control box, a single person can move up to 1 ½ tons of wood as easily as a 2×4.  Ok, a single person with some experience.  And yes, it’s even easier with two people to guide these huge timbers around.

Just to put things in perspective a bit, these are the parts that are being replaced as they exist now in the boat.

The stem is the lower section curving up to the right.

At this stage, much of the outer planking has been removed.

The new keel is being fashioned alongside the boat.  This is the only place in the shop large enough to lay out a new keel.  You can see that the rabbet has been carved along the right side of the keel.

Boats of this size had many different structures for reinforcement.  The keel by itself is not strong enough to handle the loads placed on it by a ship of this mass.  The keel is reinforced by the hog and keelson (thick oak members directly on top of the keel).  Up forward, the stem is reinforced with a gripe.

The gripe spans and reinforces the joint where the stem meets the forefoot.  I’m looking for diagrams to make this a bit more clear!  Film at 11.


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