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.
We spent this last Saturday working on the dry fittings for the boom. After some diligent work that left our eyes sore, we managed to get some accurate measurements and center all the pieces fairly well.
In other news, here’s a nice image of how the spreader is looking right now on the mast.
Keith put final touches on our spreaders; it really changes the whole boat! We can but imagine how large these were in real life.
Tim and Keith worked on tapping holes for eyes to go on the mast and we’ve screwed them in place temporarily to get everything aligned.
Soon we’ll remove them and send them to a nickel plating company along with some other fittings. Tim also finished up some leftover woodworking tasks while I was grinding and polishing new boom fittings that Mike delivered from our casting company.
Meanwhile, Laura, our rigger, has been doing a great job wire splicing as per usual, and even showed us how to make some tacks from wire grommets!
Keith made a jig to hold the spreaders in perfect alignment while the spreader socket pins set in high-tech glues. The bowsprit is starting to look awesome. You can really get the feeling of how massive it was!
Here are some of Mike’s delivery of castings; ready for final filing, polishing, and nickel plating.
Finally, here are the ladder rungs which will go on the top section of the mast.
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.
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.
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!
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.
Lastly, the boom and gaff have received final painting and are awaiting their fittings.
Just returned from ten day trip to Santa Fe, Taos and the Canyons of NM, AZ, and UT. Must say that our RELIANCE is certainly the equal of the great art of Santa Fe and Taos (no bias all all!) but it is very hard to compete with the grandeur, scale, and beauty of nature. No contest, it is nature every time…. We flew home from Las Vegas: I am still struggling to wrap my head around the mirage of Las Vegas appearing out of the desert after visiting Grand, Glen, Bryce and Zion Canyons and Monument Valley….. In my absence, work continued on RELIANCE with multiple efforts underway. We are starting to splice wire. In the first photo Herb and Bill are developing splicing jigs. In the second photo, hands of our new “expert” are worming, parceling and serving – complete with miniature serving mallet – (see 1938 instruction manual in background) Bill is also working on the spreaders (photo 3). Keith is placing miniature rivets in pad eyes (photo 4). (These latest fittings bring RELIANCE into conformity with our “Configuration Date” (First AC race). From pictures we can see that fittings and components were added, moved and changed during the racing campaign. Steve is working on the boom crotch (photo 5). Although our RELIANCE will ultimately be posed underway with sails, we anticipate that for a short interim period until the atrium is built, she’ll be displayed at a mooring with topmast housed, and gaff, boom and mainsail resting on the boom crotch. Meanwhile Mike and Harrison Casting Co are making our gooseneck assembly, and Burr is completing the capstan assemblies.
There is a lot of effort going on behind the scenes to make sure our RELIANCE is accurate. Boats, especially race boats, change during the season. We chose late August as our configuration date, when RELIANCE was measured and raced for the Cup, since this timeframe is when we had the best pictures. Ours has been a constant battle for configuration management. For example, NGH’s approved drawing 86-126 (from MIT Hart Collection) shows the original placement of three topmast backstay staples and a trysail staple as shown in picture #1 and as placed on our model as in picture #2. Our visit to the NYYC in NYC last Spring to see their model showed a discrepancy which was confirmed in picture #3 as blown up in #4. Our metal casting expert, Mike Mirman, then used this picture to created a new fitting, shown in #5.
It is time to take the wraps off of some of our secret weapons. Mike Mirman our casting volunteer and Harrison Casting Company, Inc., Johnston RI. Mike creates wax molds for individual parts and rubber molds for repetitive parts and Harrison Casting does the actual bronze casting.
I’d like to publicly compliment both for the hard work and exquisite castings. Thank you so much!!!
Mike takes the Herreshoff drawings and as you can see in the pictures, reduced them to our scale size – 2″ to 1 foot or 1/6th scale. Hence a 6″ piece is 1″, and a 3″ piece is 1/2″ on our model. From the pictures provided by Mike, you can see size comparisons of parts to quarters, nickels and pennies. Tiny! He and Harrison Casting have many more than a 1000 such fittings to cast!
I should also note that Mike takes the bronze castings and grinds them to finished size and then buffs them to brilliance. We joke about this, since contemporary pictures and our museum’s collection of castings show that HM Co. was more concerned about functionality than polished brilliance! It was after all a racing yacht not a pleasure boat. But we’re not sure that our viewers want to take off their sunglasses.
Some of these castings will be given to Roger Williams University’s School of Engineering for a collaborative project we’re doing. As part of their review of our model’s structural integrity and design of the display cradle, they’ll take representative castings for destructive load tests of the model’s rig. We’ll give you an update on that project at a later date, perhaps to include a picture or discussion of the testing scale in the Museum’s half hull room.