The Schooner Sara B Log

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April 07, 2008     Post 19
Back to the boat-yard

Spring's pace is picking up. The big flocks of geese have mostly moved through, the last ice went out of the bay, and by week's end a few fishermen had their boats afloat at docks on the bay. Over at the boatyard on a sunny mild weekend some work and a good deal of standing around and talking got underway as boaters compared notes and caught upon each others' affairs during the long winter. From over at Sara B came the sounds of sawing and drilling and scraping and sanding.

Sara B's forward plank came off and Chris is now puzzling out the pattern for a replacement. Sara B was originally planked with white cedar. Air dried reasonably knot-free boat building stock of the required 5/4 thickness and width is a specialty item no longer widely available. After a few calls and some thought, we decided to try lumber yard pressure treated plantation grown pine. It has its pros and cons according to the Internet wooden boat forum “experts”. Availability is a major pro. It's an experiment. It can be replaced if it's deemed unsuccessful. We went off to the local lumberyard and picked through a pile of two by eights and found two fairly clear boards to try. We set them in our living room to dry a bit more, and crossed our fingers as to how they'll work for Sara B.

We were relieved to find mostly she had hard and more or less intact frames beneath to plank over. Fastenings were a mix of nails (rusted away) and supplemental galvanized screws. The galvanized screws had retained a good deal of their original holding power and strength. Most twisted out of the frames intact. A few broke off. So the good news is there is still some structure left to fasten the new plank onto. We'll fill the old screw holes in the frames with epoxy putty and then if we hit a hole while installing the new plank at least it will be more holding than air in an empty hole.

While Chris worked on plank replacement, I went over Sara B's topsides and started on a close evaluation of plank butts in her bottom. The topsides look good, the 8 or 9 butts on each side under the waterline are mixed. Some look tight. A couple don't. Where possible I'm putting additional stainless screws in the plank ends. In cases where the plank ends are “used up” with past additions of screws, I settle for a supplemental screw in mid plank on adjacent frames a few inches away. The theory here is one of redundancy.

There are various techniques for dealing with not-so-great plank ends and butt blocks in old boats. Perhaps at some future date, a couple of Sara B's plank ends will merit further attention. We'll go case-by-case on this one. We hope to get a new plank in place next weekend. Soon it's time for paint on the topsides and cabin, then it's work on the bottom and launch! We still hope for an early May get 'er wet day.

- Susan

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