Monthly Archives: August 2015

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.





At last, the Big Day!

After more than a decade, RELIANCE moves off her shipping cradle and on to the display stand. Can you believe it?!!!

We moved RELIANCE to the back of the shed under the chain falls; we hoisted her out of the shipping cradle and said goodbye to that cradle. Our head rigger Laura holds RELIANCE aloft with one hand.

1 Laura holds boat up

As you can tell from their work, our female team mates are very talented, great team members, and very strong! Laura holds the bow up so Steve can position Bill’s display stand under the keel blocks.

2 Bow up!

3 Boat Hoisted, Steve moves cradle in place

Bill carefully lowers RELIANCE onto the 1,500 lb. steel plate while Keith inserts drift pins to assure alignment of bolt holes (since Keith measured and drilled the holes in the steel plate, he is actually out of the picture saying a couple of “Hail, Mary’s”: the secret of Notre Dame engineering, I’m told).

4 Bill lowers away

5 Alignment drift pins in - placing bolts in

Steve and Laura tighten the bolts in place, noting how perfect the fit is – no shims or alignment tricks needed!

6 Bolts tightened with precision

Here are the bolted blocks up close. Note the wooden wedges which keep the boat aligned fore and aft, and away from the blocks which were welded at a 15 degree angle. The engineers assured Sandy these wedges were unnecessary, but he’s a belt and suspenders guy and has been around engineers too long. (P.S. they were necessary!!.)

7 Wood wedges in place - No gaposis!

RELIANCE’s profile is revealed; beautiful, amazing form!

8 Wow!

9 knife bulb keel reveals itself

10 Maneuver complete. Now back to work area

RELIANCE is moved back to our work space and “The Guy Upstairs” Dave miraculously appears to inspect and approve our work.

11 THE GUY UPSTAIRS gives final  inspection and blessing

12 Aft view

Then Keith and Sandy replaced all the parts that had been stripped off RELIANCE for the full evolution.

13 back in its work area

14 Stuff goes back on deck

15 All back together

Bill has started building the grand stand to top it off.

16 Bill builds the grandstand

As part of the celebration, we have a Tuesday crew photo opportunity moment; unfortunately, camera shy Laura has gone to another job.

17 Formal Portrait. Herb, Keith, Steve, Sandy, Bill. Missing Laura

This respite is short, however; soon, everyone is back to work. Except, apparently, for Sandy, whom we’re sure needs some relaxation time!

19 Now, Everyone back to work on details

20 While the boss goes sailing

Engine Work on the Side

One of our crew members has been restoring a 1900 NGH designed triple expansion steeple engine, of a design that would power a 30-foot launch at 16-18 mph. We thought you’d enjoy pictures of the before and in-process restoration. We think you’ll agree, Don is doing amazing work!




This engine has generated so much interest during tours of our shop, we thought we’d start a steam blog site which will be hosted by Mike, who is constructing the Museum’s new steam gallery with contributions from Don and hopefully you as well!

A Milestone Reached

Bill built a wooden cradle to hold our 1,500 pound steel display cradle. As you can see in the pictures, it has been tilted at 15 degrees so the boat will be level while we paint her hull and complete our work on deck and attach deck-level rigging (when on display, the steel plate will lie on the floor and RELIANCE will heel over.)

6 Bill's cradle support

7 Ready to go

Finally, after more than a decade on its work cradle, RELIANCE will be lifted off and bolted onto its display cradle. We send you the last pictures of RELIANCE in her work cradle and all movable fittings removed in preparation.

8 Last View

9 Last view -stripping loose gear

10 Last View - ready

The Crew At Work

Keith works on the rudder between all the other tasks we give him. He likes engineering problems and more often than not come up with simple, innovative solutions. He has a Notre Dame engineering degree and Michigan advanced degree, so he’s a conflicted soul. Here it looks like he is invoking a higher spirit into a solution.

1 Keith's rudder

Steve is our amateur Astronomer, so we give him work on our mast so he can get closer to the stars.

2 Steve works on mast

Tim is a psychologist so we gave him 450 screws to set the boom sail track in place; it’s finicky work that requires precision. We try to play with his mind every once in awhile because we’re worried that in the background he’s writing a “tell all” book about the RELIANCE inmates. In this picture, he has about 150 screws in place – only 300 more, Tim! In the background, Herb is proving his wire to manila splicing technique.

3 Tim works on the boom

Meanwhile, Laura works on bowsprit rigging. The bobstays are tensioned by tightening the bowsprit retaining bar; there are no turnbuckles on the bobstays.

4 Laura splicing bowsprit rigging

5 Laura's Bobstays

Ken from Hall Spars dropped by on his evening constitutional and we talked about how boats today tension their shrouds with hydraulic mast rams since the turnbuckles are too short to perform this function. He also noted that on large racers rigging eyes are replacing tangs.

Burr’s Great Work

Burr is a true artisan. At 87 years old, he is as spry as someone half his age; he’s as sharp as a tack and has a great sense of humor!

In an earlier blog we had mentioned making 12′ sections of the toe rails. To make the full length seamless rails of 24′, Burr is shown making a “hard solder” joint. When he was done, no one could even find the joints!

1 Aligned and ready

2 paste applied

3 Adding solder in place

4 Just add heat

5 Seamless joint

We made trays so we can carry these rails to the boat without stressing joints or thin materials.

6 in their trays

By the way, the shell plating in our scale is ~ 1/32nd of an inch thick! Just try that on your J-24. (Our RELIANCE hull is also 24′ long on deck)

Also included is a picture of the ship’s bell and clapper, made by Burr. One of our volunteers will make the bell rope and monkey’s fist.

7 Burr's bell and clapper

Burr’s artistry reminds us of a very inspiring visit we had from kids at Rocking the Boat School in the Bronx; some the best mannered, most inquisitive, and most appreciative school groups we’ve ever had! If they are reading our blog, we thank you. We talked about lost wax casting, metal work, wood working, and boat building. it was mentioned that we had some 3-D printed cast patterns made by high school students, but that if we had a metal printer we could make the parts directly; in fact, if they created a boat in CAD, they could hit the print button and come back a week later with a completed boat. One of these youngsters replied (with concurrence of several): “What is the beauty in that?” Deep and perceptive stuff…

Well On Our Way: Raising Money and Hype

Sandy and his wife Helen recently attended Herreshoff Museum’s summer gala; it’s not often Sandy gets forced into a penguin suit! A “reverse auction” raised more than $30,000 for initial architect renderings to house our RELIANCE in all her glory! Wow, We’re on our way!!!!

3 Gala

Four US Naval Academy 44′ cruising boats with midshipmen and instructors visited the museum with keynote tours of our project. Halsey and Sandy were given a book to commemorate the event. The visit to Bristol was so successful that there are apparent plans underway for a visit next year!

4 USNA Sailing team