America's Most Historic Yacht

Recent progress

Posted By on August 2, 2011

Over the past few months, the crew has been moving between prepping for future construction and demolition.

Earlier in the year, work focused on laying out and rough cutting futtock stock. As you saw earlier, there is a lot of stock to go through.

The sawn oak timbers are laid out along the side of the boat, and patterns of each futtock are laid on top of them. The object is to find the timber that most closely fits the shape needed for the futtock. This helps to minimize waste, but more importantly, it makes for a stronger timber. A timber that has naturally grown in a curve close to the shape needed for a futtock will be far stronger than one where you have to cut across the grain.

For instance, here’s a crook, a part of a tree with a natural curve to the grain.

Crooks are often used for knees, since the wood makes a natural L-bracket shape.

However, if you were trying to get a rectangular board out of this piece of wood, only part of the board would be particularly strong. The area where the grain parallels the long edge of the board is called “long grain.” The area where the grain runs perpendicular to the long edge is called “short grain.” Short grain is weak, and the part is likely to snap there.

You can run into short grain problems when you don’t match the shape of your part to the grain of the wood. For instance, you can get short grain problems by trying to cut a curved part from wood that has straight grain.

If you were trying to cut the curved shape drawn from this board, you would end up with a corner of very short grain. The long grain / short grain issue is why the crew is going through so many oddly-shaped slabs of wood with their futtock patterns in hand.

Once the slabs are marked with the futtock outlines, they are rough cut using the chain saw.

After that, they’re marked and stacked up, with stickers (thin battens) between them to allow air to flow around them, and given time to dry. Air drying is slow, but it’s the best way to minimize cracking and splitting as the wood dries. Wood moves as it dries, and drying happens from the outside in. If you dry wood too quickly, the outer areas of the board shrinking exert tremendous force on the still-swelled interior wood. These forces overwhelm the ability of the wood to hold itself together, and you get long cracks, or “checks” along the board. Most of the time you see checking at the end of a board. If you think of wood as a bundle of straws held together with glue, you can imagine that open grain at the cut ends would lose moisture more quickly than the closed walls of the tubes along the length of the board. To combat this, woodworkers will often seal the end grain of their lumber by painting on a waxy product like Anchorseal.

When you’re paying for huge slabs of prime oak, you want to lose as little as possible to checking and cracking.

By March, the crew had gone through all of their stock, and the pile was substantial.

You may recall that Coronet’s original floors were wooden, not bronze like the ones being used in this restoration.

These floors were called long arm / short arm floors. The arm with the longest grain was cut longer than the other arm, and hence the name. You can imagine how tough it would be to find enough floors that grew in a perfect Y shape to create floors with no short grain.

The crew decided to use some of the stock that they have to try to get out at least a few floors matching the originals. Here’s Leo working with a pattern to find the best grain layout for the part.

By the end of April, sixteen full sets of frames had been attached to the forward section of the boat.

It was time to start disassembling the aft section of the boat.

With the transom gone, you can easily see the two layers of longitudinal planking that make up the core structure of the boat. The inner ceiling planks are fastened to the inside faces of the frames, and the outer hull planks are fastened to the outside faces of the frames.

The metal rudder tube can be seen rising up from the keel here. The rudder itself has been removed.

It’s now resting along the catwalk for visitors to examine more closely.

Bit by bit, the rest of the boat is gradually being taken apart to make way for the new keel.

The yellow straps are there to keep the hull from collapsing outwards. Without the deck beams to hold them in place, the frames would fall down under their own weight.

It doesn’t take a marine surveyor to know that the wood around the chain plates was almost gone.

The chain plates are the thick iron bands that are sandwiched between the frames and the hull planking. The shrouds come down from the mast and connect to the boat by attaching to the chain plates.

Old and new.


One Response to “Recent progress”

  1. Hi, my name is Chryssa and I am a marine painter from Greece. I like your work there, the photos are very interesting. I own a hull build by Charles E. Nicholson on 1930 yawl, 59 feet on deck, her name is Aralus X Sulara and it is a project for restoration.

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