Shaping the outer stem

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.