Tuesday, December 23, 2014

An Early Christmas Gift ...

... arrived the other day.  Teak decking from Boulter Plywood.  Boulter has provided most of the wood for Iona, so this is also a plug for Chris and the gang - thank you!

The first box laid out on the horses:

Carefully opened ...

Ahh ... vertical grain quarter-sawn 1.75" x 0.5" Burmese teak.  It will be planed to a thinner dimension before setting on the sub-deck.

A morale poster also showed up in the Works.  Best Beloved is puzzling over its significance ...

Sunday, December 14, 2014

The Smokebox

The boiler was on hold for a while as I pursued other things, as seen in recent posts.  The smokebox design then finally drafted by Mr Anderson, and the laser-cut pieces arrived, demanding attention and fabrication.

Below is the incomplete furnace frame with the partial smokebox frame set in place to adjust fit.  A hydraulic press punched the box frames for the door dog bolts.  I'm tacking the pieces together by stick, later to be seal-welded with 0.023 MIG wire.  The furnace and ash frames will be fitted with protruding sealing lips, and custom doors made with the appropriate drafting devices.  To be fitting and welding again is a great joy.

And yes, the boiler is on end inside the roof sheet of a Belpaire boiler, standing on its nose. A totally unrelated railway project ...

Sunday, November 30, 2014

The Steering Gear

One of the tasks that requires completion before the hull is decked is the fitting of the steering gear.  Said gear runs the range from the practical - clothesline run through zinc-plated blocks - to the sublime - sailboat systems manufactured by Edson Marine.  I admit I appreciate well-engineered systems.  Edson had me as soon as I received their catalog.  The heavy bronze quadrants; the exquisite sheaves - what could I do?  I had to throw money at them ...

After mounting the rudder, I came up with a system of blocks to act on the rudder.  A port-side helm station was always the idea.  The problem than became how to run the cables to the sheaves and the rudder quadrant.  This first picture is the helm station, with the steering chain and cables emerging from its aft side.

A standard Edson bulkhead gear will mount on the box, with the proper fine wood and all.  The standard taper didn't fit an antique wheel I received from Greenwich, UK, so we had to take the thing apart and machine the shaft.  (I'm still not sure whether or not I'll use the brake, though it is set up for it.)  The cables then lead aft to No. Four frame, in the foreground here, where two standard four-inch idler sheaves were set up to maintain the cable's suspension around the corner.

Here's another picture of the No. Four sheave mount:

Swapping orientation of the cables was then in order, as seen above, so that the bow swings in the proper direction with the wheel.  Piercing No. Five bulkhead got me into the rudder compartment proper where I could thread the blocks which act upon the quadrant.  Here's a shot of the stern compartment with the cables under temporary tension in order to see how the whole rig works:

It was pleasing to manipulate the chain at the helm box and watch the whole thing silently swing through its paces, without slop.  After determining that things would work, I then disassembled the cabling and idlers to seal the bulkheads where they were bored and to apply the correct fasteners.  Jibes are coming about "a rig that will sail around the Horn," etc., but I don't believe I'll be using the emergency tiller any time soon.

It will soon be time to finish decking ...

Sunday, September 28, 2014

A Rudder for Iona

Iona's rudder arrived from the foundry.  So it was off to get the keyway machined (courtesy of Mr. Anderson), and then back in the shop to be balanced, dressed and have a hole bored so the prop shaft can come out with the rudder hard over.

Next was the trial installation.  The hull was to be pivoted on its forward jack stands, so I knocked out the keel blocks forward of the stands and put the lift on bulkhead No. 5.  Here we arrive at our final height, measured by the rule in the shaft hole, with Quinx, the shop cat supervising as usual ...

With the stern hanging on the lift, the rudder is started home.

Gauging the progress of the shaft as the hull slowly descends.  Quinx is checking the credentials of the photographer, as no unauthorized personnel - by her definition - are allowed in The Works.

 The hull is almost on the stern keelblocks and stands.

The hull is home.  I've not totally settled on the means of rudder suspension.  A bracket with bronze collar will probably be on the underside of the king plank support, above the quadrant.  The shaft extends a little up through the king plank for the possibility of an emergency tiller, should the steering gear fail.  I'll figure on some kind of fancy bronze deck cover for it.

After head scratching and fabricating, there will be future lifts for the final installation.  That's when the packing gland, seen sitting to the right of the slings, will go in.

Looks like the local graffiti artists have tagged the hull again.  Not a bad sentiment on the kind of project that can tend to strain the checkbook and marital bonds ...  Photos courtesy of said graffiti artist - thanks, babe.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Engine Beds - Part II

Notwithstanding all of the hullabaloo surrounding the prop, it was time to get the engine beds in permanently and the position of the engine defined, since so many other things - piping, for one - depend on the fixed centrality of the engine.  So out came the shaft hubs, recently machined, and the engine lift again, and all was swung inboard to begin the alignment process.

This photo was taken when things were about dialed in, however it shows the many considerations in play:  The engine is in its position fore and aft.  Though the floors are fairly true to the gunwales, I nonetheless strung a straight edge* across to make sure that the engine would be perfectly perpendicular to the plane of the waterline.  I would see where the engine was sitting with respect to the shaft hub, lift up the engine a piece, knock the beds out and plane them to where I thought they should be, re-install them, measure and fuss, lift the engine a bit, knock out the beds, etc.  *(Purists will worry about my use of a treated piece of junk pine for a straight edge, but I couldn't find my prized Doug fir batten ... One grabs what one can in situations like this.)

Finally, I had things to around 0.005" on the tips of plastic epoxy spatulas, confident that permanent shimming could be accomplished from there.  Here's a close up of the hubs all but dialed in - bright engine hub forward and gray shaft hub aft -  with the spatulas serving a nobler task than normal.  The hubs by the way, are off the shelf, Buck-Algonquin ductile iron, cast within a couple miles of our house.  The shaft hub remains stock while the engine hub has been extensive modified to clear eccentrics, retaining nuts, etc.

To the port of the engine, forward of the aft floor behind the low pressure column is where the crosshead-driven pumps will sit on their bronze bedplate.  This bedplate has to be let into the beds its thickness.  So, the lift whisked the engine back to the bench, out came the beds for the last time and out came the chisels.  With the beds then finish dressed, I epoxied them into place.  The beds themselves were left unfinished except where the bonds on the tenons and and floor shelves were made.  Later, I'll treat them with raw linseed oil and turpentine - love that old boat smell!

Here is a shot with the engine back on the bench and its hub coming off.

The hubs, bearing caps (here, in red) and other items will go out to the powder-coating shop for their final finish.  One can see the pump links, and other items, namely the exposed low-pressure valve seat on the yet unfinished engine.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

A Steam Propeller

Some time ago, I picked up this Michigan 22 x 27 right-hand propeller for Iona.  The cost was cheaper than the scrap value and I had done enough reading on props to know that the prop had an rpm-limiting disk area, among other issues ...

Iona didn't mind, I wasn't afraid of modifications and there were enough other things to do so the prop collected dust.

Fast-forward to now - the propeller shaft is in - so it was time to re-visit the propeller.  Back to the bookmarks in the propeller tomes.  I decided on a surface area, plotted where I would modify (increase) the pitch and made a template.

Out came the center punch; a cut-off wheel was mounted on the small grinder - It was "bad haircut time."

Here's the prop with a "bad haircut."  I know about these things.  Summer of '70, the neighbor boys and I purchased black powder from the feed store.  You could do that kind of thing in those days.  We perfected our copper tubing skills by manufacturing bombs of various caliber and force.  Turns out we were challenged by that age-old problem of proper fusing.  (If we had only had the Internet!)  One of our devices experienced a premature - to us - detonation.  Half my summer-blond hair was frizzed.  Not to mention the powder grains embedded in temples, cheeks and shins.  [We are far afield from steam propellers ...]  It was the kind of thing the parents would certainly notice.  What to do?  Haircuts!  Of course, no one would notice!  So we similarly afflicted youth set about shearing each other - what could go wrong?  Followed by thorough scrubbing of the powder burns; there, we looked like we were ready for church ...

The photo doesn't do it quite justice: the chord is as thick as my little finger.  The next step was to grind a rolling foil from root to tip in a way that created lift or thrust on the back of the blade.  By dressing the foil in the way I imagined, it would increase the pitch slightly.  Oh, and I chopped the tips to fit the aperture.  Here's the first blade, with foil dressed.  (The tips will wait for balancing.)

The prop is sitting front side, up.  The major metal removal occurred on the back side in order to preserve the chord profile.

This photo uses different lighting and displays more of the overall profile.  I might keep the squarish tips, after a fashion.  They might add to "the look" whatever my profiling skills lack.  By the way, tools used were 4.5" grinder with razor cut-off wheel; 4.5" grinder with standard 0.250" wheel for roughing in; 7" slow-speed grinder with foam pad and 80 grit stick-on pads for fairing.

Balancing  and final tip dress will take place on a motorcycle wheel balancing stand.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Dreaming and shopping for Iona

The Wooden Boat Show at Mystic has become an annual pilgrimage for us.  The salty ambiance of Mystic would be enough.  The first half-day is spent wandering around in a daze, just glad to be there.  But then I settle down to Purpose; re-visiting certain vendors, taking pictures of design elements we like, and shopping.

Seats and decks were on my mind ...  Here's a simple but elegant presentation.

The benches are easily constructed with turned spindles for support.  The teak floor boards lift out, where appropriate.

These pieced benches are nice.

This teak deck is left weathered, with narrower boards than the standard.  I appreciate the way it is let in around the bright house.  Further inspiration was found in the Rossi storage area.  These are boats and items that are not on display but are available to study.

Seat detail from an early 20th century launch - perhaps my favorite design so far.  The storage collection is surreal.  What is this?  The jawbone of a whale?

There were many launch engines in the collection.  Here, detail from one of the Navy engines.

Best beloved found a marine consignment (!) shop in Mystic and was sweet enough to tell me about it.  Here are some finds on Iona's stern planking.  The stern bit is close to its future home.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

The Holy Grail

It feels like some kind of initiation ritual with holy symbols ...

This is the NBIC symbol, stamped in front of the serial number ...

Higher up in the pantheon, surrounded by the great cloud of information such as manufacturer, square footage of heating surface and steaming capacity, we stamped this ...

The ASME symbol, with an "S" below it.

No bottled goods were broke over the shell of the boiler, but it is still exciting.  I mean, who gets to attend a boiler stamping these days?

Ceremony over, we poured over the P-2 form, more painful than federal taxes, in order to make sure that every "i" was dotted and "t" was crossed.

I am told that the reviewers on the Board are humorless ...

Now on to the Commonwealth's Department of Labor & Industry, Boiler Division ... 

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

A Propeller Shaft for Iona

Walking out to get the mail I noticed the tell-tale tire tracks of the UPS truck.  Oh!  Maybe it's the shaft!  Sure enough, propped inside the shop door - the delivery man is well-trained - stands the new shaft in its tube.  Soon it is out of its packing and I'm checking the specs and fit.  This is good ...

Here is the shaft poking through the gland.  The keyway for the coupling is clearly visible on the top.  Since the gland with its O-rings floats in the stern tube, I loosen all of the bronze machine screws that fasten it to the tube and slowly torque them in the pattern that is best centered on the shaft.  It rotates freely.  The packing nut is on the gland though the packing has yet to be laid in.

Here's a shot of the interior with the shaft protruding forward.  The locking nut for the gland is on a seat support.  The wide angle lens of the camera makes the launch look like a barge.  The first coat of the interior paint is down - Interlux Grand Banks Beige.  I used this paint since it will be kind on the eyes and easy to freshen up before each season.  Though as one can see, it will mostly be under floorboards and seats.  The bilge will stay bright white epoxy for ease of suging.

Here's the shaft protruding from the cutless bearing.  I'm still deciding whether to use low-heat epoxy to bond the bearing in or the time-honored set screws.  After we make up our mind about that, I'll finish touching up the copper bottom paint.  Then, after the packing is set up, it will be time for a float test!

It's almost Boiler Inspection Eve.  Saturday, the three boilers were plumbed in series in preparation for the official hydro and inspection.  All three are wearing their blowdowns.  Mine is last in the series with the air vent and the gauge.  And yes, reasonable people could differ about the placement of the blowdown - pressure on the bonnet and the packing - what is this world coming to?

All three were brought up to 300 psi to test the rig; no troubling leaks.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Engine Beds

While waiting for the official boiler inspection to come around on the calendar, work continues apace on the hull.  The first photo shows the hull higher up on boat stands.  With rudder, skeg and propeller work in the near future, I needed to get the hull higher off the shop floor -

Spiders and silverfish were sent scurrying as the engine lift raised first one end and then the other as I followed with the jackstands.  The previous weekend I had gotten the engine beds out of some old-growth Doug fir I had lying around - actually leftovers from the stem piece.  Here, my heart is in my throat as I lift the uncompleted compound over the gunwales and down to the beds:

The object of the exercise is to dial in the fit for the propeller shaft.  Once the shaft is installed, further fitting of the beds may be pursued.  The engine swings down into place ...

The tenons of the beds are plainly seen in No. 3 floor.  The beds are just sitting in there since they will have to be planed and jiggered quite a bit.  Almost there ...

Ahh ...

Once on the beds, I get to work sliding the engine aft and positioning the story stick in the shaft log for calculating coupling lengths, propeller clearances, etc.  How does SAE 755 go again?  So much to remember ...  Here's a shot of the stick in place and my rule checking on clearances for the engine pumps.  I had planned for all of this previously when laying out the shaft log angle, bed supports, etc.  Still it is gratifying to see it all work out with the actual hardware.  At this point, the beds are still 0.125" high from the plane of the shaft log.  Pitch and roll on the beds remains to be dialed in, too.

The starboard bed is too thick and does not permit much lateral adjustment.  The engine is hoisted to take weight, out comes the plane and then the bed is tapped back into place.  Good, now there's more room.  The story stick has been replaced by a 1.25" dowel just to see how far we're off.  Final adjustment won't come until the shaft and couplings are in place, with a final review afloat in case the hull flexes in displacement.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Putting on the Squeeze

I thought the day would never get here.  I am referring of course to the hydrostatic test of Iona's boiler.  A boiler needs to hold pressure and do so without leaking.  Steam leaks are pesky, debilitating things.  Plus on Inspection Day, the Authorized Inspector wants to see a vessel quietly sitting there holding 150 percent of working pressure, without fuss.

The boiler was set up on pipe horses and the various fittings and hydrostatic pump applied.  The furnace received heat for the first time in the form of an oxy-acetylene torch in order to bring vessel and water temperature up to 70 F.

Here's the boiler front with a vent fitting on the starboard lower 1.5" washout plug hole.  The port lower handhole fitting is seen to the right.  The boiler is sitting here with 300 psi on it.  I am pleased ...  The boiler is in the august company of a main driving wheelset for a ten-wheeler, for those who must know.

The combustion chamber end had three weepers, hence the puddle.  They quickly took up with a few turns of the tube roller.

Meanwhile, as the vessel was sitting there, I assisted colleague Mr. Anderson with his new launch ...

This is a Baird hull that Mr. Anderson acquired.  We were finding its center of gravity for a trailer he wants built for it.  The plan is then, that the trailer it is sitting on will become Iona's trailer.  Our shop's overhead cranes and giant scale were employed in this exercise.  We look forward to see Mr. Anderson's meticulous transformation of this launch.

Of course, I couldn't resist weighing Iona's boiler while full of water.  It came in at an even 1,000 lbs.  This is good; we feared that we would have to ballast Iona's box keel with some lead pigs.  This weight takes care of that.

Here's a last shot of the test gauge - sort of a blurry camera phone image - sitting just below 300 psi.


Saturday, March 29, 2014

Penance II

Some folks wanted to see beading in action.  I'm taking a break this morning - I'm not as fast as I once was - so I thought I'd post a short video of flaring and then beading ...


And beading:

When I was younger, I could do an entire array of tubes, 250 or so, in a shift.  Now, I'll be fortunate to wrap up this small array in a Saturday ...

Saturday, March 22, 2014


This is Lent, when popularly, it is thought that one should be giving something up, as in, "I gave up peanut butter for Lent."  As I understand it from the ancients, though, it was about cultivating a deeper desire for Christ, not necessarily giving something up.  Appended to this was the idea of penance ...

Now anyone who has undertaken to build a boat is familiar with penance and suffering ...

The winter was long and deep.  In addition, a trip was made to South America, other responsibilities and vocations were attended to.  Time in the boiler shop was scarce.  I could not spend as much time on the launch as I desired.  The spouse became worried as neurosis set in.  But today dawned warmer with a hint of Spring, and I was free to work in the shop.

As you may recall, faithful reader, I am building three boilers - one for myself and two for friends.  The one was just ninety some tube-beadings away from its hydro-static test.  And so, thinking about my sins and shortcomings, I picked out a flaring and beading tool, hefted Cletus from the air gun rack and made penance on the tube sheet.

Cletus and I are old friends.  He is thirty-five years old.  Together, we must have beaded over hundreds of tubes in six different locomotives; some repeated re-tubings.  Cletus has a slow, long stroke that when throttled is gentle when starting the tube roll, but can build to a chain-gun crescendo when putting the final polish on the roll.

To illustrate all of this for the uninitiated, here are some illustrations:

An array of tubes (not mine); some flared and some beaded:

The beading tool:

A boilermaker (no acquaintance), beading tubes with an air gun (not Cletus):

So, after a slow, thunderous morning and afternoon, I finished the one boiler.  I ache and there are few busted knuckles, but my soul is purged and free.  The result from the camera-phone, still flecked with bits of Crisco.

Quiéscite ágere pervérse, díscite benefácere: quærite iudícium, subveníte opprésso, iudicáte pupíllo, deféndite víduam. Et veníte et iudício contendámus, dicit Dóminus.