View Full Version : Guidance and Misguidance in WoodenBoat articles

01-13-2012, 12:00 PM
I've been subscribing and reading your mag since the early 80's. I've built and maintained 5 small boats of increasingly more difficult levels of complexity and even took a WoodenBoat small boat building class at the Hyde Street Pier at the S.F. Maritime Museum some years back (Building the Norwegian Pram taught by Rob Elliott).

When it came "time" to buy my first "Big Boat" (not 'til 2003), I leaned heavily on articles I'd read over all those years. In many ways, I was naive in that I took it that any words published in WB were only from the mouths of gods, each phrase being carefully crafted nuggets of the combined distilled knowledge of countless generations of boatbuilders. Well, I was wrong. Some things went well, some not so much:

The Good

"Fixing an Iron Sick Bilge" - my old iron fastened boat had this in spades. Various techniques were described on how to get much more life out of an Iron Sick boat, and I must say, they've worked very very well. With guidance of this article, I planned a complete overhaul, squeezing maximum bang for the buck out of a combination of my labor, hired boatwrights and unskilled labor. Following the suggested techniques, in 5 weeks we:
- Cut back the wasted heels of the frames to about an inch higher than the tops of the floors
- Cut out the old floors
- Laminated full length sister frames lined up with the old floor locations (18 out of 25 frame sets)
- Installed new floors lined up with old frames
- bored into and tapped the Iron Ballast for keel "Studs" which ran through the new floors
- replace 5 full length planks
- refastened the entire hull, both into the new frames, and into the old frames

I feel the advise given was excellent, and the boat is in many ways stouter than when she was new.

The Not so Good

Advice given in one or more articles on recaulking and paying traditional decks included using a Dremel tool to remove Polysulfide/Rubber paying compound. The article neglected to mention that the bits burn up almost instantly. Thankfully the Dremel has many other uses so the purchase of that tool was not a total waste. Had to make up some custom tooling to properly cut out rubber and reef seams the "old fashioned" way.

Advice given on Paying Compound included using 3M 100 for deck seams, neglecting to mention that the material can't be sanded, although advertised as UV resistant, isn't, and lacks the flexibility to remain attached to the clean-wood seams after only 4 years in fairly mild climates. I have to tear it all out and start over and am seeking advice from local boatwrights on what works best.

Not too bad for years of "how to" articles where I'm sure much of the advice was sound-ish. These were not catastrophies, but my critical eye has since been widened on any advice given on the "proper technique".

The forum has since been a good source where one can question the "advice", seek proof, and leave with a better probabilty of success before investing the precious hours of labor and materials.

01-13-2012, 12:05 PM
I would think a series of articles of the design and construction of some famous sailing ships would be interesting (Spray, Tinkerbelle etc).
I would focus on the sailing ships that people could build.