Spar and metal work

There are 3 spars being worked on in the shop these days: the bowsprit, lower foremast, and main topmast.

We’ll cover the first two today.
Trev has finished with all the shaping of the bowsprit. Ali planed off the shellac that had been used to seal the wood, and painted everything.


Trev cut a sloped slot into the bowsprit to capture a line that loops around it.


On a mast, this would be called a hound. Not sure if the same nomenclature holds for the bowsprit.

Next, he makes up two blocks for the outboard end. I’ll try to get the names for these soon…

2013-IMG_8585 2013-IMG_8596 2013-IMG_8649

Each block is bedded in Dolfinite before being fastened down.

2013-IMG_8671 2013-IMG_8672 2013-IMG_8673

Bedding compounds fill up any small gaps in a joint where water could infiltrate and cause rot.

Next comes a series of through holes for hardware. In this photo, Jeff and Kevin are helping Trev guide a very long auger bit as he drills through the spar.


Jeff (right, leaning against the mast) is using a roofing square to establish a vertical line by sighting the lower horizontal along the block that Trev had just installed. He tells Trev if he needs to angle the drill forward or back along the spar. Kevin (hands held out) is sighting along a vertical stick attached to the end of the spar. He tells Trev if he needs to move the drill left or right to stay on center.

Once the hole is drilled, Trev expands and squares the sides of part of the hole to admit the hardware.

2013-IMG_8680 2013-IMG_8678

There are a number of these eyes to be installed.


You can see the bottoms of three of these eyes protruding from the spar.


They’ll be anchored in place with large washers and pins.

Lastly, the cap is fit to the end of the bowsprit.


This is a split cap, thus the clamps to hold the 2 halves in place. These will eventually be riveted together with long rods, peened over at each end.

The lower foremast has been getting some attention these past few weeks as well. The base of the mast has been slotted to fit over the mast step.


We use a worm-drive saw that has a 12″ long chain saw fitted to it. Since the mast has a 21″ diameter, this saw only makes it a little more than halfway through.  A small platform was attached to the top of the spar to provide a flat surface for the saw . The platform was marked with layout lines to guide the cuts. As the mast was cut, the platform was cut away as well.


This slot looks simple, but it has to be made accurately. It must be right on the center of the spar, the sides need to be just wide enough to accept the mast step without binding, and the base of the slot has a very slight angle so that the mast will cant properly.


With the old mast step in place.


The new step accurately copies this one. so a good fit here will equal a good fit in the boat.

A guide stick was made up to make sure that the angle of the slot was correct.

2013-IMG_8508 2013-IMG_8509

At the other end of the mast, the cheeks needed to be made to support the top. Here are the old cheeks in place.


The new cheeks are made of live oak.


They have a little stub tenon that goes into a mortise in the mast. These cheeks hold a lot of weight, and they need to be firmly anchored to the mast.

The tenons of the old cheeks had rotted, thus the new ones.


You can see the iron drifts that attached the cheek to the mast. There are two of these, each 1″ in diameter.

The cheeks go against the curve of the mast, so the inner surfaces have to be shaped to fit.


The cheeks also splay out slightly to fit up against the trestle trees (the large supports that underlie the top), so a guide block was made to make sure that the mortise was cut at just the right angle.


Mike has been working on the chafe guards that are let into the square section of the mast (aka the Doubling). Some of the wrought iron plates were cracked, so he used a torch and brazing rod to fill the cracks.


Just after brazing:


And with a little grinding, the repair just shows up as a thin strip of bronze-colored metal.


Mike and Ali have been doing a lot of work on the chain plates. These are the metal parts that tie the standing rigging to the hull of the ship. Despite their name, these chain plates are shaped rods, rather than flat metal plates. Here’s an old one.


Many of the older chain plates can be salvaged, but some had to be replaced. Here are Ali and Mike working on a new one. We’re coming in at the end of the process here. The chain plate has been formed with two loops, one at each end. The end with the smaller loop is heated in a forge,


and carried to the anvil, where Mike hammers the initial bend into it.

2013-IMG_8399 2013-IMG_8400 2013-IMG_8405 2013-IMG_8406

He uses a special rounded tool to work with the rod.

2013-IMG_8407 2013-IMG_8408

They quickly move to a jig that Mike has set up for creating a bend in the chain plate that is specific to the location of the particular part.

2013-IMG_8409 2013-IMG_8410 2013-IMG_8412

Mike clamps one end down to a pin on the jig, and Ali begins to heat the chain plate where the next bend will be.

2013-IMG_8414 2013-IMG_8417

Mike clamps some flat stock onto the chain plate to make sure that the two rods move as one.


When the metal has reached the proper temperature, Mike slowly bends the chain plate down along the jig.

2013-IMG_8423 2013-IMG_8425 2013-IMG_8427

Checking the bend.


A little more heat.


Another clamp to hold this section of the bend.


Some more heat to help the bend along.


And one last clamp to hold it in place.


Now it can cool in exactly the right position.


More soon!