The Schooner Sara B Log

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April 03, 2005     Post 4
Time to get to work

Keeping UPS busy
Keeping a wooden boat operational is a constant series of skirmishes with entropy. Sometimes the skirmishes become major battles if you wait too long. And each wooden boat is different. No ISO 9000 standardization here- even two supposedly identical wooden Lightings will vary surprisingly in their structural detail. It's this individuality that makes wooden boats so interesting. And wearing.

So there is much to research as we delve into the rejuvenation of Sara B. How to deal with or prevent rot? Antifreeze? Antifreeze with borates? Impel rods? How much roach powder does it take in a gallon of antifreeze to make 28% solutions? Will antifreeze affect polysulfide caulk (apparent answer, no).What is the recipe for oiling traditional caulked pine decks? What is the best caulk for pine decks? What are the ingredients for "slush"? And so on.

We have taken the rudder off and driven out the steel drifts from the blade. There is minor worm damage at the bottom outer part of the blade that can be repaired with a glued in Dutchman. A replacement white oak stock is being glued up from local air dried wood and we'll shape it 8 sided and then round it with the hand plane.

Removed worm-eaten rudder section & replacement
There is also some worm damage inside the shaft where the stock went through in the form of two cavities about 2-3 cubic inches maybe in the sternpost ( a large timber at the back of the boat). The best idea we've come up with for that is to treat with glycol , maybe stuff some impel rods up in there and then follow by a generous glob of thickened epoxy. The websites say borates are subject to leaching, maybe the epoxy will slow everything down and help retain the rod diffusion products(?).Who knows. One thing we do know. We're not replacing that piece of wood this year. Maybe not ever! It is a large piece and we believe there is ample strength remaining here if we can keep any rot from starting.

Borates are new to me, but the web says railroad ties treated with them and then coated with creosote lasted a lot longer than just creosoted ties. Fungicidal levels were retained up to 15 years apparently. Sounds good to us.

One badly wasted chain plate has been removed. The original iron strap was presumably worked in a forge to form the end around a rod or pin and then it was welded back on itself. We need to extract the pin and associated dead eye from this and create a new chain plate. Somehow.

Wasted chainplate
The first of four sections of toe rail cap is off thanks to a hole saw. (No self respecting 50 year old iron salt water fastening has any intention of ever backing out.)

A number of 6 inch lag screws were driven in along the original rusted fastenings apparently to try to hold the toe rail on. Eventually we'll work our way down to the covering board to replace that. The toe rail itself appears to be yellow pine and is far sounder than the oak cap and deck planks. We hope to get some yellow pine from Toby's barn beams to make a new one.

Below decks the bilge has been scraped and cleaned of the worst of its decades of accumulated crude and painted with one coat of antifreeze. As hoped, the salt water timbers though far from new, appear mostly sound. We'll do the glycol borates brew down there too before replacing lead ballast. Might even do a periodic every 2 to 3 years lift the lead and treat regimen. Who knows. Depends on our endurance.

A couple of thru hull backing blocks look like they've suffered from some sort of chemical/electrolytic degradation. One definitely needs replacement. The unused tank back aft that someone else started to cut apart was chopped up with a grinder cutting wheel and removed to facilitate access and application of wood preservative back there.

Spreader replacement ready for mounting
Note rotted area in old spreader upper right
Removal of the failed epoxy coating on the deck has begun, using a propane fueled paint remover to soften and lift the epoxy. Back on the homestead the main mast spreaders were removed again with the help of a hole saw and used for a pattern to make new spreaders. The main mast has been varnished and the job of reassembling all the rigging on it, no small task, is next. A small amount of serving on the shrouds needs replacing too.

Much remains to be done, but we are hopeful.

Newly varnished mainmast with a lot of rigging to rig

Whoops! Another boat project

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