Ways to Give

Inside IYRS Blog

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

Apr 30

Written by: Tom
4/30/2012 8:10 PM 

The Watch Hill 15 has been raised up in preparation for the deadwood and ballast keel installation.

The bulk of the boat's weight is being supported by the horizontal beams, and eventually will be held up by keel blocks. The poppet that you see here will take a little weight, but it's primary function is to balance the boat.

This is a good thing to know if you're new to boats. The weight of the boat should be primarily resting on the keel, and those supports should be numerous enough to spread the weight out evenly. Not only that, but the supports should mirror the shape of the keel. If you put too few supports under the keel, the boat will sag around them, leaving you with a keel that looks like a misshapen noodle. The weight of the boat is not meant to be supported by the poppets. If you sat the boat on the poppets, the hull would eventually (maybe immediately) deform inwards where it's point loaded. This is very very very bad for the hull and for the shape of your nice boat.

So, to sum up: support the keel and balance with poppets. Back to our program.

The students are using the poppets and the keel supports to hold the boat level.

Here you see two students working in tandem with a water level to make check that the boat is level both fore and aft as well as athwart-ships. They'll use the poppets and wedges on the cross-supports to adjust the attitude of the boat.

Inside the boat, the forward bulkheads have mostly been installed.

The lead ballast keel has been back from the foundry for a while, and now it's time to tune it up. The upper mating surface gets a skim coat of epoxy with fairing compound to even out any dips and hollows.

After that, the top gets planed dead flat, first with a smaller bench plane like the #4 in the first picture, and then with a jointer plane like this #7.

Yes, you can plane lead. It's that soft. Just wear breathing protection and carefully dispose of all your shavings.

This surface will eventually mate to the underside of the deadwood. The deadwood serves as a filler between the keel and the ballast keel.

Here it is in the machine shop.

It's upside down in these photos, but you can see how one face will meet up with the curved keel and the opposite face will fit against the flat ballast keel.

And extra credit if you noticed that the deadwood doesn't yet have a slot cut in it for the rudder. That's coming!

The lobster boat is getting her waterlines marked out and scribed these days.

Although the students know where the waterline should go (theoretically), they use battens to check that the lines are fair and level. Why two battens, you may ask? Above the waterline will be a second line, called the boot stripe. The boot stripe is typically a color that contrasts with the topsides and bottom paint colors. Often it's black, but there's no hard and fast rule. Here's what one looks like (from a website documenting the work done on the sailing vessel Sarah)

In case you didn't catch it from the photos above, the boat has now been caulked, and her seams painted and filled.

You can see the cotton caulking tails emerging from the seams here at the stern.

The transom of this boat has an inner and outer layer. You can see how the planking runs past the inner transom here.

Not only does the planking run by, it is beveled so that when the outer transom planking is applied, the planks will form a mitered seam with the transom planking. This minimizes the exposure of plank and transom end grain to the elements, and makes for a very clean looking transom / plank joint.

You may wonder how they came up with the angle of the miter... here's a sketch of the tool used to mark the planking to make the miter. The marking tool is a scrap of wood with a hole cut in the underside. The bottom face of the tool to the right of the hole is 3/4" above the bottom of the tool to the left of the hole. This is because the outer transom planking is 3/4" thick. We'll call the surface to the left of the hole the base of the tool. We'll call the surface to the right of the hole the upper base.

To use the tool, place the base on the transom planking (the outer face of the inner planking!) with the hole bridging over the planking. Slide the tool until the upper base touches the outer face of the planking.

Mark where it touches. What you've just done is identify the spot on the outer edge of the planking where the 3/4" thick transom planking will meet the planking when the two are mitered together. The miter will be a straight line between this spot and the intersection of the inner face of the planking with the outer face of the inner transom planking. This is shown with a black line.

When the 3/4" thick outer transom planking is applied on top of the inner transom planking, a matching miter will be cut along its edge to mate exactly with the plank miter.

With this method, all of the end grain is captured in the miter.

The outer transom is mahogany and it will be finished bright. Here's a student working on that miter on one of the outer planks.

And just in case you thought that boat building was all cutting cool miters, remember that there's also jobs like filling fastener holes.

People who do these jobs are the unsung heroes of any crew.

Up top, the dynel decking material has been applied.

And no, that's not a 20 dollar bill up there on the deck by the caulking iron. Just sticky back sandpaper. Visitors tossing money at the students is generally not encouraged, but if it were to happen I'm sure that the powers that be would look the other way.

Inside the boat, there's a lot of prep work to be done before painting.

Sometimes you get epoxy drips from applying the deck cloth, and those need to be addressed as well.

Over at the sailing dinghy, it's a little cleaner...

The aft seat is in, and most of the bent support knees have been installed.

There is also a horizontal knee that supports the top of the transom.

You'll notice that there is a gap in the corner by the transom and planking. For these knees, adding in a filler piece gets rid of the gap and makes everything look more finished.

In Beetle Land, everyone is done with their deck support structures,

and it's time to talk about other things.

Say, sole bearers.

In some locations, the students have found that frames were not set into the boats in a perfectly straight line out from the center of the boat. This doesn't affect their function at all, but it does make it hard to fit sole bearers flat against them.

The solution is to cut a dado into the base of the sole bearer that mirrors the curve of the frame.

You can see how the dado creates a slight lap on top of the frame on the left side of this sole bearer.

Some students found that cutting a dado in their sole bearer was not enough to make it fit just right. They decided to add some shims as well.

Dude, don't look at my shims.

Sure, it will all eventually be hidden under the sole, but the students will know it's there, so they work to get it right.

Other students have started shaping their masts. This student is half way to getting his to the 8-sided stage.

And here's one that's been nicely rounded.

This student is working on her gaff jaws.

The gaff jaws attach to the end of the gaff, forming a U-shape that straddles the mast. We'll see more of them soon.

The upstairs shop space is getting set up for a massive influx of spar work.

These are racks with hooks to hang freshly varnished spars.

We also have some vertical storage space.

If you have time to work on your spars now, this is the best time to get on it while there's space. Here's a boom that needs a little more shaping.

You can see the layout lines for easing the corners, just beyond the bronze ring.

There's also the big mast for the WH15 to be finished.

This mast is tapered and hollow. You can see how the hollow cut out gradually reduces as mast tapers at the top (closest to the camera).

And lastly, you may recall that long stitch and glue rowing shell that one of the students has been working on? She's decked now!

No place like boat school to work on your own boat...


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