Along the Lakeshore: July 31

A historic ship back in action

Patterns from existing frames were used and the new frames were cut out using a chainsaw with a special chain which will cut with the grain. Cuts can be made around a sweeping curve, keeping the end of the blade following the curve at a low angle and one cut can take 15 to 20 minutes to complete. The pieces are moved by a forklift and the whole thing can be finish-cut on the ship’s band saw. It is not too different from a regular woodshop band saw except for the size and that the whole saw unit tips to cut angular cuts to match the run of the planking. Obviously, in the center of the ship, the frames are square to planking, but as you move toward the pointy ends, the frames bevel to accommodate the planking. Some frames are beveled in both directions.

When the frames were all prepared or replaced, the inside wood, called the ceiling, was put back on. These planks are 3 inches thick, 10 to 12 inches wide, and about 40 feet long. They are longleaf yellow pine which is a very difficult material to locate. The oak for frames came from the south of the U.S. where many oak trees were killed by being submerged in water from hurricane Katrina. A cache of material was found in the Old Naval Timber Pond in Charlestown, Mass. when a foundation was excavated for a new building.

The exterior planking work was started in late 2011 and I didn’t believe they would make the July 21, 2013 launch date. However, the build-back was much faster, as there was no research and documentation at this stage.

The ship is held together with wood pegs called trunnels or tree nails. They are about 1 inch in diameter and are driven into holes, then expanded with wedges. Locust is the preferred wood and, with no rust, the pegs last as long as the ship.

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