Colonial American Ferry

Wales installed

February 14, 2008 - The wales are finally installed on both sides. They turned out to be quite a challenge and time consuming. Hahn recommends laminating a piece of dark wood (African Blackwood in my case) to a piece of regular planking material for two reasons - the dark wood is hard to bend when thick and the regular planking gives the inside of the hull a uniform look. Laminating the wood and bending it to shape is the hard part. What worked best in the end was to cut strips of wood wider than necessary (so they could be spiled later). Then I applied glue between the peices and held them together with masking tape while I clamped them to the hull so they would curve to the proper shape. At the bow and stern, it was necessary to steam the wood first but amidships, the curve is very gentle so they just went on dry. After the glue had set, the laminate held its shape very well and was then spiled to the final curve. All in all, it took two weeks to get the wales on. The rest of the planking should be pretty simple in comparison.

Treenails in the waleAs can be seen from the photo at the left, I used the same treenail material (beech) for the wale that I used for the frames (and that I will use for the regular planking). It is probably a bit more contrasty than I would prefer but I figure I can always put some dark stain on them to reduce the contrast. I tried using African Blackwood treenails, but they were practically invisible. Having gone to all the trouble to treenail the wale, I didn't really want the treenails to be unseen.


Planking below the walesFeb 15 - I spent a good part of the day spiling the planks at the bow in the strake below the wale. The plank on the left is dry and glued on while the one on the right is still wet (which is why it's darker in the photo) and is being set to the curve. Spiling these planks is a bit challenging because the hull curves down toward the keel rather sharply here. Took a couple of tries to get a decent template and then quite a bit of final fitting.

PlankingMar 07 - A nasty cold set me back for a while so progress has been a bit slow but I'm getting back to it at last. I'm still planking the hull. So far, I have two complete strakes above the wale and part of the third one done.

In the photo to the right, you can see that I've drilled for treenails but haven't actually treenailed yet. I used .028 treenails on the wale and had planned to use .020 treenails on the planks above. However, I had a terrible time trying to make the treenails and finally went back to .028 for the whole hull. The holes you're seeing look dark but once they are treenailed, they'll be much lighter, like the plank below the wale. I also ran a black Sharpie along the edges of the planks to help deliniate the planks. I think it's going to look OK once it's all sanded down.

Mar 21 - Near Disaster! - Only yesterday, I discovered an error I had made over a month ago. When I put on the wales, I somehow got the aft end of the starboard wale in a different (and incorrect) location than the port wale. I didn't realize my error until today when I finished the 5th row of planking above the wale. I saw that the top edge of the 5th strake on the starboard side at the stern was a full plank width lower than the top of the 5th strake on the port side. The blue lines in the image below are perpendicular to the keel. One can easily see the misplacement of the wale on the left (starboard side) that thows off the entire planking (a full plank width at the top of the 5th strake).

Disaster in planking - stern shot

My first reaction was to toss the whole boat in the wood stove. But some degree of calmness prevailed and I decided to think it over for a day or so. This morning, I decided maybe I could salvage something. I found that at Frame T, the wales on both sides were in the right place. So I started removing planking back to that point.

Removing planking

Although I will now have a new butt joint in a different location, I can at least avoid replanking the entire side (or worse, destroying the past four months of modeling effort). I doubt anyone will ever notice that the two sides don't match perfectly. I suspect that real ships probably didn't match perfectly from side to side either.

I am, frankly, astounded at myself for making such an error. I just can't imagine what gap in sanity caused me to do such a thing. And it's absolutely idiotic that I didn't even notice it for a month. It's not like this is the first model I've ever built and I really do know better. Oh well, life goes on.

April 04, 2008 - I have recovered from my near disaster and have made a bit of slow progress. The sides of the hull are now completely planked. It turned out to be not such a terrible ordeal to fix the problem. In the photo below, holes are drilled for the treenails in the upper three planks but the treenails aren't in yet. Next step is to plank the transom.

Final sied planking

June Update - no work at all on the model since April. Just too many other things going on with a heavy work schedule and plenty of yard work as well. I'll get back to it one of these days.

November 12, 2008 - I'm finally back to modeling. It was a busy summer, taken up with other pursuits. Now, the weather has turned chilly, so I'm ready to get back to indoor activities. Today, I cut and glued in the keelson and, at long last, took the giant step of cutting the hull free from the building board. That went pretty well. I have still to file down the tops of the stanchions. Next step is to install the deck clamps and fit the deck framing. Sounds easy, but I suspect it will be several months of work. We'll see.

Hull cut free from building board

For some reason, I lost interest in Hannah at this point and didn't do any modeling for 6 years. Hannah still sits on the shelf, exactly as seen here, waiting to be completed.