A little bit of everything

One of the problems with taking photos on a boat that’s enclosed is that it’s impossible to step back for perspective shots. Those of us that work on the boat every day can glance at any of the progress photos and immediately know where they were taken. For everyone else, it may be tough to get oriented.

Luckily, there’s a beautiful scale model of the Morgan on display at the Visitor Reception Center, and we can use that here to give an overview of where we’re working. I’ll include some photos here, and they’ll also be available via a link in the left sidebar called Model Photos.

So, here’s the ship from bow to stern


Starboard Bow

Starboard Midships

Starboard Midships

Starboard Aft Quarter

Starboard Aft Quarter



The propeller will not be on the actual ship by the way…

And now, let’s look over some recent progress.

Up at the bow, planking is moving right along. Here’s a wide shot of this area.


Only 4 more planks left to go to close up the starboard whale strake section in this area. There are a few more to go on port, but the staging will have to be reconfigured to make room for the upper strakes.

Back at the stern, the planks sweeping up to the transom needed a little fairing. You can see that the curve has a little flat spot (arrow) where the planking was extra thick.


After fairing.


2013-IMG_5879That’s better.

After fairing, cedar feathers are added to close up gaps where the planks seams have opened.


Speaking of feathers, you can get some very nice feather shapes when cutting off the excess feather material if you have a good sharp chisel and approach the grain properly.


Just above that area, John has added another plank to the lower section of the transom.


You can see how sharp a transition it is from the vertical section of the transom to this section that angles down and towards the aft planking.


Evie has come by and caulked the upper transom planks,


the blue numbers remind her how many strands of oakum have been set in each seam. John is doing a little sanding on the lower planks before she works down in this area.

Looking at the port quarter, the frame that Walt had removed earlier has now been replaced.


(it’s the lighter one just to the right of the two metal pins, by the way)

Looking at this same area from another vantage point (the new light frame is in the foreground here), we can see Jeff’s latest plank being installed.

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Here’s something you haven’t seen up close before: a kerfed plank. Jeff’s plank had to made a wicked bend in a short span, and rather than risk it failing, he opted to kerf it. Kerfing is simply slicing a plank to create two thinner planks instead of one thick one. When a plank is kerfed, the slice only extends partway down the length of the plank, like this:


Thinner planks bend easier than thicker planks, and kerfing makes a thick plank bend as if it were thinner. When you bend a plank, the inner face of the plank makes a slightly smaller arc than the outer face. This means that either the outer surface of the plank has to stretch to cover the distance, or the inner face has to compress. Usually it’s both. The thicker the plank, the greater the radius differences between the two surfaces, and the greater the strain on the wood. Kerfing creates 4 surfaces instead of 2, with each radius being half the distance of the original.

Here’s how that plays out in real life.


This plank is 3 3/4″ thick before kerfing. You can see how the outer layer has lost about 1″ of length compared to the inner layer. If the plank wasn’t kerfed, the stresses that created that distance would be distributed throughout the plank. Sometimes it’s too much for the wood, and the plank splits on the outside face, or buckles on the inner face.

Up at the bow, Matt has finished installing the port cathead.


It’s attached with wrought iron drifts. One of the drift holes has a trunnel protruding from it, but I suspect that this is just a way to fill in an old drift hole. The trunnel is glued into the hole, and once the glue has dried, a new hole for an iron drift will be drilled in the same area. This assures that the new hole will fit the drift tightly.


Next up, a riser will be installed over the cap rail, capturing the cathead.


Roger is moving along well on the starboard cathead. He splits his time between making cad drawings of the boat and making wood shavings, so he can be forgiven for not being done…


Jamie has steam bent the shutter on the port bow waist section. Here, you can see that the new plank is clamped on top of the plank below it to set the shape.


Happily taking a short break after bending it in… phew, it didn’t break.


The next day, it went on like a dream. Sorry, no photo yet…

Walt has been making a 3-D pattern of the whale strakes at the port quarter.


He’s doing this because there is a tremendous amount of twist at the aft end of the plank, and some of that shape will have to carved out, rather than steam bent.

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Here’s the finished pattern on a piece of likely stock.


And to give you an idea of how much curve is back there, here’s a plank that was removed from the boat in this same area. It’s the dark grey one…


Down at the keel, Phil and Paul have been installing copper sheathing like there’s no tomorrow.


Here’s Paul cutting out the Irish felt that will go underneath the copper.


The sides have been done, and now the U-shaped bottom pieces are being installed. Dean has built a bending jig (known in the metalworking world as a brake) for this very purpose. He starts with a flat sheet, pre-punched for nailing.


He then makes one bend,


resets, and makes another,

2013-IMG_6002 2013-IMG_6004and… done.


It’s looking very nice down there.


The volunteers have been working steadily on stripping paint up around the bulwarks,


and towards the aft end of the boat.


And just about every day, another plank goes on. This one is on the starboard side midships, about halfway down the hull.


Matt pounds it forward to make sure that the forward butt joint is tight,


and in she goes.

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