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Thread: Some details of an Uffa Fox designed and built ribbed International Fourteen dinghy

  1. #1
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    Default Some details of an Uffa Fox designed and built ribbed International Fourteen dinghy

    These boats are, in the opinion of some, amongst the finest products of the boat builder's art.

    Uffa Fox served an apprenticeship with SE Saunders of Cowes (who made fast power boats and flying boats, becoming Saunders-Roe). They naturally specialised in the lightest construction for strength, and they even developed a form of glue-less plywood called "Consuta" which was sewn together with copper wire. "Consuta" unlike modern plywood was made from veneers of the very finest timbers...

    Uffa set up as a boatbuilder on his own, and decided to specialise in racing dinghies. In those days - the 1920's - there was really only one National class in Britain and that had just been formed by merging the West of England Conference and Norfolk Fourteen Foot Dinghies to form the National Fourteen Foot Dinghy class. These were carvel built single skin boats with heavy bronze centreplates and a lug rig which was enforced by a rule that limited the length of spars. The National Fourteen Foot dinghy was dominated by Morgan Giles as a designer so Uffa decided to challenge by building a dinghy that would "plane" like a fast powerboat or a flying boat. After some experiments he came up with "Avenger" in 1928 and he ran what must have been the first "campaign" by a designer in a class - an idea that was adopted by Olin and Rod Stephens, who were of course friends of Uffa, with DORADE...

    Uffa got round the lug rig by having a Bermudian mast in two parts with a "fishing rod joint" and proceeded to win fifty two firsts from fifty seven starts, the other places being seconds and thirds, whilst also sailing AVENGER to Cherbourg, racing there and sailing back.. his point was made and he was set up for life. The rules were changed to allow Bermudian rig. From then until 1950, when Austin Farrar started in the class, Uffa Fox dominated the International Fourteen Foot Dinghy class

    Uffa's construction method involved making the centrecase, hog, stem and transom and setting these up over a ribbanded male former in the Herreshoff manner. the ribs of 3/8" x 5/16" CRE were bent on the former and the inner skin of 1/16" diagonal Honduras mahogany fitted and nailed to the ribs followed by a layer of oiled calico and then the outer fore and aft skin of 5/32" Honduras mahogany.

    I just got lucky at the EISCA auction and I am now the happy owner of GALATEA K478 built (undoubtedly out of pre-War materials hoarded during the War) in 1946. Here are some pictures before she goes into the shed...

    There is no glue in this boat... the centrecase sides and the transom are thinned out in the middle to save weight giving a "panelled" effect...

    Thanks to Photobucket playing silly beggars the pictures are all now at the end.
    Last edited by Andrew Craig-Bennett; 08-15-2017 at 04:44 PM.
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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Some details of an Uffa Fox designed and built ribbed International Fourteen ding

    Congratulations on owning a stunning piece of boatbuilding! The construction of Uffa's boats is just astounding, with over 100,000 careful blows with a hammer required to drive the rivets in those iny ribs.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Some details of an Uffa Fox designed and built ribbed International Fourteen ding

    Each and every one of those 17 gauge copper boat nails was driven from outside the planking, with the boat on the former, and each and every one lands in the middle of the 3/8" x 1/16" rib and is turned in line. No split ribs, no misses.

    No floors, no lateral centrecase knees; the centrecase is held vertical by the one vestigial "thwart" which picks up the buoyancy tank tops and ends with a hanging knee. And that's taking all the sailing loads - the lateral force on the centreboard, wringing the centrecase, plus the 60lbs of lead ballast in the bottom of the board, the thwart being located precisely where the wringing strain on the case is at its maximum. The mast step is part of the centrecase structure.

    Memo to self; try to draw some of the centrecase to hog screws...
    Last edited by Andrew Craig-Bennett; 08-07-2017 at 09:26 AM.
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  4. #4
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    Default Re: Some details of an Uffa Fox designed and built ribbed International Fourteen ding

    Here's Taiyara from 1938 showing the deck stepped mast and the centreboard windlass.




    IMP is an earlier one - from 1928 - the same year as AVENGER and from the same drawings as AVENGER.

    Different shape of centreplate (and it is a plate, not a board!), no built in buoyancy chambers, pronounced tumblehome at the stern...

    Last edited by Andrew Craig-Bennett; 08-15-2017 at 04:48 PM.
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  5. #5
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    Default Re: Some details of an Uffa Fox designed and built ribbed International Fourteen ding

    thanks for posting this, fascinated by these designs, contemplated building an Uffa Fox 14' dinghy back when Wooden Boat still sold the plans. I love the intricate construction engineered to the absolute limits, rivals smooth-hulled feather-lapped Adirondack guideboats for masterful workmanship, would love to see more

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Some details of an Uffa Fox designed and built ribbed International Fourteen ding

    Thanks, for becoming the steward of this boat, and letting us enjoy it, albeit, vicariously.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Some details of an Uffa Fox designed and built ribbed International Fourteen ding

    I sailed on an old, wooden Thistle in the sixties. Those in-mast halyard winches were go****n annoying. It took forever to raise the main and the boom would thrash about conking you on the head in any kind of breeze.
    "It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so."

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    Default Re: Some details of an Uffa Fox designed and built ribbed International Fourteen ding

    Thanks for posting this Andrew. It's an absolutely stunning boat, and I'm glad she is with somebody who is caring and knowledgeable enough to look after her properly.
    Somewhere between Murder and Suicide, there is a place called Merseyside.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Some details of an Uffa Fox designed and built ribbed International Fourteen ding

    Wow! This brings back some happy memories of the one I once had!
    Thanks for posting this!
    Jay

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Some details of an Uffa Fox designed and built ribbed International Fourteen ding

    Lovely mast gate.
    Were these eye plates

    for the toe straps?
    It really is quite difficult to build an ugly wooden boat.

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  11. #11
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    Default Re: Some details of an Uffa Fox designed and built ribbed International Fourteen ding

    Quote Originally Posted by Peerie Maa View Post
    Lovely mast gate.
    Were these eye plates

    for the toe straps?
    I don't think so, Nick. They are stainless steel not bronze, so I think they are part of a refit and that they anchor the W tackle that replaced the centreboard winch when the ballast was removed from the centreboard. I think the toe straps always landed where they do now, although that is debatable because they are anchored to the centreboard case with stainless steel plates!

    So at the moment it's a Mystery of The Sea!
    Last edited by Andrew Craig-Bennett; 08-07-2017 at 02:51 PM.
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  12. #12
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    Default Re: Some details of an Uffa Fox designed and built ribbed International Fourteen ding

    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew Craig-Bennett View Post
    I don't think so, Nick. They are stainless steel not bronze, so I think they are part of a refit and that they anchor the W tackle that replaced the centreboard winch when the ballast was removed from the centreboard. I think the toe straps always landed where they do now, although that is debatable because they are anchored to the centreboard case with stainless steel plates!

    So at the moment it's a Mystery of The Sea!
    The toe out looks odd, do they point at/line up with anything?
    It really is quite difficult to build an ugly wooden boat.

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  13. #13
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    Default Re: Some details of an Uffa Fox designed and built ribbed International Fourteen ding

    Congratulations on acquiring a piece of history.Were it me,I would be looking very closely at the toe straps before sailing...... It also comes as a bit of a shock to be reminded how far aft the jib sheet fairleads were in the days of the fourteen foot "I " jib.

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Some details of an Uffa Fox designed and built ribbed International Fourteen ding

    Jealousy abounds over here, and I add my congratulations for taking over stewardship of such a historic boat.

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    Default Re: Some details of an Uffa Fox designed and built ribbed International Fourteen ding

    Nice acquisition, Andrew. As you may recall, I created the lines for Simon Watts' recreation of a pre-war vintage I-14 that he believed was based Uffa's Alarm, plans for which are now available at our host's store. I wonder how dissimilar the lines actually are when compared to your boat.
    Hope for the best, but plan for the worst.

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Some details of an Uffa Fox designed and built ribbed International Fourteen ding

    What a fine looking boat. Congrats!
    Gerard>
    Everett, WA

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  17. #17
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    Default Re: Some details of an Uffa Fox designed and built ribbed International Fourteen ding

    Starting tomorrow, that thick old varnish is going to be attacked with a heat gun and a scraper. At this stage, I have no idea how long will be needed.

    The best description that I can think of for this boat is that she is the sailboat version of a 1946 racing car. Gorgeous to look upon, based on the best pre-War designs, beautifully built by real craftsmen using conventional materials, embodying half a dozen go faster theories which turned out to be wrong and very difficult to keep on the road ... but huge fun to drive!

    Last edited by Andrew Craig-Bennett; 08-08-2017 at 04:53 PM.
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  18. #18
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    Default Re: Some details of an Uffa Fox designed and built ribbed International Fourteen ding

    Some more details (she has had a bath since the earlier photos were taken...)

    the elaborate roller bearing fiddle block and traveller for the aft mainsheet:

    Last edited by Andrew Craig-Bennett; 08-11-2017 at 03:26 PM.
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    Default Re: Some details of an Uffa Fox designed and built ribbed International Fourteen ding

    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew Craig-Bennett View Post
    the elaborate roller bearing fiddle block and traveller for the aft mainsheet:

    http://i535.photobucket.com/albums/e...psowfs9ukr.jpg
    that's a nice piece of kit

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Some details of an Uffa Fox designed and built ribbed International Fourteen ding

    Completely awesome, A C-B. Once again, congratulations.

    Mickey Lake
    'A disciple of the Norse god of aesthetically pleasing boats, Johan Anker'

  21. #21
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    Default Re: Some details of an Uffa Fox designed and built ribbed International Fourteen ding

    there's something about "high tech" from another age that always amazes me, maybe because so much of it was hand work, some individual guy's inherent sense of engineering showing in every component, and it's still, 89 years later, really impressive to the modern eye. Nothing crude about it. Also the aesthetics of those boats was supposedly secondary to performance, but you'd never know it.

    Nice score.

  22. #22
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    Default Re: Some details of an Uffa Fox designed and built ribbed International Fourteen ding

    Some more snaps (she's now had a bath...)

    This is a detail of the starboard side of the centrecase, showing the modification made by Bob Tough to hold the plate down after he had removed the 70lbs of lead ballast from it. It's neat - the bronze strap links are centred on the pivot bolt - but then Mr Tough was the Queen's boatbuilder...

    Note also the cotton canvas toe strap...





    Here is a detail showing the forward extension of the centrecase as it enters the bow buoyancy tank and its rather charming brass drain caps - which have a suspiciously "war surplus" look to them, to my eyes...

    Mr and Mrs Mouse, who used the stern as their private heads compartment, and who had also tucked into the clew of the Ratsey headsail, left in its bag in the boat in storage, had a nibble at the hog, here, but what they had failed to consider was that Uffa and his merry men had bedded the Canadian Rock Elm ribs in white lead paste, so that was their last meal on this planet...

    Last edited by Andrew Craig-Bennett; 08-11-2017 at 04:02 PM.
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  23. #23
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    Default Re: Some details of an Uffa Fox designed and built ribbed International Fourteen ding

    And now I am brutally removing all that lovely patina of many many coats, some seventy one years old, of copal varnish, aged to a dark brown hue, with a hot air gun and a scraper, with the intention of using modern Epifanes instead... but the copal varnish has really "had it"...
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  24. #24
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    Default Re: Some details of an Uffa Fox designed and built ribbed International Fourteen ding

    Varnish now removed, externally.

    And maybe I need to move this thread up to the top as I now have some"technical issues".
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  25. #25
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    Default Re: Some details of an Uffa Fox designed and built ribbed International Fourteen ding

    Thanks a million, Photobucket,

    I paid up to remain a member when you first asked for money, now this...

    Can anyone recommend a respectable photo hosting service?
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    Default Re: Some details of an Uffa Fox designed and built ribbed International Fourteen ding

    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew Craig-Bennett View Post
    Thanks a million, Photobucket,

    I paid up to remain a member when you first asked for money, now this...

    Can anyone recommend a respectable photo hosting service?
    I am now using https://postimages.org/ a bit clunky, but it works. It has a bad habit of uploading to the wrong album.
    It really is quite difficult to build an ugly wooden boat.

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  27. #27
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    Default Re: Some details of an Uffa Fox designed and built ribbed International Fourteen ding

    Thank you. Nick.

    Found a patch of rot in the hog, roughly in line with the mast step, today. It's about four inches long and an inch and a bit wide. Must get the stem band off (#4 screws, this will be fun!) and excavate judiciously with a sharp chisel, I think a graving piece will do the job.
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  28. #28
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    Default Re: Some details of an Uffa Fox designed and built ribbed International Fourteen ding

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  29. #29
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    Default Re: Some details of an Uffa Fox designed and built ribbed International Fourteen ding

    The next question:

    i think that I may well be able to unscrew almost all of the the hood end screws in the stem and the transom.

    Where I have withdrawn a screw it has been "yellow" in colour; not the dull red of dezinc-ed brass.

    So, what does the panel think?

    a) Leave well alone!

    b) Replace, same gauge, 1/4" longer

    c) replace, go up one gauge, original length.

    The garboards, which incidentally are wych elm, not mahogany, are clench nailed to the hog, not screwed.

    i am removing the transom gudgeon (clenched!) and pintle (screwed!) to varnish under them and an doing the same with the brass keel band. The pintle is a nice bronze casting made with an eye to weight saving and was fitted over a scrap of calico soaked in white lead paint. Epoxy will just have to do!
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  30. #30
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    Default Re: Some details of an Uffa Fox designed and built ribbed International Fourteen ding

    It looks as though more has happened to the boat in the last week than in the previous fifty years.Will you be applying a thinned coat of varnish soon to prevent dirt and discolouration affecting the newly exposed wood?

  31. #31
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    Default Re: Some details of an Uffa Fox designed and built ribbed International Fourteen ding

    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew Craig-Bennett View Post
    The next question:

    i think that I may well be able to unscrew almost all of the the hood end screws in the stem and the transom.

    Where I have withdrawn a screw it has been "yellow" in colour; not the dull red of dezinc-ed brass.

    So, what does the panel think?

    a) Leave well alone!

    b) Replace, same gauge, 1/4" longer

    c) replace, go up one gauge, original length.

    The garboards, which incidentally are wych elm, not mahogany, are clench nailed to the hog, not screwed.

    i am removing the transom gudgeon (clenched!) and pintle (screwed!) to varnish under them and an doing the same with the brass keel band. The pintle is a nice bronze casting made with an eye to weight saving and was fitted over a scrap of calico soaked in white lead paint. Epoxy will just have to do!
    Definitely leave well alone if there is no sign of movement.
    Why not use calico and white undercoat when refitting the pintle?
    It really is quite difficult to build an ugly wooden boat.

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  32. #32
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    Default Re: Some details of an Uffa Fox designed and built ribbed International Fourteen ding

    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew Craig-Bennett View Post
    You can "Share" them you know.
    It really is quite difficult to build an ugly wooden boat.

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  33. #33
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    Default Re: Some details of an Uffa Fox designed and built ribbed International Fourteen ding

    Quote Originally Posted by John Meachen View Post
    It looks as though more has happened to the boat in the last week than in the previous fifty years.Will you be applying a thinned coat of varnish soon to prevent dirt and discolouration affecting the newly exposed wood?
    Yes!
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  34. #34
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    Default Re: Some details of an Uffa Fox designed and built ribbed International Fourteen ding

    Quote Originally Posted by Peerie Maa View Post
    You can "Share" them you know.
    Thanks.

    "Et in Arcadia ego!"

    There was bound to be to be some rot somewhere...

    You can see the colour contrast between the Honduras mahogany and the wych elm.
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