Thursday, January 24, 2019

Patch Patchy

It's a delicate process. Take off too many pieces at once, or that one wrong piece, and the Hetch Hetchy will fall to bits. So now we have the rotted end panels pretty well affixed to the new bowpost and transom, and the boat somewhat twisted back into shape. I think we're solid enough to go after the rotted right side.
Wouldn't you know it. Keith Steele went ahead and nailed the outer gunwales on. With boat nails: little barbed bastards that will not come out until the wood rots away around them. They just break when you try to pull them out of solid wood. And, oh, he also glued the gunwale to the sidewall throughout the hard bend in front. These techniques work fine when you're jamming out a boat. Quick, clean, and looks fine. But for the poor sonofabitch that has to do the repairs, it's a nightmare. Pat is carefully jig-sawing his way between the gunwale and the sidewall here. (End of rant.)(For now.)

The bolts at the rib stations all rusted in two. Pretty easy to just twist the remaining parts out each side. Now with the gunwales off we can assess the ribwork. Most of them are fairly sound. We end up replacing three and scarfing new tops on about five more. The rest are fine.

But I'm thinking this side panel has done its duty.

There's a good story about this front end damage. 

1972. "That's the third boat of Martin's I wrecked!" recalls John Blaustein. "I hit in the hole at the top/middle of House Rock.  I went straight over the "hump" of water just above the hole and plunged dead-on into the hole.  There is a rock down there!  I hit the bow-post and it splintered it, along with the floor and parts of the sides.  You could open the bow hatch and crawl right out the front of the boat.  Pretty bad!  The boat and I were in pretty bad shape that afternoon and next morning." (Nice warming fire!)
And just a scant 47 years later we're going to fix it.

Laying up a new side panel on the floor while the boat waits off to the side. There wasn't enough of the gunwales to save, so we cut new Port Orford cedar ones and steam them up, clamp them on. This gives us enough strength to roll her over.

Gunwales off again. We were amazed to get that rotten sheet off in one pice.

We carefully transported it over to the lofting table to make a pattern.

With the shape and rib placements recorded, we install a new piece of wall art.

A new side panel is born, lines drawn, holes offset, drilled, and countersunk.

On with the icky sticky spooky.

And she's a boat again. Sort of. Closer, anyhow.

Gunwales clamped on again, and up she rolls.

Although the left side panel is in good shape, its ends are not. Time for a little scarf work

Off with the old, on with the new.

Cricket is checking to see if this is going to be her boat.

Off with a bit of the bow. For as funky a patch as this was, I've got to say, it somehow lasted a very long time.

A new front end. And it's even straight.

Oozy goop.

Scarf on a few new gunwale ends and voila! Note: we were able to peel back the rock guard just enough to scarf the new side in under it.

If you're really serious about restoring the Hetch Hetchy, you gots to wear the proper hat.

So here's the quandary. Why don't we replace everything? Or if we're going to do that, why not just build a new boat? It would be a lot easier. And faster. And cleaner. And would make for a stronger boat. Thing is, we are trying to resurrect this old piece of history. Every original part we can save is some sort of victory. Isn't it? Or is that just goofy?

Hint: there's no right answer.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Sketch Sketchy

The crew had their chance. It was 4:30. Time to knock of for the day. I told them to go home. "Or, if you'd like to start on Hetch Hetchy..." I added, mostly as a joke. And down she came.

We had a paint removal contest. Cricket with a multitool scraper, Pat with a blow torch and a putty knife, Bryan with some bad-ass paint and epoxy remover, and me with a seven-inch grinder and 36-grit disk. I won by a mile. 

We shifted priorities. "Let's just go for the seams and see if we can get a piece of decking off before dark," I said.

Dark schmark. Two hours later most of the decks were off.

I spent a couple hours the next day removing the last of the decks and seats.

Yesterday we hit her early in the morning. Well, ten o'clock is early in my shop. We pulled off the outer chines and removed all the fastenings for the bow post and transom.

To be honest, not much was holding them in. In the case of the bow post, there wasn't much left to hold.

Shawn rolling the bevel on the new transom.

Me trying to figure out what the hell is wrong with the back end of the boat.

We finally cranked the left side down toward the floor while jacking the right side up a full inch. Bingo. Perfect. That must have been quite an adventure putting that much twist in a boat. I'm trying to picture that kind of boat wreck. Ouch.

And of course the bow was a bit twisted too.

Once we got her pretty much aligned to what a boat should be, we set up measuring stations and recorded her lines for posterity.

Next we lofted the measurements to see if we were close. We were close on most of them but the lofting doesn't lie. A few dozen trips back and forth to the boat to double check numbers and finally the lines were fair.

And once again, time to go home. It's after seven. And once again, half an hour later we're all still standing there staring at it. Boatbuilding is a funny thing. There's usually so much to appreciate by the end of a day that you just can't break away.

There's also beer.

Cataract's Kitten, and Columbine

We finished up the run of wee dories around New Years. As usual, I felt the need to obsess. Here is the proportionally correct set of lines to match my Briggs dory, Cataract.

And a proportionally diminishing set off letters, of course. I just printed them out on my little Epson, cut them out (almost), and gave them a coat of spray glue.

Then I pressed them in place and cut off the bottom connecting bit. A coat of varnish and they look like the real thing.

Sometimes the mama carries the baby on her back.

Up against the wall. You actually have to stand in just the right place to see the paint job or the letters. But I do. Often.

Justin and Cricket's boat.

The Glen Canyon National Recreation Area boat.

Bryan's boat.

The bank account: we stickered and stacked the mountain of Port Orford cedar I got in barter for the Wild Child. It always looks like more than I can ever use. And then it's gone. Just like a bank account.

Okay. Back to full-size boats. Jeri brought in Columbine Falls for a bit of an upgrade. Tim Cooper built her back in the mid '80s and she's still in remarkably good shape. Jeri wanted flatter decks for sleeping, and more modern hatch lids and guttering for drier hatches.

Pat is blasting off the decks with a hammer Tim Cooper made out of Chinese Elm. Tim said the wood would not split or burn, so he made me a mallet. The thing is really bomber.

Thirty-year-old epoxy is pretty brittle. We had the side decks and framing off in under an hour.

All new Port Orford cedar guttered framework going in.

Never enough clamps.

 Glassing the gutters.

Lipped lids. I'd hoped to re-use more of the original lids but they were just a wee bit too small.

Latch holders for the new SouthCo latches.

Touching up the transom, cleaning up boogers. And clamping on reinforcement for the new lids.

Never, ever enough clamps.

Saving the heirloom sticker. Restore Glen Canyon.

We made the mistake of hoisting the boat when all the crew was there. One by one they kept finding bottom dings.

Putting a whole new twist on hand laminating.

Inventing tools to fiberglass the inside of a two-foot deep self-bailing drain. Against all odds, it worked.

Repainting the decks. We ran shy of paint about half a cup before finishing. Now waiting on a new can from George Kirby.