Tag Archives: topmast

A Wild (But Interesting) Goose Chase

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News travelled fast to the RELIANCE team that the flagpole in Brown University’s commons had collapsed from the recent storm. Why did this catch our eye? Well, the flagpole is actually a topmast that was given to the university by C. Oliver Iselin in 1918; later on, Hope Goddard Iselin (the real Barbie Bristol) apparently attributed it as the topmast for COLUMBIA.

After a little bit of research, we shot down that claim: drawings for the COLUMBIA show a much shorter topmast with a straight cylinder, wasp-shaped, hollowed-out interior (much like on RELIANCE).

However, the cap–shown in the bottom two photos–is very similar to the caps of RELIANCE and COLUMBIA. We’ll definitely keep that information for later.

Visualizing 1/6th Scale (With the Help of Some 4′ Sections)

We are building 4’ long sections of real-sized mid-sections of the wooden:

–          Topmast  (58’ 4” long, 13” diameter)

–          Club Topsail Yard (68’ long, maximum cross section of 13 5/8” x 10 1/16”, tapering to 4.5” at ends)

–          Club Topsail Club (57’ 6” long, maximum cross section of 9 ½” x 8”, tapering to 4” x 3 ½” at ends)

–          Spinnaker Boom (83’4” long, 12¾” maximum diameter, tapered to 4½ ” inboard and 5½”at other end)

The topmast, yard and club will be shown together as a display, with the topmast and yard vertically next to each other, just as they would have been when sailing, and the club lying horizontally next to the yard.

Shown below, we have cut our douglas fir lumber to dimensions with the help of Dan Shea.(all the wooden spars were douglas fir for lightness and bending strength–the original topmast being douglas fir but changed to sitka after a June 1903 dismasting and the club increased in cross-section size of 7 ½” x 6 ¼”)

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First: 5” x 5” glued together as topmast sides, further cuts outlined on ends.

Second: Various pieces of the club, yard and topmast stacked waiting further cuts and assembly.

Third: Kerfs have been cut into these planks to aid in chiseling and planning out the centers. (If you count, there are extra yard pieces. We have made extras yard sections from leftover pieces we have, and hope to sell these as furniture/ fund raising displays, but more about this in the future)

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Off to Dan Shea’s shop next door (Check out his Bristol Boat Company website bristolboatcompany.com ). His expertise is so valuable and he has really big tools, so we’re jealous! We also used his planer to get planks to the right thickness. Yard top is shown in left picture and topmast in the center picture, and lumber back in our shop in the right picture.  Dan wears the red shirt, and Bill Lawton waits to catch the pieces.