"Lucky Whaler: Restoring the Last American Whaling Ship"
the Morgan blog
Follow the building of two whaleboats to complete the restoration, traditionally built to design from the Beetle Mfg Co.
Charles W. Morgan Restoration Updates
April 19, 2013
Planking of the hull is nearly finished. Seven planks plus the shutter plank remain to be placed. The shutter plank should be installed during the first week of May. The plastic shelter covering the hull will be removed in late May and the Morgan moved onto to the lift dock in early June. All is on track for launching July 21. Meanwhile a check list of tasks is being undertaken in preparation for launch. The keel blocks, which were shifted to permit installation of copper sheathing, are being renewed. New oak blocks are being positioned under the keel at proper spacing. Each oak block assembly is capped with a soft wood crush pad to allow the keel to settle appropriately. As the caulking is being finished, the first coats of bottom paint will be applied. Work on caulking and paint requires constant reshuffling of the stanchions which support the hull. Work on assembling the gammon knee has commenced. The gammon knee, unlike the other knees which are one piece, is made up of several pieces and forms the foremost part of the bow above the stem and below the bowsprit.
System design on the generators, pumps, heads, and navigation equipments continues. These systems will be placed in the Morgan while in the water tied up alongside the lift dock. The rig will be installed over the winter of 2014. When built, this was a relatively short and straightforward process. But because the Morgan now has a mix of old and new materials and has been out of the water drying out for four and a half years, the installation of the spars will be quite methodical. The lower masts will be placed and this will settle the vessel deeper into the water. Shipwrights will check for leaks and additional ballast will be placed in the hold to compensate for the weight of the spars. This process will be repeated as new parts of the masts and yards are added. As the individual spars are installed, the shape of Morgan's hull will shift necessitating a constant retuning of her rigging. In the spring of 2014 an incline experiment will be conducted on the Morgan to determine her center of gravity and righting arm. She is due to depart for New London's City Pier on Saturday, May 17, 2014.
March 22, 2013
As the planking continues, the starboard side is slightly ahead of the port side. It is anticipated that the shutter plank (the last plank) will be located in the port quarter and will be placed late April to early May. Progress in the bow is also evident. The port side cathead has been installed and work commenced on the starboard one. The catheads support the anchors while the ship is underway. Another important component of the bow assembly, the Gammon Knee, is being worked on in the shop. This piece has been recycled and was on the Morgan before. The Gammon Knee defines the upper curve of the bow. It is fastened outside the stem under the bowsprit. The billethead, which is a decorative piece, will then be affixed to the fore end of the Gammon Knee.
Also in the bow work on the hawse pipes will commence shortly. These are large holes in the forward bulwark at deck level. Although they look like an ellipse they are in fact standard circular holes and must be drilled at a precise angle or the vessel could look a bit cross-eyed. In the stern the inner transom above main deck level has been faired and caulked. Work on the exterior transom is progressing well. The outer board is done.
The placement of copper sheathing is complete on both sides of the keel. The bottom of the keel will be sheathed next, but this will require movement of the keel blocks in sequence to permit installation. A team of volunteers continues their yeoman's work on the topside paint, first stripping and then priming in readiness for the final coat.
March 1, 2013
Planking is moving along nicely, having reached above the waterline. As the planking rises above the waterline, the thickness changes from 3 1/2 inches to 4 inches. These are the so-called wale strakes. Above the main deck level in the bulwark the planking changes yet again to 1 1/2 inches. Aft the transom planking both on the inside and the outside above the main deck is finished and caulked. Forward the shipwrights are working on the cap rail, which sits on top of the bulwark. The wormshoe is complete. The wormshoe is affixed to the false keel, which, in turn, is affixed to the keel. When she was at Chubb's Wharf, the Morgan sported a six-foot band of copper around her waterline. While in commercial service, her hull was fully sheathed with copper. The sheathing protects against gribble and shipworm damage, but it also hides whatever damage has occurred particularly to the caulking. As a preservation practice, therefore, the sheathing other than a band around the waterline was not installed. However, because the keel is original to the vessel and it is not caulked (thus less need for inspection), the copper sheathing will be affixed to the keel this time around.
The spars with the exception of the bowsprit and lower forward have been delivered. Sanding and painting of them will start soon and the ironwork installed. With the advent of some warmer weather, caulking continues on the hull and the spray system to swell up the hull has been turned back on. Visitors often ask what is done with the material removed from the vessel. Most of it is catalogued and stored away. However, one of the replaced live oak knees is going to the New Bedford Whaling Museum to be on permanent display in the Morgan exhibit. As the planking moves up the hull, the scaffolding has been reconfigured and the scaffolding in the hold is being removed. The design of the mechanicals for the 38th Voyage is proceeding. Placement of the butt rivets on the planking below the waterline is over 50% completed and caulked. As originally built, the butt ends of the planking each had two metal fasteners. When the Morgan moved to San Francisco the insurance companies required a third rivet be placed one frame away from the butt ends.
Friday, March 1 marks 100 working days until launch. All is track to meet our schedule for launch this July and sailing the 38th Voyage in 2014.
February 1, 2013
"The Morgan is on target for a July 21, 2013 launch," said Quentin Snediker, Director of the Shipyard. Up forward the final outer stem piece will be installed today. This will complete the rebuilding of the foremost part of the bow consisting of the apron, stem and outer stem. This assembly is made up of several large pieces of wood, either white oak or live oak, some weighing over fifteen hundred pounds. Further up in the bow the bulwark ceiling is complete and the shipwrights are working on the outer planking. Similar good progress is being made aft. The covering boards in the transom are done and both inner and outer planking are proceeding nicely. Overall between 24 and 30 new planks remain to be fitted. While this is excellent progress, there is a lot of fairing of new material and caulking to be done once the planks are in.
Meanwhile at the very lowest portion of the vessel a new wormshoe is being placed. This piece is affixed to the false keel, which in turn is attached to the keel. The shipwrights will return to the original dimensions of the wormshoe. It was five inches thick when built, but in the 1970's a three inch replacement was installed. The process is tricky as the keel blocks supporting the ship must be removed to permit the installation of new material. In a recently made decision the shipwrights will copper the entire keel structure both to help preserve it (all of it is original dating from 1841) and to seal it from water. Shipwrights are also installing the butt-end copper rivets on planks below the waterline. These rivets reinforce the butt-end seams of the planks to help prevent them from loosening and springing out. They were not part of the original construction but were required by the insurance companies in the 1880s when the Morgan moved to San Francisco as her new homeport.
All the hanging knees in the hold are complete and two new deck beams, whose ends are scarfed to old deck beams, have been installed. The scaffolding in the hold will be removed shortly and mountings for the 38th Voyage mechanicals will be located just aft of the mainmast on the starboard side. The rough turned spars are now due for delivery in late February. One, the lower foremast, may further delayed, but the new bowsprit, which is the largest in diameter and hard to find, will be part of the shipment.
The Lake Champlain Maritime Museum has committed to build a whaleboat, which is the 10th one being constructed by outside parties. The Museum hopes to have three or four on display or in the waster at the WoodenBoat Show in June.
December 14, 2012
Planking on the Morgan continues in earnest. In a typical week three to four planks can be placed. The last of what the shipwrights call the "hockey stick" planks have been installed in the upper transom area. These planks not only have a curve and a twist but the aft most end has a dramatic jog thus the name "hockey stick." The last of the knees will be placed after the new year with the installation of a new deck beam fashioned from yellow pine salvaged from a Connecticut mill. The other knees have been fully riveted. Once the last knee is in place, the scaffolding in the hold will be removed to permit installation of the various systems to be used on the 38th Voyage. Design for the systems is well underway and will consist of a generator, pumps, emergency and navigational lighting, heads and safety equipment necessary to conform to Coast Guard regulations. The storeroom in the hurricane house will be turned into a navigation station and utility room.
Two inner transom planks have been placed and in the bow fairing for planking continues. The forward inner bulwark planking is complete and is being caulked. The shipwrights will shortly start on the worm shoe. This is sacrificial material fastened to the bottom of the false keel. To accomplish this the hull will be suspended, while several pieces of white oak are placed along the length of the keel. Even in the Mystic River worm damage is an ongoing issue. Tests on the rudder's gudgeons and pintails were successful. The rudder, which was fabricated in the 1970s using what is believed to be are original or nearly original hardware, is on the floor of the main shed covered in burlap to keep it wet.
The new spars are being delivered mid-January. At the end of November we received a load of longleaf pine from Georgia. Another arrived mid-December. Milling of materials for the Morgan's whaleboats has commenced. In all, nine whaleboats are being built (or are committed to be built) by third parties including the Lowell Boat Shop and the Philadelphia Independence Seaport Museum.
November 9, 2012
Installation of futtocks to correct the so-called "zipper" line has been completed and the new pieces faired in preparation for planking. Before the planking can continue the shipwrights will relocate the construction scaffolding higher up alongside the hull. Six of the ten replacement knees have been positioned, but they are not yet completely riveted. Using iron bar fasteners salvaged from the Memphis zoo's tiger cages, the shipwrights will attach the knees by driving the fastener through the knee and then through the adjoining frames. A ring will be placed at each end of the fastener and the ends pounded home to form the rivet. On the exterior side of the frame planking will cover the outer end of the rivet.
Covering boards are being installed in the transom in preparation for planking that part of the vessel. The starboard side interior bulwark planking is complete. The port side is about 60% finished. Caulking of the main deck is nearly done. To undertake this we have hired an independent contractor who specializes in caulking. His routine of two weeks at Mystic and then one week elsewhere is not unlike that of the caulking gangs who would rotate from job to job among the many shipyards on the Mystic River. The rudder's hinge-like gudgeons, pintails and bronze castings, which attach the rudder to the ship, are being readied for testing.
We had hoped to have the order of spars delivered by now. Unfortunately it has been delayed and will arrive in late December. When the Morgan sails on her 38th Voyage, it is planned for her to carry a full complement of seven whaleboats. These are being assembled by boat building teams in a widely dispersed geographic area from New Bedford, Massachusetts, to the Great Lakes, to Alexandria, Virginia. Whaling either directly or indirectly touched these locales. For instance, the vast network of lighthouses on the Great Lakes was lit with whale oil at one time.
October 19, 2012
Restoration of the zipper line is complete correcting the less than optimal staggering of the futtocks which make up the framing near the waterline. This step was necessary to ensure the proper strength of the hull for the Morgan's 38th Voyage and for display at Chubb's Wharf with partial sail set. With this important milestone the shipwrights will start the final placement of exterior planking on the hull. Meanwhile 5 of the 10 hanging knees have been set. They are through fastened with cast iron rivets salvaged from the tiger cages at the old Memphis, Tennessee, zoo. Finding additional knees is proving to be somewhat of a challenge. A large piece of Katrina live oak was milled, but rot pockets were discovered and this piece will have to be discarded. Several other candidates for knees have been identified, however.
Two ends of one of the mid-deck beams will be fitted with white pine recycled from other vessels. Usually the deck beam is a solid piece, but because the ends often decay faster than the center section of the beam, the shipwrights will marry the salvaged material using a strong scarf joint. Work on rebuilding the foc'sle has commenced and the stern is being closed in. Part of this process includes the fabrication of a new rudder box. This is a watertight trunk for the rudder stock. The hurricane house will be fitted with a new canvas cover.
In preparation for her 38th Voyage, naval engineers are designing the power and navigation/communication systems. A master caulker and team is fast at work recaulking the main deck. We expect delivery of the first of the new spars soon.
October 5, 2012
Planking remains on hold while the shipwrights replace the futtocks in the zipper line. This step is necessary to reinforce the Morgan's framing in anticipation of her 38th Voyage and return to Chubb's Wharf. Ten futtocks on each side of the vessel will be replaced. This process will be completed on one side of the vessel in about two weeks' time and planking will then recommence. Work on the bow's inner bulwark planking is progressing well. One plank remains to be installed on the starboard side and the port side is half done. Work on the transom was delayed as the shipwrights assigned where diverted to undertake necessary repairs on Roann. She is now good and work on the transom will start again next week. Two of the Morgan's between deck knees are partially fastened and a third knee will be placed soon.
In their effort to keep the hull and new planking wet, the shipwrights have erected a tent around the lower hull. The misting system inside has proven to be very effective, maintaining a high level of humidity. It will be moved up the hull as more new strakes are placed. Work on recaulking the main deck will commence soon. Generally the deck is in good condition but there is some leaking. Planks in high traffic areas will also be replaced. Hopefully a new stock of southern long leaf pine has been found. Some trees have been identified in Georgia which appear to have the necessary dimensions. However, we won't be certain until they are felled and the thickness of the heartwood at the core of the tree underneath the sapwood can be measured. Fourteen to 16 inches of thickness is required.
September 14, 2012
The restoration of the Morgan has reached another important milestone. Sixty-five planks representing over 50% of the new planking have been installed. Thirteen strakes are complete. Planking work will now move further up the vessel. This has necessitated relocating many of the stanchions which support the vessel from positions higher in the hull to places lower in the hull. Scaffolding is being repositioned higher up in the hull near the "between decks" and the waterline. Work will soon commence on the so-called "zipper line."
Framing of the Morgan consists of many paired assemblies of material. Each frame consists of really two frames. The components of the frames, called futtocks, are 4 to 6 feet in length. The joints of these frames are butt ended, which is an inherently weak joint. To compensate for this weakness the frames are paired, the joints staggered and the pairs fastened horizontally with trunnels.
During previous restorations, which were less extensive in scope, new material was sometimes installed without the appropriate staggering. To make the Morgan secure for future display and sailing on her 38th Voyage, the zipper line needs to be remediated. Initially the shipwrights had thought they might need to replace 20 futtocks on each side of the vessel. They now believe this number is closer to 10 on each side. Not only will this save on materials and man hours, but it will eliminate the requirement to remove relatively new planking material in order to access the frames/futtocks.
Work on the bow and stern continues. Approximately 50% of the new planking on the inner side of the bulwark is in place. Fairing of the transom framing is nearly complete and a large rot pocket found in the aft-most deck timber is being fitted with a dutchman.
New rigging progresses. Seventeen spars have been ordered and work has commenced on a lathe to shape them. A third rigger will join the team October 1. The lower mizzen is on the floor of the main shed having its paint removed after which it will be recaulked and painted. Although more than 20 years old, this piece has been in storage and never stepped in the vessel.
August 10, 2012
This past week four new planks were installed, continuing good progress. These planks are somewhat narrower than previous ones, thus they are easier to install. Planking is the largest component of the project, absorbing the most manpower and materials, and has progressed far enough so that the shipwrights will be resetting the scaffolding to permit work higher up in the hull. The newly reset scaffolding will also facilitate work on the so-called "zipper line" of futtocks to be replaced in the frames. Thirty five to forty new futtocks will be installed, which will eliminate the zipper line and dramatically strengthen the hull.
Work on the transom is proceeding. As reported previously the 2,000 pound transom timber is in place. A transom rider has been added and the two quarter timbers and eight tail feathers are in place completing the framing of the upper part of the stern. Fairing of the quarter timbers and the tail feathers has commenced. This will prepare the transom for planking.
July 20, 2012
One year and one day from now, July 21, 2013, the Morgan will be launched. This will be a significant milestone in her over five year restoration and eventual 38th Voyage. From a day-to-day perspective, excellent progress is being made on all aspects. The cant frames, which form the shape of the bow, have been replaced as have the stem and the apron, which sits on top of the stem. These are two large pieces, each weighing more than 1,600 pounds. Placed together with a scarf joint, they run from the keel to just under the bowsprit. Their installation permits the shipwrights to affix new planks to the hull in the bow structure. Installation of the bulwark ceiling has commenced.
Similar progress is also apparent in the stern. The transom timber and the two quarter timbers are in place as are three of the tail feathers. The pace of installation of new planking continues with three or more planks being installed each week. Caulking of the new material is ongoing. A Master Caulker, who specializes in caulking, is on the scene, which is reminiscent of how it was done in 1841 when "caulking gangs" rotated among the shipyards.
The search for new materials is ongoing. Because of the recent tropical storm in the south, a truckload of southern longleaf yellow pine was delayed. Hopefully this will be received by the end of July. The first shipment of new spars will be delivered in September and about one half of the new hemp for the rigging has arrived. The mainmast foretop is on the floor of the main shed. Some new material has been added and work on the foremast top will begin soon.
July 2, 2012
The Charles W. Morgan was a special focus of the WoodenBoat Show this year. Over the course of the weekend, shipwrights demonstrated the stages of the planking process: spiling (the method by which the plank's shape is determined), steam bending and fitting, and trunnel driving. In addition, there were presentations on the ship's history, the complex task of rigging her, and the various tools, power and traditional hand, being use in the restoration.
The work area around the base of the vessel was cleared of tools and materials to provide special access for visitors to get right up next to the new planking. This was a very popular feature of the Show, as people could really get a sense of the scale of the project and the special skill and attention to details required for each task.
June 15, 2012
Assembly of the bow is progressing well. The outer stem is being shaped from white oak found at the Charlestown Navy Shipyard three years ago when the timber basin, covered over in 1910, was excavated. This piece weighs 1,600 pounds and will be fastened to the apron. Its installation will permit new planking to be placed higher up in the bow. Meanwhile more planking is being stripped from the hull exposing the so-called zipper line in the framing located near the waterline. During prior restorations the shipwrights did not focus on the correct staggering of the butt ends of the futtocks which make up each frame. Properly done the frames are paired for strength to offset the inherent weakness of a butt end joint. The joints are staggered and the twin frames fastened together with horizontal trunnels. The zipper line must be eliminated to make the Morgan safe for sailing. This work is necessary even if she were simply to return to Chubb's Wharf as a static exhibit. It is especially necessary for her to sail.
Efforts to keep the new planking wet continue. A group of volunteers is pouring a mixture salt, borate, and glycol in the gaps between the frames and caulking of the recently installed planking will commence soon.
At the WoodenBoat Show, hosted June 29 to July 1, the shipwrights will provide demonstrations of spiling and trunnel driving. Spiling is the process by which measurements are taken from the hull framing and transferred onto a new plank. Seemingly straightforward, the driving of a trunnel is in reality a multi-step process to ensure that the fasteners sit snugly in place.
In the stern the two quarter timbers, which frame the upper portion of the transom, have been placed. Shaping of the tail feathers, which go between the quarter timbers, has commenced.
Our naval architect is busily determining the stability of the vessel so that a ballasting plan can be formulated. Unlike a modern vessel for which we can know the weight of materials in the hull, its volume displacement and the weight of its cargo, as in the case of a merchant ship, the Morgan is a sailing ship and stability documentation is sparse. Sails and rigging put additional stress on the hull and the height of the spars affects the center of gravity. All of these considerations will need to go into the ballasting plan. Fortunately we have photographs of the Morgan taken in the early 1900s both in a loaded and unloaded state, so we have some clues. The Morgan will leave the Mystic River with a 12 ½ foot draft to clear the channel's 13-foot depth. At New London more ballast will be added and rigging completed. We believe her maximum draft was 16 feet, but we will probably settle on 14 feet for the voyage.
June 1, 2012
The shipwrights and riggers, assisted by a commercial portable crane operator, installed the jib crane last week. The jib crane will be used to lift heavy timbers for the forward part of the vessel. Taking advantage of the crane's presence, they also installed the apron in the bow structure. The apron is a substantial piece of live oak from Pas Christian, Mississippi. The tree was a victim of Hurricane Katrina and was leaning on a house before it was carefully removed.
Thirty-seven planks have been placed, although the pace slowed somewhat because of focus on the apron and jib crane installation. The tempo will increase again this week. More white oak from western Virginia has been delivered. We expect 16 longleaf logs to arrive soon. As the planking progresses further up the hull, the shoring used to support the vessel is constantly being shifted. The lower shoring was removed to permit access to the lower planks. With the lower planks now replaced, the shoring has been moved back to the lower hull and shoring higher up on the hull temporarily removed.
In anticipation of the sail, the shipwrights and naval architect are laying out the lower hold placement of power, head spaces and holding tanks. Replacement spars are on order, as is the running gear.
May 31, 2012
With the help of a large crane the new apron was slid into place on the bow of the Charles W. Morgan this morning. The apron is a key structural element in the bow to which much of the new planking needs to be fastened, and its successful installation is a major step in moving along the structural restoration in the bow.
The new apron is made of live oak and is approximately 18-feet long and weighs about 2,000 pounds. Shipwright Doug Park was tasked with the exacting job to shape the timber just right. Since much of the framing around the apron was in place, fitting it in place required sliding it in from above much like a key fits in a keyhole. No small feat - especially since the previous timber did not come out without a lot of force. "This one went in a lot more easily than the old one came out," said senior shipwright Walter Ansel.
Once the apron was in, the crew then began installing a metal crane in the foremast step. The crane will allow the shipwrights to lift heavy loads such as knees and the cutwater up into place on the hull.
You can view a photo album of today's work on our Facebook page.
May 18, 2012
Planking continues to be the focus of activity but good progress is being made elsewhere on the vessel. All the cant frames, which form the shape of the bow, have been replaced and tied in place. A jib crane will be temporarily installed in the foremast step. It will permit the shipwrights to lift heavy materials, such as the apron, into the bow assembly. As a result of previous restoration work and because we butt the joints together, several frames have developed what has been dubbed the "zipper line." Normally the butt ends of the futtocks, which make up the frames, are overlapped with an adjoining frame. However, over several decades these butt end joints were not always overlapped when new material was installed and inherent weakness developed in the hull. In order to sail the Morgan safely, the shipwrights are reworking the frames to eliminate the zipper line with twenty new pieces of material and to stagger properly the futtock butt joints.
Five of the ten knees needing replacement have been shaped. Four of these have been installed. The transom timber rider has been placed and work continues on the vertically positioned quarter timbers in the stern. Milling of the tail feathers which go in between the quarter timbers has commenced. Together these vertical members constitute the shape of the hull aft above the waterline. An order for new spars, including the lower section of the foremast, has been finalized. These spars of Douglas fir will be preformed at a mill in Washington State and delivered to the shipyard for finishing and fitting of hardware. As always, we try to keep the hull moist. Preliminary caulking of cotton backing has been placed between new planking material to retain moisture and to slow air circulation. Later the cotton backing will be driven home when final caulking commences.
May 4, 2012
The shipwrights have settled into a good rhythm on the planking. Thirty-one planks have been installed. They are now focused on the 6th, 7th and 8th strakes. These constitute the widest planks in the hull and it has been somewhat of a challenge to find boards sufficiently wide and long which are not checked or are unusable for some other reason. Fortunately we seem to have enough of the proper material on hand. Above the 8th strake the planks aren't as wide and we have an ample selection of stock from which to choose.
The apron, part of the very front of the bow structure of the ship, has been removed and a new one is being shaped. To get the old apron off, the shipyard needed a crane to pull it up and slide it out of its vertical position.
A large eyebolt was driven through the top of the apron to permit the crane's cable to be attached. Unfortunately, it took a couple of tries to get the timber out: it was frozen in place and did not want to give. The shipwrights eventually pounded it loose with sledgehammers so the crane could lift it up out of the scaffold enclosure and drop it on the ground next to the ship. The old apron is being used as a pattern to shape an exact replacement. You can view a photo album of the work on our Facebook page.
The apron cannot easily be cut using a ship's saw. As a consequence we have turned to the old methods of rough cutting using a chainsaw (instead of the traditional hand held crosscut saw) and then finishing the shape with an adze and hand and electric planes. Once the apron is installed we can commence planking higher up on the bow.
Meanwhile the port and starboard quarter timbers which frame the shape of the stern above the transom timber are being formed as are the tail feathers which are placed vertically between the quarter timbers. Together these pieces constitute the framing of the stern above the waterline. These materials are live oak and were sourced from the timber basin at Charlestown Naval Shipyard in Boston. The transom timber rider beam will be installed shortly. Like the transom timber, this is a heavy item. But unlike the transom timber for which the shipwrights and riggers used a crane, this piece will be manhandled into place using a forklift and block and tackle.
Quentin Snediker, the Director of the Shipyard, returned recently from a trip to Thomasville, Georgia. He was there on search for more longleaf pine. He visited what he described as "stands of true virgin timber in a park-like setting." Some of these trees are at least 300 years and the land is used for quail hunting preserves. We will be taking trees that have been struck by lightning or those that are dead standing. Three truckloads of longleaf will be arriving in May and June.
March 27, 2012
On a very cold and blustery morning on March 27, the Shipyard crew gathered to hoist the stern's new transom beam into position. The beam is a critical timber as it is the transverse support for the entire transom. The beam sits centered on top of the rudder post and supports frames called "tail feathers" that project up and provide the structure for the transom planks to be fastened to. As this is such a critical part, much care went into selecting the right piece of white oak. The finished beam is 22 feet long and weighs more than a ton, and it was no small accomplishment to find a log that could produce a clean blank that large.
Hoisting the beam into place high up on the stern presented quite a challenge and required the services of a large crane. The beam was carefully rigged and then lifted directly above the roof of the scaffolding and dropped through a slit cut into the plastic. To get it to swing back to the horizontal so it could be slid into its final position required poking out through another slit in the plastic on the scaffolding's side and then gingerly lowering it onto some temporary supports. The whole process took only about an hour, but there were many sighs of relief when it was finally done.
Elsewhere on the hull, nine planks have been placed but some of these are only partially held in place with butt spikes and clamps. The shipwrights will now go back and complete the fastening with trunnels. Some of the trunnels will be so-called "through trunnels." These are fasteners which are driven through the planking and the supporting futtock (framing) into the ceiling (interior planking). Two knees have been shaped and work has commenced on a third of the twelve to be undertaken.
March 16, 2012
Installation of the planking continues to be the primary focus of the shipwrights. Both port and starboard forward garboard planks have been placed. These planks have a significant twist in their form which made shaping them quite a challenge. The transom timber is nearing completion and will be installed next week. This is a very heavy piece so the shipwrights will need assistance from a crane. The transom timber came from the stock found at the Charlestown Navy Shipyard. We believe it was cut in 1868 and was growing for 200 years before that. Meanwhile a full effort is being made to fashion the hundreds of trunnels which will be used to fasten the vessel's planking. Quentin Snediker, Director of the Shipyard, will be travelling to Georgia this week in search of more longleaf pine while milling of stock on hand continues.
Planning for the 38th Voyage is well underway. Watercraft area personnel are focused on sailing the Morgan. This activity ranges from selection of safety equipment to meet Coast Guard requirements, to determining the stability of the ship and designing an appropriate ballasting scheme. The itinerary of the voyage is taking form. Susan Funk, Executive Vice President of the Museum, spoke with the Interpretation Department this week about the voyage. Although it is subject to change, the current plan is for the Morgan to depart in May 2014 to New London where final fitting out will take place. She will sail for Newport, Rhode Island, then on to Martha's Vineyard. Her next port of call will be New Bedford, Massachusetts. After transiting the Cape Cod Canal, the Morgan will lie off Provincetown, Massachusetts, in preparation for a visit to Stellwagen Bank. After journeying to Boston, the Morgan will return via the Cape Cod Canal during the Canal's 100th Anniversary celebrations and arrive home in August.
Each port visit will have a theme. For instance in New London it will be "Preparing for a Voyage" and a celebration of New London's whaling heritage. In New Bedford the theme will be "Life in a Homeport" and the whaling industry. At Stellwagen Bank we will focus on a contemporary perspective of whales and whaling. The itinerary may also include a final port visit in New York City.
March 2, 2012
A second plank of white oak was installed in the stern last week. White oak bends easily after being steamed and for that reason it will be used in areas of the bottom which have a more curved and twisting shape. Longleaf pine, which was the wood used in the first plank we installed, bends less easily and is well suited for use in longer, less curving sections of the hull. With the emphasis now on planking, as many as three teams of shipwrights will be formed to measure, cut, steam, and install the planking. The search continues for longleaf pine. Once one of the dominant species in Georgia, we have located good prospects for harvesting in southwest Georgia, some of which are 300-year-old trees.
Meanwhile work on the transom is progressing. The new cross timber, which is white oak from the Charlestown Navy Yard, is ready to be shaped. A pattern of the old piece has been made and cutting of this 22-foot-long piece will commence soon. The cross timber is not unlike a roof beam in your house. You should imagine removing a roof beam while attempting to keep the house from badly sagging or even worse collapsing. This is exactly what the shipwrights have done. By means of an ingenuous series of supports, eye bolts, and other fasteners, the material around the cross timber space has been temporarily held in place.
Planning for the 38th Voyage continues. There are hundreds of details to be considered from gangplanks to safety and communication equipment to the outfitting of Roann as a tender.
February 24, 2012
The restoration of the Morgan reached another significant milestone February 21 as Museum shipwrights installed the first of the new exterior planking on the whaleship. The longleaf pine plank weighed more than 500 pounds, measured 34 feet long, 8 inches wide and 4 inches thick. President Steve White drove the initial metal fastener, which was witnessed by several Museum employees and the print and broadcast media. Watch the installation of the first plank.
This is the fourth phase of the project. To date, the vessel has been thoroughly documented, the structure of her lower hull has been restored, and interior planking has been replaced.
The current phase involves planking the external hull below the waterline. Much of the material dates to her original construction. Installing a plank requires carefully shaping and "dry-fitting" it to its eventual location on the hull. The planks are then steamed for at least three hours to make them flexible. At that point they are quickly hauled into position, braced, and wedged into place. The plank is subsequently fastened with bronze spikes and large wooden pegs called treenails (pronounced "trunnels"). Time is of the essence as the steam-induced flexibility wears off quickly and planks can crack or split.
Culling and sorting of the planking stock continues. This is an important process because as the sawed planks age, imperfections appear such as rot, which might not have been evident when the planks were cut. Quentin Snediker, Director of the Shipyard, observed that the shipwrights who built the Morgan weren't as discriminating as we are when selecting a piece of stock. However, as Quentin also noted, the builders of the Morgan had access to virgin timber.
Work on the dismantling the transom continues. This is a tricky process because it entails removing joinery in the Captain's cabin. Much of the joinery is original fabric. Some of the knees have been fashioned and are ready for installation. Meanwhile planning for the whaleship's 38th Voyage continues. The Morgan will be an "uninspected vessel," but clearly Mystic Seaport will need to adhere to safety requirements such as appropriate running lights and communications equipment.
February 10, 2012
Due to a change of plans, the shipwrights have postponed the installation of the first new plank until the week of February 13, 2012. This has permitted us to undertake a new round of laser scanning, particularly where the old framing material abuts the new futtocks, and of the transom. Our marine surveyor will also have a chance to undertake a review of the progress on the Morgan before the new planking covers up sections of the vessel for decades to come.
Work on the transom progresses. A new cross timber of white oak from the Charlestown Navy Yard is being shaped to replace the white pine timber installed during a restoration in the early 1980s. This piece in turn had replaced the original live oak. We had hoped to use live oak but we have not found a live oak tree large enough (22 feet long and 13" x 13"). The cross timber is a horizontal member mortised into the stern post. From it rise vertically the so-called tail feathers, which are the transom's framing and form the shape of the upper portion of the stern. Several of the tail feathers need replacement and are being shaped on the floor of the main shed.
Volunteers continue to work on paint scraping of various spars and Mrs. Tinkham's cabin. Other volunteers are fabricating blocks for the rigging. The metal components for the blocks are being hand forged by a shipyard employee.
January 20, 2012
The shipwrights have completed the enclosure for the Morgan which will permit winter work. The focus now is on the planking. As previously reported much of the planking from the broad strake up to the seventh strake has been removed especially at the ends of the vessel. However, we have been able to save a substantial portion of the original planking amidships. In preparation for marrying the old and the new the shipwrights are fairing the frames to provide a smooth surface to seat the new planks. They are also filling holes in the frames made by old trunnels and fasteners with white oak plugs. Next the shipwrights will install planking from the fourth or fifth strake upwards to create a longitudinal band around the Morgan to provide strength to the hull. They are also refastening the strakes which were not removed. From a restoration perspective this work is of particular interest. The shipwrights are working with original fabric and once the planking is complete we probably won't see this section of the Morgan for several decades.
Bow framing is progressing nicely. The two new knightheads, each weighing some 800 pounds, have been installed. The new gripe is in place. Several of the greenheart cant frames have been replaced with white oak. The greenheart was not original to the vessel having been placed in the bow during the 195's. We have determined that the transom will need more planking and framing work than expected.
The search for materials continues. Eight of the 10 required knees are in hand many of which came from the Katrina live oak. Douglas fir for various spars will be ordered soon. Several yards, booms and the bowsprit will need to be replaced.
January 6, 2012
Work on the scaffolding and cover is progressing well. Because of unexpected restoration work in the stern, we are erecting more scaffolding for that area. The rudder has been removed which has permitted x-raying of the pintles. We thought hardware on the rudder was original, but recently we discovered documentation referring to a repair to the rudder in 1886, so it is likely the hardware dates from that year. In any case, the x-raying is necessary to determine if the pintles can be reused. Because of the holidays and related vacations, sawing had ceased but we are now at it again. Another round of scanning will occur soon and our expert wooden boat surveyor, Paul Haley, will be visiting to inspect the exposed lower framing since planking from the broad strake to #7 has been removed.
December 16, 2011
One of the key tenets of restoration work is the retention of as much original material as possible. Initially the shipwrights had thought they could save the planking, which was installed in 1841, from the 7th strake down to the keel. After they removed a couple of planks in this area, they found erosion between the frames on many of the planks which suggested the need to remove all of this material. However, as the peeling process progressed, the shipwrights determined that the planks amidships were in better condition than suspected. By graving in pieces of wood to the planks enough thickness could be built up to provide sufficient backing for caulking.
Like an archeological dig, the dismantling of the Morgan has told us a lot about the builder's construction technique. Whereas the shipwrights are using the graving pieces as a restoration, Morgan's shipwrights routinely cut away sapwood and graved in pieces to replace that material. Sapwood is the outer rings of growth on a tree. They also built up frames with shims to create enough thickness to provide backing for planking. The wide use of graving pieces and shims is technique that would not be approved under modern shipbuilding practice. Of course, Morgan has survived some 170 years.
Documentation of the location of fasteners continues and a new round of scanning will be undertaken on the frames before they are covered with new planking. Good progress has been made on the bow. Both knightheads which straddle the bowsprit have been installed and new futtocks added to some of the cant frames, which form the shape of the bow. The lumberports, which we opened to permit installation of the ceiling, have been framed in.
December 2, 2011
Reassembly of the bow structure is progressing well. The new gripe has been installed as has the port knighthead. Work on the starboard knighthead continues and should be completed this week. In a slight change in plans the shipwrights will remove all of the planking from the 7th strake down to the first broad strake. Previously they were planning to remove and replace strakes 4-7, forming a band of new material around the vessel. The rudder will be lowered soon permitting an inspection of the gudgeons and pintles. A second round of X-rays will be undertaken to verify the position and depth of fasteners in the forward part of the ship. Several of the fasteners do not appear to go through the wood. We don't know if this is the way Morgan was built or if this is the result of a repair.
Meanwhile planning for the Morgan's voyage has commenced. To meet Coast Guard requirements we will need to install safety items, pumps, electrical power with generation and navigation aids. A logistical plan for the various ports of call is being formulated. The Morgan's various states of draft are also being evaluated. While on display the Morgan rode fairly high. We are looking at old photographs to determine what her underway draft really was.
Work on hanging doors for the cover continues in preparation for winter activities.
November 11, 2011
The first strake of the planking has been peeled from around the hull of the Morgan. When the sheathing was removed at the beginning of the project, the shipwrights were hopeful that the planking from the turn of the bilge to the keel, which is mostly original to the vessel, could be retained. The outside of the planking looked good but as work on the framing progressed; they began to suspect the lower planking would need to be replaced. With the removal of the first strake, the shipwrights' suspicions were confirmed. After 170 years of exposure to sand, air and fresh water too much of the thickness of the planks had been lost.
The shipwrights will now peel at least four strakes (#4-7) and replace these with new material. This will form a strong band to support the hull, while the shipwrights work upwards and downwards from this location.
Work on the stem recently slowed while we were awaiting a team of technicians to x-ray the fasteners and drifts in the stem structure. The shipwrights need to know the precise location and depth of the fasteners to prevent drilling into them and to map out where the fasteners should be placed in the new material. The X-rays are now complete and work should move forward.
October 28, 2011
The ceiling shutter plank was installed at 2 p.m. Friday, October 28th closing the lumber ports into the lower hold. This represents a major milestone in the Morgan's restoration, as it signals the completion of the ceiling. The shipwrights will remove the some of the planking next week from the 4th to 7th strakes. These strakes will be replaced before any others are peeled forming a complete band of new material around the hull. All the strakes to the keel will eventually be replaced including the garboards. This material we believe dates to 1841.
Meanwhile other shipwrights are adjusting the shores and stanchions in the bow to permit the safe removal of more material from the stem. The new gripe (part of the forefoot) and other pieces of the bow are being fabricated on the floor of the Main Shed. Some of these are quite large and can't be safely cut on the ships saw. The shipwrights are performing initial cuts with a chain saw and then using adzes to shape the pieces. The "old" tools are in use again. To facilitate work on the bow a crane will be installed soon in the foremast trunk and it will likely remain in place through launching.
The search for materials continues. A new shipment of longleaf pine will be on its way from Georgia shortly. We believe we have found some new knee stock in the same area.
The framing for the cover is 90% finished. The shipwrights and going to be deployed into four teams. One team will complete the framing and enclose it with sheathing. To permit visitor viewing of work in progress, several windows of 4 x 8 foot Plexiglas will be installed. The doors to the enclosure will also have Plexiglas windows. A large propane heater has been purchased and will be placed inside the plastic cover to provide heat during the winter. Two other teams will start work on removing and replacing the planking. The garboard and the next three strakes are in good condition and will be left in place. We will refasten them at the butt ends with copper drifts driven trough the planking, frame and ceiling and riveted. The shipwrights are going to remove several strakes to permit proper spilling of the new planks. The planking is a more difficult task. Unlike the ceiling which was dropped into place and not caulked, the planking needs to be lifted and beveled for caulking.
The final team will be working on the bow. A part of the gripe, which is a component of the forefoot of the bow and the piece immediately below the stem, has been removed. A new piece is being patterned and cut in the main shed. Meanwhile the apron is being removed in pieces. These, too, will be patterned and a new apron will be cut in the main shed. Since the apron is too large a piece to be cut on the ships' saw, it will be cut instead with a chainsaw and the chunks between the cuts removed by using a broad axe. Visitors often ask if the shipwrights use original tools. The short answer is no, but this is an example where the old tool will be utilized.
This team will also shortly start work on the transom. Several of the stern planks are rotten as a result of water leaking in through stern windows. We think roughly a half of the stern planking will need to be replaced.
A continuing challenge is keeping the hull wet. The use of a propane heater in winter will only make this task more difficult. The shipwrights will treat the hull with borate and they will caulk the new planking as it is installed as this will maintain moisture in the wood.
The shipwrights are focused on erecting staging and scaffolding around the exterior of the hull. This phase of the work will include the set up of electrical connections. Completion of the ceiling is on hold until the scaffolding is complete. Three ceiling planks on each side of the vessel still need to be installed to close the timber ports. These planks will be somewhat difficult to put in place as the slots where they are being fitted have two butt ends. Most planks were installed in locations with only one butt end and then sometimes cut to proper length. Cutting the correct length of these final planks is tricky because a bent plank is shorter overall than an unbent plank.
More materials are being delivered. A knee from the Charlestown Naval Shipyard has been acquired. This is #7 of the 10 required. Longleaf pine promised over a year ago from Thomasville, Georgia, has arrived at the shipyard. Another load is on its way.
The rudder and sternpost are in decent condition. However, the shipwrights will need to jack it up to inspect the gudgeons and pintles, which we think might be original to the vessel. Work on the rigging has been ongoing but after January 1st this will really start in earnest. A new mizzen lower has been finished. The hemp required for the rigging is no longer a stocked item; however, the shipyard believes it has found some suppliers in Europe who can manufacture hemp to our specifications.
Elsewhere in the Shipyard: Regina has been hauled and is in pretty good condition after regular bottom scraping and painting. She was last hauled in 2007. Rolls Royce Synchrolift personnel have been on site to install new diagnostic software, which permits monitoring of the lift from their offices in Annapolis, Maryland. Routine annual maintenance and inspections on the lift was also accomplished. The haul schedule for the next few months is Service, Roann, L.A. Dunton and Sabino.
The shipwrights have installed the final planks for the ceiling's top strakes. Completion of the ceiling will occur after the timber ports on the port and starboard sides are closed. However, this will not happen until later in the year as the shipwrights are now turning their attention to erecting staging around the exterior of the vessel. The wheel has been removed which has cleared the stern deck for work on the hurricane house, the galley and the after bulwarks. The rudder is scheduled to be pulled to allow access to the pintles and gudgeons which we think might be original. Additionally, electrical connections, which are now on the interior of the Morgan, will be moved outside.
More longleaf pine is due from Florida and Georgia. Black locust felled by the recent storms in the northeast has been offered to the Museum and gladly accepted.
Tropical Storm Irene preparedness has consumed our time this week. Shores and blocks have been added to the Morgan. The extra support was designed by our naval architect, and is engineered to 100 knots of wind. The final step will be to add cables from the hull to the outside of the concrete blocks. After the storm the cables will be removed, but we are going to leave the shores and blocks, and build the new scaffolding around them. The cover is the Morgan's most vulnerable area. The windows over the deck have been tied shut, but if the wind reaches hurricane force we may have to slit the plastic to allow the gusts to blow through without building up under the plastic and lifting the boat.
Meanwhile, more material is arriving for the cover, scaffolding and staging. There are approximately seven more pieces of ceiling remain to be installed. Some of them will fill in just below the clamp - these are rather difficult to shape and install. Our documentation office continues to oversee the transition from 2-D to 3-D documentation.
Work on the ceiling should be finished by mid-September. The shipwright ceiling crew will then focus on the knees. The pace of dismantling the bulwark has quickened and the shipwrights have confirmed that the badly checked greenheart cant frames will not hold fasteners. Several of these have been removed quite easily. Because this stage of the restoration is on the exterior of the vessel, it provides interesting viewing for the visitor. With a portion of the bulwark removed the shipwrights have been able to inspect the apron behind the stem and have determined that it needs to be replaced. While not unexpected, the fashioning of a new apron does expand the scope of the project.
Riggers have set up shop in the Ropewalk to work on the shrouds. Signage will be added to the Ropewalk to explain what is occurring.
The search for materials continues. Longleaf pine promised from a source from Georgia has been slow to arrive. The material is on Nature Conservancy land and care must be taken to ensure that salvage material is removed without damaging the remaining trees.
The ceiling is coming along nicely with the fourteenth strake almost finished. One of the challenges facing the shipwrights at this juncture is working the installation of the ceiling around the access ports in the hull, which will be closed up last. Substantial of effort is being expended to rearrange restoration materials for short and long term access while utilizing space in the shipyard efficiently. A side benefit of this is to provide room for the Antique Engine Show coming up in two weeks.
The shipwright team working on the bow is starting to disassemble it in earnest. New stanchions have been installed to support the forward part of the ship to facilitate this process and fabrication of a crane to be positioned in the foremast step will commence in the coming week. Material for the scaffolding, which will surround the entire vessel, is on order. Several loads of Connecticut white oak have been delivered. Two additional deliveries of Virginia oak will arrive soon. The Connecticut oak is smaller and will be used in areas such as bulwark framing.
Thirteen strakes of the ceiling are installed. The shipwrights can place one strake a week, so with luck this phase of the reconstruction will be completed by the end of August. Meanwhile milling continues on the recent deliveries of Virginia white oak. A large white pine from Connecticut will be delivered soon. Hopefully this will become the new bowsprit for the MORGAN but we won't know until we can undertake a closer inspection.
The scaffolding around the bow is nearly complete and the shipwrights are erecting a crane to facilitate the removal of material in the bow and the placement of new fabric. The crane will occupy the foremast base and will be assembled using material left over from the construction of the shiplift. Because the bow will be substantially taken apart, new shoring will be erected to support it.
Sprinklers have been placed on the piles of recently delivered material to wet the wood down, which slows the drying process.
The eagle has been removed from MORGAN's transom and stored in the paint shop. The State of Connecticut has approved a modification of a previous grant to purchase scaffolding materials, which will now permit the shipwrights to order supplies and commence erection of the scaffolding around the entire vessel.
Work continues to erect scaffolding around the bow, which will facilitate the removal of upper planking and the cant frames which create the shape of the forecastle. Actual material removal should start in late summer. This will provide interesting viewing for the visitor, as it is outside. Unfortunately work on the ceiling is largely hidden from view.
Scaffolding is also being reassembled in the main hold. With approximately 10 strakes of the new ceiling in place, the shipwrights need an elevated work platform instead of trying to maneuver heavy ceiling planks above their heads and over the turn of the bilge.
Quentin Snediker shared a few secrets on how the shipwrights have been able to duplicate the length and width of each ceiling plank. Prior to removing the ceiling each plank was measured for length. A wooden batten was placed 90 degrees to the keel along the frames (vertical measure) and the seams of the ceiling were marked on these battens. This measurement provided an accurate width for the planks. As reinstallation of the ceiling progressed, the battens were reunited with each frame and the width marked off. Bow to stern (horizontal measure) batten strips were affixed to the frames and patterns could then made for each individual plank. Some of the planks are pretty uniform in width so a pattern was not required.
Two truckloads of white oak were delivered to the yard and two more are on their way. The yard is having difficulty acquiring more long leaf pine, so the shipwrights may substitute with white oak. Although this material was not original to the vessel in the sections of the ceiling being replaced, such a substitution was standard practice, so this will not alter the authenticity of the restoration.
Work on the new main top mast is underway in the main shed. This task requires meticulous concentration to duplicate the curve and taper of the old mast and the shape of its ends. Once lines are scribed for a cut, the cut is made with power tools and the process repeated until the mast is essentially round. The finishing touches are done with a draw knife and block plane.
Eight ceiling strakes have been completed and the shipwrights are on pace to install one strake a week. Because the ceiling is now up to the lumber ports forward, the focus will be on installing new ceiling aft and amidships. When these sections are finished the lumber ports will be closed in. The scaffolding at the bow on each side of the vessel will be extended aft to a point opposite the foremast to facilitate the removal of planking and installation of new cant frames. The cant frames form the shape of the bow and were replaced with greenheart in the 1950's. The greenheart has dried and checked and will no longer hold a fastener. New live and white oak material will be installed.
As dismantling of the bow structure has progressed, the shipwrights have discovered that some topside planking will need to be replaced. Fortunately we have found additional material and it should arrive shortly. Meanwhile the search for additional materials continues. Rob Whalen, lead shipwright, has been in Virginia inspecting white oak recently felled. The on ground inspection looks good and we hope to have some of the white oak milled in Virginia to take burden off of our staff.
Although the voyage is three years away, our naval engineer is starting to review ballasting requirements. When completed, this will consist of a mix of cement blocks, lead and water (in inflatable containers). He is also reviewing equipment requirements such as bilge pumps.
The dismantling of the stem continues. The stem itself has been removed and is in the band saw shed north of the Main Shed. At this time the shipwrights don't know how deep they will need to go into the apron to which the forward planking is affixed. However, they have determined that the cant frames, which are made of greenheart and which are checked and split, will be replaced with new pieces of white oak and live oak. The cant frames radiate out to give the bow its shape. The tiger cage material has arrived from Memphis, Tennessee, where it was part of the city's zoo and originally installed around 1910. This is hard to find wrought iron and will be used as fasteners for the new knees. The ceiling is moving along nicely. The shipwrights have found a nice rhythm and are finishing the seventh strake. They can place about eight planks a week. A strake consists of from three to four planks on each of the port and starboard sides.
Work is progressing nicely on the removal of the stem. This piece was replaced in the 1980's and is particularly exposed to fresh water. When the MORGAN was in service, she would have been wet with salt water and the deterioration of the stem would not have been as rapid. Six ceiling strakes have been completed and lining off for the remainder is in process. Originally the shipwrights were intending to replicate the ceiling exactly; i.e., duplicate each ceiling plank by length and width. Instead the lengths of the planks are different to accommodate the material we have on hand. Replacement knees have been found in Gloucester, Massachusetts. These were originally from the timber basin at the Charlestown Naval Shipyard. They will be shipped to Mystic soon. The exterior planking is made up of both white oak and southern long leaf pine. Since white oak is easier to bend, it is used on parts of the hull which have the most dramatic curves, whereas the southern long leaf pine is utilized on longer and straighter sections.
Work on the ceiling is progressing nicely. Three strakes have been installed on both the port and starboard sides. Each strake consists of from three to four planks. There will be a total of seventeen strakes on each side of the ceiling from just above the keelson to the clamp. Two teams of two shipwrights each are working on the opposite sides of the hull and can install from three to four planks a week. At this rate, with luck, availability of materials and no interruptions for other work in the yard, the ceiling could be completed in the July/August timeframe.
Meanwhile two other shipwrights are erecting scaffolding at the bow to permit work on the stem. The upper portion of the stem is rotten. This piece runs from the components used to support the bowsprit to the scarf joint about midway down the hull. Interestingly it is relatively new having been installed about 20 years ago.
The search for materials continues. Long leaf pine is being logged in Georgia. The Lucas Mill should be re-erected in the next 10 days or so, when the curing of the new concrete pad is done and milling will recommence with a team of four apprentices. We have found a good piece of white pine for MORGAN's new bowsprit on state land in Connecticut. If this piece is not available, other sources have been identified in the Adirondacks. As a further back-up there is Douglas fir available through Gray's Harbor in Aberdeen, Washington. Fir does not last as long unfortunately.
Documentation continues. Hopefully the new steam generator, which requires 440 amp power, will be hooked up next week.
Work on the ceiling continues. Six planks have been installed so far. The new steam generator has been delivered. We are awaiting installation. The old steam generator is a cast off boiler from a home heating system and is oil fuel fired. The new generator is driven by electricity and is the size of a large suitcase. It is housed in the "dog house" between the steam boxes and the Morgan. New long leaf pine has been located in Georgia and logging will commence shortly. Work on the stem has begun with Walt Ansel as lead shipwright on the project. The new stem piece is on the ground near the entrance to the "Shipbuilding Exhibit." Documentation continues. When the ship was built there was symmetry in her construction. As an example, similar species of wood were used on the opposite sides of the individual frames. With multiple restorations different types of wood have been substituted. We will document Morgan in her current state. To restore the original symmetry would require a complete dismantling and reassembly.
Rob Whalen, head shipwright on the Morgan project, briefed us on the progress of installing the ceiling. The first long strake of ceiling (about 25 feet) was placed in the vessel. The shipwrights were hoping to use mechanical means to place this piece in its final position but this is proving to be more difficult than expected. As a result it may have to wait on the joining of the two pieces of the steam box together and the new steam generator being installed. Meanwhile shorter pieces are being fitted in the stern on the port side.
Material handling and selection of strakes is an ongoing challenge. At a shipyard in the era in which the Morgan was built would have had acres of land on which the planks could be laid out. The shipwrights would walk among the pieces of wood and select the one most suited for the next placement. Because of the constrained size of the Seaport's shipyard, our shipwrights are constantly unstacking and restacking planks to find the right strake, a time consuming task.
Construction of a 60 feet by 10 feet concrete pad for the Lucas Mill will commence shortly. The pad will provide a firm base on which to mount the mill and will result in more uniform cuts. Meanwhile shipwrights are identifying wood for the waterline "zipper" repair from Charlestown Naval Shipyard materials.
Installation of the ceiling is proceeding. Three pieces have been set in place. Quentin Snediker described the process as not unlike laying bricks. One puts the first course in place and builds atop. Placement of fasteners is tricky at this juncture because the shipwrights don't want to put too many holes in the wood. They are trying to use the old holes in the floor and naval timbers.
Inventorying of materials continues. There is enough long leaf pine on hand to do the ceiling, but more will be needed for the planking. All the knees have been accounted for but some still need to be delivered. Material from the Charlestown Naval Shipyard is being power washed and removed from the parking lot pavement so the Seaport will have full parking capacity. The new mizzen is being fitted with new crosstrees and iron work, as the replacement has a larger diameter than the predecessor. The larger diameter conforms to the original. A white pine tree for the bowsprit has been found in upstate New York. And finally we think we have found the elusive live oak in the hull. This will need to be confirmed.
Quentin Snediker showed a color coded schematic of the Morgan's hull. The schematic displays the portions of the hull which are original and will not be replaced in this restoration as well as work undertaken so far and what needs to be replaced in the months ahead. Included in this latter category are pieces of greenheart in the bow. While these members are not rotten, they have dried out and split so that they no longer will hold a fastener. The shipwrights will also install new futtocks at the wind and waterline. When the ceiling was removed, it was apparent that there were too many butt ended futtocks in a line rather than the desired staggered construction. This configuration had resulted from 1980's restorations and it significantly weakened the hull, especially for under sail conditions. It should be remembered, however, that we did not envision sailing the Morgan again at that time (1980's).
From a documentation perspective the removal of the ceiling (largely original to the vessel) has been very revealing. We now know exactly how the Morgan was constructed. Previously we had relied on the vernacular interpretation of standard practice. Three new pieces of ceiling have been installed. The new steam box the pad on the port side of the vessel. It currently is in two pieces which will be joined together to accommodate planks of up to 40 feet. A new steam generator has been delivered and will be installed shortly.
There is a major need for more wood as compared to our original estimates of the restoration's scope. The removal of the ceiling allowed the shipwrights to inspect planking from the keel to the turn of the bilge. From the outside these planks seemed in good condition. But on the inside it was discovered that significant rot had occurred and they will need to be replaced.
The first piece of the new ceiling has been steamed and installed in the after portion of the hold. This location is tricky because the ceiling planks both twist and bend, so it is painstaking process. Once the after end is complete the shipwrights plan to add another planking crew. The process to install the ceiling will quicken because amidships the ceiling planks are straighter. Nonetheless the ceiling replacement portion of the restoration will take five to six months. The shipwrights are planning the next phases of the project. The current plan after the ceiling is finished is to commence replanking from the keel to the turn of the bilge. This will strengthen the vessel sufficiently to permit removal of the planking at the wind and waterline. The framing in this location is not staggered and will need to be done so to meet construction standards.
Meanwhile milling of planking continues as weather permits. The search for knees is progressing. We think there is enough in the live oak pile to provide what we need. White ash for blocks and whale boat oars and more black locust for trunnels have been delivered. We are calibrating the trunnel cutters and drill bits in preparation for installing the 6500 trunnels which will be used in the project. The new steam box is adjacent to the Morgan's port side. Another steam generator has been ordered to improve the speed and efficiency of this process.
Documentation is never ending. A wood specialist from UConn visited and discovered two of the naval timbers are red oak. So far no live oak has been found in the original portions of the hull.
Quentin Snediker spent a fair amount of time at the weekly Shipyard Meeting describing the various measurements and dimensions of the Morgan and the methods for measuring her. This is work in progress and in time Quentin will publish a summary of the information for everyone's use. It will be very helpful in interpreting the Morgan.
Other statistics of interest are: The shipwrights have installed the following new materials:196 futtocks, 4 floor timbers, 7 naval timbers, 59 feet of clamp and 17 feet of keelson. Three phases of the ship's survey are done. This is an inspection to obtain a third party verification of the shipwrights' work. 3000 photos of the work have been taken. Four rounds of laser scanning of the hull have been completed. And 100 images of the keel bolts have been made. In all, this is an impressive total.
As part of the restoration process the shipwrights are using the services of Paul Haley, the best known large wooden boat surveyor on the East Coast. Haley has surveyed the Morgan previously when she was hauled and when the ceiling was completely removed. He will continue this review at critical junctures as the project progresses. He has confirmed the shipwrights' work on the new framing and installation of the ceiling will commence next week. This phase will be completed in the June/July timeframe. Part of Haley's task is to provide an independent 3rd party opinion of the shipwrights' work to meet both insurance and Coast Guard requirements. Fortunately the shipwrights have determined that several floor and naval timbers identified for replacement in the after part of the vessel will now only require graving pieces to strengthen the members.
Fabrication of a new steam box to accommodate the ceiling planks is underway in the main shed. This is a large piece of equipment being some forty feet long and it will have rollers inside to handle the weight of the wood. The steam box will be positioned alongside the Morgan's port side. Planing of the ceiling has begun and milling continues, although this has been diificult due to the weather. The new mizzen has been moved out of the shed and work continues on the rig. When finished, the Morgan will sport a more complete rig based on photographs taken around 1910.
Scanning of the new framing has occurred and new calculation will be made of the Morgan's displacement. The weight of a vessel can be measured in several ways: weight of materials and load displacement being two of them. We know that over time her displacement has changed with the addition of new materials replacing the old.
The shipwrights have removed the temporary scaffolding from the hold in preparation for a laser scan of that area. The scan will document the work accomplished to date. After the scan is done, fairing of the new futtocks and installation of the new 17 feet long section of the keelson will be completed. New keel bolts made of copper will be sistered with existing fasteners to strengthen the joining of the keel, keelson and naval/floor timbers. Installation of the ceiling will be the next major phase of the project.
The search for materials continues. A couple of more knees need to be located and the wrought iron rod we have is too thick. Wrought iron is hard to find and we are hoping we can swap out our stock with another source. More long leaf pine will be delivered in the fall. The challenge with the long leaf pine is to find trees of the proper thickness given the dimensions of Morgan's planks.
The second section of the port side clamp has been temporally installed. Once the ceiling and knees are in, the shipwrights will start on the exterior of the vessel and replank the hull from about the 7th strake up to the turn of the bilge.
The new mizzen is almost complete. Work has commenced on the crosstrees.
Fairing of the new futtocks continues. The port side is essentially done. All the mortises for the new salt shelves have been completed.
Replacement of the framing has been divided into three phases. Phase One is complete and consisted of replacing almost all the framing from the turn of the bilge to the waterline over most of the vessel's length. It included several floor and naval timbers in the forward part of the vessel. In Phase Two the shipwrights will undertake test boring of the remaining original floor and naval timbers to determine their structural soundness. Selected timbers will be replaced as necessary. Phase Three is in the bow area. Here the shipwrights will work from the outside. Because of the complexity and work entailed to disassemble the structure installed to reinforce the bow against ice, the shipwrights will instead remove the planking in the bow exposing the frames for needed replacement.
The middle portion of the port side clamp has been temporarily installed. Work has commenced in the main shed on the after component of the clamp.
Acquisition of knees has been more difficult than anticipated. A former source in Maine has gone out of business, so the shipwrights have turned to the material removed from the Charlestown Naval Shipyard. When the Charlestown timber basin was uncovered, the first material removed happened to include a number of knees. These were taken to a salvage yard. The shipwrights have tracked them down and will be visiting the yard to see what can be bartered for. Consideration is also being given to using live oak the Museum has on hand.
The forward 17 feet long section of the keelson is back in the vessel and is being fitted. Meanwhile fairing continues on the new framing. It is nearly complete on the port side and approximately 30% remain to be done on the starboard side. Once the keelson is completely reinstalled and the fairing finished, the surveyors will return after the holidays for a complete laser scan of the new framing. The documentation process is painstaking not only because we need to document the materials used but also we need to estimate the increased weight of the materials utilized. This is vital to ensure proper stability. The shipwrights are creating mortises for the salt stops. When the documentation is finished and the salt stops installed, work on the ceiling will commence.
Milling of the ceiling material continues. We are searching for more longleaf pine for planking and hackmatack for knees. The latter are particularly hard to find. Two have been located in Nova Scotia but until they can be milled, we won't really know their condition. Alternatively, the shipwrights might use other material on hand, particularly live oak, to fabricate these components. Work on the clamp progresses. Because it must be notched to receive the deck beams, work is slow and exacting. One hundred of the nearly five hundred butt spikes have been forged in the machine shop. The lower mizzen is almost finished. It needs some additional hand planing and installation of fittings.
The first piece of the new clamp is in the main shed for final cutting before being fitted into the vessel. Two additional shorter pieces are outside to the west of the ships saw shed. The clamp is 4 inches thick while the ceiling is 3 inches thick and the planking 3 ½ inches. The floors and naval timbers forward are finished. Some additional futtocks in the bow area still need to be replaced. This will be accomplished by removing the planking and the futtocks installed from the outside. Much of the ceiling forward has not been removed because this would entail dismantling a heavy timber structure designed to reinforce the bow against ice. The shipwrights have decided that it is more efficient to remove the planking rather than working from the inside. The keelson will be reinstalled after Thanksgiving.
Two truck loads of southern longleaf pine arrived this past week and milling of the material was commenced.
Two massive floor timbers (900 and 750 lbs respectively) have been installed under the foremast step. The shipwrights are now placing naval timbers and the adjoining futtocks. The next step will be to reinstall the 17 feet long section of the keelson which should occur shortly after Christmas. This new piece is being fabricated in the ships saw shed. We believe the area around the foremast step was designed in a fashion which allowed fresh water to gather. The main and mizzen steps do not show the same damage.
Meanwhile work has resumed on the new port side clamp. We have identified two new larch knees in Nova Scotia and hope to find more in the same vicinity. Milling continues on southern longleaf pine for the ceiling. Two truck loads of the wood from Alabama are scheduled to be delivered this week. In anticipation of putting the ceiling back in, locust is being milled for trunnel stock. The shipwrights use what looks like a large pencil sharpener to make these two feet long fasteners.
We will be finished with the first stage of the framing next week. The next phase will be replacing lower frames. We have removed 6 lower frames at the fore mast step; there are some further aft that will have to be replaced as well. The evidence we see from working with these lower timbers again shows us that we are working with the original fabric of the ship.
Shipwrights have begun fairing the starboard side in preparation for installing the new ceiling. We are milling longleaf pine for ceiling planks. That phase of the project should begin in late January. Before the ceiling goes in we will replace the pine salt shelves that were mortised into the sides of the frames, and do another full laser scan of the completed framing.
Two dendrochronologists from the University of Arizona visited this week. They are particularly interested in the wood we brought down from the Charlestown Navy Yard. They are also looking at wood we removed in the 1980 rebuild, and taking samples from some of recently removed wood.
In the main shop, the first cut has been made on the Morgan's new mizzen.
Port side framing should be completed in about another week. Meanwhile the shipwrights are fairing the starboard framing. Installation of the ceiling will likely commence toward the end of December. Two floor timbers and three or four naval timbers will be replaced toward the bow. Otherwise these components further aft are in good shape. After the floor and naval timbers are replaced, a new seventeen foot section of the keelson, which was removed, will be installed. At the present pace, the interior of the hull could be closed up by late March. Milling of planking and trunnels continues.
A major milestone was achieved Friday, September 25th, when the shipwrights installed the final futtock on the starboard side. About twelve more remain to be installed on the port side. With this Phase One complete, the shipwrights will remove the temporary interior scaffolding thereby exposing the lower futtocks (naval and floor timbers) for Phase Two of the project. Approximately 15-20% of these will need to be replaced. Meanwhile fabrication of a new 17 foot long section of the keelson is nearing completion. This is a complex piece which is notched to fit over the floor timbers and scarfed to match the remaining portion of the original keelson.
Also underway is milling of planking which will begin in the spring. Inside the main shed is a 70+ foot long spar (Douglas Fir) designated to become the Morgan's new mizzen. This piece has been owned by the Seaport for over 20 years. It was transported to Mystic by rail and then floated up the river. We will use the hardware off the old mast and fabricate a new top for the mizzen. After much research we have made the decision to forge at the shipyard the new butt spikes used to affix the planking.
Quentin Snediker took about 12 staff members and volunteers on a tour of theMorgan's lower hold. The pace of work on the futtocks continues to go well. The starboard side should be finished by the end of October and the port side after Thanksgiving. Seventeen feet of the foremost portion of the keelson have removed.The southern longleaf pine, original to the vessel, was in remarkably good shape. The keelson's removal has provided staff with some good clues as to how to repair the keel bolts and install new ones. It also has exposed some of the lower futtocks which are in better condition than originally thought and may in some cases only require a dutchman.
The next steps are to fair the newly installed futtocks to receive the ceiling and the clamp. The new port side clamp is sitting on the floor of the main shed. It is a massive longleaf pine plank from Thomasville, Georgia, some 42 feet long, more than 14 inches wide and 4 inches think. This will be finely milled and then fitted into the vessel to support the lower deck beams. The starboard clamp was repaired in a previous restoration. Once the clamp is in, installation of the ceiling will commence.
Many times interpreters are asked if power tools were used to mill Morgan's original timbers. Quentin said that although water and steam sawmills were in use at the time, the tool marks on the framing suggest that they were hand hewn.
Approximately 40 futtocks remain to be replaced (down from 45 last week). Next the scaffolding in the hold will be removed and a thorough inspection of the lower futtocks will be undertaken. We know from a previous survey that these are in pretty good shape, although at least 4 will require replacing. The shipwrights are also starting to focus on the keelson. This massive piece of wood 14 x 14 inches rests on top of the keel. Some 17 feet of the forward portion will be removed. This aspect of the project will permit us to further determine how to replace or reinforce keel bolts elsewhere in the keel and to identify their metallurgy. Work has commenced on gathering and selection of materials for the clamp with particular focus on the hanging knees. Milling of white oak planking has started and shipments of other planking materials will commence from Richmond, Virginia, next week.
The article in the Science section of The New York Times has yielded some unexpected dividends. A specialist in wood rot from Rutgers University has contacted the museum and lent us his expertise in ultrasound detection of rot pockets in wood used on the C A Thayer in San Francisco.
Work on the futtocks continues along quite well. Only 45 futtocks in the current phase remain to be installed. When this phase is completed the platform in the hold will be removed and the shipwrights will undertake a thorough inspection of the lower futtocks (naval and floors timbers). We think, however, that these are in pretty good condition.
Sufficient stock is on hand to finish the first phase of framing replacement (from the turn of the bilge to the waterline). Progress on this portion of the framing continues to move along nicely. Once completed the shipwrights will remove much of the staging in the hold and survey the lower frames (naval timbers and floor timbers). While it is thought most of these are is good condition, some will need to be replaced. Next week, milling will focus on planking. There is now a lull in the milling which will be utilized to accomplish some much needed repairs to the ship's saw by an outside contractor. At this point we are about halfway through the planned timetable forMorgan's restoration and are on target for a July 2012 launching.
In anticipation of commencing planking activity, the shipwrights have inventoried the supply of metal fasteners. We have enough bronze "hanging spikes" for the job but are in need of "butt spikes." The butt spikes, also of bronze, are used at the end of planks to fasten the plank to the frame along with the hanging spikes in between the butt ends. After this initial installation, a crew will follow to drive trunnels, completing the installation. The shipwrights are considering forging the butt spikes at the shipyard.
Several of the Morgan's spars need replacement including the lower fore and mizzen, main and mizzen topmasts, bowsprit and boom. Rather than turning these on the shipyard's lathe, they will be roughed on the west coast and shipped here. This approach has worked well on the Conrad's spars, which will be finished shortly.
X-ray results have been received on the bronze keel bolts. Several require replacement while others can be sistered. This aspect of the project will be the subject of an article in theNew York Times' "Science Section."
The shipwrights are nearing the end of milling futtock stock. After a lull for the engine show sawing will resume with a focus on planking. Of the approximately 180 futtocks slated for replacement, 65 are left to go. We're almost 2/3's of the way through this phase of the restoration. Efforts continue to keep the hull wet. The shipwrights are fitting a drip irrigation system which includes burlap soakers. Paint scraping topside is being led by a core team of three volunteers and others. They are using a paste remover technique and wet sanding. A full review of Morgan's spars will start this fall. Some replacement stock is on hand but other material will probably be required. The ship's saw's bearings are showing wear, as evidenced by less than true cuts. A contractor will be hired to undertake repairs. The material unearthed at Charlestown Naval Shipyard has been a fortuitous discovery. Much of it has already been installed the Morgan.
Watch the 169th anniversary of the Morgan's launching.
Eighteen truck loads of wood for the Morgan are being delivered from the Charleston Naval Shipyard (a/k/a Boston Naval Shipyard). A contractor, digging a foundation for a new building, discovered a covered-over timber basin containing material used in the construction of wooden ships. Timber basins often adjoined U.S. Navy shipyards. These were water filled and used to store cut and uncut timber designated for the construction of U. S. Navy vessels.
The commission which is responsible for the USS Constitution was consulted initially. Most of the material needed for her hull maintenance was recovered from a timber basin at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery, Maine. The material was then offered to Mystic Seaport. We quickly said: "yes." A sample is on display in the Shipyard near the Morgan. If you look at the end nearest the cabin, you will see inscribed "N1765" which we take to be the equivalent of a part number. More information on this very interesting development will follow as we learn more.
Seventy-one futtocks have been installed. One hundred and twelve remain to be done, so we're approaching the 50% mark. The bottom 5 or 6 strakes are in good shape, but from that point up to the waterline most of the planking will need to be replaced.
Charles W. Morgan: Seventy of the approximately one hundred-eighty futtocks requiring renewal from the turn of the bilge to the waterline have been installed. Some futtocks lower down will also need to be replaced but their exact number is still to be determined. Three teams of two shipwrights are employed in futtock replacement. They are making good progress working from the ends of the vessel to amidships. The futtocks at the ends are difficult to fabricate because many of them often twist and have dramatic bevels. The amidships futtocks are longer and square, when viewed on end, and thus easier to cut.
Two weeks ago three firms specializing in non destructive testing x-rayed the keel to locate bronze bolts embedded there. Some of these, which are original to the Morgan, are visible to the naked eye but others are hidden by the toe and the false keel. We now have accurate documentation of the bolts' locations and clues on their condition.
Sawmill activity is shifting to longer material for the amidships futtocks.
Charles W. Morgan: Framing continues. Working from both ends towards the middle seems to be working out well. The new gantry system has been installed over the big ships saw, to help maneuver the roughed-out futtocks as they are sawn.
The crew is sorting live oak across the street. Another load of longleaf arrived Thursday from Thomasville Georgia. This will be the last load for awhile. The chain mill is working on live oak; the saw on the west side of the pole barn is milling white oak. We are trying to organize the futtocks that have been removed from the boat, and generally tidy up the yard in preparation for the Wooden Boat Show at the end of the month.
Mystic Fire Marshall Frank Hilbert toured the Morganlast week to make sure we were doing everything we could to eliminate fire hazards. We got his seal of approval.
We are no longer addressing the hog, but we are still working to remediate her rack and make sure she is plumb before we get too much new wood into her. She is dry and flexible now, and this is the time to address these issues. Roger and Kane are taking measurements to document the process.
We are looking into ordering spars from the West Coast. Delivery time is about 3-6 months. The spars are turned at Gray's Harbor Historical Seaport in Aberdeen, Washington, home of the Lady Washington. Their Spar Shop can produce spars up to 40" diameter and 122' long. They made spars for the Amistad and for the schooner Mystic. We may also outsource the lowers to them.
We are still planning to close the Morgan on Monday, June 21 & Tuesday, June 22 while her keelbolts are being x-rayed. We will interpret her from wherever in the yard we can find a spot that's out of the way.
Charles W. Morgan: Remediation of thehog is finished. The hydraulic jacks will be returned to the rental firm this week. We don't know exactly how much of the hog has been removed; this awaits a final determination from the documentation team in the next couple of weeks. To the eye, however, it appears that most of it has been corrected with the exception of a small curve near the fifth keel block from the bow. Installation of the new futtocks now has a rhythm, since the shipwrights have moved from the curve of the bow and, for the most part, from the stern to the amidships frames which require little or no beveling. Since the roller bearing pads on the ships saw are awkward to use due to the weight of the longer futtocks, the shipwrights will be assembling an orange colored portable crane. We can anticipate at least six months more work on the framing and then the focus will shift to planking. The planking in the ends is generally newer. Most of the replacement material is required from the turn of the bilge to the waterline. Final bids are being solicited for x-raying of the keel bolts. There is an on going quest for materials. A load of yellow pine will be delivered this week and Quentin Snediker will be traveling to southwest Georgia to purchase more pine.
An inventory of the spars has commenced. The mizzen and fore lowers will need to be replaced. The middles and top gallants are in good shape. The yards are being inspected and we think some of them will likely need to be replaced. A search for a new bowsprit has begun.
Charles W. Morgan: Not a lot has changed since the last Shipyard Letter, but there a few interesting pieces of information. The documentation team has noted a 2 ¼ inch increase in the sheer. Remediation of the hog is almost complete. Efforts are now focused on evening it out. The stanchions in the lower hold are tightening which indicates that the keel and the lower deck are starting to move in tandem. The shipboard side of the gangway has been lowered. You will note that it has dropped about 5 inches from its original position. More white oak is on its way. Installation of framing has commencedaft. This is a very tight and awkward place in which to work. The shipyard has purchased a new computer at the recommendation of Feldman Brothers, the firm that did the laser scans shown on the Shipyard Gallery's south end videos.
Charles W. Morgan: Futtock replacement continues. We have quite the "production line" activity in the Pole Barn. Here milling with the Lucas Mill occurs to create flitches (cut wood with two smooth sides and two sides with bark). These are next rough cut with a chain saw to the shape of a specific futtock identified for replacement. The shipwrights mark the piece utilizing a template which accurately mirrors the shape of the old futtock and use the ships saw to execute a final cut. After planing the futtock is moved to the Morgan for installation.
Charles W. Morgan: The documentation crew will be measuring the exterior of the Morgan next week. There are twelve new futtocks in the vessel as of Friday the 19th. Progress has been faster since the shipwrights are nearly clear of the forward ceiling planks. These planks are newer and are locked in by the ice pointer assembly which the shipwrights do not want to remove. Fortunately, the futtocks closest to the keel are in good condition. These are original to the vessel and consist of two different fabrications. The first, called "naval timbers," are butt ended under the keelson. The second, called "floor timbers," are pieces which run under the keelson. The naval timbers and floor timbers are paired for strength. When the vessel was built the naval timbers and floor timbers were set in place and then the keelson erected over them. The upper butt ends of some of these futtocks will need to be cut off; but this is a far easier task than replacing the floor timbers which run under the keelson.
Charles W. Morgan: Five futtocks have been temporarily fastened with galvanized lag screws from the outside of the planking inwards. To facilitate replacement of framing in the stern, the remaining ceiling planks, which are newer dating from the Morgan's last major renovation in the 1980s, are being carefully removed. These will be reinstalled after the frames are restored. A similar effort forward won't be attempted because the ice pointers in the bow are new and the shipwrights don't want to disturb this work. The ice pointers consist of heavy timbers originally installed in the 1880's to reinforce the Morgan's bow for voyages to the Arctic.
Before too many more futtocks are replaced, the shipwrights will make another attempt to reduce the hog. Of the eleven inch hog, which existed at the start of restoration, approximately one half has been removed. This will be the final effort and another EDM measurement of the hull will be done to document Morgan's shape.
The keel bolts need to be x-rayed to determine their condition. As is standard practice, bids are being sought from three contractors and a decision is expected next week on the winning bid.
Charles W. Morgan: As of February 21st one futtock had been installed and a second was being installed that day. The process has been somewhat slow as there is a learning curve for the shipwrights and the location of the futtock near the bow creates its own special requirements. This is where newer ceiling planks have not been removed, and these need to be sprung so the futtock can be slipped in behind them. Also the shape of thehull in the bow necessitates a lot of beveling to ensure a proper fit.
The futtocks will be temporarily fastened with galvanized lag bolts and the existing trunnel holes filled with bungs. The bungs and the lag bolts will be subsequently removed and permanent trunnels put in place.
Mill work continues at a rapid pace. The ships saw at the south end of the open shed is fully operational. Two truckloads of yellow pine will be delivered shortly from Richmond, Virginia. It had been originally planned to mill these prior to delivery, but the pace of work dictates that they be shipped to the shipyard for milling.
Paint stripping by a dedicated crew of volunteers continues and painting of some components has started.
Charles W. Morgan: Feldman has finished scanning the lower part of the hold and is in the process of merging images of the upper and lower portions. Paul Haley, a ship's surveyor, will be visiting theMorgan to review progress to date. The shipwrights have replaced a portion of the scaffolding: and, on Friday they removed two futtocks from the same frame in the starboard bow. This is a major milestone in Morgan's restoration. Futtock replacement will commence soon. A brief note on technique: while the planking looks pretty good, a final assessment needs to be made. When the futtocks are replaced, planking will be temporarily affixed with galvanized lag bolts. Permanent installation will be done subsequently using trunnels.
Charles W. Morgan: Virtually all the old ceiling has been removed. Most of the remainder is newer and is at the ends. The shipwrights are evacuating debris between the frames. Although the items that have been found are new, all the refuse is being bagged and labeled for a later, more thorough evaluation. This coming Thursday Feldman will be on site to complete the laser based documentation of the hold. Once this is finished, frame replacement will commence. Rough cutting of the futtocks continues and live oak flitches are being sawn with the Lucas Mill and white oak is being cut on the circular saw. The utilization of two pieces of equipment is needed because live oak pieces are irregular in shape and the Lucas Mill is best suited for them. The white oak is straight and the circular saw works efficiently with these. The ships saw has been tested. With the addition of some more rollers it should be good to go. Paint scraping continues in a special heated, plastic shed assembled below the north end of the gallery. In anticipation of her sailing, shipyard personnel have commenced meeting with naval architects and engineers to create a stability testing regimen.
Charles W. Morgan: The parts of the vessel that are being scanned are those areas which will receive the greatest focus during this regime of restoration work. Nearly all of this work is in the lower hold; those elements are frames, ceiling, knees and some planking. Restoration will require much of this historic fabric to be replaced. In our effort to document the original construction details found in the vessel as fully as possible laser scanning is one of the tools we are using. We are also using conventional photography, digital photography, traditional measured drawings, sketches, video and the written word.
Laser Scanning will blend highly accurate measurements with three dimension expression of the space and the relationship among the various structural elements. It not only gives us a record of the vessel but has tremendous value as an educational tool describing the structure to those not familiar with traditional naval architectural drawings.
Laser Scanning the Hold
Charles W. Morgan: The shipwrights' current priority is to complete the documentation of the framing on the starboard side which is the next section we're going to remove. This is being accomplished by photographs and the use of a "laser cloud" technology. Laser cloud devices disperse multiple beams, essentially taking a picture of the hull from which line drawings are then produced.
We are also in documenting the trunnels which fasten the frames. Their location reveals the sequence in which the frames were assembled. Meanwhile the shipwrights are roughing out futtocks with a chain saw. The final cut will be made using a ships saw (large band saw). However, this final cut won't be made until the hog is fully remediated.
Work on the hog is currently on hold pending the installation of an I-beam under the stem to relieve stresses the jacking system places on the hull. The shipwrights believe this design will spread the weight of the vessel more evenly. As previously described the hog is being straightened by a simultaneous jacking up of the stem and stern while gravity works to lower the keel amidships. Once the shipwrights determine that enough of the hog has been repaired, the futtocks will be cut to fit.
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