Tag Archives: boat builder

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How to fit gunwale cappings; Nick Smith fits them to the motor launch Mona Louise

Boat builder Nick Smith took these photos as he fitted the gunwale cappings onto Mona Louise, the new West Country-style motor launch he is building for a client. For an earlier post on this topic click here, and to  see his website or contact him, click here.

Here’s what he says:

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‘I fit the aft ones first, and scarph joint them so that scarph is ‘trailing’ – back in the day before good glues were available, if the edge of the scarph lifted it would not snag on ropes or lines running back along the side of the boat.

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‘Cutting the scarph joint on the bench, I use a lip scarph for certain structural members, while planking, oars and other spars especially those that have circular or oval sections use feather-edge scarphs.

‘I make them using a combination of paring chisels, block plane, rabbet plane and, more recently, a sanding block made of plywood with 60 or 80 grit glued with spray contact adhesive – using that to finish off gets right up to the lip, sands flat and roughs up the surface to key the glue.

‘I use epoxy resin to glue most things where glueing is appropriate – I have been using it since the mid eighties with great success and so I am sticking with it. [Yes, we noticed what you did there! - Ed]

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‘Years ago when using less resorcinol glues, the capping would also be nailed down with small copper boat nails, the head would be ‘bradded’ to make it smaller, that is flattened on an iron (or dolly) held in the vice and hit with a hammer, then when nailed it was punched-in below the surface of the wood and stopped in with putty. It was a nasty sort of process, and so instead I began to use 6 gauge screws with the heads countersunk and plugged using a dowel or a pellet. But now I use the epoxy glue only – the result is strong, there are no fixings involved and the work looks clean and neat.

‘See the transverse clamps, holding blocks with parcel tape on them (non stick) to keep the inside edge of the capping flush with the inside edge of the gun’l. I bevelled the inside edge of the capping in advance; the bevel changes throughout its length.

‘I have also as you can see masked the top edge of the gun’l and topstrake so any glue drips are not on the varnish. It’s a lot of fuss, fiddle and time for a relatively small piece of wood, but it has to be right. The outside edge will be trimmed off with a block plane when the glue has cured.

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‘Taking the bevel off the gun’l and offering it up to the capping, then the capping is held in the vice and appropriate amount of wood shaved off with a sharp block plane. It’s partly by geometry and partly by eye.

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‘A neat way of transferring the topstrake edge to the top of the capping.

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‘Port and starboard cappings glued down; you can never have too many clamps in boat building. Tomorrow when the glue has cured I can release the clamps, trim up the edges and scarph and fit the forward pieces.

‘The increase in gun’l stiffness after fitting the cappings is marked – it’s like a rigid box section all the way around the sheer. I have also glued douglas fir packing chocks between each frame sandwiched between the topstrake and gun’l for extra strength, as the launch is to be a davit tender and will spend time slung over the side of the ship in choppy weather and otherwise stowed on chocks on deck.

‘These boats are labour intensive to build as we know, and as you can see. The working time for one of my sixteen footers is 660 man hours and for a twenty footer 880 man hours. But I love the work.’

Well, that’s good to hear. Thanks for an interesting post Nick!

Marcus Lewis yard news – including a nice Wattie-built rowing boat

Fowey boatbuilder Marcus Lewis has been in touch with news from his boatyard – including a sweet little Wattie-built rowing boat of just 13ft – so sweet that I wonder whether its hull has been measured for offsets for future use. Here’s what he has to say:

‘Apart from the usual laying up and bits and pieces in the autumn, we had in a 13ft rowing boat that is at least 80 years old in for some woodwork jobs. At one point it seems she had a 1.5 Stuart Turner fitted, but later removed.

‘She was built and used by Billy Watty, brother to the original Troy Class boatbuilder, Archie Watty, and is still owned by a relation. We fitted a new thwart, new stringers, a couple of ribs and some new floorboards and a rubbing strake.

‘She’s a lovely shaped little boat. Billy Watty and his brother Brice built small boats further up the river Fowey at Mixtow, with Brice living on board a houseboat. (See the houseboat photo above.)

‘We also had in a 16ft sailing dinghy, built by Dickie George in 1963, at Restronguet, on the Fal. Jenny was well used initially, but then spent quite a few years under a cover in the corner of a field, and is now owned by Ian and Eve Heard.

‘Ian is a maritime historian and illustrator and artist, and son of Terry Heard of Gaffers and Luggers at Mylor.

‘Jenny was in a bit of a state, and after stripping off all the paint inside and out, she was re-timbered from stern to foredeck, had a new transom fitted, her keel was eased back up to the transom to return the original rocker, all the seats and stringers out, cleaned up or replaced as necessary, and we altered the decks and coamings to the sketch we were supplied with and repainted.

‘Just before christmas we started the construction of a new Fowey River dinghy – photos of that will follow at some point.

‘We also have a customer’s 14ft motor boat, Gandy, with 1.5hp Stuart Turner engine for sale.

‘Originally a hire boat on the river, she looks a bit rough after suffering in the autumn gales, but has a fairly sound hull and her engine has worked recently. She has been retimbered with new stringers and gunnels, and has had new foredeck in recent years.

‘Gandy would make a good little project – she just needs painting and some engine tinkering, and is on offer at around £650.’

Highlights of the 2013 season of Troy racing

Film of the Troy class racing at Fowey during last season – my thanks to Troy and Fowey River dinghy builder Marcus Lewis.