Sunday, 27 December 2015

Repairing bottom planking 2

Once scarfs had been cut on the ends of the undamaged planks a new length of timber was marked and shaped to suit. The lower edge of this run of plank (second strake from the keel) is almost ruler-straight and took very little working. Matching scarfs were marked and then planed on the bench.  This was done a lot faster than cutting those in the boat. Lastly, the bevel of the land was transferred to the upper edge of the new plank and planed. Again, because this section is in the bottom of the boat there is only a tiny angle to the land. The scarfs on the boat were gently wedged open and the plank was slipped into place, ready for fastening. I then turned my attention to making new sections to replace the damaged strakes on the other side as I will have to borrow someone to help with the nailing again.
New section of plank shaped and fitted, ready for fastening.

Thursday, 19 November 2015

Repairing bottom planking 1

Now that the main upper structure of Nanw was complete i.e. Frames, stringers and inwale all fastened she was sufficiently stiff to be turned over and put on trestles - she is quite heavy and it took three of us to turn her over safely.
The bottom planking has two areas of damage: A split in the second plank port side for about 4ft amidships and some stoving in on the starboard side - probably caused by clumsy handling on a trailer. Now, professionals would probably insist on replacing all the strakes full length but as this is a 'low value' boat and timber and copper is expensive, I intend to adopt a method I have used successfully in the past and scarf a new section in to each plank, staggering the scarfs.
Firstly, all the remaining fastenings along both lands were cut and driven out to beyond the damaged section and a line marked across chosen to miss the frames. Then a line of small holes were drilled and the keyhole saw used to cut across the plank. A chisel chopped the timber in way of the lands, inside and out, and the section was teased out. Scarfs were marked for a length of 3" on each end of good plank (a ratio of about 7 times plank thickness). Cutting them is a time consuming business in the boat, mainly using a 1" chisel. A small wedge opens the land to allow the scarf to be cut under the land.
Cutting across the plank. Sharp chisel used to cut out.
Section of plank removed - no going back now!
Cutting a scarf in-situ. A wedge is used to open the land.

Saturday, 14 November 2015

Inwales fitted and fastened

The new inwales were cut from some close-grained Douglas Fir and had some gentle tapering to fit snugly behind the existing breasthook and quarter knees that had been left in place. A beading was planed on the lower edge of the timber as had been done on the stringer below it. The inside face of the timber was given a couple of coats of wood stain/preserver and then clamped firmly in place and fastened all round starting at the stem and working aft. Once fastened through all the timber heads the  Jack Nichols was glued in place each side of the stem and the long copper nails through the breasthook, thwart knees and quarters were driven and fastened.
Inwales being planed down to sheer level.
Quarter knee re-fastened clamping inwale.

Friday, 2 October 2015

Fitting thwarts and preparing the inwale

After fitting and fastening new stringers the mid ships and forward thwarts were re-fitted and a new after thwart made from hardwood and given a beaded edge to match the other two. The thwart knees are basic bent angle brackets but neatly made and were galvanised.  Ideally they should have been re-dipped but I gave them a good clean up and a few coats of 'galvafroid'. These were bolted back in after priming the timber edges using the original screws which are stainless M8 countersink - a clue that this little boat is not as old as she looks.
I intend to fit an inwale to the insides of the full-height timbers and this is a change to her original construction. In preparation for this I am fitting sections of timber between the ribs in way of the thwarts, the rowlock positions and at the vessel's ends.
Thwart refitted and fastened - This is mid ships port side.
Short sections of timber glued between ribs to make a solid inwale. Here is port side mid ships rowlock position.

Saturday, 29 August 2015

Fitting stringers and thwarts

Now that all the new ribs/timbers are fitted and fastened I turned my attention to fitting new stringers (sometimes called 'risers') at thwart level. The existing thwarts were bolted back into place with their galvanised iron knees and the new stringers sprung and wedged into place and then fastened trying to pick up existing fastening holes where possible. The after thwart was a non-original and over thick piece of softwood and some new Iroko is on order to make a new one to match the two other hardwood items.
Existing thwarts re-fitted and new stringers fastened in.
New stringers replaced originals that were in various short sections.

Friday, 21 August 2015

A Redwing undergoing a re-fit

A Redwing sailing friend has been busy locally doing a major refit on a 1952 Dann-built Redwing, 'Pegasus' that had been laid up in his barn for many, many years after he rescued her from deterioration outdoors after previous owners had lost interest. 'Pegasus' was in need of a new deck, new ribs, various other minor repairs and a few updates like the retrofitting of Centreplate case stiffeners and provision of transom ports.
Typical of old Redwings is the failure of glue joints in the deck beams, carlings and other deck/framing joints and here 'Pegasus' has been meticulously re-glued. Her owner is a professional bespoke wooden furniture maker and the quality of his workmanship is top-notch.  He was at the re-ribbing stage here and I have been lending a hand to fasten new frames.  Ash has been used here but being a bit dry before steaming necessitated a prolonged soaking in the pond before going into the steamer.
New ribs going in - doing this without the deck makes the job a whole lot easier!

She needs a complete strip and re-varnish job.

New main sheet horse and transom drains now cut.

Saturday, 8 August 2015

Timber fastening progressing

We have now got all the new frames/ribs/timbers fastened in place apart from the timber heads which will be done when the new inwales are worked into the boat. When the new timber has had a chance to completely dry they will be give a soaking with wood preservative prior to painting to (hopefully) prolong their life this time.
New timbers fastened. The missing ones are where there are still other repairs required to the skin planking.

Friday, 24 July 2015

All new timbers in place

Finally I have steamed and bent in all the replacement timbers into Nanw. All the thwarts were removed and replaced with spalls to hold the sides together and, in the bow, to hold the sides apart as she wants to close in due to the pressure from the new planks and battens. The ribs in the bow were more difficult to fit than expected, due to quite a lot of twist needed to make them lie against the lands and they may have benefited from being 'hot-nailed' in place as soon as they were bent, to make them stay put.
I surprised myself by not breaking any of the new ribs in the process of fitting them. Therefore about 8 or so left over which I hope to use in another boat very soon before they dry out.
There is a bit of nailing up still to be done before the temporary G-clamps can be removed finally. A really worthwhile job was stripping, sanding and priming the inside of the hull as the old ribs were torn out. Once the job is all painted the boat will look like a new one - inside at least!
Priming the fore peak. She was closing in without the foreward thwart.
All new timbers finally fitted - just need fastening now.

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

More on timbering

We have been making steady progress with re-timbering Nanw. It was decided to take out 'batches' of timbers in sections and to date the mid ships and forward areas has been done and re-fastened to just below sheer strake level. We have just steamed another six in place aft of the after thwart so she is done to the transom. Progress is a bit faltering as I have to 'borrow' helpers to do the nailing.
The virgin timber is wrapped up in polythene and damp towels to prevent it drying out but it cannot stay like that forever, obviously, and the new wood is blackening with mould.
One job I have been able to do on my own to follow up the main nailing is to make and insert wedges between the timbers and the upper strakes to support them for when the inwale is eventually fastened through. Originally the timbers stopped short under the inwale timber which was fastened to the walestrake and knees only. I have decided to give her an open 'box' type gunwale with the timbers finishing flush with the sheer - a stronger and lighter arrangement.
Wedges fitted behind timbers. Black spots are from the clamps and will be hidden eventually.

After section of the boat cleaned out ready for timbering

Friday, 19 June 2015

Fastening Timbers

The first 'batch' of timbers bent and clamped in place were left until I could get back to the shed with a helper to 'back up' I.e. Hold the 'dolly' on the nail heads as I fit roves and do the riveting. I was going to rely on an old buddy and partner in various trad boat projects but he suddenly and unexpectedly passed away at the end of March which was a sad loss.  He has left me with another project ( a 25' ex. Admiralty launch to continue restoring alone and about which will be the subject of future posts) but without help for fastening where it takes two. For the planking repairs I have been able to reach and hold the dolly as I work inside but to do the timbers needs two and I have had to press-gang various people in to helping me with the job which has slowed progress.
Back to the fastening: once cool and dry the timbers retain their shape so can be un clamped and positioned as accurately as possible. I needed to use the existing fastening holes through the lands so had to mark and hold the timber in place whilst drilling through from the outside. We started at the hog and worked up each timber towards the sheer pulling the frame in tight to the lands.
First set of mid ships frames fastened

Saturday, 16 May 2015

Steaming Timbers - Part 2

The previously tested steam tube was lashed to the side of the boat so I could get hold of the timbers from inside the boat and the gas lit.  As I was unsure quite how long to 'cook' the wood for I prepared just two timbers by planing chamfers on the inner edges and slid them into the tube. I had read that one should allow half and hour per half  an inch of timber thickness. I decided to give them 40 minutes and that seemed to be just about right.  It seems to me that boiling the timber for too long will drive the tannic out of the wood making it brittle and more prone to premature decay. The first timber came out and working inside the boat I forced the hot timber down and persuaded it to touch all the lands before clamping it at the sheer. Then pressing down the other side and with the clamp not fully tightened the timber head was hammered hard to press it tight into place. The other soon followed and then I prepared another four timbers and forty minutes later these joined the others in their allotted places.
When cool these will be cleaned up and fastened and then another section of the boat will be stripped out forward of the mid ships thwart.
First two timbers pressed into place at last.
Mid ships set of timbers fitted ready for fastening.

Sunday, 3 May 2015

Steaming Timbers - Part 1

I had prepared all the equipment needed to steam and bend in the new timbers whilst waiting for the oak to arrive.
The ribs in Nanw are longer (2.5m) than those I'd ever fitted to a Redwing or similar dinghy as she is a rowing boat and not divided by a centreplate case.  Therefore I had to make a new steamer.  For this I selected a 3m length of 150mm dia 'spiral duct' of galvanised steel; a wooden disc plugged one end and a batten was made to run the length of the tube to support the timbers being steamed. Insulated by old duvets, discarded by my wife, all held in place by cable ties.
Steam is provided by a large old kettle with electric element removed and heated by a gas burner. It is also arranged to use steam from a DIY wallpaper stripper which can be only be used intermittently as the generator that supplies power to the shed is 'only' 2.5kVA and all the lights have to be off to power the steamer!
150mm dia duct being prepared for use as a steamer
Steam producing apparatus in place. Bucket collects the condensation.

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Preparing 'Nanw' for re-timbering

'Nanw' our 15' clinker pulling boat has not got one un-decayed or damaged timber (rib or frame) in her.  Her frames are at 6" centres and are of 1-1/8" by 5/8" oak. I noticed when I was stripping her out that there is little or no paint under the floor boards (burden-boards), and this, plus being always out in the open and filling with rain, had probably lead to the demise of her frames.
There are 29 timbers in total from transom to stem and some suitable new unseasoned timber is on order.  Whilst awaiting delivery I have removed six of the longest frames in the mid-ships area and cleaned and primed the inside in readiness. I have fitted temporary battens around the outside at gunwale level and removed the local sections of inwale to allow the new frames to run out each side and to provide something to clamp them to as it is intended to steam-bend and then cold fix the frames later. The unpainted patches are where there is damaged bottom planking that will be repaired later when the boat has been re-timbered and strong enough to be safely turned upside down.
Removing old frames by sawing and splitting.
Inside cleaned out and primed in way of six of the mid ships frames.

Saturday, 4 April 2015

Redwing 'Pintail' spring preparations

With the 2015 sailing season fast-approaching we broke off from working on Nanw the 15' clinker rowing boat to do some fettling work on Pintail our National Redwing dinghy that we enjoy sailing a couple of times a week during the summer.
Having the use of the shed has made looking after the boat much easier and she only needs a good clean and a bit of varnish touching up - 'scratch and patch' - mainly inside on the edges of the thwarts and coamings where there is wear and tear. After that the buoyancy bags needed re-inflating and the rigging and mast checking over.  Nowadays the Redwings have modern alloy spars as standard and these match the powerful sails very well.  Wooden spars are an option still in the class but we gave Pintail alloy spars when she was built in 1989 and they are still good today with minimal maintenance.
Although she is now over twenty five years old Pintail remains tight and completely free of leaks despite being 'dry-sailed'.  I must admit to liking an all-over varnish finish as it gives a 'window into the wood' to monitor the health of the timber and fastenings. On Pintail there is the typical staining of her Agba planking around the fastenings caused by gradual oxidisation of the copper. However it is normally the rove on the inside that will eventually give way - but so far Pintail is OK here.
Pintail on her trailer and ready to go down to the harbour.
Pintail's varnish patched up and buoyancy refitted.

Thursday, 12 March 2015

Preparing to repair port-side top sides planking

Having completed fitting new planks to the starboard side I turned my attention to the port side. Again she was a patchwork of original and crudely fitted repair pieces of softwood and one of oak that was so stiff it had straightened a section of gunwale. As built the boat had an elm walestrake each side that had softened to dust and only a couple of short sections remained. The gunwale had a sort of 'threepenny piece' appearance as a result and was no longer a fair curve. These short sections of elm were the only parts that were still fastened to the rest of the boat with copper nails and roves. To remove these existing fastenings I used an angle-grinder to take off the top of the riveted nail from the rove then drove the nail back with a narrow pin punch before pulling it out from the outside with pincers. 
Riveted end of nails ground off inside boat

Protruding nail head gripped with pincers for pulling out

Once removed and the land cleaned up the new strake was cut after being marked out as a pattern from the starboard one. A few trial fittings later and happy with the fit I removed the old rubbing strip  and cut the stem and stern geralds 
Offering up port-side walestrake

Thursday, 5 March 2015

Fitting the starboard walestrake

With a bevel planed on the lower strake and the 'geralds' cut and checked the top starboard strake was fastened in place. It was glued at the stem rabbet (hood end) and also at the transom. The original planks had been fastened at the hood ends with bronze 'grip-fast' type nails but I chose to use stainless steel and some silicon bronze wood screws here instead as some of the original fastening holes were picked up by the screws.
As with the lower plank, fastenings through the old ribs have been omitted for now as they are all to be replaced as are the inwales. I have clamped and temporarily fixed two cross-spalls to hold the sides of the boat together till the rest of the repairs are completed. Both middle and after thwarts are just perched in place and no longer fastened to anything at the moment.

Topside planking repairs completed - starboard side
Simple cross-spalls hold sides of boat
Topside planks now fastened - starboard side

Sunday, 22 February 2015

Bevelling the land for the next strake

The 'land' on the upper, outer edge of the new strake has to be bevelled so that the walestrake would fit at the correct angle all around the boat. On Nanw the strake sits at the same angle as the strake below from the bow till just before the mid ships point whereupon it angles inboard to give her some tumblehome before running out to the transom. I had laid the remains of the old strake along the boat to use as a guide and made the little bevel gauge (shown below) to help transfer the bevel from old strake to new as I planed it.  I had already used a marking gauge to scribe a line showing the width of the land onto the new plank.  On this boat the existing lands appear to be 7/8" wide - i.e. Twice the planking thickness.  I understand that this can vary and each builder may have a different 'rule-of-thumb' but as a restorer I chose to copy the dimensions from the existing strake.
Simple little bevel gauge used to transfer bevels from old strake
Scribing gauge made to mark width of land - 7/8"

Bevel planed to edge of plank to act as 'land' for the next strake

Saturday, 21 February 2015

Making and fitting the next strake

After repairing the lower strake I turned my attention to making up the next plank. It has too much developed shape to be cut from the width of board available so I chose a point between two ribs to place a scarf. Each section of strake was marked out starting with the forward one. By careful marking and planing the chamfer (sometimes called the 'gerald') to the next plank was cut - I must admit that this is the job I find hardest to get right.  Then, once happy with the fit at the stem rabbet the plank was laid on the bench and the scarf cut. The scarfs are 3  1/2 " long, about 7 times the thickness of the plank. I cut the scarfs with a slight recess or indent of about 1/16" to avoid a feather edge as the fir seems to be less likely to split finished this way.
Cutting a scarf
The strake was glued and screwed at the stem - on this boat the stem rabbet and apron are generously sized and provide a good 'landing' for the hood-end. The strake was sprung and clamped into place and nailed between each frame. At this stage no fastenings will be driven through the frames (known also as timbers or 'ribs' in small boats) as they are all to be renewed later. When the forward part was fastened the after section was marked, planed and it's scarf cut to match the forward one. The scarf was glued and through-fastened (14 gauge) and the strake fastened round to the transom. The land fastenings on this boat are 10 gauge by 1" long with 1/2" roves.
Forward end of strake showing the 'geralds'

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Scarphing in a new section of plank

Before I could make and fit the next new strake I had to repair a short section of the next plank down, starboard side aft. A previous repair had been done here all butt-jointed, silicone and brass screws - driven from the inside! I cut back to good timber and planed and chiselled a scarf each end and fashioned a replacement section which was glued at the scarfs and nailed in place. Luckily the repair is in way of the end of the after thwart and the new piece was sprung around it to give a fair curve.
Scarf glued and clamped- fastenings were added later

New section fitted - end of thwart gave a point to spring it into place.

Once the repair had been completed I marked the width of the land for the next plank and planed the bevel for the land.
Bevel planed on new section for landing of next plank

Monday, 16 February 2015

Preparing to make another strake

After shaping the new wale strake it was laid aside and the rubbing bead and second plank was carefully removed. It was in a very ripe state and had a scarf halfway along its length so I braced it temporarily as I was determined to get it off the boat in one piece to use as a pattern for a new plank. If it were a new boat the plank widths would have been determined by lining and marking from the moulds but here I had, in theory a ready-made template and I didn't want to ruin it.

Once off the boat was laid on the new board. The strake has a pronounced curve and cannot be made in one piece - a mid ships scarf will be needed. Not ideal but 10" is the maximum width of timber stock available to me.

Friday, 6 February 2015

Marking out a new starboard, top (walestrake)

The remains of the top strake were laid on one of my newly acquired boards of Douglas Fir and the shape marked out and sawn. After numerous trials and paring down by hand plane the lower edge of the new strake was made to fit snugly with the upper face of the rubbing strip that had been left on as a guide. The inwale has been found to be a bit 'wavy' and not very fair so the upper edge of this new strake has been left with plenty of 'meat' on it for fairing in later.

Cutting out new strake

Trial fitting new strake

New starboard strake

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Assessing what work needs to be done on Nanw

After moving Nanw into the shed and unloading her from the trailer she was lifted onto a flat level strong back and braced to the shed's roof.

I had already given the boat a good assessment for the work required; which is mainly replacement of decayed timber and basically it is as follows:
Replacement of both port and starboard walestrakes
Replacement of second strake down on starboard side - this had been replaced in mahogany at some time with the inevitable fresh water rot.
Complete re-timbering (re-framing).

Firstly the starboard walestrake was removed.  The bodged nature of the previous repairs beggared belief- this plank was made up of five separate lengths of builder's merchant softwood butted together and fastened with the odd screw!