Thursday, June 23, 2016

Twelve great hours

We ran nine to nine today and got the danged gunwales on. Oh My God. There's really no other day in small boatbuilding like getting the gunwales on. No more startling or gratifying moment than when you stand back and look at the finished hull in all tis glory.

Oh--first things first: and no more terrifying moment than settling on the final sheer line and cutting it. Sheesh.

Heather preparing to prepare the walnut gunwales: rout, sand, oil.

Then it's all hands on deck and nobody remembering to take pictures. Making the grueling inner gunwale cuts. Making sure it is properly seating all along its length. Getting the outwale clamped on. Then bolt by bolt, trying to get them on just so. Then the marathon belt sanding, routing, sanding, sanding, vacuuming, oiling and rubbing down. Then standing back and wondering how it got to be nine o'clock at night.

 Like I said yesterday, like framing a fine painting. Like I said yesterday, POW.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Betwixt trips

Whalen, our road warrior extraordinaire, takes seriously his job driving us to and from the river.There's always a new adventure along the way. A pool party on old 66. 

Another pool party on not quite as old 89.

A datura at Lee's Ferry made me stop dorking with my telephone and use it as a camera.

On a research project one evening--a different view of Doris Camp.

But mostly I forget to take my camera out on the river. That's okay, I guess. Plenty of other folks are taking plenty of pictures. Meanwhile, as the Canyon heats up I get to play a bit in the shop. Here's an ER patient--this poor aluminum dory hit the wall in Crystal and scraped off her gunwales.

All better.

And finally back to the main project. Janek and I spent a few days milling and steam-bending wee strips of white oak and laminating up ribs for the new Dion Swampscott Dory.

We went ahead and laminated them inside the boat, which makes them fit nicely but is a severe clamping challenge. We employed many heavy things, many clamps, and many more inside-out clamps acting as spreaders.

Janek had to count them. We ran out at 105 clamps.

This is what they look like after the epoxy kicks.

A bit of grinding, routing, sanding and oiling. And they're in. Four big full ribs, and five pairs of smaller half-ribs.

Meanwhile we have rebuilt the planer, rebuilt and trouble-shot the new old 18" band saw,  re-bladed the table saw, and put all new abrasives on the stationary mega-sander. We mean business. Tonight the freshly steam-bent walnut gunwales are getting glued up. 

Tomorrow ought to be really fun: determining the final sheer and bolting on the sexy gunwales. Like framing a lovely painting. Pow.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Proper Dory Colors

When former Nevills boatman P.T. Reilly built his new pair of cataract boats in 1955, he asked his neighbor, Harper Goff, what colors might look best in Grand Canyon. Harper Goff was a good person to ask. 

A few years earlier Goff was in London, shopping for antique model trains. The one he wanted had already been promised to another customer, whom Goff met that evening: Walt Disney. A friendship developed and Disney soon hired Goff as a set designer and art director. Many of the buildings in  Disneyland's Main Street USA were modeled on Goff's childhood hometown, Fort Collins. And shortly before Reilly consulted him, Goff had completed designing the award-winning 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Goff's Victorian futuristic Nautilus, both inside and out, have since been credited as the foundation of the Steam Punk phenomenon.

Goff later went on to design such iconic films as Fantastic Voyage and Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory. And he was the whistling banjo player in Disneyland's Dixieland jazz band, the Firehouse Five Plus Two. But I digress. But before I regress you really should check these guys out: Red River Valley And Firehouse Stomp.

Where was I? Oh, right. Proper Dory Colors. Harper Goff chose three colors that he felt would be perfect in the canyon setting: Refrigerator White, Cadillac Aztec Red, and Willys Beryl Green. Reilly went with it, and the boats looked great.

So great, in fact, that Reilly's protege, Martin Litton, adopted the tri-color scheme for his fledgling commercial venture, Grand Canyon Dories.

Until 1987, when Litton sold Grand Canyon Dories, those were the three colors we used. Here is Rudi Petschek's photo of eighteen of Martin's fleet lines up at Phantom Ranch beach in the 1980s. By then Cadillac no longer made Aztec Red, Willys had gone out of business, and we often went with whatever red, white and aqua/green seemed right.

But with the sale of Grand Canyon Dories many things changed, and the successor's fleet is a wild assortment of unrelated hues. I miss the the fleet colors. So much so, that last week I finally tracked down (on eBay of course) the original paint chips.

Refrigerator White was a bit of a puzzler, so I decided to go with white refrigerator touch-up paint.  It says "refrigerators" right on it. And it's white.

I packaged them up and sent them off to George Kirby Jr. Paint Co. to replicate and keep the formulas on my Rolodex card on George's desk. So if you should ever want to paint your dory the proper colors, give George a call.

And download a few albums of the Firehouse Five Plus Two to play while you're painting your dory. It's the right thing to do.

Moving along

I am back from my first trip of the year, and my first dory flip in many years. (Hermit, fifth wave, of course). Somehow I forgot to take pictures except at the put-in and take-out. 

Five dories ready to leave Lee's Ferry.

Moonlight on the Colorado that evening.

And a festive ride out Diamond Creek at trip's end. It was the eleventh annual Dories and Stories trip, and, I am told, the last. Sigh.  But it was a great run. 

I got a postcard from our little Bank Dory, Ruby, safe in her home on Friendship Long Island in Maine. Lora is living a few hours away now, though, so Ruby is going to see a lot more boating than she has of late.

Dr. John showed up to work on the Dion Swampscott Dory we are building him.

We were able to hang the binder and sheer strakes this week.

And glass her bottom.

And roll her right-side up.

Last night we glassed the inside of her belly. I am off downriver again tomorrow. We'll start building ribs when I return.

Meanwhile, the new generation of double dory trailer is birthing. She went off to the welder today. Very exciting.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Last call on the Dory Story trip

We're putting the boatshop on hold for a while for the river season to begin. Time to stop making boats and start rowing them. We'll be back in the shop intermittently throughout the summer.

Last call on the annual Dories and Stories trip. We have tales to tell and five dories to make more stories with. Go ahead and be impulsive. You don't have to be in Flagstaff until Wednesday. After dinner. Plenty of time.

My page on the trip:
Dories and Stories

And did I mention the first six day section is on sale?
$400+ off on the upper section!
See you there!

My favorite Tom Tavee photo from our first Dories and Stories trip back in aught seven.

Sharp things

Our afternoon tool workshop with Harry Bryan went extremely well, with about a dozen folks showing up to learn more about sharp things. Planes, chisels, spokeshaves, drawknives, slicks, scrapers, and saws. And, of course,  pencils. Harry can expound on any of these things for a good week and we had but four hours. And even though I have spent a week learning from Harry back in Maine, I still picked up a tremendous amount that had passed right on out the other ear in previous iterations. 

Harry and Martha stayed for dinner with their traveling companions, and I put them on the train later that night. What a delight and honor to have them here. (Thanks Lora, Heather, and Deanna for the pictures.)

My college roomie Larry stopped in for a few days with his sad open dory. It had some serious floor issues. A bit of rot, some wicked warping, and a major detachment issue. We got 'er back together though and still had time to address one of the culprits in the boat's sad state: an ill-fitting trailer. All's well now, and I believe that boat will live a much longer, happier life.

Janek and I finished making the last of about three dozen copper hats for the protruding beam ends on my house. They should have been protected a few decades ago, and have suffered badly as a result. Better late than never. I guess.

The big Swampscott dory is about half done, but we put the brakes on for a while in order to wait for her owner, John, to get off the river and be part of the construction. She's a beauty. More on that later. Meanwhile, back to the drawing board, under the watchful eye of Martin Litton.