17ft clinker-built launch Lisa gets framed-out

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Nick Smith’s latest build Lisa gets her ribs

While we were away, professional boatbuilder Nick Smith sent us this brief update on his current commission, a 17ft launch to be called Lisa. Here’s his note to me about it – I love the human touches, and the sense of a continuing tradition in what he says:

‘Hi Gavin,

‘For your interest here’s a photo of Lisa framed out.

‘It took two and a half hours (including a break for cold beer) from steam up. There were four of us, two outside driving the copper nails and two inside bending the timbers.

‘The first five seconds after taking the rib out of the steam box are crucial – that’s all the time we have to give the frame a quick ‘pre bend’ and then a final bend into place, ready to nail while the rib is still hot. No drilling of the rib is necessary.

‘I first did this task when I was 16 years old and it has remained unchanged for donkey’s years.

‘So the next job is to rivet all the nails, with one bloke outside (traditionally it’s the apprentices job, that is the ‘boy’) holding an iron (or dolly) on the nail head while I work inside the boat doing the rivetting (or clenching).

‘First I drive a ‘rove ‘ (or ‘roove’ or ‘ ruv’ onto the nail. The exact name depends on where you are in the country), but it’s basically a copper washer. For this we use a rove driver and a hammer, then cut off the point of the nail with a pair of ‘cut nippers’ then rivet ( or ‘peen’) over the rest of the nail with a rivetting hammer, which is just a ball peen hammer of an appropriate weight. Its a dull job and therefore traditionally done quickly from start to finish to get it over with!

‘Thats it for now Gavin some more photos when the engine is in.

‘Thanks, Nick’

And thanks to you Nick!

Nick Smith can be contacted at nick_smith_boatbuilder@yahoo.com.

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