Ben Wales’ clinker launch restoration

Ben Wales working on 18ft clinker launch Mary

Ben Wales working on 18ft clinker launch Mary

The new stem, and the old stem piece and apron removed

Some time when you’re sitting in the warm, spare a thought for dedicated Ben Wales working when he can in the open air during this winter restoring his 18ft clinker-built motor launch Mary. While you’re at it, wish him luck and good weather.

Here’s what he wrote a few days ago:

‘Here is the latest update on my restoration on Mary. The work has been slow – the weather held us up for over a month as it was just too cold, and before that it was wet whenever we wanted to work on her outside.

‘The stem has now been replaced in English grown oak as the old one was badly worn and soft. Without a doubt this is the most complex and time consuming job we have done on the launch, and all without¬† power tools or power.

‘First, a template had to be cut out for the bottom and top stem piece and then drawn out on a new in 4in thick oak plank where the two were cut out.

‘The lower part of the stem, which joins with the kee, was first shaped to fit and then holes were drilled out for stainless steel bolts made the job. It had to be scarphed on each end, and a mixture of paint and putty was applied for packing.

‘The top part of the apron was also replaced and that was cut and shaped before the top stem piece was fitted.

‘While the upper part of the stem was fitted we had a quite a task to shape it, as we tried to follow the original patten precisely – but found that had been cut wrong. So after more shaping it fitted far better than the original it replaced.

‘The next task is to fit the gunwales and knees, and to reframe the topsides. When the Weather gets warmer and I have saved up some money, I will purchase the timber to plank her topsides.


Thanks Ben – I’ll be thinking of you at least!

For an earlier post about this project, click here.

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