View Full Version : Measuring up a craft

07-24-2001, 05:13 AM
Hi. I have found an old boat that was built in 1888 that was built by my family. It is sitting on a trailer in pretty bad condition in a shed miles away. The boat is approx. 28 feet in length and has a counter stern, and a fairly straight bow.She is of Carvel construction. She is very beamy as she used to be sailed under "gaff rig" I wish to take measurements off this boat so as I can build another one, as I don't own her any more. Is there a tried and proven simple way to do this. Next question is "strip planking" construction a similar way of building this type of boat, and should it be built upside down or right way up. How do I get started.
Thanks ,Graeme Thomson.

Bryan Mehus
07-24-2001, 05:32 AM
Ha. you're up already, and the left coast is just going to bed.
There are some excellent instructions in WOODENBOAT magazine, just use the search engine, and order the back issues(if you don't have them already).

John R Smith
07-24-2001, 05:53 AM

can I suggest a rather different approach?

First, buy the boat back from the present owners (make them a sensible offer and see what happens).

Then, set the boat up in your shed on a decent strongback. Brace the gunwhales to the shed roof with timber and adjust things so she is pretty straight and not hogged.

Next, set about replacing the timber that is rotted. Keelson, floors, and frames first. Transom and stem if necessary. When the internal structure is done, start re-planking, garboards up.

You may well end up replacing most of the boat. It may well take you a LONG time. But it will still be your family's boat, the same shape, the same design, and with some original timber in it.

Just my thoughts.


ken mcclure
07-24-2001, 09:31 AM
If you are going to "take off the lines" (measure the boat to build another one like her) you are going to have to set her up as JohnRSmith says anyway.

If she's hogged or twisted as she sits, you'll get inaccurate lines and wind up building a brand new boat that's hogged or twisted.

Besides that, you're going to want to take her apart while you're developing the new plans so that you can record framing dimensions and make note of floors, deckbeams and all the other hidden stuff. You might as well salvage whatever's good.

Keith Wilson
07-24-2001, 10:16 AM
There is a good, if hard to find book: "Boats, A Manual for Their Documentation" by Willits Ansel. See:
It covers taking lines off old boats in great detail. It's not ever very simple, though.

Also see the following articles in WB
"Taking the Lines Off a Boat," #115 p71, and
"Taking Lines Off Small Craft," #107 p70

One virtue of a traditionally-built boat is that pieces can be replaced one at a time. Sometimes you end up with what is mostly a new boat; the USS Constitution only has about 20% of her original wood, but that's OK, it's still the same boat.

OTOH, maybe a boat built by 1888 methods isn't what you want or need, or maybe restoring the original isn't possible for other reasons. A strip-planked replica sheathed with epoxy/fabric would be a pretty cool boat too, and has a lot to recommend it.

The previous posts are quite correct that your measurements will be of the boat as she is now, which may or may not be the shape when she was built. I think a good designer could start with the measurements from an old boat, then undo the ravages of time to design a boat similar in shape to the original. This is not simple; may be more work than starting a design from scratch, but I'd feel bettr having the benefit of modern engineering and stability calculations before undertaking a project of that size.

Art Read
07-24-2001, 10:53 AM
Is this what "WoodenBoat" called a "Couda" boat? Sounds neat!

07-24-2001, 11:18 AM
Graeme, I like the input from JohnRSmith and Keith Wilson. Speaking for many of us, we would like to see how far gone this boat is. Can you take and post pictures of the boat's general appearance and key structural elements and how they're joined. Restoring a 113 year old 28' boat sounds like a fine project to me, especially if it was built by your family. History is important, do something about it Graeme, one way or the other. Depending on the existing condition of the boat a restoration might be very possible. Good luck.

Todd Bradshaw
07-24-2001, 02:17 PM
It's easy for us to offer advice since we don't know much about the boat, it's situation or yours, but the idea that one might be able to purchase and restore a boat built that long ago by your own ancestors is a very rare opportunity that most of us will never have. 95% of the people on this forum would be digging inbetween the couch cushions looking for spare change, trying to come-up with whatever it would take to make it happen. A replica would be great, but a restoration would be something very special. The process of restoring "Great Grandpa's Gaffer" would also make a great article for Woodenboat.

07-24-2001, 08:23 PM
Graeme, check out www.anmm.gov.au/mmapass (http://www.anmm.gov.au/mmapass) . If that doesn't work, try a search for the Austrailian National Maritime Museum, or some variation. You and your potential historic restoration (period correct, not cold molded or dipped) might very well be eligible for some grant money! There's a section on current projects in the Victoria area on that web site, I think that's where you're located. Get in front of these people, run your (well conceived)idea up the proverbial flag pole and see if they salute. Good luck. Let us know what you find out.

[This message has been edited by RGM (edited 07-24-2001).]

01-02-2012, 11:00 AM
Whatever happened? Did graemt buy or build the boat?