America's Most Historic Yacht

Progress from December 2011 through January 2012

Posted By on February 7, 2012

A boat the size of Coronet requires a huge amount of wood.  We’ve been fortunate to work with Ken Beck of Newport Nautical Timbers.

Ken has recently found some beautiful yellow pine that’s been reclaimed from an old mill building.

He can bring his portable Wood Mizer sawmill right to the shop to cut boards to our exact specs.

A little sweeping, and they’re ready for stickering and stacking.

Another frame aft was added in December before the holidays scattered folks to the 4 winds.

There’s really nothing like the afternoon light that comes into the shop.

While Leo worked out some framing issues down on the shop floor,

Eric worked out the transom frame mold up above.

This set up is a curved form that describes the outer face of the transom.  From here, temporary plywood spacers that mimic the planking can be built up on the form.

the exact shape of the transom at the inside of the planking is marked on these spacers,

and then That information is used to build up laminated transom frames.

You can see by the types of shavings on the ground below this frame that Eric has been removing wood with a broad axe.

One of the things that you realize when working on large-timber vessels is that often the old tools do the job quicker and better than any modern tool.  Broad axes and adzes are great for taking off large amounts of wood quickly, and they can also be used to carefully shape and contour wood right to a scribed line.

We found evidence of powder post beetle activity in some of our wood, so we’ve taken preventative action on our entire stock.  We built an insulated steam box to use for cooking our wood.

A good long steaming session heats the wood enough to guarantee that we’ve killed off any hidden critters in our stock.

While Eric has been working on the transom, Leo and Claes are making steady progress on laying out, shaping, and assembling frames.  Here, Leo us laying a mylar frame pattern over some stock to make sure that he has enough wood to work with.

Jackstands  with rollers and a heavy duty auto-feed make it possible for one person to plane these substantial timbers.

The shaped and bevelled frames are assembled on the building floor upstairs.

And slowly, the boat’s structure grows.

By the end of January, five frames were installed at the aft end.

Here you can see that the aft section of the keelson (with the stair steps in it) has been  laid on top of the deadwood and floors.

One of the common questions asked about a project like this is whether or not any of the original wood will be saved and used in the restored boat.  The answer is, “Yes, whenever possible.”  Here’s Leo putting preservative on some original timbers that will be re-used.

While these parts may be visible to a passenger on the boat, others are deeply buried in the boat and will probably only be seen by the next person who works on her.  One such example is this floor butting up against the deadwood in the aft end of the boat.

The floor is attached to the deadwood and frame with long copper rods.  When the rods are buried in the deadwood, they are called “drifts.”  Drifts are essentially giant nails.  When they come through the frame, they are treated as rivets.  This means that the ends of the rods are hammered down into a mushroom shape over a washer.  Essentially, they become a two-headed nail cinching the floor and frame between the heads.

The deadwood timbers and the keelson are all drifted to one another with these rods.  Here is Claes sledging one such drift through the keelson.

As you can imagine, there’s a forest of metal buried within the deadwood.  It’s useful to keep good records of these rods for future reference.  The last thing you want is to catch a drill bit on one of these things.

As the holes for the rods are drilled, their locations are marked in pen on the deadwood.

Photos help to recall the angles of the rods,

but more useful is an overall map of the rod locations highlighted with blue tape.

There have been some other projects besides framing and transom parts over the past few months.  The owner is keen to build the beautiful skylights / seats that graced Coronet’s deck.

You can see them along the centerline of the boat in this photo.

The crew is helping him out by building the framework for these first.  Here is a mold for bending the frame.

And the curved parts that were bent on it.

Once the framework parts were built up, they were boxed up and shipped out to the owner.

And then there’s the daily work of managing the huge amounts of wood used in this project.    Here, the sapwood is being cut off of potential planking stock.

Since planking is a good ways off, the stock gets a good coating of sealer to slow down drying (and thus minimize checking).

When large pieces like the deadwood check, we fill the checks with a flexible sealer / filler that will squeeze out when the wood gets wet and expands.


4 Responses to “Progress from December 2011 through January 2012”

  1. Tim Murray says:

    Wonderful coverage again. Thanks so much, and three cheers to the crew at work: Eric, Leo, Claes. It’s also great to see old timbering in re-use here and there: the spirit of the ship survives. Can’t wait to see some of the original knees back in place with their elegant curves, too. Speaking of curves– the entire frame is a visual symphony. Really, this is all too amazing for words. Godspeed and fair winds–

    Tim Murray

  2. Holmes Van Mater says:

    Since my daughter who graduated and son now senior year attend Salve I have had the privilege to visit Coronet quit a few times. Always amazed and in awe of the scope of the project. Thankyou for sharing it’s progress and a word to anyone who hasn’t seen her in person. GO GO GO! You won’t believe how cool and majestic she is.

  3. I saw coronet when I went to the Joshua Slocum Centennial Celebration.This is amazing, are you going to make a video about the project, I know if you did I would buy one

  4. Jeff Rix says:

    Great work,it is so wondrfull to see the Coronet come alive. I have the best memories as a child sailing on her out of Glouster.God bless your work and thanks for the pictures of your progress.

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