Shipyard Memories

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Blog series by shipwright updated 06-12-2015 05:02 AM 25 parts 138578 reads 335 comments total

Part 1: The Smaug Blog: Wood Boatbuilding 101, A Trip to the Sawmill

11-12-2010 08:56 AM by shipwright | 15 comments »

To those of you who have requested more photos and explanations of my boatbuilding days, thank you for sending me into my stacks of old photos and allowing me the enjoyment of remembering a youth spent doing what I loved and creating just really cool stuff. My days building wooden boats, from age 22 to 55, are all magical memories to me from the aromatic smell of yellow cedar coming out of the planer to the amazing geometrical shapes of bent frames to the sheer mass of some of the timbers we ...

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Part 2: The Smaug Blog: Wood Boatbuilding 101, Backbone and Framing

11-13-2010 03:49 AM by shipwright | 10 comments »

Besides the yellow cedar which will be used for planking, deck framing and various timbers and knees, an assortment of other woods and materials have been gathered together from their various sources and the actual building can now begin. The traditional “laying of the keel” was not however, the first step. In this case the main body of the keel will be the lead ballast casting which we will come to much later so for now the backbone setup will consist of the erection of the stem...

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Part 3: The Smaug Blog: Wood Boatbuilding 101, Bending the Ribs

11-14-2010 03:54 AM by shipwright | 11 comments »

OK, the time has come to explain the reasons for the jogged frames and the inside and outside ribbands. (I hope I’m not just confusing you) The usual way to set up for ribbing is to make the station frames to fit the inside of the planking. Then the ribbands go outside the frames and the ribs bend entirely inside the boat against the inside of the ribbands, That puts the outer faces of the ribs where they should be, at the inside of the planking. Then stringers are bent inside the ribs....

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Part 4: The Smaug Blog: Wood Boatbuilding 101, Planking

11-15-2010 06:01 AM by shipwright | 17 comments »

Probably the most anticipated part of building a wooden boat is the planking. The old boat builder I learned from used to call it “boardin’ ‘er up”. It represents the transformation from a building project to something an owner can start thinking of as “My Boat”. There are many tricks and nuances to planking that I will not try to explain here; suffice to say that it’s not as easy as it looks – until you’ve done it a few times anyway. If d...

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Part 5: The Smaug Blog: Wood Boatbuilding 101, Decking and Casting the Keel

11-16-2010 04:18 AM by shipwright | 9 comments »

One of the more common complaints against wooden boats is leaking decks. With a traditional caulked deck this can certainly be a challenge. Decks are exposed to the sun and if they dry out too much leaks are almost inevitable. We wanted to have a traditional looking deck on Smaug but wanted to make use of “modern” technology to see if we couldn’t eliminate the problem. The deck we designed for her was built in three layers. The first photo shows the fore deck from the ins...

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Part 6: The Smaug Blog: Wood Boatbuilding 101, The Big Day: Launching

11-17-2010 04:14 AM by shipwright | 18 comments »

Now we are nearing the big day, launching. The hull has been faired and sanded and is ready for it’s finish. The chosen product was Deks Olje, a two stage system where you first apply several coats of an oil (Deks Olje #1) followed by a couple of gloss coats (Deks Olje #2). Very much the way I use Cetol Marine / Cetol Marine Gloss now. The seams above the waterline are filled with a thiokol product and below the waterline with cement. The finish is on, the bottom is painted with ...

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Part 7: The Smaug Blog: Wood Boatbuilding 101, Interior and Stepping the Mast

11-18-2010 04:41 AM by shipwright | 11 comments »

The interior of the boat was completed before launching, unfortunately without any progress photos so I’ll just show some finished shots here. Interior woods are Red cedar deckhead, teak cabin sole and salon table, yellow cedar beams, knees and sparring (ceiling) on the hull and largely Honduras mahogany trim. The bulkheads are 3/4” marine fir plywood. In the salon and galley areas they are sheeted with 1/8” ash and in the forward cabin the bulkheads are veneered with red o...

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Part 8: The Smaug Blog: Wood Boatbuilding 101, Under Sail

11-19-2010 03:30 AM by shipwright | 26 comments »

The only sailing photos I have were taken before the square rigging arrived, too bad. I say arrived because we didn’t build the yards and their rigging as we did the rest. The designer, Jay Benford, at the time owned a (the only as far as I know) sistership “Sunrise” and was in the process of changing to a “great pyramid rig” that made his yards and square sails surplus, so we were able to buy them as a package and they were fitted a few months after the rest. ...

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Part 9: The Catboats: Framed Plywood Construction, Scarfing and Setup

12-07-2010 11:03 AM by shipwright | 10 comments »

Plywood construction probably presents the easiest method for an amateur to build a good boat, but it is also a useful construction for a professional shop wanting to satisfy a customer who doesn’t have a large budget. It is a straightforward process and the plans tend to be easy to follow but there are a few tricks of the trade which I will try to cover. The two boats covered here are quite different sisters from the same plan. The first, “Catspaw” was built on spec in ...

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Part 10: The Catboats: Framed Plywood Construction, Backbone and Structural Components

12-08-2010 01:45 AM by shipwright | 12 comments »

Before going on to the backbone and structural components of the cats, I found a photo today that belongs in yesterday’s entry. This is what the jig looked like that both were built on. None of what you see here is part of the boat except for the chine pieces at the joining area between the bottom and the sides. My Skill 100 (best powerplane ever made) is sitting on the chine. In this shot you see the substantial keel about to be assembled from two parts. It is made in two pieces...

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Part 11: The Catboats: Framed Plywood Construction, Fitting Out

12-09-2010 03:42 AM by shipwright | 12 comments »

Completion of the hull is a milestone in any boat building project, but while many think of it as half way, those who have done much of it will be hard to convince that it’s a full third. In a sailboat I think of the parts as Hull, Fittings,and Rig. The first photo today is one of Catspaw at Coal Harbour on the north end of Vancouver Island, where I had my shop. I have inserted it here to show the placement of the motor. Again Catspaw is the economy model of these two and you can see...

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Part 12: The Catboats: Framed Plywood Construction, Finished Photos and Sailing.

12-10-2010 02:22 AM by shipwright | 11 comments »

Well, the construction part of this blog is over such as it was, so it’s time for a few shots of the finished boats. Again the differences will be evident between the economical build and the “luxury suite”. This is the only interior shot I have of Catspaw after all the time I owned her. She’s every bit as comfortable and useful as Sylvester, but nowhere near as pretty. The interior layout of these boats is almost exactly the same as “Friendship” http:/...

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Part 13: Two Cape Scott 36's: Cold Molded Construction

02-15-2011 06:39 AM by shipwright | 7 comments »

This is the third in a series of blogs on the different types of wooden boat construction I’ve done. The first two covered traditional carvel planking and framed plywood construction. This one will concentrate on a method called “cold molding”. Cold molding refers to the fashioning of a hull form by gluing up layers of thin planking in different orientations much like a sheet of plywood is made, but in this case it takes the shape of a boat. There are several methods by ...

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Part 14: Cold Molded Planking

02-16-2011 07:43 AM by shipwright | 14 comments »

I have to apologize for my lack of a lot of photos of this stage. I guess it just seemed to boring to take a lot of photos at the time. Anyway there are enough to give you the general idea. The first layer in this style of cold molding is applied on a diagonal as shown below. The exact angle is found by making several trial bends in different parts of the hull. The one that allows the easiest bends in the greatest number of places is the one to choose, if that makes any sense. This layer i...

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Part 15: Rolling Hulls Over and Pouring Lead Keels

02-17-2011 06:11 AM by shipwright | 10 comments »

Once the hull is planked, it is skinned with 6 oz. fiberglass cloth set in epoxy and faired using several tinted coats of a high build epoxy primer and quite a lot of sandpaper. The last coat is grey and only sanded enough to knock off the dust nibs. Here the skin is on but the spray-on fairing primer has not yet been applied. The white patches are epoxy filler applied between the wood and the ‘glass with a batten screed to fill the more pronounced low spots. In this photo the...

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Part 16: Boring Bars and Custom Castings

02-21-2011 06:42 AM by shipwright | 6 comments »

One of the interesting tools that find a regular use in building boats is the boring bar. After the hull is finished and the time comes to install the engine and associated equipment one of the first jobs is to install the stern tube, the passage through which the shaft will penetrate the hull. It must be perfectly aligned with the output shaft of the engine but often must be drilled at an oblique angle to the skin of the hull. This challenge is overcome with a boring bar. It is simply a piec...

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Part 17: Keel Bolts

02-21-2011 06:09 PM by shipwright | 5 comments »

To answer some of the questions asked about the keel bolts after my last entry, here are some photos from Friendship that show the process a little better. This is the lead keel for Friendship (900lbs) freshly poured and cooled. you can see the copper pipes, 1/2” in this case, sticking out. You can also see the effect of the molten lead on the pieces of plywood that were used to keep the pipes in position. This is the lead with the concrete mold broken off of it. In this photo ...

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Part 18: Finished, Launched and Sailing

02-26-2011 03:36 AM by shipwright | 13 comments »

Time to wind up the Cold Molded Construction edition of this little trip through my old shipyard, my old photos and my old memories. The following are about all the finished shots I have of these boats. Apparently I was more interested in the building than the product. ... Interesting. On with the show. The first one is of the cockpit of Olfara. It’s all teak and was all made up in the shop, even the wheel. The little bronze plate on the steering pedestal was my builder’s plaqu...

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Part 19: Something Really Cool Just Happened to Me on LJ's

03-04-2011 09:53 PM by shipwright | 12 comments »

This morning when I checked the “pulse” section here on LJ’s, I had a very cool surprise waiting for me. The current owner of one of my featured constructions here, “Olfara” is a new LJ and stumbled upon my blog while cruising the site last night. She’s about twenty five years old now (the boat) and has a new paint job and a new name “Terrapin” but the photo he posted leaves little doubt. It’s post #24 in this project post: http://lumbe...

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Part 20: The Harbour Ferries: Stitch and Glue Construction.

09-10-2011 04:22 AM by shipwright | 16 comments »

This is the fourth and last blog on the different styles of construction that I have used in wooden boat building. Preceding blogs have covered Carvel Plank construction, Framed Plywood construction, and Cold Molded Construction. This one will cover what has become known as “Stitch and Glue” style. It is generally associated with but not exclusive to use with plywood. I wasn’t as into photographing the progress then as I am now, in fact if I hadn’t decided to build t...

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Part 21: The Jig, Patterns, and Hull Glue Up

09-11-2011 01:11 AM by shipwright | 11 comments »

As these boats are a little larger than the usual stitch and glue hull and because some of the bends are difficult, I chose to make a female jig in which to assemble the hulls. This photo was taken when the jig was first built at my old yard in Coal Harbour B.C. It was disassembled and reassembled many times after that. The supports are the opposite of construction frames that you would build a hull outside of , taken from the boat’s lofting. Against the wall in the background you ca...

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Part 22: Closing Up the Hull

09-12-2011 07:19 PM by shipwright | 9 comments »

Time for the trickiest part of this round stern hull, fitting the stern panel. Here we have carefully clamped the stern piece exactly in place and Jim is scribing the line where it meets the bottom. Note that this piece, in order to let it bend, is scarfed side to side rather than end to end. The ‘glassing of the outside of this piece is also facilitating the rather extreme bend. This is Harbour Six. You can see the bow of Harbour Seven in the background. Now he is scribing th...

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Part 23: Finishing The Build

09-15-2011 01:49 AM by shipwright | 17 comments »

I’m afraid that the photos are a little scarce from here on but I’ll do what I can with what there are. This photo shows the keel halves ready for gluing. Making the 3” thick keel out of two pieces makes it much easier to fit it to the hull as the joint line to the hull on each half can be cut on the appropriate angle(s) on the bandsaw. When assembled the two will make a vee that fits the hull perfectly. You will also notice that the pieces are cut off in line with where ...

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Part 24: Some Old Tools of the Trade - Bevels

06-09-2013 10:45 PM by shipwright | 20 comments »

I was doing a shop cleanup today and ran into some old friends that I thought some of you might like to meet. These are shop made tools that I used when I was building wooden boats and date back to the early seventies when I was working at North Arm Boat Works and Sather Boat Works, both on the North arm of the Fraser river in New Westminster, B.C. First a nod to the man who started me off on my life as a shipwright and introduced me to these tools. His name was Frank Honour and he owned N...

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Part 25: Harbour Ferries .... 25 Year Anniversary

06-12-2015 05:02 AM by shipwright | 33 comments »

I sold the Victoria Harbour Ferries in 2004 after fourteen years. (See blog segments 20 – 23) This year the “new” owners celebrated twenty-five years, 1990 to 2015. I was sent the following video of their celebration on the harbour. It features the ballet that I dreamed up back in 1993 with very few changes. It has become a regular feature on Sunday mornings all summer long in Victoria. It’s nice to see the business still flourishing.

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