The Schooner Sara B Log

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May 23, 2005     Post 5
Signs of progress

A greatly improved deck - still needs caulking
Several rainy weekends set the Sara B project back, but we have continued to plug away (in some cases literally) at various projects. Toby has put in many hours sanding and working on deck renovation- an incredibly tedious and time consuming process- old epoxy coating removal using propane fueled paint remover/heater, sanding, old caulk removal and finally recaulking probably with one part silicon based teak life deck caulk and finishing with oil-pine tar- turpentine mix. All together the deck project has soaked up well in excess of a hundred hours of labor and it is far from completed.

Toby made up a new rudder stock of 2 white oak boards joined with 5200 and bolts (after epoxy glue joint failed). The blade has been repaired and has new drifts of galvanized, and is ready for final fitting after its lower corner is notched out for a retaining strap. After learning how much oak can swell when wet Toby decided to plane the post down a bit as a precaution lest it swell up and jam in the shaft. He tossed the old stock in the frog pond and I'm curious to see what the dimension change is -perhaps I'll post it when he checks it.

Refurbished rudder ready to mount
The deck is ready for an initial round of caulking. We are deferring the seam clean out and recaulk process for foredeck and cockpit floor until after launch.(However, it is high on list, as deck leaks are a major cause of trouble in old wooden boats). We have applied the impel rod and borate/antifreeze treatment to the knee braces of boom gallows arch to port and to the sheer clamp and to several soft spots aft on taff rail area as well as to top of sternpost. This hopefully will stabilize rot and buy us time. The plan is to replace and repair these areas over the next few years in a "phased" renovation process. It will be interesting to see how well antifreeze/borate treatment actually works. We have another order for impel rods in, as we're still finding a few more places to try them on.

All the rot is off the port side deck edge and Chris and I went off to the Colonial Craftsman of Newark for some air dried white oak. Chris began cutting out new planks last weekend and this past weekend, got the covering board on and screwed down and plugged. A final plane session to fit the edge awaits- then it'll be primed and painted and the new yellow pine barn wood toe rail will go on. We're using a more "conventional" plank scarf rather than the half lap joint used in original construction. These appear to have been an entry point for freshwater and subsequent starting point for rot on both sides. Good bedding compound is essential here apparently. It looks like the original construction used white lead and in many areas such as the lead sheet cap on stem, it has held rot at bay nicely.

One more covering board to go
A preliminary assessment of topsides and bottom shows some fairly minor issues such as old worm/ice damage and various putty filled "memories" of encounters with hard fixed objects. None of the encounters appears to have been really severe or structurally significant. Somebody probably tried to make a right turn and left their mark on the old boat.

A previous owner also sank galvanized screws in next to the nails on some of the frames to do a partial bottom plank refastening. After a winter of drying and shrinkage, the bottom still looks pretty fair. We'll go over and re- putty some plugs to try to extend fastening life as much as possible both on bottom and topsides.

The head intake sea cock with a bad backing block was removed with a grinder. The hole will be plugged for now with yellow pine and 5200. Another seacock was successfully disassembled with heat and a hammer tapping out the core. The threads on end were buggered even before we got to it. The solution proposed is to grind off thread, and recut thread for a half inch nut. Seems like it should work. We still have the two gate valves under cockpit to try to free up by whatever means works-heat? Vinegar? Marvel Mystery Oil or simply remove and replace. I've taken most of zincs off bottom after reading about something scary called delignification of wood due to "over zincing". I strongly suspect that's what happened to the backing block of head intake sea cock. We're in freshwater, maybe we don't need six zincs all over her bottom.

Sara B gets some nice new oak
Three chain plates are being replaced with the services of David Docktor a black smith in Phelps who is making up new ones using the old for patterns. We'll probably just prime and epoxy these, though we could look into galvanizing as per originals.

The rigging service has been more or less repaired and given a pine tar treatment. A light coat of lanolin thinned with mineral oil was brushed on the bare wire as per Toss book information. The foremast is now being re varnished with linseed oil in checks. A small amount of leathering needs renewal on the gaff jaws.

Last weekend the Dennis Sullivan, a replica of a cargo schooner from the upper lakes stopped in. Except for scale differences, the resemblance of her rigging details to that of Sara B was uncanny. We found the details quite fascinating.

Over the last few weeks as the activity increases around the boat yard we've had a number of marina customers stop by and peer at the little Tancook schooner parked next to the dumpster. An extremely common remark addressed to us is you've got quite a project there. And almost everyone parts wishing us "good luck". Luck is handy stuff, no doubt. But right now we also need lots more work and time (and some more money) too to help luck along. But we are continuing. And it is evident from the input received, that a fair portion of the marina population is pulling for old Sara B. They want to see her make it afloat for another year.

Who cut this board?!

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