September, 2011

Finished -

September 16th, 2011 by Plimoth

Towards the finish line

September 16th, 2011 by Plimoth

Keith fashioning a breasthook for the stern


The breasthooks tie the two sides of the boat together at the bow and the stern in our case because the boat is double ended. Traditionally they are made out of natural crooks of wood so that the grain runs in a u-shape around the piece. Very strong.



Danny shaping a breasthook for the bow


Speaking of natural crooks……..

You can see this breasthook  is glued up out of two separate pieces of douglas fir. Not quiet as strong as the u-shaped grain but pretty good.







Bow breasthook installed in boat


The breasthook was fastened with screws and 5200 marine adhesive








Middle seat fastened out of Wanna ( A South American hardwood)



This shot is looking at the seat from the bottom. You may notice the bevel on the edge. When the seat is installed the bevel lightens the look of the seat by revealing only a narrow edge. The bevel ends in what woodworks call a lambs tongue.


Compression test on middle seat








Danny only looks slightly deranged in this picture. I promise he is mostly harmless.






steaming apparatus

This boat has an inner and outer stem. The inner stem, you may remember, was steamed with the help of our camp kids.


The outer stem, which is applied to the front of both ends of the boat to protect the edges of the plywood, must be steamed first to help it to bend.

The old keg has water, the burner underneath is propane fired, and the box which the hose lets the steam into is an old aluminum sign post. The outer stems are in the old post steaming away.

The wind baffle in the back round is kind of a cool old exhibit panel from our sail making days. The orange portable generator, not nearly as cool, doesn’t work right now.



This Old Boat

September 15th, 2011 by Plimoth

The following is the text briefly explaining the boat we are building for Plimoth Plantation’s soiree:

The 14′ boat, hand-crafted by Plimoth Plantation’s maritime artisans represents an ancient model of rowing boat used throughout Europe for centuries. Our version, made of marine plywood and white oak, will be an ideal boat for use on ponds, lakes and sheltered ocean waters. Designed for one or two people, the boat will move through the water easily, and carry provisions for lunch or gear for a day out on the water.

This boat was begun as a class project by Plimoth Plantation’s camp kids, age 10-12, under the supervision of Peter Arenstam and the maritime staff. the campers had two afternoons to start the project the maritime artisans department has completed the work to a high museum quality standard.

From, "The Archaeology of Boats & Ships"

Above is the picture that first caught my eye when we were thinking about building a small boat with a group of kids. You can see it is very simply constructed, the lines, slightly modified, lend themselves to plywood construction and it is unique enough that it will stand out in any crowd of boats.



Off The Building Jig

September 14th, 2011 by Plimoth

Planked and outside sanded

When we last saw the boat we were planking. Today all the planks are on, we sanded smooth the outside and popped the boat off the building jig. The planks were fastened with epoxy, any screw heads and open holes were filled with epoxy yesterday in anticipation of today’s work.

Danny and Shelley Jo work on the boat.

The boat was pretty easy to remove from the building jig. There was a screw into each stem, and the frames had temporary plywood pads attaching them to the building jig. In the shot above Danny and Shelley Jo are removing the temporary pads after the boat was turned over onto some saw horses.

Handsome little boat, no?


Making boat parts





Keith and Danny are routing the edges of the tapered rub rails and Shelley Jo is smoothing off the ends of the seat risers.


Also you can see the old shipwrights who watch over us whenever we are working on stuff in the shop. I’m not sure what they make of us with no ties on or at least collared shirts.

Fastening the elegant rubrails.

We decided to taper the rub rails for this little boat. They are approximately 1 1/8″ wide rounded over on the top and bottom edges and they taper in thickness from about 7/8″ to about 1/2″ in thickness at the ends.



More Boat Building

September 13th, 2011 by Plimoth

Garboard planks on

The garboard planks are attached to the bottom board and the stem.







In preparation for fastening the garboard planks, the bottom board and the stems were beveled to allow the garboard to lay flat on each. The plank is glued to the bottom with epoxy and to the stem with 3m 5200 marine adhesive.

The epoxy will work well with the plywood, bonding strongly the bottom board to the side plank. Epoxy and oak, (which you may remember was used in making  the stems), don’t get along very well. The tanic acid in oak makes it difficult for the epoxy to bond well over time. The 5200 marine adhesive however will stick to anything that even looks at it. I have many articles of clothing that can attest to this fact.

Beveling the edge of the garboard plank

Keith is beveling or flattening off the lower edge of the plank so that the edge of  next plank will lay flat against it. There will be a 3/4″ overlap between the two planks.

Not every plank has a name but the “garboard”  is the first plank next to the keel, or in our case the bottom board and the sheer plank is at the top or sheer of the boat. As you can surmise there are only going to be two planks on this boat.

The ends of the garboard  planks, that lay on the stems, will have a gain planed into them. The gain is simply a rabbet into which a rabbet of corresponding size planed into the back of the next plank will fit. And it is usually about that simple to fit. Sort of.

When everything is fit to our satisfaction, we will epoxy the two planks together. Have I mentioned already one of the nice properties of epoxy is that it is “gap” filling without loosing any of its strength?



Perparing for Irene

September 8th, 2011 by Plimoth

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, I am a little behind with chronicling work on Mayflower, mostly because of the interruption to our work schedule by Tropical Storm Irene.

Here are some shots of the start of preparations for the coming storm. These shots are from the beginning of the week prior to the Sunday storm.

Step one: Closing up the openings in the side of the ship.











You can see behind the the first diagonal plank  on the transom, the corner frame that went in the week prior.  The frame is curved in shape, and a parallelogram in cross section. The top is notched to fit the beam, and the bottom is a flat cut.

The Planks are white oak, 2 1/2″ thick.

Danny helping.

Each plank, while straight in length  has a slightly different shape at each end. I think Danny was tired of listening to bad jokes.

Precision tool for fine work.


The plank stock was thicker than our skill saw could cut and the big worm drive saw kept tripping a breaker, (which was in the hold, requiring a ten minute trip onto the ship to reset) so I used a Saw-z-all to make the initial cuts.



Fitting the new plank


Fitting the plank was actual pretty straight forward work.






Big drill motor for making counter sink holes


The plank has a caulking bevel on one edge and both ends to allow room to drive in oakum caulking.

The plank is attached with long spikes. We bore a on inch hole for the spikes head and then drill a long hole, smaller in diameter than the shank of the spike. The best part was driving in the big spike with a sledge hammer.







Transom all planked up



Here is the transom all planked up on Friday before the Sunday storm.


You may also notice the new plastic and plywood covering the big opening on the side of the ship


Shallop Sail

September 7th, 2011 by Plimoth

I haven’t posted anything for a while. There are several reasons for this, the least of which was the preparation for then the aftermath of tropical storm Irene.

I thought I would post some pictures of a more pleasant interlude first. I can build up to the tropical storm in future posts.

sailing off among the moorings.


Plymouth is a very crowded harbor. Our shallop is 33′ long relies on either oar or sail poser to move along and has a bit of leeway problem. Sailing away form the ship requires a fine touch on the helm and lots of lookouts.

sailing in the clear, at sunset










Away from any distractions the shallop is very pleasant to sail. We try to use the boat when we can for after work sail training for the staff, after all, all the pilgrims would have had some experience travel in boats like these.


Small crew - ghosting along











On this particular evening sail we couldn’t entice a large crew to come along. However, ff you were to twist my arm I could be convinced to do a few more sails before the end of the season.




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