Tag Archives: clinker

Nick Smith’s boats at this year’s Beale Park Boat and Outdoor Show

Salcombe-trained traditional boat builder Nick Smith has sent over a few photographs of two of his West Country style motor launches that he built, and one constructed to his lines that appeared at this year’s Beale Park Boat and Outdoor Show.

The collection above are of Moiety (1992, finished bright) and Puffin (2008, steam launch with a white hull), which were brought to the show by their owners.

Also, Richard Pease, who took early retirement to build boats exhibited his 17ft 6in larch motor launch built to my lines plans as used for Moiety in the amateur boatbuilders competition – and won the ‘Most professional home build’ with his boat Curlew.

Nick points out that the photo shows clearly that Richard’s sheer and fit out are quite different to his own.

Thanks Nick, and congratulations Richard!

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Nick Smith makes more progress on his latest 16ft West Country style clinker motor launch

Salcombe-trained traditional boat builder Nick Smith has sent over more photos of his progress on his increasingly pretty current project, a 16ft clinker motor launch named Mona Louise. Here’s what he says:

‘The sole boards are finished and are now being coated up, Douglas fir with grey Danboline paint. Aft locker shelves have been fitted, and as you see old style bow sheet inside the for’ard locker. It’s NOT plywood but khaya planks and ledges copper nailed, and then on the underside is ‘layed over’ (this is Devon-speak – it’s also colloquially known as ‘clenched’ in some places) .

‘I collected the custom-made stainless skeg this morning, so fitted that. It takes the bottom rudder hanging in way of the propeller thrust, and also allows any submerged rope to run past the keel and not get snagged on the prop - that’s the theory anyway.

‘Then I fitted the top pintle , dropped-in the rudder straps and offered up my standard rudder template and transferred the information from boat to template.

‘Then I faked up the tiller length and position too. Happy with that, I machined up the sapele for the blade and cheeks, lined out the blade and glued it up. Tomorrow I’ll release it, work it up, fit the straps and cheeks and start the tiller.

‘The khaya engine box sides have been glued up , so that’s another imminent job too. I’ve also fitted the exhaust and waterlock, and the control cables and built the gear lever panel.

‘After that, the next task is to remove all bits so that I can access the painting of the bilge and varnishing of the inside. The side benches are fitted and will be removed for varnishing also.

‘I’ll remove the bracing this week and cut off the ears on the transom, so that I can then fit the rubbing strakes and whiskers, screw on the keel band and the stem band.

‘The fuel tank is yet to go in, but the sea cock is done.

‘On other jobs; the forward davit lifting eye and strut are yet tio be fitted as is the foredeck cleat and fairleads, the float pump and all wiring, battery box, and another five coats of varnish! It won’t take five minutes… ‘

For more posts relating to Nick Smith’s boat building work, click here.

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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!

Nick Smith builds a 17ft clinker motor launch

Nick Smith is building a 17ft khaya motor launch for a Swedish customer based in San Francisco, who is having a hundred foot-plus steel sailing yacht built in Rotterdam. Mona Louise is to be one of his davit tenders.

Read about Nick here.

Here’s what Nick says about the project:

‘I am fitting twin lifting eyes on the transom, while the forward purchase is a bronze strut bolted through the keel and apron, and through the foredeck to a bronze shackle eye.
‘I have fitted the very popular and reliable 2YM Yanmar 15 hp twin diesel inboard.
‘Drilling for the stern tube is a job I have done many times but always requires total concentration.
‘The after davit lifting eye arrangement, transfers the weight through the transom to the keel. The area under the after deck has been properly coated, due to the amount of condensation the wood is exposed to.
‘The decks have been fed with a mixture of white spirit and boiled linseed oil; it’s 6mm iroko planking laid on a 6mm marine ply subdeck, glued with epoxy, and payed with a polyurethane rubberoid compound. The khaya mahogany king plank and cover boards are to be to be fully varnished.’

HJ Mears Boat Builders work on a mahogany 25ft clinker-built motor launch

Alex Mears of HJ Mears & Son of Seaton in Devon has written to say that the 25ft mahogany clinker built motor launch they’re working on, Tarka, is coming along well.

You don’t see boats like this too often!

‘I’ve attached some photos of where she’s at currently. The owner has added a fair few extras compared to the original brief – laid decks, solid wood windbreaker/cuddy, but fortunately they appreciate that these extra tasks take extra time, which is especially important when the workload is heavy as usual at this busy time of year!

‘The Beta inboard engine has arrived and we’ve offered it up to the engine beds so the shaft, coupling, prop can now be ordered to correct sizes.

‘There is still an awful lot of varnishing to do (we’ve used over 3 gallons so far and that’s prior to thinning!).

‘The sea toilet and storage tank should be arriving this week. The sink and cooker have been offered up in the galley. The rudder, tiller, floorboards and various hatches are currently being decorated, which takes up a lot of time as the workshop has to limit the dusty work while decorating is going on, so we  we try to do that work at the weekends.

‘She is destined to spend this season on one of our swinging moorings on the River Axe, then next year she’ll head to Kingswear. I think the owner would like a brief change of scene but personally I think the River Dart has a lot to offer!

‘We’ve had a lot of interest from people; visitors to the yard, tweets, e-mails and phone calls; everyone appreciates a classic wooden boat, but not everybody wants one though!

‘Anyway I’ll keep you updated with progress.

‘Take care and keep up the good work, Alex’

Thanks Alex!

Twinkle 12 sailing dinghy

A reader I know only as Paul has got in touch to tell us about his sweet little Twinkle 12 clinker built dinghy made largely from from the late 1950s. The twinkling varnish seems to make the name so appropriate…

Here’s what he says:

‘Wrights of Ipswich produced the Twinkle for several years in the 1950s and early 60s. They sail very well if looked after and well rigged, and can be quite exciting in strong winds…

‘Not many are now left and I am thinking of setting up an association to keep track of those that are left.

‘Apart from four new timbers cracked by the previous owner’s trailer she is totally original down to the deck fittings. Lots of work over the winter months but great fun.’

‘Thanks for your great website, with best wishes.’

If anyone’s interested in Paul’s proposed association, please email me at gmatkin@gmail.com and I’ll forward your message to him.

BBA student constructs clinker-built Lawton tender

Boat Building Academy long course student George McKimm built a 10ft clinker rowing boat using the plans for the Lawton tender in John Gardner’s book Building Small Classic Craft: Complete Plans and Instructions for 47 Boats, and launched her at the BBA’s December student launch.

The trip from the shed to the water was not the first journey this little rowing boat had made – back in October she travelled by motorway to the Marylebone Road in Central London, where she stood in the gateway of the John Soane church One Marylebone as part of the design and craft fair MADE London.

She was admired by hundreds of people who visited the fair and was said by some to be one of the best exhibits there.

The little boat is named Murron, which is Gaelic for ‘from the sea’ or ‘white sea’, depending on your source, and is planked in khaya mahogany on oak ribs.

Before enrolling on the Academy’s 38 week course, George from Renfrewshire worked as a self employed builder, mainly renovating homes. He has also worked in New Zealand re-fitting boats and as a fabricator for Princess Yachts.

George chose the plans for the tender developed by US boat builder Charles Lawton and recorded by Gardner because it was a small, useable boat that he could build in a traditional way, and which would enable him to develop his woodworking skills. Read about Gardner and Lawton here.

With just a few minor changes – George added extra knees and two rubbing strips – Murron was built in 12 weeks.

George, who has now returned to Scotland, looks forward to starting a new career in the marine industry, and says that: ‘Homes are too square – boats are rounded and much more interesting!’

Martin Lammers helped George with parts of the build as well as helping other students with their build projects.

Martin has been involved in the marine industry since he left school, when he started out as delivery and deck crew on luxury yachts in the Caribbean and Mediterranean.

He has also sailed and raced on a range of racing and classic yachts and before joining the Academy completed a BEng in Yacht Powercraft Design at Southampton Solent University.

Martin joined the BBA course with the aim of gaining practical boat building skills to combine with his knowledge of design; his dream being to work in a yard where he would be involved in the both designing and building of boats.

He plans to start his boat building career shortly with a job at Rustler Yachts in Falmouth.

(I’d add that his little boat makes an interesting comparison with the strip-built tenders built to the Lawton lines that you see around the Internet – and that Gardner’s book Building Classic Small Craft is well worth picking up, especially at it’s current price of about £11 from some sources. His other books of boat building plans and history are well worth having too.)