Tag Archives: topsail club

Prepping for Paint and Sails

The crew has been working diligently so that the RELIANCE model can be finished for the museum’s opening this coming spring.

We have put hanks onto the rigging for both the jib top sail and the stay sail; these pieces will be used to sew the sails directly into the rigging.

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Meanwhile, Laura is working hard to finalize the overall rigging within the mast system.

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While this has been going on, the struggle to perfectly fair the hull and keel has continued. Sandy spent a good portion of time on this duty, while Zach sanded the rudder down so that it would form well into place. He managed to take a short enough break to get a quick photoshoot!

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Needed Help with Rigging Conundrums

We need some insight into rigging the RELIANCE model. She has a metal mast, boom, and gaff, so we suppose her rigging differs from wooden-sparred large cutter/schooner rigged boats. You can see this in the mast drawing (86-111), where there are angle iron cheeks.

86-111-1

Here are some questions we have:
1. How exactly is the main sail lashed to the gaff? What material is used?
2. What line is the mate holding onto below?
3. What line are the sailors hauling below?
4. What is the attachment half-way along the gaff which has a loose pennant hanging down? Is that the attachment for the Club Topsail Club? How was that rigged?

Raising Mainsail

5. How are Gaff Span wires attached to the boom? RELIANCE rigging plan (86-101) indicates that these are attached to “collars” which we’d presume are angle irons like the ones on the mast. (P.S.: on the Museum’s large model of COLONIA, it has thumb cleats mounted on the underside of the gaff, but then she had a wooden gaff.)

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Some insight would be greatly appreciated!

Plan drawings courtesy of the Curator, Hart Collection, MIT Museum
Photo courtesy of Mystic Seaport

Topsail Yard

We have completed construction of our topsail yard, save for a few open questions about rigging:
a. How was the splice eye of the eye luff rope kept in place at the top of the yard?
b. How was the foot of the yard attached to the topmast, if at all?
c. How was the double scotchman rigged?
We’ll get to these questions in our rigging phase, but in the meantime more research…

The yard was a 68′ long Oregon pine (Douglass fir) spar, rectangular in cross section except at the very tips where it was cylindrical. At maximum cross-section it is 13 5/8″ x 10″ but this tapers to 4 1/2″ at the ends. Bottom 36′ of the yard lies alongside the topmast, while the top 32′ extends beyond. Three yards (and clubs) were constructed. #1 spars were the longest and #3’s the smallest. These #1, 2 and 3 spars would have decreasingly smaller sails bent to them. In addition, there appears to have been a gaff topsail. From records we have seen that 6 sails were made for each sized sail over the course of the campaign.

Unlike the club topsail club where the sides run the full width, the top and bottom on the yard run the full width and we can only surmise that was purposely done because of different directions of bending moments for each spar. The yard has 3″ thick tops and bottoms and 1 3/8″ thick sides. (The smaller club has 1 1/8″ thick top/ bottom and 7/8″ thick sides.)
Again unlike the club, the yard’s top and bottom are tapered from 3″ thick mid-yard to 2 1/4″ thick at the ends, and are “guttered” 1″ deep the entire length, creating a top and bottom that are in effect “c” channel beams which are strong but lighter. This tapering and guttering (routing) must have taken very significant weight out of this 68′ spar.
For now we have settled on the 24″ double scotchman since the approval date for that drawing is much later than the topsail yard approval date, but the hand written note on the yard drawing for a 14″ single scotchman is curious, and we also know that the topmast/ topsail rig did collapse during cup trials which may have caused changes.

I also just had an exciting telephone conversation with Claas van de Linde who has done wonderful research on all things Herreshoff. Among many interesting tidbits, he told me that HM Co. bought Reliance’s wooden spars from a Boston firm (our local lore has HM Co. building everything!)

We built our yard the way HM Co./ Boston firm would have, as a hollow rectangular spar of Oregon pine. We inserted scale 1 1/8″ thick bulkheads at the appropriate locations, guttered a scale 1″ deep trough in the top and bottom and tapered these pieces from scale 3″ to scale 2 1/4″ at the ends. The result is an amazingly light and strong yard. I enclose pictures showing progress at each step:

Sketch of the yard

Sketch of the yard

The four walls have been cut, planed and sanded to size. Our assembly table has been shimmed flat and "keel" blocks added at stations so the bottom will lie in true shape for a side to be fitted perpendicular to it. Since the top and bottom have not yet been tapered, the keel blocks have been dimensioned to take this into account. In this picture Tim Greves & Bill Lawton fit temporary right angle blocks which will ensure the first side is perpendicular.

The four walls have been cut, planed and sanded to size. Our assembly table has been shimmed flat and “keel” blocks added at stations so the bottom will lie in true shape for a side to be fitted perpendicular to it. Since the top and bottom have not yet been tapered, the keel blocks have been dimensioned to take this into account. In this picture Tim Greves & Bill Lawton fit temporary right angle blocks which will ensure the first side is perpendicular.

Tim attaches 1st side to bottom.

Tim attaches 1st side to bottom.

Bill glues bulkheads to replace the temporary blocks.

Bill glues bulkheads to replace the temporary blocks.

The other side is glued in-place.

The other side is glued in-place.

The glue-up seen across the bowsprit, topsail club & spinnaker boom in foreground. Also to be seen is a cardboard spar model constructed for discussion with students and with some of our two-dimension drawings to three-dimensionally vision challenged staff! If a picture is worth 1,000 words, then a paper model is worth 1,000 pictures!

The glue-up seen across the bowsprit, topsail club & spinnaker boom in foreground. Also to be seen is a cardboard spar model constructed for discussion with students and with some of our two-dimension drawings to three-dimensionally vision challenged staff! If a picture is worth 1,000 words, then a paper model is worth 1,000 pictures!

Clamps. My kingdom for another clamp!

Clamps. My kingdom for another clamp!

Bill fits the top onto the sides, completing the box.

Bill fits the top onto the sides, completing the box.

Top is glued in place.

Top is glued in place.

Bill tapers the top and bottom.

Bill tapers the top and bottom.

The double scotchman, with oak bolster and liner. A nearby penny gives an indication of size of the 4" scotchman.

The double scotchman, with oak bolster and liner. A nearby penny gives an indication of size of the 4″ scotchman.

The rounded end of yard compared to squared end of club.

The rounded end of yard compared to squared end of club.

Club Topsail Club

Several bloggers have asked (off-line) for more structure to our posting of pictures, which also coincides with our project documentation requirement. So, I thought I would organize the discussion by spar. We can offer our observations about the engineering of the RELIANCE from the novice standpoint, but I’ll leave the real insight to engineer bloggers amongst our group.

There were three sizes of club topsail sails in addition to a gaff topsail. To support the sail there were three club topsail yards (68’, 58’ and 48’ long) and at three club topsail clubs (57’6”, 50’ and 41’6” long). We started with fabrication of the club on our spar bench.

This bench has two sides: one for layout of the pieces and one for glue-up and varnishing. The bench is long enough to layout our longest spar – the boom (112’ long). On the glue-up side we added and shimmed a perfectly flat board so that we can space out temporary “keel-blocks” on station marks to get the correct taper for each spar.

We are attempting to fabricate prototypically correct spars with the same types of wood, scale dimensions for length, width, and depth, hollow where appropriate, the same number of internal bulkheads, and etc.

#1 Club Topsail Club:

This is a hollow spar, tapered at both ends and rectangular in cross section as shown in the sketch below.  Hollow spars offer strength and flexibility at minimum weight; attributes important to Capt. Nat and ourselves.

–          The scale spars lengths and centerlines were laid out on our layout table, stations marked along the length at perpendicular angles and distances measured off the stations (stations being points where the widths are measured in the drawings) on each side of the centerline to get the proper widths. Long battens were then used to fair the curves for the tapers. When satisfied with these drawings, the measures were transferred to our 4 rough-cut pieces (cut slightly longer and wider than required, but to correct thickness).

–          We were then able cut out and shape perfectly book-matched sides and top/ bottoms.

–          Since the sides were the “outside” dimensions, a side was laid on the keel-blocks. The walls are so thin, it fell into shape on the blocks and no clamping was required.

–          Rectangular blocks were temporarily glued to the sides to create 90 degree angles for gluing the top to the side. The top was then clamped in place.

–          While drying, bulkheads were glued in place at designated bulkhead points , which in many places differ from the stations

–          After the glue for bulkheads and top had dried the temporary blocks were removed and the bottom glued in-place

–          Liner and scotchmen were glued and fastened in position, and then the last side was glued in-place.

–          Final sanding was accomplished with a long-board to remove any imperfections, and then the spar was sealed with shellac and multiple coats of varnish.

When adding the liners and scotchmen we noted that the “as-raced” configuration differed from “as-designed.” Photos of RELIANCE during the America’s Cup races show a third liner and presumably a scotchman. This is further confirmed in the sail plan drawings. Since we are trying to build our RELIANCE in the “as-raced” configuration we elected to add the third position.