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Thread: Question about glue. Birdsmouth mast.

  1. #1
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    Default Question about glue. Birdsmouth mast.

    I just enjoyed the book, "Buckrammers Tales", by John Conway, recounting his adventures as owner of a 1908 Crosby Catboat. In one chapter he describes how in 2011 the 32' mast suddenly failed in Buzzards Bay during moderate weather while luffing and putting in a reef.
    He describes the failure as being in the wood itself, all 8 staves splitting vertically from near the partners where it was blocked solid almost to the top suddenly and catastrophically. The wood itself failed, but the glued birdsmouth joints held. The insurance adjuster and other's opinion is that " after 103 years of service it was its time to give up the ghost and let go".
    So, this got me thinking about glues. To my knowledge the only "glue" prior to WWII was hide glue, maybe shellac which I am pretty sure was a popular coating before varnish, could have worked for a while, but it's very hard to believe these could last 103 years in a 32' mast finished bright and exposed to the elements year round.

    I suspect the mast was replaced or rebuilt by an owner previous to Mr Conway using one of many common modern adhesives, but Mr Conway has pretty well documented the previous owners and work done on her.

    I recently built a much smaller birdsmouth mast myself using space-age adhesive, and a non-initiated friend asked me while we glued it up " what did they use to do this in the olden days? I answered that in the olden days they had better timber to choose from and did not need to build up spars, but a little voice in my head was saying that some people surely built hollow spars because of the weight savings, and this overhead would be most important with a cat rig. So what might have they used?

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Question about glue. Birdsmouth mast.

    best answers I could find
    Casein Glue

    — is made from a protein isolated from milk. The extraction process creates an adhesive that is waterproof.
    Its first use was in bonding the seam of cigarette paper. It provides a fast-setting bond that requires very little
    adhesive; one gram of adhesive can bond 2,000 cigarettes.



    http://www.bsahome.org/tools/pdfs/Hi...esives_web.pdf
    Denise, Bristol PA, Oday30, Anchor Yacht Club, On tidal Delaware River. my current project; http://forum.woodenboat.com/showthre...0-Ducker-Resto

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Question about glue. Birdsmouth mast.

    Herreshoff Manufacturing Co. glued up hollow spars. The procedure was so labor intensive that they planned the glue up for the end of the day and got workers from all the other departments to come do the glue up before they headed home. Each guy had a special clamp and a glue pot and was responsible for a shoulder wide section.




    More here:https://therelianceproject.com/2013/...ars-and-masts/

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Question about glue. Birdsmouth mast.

    Animal glue was common. It is a hot glue kept in a pot over heat.

    "Animal glue is an adhesive that is created by prolonged boiling of animal connective tissue"

    I saw it being used by a casket manufacture gluing staves for rounded tops, they thought it was still the best glue for the application.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Question about glue. Birdsmouth mast.

    Quote Originally Posted by StevenBauer View Post
    Herreshoff Manufacturing Co. glued up hollow spars. The procedure was so labor intensive that they planned the glue up for the end of the day and got workers from all the other departments to come do the glue up before they headed home. Each guy had a special clamp and a glue pot and was responsible for a shoulder wide section.




    More here:https://therelianceproject.com/2013/...ars-and-masts/
    This sounds like it was heated animal glue. The parts need to be assembled before the glue cools. Everyone just doing the 16" in front of them would allow that.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Question about glue. Birdsmouth mast.

    So what is the drawback of using casein glue for spars? Why don't we use it now?

    Alex

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    Default Re: Question about glue. Birdsmouth mast.

    Quote Originally Posted by Pitsligo View Post
    So what is the drawback of using casein glue for spars? Why don't we use it now?

    Alex
    Ever tried to buy it at the store? Even resorcinol is tough to find these days. I will say I know of one mast glued up with Elmer’s pro glue, still going strong after 15 years.

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    Default Re: Question about glue. Birdsmouth mast.

    Quote Originally Posted by Pitsligo View Post
    Why don't we use it now?
    A couple reason why we might not.

    Water Resistance

    Casein-glue joints are water resistant but not waterproof. When wet, the waterresistantcasein-glue joints are stronger than wet vegetable- or animal-glue jointsbut not as strong as well-made phenol- or resorcinol- resin-glue joints or jointsmade with unextended urea-resin glues. After being soaked for 48 hours, inwater at room temperatures, casein-glue joints in plywood commonly show wettestvalues equal to some 40 to 60 percent of their dry-test values. Casein-gluejoints will withstand occasional soaking, but if repeatedly soaked and dried theywill finally fail.

    Mold Resistance

    If casein-glue joints are exposed for prolonged periods to conditions that arefavorable to the growth of molds or other micro-organisms, they will fail intime.
    https://www.fpl.fs.fed.us/documnts/fplrn/fplrn158.pdf

    Hot hide gluing a mast with 20 people would be quite the feat of coordination. Best done on a steamy, hot summer day.

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    Default Re: Question about glue. Birdsmouth mast.

    Quote Originally Posted by navydog View Post
    Animal glue was common. It is a hot glue kept in a pot over heat.

    "Animal glue is an adhesive that is created by prolonged boiling of animal connective tissue"

    I saw it being used by a casket manufacture gluing staves for rounded tops, they thought it was still the best glue for the application.
    We used to use animal glue in the woodwork shop at school, circa 1963. Seem to remember it was cows hoofs, or mayby horses? Kept in a pot on a gas burner with the brush left in. Meanwhile, back home, we were building boats(lots of them) with Aerolite 306, a urea formaldahyde glue. A bit later, in the 70s, I was sticking wooden aircraft together with resorcinol glue.
    There were problems with the Mosquito aircraft in WW11, out in the far east, due to the humidity & heat. This accelerated the development of better glues.

    I doubt that casket builders are too worried about long term durability

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Question about glue. Birdsmouth mast.

    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew2 View Post

    I doubt that casket builders are too worried about long term durability
    No it wasn't, but they used it because it retained flexibility and helped prevent cracking of seams in environments with changing humidity levels. The finished product is actually a very high end item where consumers will not tolerate defects. Plus the glue is very inexpensive.
    Last edited by navydog; 02-12-2018 at 11:11 PM.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Question about glue. Birdsmouth mast.

    I know stringed instruments such as violins and cellos for hundreds of years have been assembled with hide glue. The primary reason it is still used today is they can be dismantled for maintenance without damaging fragile (and in some cases priceless) components.
    I have no experience with it in moist environments, but I would assume it is vulnerable to attack by mold and insects. I know my Airedale got into a bag of it (intended for instrument repair) once and consumed a whole pound.
    From reading the Herreshoff information it sounds as if it is very possible Mr Conway was right and those glue lines were 103 years old and still stronger than the wood itself.
    I had forgotten about casein glue, it sounds as if it might be less soluble and more appropriate around boats. I'm interested in hearing any more anyone can share.
    Last edited by chrisring; 02-12-2018 at 11:49 PM.

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    Default Re: Question about glue. Birdsmouth mast.

    I had a quick chat with the guys down in the SOF who built a new mast for a classic. Sitka spruce and 160 odd feet. They used a commercial varient of Urea Formaldehyde, as it came out best in ageing tests at the lab. Construction was box in box rectangular section.

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Question about glue. Birdsmouth mast.

    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew2 View Post
    I had a quick chat with the guys down in the SOF who built a new mast for a classic. Sitka spruce and 160 odd feet. They used a commercial varient of Urea Formaldehyde, as it came out best in ageing tests at the lab. Construction was box in box rectangular section.
    I'd guess their using Resorcinol glue. "

    Resorcinol/Formaldehyde Adhesive

    Synonyms:

    Cascophen, Penacolite, Weldwood


    Detailed Product Description:

    This is an industrial quality resorcinol/formaldehyde adhesive that is waterproof/boilproof and is typically used for structural wood beams.

    Due to its strength, and its resistance to the elements, it is often recommended for wood aircraft construction.*This adhesive was used on the Bellanca Viking and the French Robin aircraft without a single glue joint failure.*Ideal for marine applications for maximum resistance to the elements.*Popular for restoring classic wood boats and yacht construction."

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    Default Re: Question about glue. Birdsmouth mast.

    Nope, they said it was Urea Formaldehyde. Came from Germany. The original comment was modified melamine, so, since I was about to build a mast, I contacted them about it.

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Question about glue. Birdsmouth mast.

    Umm Umm Umm.... WELDWOOD® wood glue is a powdered, urea formaldehyde. Synonym Resorcinol/Formaldehyde Adhesive

    Synonyms:
    Cascophen, Penacolite,Weldwood

    Pretty much it's all the same thing.

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    Default Re: Question about glue. Birdsmouth mast.

    Um,Um, whatever. Resorcinol and U-F are different animals. These guys were building a BIG mast and used the best advice.

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    Default Re: Question about glue. Birdsmouth mast.

    My blog about my time as a boat building student and as a rigger apprentice http://kaptenmohsart.blogspot.se/ in Swedish only, but there are many pictures :-)

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    Default Re: Question about glue. Birdsmouth mast.

    There are three different glue groups some of you mix up. Phenol resorcinol formaldehyde systems (PRF, PF, RF), urea formaldehyde systems (UF, mUF) and melamine formaldehyde systems (MF, MUF).
    Each have different properties. The RF is your typical resorcinol glue, PF is what you see in marine plywood. Both have dark glueline, from purple to brown. MUF is used for structural laminated beams and probably what you were trying to identify as beeing used on the big mast.
    Each company has different formulations and brand names from this groups. Weldwood plastic resin is a UF, but they also use to sell an RF formulation in the past.

    Casein glue is a waterproof glue you can make at home from milk if you like. Very strong but susceptible to fungal and bacterial attack. Fireproof. Known since antiquity.

    Animal glue (hide glue, fish bladder glue) is not waterproof (it disolves in hot water) but is the only glue that tightens a joint by itself when it cures. That's why it is still the glue of choice for musical instruments and was widely used in the past for veneering. After all you can't just clamp togheter a violin with resorcinol or other glues that require high clamping pressure.

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Question about glue. Birdsmouth mast.

    Andrew2, Being a little more 'senior' than you, I recall the animal glue (did it stink when heated !) in a pot sitting on a heater in 1953 in my school in Victoria. Australia.
    Cheers from Martin B.
    Mandurah, Western Australia
    mcbunny09@gmail.com

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Question about glue. Birdsmouth mast.

    Rumars,
    Thank you for the explanation.

  21. #21
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    Default Re: Question about glue. Birdsmouth mast.

    ...is the only glue that tightens a joint by itself when it cures.
    File that under "you learn something new every day"! Thank you, Rumars. For all that info, but for that quirk of hide glue in particular.

    FWIW, Cascophen G-1131 resorcinol (the stuff I've used) also lists itself as a paraformaldehyde. I'm not a chemist by any stretch of the imagination, but that "para" seems like it might be technically important(?).

    Alex

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    Default Re: Question about glue. Birdsmouth mast.

    You are welcome navydog. Anyone wanting more information just has to google the abbreviations + glue. You can also find recipies for making casein glue or learn about the different grades of animal glue.

    Pitsligo, the paraformaldehyde part only means that they do not use liquid formaldehyde in the formulation, but a powder. It gets transformed to formaldehyde by heat and water and then reacts with the resorcinol or phenol to form the glue. That's why some formulations of RF are temperature sensitive. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paraformaldehyde
    If you ever watch a piece of soaked rawhide dry you will see it shrinks a little as it becomes hard. The glue is just a distilled version of it. It still needs clamps to hold the pieces in position, and it's still not gap filling and needs good fitting, but once it grabs the wood it will tighten the joint as it cools.
    Last edited by Rumars; 02-13-2018 at 08:09 PM.

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    Default Re: Question about glue. Birdsmouth mast.

    Thanks for that, Rumars.

  24. #24
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    Default Re: Question about glue. Birdsmouth mast.

    Over the many years that I have been making masts, I have used a varitiey of glues for mast construction. Unlike Larry Pardy, I have avoided the use of Resourcinol for varnished spars due to its dark color. But, in truth, I have never had a glue joint made with Bordens or Weldwood glue fail and, that is a lot of masts!

    I am of the belief that the birds mouth form of mast construction and the West System G/flex epoxy glue are a perfect match for one and other.
    This is because a bird's mouth mast will shrink and expand 360 degrees around its cirvumfrence which puts a great amount of load on the glue joints. Add this to the vertical loading and bending loads and you have a great variety of forces attempting to cause a glue joint to fail if a brittle adhesive is used. G/flex is not brittle! It has a permanent built in flex factor that I believe adds to the strength of the glue joints. However, time will be the great deciding factor here! But, I am of the belief that we finally have a very good glue for mast building! I might add, that I never use blocking in my masts other than near the butt and mast head.
    Jay

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    Default Re: Question about glue. Birdsmouth mast.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jay Greer View Post
    Over the many years that I have been making masts, I have used a varitiey of glues for mast construction. Unlike Larry Pardy, I have avoided the use of Resourcinol for varnished spars due to its dark color. But, in truth, I have never had a glue joint made with Bordens or Weldwood glue fail and, that is a lot of masts!

    I am of the belief that the birds mouth form of mast construction and the West System G/flex epoxy glue are a perfect match for one and other.
    This is because a bird's mouth mast will shrink and expand 360 degrees around its cirvumfrence which puts a great amount of load on the glue joints. Add this to the vertical loading and bending loads and you have a great variety of forces attempting to cause a glue joint to fail if a brittle adhesive is used. G/flex is not brittle! It has a permanent built in flex factor that I believe adds to the strength of the glue joints. However, time will be the great deciding factor here! But, I am of the belief that we finally have a very good glue for mast building! I might add, that I never use blocking in my masts other than near the butt and mast head.
    Jay
    The nice thing about spars is that they typically don't end up immersed. So the requirements for 'waterproof' are not as stringent as they are for some other boat components.

    I've built spars using urea formaldehyde (Weldwood 'plastic resin glue'), Modified PVA's (TitebondII & TitebondIII), Straight marine epoxy from various suppliers. And West G-flex epoxy.

    I'd not scream about using any of that list. I'd never used hide glue in this day - as any of the above are better options. And, while the G-flex is a newer product, and I've grown leery about 'new miracle goops'... I agree with Jay that it seems to be the best choice for spars - esp. birdsmouth construction.

    Urea formaldehyde concerns me both because it seems a bit brittle for a flexing spar, and because I've seen it dry out over time, and granulate. We're talking 40-60 year old spars, so that's not a terrible life-span, and it might have been an earlier formulation, for all I know. I'm not familiar with some of the newer 'modified' formulations, so can't speak to their suitability.

    Modified PVA's are good except for two small issues. During glueup, than can skin over before you get the assembly together, which CAN interfere with adhesion. Also - they can creep under sustained load. This comes into play if you both have a stayed mast, and if you don't keep the stays fully fettled and balanced. Neither of those are an insurmountable problem - but need to be planned for.

    Straight epoxy is very good, but mostly more brittle than the G-flex version. Not a huge problem, but not tip-top-ideal when a more resilient goop is available.

    My only beef about the G-flex (and, btw, System3 makes a similar product) is the expense.
    David G
    Harbor Woodworks
    http://www.harborwoodworking.com/boat.html

    "It was a Sunday morning and Goddard gave thanks that there were still places where one could worship in temples not made by human hands." -- L. F. Herreshoff (The Compleat Cruiser)

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