Tag Archives: the grove woodworking school

Move ‘er on out!

Anyone know what to do with 100+ year-old caulking? It's got to go somewhere...

Anyone know what to do with 100+ year-old caulking? It’s got to go somewhere… Maybe in this box for now.

Big things afoot – or rather – atrailer, this week. Dorothy is getting ready to be moved out of Tony’s shop and into the yard for two reasons: a) the boatbuilder needs his shop back for a course beginning this Saturday, and b) the boat needs to get re-hydrated in preparation for re-caulking.

(Side note about “the yard”: there is an unwritten rule that a boatbuilder’s yard is to have no less than 3 inactive vessels at any one time. At this moment, Tony’s tiny acre is bristling with a 26-ft Folkboat, a 32-ft replanked but uncaulked West coast fishboat, 15-ft wooden sailboat, a ’65 Dodge van, a silver Avion “toaster” under repair, 2 working Subarus, and several hulls of varying condition and degradation. It’s not a mess, really, but a comfortable raft of boaty sculptures that Dorothy will be joining.)

Tony and Dorothy with the little 8-foot plywood pram Families will be building next week.

Tony and Dorothy with the little 8-foot plywood pram that 4 families will be building next week.

The first reason Dorothy has to move from her cozy and dry berth is that Tony’s shop will be full due to a Family Boatbuilding course, when 4 teams will each make an 8-foot Sabot pram in 4 days (sounds like a reality show!) Who knew you could build a boat in 4 days? We’re on Day 881 of restoring Dorothy (not even the entire restoration – that is just the time Tony has had her) and that’s the sum total of my (Tobi’s) experience building boats. So now we’ll see the reverse and how fast it can go!

As for the reason b) for getting her out of the shop, the basic premise is this: a wooden boat that hasn’t touched water for 10 years is likely to have wood with drastically lower-than-ideal moisture levels. In Dorothy’s case, her wood moisture content is around 8%, when it should ideally be about 16-20%. If she were to be re-caulked (cotton stuffed between her planks) with her wood so dry, and then put in the water, that thirsty wood will soak up so much water her seams would clamp shut much tighter than you would wish. 

So Tony’s challenge is to figure out how to wet her down in his yard and re-hydrate her to the point that she can be gently re-caulked, before returning to the sea to soak up more salt water (which, if you remember your Grade 10 chemistry, is a preservative for wood and one of the reasons for the name for this documentary “Between Wood and Water”).

How he’s going to hydrate her? Well I’ll have to save some details for the documentary…

Til next time,
Tobi and Tony, Dorothy and various wee boats

Forward floors and keel – done!

Drilling-to-fix-floors-to-the-keel

A major watershed in Dorothy‘s restoration was reached today as Tony drilled 4 silicon bronze bolts into the new floor straps, fixing them firmly to the keel. (see above. Below are the forward floors as viewed from the hatch last May, with mast step removed.)

Forward-floors-before-restoration

This structural repair up forward has been a long-thought through process that began last April (see photos in this news update) as Tony ripped out the floor and straps, pried up the mast step, knocked out the galvanized bolts that were loosely knocking about in half inch holes because the metals had corroded the wood, and began seriously contemplating how to pull together lap joint that had become separated by about 3/8th” from the keel and stem – if it were even possible…

Tony-looks-at-the-floors-and-keelThis last piece of business is quite serious, because all of Dorothy’s spot repairs over the years have been done around this separated lap joint, like muscle tissue building up around an arthritic joint. In fact, Tony expressed his doubts on video last April, saying, “This gap had probably been here a very long time. And someone’s done repair planking, and everything’s been built around that gap, so there’s no way I can actually even cinch that together, to get it back in place. Which is… unfortunate. But I really wish I could cinch this – so these two gaps close together.”

Tony-points-out-gaps-in-lapjointSo the question last May was, if he succeeded in pulling together this lap joint, would that adversely affect the structure built around it? And how could one go about pulling together such a massive gap?

Well, if you know anything about Tony Grove, you should know that he’s incredibly innovative and not afraid to try something he’s never seen work before. So here is the story in pictures, with comments by Tony as he tackled this particularly interesting challenge:

1. The keel bolts and floor/straps holding the lap joint (which connects the keel and stem) were holding no more, and a gap incurred over time with the other repairs around it serving to maintain the gap.

Showing space between keel and stem-Tony Grove

Comealong-and-temporary-bolts

2. The lap joint had spread apart over time and I wasn’t sure it could be pulled back into place. However, I came up with a plan to use two 3/4 in. bolts and a shackle threaded on the outside on either end of the lap joint, this allowed the use of a comealong to pull the 3/8 gap into place. Once this was accomplished I was pleased to see that all the pieces in that area fell nicely back into their original positions.

3. The floor timbers and floor straps all had various form of rot in the forward area around the lap joint. I replaced them with new white oak and that was steamed or cut into shape. The orange colour is just a red lead primer.

4. I then replaced the lap joint keel bolts up forward by first drilling bigger holes in where the original 1/2 in. iron bolts had been. The holes in the wood had enlarged from the old bolts and electrochemical decay. The new bolts are 5/8 in. silicon bronze.

The 3/4 in. bronze bolt holding the forward end of the lead ballast was in good shape so was set back into the boat through a new floor timber.

5. The front end of the lead ballast used to have a wedge in to help fair it, and it must have been banged off at some point. That has been replaced with a new piece of white oak.

So there you have it! One comealong, a few shackles and some bronze bolts later, Dorothy‘s forward area is coming together beautifully. You should come by and see her before she’s all sewn up. It’s going to go fast from this point forward as Tony dedicates himself to getting Dorothy finished this winter.

After all, he’s going to need his shop back for the courses he’s teaching next spring and summer. If you haven’t read up about the new adventures in “The Grove Woodworking School”, head on over to his website to find out what’s happening.

Til next time, T n’ T

Tony-imitates-cinching-comealong