Monthly Archives: December 2013


Yesterday, during happy Christmas celebrations, we heard that we had lost one of our RELIANCE family. Joe Bartram died peacefully Christmas Eve. He was our benefactor, key visionary, and best cheerleader.  Thank you, Joe!


RELIANCE really came alive after his visit last Spring. He intuitively understood that RELIANCE was much more than a model of the biggest America’s Cup winner- it would be an important exhibit as well. RELIANCE was to be representative of all Herreshoff Manufacturing Co. large racing yachts and an outstanding example of extreme yacht design, advanced materials, and light-weight engineering.  Equally important, Joe recognized that our research on RELIANCE was also answering the question: “Why was the HMCo. such an important high-tech manufacturing company in context of the American Industrial Revolution which still has great relevance to current high-tech firms?”


Joe Bartram understood that this Project was fundamental to the growth of the Museum and very important to the town. He was supportive of our efforts to involve Roger Williams University and local schools in key project tasks.  His emails and telephone calls personally gave me the strength to push through technical challenges and typical “lows” of such a complex undertaking. He understood that our model could become one of the most impressive models ever built, and that the Project would need a network of supporters beyond just the dozen volunteers actually working on RELIANCE.


As he became too ill to travel, he sent his many friends to visit and keep him abreast of our work. Importantly, they too became cheerleaders. In keeping with that sentiment, please come visit us. See Joe Bartram’s vision come to fruition. Become one of our global network of cheerleaders and supporters.




One of Joe Bartrams visits to The RELIANCE Project – (left to right) Mike Mirman, Joe Bartram, Sandy Lee, Bill Lawton

second image: Mike Mirman, Joe Bartram and Sandy Lee 

Best Wishes from The RELIANCE Project


The year has gone quickly and it is hard to believe we’ve been at this for 15 months! I think most of us (all volunteers) can’t believe how much progress has been made! Last year at this time we were working on the boom and waiting for the hull to show up. Now we can really see how majestic and beautiful our RELIANCE will be!

Saturday was our last work session of the year. Thursday before, we drilled holes in the fiberglass base, put some wing nuts the bolts for extra holding power, filled the holes with epoxy glue and set everything in place to cure. On Saturday, Keith Bradley made some final adjustments and our stub mast sits as the mast should!

We also finished fairing the main chain plates and so have all chain plates in place; even with a token shackle and turnbuckle attached! Other volunteers finished filing and buffing all the beautiful fittings Mike Mirman has made for us over the year -so they have a miniature, true-to-scale jewelry finish.

So, as we take our shore leave for Christmas and New Years holidays, we’ll leave you with pictures of the mast step and Reliance as she waits for 2014 work to begin. Best wishes to everyone for happy holidays and a great RELIANCE New Year.Image

Mast Step


Mast Step Underside


Mast Step In Place




Mast Partner Are Ready To Go



View From The Hole


The Year End 2013




RELIANCE’S Telescoping Topmast

I had an email question on RELIANCE’s telescoping topmast from Lawrence Kurkey that I thought I would reply via blog post. He asks “Would you please explain to me how this was accomplished?” 

The wooden topmast had a sheave at its base and a slot through which a fid could be inserted that would pin the erected topmast in place.

The mast was a fabricated steel structure with hollow “donut” rings and angle iron stringers providing a framework upon which the rolled steel plates were riveted. Thus, the topmast could be lowered or raised through the hollow “donut hole.” The mast was a 26″ diameter straight stick that tapered at the very top. There was a retaining ring at the mast top and another about eight feet lower which kept the topmast centered. 

The 330′ long topmast halliard, or topmast heel rope as it was called, was seized to the inside top of the mast, then lead through the sheave in the base of the topmast and then to another sheave on the other side of the top of the mast. The hauling end of the heel rope was taken below deck through a fairlead to a below deck winch alongside the base of the mast. This winch mechanism was installed as an upgrade shortly after RELIANCE was turned over to the Syndicate. Before that, I seem to remember it was taken to blocks and pad eye at the base of the mast.

I enclose sketches of the topmast, topmast heel rope mechanism, and boom construction to illustrate the operation.

Boom construction is shown because its construction is very similar to mast construction, and it is a sketch I have on hand.

Topmast illustrations were included in blog postings from January/ February 2013 timeframe and you can refer back to these postings.

L. Francis Herreshoff notes in his books that RELIANCE had a topmast ratcheting mechanism, but I have not yet found drawings that show that. BTW, you can find a picture of RELIANCE dismasting during a race in the Rosenfeld Collection at Mystic Seaport. This occurred when the fid was placed improperly. Also in the Mystic Collection, I believe, is a notation in Iselin’s Journal on this incident.



Topmast sketch


Sketch of Boom



Telescoping Topmast Operation

Thank You, AMA Engineering!

As seems to happen often on the RELIANCE PROJECT, kind people are attracted to the model. So, I’d like to speak of one in particular – Andrew Wright and his team of AMA Engineering. AMA Engineering has a wonderful machine shop in its Smart Move Modular Conveyors Division in Westport, MA. (We are very jealous of the machines and capabilities in this shop. A candy store for machinists! BTW, they make conveyors for cruise ships and navy vessels, among other things.

As we started our cradle, we were looking for a machine shop to drill holes and weld rods to blocks when we stumbled upon him.

Not only did his shop consult with us on cradle materials and our manufacturing and installation concerns, but they drilled the holes and welded the rods in place, and then cut the rods to final length — all at no charge. On top of that, when we were at loose ends about the drilling bit, they procured and modified one complete with fabricated extension – again at no charge. 

With these savings we were able to complete our wooden spar displays. These exhibits which surround the model are so important to the RELIANCE story and bringing her alive.

So, our deepest appreciation to Andrew and his crew at Smart Move/ AMA Engineering. You made a very difficult production step easy and our exhibit much, much better. We’ll make sure your contribution is noted in our final display. 

Thanks from the whole RELIANCE team 

Education Challenge – Have your donation matched by an anonymous donor!

To our RELIANCE Project Friends,

I’d like to write this blog as a personal appeal. The Herreshoff Marine Museum / America’s Cup Hall of Fame was issued a matching challenge donation of $50,000 and is closing in on funding its share. As you know the final amount is the most difficult to raise and your gift will be matched 100% until we reach our $50,000 goal.. Please help us get there! Education is so important to making RELIANCE relevant to visitors of all ages and any gift is greatly appreciated.  Contributions can be made online at: or by calling the Museum office at 401.253.5000.  

As discussed in this blog site before, our Project team has seen that The RELIANCE Project is much more than just building a model. We are making great strides in telling the story with exhibits and educational programs. We are but a small part of the positive change underway at The Herreshoff Marine Museum.

Throughout the past year you have seen periodic blogs on the educational aspects of The RELIANCE Project. For example, we have an exciting CAD/ 3-D Printing Project underway with the MET High School, have used students to create displays of spars,  have initiated over a dozen collaboration projects with Roger Williams University, have hosted Mt. Hope High School “STEAM” (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) teachers in an exchange of ideas on integrated class projects, and have supported the mentoring program which goes on next to RELIANCE.

Thank you as always,



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