Tuesday, April 2, 2013

A swarm of woodies

We were on the water the day after the shop closed for the winter. Finally, after five months in the shop, we got to see what boats are actually for. Sure, they are fun to build, but they are even funner to float around in. Exhilarated? Yes. Exhausted? Yeah, that too. Completely. But pretty darned happy. Here's Moe, the mid-winter project, heading up the Colorado a few miles.

And here are Scott and Shawn on the maiden voyage of their new Rio Rojo, along with their friend Karlyn. She rows good, looks good, and feels ever-so-solid. 

Here is Andrew rowing Greg Loehr on Greg's new experimental hull, towing two of Greg's new creations, foam-core Stand Up Paddle boards. The boat is a cross between a McKenzie, a Rogue, and Greg's hull ideas from a lifetime designing and building surfboards. It feels great and turns on a dime. 

Greg also managed to corrupt most of the group with his SUP boards. Damn it--as if we didn't have enough vices already. Here's Marieke walking on water.

We had three original Briggs dories: Tim and Lori Cooper in the '72 Celilo Falls; RJ Johnson and Terri Merz in the '74 Surprise Canyon, and Andy Hutchinson in the '81 Cottonwood.


Dan and Alida Dierker were in their 2010 Briggs-Fletchwater, the Euphrates

We had two very different McKenzies: last winter's rebuild, the '67 Keith Steel Betty Boop, contrasting with our '07 Woodie Hindman replica, Juan. These were definitely the sports cars of the fleet.

Moe was the odd duck--a Nevills Cataract amid a swarm of drift boat hulls. As you see, no one liked her. Lora can barely conceal her dismay.

We spent many hours playing musical boat, comparing and contrasting the variety of hulls round and round the eddies. And a lot of time playing boat-ical music, with Lora on the fiddle, Andy on the banjo, our mad Alaskan David Grimes on the guitar, Marieke on percussion, and me on the bail-bucket bass. This is Andy's shot of Andrew, Alida, and David.

We failed to get out of camp before noon most days--mostly because no one had any inclination to.  We made up for it by camping early.

Fretwater Finale

Here are a few shots from the last few days of the '12-'13 building season. We'll start with our creative clamping workshop as we eased the chines onto Jim's Boop clone. Here we have the railroad holding two hanger clamps, which hold the chine up in its approximate location, while a third pulls it back down into precise position.

Here one clamp pulls the chine in to the hull, another pulls it down into position, a third clamp is reversed into a spreader to push it back up to the perfect spot. Meanwhile the Dave Frank memorial pipe wrench grabs the end of the chine, while a piece of fishing twine pulls the wrench down toward the fifty-pound weight, twisting the chine to the proper angle.

Gotta love clamps. We did a few more even higher on the bizarre clamping scale, but were too wrapped up in the process to document them all. Meanwhile Betty Boop came down from the loft to get ready for a float trip and we were able to roll the new hull out for a comparison. Did we get it right? Marieke and Jim seem to think so.


Back in the shop we break out the portable precision compound miter box to fine-tune the inner gunwales.

And the portable laser-sight to get the gunwale bolts true.

And the beat goes on. So do the gunwales.

Just in case, we lit up the Boop shrine.

Back on the Rio Rojo side of the shop we discovered that the portable compound miter box is also the 3/16" brass plate cutter. Yikes.

Those last touches really add something.

It's a wrap. We'll give Scott a while to break in the Rojo and do some tune-up a bit later in the season. But for now, she's out the door.

And down the road.

Jeez, what a fun winter.