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A New Build Wooden Broads Cruiser


JanetAnne

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Before we begin there are a couple of ground rules. I have needed to seek permission to be able to write this thread from the person who has commissioned the project. He has agreed that I can go ahead on provision that his privacy is respected. Should he choose to come on the forum and introduce himself then that is his choice but, in the meantime, I hope those of you who know who we are talking about will refrain from mentioning names or the thread will sadly have to be taken down.

Where to begin... well about three years ago to be honest. A hyperthetical conversation at Beccles Wooden Boat Show about whether it was even possible to build a brand new traditional wooden broads cruiser in the 21st century? It was an interesting debate though the concensus was along the lines of a- whether you could find someone foolish enough/willing to take on such a project, b- more importantly, the cost of materials and c- even if suitable quality materials could be found? I didnt think too much of it until about six months later when a drawing arrived in the post. It was a plan of a proposed new build wooden broads cruiser. 34'6" centre cockpit, 4 berth, stepped deck, oak frames, carvel planked, lashings of mahogany and varnish.... it could have come straight out of the 50's!

 

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Over the next few months drawings were altered as more detail was decided on. Getting the draft (or draught - more on that later) right so she'd not run aground on the shallower moorings, airdraft for going under Potter,  increasing galley space, bulkhead and tank positions etc etc, that initial drawing was revised and revised until it finally represented what he wanted. Yes, of course it would be cheaper to fully refit and convert an existing boat. It would be cheaper with a fibreglass hull. It would be cheaper to buy a finished project. All good advice but ultimately our man wanted to design and build - well, have built - a boat to his own specifications. The perfect boat for him, and his family. And he is in the very fortunate position to do it.

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Early last year I got a phone call. "Dave, how do you feel about taking 12 months off and building this boat?" Erm.... wow! I also knew instantly that I was nowhere near good enough to undertake such a project... but I did know a man who was. We just needed to talk him into it....

Meetings continued to take place and Robin agreed to come on board, so to speak. Not sure he will ever forgive me for getting him into this but, like me, the opportunity of building a brand new wooden broad cruiser (and possibly the last ever) is a very persuasive arguement. At this point we had ticked two out of our three boxes. Someone to build the boat and the finance to do it. Our third box was procurement of the right materials. Our customer was going to be doing this bit. We'd just provide a list of what we need and by when and he optimistically stated "it'll be there".

And so it begins... before you can build a boat you need to draw it out full size. This is called 'lofting' (I believe it got its name because it was usually drawn out in loft spaces). By drawing the boat full size you get to test the measurements and any abnormalities caused by the scaling up from a drawing to a 34' boat. Our drawing was at 1:20 so every centimeter on the drawing is 20 centimeters on the lofting boards. For example, a 1mm thick pencil line on the drawing theoretically becomes 20mm wide at full size! Of course, we dont need 20mm thick lines, plus we need to be a bit more accurate than that so these are the sort of things that are put right on the full size plan.

To draw a 34'6" boat you need a 34'6" drawing board. Plain MDF is the board of choice. It is very smooth so draws well and you can easily sand off wayward pencil lines. It has to be screwed down so it cant move. When our pack of MDF arrived I did manage to wind up one forum member by convincing him that the MDF was for bulkheads in the new build. Robin, of course, quickly put him right and, when I asked him why, he said that he didn't ever want anybody leaving his boatyard thinking he used MDF on his boats! :facepalm:

Anyway, here's our 36ft drawing board

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Next you need a base line. A nice strong rigid fixed baton which all measurements are taken from....

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....after which its time to start drawing. Here's the hull along with one of the tables of measurements needed.

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I've tried and tried to get a decent picture of the full size lofting but it just will not reproduce. Its quite faint being pencil on a brown surface ... I'll try again tomorrow.

Next time we will start to get up close and personal with the first consignment of oak.

 

 

 

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Proper good news that this is out in the open and last (And of course the owners privacy will be respected)

Where building new wooden boats is concerned -

Those that don't have a clue, those that do have a clue and those that know a little bit - It'll be fascinating not to mention educating too

Well Chuffed

Griff

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A great project and I congratulate you for taking it on. It will be very interesting for us all to see how it progresses.

If it's any help, here is the cruiser "Heartbeat" being built in the sheds in Thorpe in 1957.

Heartbeat1.thumb.jpeg.6f8e8b8f87cf744be5bf67f630568a63.jpeg

Believe it or not, the whole affair is held up straight by the wooden battens screwed to the boatshed roof beams.

I remember the keel and stem post being dressed out by hand on the floor, with an adze, and all the sets of hardboard templates, so that more boats could be built of the same class. In fact, she was the second one. On the floor at left is one of the formers for steaming the mainframes.

 

She turned out like this :

Heartbeat2.thumb.jpeg.e1a29af4b47a0dcdd408fd1562266b97.jpeg

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Was speaking to the gentleman involved a few weeks ago , what a wondrous project , one many would dream of achieving but never have the means nor the motivation to actually move past the dreaming stage .

I look forward to, as I’m sure so do many others, following this fantastic journey and thank you to yourself and to the prospective custodian for posting about this on here .

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2 hours ago, Lulu said:

Would be fab to have this documented on YouTube like Tally Ho ….

Yes, be great to watch the progress.

But! The content providers on YT do admit that any filming of the process adds significant time to the build of any boat.

Tally Ho and Arabella both admit it would have been built a lot quicker if not on YT. But the revenue was part of the reason it was on YT

 

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14 minutes ago, Bikertov said:

Madness - just madness !

Amazing that someone is willing to undertake a project like this today. I'm intrigued as to how 'traditional' or 'modern' the boat will be, from a systems perspective and an internal fit-out perspective.

It's not going to be an old boat so no reason to be "old" fit out or systems.

I suppose it would all have to be upto ercd specs as it's a new build. 

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8 hours ago, Vaughan said:

A great project and I congratulate you for taking it on. It will be very interesting for us all to see how it progresses.

If it's any help, here is the cruiser "Heartbeat" being built in the sheds in Thorpe in 1957.

Heartbeat1.thumb.jpeg.6f8e8b8f87cf744be5bf67f630568a63.jpeg

Believe it or not, the whole affair is held up straight by the wooden battens screwed to the boatshed roof beams.

I remember the keel and stem post being dressed out by hand on the floor, with an adze, and all the sets of hardboard templates, so that more boats could be built of the same class. In fact, she was the second one. On the floor at left is one of the formers for steaming the mainframes.

 

She turned out like this :

Heartbeat2.thumb.jpeg.e1a29af4b47a0dcdd408fd1562266b97.jpeg

Great 'photos.  Can you share any others of her being built.  Any idea what she would have cost to build in those days?  Thanks

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Wowzer

Being involved personally in a keel up rebuild/restoration, My mind is boggling although the bank manager has another word for it..! OMG this is so wonderful….

Need details of what the frames are going to be made of ?

Any laminated bits ( we are doing that in parts) 

Hull planks, mahogany analogues ? Balau, Utile, Iroko?

Gosh, so many questions….

 

Martin 

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Films?

Youtube videos?

You aint got a wide angle lens big enough to get me on screen and Robins chisels are camera shy. We are also somewhat committed to a time scale that wouldnt really allow for the time filming would cost us.

Anyway, onwards and upwards.

With our lofting taking shape we were able to finally start building something. Of course its traditional to 'lay the keel' first. But to lay a keel you need a keel to lay. Our keel is to be made from 'European' oak and laminated. This gives us a very strong keel (laminated is about 30% stronger than a solid one) without the worry of solid oak splitting and moving. As Vaughan mentioned above, keels were once pretty much carved by hand using an adze. Here in the 21st century we value our toes a bit more and so, even though a new adze currently resides in the office, we are very fortunate to have a big bandsaw that we can shape the keel layers on before laminating them together.

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In the past a keel would have been carved out and then held by a 'strong back', or similar, which would ensure the keel was kept both straight and rigid whilst the associated parts were attached to start the formation of the frames of the boat. You will also have seen in Vaughan's photo above that 'Heartbeat' was supported using the roof beams of their shed. Our roof beams are just a tad too high for this and so we needed a suitable base to be able to form 34ft of keel.

Enter the trusty Black and Decker workmate, well 5 of them to be exact, all perfectly aligned and levelled ready for the keel.

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And finally, we get our hands on our first pieces of oak. Time for Robin to break out his g clamp collection again...

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Our first two layers are glued and clamped. We are using West System epoxy mixed with their 406 colodial silica to bond the individual layers together.

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Each pair of planks that make up one layer are joined using a scarph joint.

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And now I cant find the image of the scarph joint side on :facepalm:Its been a long day!

 

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Just a suggestion for pics: Get your widest angle lens and find a spot in the shed where you think you could get a pic of the finished boat. Take a pic and mark the spot. Take more pics from the same spot during the build. Maybe more than one spot; front and rear?

Sod's law says that during the build someone will park something in the way but hey ho...

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15 hours ago, Happy said:

Great 'photos.  Can you share any others of her being built.  Any idea what she would have cost to build in those days?  Thanks

I haven't got any more I am afraid. In fact, that photo was posed specially for an article in the Motor Boat and Yachting magazine. 

Building would start after Whitsun, when the hire fleet were out and stop in October, when the fleet was hauled up into the sheds for maintenance.  The finished boat would normally be offered for hire to Blakes in June the following year.

The next, and last wooden hull, that they built was Heart-Throb in 1959 and I remember my father saying that she cost £7000 to build, which he said was far too much and would take 9 years on hire to recover the cost.

These were the days long before the word "inflation" was invented, but it was having its effect, all the same!

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7 hours ago, JanetAnne said:

This gives us a very strong keel (laminated is about 30% stronger than a solid one) without the worry of solid oak splitting and moving.

This is great stuff Dave and I certainly agree about lamination!  I would also imagine that big lumps of oak may not be as well seasoned now, as they used to be.

I also remember that one of the worst, but most important jobs, was drilling the hole through the keel for the prop shaft tube.  This was done with a big hand auger with a shaft about 8ft long.  Everyone took turns to stand there and wind it in for hours until it came through.  After this, a length of string was passed up the middle of the tube and tensioned in place, so that the boatbuilders knew exactly where to fit the engine beds amidships.  There was also a plumb line that hung down from the stem head to about an inch off the ground, as a regular check that everything was still upright!  An awful lot of it was done "by eye" in those days.

Perhaps it still is now?

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