BBA student Jonathan Palmer wins a big photography prize

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Beer Lugger 2010 Winning Photo

Boat builder Jonathan Palmer has won a first prize in the traditional maritime skills in action section of a photographic competition sponsored by National Historic Ships and Classic Boat magazine.

Jon’s winning photograph (above) was taken in May at the Boat Building Academy workshops where he has been a student.

Titled Beer Lugger 2010, the photograph from the building of the new Beer boat Steadfast by students on Jon’s course. He caught the boat on camera as it was awaiting the frenzied process of hot nailing, in which copper nails are quickly hammered into freshly steamed timber ribs and riveted into place.

The prizes were awarded at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich – after the ceremony Jon apparently enjoyed a game of croquet and a very civilised afternoon tea. He says he will spend the prize money on tools for LP Boatworks, a company that he and fellow Boat Building Academy graduate Ben Larcombe have set up in Colyton, Devon. They plan to offer traditional and modern boat building, restoration and repairs.

Jon’s photo can also be seen in the November issue of Classic Boat or on the National Historic Ships website.

Positioning the copper nails before hot nailing Holding the ribs in postion while the nails are being hammered

Readying the copper nails before hot nailing; the hot nailing process itself

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Nick Smith’s latest motor launch – the ribs are steamed out and riveted

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Clinker built boat riveting ribs into place Nick Smith

Using an ‘iron’ or ‘dolly’ to drive the nail over into the ribs. It is of course very important for the iron to be in the right place as the nail comes through!

riveting ribs into position clinker  built motor launch ribs clinker built boat ribs

Nick Smith’s latest project has taken a big step forward with the addition of her ribs, and our friendly boatbuilder has kindly sent in some more photos and a few words of explanation.

I must say the process looks like hard work, but no doubt many hands make light work, and entertaining banter too.

Nick tends to call the new project Bamboo Viper II, because she’s very much like an earlier boat he built by the same name – you can see earlier posts here and here

Here’s what Nick says about the latest phase in BVII’s construction:

‘Hi Gav,

‘Some photos of BVII yesterday.

‘We got a crew of five – luxury! – together to steam out the ribs on the new Bamboo Viper II. We pulled the first rib out of the steam box at 10.30am, and drove the last nail at 12.15am, which was the best time in all the years we have been building. We only broke three timbers, which was fine as the shorter lengths can be used forward or aft, where they butt onto the apron or transom knee.

‘So had some “spare ribs”, which I bent off the job to come in for odd repairs to broken timbers on customers boats.

‘The next task is to rivet up, I tend to do the upper-most four or five by myself (as my arms are long enough) then get my “oppo” to lie on the floor and “hang on” while I get inside the boat and rivet.

‘When I was apprenticed this job was done in one hit immediately after steaming had finished, so as the “boy” there wasn’t time to draw breath – as soon as the rib was in place I was straight under the boat (damp earth floor) holding on with an iron whilst the journeyman rivetted as fast as he could, no stop, no hesitation, no breaks, til we had done. And if ever I was on the wrong nail head as he drove or rivetted I was referred to by him in no uncertain terms as a ‘f****** c***’ so I learned very quickly to concentrate. This is not a teaching method I have carried on.

‘Gav, I think it’s brilliant what you have done and are doing with this weblog, many thanks,

‘Nick’

Thanks very much Nick – it’s particularly good to see photos of the riveting process in action. You must make a video one day!

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Nick comes from Devon, learned boatbuilding the traditional way and specialises in new builds in clinker and carvel for sail, motor and rowing power from 8ft to 28ft with a special emphasis on West Country style and design, and also takes on repairs and refits from 25ft to 50ft. These days he’s based in Hampshire, and can be contacted by email at nick_smith_boatbuilder@yahoo.com and by phone on phone on 07786 693370.

Want to learn more about boatbuilding using the clinker technique? Try John  Leather’s book Clinker boatbuilding at the revived intheboatshed.net A-store.

More on Nick Smith’s latest motor launch

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Nick Smith has written in with some more photos of his current project, which he’s given the working title of Bamboo Viper II, because she’s very much like an earlier boat he built by the same name – you can see earlier posts here and here. Here’s what he says about his preparations for putting in the ribs.

‘BV II is now planked up, primed inside so the frames have paint behind them and less likely to rot out the contact faces between rib and plank. I have located some good New Forest oak and have machined that up ready at 15/16ths of an inch by 9/16ths.

‘I have had to pick and choose to avoid knots,short grain and sap, and despite that usually allow an extra 25 to 50 per cent extra for breakages anyway. It’s a nuisance to run short then have to machine and steam a second batch or even just an annoying one or two to finish off.

‘The oak is ‘green’ – that is wet almost straight from felling. It steams better having moisture inside, and in the meantime the ribs are wrapped in wet cloth and then polythene on the outside until they are ready to go in the steam box.

‘The cost of the material is around £200! English oak isn’t cheap, and amazingly kiln-dried American white oak is cheaper!

‘It’s getting ever more difficult to get hold of all three key components – seasoned planking timber, good oak and copper fastenings. The price of copper has rocketed in the last two or three years.

‘I’ll send some photos of the steaming out process and the planked and framed hull when it’s done – it’ll be a couple of weeks yet. Meanwhile I have jumped ahead a stage or two and machined the gun’ls and risers ready to go in on top of the frames.

‘Cheers

‘Nick’

Nick comes from Devon, learned boatbuilding the traditional way and specialises in new builds in clinker and carvel for sail, motor and rowing power from 8ft to 28ft with a special emphasis on West Country style and design, and also takes on repairs and refits from 25ft to 50ft. These days he’s based in Hampshire, and can be contacted by email at nick_smith_boatbuilder@yahoo.com and by phone on phone on 07786 693370.

Want to learn more about boatbuilding using the clinker technique? Try John  Leather’s book Clinker boatbuilding at the revived intheboatshed.net A-store.