Topmast, Spreader, and Rudder Updates

We’ve now got the topmast lodged onto the rest of the mast’s body, with Herb working on some rigging details. While slaving away in his lonely corner of Building 28, Herb noticed an error on the spreader’s rigging: one of the wires was too short. Fortunately, he was swift to correct the wiring, and has since progressed on the spreader/mast system.

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Keith is beginning the process of attaching the rudder to the model. He’s screwed a long metal piece–a set of gudgeons–to the back of the keel; the rudder will be pinned to this piece by a series of pintles.

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An interesting fact we discovered is that the RELIANCE’s rudder was actually held up by a bearing attached to the lower part of the ship’s hull. Still figuring out how we’re going to work that into the design.

Meanwhile, Steve is working on setting up turnbuckles to be plugged and added to the overall structure.



Prepping for the Paint Job

As we near (what we hope to be) the beginning of the end of this project, the job of painting the RELIANCE model becomes ever-present.

Bern–with a little help from Sandy–added¬†several coats of Marine Premium Filler to¬†the upper hull in order to fill any indentations and spot any errors we’ve made along the way. The filler hardened extremely fast, so Bern really had to utilize his youthful energy for this task.

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The crew then transitioned to the fairing phase, taking shifts sanding down the coats in preparation for priming, which should be happening within the next couple weeks.



We’re leaving the actual painting of the RELIANCE to the pro’s. By the end of October, our dear readers should expect a beautifully painted model–and maybe, if Keith gets his way, some flame magnets!

The Paint Job

Buck Frost from Itchiban Yacht Painters came by the shop to discuss painting Reliance; we now have a plan!

Keith, Bill, and the crew installed our portside toe rail; now all the toe rails are complete. Burr also helped fabricate the metal fantail piece. (We’ll show this installation in a later blog. The fantail will still take a little effort and metal persuasion to join to the toe rails.)

In the meantime, Bill couldn’t wait to try out the Awlgrip 545 Primer and 3M Marine Filler.



When the team left for the day, Sandy decided to have some fun and complete the task of filling and fairing the starboard side. The next day, Ken came by on his evening constitutional to check out Sandy’s work. Next thing Sandy knew, he was watching a tutorial. Better yet, Ken did more in one hour than Sandy had done all day!


Now, Reliance has a new look! The hull shape really stands out now that the toe rails have been blended into the hull. Simply beautiful and powerful…




Truss and Rigging Progress

Keith has been completing the truss and it is now mounted onto the mast.

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Laura has now started to fabricate and attach the truss and spreader guys.


Meanwhile, Laura and Herb have been studying photos of the Reliance bowsprit and are now completing all the little bowsprit details.


They have also completed the upper ends of the standing rigging and, as shown, have them tarred, varnished, and ready to go. We’re just a week or two away until the mast can be hoisted upright in our mast jig and the standing rigging can be completed at deck level.


We thought we could find tasks for Steve that would not involve power tools, but Sandy caught the ever creative Steve with a Dremel tool in his back pocket… we’re just trying to excite his inner crafts person, but the power tool guy always comes to the surface…


Solving Another Problem

RE Sturdy has once again done an awesome job of nickel plating our bronze pieces to look like real nickel steel. Here is the last batch of shackles as well as the rings to attach the staysail and jib topsail to their stays (Mike is currently fabricating the jib hanks).


Bern installed the topmast heel rope sheave and topmast fid and slot. As you may remember, the topmast is sleeved into the mainmast.


These efforts have revealed another Reliance conundrum. The hole in the upper and lower sleeves holding the topmast in place are 13.25″ in diameter, and the topmast is 13″ in diameter. The heal rope is .375″ diameter wire, so how could the topmast telescope into the mast? There isn’t enough clearance and there are no slots or holes noted in the drawings for the wire…

Bern has also been working on Columbia’s 1899 topmast and we’ve obtained detailed drawings of the cap and truck. Lo and behold, our Reliance topmast drawing refers to this drawing….so now we can complete this task as well.



Barbara’s Visit

We had a delightful visit recently from Barbara Bartram, widow of our benefactor Joe Bartram. We were thrilled to show her all the progress we’ve made firsthand; she’s already an avid reader of our blog, but seeing RELIANCE in person, in our opinion, was a much better experience.



Several days later, the Museum held its Herreshoff classic yacht race series; the harbor was filled with beautiful boats. Many sailors got the chance to tour the museum and see our boat. Great fun for all!

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Deck Edge Milestone

Today marked another major milestone: the first deck edge toe rail went in place. We still have the port side to do, but we have the process well-proven; though we still have a lot of faring work to get the new railing to flow evenly as a continuation of the shell plating, but we can see how it’ll all work together. Whew, another risk milestone overcome!

These rails really change RELIANCE ‘s profile.
Keith and Bill, with help from Laura, Don, Sandy, and new volunteer Bern worked all day on the 24’ long starboard rail.

Bern has begun restoring the 1899 COLUMBIA topmast, which we’ll show in upcoming blog posts. Turns out that COLUMBIA’S topmast truck served as the model for RELIANCE’s, so we’re looking at this with great interest. As an exhibit accompanying RELIANCE, our COLUMBIA topmast will also show how massive these spars really were.