Visitors enjoyed FREE Day at the Museum – touring The RELIANCE Project. Photo credit – Lindsay Green.
Just recovering from a wonderful, hectic open house on Saturday at the Museum. We had over 600 people come visit us in building 28!!
In the morning we had a work session and a few people meandered in and did self guided tours. But, in the afternoon, came the deluge. I acted as tour guide for about six hours: everyone seemed genuinely interested and inquisitive. We had great fun, though I admit to losing my train of thought sometimes as one tour blended into another.
There’s a lot more than the Reliance Project in building 28 and the Reliance Project is much more than just building the model, so we tried to have an all-inclusive tour and set of educational displays. Keith Brown the Museum’s boat wright and mentoring instructor joined us to talk about his projects.
There are precious few days left this fall to come visit us, so if you can’t get here, I hope you’ll enjoy this slide show tour and that it will whet your interest for a visit next spring!! I’ll cover some high points but there is much more to see and learn. Enjoy!
When you walk into building 28, you are greeted by WEE WINN and JILT, the museum’s two fin keel boats from early and late in the decade when Herreshoff experimented with fin keels. Early fin keel WASP, 1892, was a direct descendent of GLORIANA (photo 1). In fact GLORIANA’s descendants include the America’s Cup boats as well, so it is important for us to pay homage to GLORIANA in Building 28. We describe the decade of the fin keel boats (photo 2) noting that many owners and captains of these boats appear later as owners and skippers of the big racing schooners and America’s Cup boats. WEE WINN, 1892, (photo 3) was built for Winifred Sutton and she took it to England where it won 21 of 22 races in the first season. JILT, 1898, (photo 4) also was a proven race winner with Gibson of “Gibson Girl” fame being an owner.
(Note: we’re starting restoration of WEE WINN, then JILT and COLUMBIA’s 1899 topmast (behind Jilt in the photo) and are looking for volunteers (speak to Maggie Church in the Museum office firstname.lastname@example.org)
We can’t have an exhibit and discussion of RELIANCE without an accompanying exhibit of the America’s Cup boats built at Herreshoff Manufacturing Co. from 1893 to 1934. All the winners during that timeframe were built here in Bristol so our exhibit (photo 5) describes the evolution, owners and skippers of these boats. We’ve included profile drawings of the boats so you can see the evolution and impact of rule changes
2. Decade of the fin keel boats 1892-1898
3. Wee Winn 1892
4. Jilt 1898 in front of Columbia Topmast 1899
5. America’s Cup Boats 1893-1934
Since we’re about big racing yachts–really big yachts– and it seems about 35% of the visitors to building 28 this past summer were Europeans we need to discuss the big racing schooners of first 30 years of the century (photo 6) – those that Americans took to Europe to race. This also gives us an opportunity to discuss the differences in construction between the America Cup boats such as RELIANCE and those sailed to Europe and insured by Lloyds.
Going to the Reliance section of Building 28 we first stop to see pictures of RELIANCE (Photo 7) which enables to tell more of her background. BY this time we need to show the immense size of RELIANCE, passing by a bench made from a replica topsail yard section (Photo 8, 9), and an outline on the floor of the bowsprit and replica cross section (Photo 10).
6. The Big Racing SChooners
7. Reliance Pictures
8. Topsail Yard Bench
9. Nameplate on Bench
10. Bowsprit section
We also pass by an exhibit of our model spars so we can draw one-sixth scale comparisons to these spars and the ones they are about to see. We then go around a corner to a replica section of the 83′ spinnaker pole (photo 11) which sits in front of outlines of the 115′ long boom and 112′ long mast and view a diorama of the wooden topsail spars. The base of the diorama will show the aluminum deck plating and cork covering. (Photo 12).
We next come to our spar work bench on which we’ve placed many of the RELIANCE stuff; first coming to a display of helm, binnacle, lifeboat and sailors – in front of a plaque thanking the Bartram family for their generous funding of the project (photo 13). Next there is a display of fittings around the mast partner area and various cleats (Photo 14) which lead to a placard comparing RELIANCE to FLYING CLOUD and the SPACE SHUTTLE (Photo 15)
11. Spinnaker Boom display
12. Diorama of Deck and Topsail spars
13. Display of helm, binnacle, lifeboat and sailors in front of plaque thanking Bartram Family for their gift
14. Display of Mast partner area fittings and cleat in front of description of the Reliance Project
15. Comparisons of size of Reliance
The Mast step assembly will soon be placed inside the hull and chain plates cut into the hull and deck (Photo 16). Numerous boxes of cast fittings seemed to overwhelm visitor with their number and quality (Photos 17 to 20) and we have many more to go!
16. Display of mast step and chainplates
17. Some of the fittings on display
19. More Fittings
20. Even More Fittings
We concluded our display of RELIANCE bits and pieces with the first of our wooden deck structures-work in progress- (Photo 21).
No discussion of Building 28 activity can be complete without a discussion of educational opportunities arising from RELIANCE and other work going on (Photo 22) and we included a discussion of SCALE as an example, which seemed to take visitors by surprise. We also discussed other school collaboration to include a CAD/ 3-D project with the MET School, a high school in Newport (Photo 23) and an oral history project with Roger Williams University to capture stories of Herreshoff Manufacturing Company and Bristol Boat Building.
We cannot work on RELIANCE without learning about Herreshoff as a Manufacturing Engineer and as a Materials and Weight Engineer (photo 25).
21. First of our wooden deck structures underway
22. Discussion of Educational Opportunities
23. 3-D Printing and Oral History Collaborations
24. Book of Reliance CAD drawings by Karsten Busch
25. Our Observations on Herreshoff as the Manufacturing Engineering and Materials and Weights Engineer
This lead us to another collaborative project with Roger Williams University to explore “Why Henry Ford visited HM Co. before Building his Dearborn Auto Plant” (Photo 26) and research which uncovered 1918 HM Co. facilities with floor-by-floor and building by building descriptions and a 1924 auctioneers inventory of all equipment and stock inventory floor-by-floor, building by building. This has been supplemented by ongoing research through our archives of pictures of facilities and workers (photo 27).
Last but not least we come to RELIANCE, temporarily on her side, but soon to be upright (Photos 28 to 30)
26. RWU project Why Henry Ford visited HM Co before building his Dearborn plant
27. HM Co facility 1918
28. Core samples drilled from keel
29. Reliance on her side to complete drilling operations
30. Keel supports in place