The Schooner Sara B Log

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May 09, 2006     Post 9
Spring Update

Rudder post sleeve
We're made progress on the list of upgrades, repairs etc that we established last fall. After Sara B was hauled out but before we took a 12 foot section of worm damaged plank off, we had a "consultant" look her over just to confirm our approach to ongoing repairs. The "consultant" Dennis Montgomery of Cayuga Wooden Boat Works pretty much confirmed we were on the right track. He suggested we pay particular attention to the refastening issue, a wooden boat being only as good as its fastenings. He also suggested we leave the stern post in place for now, noting that while it appeared to have suffered some worm damage, the risk of tearing the boat apart and not getting it back together seemed greater than living with things as they are. Dennis thought our idea of sealing things off there was sound, suggesting either a tube perhaps of metal or fiberglass or pvc or simply using sheet copper caulked and fastened in place.

To that end Chris has devoted considerable effort to sealing off the worm damage therein. We have gone back to the original idea of installing a liner and he opted for a stainless steel tube with a wall thickness of 1/8". He selected a diameter of 4 1/2" so as to accommodate the existing rudder stock which meant the shaft we were lining had to be enlarged by 1/4 of an inch. This was accomplished with the biggest hole saw I ever saw and a whole jag of drill shaft extensions. It wasn't easy but with two of us working to more or less keep things centered and where Chris wanted it, the hole saw did enlarge and trim back the shaft for tube placement.

A view where the new plank's going: new sister frame center, badly deteriorated frame on the right, so-so one on the left.
Next and trickiest, is the sealing off of the bottom of the liner where it meets the outside of the boat. Keeping the water from moving up into the worm holes of the shaft sides is the whole objective, and after debating whether to make a fiberglass "end cap"that would be moulded in place and then built up at the bench, and ultimately screwed and caulked in place or to try and carve one out of wood he opted for shaping two pieces of wood to be screwed and caulked around the bottom of the tube. We're hoping the wood will give a little more and be more compatible with the boat hull than fiberglass.

Once we have the bottom ( and the top) of the shaft sealed off with our liner, we'll bore a small access/inspection hole in the side of the wooden trunk above the waterline and cram as much antifreeze in there as possible. The inside of this box in our freshwater environment strikes me as vulnerable to rot and we hope periodic inspections and preservative application will help avoid this.

I had suggested complete removal of the wooden rudder box trunk but Chris believes that it may contribute some stiffening back aft and so says leave it for now.

Chris has begun installing sisters and reinforcements to the cracked frames in the hard tuck of the bilge aft. He's using a combination of sawn frame in the tuck and laminated in place above similar to the last original rib back aft there. He's also considering following Dennis's advice to install some short "sisters" or half sisters amidships where the original ribs are still intact but show some sort of deterioration and severe checking right about at the level of the cabin sole.

The new plank goes in
Chris has also started on the plank replacement after removal last fall of a 12 foot section of plank. After carefully planing down a piece of long leaf from the Toby stash, we discovered this spring that our boat's hull is apparently white cedar planked. Oh well. We'll go ahead with the pine this time. He figures on final fitting of that after finishing the rib re-inforcement.

He also thinks a couple of strategically placed ten inch stainless lag bolts aft in the stern post where a big check has split things apart might be prudent -his reasoning being this might help stabilize and strengthen the timber to reduce or prevent further spreading.

I patched a couple of spots on the foredeck by sanding down some lengths of pine to fit. These were screwed in place and caulked after the punky places in the deck beam underneath were treated with CPES and then the gouged out rot areas filled with epoxy putty. I sunk about a dozen Impel rods in the deck beam below decks. We'll watch it to see if we've stopped the progression of rot. It's possible this beam will have to go at some point. Maybe next year.

Screw number 487
My other project is adding fasteners to the bottom using #12 or in a few cases #14 stainless 2 inch screws. We decided on stainless after talking to Alfie with his salt water Elsie boat up in Chester NS. Alfie found stainless screws that he had put into his boat some years ago had held up very well- no signs of crevice corrosion or deterioration there. Stainless is closer to steel and iron galvanically than bronze and we decided that very pricey monel might be sort of gilding the 50 year old lily a bit. So we're going with stainless.

I have so far found about approximately 70 %25 of the bottom nails were supplemented being refastened with galvanized screws some time back at least on the port side. Judging from the rust on the galvanized screw heads that still show the slot but are NOT going to back out easily if at all, the partial refastening was done perhaps ten to fifteen years ago. Badly wasted nails (detected by softened rust stained putty in the counter sink) can sometimes be reamed out with a small drill and a # 12 screw then installed after the nail hole is enlarged with a tapered bit. I noticed the previous refasten job includes some of these screws in old nail holes and I've found that maybe one or two in ten of these attempts fails to take. A surprising number of the screw -in-old hole fastenings do bite. Most of the planks are still tight on the frames and loose areas do seem to be drawing up ok. I may try to seal up the old rusty nail heads with Rustlock or cpes before putting epoxy putty over
them on the theory that it might retard rust and subsequent epoxy plug loosening.

Lots of new screws; the keel/stem scarf shows at the lower left
For now we're going to content ourselves with re-bolting the scarf between stem and keel by adding two new bolts alongside the old. If we then sail the boat for a year and find she isn't leaking too much when driven, we are going to hope that implies the floor drifts are still somewhat sound. It's pretty much impossible to evaluate them without totally tearing the whole structure apart.

With the ballast out I took advantage of the open bilges to splash another dose of anti freeze around down there as well as back aft. After this year's replacement wood and supplemental refastening we'll re-caulk as needed, sand and paint hull and bottom and see if she'll swim again. High on the to do list is the remaining wood around the afterdeck including port side knees and arch and new canvas for the cabin top. Next year we'll also consider replacement of the worm damaged port side plank section and/or any other plank sections as needed. The whole trick is to stay ahead of entropy- stay tuned to see if we do.

From inside: the new sister frame and plank show; the exhaust is a tad rusted but hammer taps indicated there's lots of metal left (besides it's way above the waterline - an inch at least!)

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