Saturday, September 14, 2013

Working Under the Midnight Sun

Emerald Marine's Traveling Contingent 

Alaska, June 2009

Dan Strickland's 1968 built Alaska Troller, Bella Flora was in need of some serious work.  Andy calls long time friends and associates Scotty Kimmit and Meghan King to meet in Homer for a marathon session  replacing frames, re-planking, and patching bulwarks as necessary.  This being an Alaska boat, the waterline is sheathed in hardwood for ice protection.  Much of the rot damage was occurring beneath this sheath.  Months of planning and preparation included a written estimate including labor and materials without having seen the boat in person, as it were, relying on emails, pictures, and other accounts of the boat's condition.  Arrangements, including the  purchase of all the lumber and  supplies such as  fasteners, caulking, red lead and seam compound were made up in antcipation of the job going as planned.  By mid June the tickets were purchased and tools that were boxed up to arrive in a timely fashion on a shipping barge. The crew was met by Dan at the Anchorage airport, they rented a truck, and met up with the barge.

Larch for planking and oak frames, precut

The main issues for Bella Flora was a confluence of improperly installed and ill fastened ice sheeting  non-compatible metals resulting in moisture damage and galvanic corrosion.
After spending the previous evening and setting up, the deconstruction began using chainsaw, chisels and prying tools.  The majority of the work was beneath the waterline in the bow so planks were removed and the extent of the damage was revealed.  A full decision on whether or not work would continue was dependent on the results of this view.  The hope being that the damage wasn't so extensive that  the repair would take too long or be too expensive.  The decision was made and the job was given the go ahead.

Setting up the steam box
Marking the planking for removal
Hot frame going in!
Sister frames were bent in as needed, shoring up the breaks. The original frames were made useful by plugging the  nail holes with wooden nails, stuck in with epoxy.   
New planks, note the shoring at the stem to hold in the plank ends
Job Mascot is seen here and above.  Buzzy Bee participated in most aspects of the work.

Between the original planking Bella Flora looked a bit like a chicken with pin feathers sticking out.  After the wood nails were cut off,  patterning for planking began, the first planks were cut and shaped, fit, fastened and bunged. Plank stock was 1 1/4 thick.

Fairing to port, caulking to starboard

Dan's boys Obie and Duney help out on the project, fastening purple heart ice sheathing.
A great crew!

By June 26, 10 days after commencing, the crew was caulking and the next day, Dan and his boys were helping fill the seams with underwater compound.  In fact Dan and the Strickland boys were handily involved in a lot of the work.  Other work:  Oakum was caulked into a few stern seams, the purple heart sheathing was fit along the waterline and the bow sheeting ( the iron bark was saved and reused) was fastened up as well.

To apply workboat ice-sheathing, a healthy bedding of tar is applied over red lead, then Irish felt is sealed in behind the iron bark planks. Irish felt is a linen product often pre-impregnated with tar.

Averaging 13 hour days for twelve days, they were ready for some refreshment

Looking new!

Working boat Bella Flora loaded with beach debris in Hallo Bay, on the Katmai Coast as part of Alaska's costal clean up effort 

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Holding it Together

Two little pictures I've had waiting in the wings for awhile.  I was going to build a long post on the importance of the all the right conditions for creating lasting bonds in boat carpentry but it is a dry topic with lots of slippery facts and even if I blow the dust off all I know just from careful observation over the years I might get stuck creating embarrassing metaphors.

Not even the biggest clamp in the shop
Maybe the smallest "C" clamp in the shop