Tag Archives: bronze

An Interesting Side Story

Perry Ercolino and his wife visited about two years ago. Not only is he a sailor, but he also makes custom shoes in New York City on Madison Ave/53rd St.
Several days after their wonderful visit, we received a UPS package with a gift of leather from them to use on the gaff saddle! We’ve just recently attached it.
He also enclosed an off-cut of 18th-century reindeer leather which came off a Russian trading ship that sank in the Plymouth, England estuary late in that century. The leather was found in the remains of the ship when the harbor was dredged. By some odd circumstances, Perry managed to get his hands on it while on the road one day! How cool is that?

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…

Thanking Some Supporters

Our vendors are our life blood–especially our “volunteer” commercial supporters–so we feel it’s important to bring them into the limelight another key member of the RELIANCE team.

R.E. Sturdy of Providence, RI does plating for us. Tom Perkins and his daughter Dorothy McCauley have been very helpful, delivering superb-quality products with extremely quick turn-around times. The pictures below show a recent batch that Dorothy brought over; thank you Tom, Dorothy and R.E. Sturdy!!




The original RELIANCE had bronze, nickel steel, and some cast iron fittings. We plate our bronze castings in nickel to look like the Ni Steel original ones; steel is just too difficult for a volunteer force to work with in scale. We also use an automotive paint on our fittings that were cast iron. The contrast between our bronze, steel, and cast iron fittings gives RELIANCE another layer of beauty, as well as further insight into structural design.

Ever Closer to the Finish Line

We’ve had snowstorm after snowstorm up here in New England, which has cancelled a number of volunteer days; luckily, we did manage to sneak in a Saturday and Tuesday along with some home work. Burr delivered 27 sail hoops that will be nickel-plated along with a number of the fittings and castings we’ve recently received.

1 Sail Hoops2 Sail Hoops

He also delivered the capstan winch located on the boom near the gooseneck. Interestingly, it is the same size as the deck capstans, but with a slightly different base to fit the circumference of the boom. We then tasked Burr to make a scale bowsprit retaining bar; it has to be made just like is was by the HM Co blacksmiths.

4 Original  Bowsprit Retaining Bar3 Boom capstan

A few hours later, Burr returned with a model to check fit the piece. Now he’s off making the whole thing, which we’re excited to see!

6 Bowsprit Retaining Bar

Zach, our Roger Williams University intern, has helped out in preparing Mike’s bronze castings for plating. Zach’s also working on some exhibits for our opening day.

7 Zach prepares fittings for plating

Lastly, the boom and gaff have received final painting and are awaiting their fittings.

9 Final painting of metal spars