A major watershed in Dorothy‘s restoration was reached today as Tony drilled 4 silicon bronze bolts into the new floor straps, fixing them firmly to the keel. (see above. Below are the forward floors as viewed from the hatch last May, with mast step removed.)
This structural repair up forward has been a long-thought through process that began last April (see photos in this news update) as Tony ripped out the floor and straps, pried up the mast step, knocked out the galvanized bolts that were loosely knocking about in half inch holes because the metals had corroded the wood, and began seriously contemplating how to pull together lap joint that had become separated by about 3/8th” from the keel and stem – if it were even possible…
This last piece of business is quite serious, because all of Dorothy’s spot repairs over the years have been done around this separated lap joint, like muscle tissue building up around an arthritic joint. In fact, Tony expressed his doubts on video last April, saying, “This gap had probably been here a very long time. And someone’s done repair planking, and everything’s been built around that gap, so there’s no way I can actually even cinch that together, to get it back in place. Which is… unfortunate. But I really wish I could cinch this – so these two gaps close together.”
So the question last May was, if he succeeded in pulling together this lap joint, would that adversely affect the structure built around it? And how could one go about pulling together such a massive gap?
Well, if you know anything about Tony Grove, you should know that he’s incredibly innovative and not afraid to try something he’s never seen work before. So here is the story in pictures, with comments by Tony as he tackled this particularly interesting challenge:
1. The keel bolts and floor/straps holding the lap joint (which connects the keel and stem) were holding no more, and a gap incurred over time with the other repairs around it serving to maintain the gap.
2. The lap joint had spread apart over time and I wasn’t sure it could be pulled back into place. However, I came up with a plan to use two 3/4 in. bolts and a shackle threaded on the outside on either end of the lap joint, this allowed the use of a comealong to pull the 3/8 gap into place. Once this was accomplished I was pleased to see that all the pieces in that area fell nicely back into their original positions.
3. The floor timbers and floor straps all had various form of rot in the forward area around the lap joint. I replaced them with new white oak and that was steamed or cut into shape. The orange colour is just a red lead primer.
4. I then replaced the lap joint keel bolts up forward by first drilling bigger holes in where the original 1/2 in. iron bolts had been. The holes in the wood had enlarged from the old bolts and electrochemical decay. The new bolts are 5/8 in. silicon bronze.
The 3/4 in. bronze bolt holding the forward end of the lead ballast was in good shape so was set back into the boat through a new floor timber.
5. The front end of the lead ballast used to have a wedge in to help fair it, and it must have been banged off at some point. That has been replaced with a new piece of white oak.
So there you have it! One comealong, a few shackles and some bronze bolts later, Dorothy‘s forward area is coming together beautifully. You should come by and see her before she’s all sewn up. It’s going to go fast from this point forward as Tony dedicates himself to getting Dorothy finished this winter.
After all, he’s going to need his shop back for the courses he’s teaching next spring and summer. If you haven’t read up about the new adventures in “The Grove Woodworking School”, head on over to his website to find out what’s happening.
Til next time, T n’ T