America's Most Historic Yacht

Progress through February 2010

Posted By on August 4, 2010

Work continues on the backbone this month.  That means, lots of time spent on the scarf joints.

Those long bar clamps with the red handles are being used to hold everything together while the scarf is being fit.

On a job like this, the 1 ½ ton hoist is indispensible.  With a little practice, two people can easily move and flip an 800 lb chunk of oak.  Here’s the forefoot being worked on up in the lofting area.

The hoist travels on a gantry that runs the length of the shop.  It’s controlled using a small wireless remote.  Once Claes is happy with the shape of the forefoot, he can hoist it down from the loft and bring it right into place for final fitting.

Once the joint is in good shape, the rabbet can be carried through from one part into the other.

You can really see this transition when the forefoot is removed.  The rabbet is the angled cut.

Using the lofting, the shipwrights have made templates that accurately describe the shape and location of the rabbet at specific intervals along the keel.  These templates serve as checks to make sure that the rabbet is exactly as drawn.  Here’s Leo showing how one of these templates will fit against the keel.

In case you were wondering about the tools that are used to work timbers like this, well, they’re big.

The thicknessing planer is quite the beast.  Here’s Eric adjusting the knives.

A thicknessing planer works by pulling stock through it, and cutting off the top face of the stock with spinning knife head.  Most planers that I’ve used can handle up to 1/8” of stock removal at a pass, and that’s pushing it.  This one can easily handle cuts twice to three times that deep.  It’s a Whitney

and when it gets turned on, everyone pretty much stops talking.  It would be good to know sign language when it’s running.

The other really big tool at the shop is the ship’s saw.

This is a bandsaw, but unlike the kind of band saw you’d have at home, this one tilts the blade rather than tilting the table that the stock rides on.  A home bandsaw might cut through 4-6” of material, and so guiding something that small along a tilted table isn’t a big deal.  When you’re working with timbers that weigh hundreds of pounds, suddenly a tilting table becomes a very big deal; you’d never be able to hold the stock on the table as it goes through the blade.  So, the solution is to have a saw where the blade tilts and the stock stays flat.  That big “C” shape is actually a track that the entire bandsaw apparatus, wheels and all, ride along when the blade is angled.

An added bonus of having a bandsaw with a tilting blade setup is that you can change your blade angle on the fly.  This allows you to push the work through the blade while slowly changing the blade angle as you go.  The result is a cut called a “rolling bevel.”  A part with a rolling bevel appears to twist along the cut face.

There are a lot of rolling bevels in boatwork, so a saw like this is extra extra handy.

We’ll try to get some action shots of this big boy in the future.


Leave a Reply