A lot of catching up!

Let’s start with some of the activity down in the hold recently.

Jamie has been building a shelf that will hold ballast down in the stern of the boat.

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Ali has been spraying a borate salt solution around the hold.

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This is a regular task around the boat. Got some free time, spray a little borate.

Rob, Paul, and Matt have been working on the ballast and limber system.

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Limber holes in a boat are passages that allow water to freely flow between frame bays at the bottom of the boat. The may be actual fore-aft holes in the frames, or they may simply be a gap between the frames and the keelson. You want water to freely flow through the bilges because it will go to the lowest point in the boat where it can be pumped out. If it couldn’t flow, water could be trapped and stand indefinitely in one area of the boat and cause rot. We want to make sure that the ballast can’t shift and drop down into the limbers, thus blocking the flow of water. Thus the drainage pipe.

Rob has installed a clean-out cord down through the center of the pipe. If debris clog the pipe, the cord can pull through a rag or other object to clear the pipe.

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Here’s the installed pipe with some lead ingots on top.

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This arrangement will allow the ballast to be stacked up around the pipe while making sure that the limbers are always clear.

The crew has moved the concrete ballast from below the forward hatch to amidships. Ryan is cleaning up the area where the blocks were to minimize the amount of sand and grit that otherwise would make its way down to the bilge.

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Moving up one deck, Bob has been working on the head units.

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I think we’d all agree that modern toilet facilities are a non-negotiable feature on a vessel at sea, even if they bear no resemblance to the original privies that emptied waste over the side. These units are designed to be removable so that when the boat is back home we can take them out and present the boat in a more original format.

And up to the deck, Ali and Evie have joined forces to continue stripping paint.

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Those slots to the right of Ali are where the points of the harpoons go when they’re stored overhead.

John has been working on fitting the upper breast hook.

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There’s good news, and bad news. The good news is that he’s developed an excellent system to both hold the breasthook in place and allow it to slide back for fitting. The bad news is that the part has too much curve to it and it doesn’t fit tightly under the cap at the ends.

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This is one of those situations that every builder experiences, and they all hate it. The question is whether to try to fix the part, perhaps making do with a patch or scarf in an effort to save the previous work and materials, or to start over.

John bit the bullet and started over with a fresh piece of wood. The new piece is a beast, and has already claimed one of the Lucas Mill’s chains. You can see the chain hanging down to the left.

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It’s a pain, but the final product will be right.

Matt has picked up where he left off on the gammon knees.

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he has tacked some supports to the boat to hold the piece in position as he trims and fits it.

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The other Matt, an IYRS student intern finished up his summer internship working on one of the dories at the museum. He’s patterned off and replaced the outer stem.

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Matt has a knack for turning wood as well, and he’s made a whole pile of thole pins
for the museum’s dories.

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Nice.

He’s back at IYRS now, finishing up his 2nd year.

Trev has been putting the finishing touches on the bowsprit. Here, he’s using a sander to clean up the rounded areas.

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Once the shaping is done, he’ll begin adding the various wooden and metal parts that attach to the bowsprit.

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More on that soon.

The bowsprit is a massive timber, but it’s not particularly long. A jibbom is added to the top of the bowsprit to extend it and provide attachments for the various foresails.

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The riggers have been working steadily on the standing rigging over at the rope walk. They’ve been doing this for ages and it’s high time that they got a little blog love.

Here are Howard, Sarah and Alex with a cart full of old worming and parceling.

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Perhaps you’ve heard the instruction, “Worm and parcel with the lay, turn and serve the other way.” Here’s what they’re talking about. Worming, parceling and serving are used together to seal and protect rigging from the elements. It was (and still is) also done with hemp rope, but in our case the rigging is wire rope.

First, they’ve stripped and cleaned the old rigging (thus the cart full of stuff) and spent hours and hours wire-brushing the bare wire rope. Here are Sarah and Alex.

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This is slow work.

NOTE TO ALL PROFESSIONAL RIGGERS:
The following is an explanation done to the best of my current understanding of rigging and rigging terminology. We’ve got some stellar riggers here at the seaport who would handily do a better job at this than me, but they’re not at my house right now, even though I have beer. So here goes… First a photo showing worming, parcelling, and serving.

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Let’s break this down. Once cleaned, the riggers lay in worming along the channel (the “lay”) formed between the bundles of smaller wires that make up the rope. The worming acts to take up space and make the shape rounder in cross section. The worming travels along following the lay (thus, “worm and parcel with the lay”) as opposed to crossing the lay. Here’s the worming from the above photo.

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Next comes the parceling. The parceling is a long strip of canvas cloth wrapped around the rigging so that it overlaps itself, not unlike handlebar tape on a bike or grip tape on a hockey stick. The parceling is also wrapped along the lay (remember?). This means that the overlaps go along the lay of the rigging.

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The parceling is held in place with thin cord cinched down in a running stitch.

Once the parceling is done, the serving is applied. Serving is a pine-tarred hemp twine that’s wrapped very tightly around the parceling.

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The riggers use a tool called a serving mallet to apply the service with a consistent pressure.  The mallet is spun around the wire rope, now going against the lay. As it goes, it pays out the serving twine and wraps it tightly around the wire rope. Sarah coats the parceling with tar just ahead of the service.

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As the service is applied, it squeezes the tar down through the parceling and into the strands of the wire rope, sealing and protecting it from moisture.  The service also provides a degree of chafe resistance as well.

As she goes, Sarah uses cardboard draped over the rigging to keep her from becoming a tarry mess.

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It helps, some.

The foremast work is moving along steadily. Just above the top (the big platform) the corners of the doubling have wrought iron chafe plates let in. Here’s the old mast:

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and the old chafe plates.

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Some of the standing rigging loops around the mast here, and without the chafe plates to spread the load, the rigging would crush into the wood. Besides looking awful, that crushing opens up the wood to water infiltration and the jagged splinters wear away the leather chafe protection on the rigging, opening that up to water damage as well.

The chafe guards are let into the mast. Even though they were bedded, water had clearly gotten in behind the guards and caused some rusting.

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The rust and old paint was sandblasted off of the old guards.

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Some of the guards were cracked, perhaps from cold bending them. We suspect that these are original to the boat because they’re wrought iron and they show substantial signs of wear. We’ll braze the cracks to decrease water infiltration but otherwise re-install them on the new spar just at they are.

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We’re replacing the main topmast, and Walt has been working on this lately. The turned spar that we received from the Spar Shop is on the left and the older one that he is copying is on the right.

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And in case you were wondering what the plug is at the end of the older topmast…

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The end grain is the most vulnerable area of any piece of wood. This is the place where water enters and leaves the wood easily. When water leaves the wood quickly (say, when the wood is drying in the sun), the rapid moisture change causes shrinking and checking. When water enters the wood, rot starts to take hold. The top of these masts can act like rain-catchers, and are naturally prone to rot. One way of dealing with this is to drill a hole into the top of the mast and pour preservatives down into the hole from time to time. The hole is sealed with the plug that you see to minimize water infiltration. We’re not convinced that this is a great strategy, and we’re probably not going to repeat this process with the newer spars. Instead, we’ll do our best to seal the tops of the masts and regularly treat the end grain with borate salts.

More on the spars soon.