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Thread: Deltaville Deadrise

  1. #1
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    Default Deltaville Deadrise

    Hi Folks,
    Iíve been largely off the radar for some time, with the pandemic, house sale, and new house buy. But weíve made it to retirement and are now situated on the Northern Neck, close to the Rappahannock River in Virginia. We found a place with some land (6 acres, largely wooded), and decent work spaces for my wifeís studio and my shop. Hers is an attached 2 car garage which we insulated, rocked, and climate controlled, and mine is a detached large garage with 10í rollup door and 12í ceilings. The house needs work, but what else is new?

    It will be a while before Iím starting a new boat of my own, but Iíve hooked up with John England over at the Deltaville Maritime Museum, in the boat shop there. Thereís a lot going on! Iíd like to offer up this thread as a running document of the boats being built, and the history, skills, and work being preserved there.



    The Deltaville boat builder Willard Norris who passed away just this January at age 94, was pretty much the last commercial deadrise builder still left in a town once teeming with working watermen and boat builders. His shop on Loverís Lane was one of many there on Jackson Creek.
    https://chesapeakebaymagazine.com/de...ses-at-age-94/
    https://www.proptalk.com/captain-wil...adrise-builder

    Before he died, Norris had begun work on a new 25í deadrise skiff with his grandson. They had the skiff set up with keelson, stem, chine plank and log, and transom plank, with maybe half of the bottom planked. When he passed on in January, the skiff bottom was given to John England at the museum boat shop to complete. John and a crew of volunteers have been turning out deadrise skiffs there for quite a while, using patterns, notes, and setup dimensions from old time builders, or from derelict hulls that John has found and measured.


    John England and the new Norris boat in the shop.





    A view underneath of keelson, and chine plank spreader, plus some bracing to keep things square.


    The view out back behind the shop.

    Iíve just this week joined the crew in the boat shop on a little arm of Jackson Creek, and have started working on this great skiff. As we go on, Iíll try to document the work on this skiff, and maybe take a look around at some other projects and points of interest in the area. I'll describe the setup of these "rack of eye" skiffs, with some scantling info. Thereís so much boat building history here! Thanks for looking.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Deltaville Deadrise

    Subscribed! Looks like a great boatshop! Looking forward to reports!

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Deltaville Deadrise

    What a beautiful spot & sounds like some fun "work"

    Good news of the new place!
    "If it ain't broke, you're not trying." - Red Green

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Deltaville Deadrise

    Congrats on your new stage of life, Jim!

    I'll be following this thread.


    Kevin
    There are two kinds of boaters: those who have run aground, and those who lie about it.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Deltaville Deadrise

    Quote Originally Posted by jim_cricket View Post
    Hi Folks,
    Iíve been largely off the radar for some time, with the pandemic, house sale, and new house buy. But weíve made it to retirement and are now situated on the Northern Neck, close to the Rappahannock River in Virginia.

    It will be a while before Iím starting a new boat of my own, but Iíve hooked up with John England over at the Deltaville Maritime Museum, in the boat shop there. Thereís a lot going on! Iíd like to offer up this thread as a running document of the boats being built, and the history, skills, and work being preserved there.
    We used to live in Weems, near Kilmarnock, and I've spent plenty of time ogling the boats at the DMM. I love these two:
    4.jpg

    I used to sail or paddle around examining the copious numbers of deadrise workboats around the area, too. I'm a fan.
    And I've talked to John a few times, mostly at the local messabout on the Piankatank R. Nice guy, and a skilled boat builder.

    Do check out the Reedville Fisherman's museum, too, if you haven't already.
    Dave

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Deltaville Deadrise

    Quote Originally Posted by DGentry View Post
    We used to live in Weems, near Kilmarnock, and I've spent plenty of time ogling the boats at the DMM. I love these two:
    4.jpg

    I used to sail or paddle around examining the copious numbers of deadrise workboats around the area, too. I'm a fan.
    And I've talked to John a few times, mostly at the local messabout on the Piankatank R. Nice guy, and a skilled boat builder.

    Do check out the Reedville Fisherman's museum, too, if you haven't already.
    Dave
    Hi Dave, I'm in White Stone, and yes I was just up in Reedville earlier in the week. John went up there to meet with Gerhard, Captain of the skipjack Claude W. Somers. She needs a new boom, and I tagged along with John to look at the 60' Norway Spruce pole the boom will come out of. Boom is 42' long. Her mast is out to deal with some rot down in the step. We also visited George Butler's old Reedville Marine Railway, now in private, non commercial ownership. The railway and shop are still functional.

    I believe those bateaux were lost to the fire they had in 2012, unless the one in the foreground is the Virginia, the Joe Gregory designed, Carl Pedersen built bateau that is in the museum's gallery inside. I don't think so, but I'll look for the pics I shot of that boat and compare.

    Here's Virginia. She has carved trailboards. I believe the bateau in the background of your pic is a John Wright boat. I'll have more on the Wrights later, not John, but Lewis, his nephew I believe.



    Anyway, thanks for the comments everyone. More is on the way.
    Cricket

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Deltaville Deadrise

    Nice to see John! Say hello from me.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Deltaville Deadrise

    Quote Originally Posted by Thad View Post
    Nice to see John! Say hello from me.
    Will do!

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Deltaville Deadrise

    I took these in 2013, just after the fire. Virginia was under a shed at the time.
    8.jpg
    There were a couple of others, in need of a bit of work.
    6.jpg

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Deltaville Deadrise

    Welcome to Virginia, Jim! You will love hanging out with John. He is a real gentleman and chock full of boat knowledge. Hope to meet you IRL some time when I come down out of the mountains.
    "George Washington as a boy
    was ignorant of the commonest
    accomplishments of youth.
    He could not even lie."

    -- Mark Twain

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Deltaville Deadrise

    Thanks. Have you met Vera too?

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Deltaville Deadrise

    Awesome Jimmy!

    I will be following you!
    Skip

    ---This post is delivered with righteous passion and with a solemn southern directness --
    ...........fighting against the deliberate polarization of politics...

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Deltaville Deadrise

    I'm not sure where these boats are now, Dave. I haven't seen them on the property. I do love those bateau. I wish there was time to build one. I bought Joe Gregory's little booklet on his bay designs in Yorktown, back in the 80's, and always thought of Virginia as a nice little boat. Looks bigger than she is inside the museum. Those two you show might be John Wright boats? There's a monochrome photo by Larry Chowning of one of those in his Deadrise And Crossplanked book that he attributes to John Wright.

    Thad, John says hello back. Vera's been in at lunchtime a couple of days. We had met at St. Mikes back in the 90's.

    Thanks everyone for following!

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Deltaville Deadrise

    I’ve been busy for several days in the boat shop, and have some pics, but I have to process them all first. In the meantime, I have some some pics of some recent skiffs that were built in the shop. The first is a 20’ skiff from Willard Norris dimensions. I took these pics in 2018, on a trip down to scout the area. These are the only ones I have of this boat. This one was built of juniper on heart pine, with the traditional shaped bow staves from thick planks, hewn for twist.





    The second skiff was finished last year, and was built from dimensions John gathered from a derelict Lewis Wright skiff. Some info here- https://deltaville.pastperfectonline...A-217184196614 I shot some pics of the construction on another trip I made in 2019. The boat was back in the shop this spring for some paint work.







    This skiff, and a subsequent 16’er, were planked on the bottom with a double layer of 7/16” or so (not sure of the exact bottom thickness) juniper epoxy glued. When the bow staving was reached, they switched to strips 1-1/2” wide, with the twist bandsawed inside and out to fit the run from keelson to chine. This is hard to describe in words, but coming up in the next post I have some pics. Topsides are single planked juniper, edge glued, which has been common practice now for many years. Stem and sister keelsons are pressure treated yellow pine. Keelson, chine log, and transom are heart pine, and the frames are fir (I believe). This boat is still around, and I may try to get some scantling info from it for my records.

    Continued next post...

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Deltaville Deadrise

    ...continued.









    I’m going to try to document the setup and basic dimensional info as we go forward. I’d like to work on some drawings and text about the process. We’ll see if I have the time. How did I ever work a full time job and get anything done? I’m busier now than ever! More later…
    Cricket

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Deltaville Deadrise

    Back to the Norris 25 in the shop- I’ve been working on flushing the bottom planks to the chine, and fairing the bottom. John has continued cutting bow staves in between trim repairs and painting on the Crockett’s pilothouse. This had all been varnished up until now, but he has switched recently to paint.

    Some of the bottom planks back aft were cut to the chine already, a little too deep in places, so I ran a batten on the fair chine line on the bottom, and did a little back filling with West 410. I don’t know if I mentioned before that Willard Norris had been gluing and glassing his hulls for years, and the shop will do the same on this last Norris hull. This is not SOP for shop skiffs here, though they have been double planked and glued on the bottom, and then strip staved forward like I’m showing here. The glass will be a rather heavy 1208 biax, with a light layup of something (TBD) over that.







    One interesting part of the setup on these rack of eye skiffs is the chine plank, or “starting plank” as some call it. On a boat set up on molds, you might spile the chines, which would give you the shape the chine takes as it is cut from a straight plank. On these deadrise skiffs, a batten is laid on the chine plank, on the bench, and a hollow (of about 1-1/2” roughly amidship on this skiff) is marked and cut. The chine plank is then fastened to the stem and bent around a single spreader about 18” forward of amidship, and wrestled back to the transom plank which is fastened to the keelson and anchored to a sawhorse. The hollow straightens out an otherwise “humpy” chine line, and gets the chine clear of the water plane quicker. The setup follows notes to rule of thumb dimensions in the builder’s mind that were established over years of deadrise boat building.


    There's a little hard spot in the second plank from transom visible here that I faired out. I made a pattern of the starboard chine, and made port look like that.




    One thing that I noticed on this hull, is that the chine cut gives a little downturn to the bottom at the transom, not unlike the “hook” on some hulls, or wedges on others. I don’t know if this is typical or not, but it is visible in some of the pics. This hull came to the shop already set up, and Norris has passed on, so those questions are unanswered for the moment.

    Cutting those bottom planks off and trimming flush with the changing bevels is a little arduous, even on this spruce, but I managed to do an okay job, and have been planing and grinding the bottom planks flat. I had to invest in a pair of knee pads, or I might not be able to do this kind of work much longer!



    Next time I’ll attempt to describe the procedure for cutting the twist in the bow staving. I have pics that I hope help make it clear. That should be a little more interesting than the fairing pics. Stay tuned!

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Deltaville Deadrise

    I’ll try to describe John’s method for planking the bow on these deadrise boats. The DMM shop has switched to strip staving the twisty planks up forward, and the cuts are all made on the bandsaw, rather than the hewing from thick stock that is required for wider planking. At some point after amidship as the bow is approached, the wide planks begin to taper, to reach an angle to the keel that requires as little twist as possible, and also to end up more or less parallel to the rake of the stem. The staving is 1-1/2" wide, but starts out maybe 1-3/4” to 2” thick to accommodate the twist. On this boat, all the planking is construction grade spruce. Previous boats have been all juniper.



    The plank is laid tight to the chine, but only one edge will touch the keelson. The entire plank must bear tightly against the previous plank. The pictures help explain this. The gap at the keelson is marked and measured, then the taper is laid out on the plank.







    A small stick is clamped to the bandsaw, with maybe 1/16” of flat right at the blade. The plank’s good edge bears tightly against this little flat, and the plank is sawn to the line, rotating for twist by hand. It sounds trickier than it actually is. A little practice gives you a smooth cut. The plank is then checked for fit, and a pattern is then used to mark the finished depth on both faces to be cut. The pics of finished planks show how twisty they actually are!





    Continued next post…
    Last edited by jim_cricket; 06-22-2021 at 07:27 AM.

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Deltaville Deadrise

    ...continued from previous post.










    Quite a few staves are cut and fitted, then numbered on the boat. We glue up a group at a time, on both sides moving forward, cleaning the glue up pretty carefully. On the inside of the boat, there will be very little smoothing to do, compared with the more traditional thick and wide staving. But there are a lot of planks to fit!

    With the bow mostly closed up, the forward braces were removed, and the keelson was cut flush with the stem.



    That's it for now. Stay tuned...

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Deltaville Deadrise

    Thanks, Jim. Have fun!

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Deltaville Deadrise

    Thanks for explaining the freehand twist on the band saw .

  21. #21
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    Default Re: Deltaville Deadrise

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Perkins View Post
    Thanks for explaining the freehand twist on the band saw .
    Good to hear from you Bill!

  22. #22
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    Default Re: Deltaville Deadrise

    Thats cool. When you have a chance would you mind snapping some pics of the inside where the staving lands on the garboard?

    Thanks,
    JRM

  23. #23
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    Default Re: Deltaville Deadrise

    Thank you Jim , and congratulations on your relocation . It must be a joy to now have SPACE to do things . I can't resist the file bottoms . I'm going to have to try the freehand twist on some scrap . I didn't know solid sawn lumber this thick could be glassed . Construction grade lumber I think of as at about 19% mc . Apparently the heavy glass can handle it .

  24. #24
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    Default Re: Deltaville Deadrise

    Fascinating project. thanks for sharing.
    There's the plan, then there's what actually happens.

    Ben Sebens, RN

    15' Welsford Navigator Inconceivable
    16' W. Simmons Mattinicus double ender ​Matty

  25. #25
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    Default Re: Deltaville Deadrise

    [QUOTE=willin woodworks;6475210]Thats cool. When you have a chance would you mind snapping some pics of the inside where the staving lands on the garboard?

    We'll be turning the bottom over soon(ish), and the pics will be better once we do that. You won't see the intersection of the cross planking to chine plank (what you are calling the garboard) because there's a hefty chine log inboard of the chine plank, but the interface is similar. There's a real beefy land for the bottom at both keelson and chine. The timbers are pretty stout, to say the least.

  26. #26
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    Default Re: Deltaville Deadrise

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Perkins View Post
    I didn't know solid sawn lumber this thick could be glassed . Construction grade lumber I think of as at about 19% mc . Apparently the heavy glass can handle it .
    I guess we'll see. I do know that Willard Norris was glassing his hulls, and that man built many, many successful boats in his 94 year life. The 1208 is a pretty heavy fabric, with 12 oz double bias cloth on a 3/4 oz matt. We'll set up a layup table, to wet out the cloth, rather than wetting it out on the boat.

    Glassing the hulls is not typical for this shop, but we are following the Norris protocol.

    I'm happy to be down in Va. We have nice workspaces here at the house, and the commute to "work" (the DMM shop) is laid back. Not a single stop light between the house and Jackson Creek. I love riding my old Schwinn bike around Deltaville, passing cornfields and boat yards, rather than bodegas and flats fixed shops. I rode past Willard's house and shop on Lovers Lane the other day.

  27. #27
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    Default Re: Deltaville Deadrise

    A quick post before the weekend. I have to go back up to NYC to pick up a boat, and a shave horse from the old boat shop in Brooklyn. And when i get back, my machines arrive from storage, so I won't be back in the DMM shop for a week. Earlier this week, John finished the bow planking, and got the keel and stem trued up. When I got in yesterday, I set up a batten to scribe the fair chine line from the stem back, on both sides of the boat, then planed and sanded the line mostly fair. The 4-1/2" grinder is indispensable.




    You can see the high spots above the chine in this pic, above the batten.





    Today I got most of the high spots in the planking ground out, and started fairing the bow, and filling holes and low spots. I don't have any pictures from today, but will get some of the fairing next time I'm there. In the meantime, someone donated a pile of juniper from a boat project that didn't pan out. There's some long lengths up in the loft, and shorts for bottom planking in this pile. Maybe enough for an 18'er after this big one is finished.



    See you next week.
    Cricket

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