Ways to Give

Inside IYRS Blog

Learn what it’s like to spend a day in the life of a student.

Mar 26

Written by: Tom
3/26/2012 8:37 PM 

The Watch Hill 15's deck beams are almost all installed

Those short beams that only come partway across the boat are called half beams. They will butt up against a fore-and-aft part called a carlin. They only go part way across the boat to make the cockpit opening.

Each beam is located next to, and through-fastened to a frame, You want the frame to beam fit to be tight so that there's no slop in the connection. This means that there's always some tweaking of the frame head where it butts up against the beam.

Up forward, there is a piece of wood that fits into the triangular space just behind the top of the stem. This part is called the breast hook. The top of the breast hook gets shaped to match the deck camber.

This student is working with a tool called a slick. The slick is essentially a great big chisel, but it's pushed rather than hit with a mallet. It's large size and substantial mass make it the ideal tool for taking off big shavings of wood with control.

This boat has a lot of deck surface area, a fact that really comes home when you have to prep all that decking.

The lobster yacht team is zeroing in on their final plank.

It's been tough because finding good cedar in sufficient quantities and of good enough quality is always a challenge.

Nevertheless, they persevere, drilling out and filling knot holes, or scarfing short plank sections together to make longer ones. This is actually good training for the world outside of IYRS where you are likely to be faced with wood of mixed quality.

The sailing dinghy's interior continues to take shape. Remember that decorative seat support? Here it is being fit up against the seat risers.

The other seats are being shaped as well. The center thwart is quite large, and it captures the top of the centerboard trunk.

This make a very solid connection between the centerboard trunk and the boat, and since it spans the width of the boat, it also reinforces the entire hull.

The forward thwart is just about finished now.

Just the center section to go.

The Beetle cats are all flipped over now!

Remember all those molds that were set up way way back to bring the old hulls into the proper shape?

Off to storage, waiting for next year's class...

One of the first tasks after flipping the boat is to brace the hull using cross spalls,

and then use bracing to hold the boat level. You can see the bracing on the side of the hull to the right, as well as the two supports holding the stem. So, how do you level a curvy thing like a boat?  What's level?

Good question.

Remember a while back, the students drew and cut in the waterline on the hull? The waterline represents a perfectly flat, level plane cutting through the boat and is where the boat should sit in the water if it were in a perfectly still pond. Since the waterline is a flat plane, if the waterlines are the same height on either side, then the boat is level athwartships. If the waterline is the same height at the front and back of the boat, then the boat is level fore and aft.

That plastic tube coming out of the front of the boat is a leveling device. It's just a tube filled with water, but since water seeks it's own height, you can use it to level things that are distant from each other. If you take one end of the tube to the bow, and the other end to the stern, you can raise the tube at one end until the water level just reaches the waterline mark. If the water level at the stern is also right at the waterline mark, then you're level fore and aft. If not, then raise or lower the stern of the boat until the two water levels match up with the waterline marks. Easy!

Once the boat is leveled, it's time to bevel the sheer to match the deck camber. This starts with cutting off the excess frame length.

Here, an instructor shows a student how to use the camber mold to tell if the bevel is right.

Sometimes lots of instructors converge on a crew to debate the best way to do... well, just about anything.

Once the sheer has been addressed, it's time to install the sheer clamps. These are lengths of a strong, straight-grained wood like douglas fir that will be sprung into place along the inside top edge of the hull. You can see two of them here sitting on top of the boat.

They've already been fit, and the students have removed them for painting, prior to final installation.

Installing these fellows is an iterative process. You do an initial fit, cut the bevel where it meets the transom, re-fit, adjust the bevel.

Repeat until it's right.

Springing this long, flexible part into the boat is a bit of a trick.

When the part finally drops home for a good fit, it's very satisfying.

You can see that bevel fit there on the left.

If you want to make the fit perfect, you can clamp it and use a thin-bladed saw to make a kerf cut between the transom and the beveled end. When you slide the part back, the fit will be perfect.

After your sheer clamps are installed, it's time to get moving on deck beams.

This can be particularly fun if you like tricky joints. Like the beams on the Watch Hill 15, these beams fit flush up against frames. They also notch onto the top of the clamp and fit against the inside of the hull.

There are a lot of angles to take into account here, and you really only get one shot at the fit. Parts like this are said to be "shuttered," meaning that they're trapped at both ends. If you make the part too short, you don't have any extra wood to use to make an adjustment. You've just got a pooched part. This kind of work requires that you do your layout very carefully, and then cut to your lines with confidence.

It's quite satisfying when that confidence is rewarded with a snug fit.


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