On a rather dull and gloomy day in Harwich, the shipwrights and carpenters of the project continue the Mayflower build by installing the knee. The knee, as shown in the diagram below (kindly drawn for me by Tony Wilding) is a strengthening support between the deadwood and the sternpost. The pieces numbered 1 to 3 are fill ins that will be added after the knee is in place.
As you know from earlier posts, sometimes I like to move away from the build a little and give you a taste of what else is happening at the project, so my next few posts will be a little bit of background before I get back to the build.
Now that the visitor centre at the Harwich Mayflower Project is open, they’re getting lots of visitors (if you’re anywhere near, you can always pop down between 9am and 5pm week days) and as I wander around with my camera, sometimes I help out by taking people to look at the Mayflower. A few days ago, I was sitting in the office when a few guys walked in and asked if they could see how the project was progressing. It turned out they had arrived by boat and their barge was moored at the Harwich Quay. After they had a tour, myself and Sean Day were invited to have a look at their barge. I grabbed my camera and followed them to the quay and this time it was my turn to be the visitor and take a tour around their boat, “Nooit Volmaakt”, which is Dutch for “Never perfect”. The guys welcomed us in and put the kettle on for some of the best coffee I’ve had in a while. It turns out that not only was the owner a mean coffee maker, he’s also part of a troupe called “Prates of the carabina” and on top of that he’s also called Fluffy! No, I didn’t ask.
After listening to some seafaring stories and enjoying some wonderful hospitality, I left the Three Men in a Boat and headed back to the Project, but not before I got some pictures for you. Photography and content: James Kelly
On a dull, cloudy, rainy day, the latest piece of the Mayflower was added to the existing build. As the rain came down, the shipwrights lifted the inner sternpost into place. Once in place, a piece of batten was fixed in front of the inner sternpost to stop it slipping and it was also strapped into place. There’s not much more I can say really, as the pictures tell the story.
Clicking on any of the smaller images will open a slideshow. Photography and content: James Kelly.
As I wander around the yard at The Mayflower Project, I’m forever taking pictures. At the moment I think I have about 800 or so. Most of them don’t make the blog, simply due to space limitations and the fact that I’ll take a dozen shots to get one good enough for the blog. So, every so often I’ll put up a few pics that didn’t make a post, but are still worth a look. With that in mind and as something for you before the next sections of the build (the inner sternpost and the knee), here are a few pictures. Photography and content: James Kelly.
As mentioned earlier, the shipwrights and carpenters have taken the keel apart at the scarph joint. If you look at the picture on the right, you’ll see the diagonal cut that makes up the joint. This section of the keel was removed to make it easier for them to work on the rebate.
But for the moment, they are taking the opportunity to apply a mixture of linseed oil and preservative to the wood, to help prevent weather damage. Photography and content: James Kelly.
Now that the main components of the keel are in place and the rain (one of the joys of a British Summer) has finally stopped, the shipwrights are cutting a rebate into both sides of the keel. The rebate is a groove that is put into the side of the keel to take the garboard, which is the first plank that will fit onto the frame (I call them ribs, but I think ‘frame’ is the proper term).
As you can see, the keel has been split at the scarph joint to allow the shipwrights to work on it. It has been turned on it’s side and they’ve been using various tools, including a ‘registered mortise chisel’ to get the rebate to the correct size and depth.
The graphic below shows the keel end-on and gives an idea of how the keel, garboard and frame fit together. The graphic shows the rebate on both sides of the keel and the garboard (first plank) sitting in it, which then gets fixed to the frame. You’ll have to imagine this being repeated along the keel as the planks get fixed between the frames. I’ve also included a close up shot of the rebate for you, with the sun casting a shadow off the plane, to give you an idea of the rebate’s depth and angle. Photography and content: James Kelly.
It’s been a little hectic at The Mayflower Project lately as they rush to get the visitor centre open in time for this weekend’s Harwich Sea Festival & Lifeboat day. While the finishing touches were being added, a group of visitors from Tampa in Florida arrived. They were shown around the build and then became the first visitors to look around the new visitor centre. I was there taking photos and I have to say, they were lovely people, especially the lady that presented me with a “Hug Licence”. I took several photographs and they kindly allowed us to use some here on the blog.
If you’d like to visit The Mayflower Project, they’re open between 9am and 5pm. Visitors are warmly welcomed and get a guided tour of the build site as well as an up close and personal tour of the Mayflower, as she rises from the English oak in the yard where the project is housed. I’ve been there several times over the past few weeks and I’m still enthralled by the sight of the keel and the sternpost, that in just a few short years will be in the water and making regular trips to the USA. If you want to see the Mayflower at the early stages of it’s build, why not pay them a visit. I’m sure they’d love to see you and you may even get your picture on the ship’s blog! Photograph and content: James Kelly.
If you’re following this blog, or even just popping in now and again to follow the progress of the Harwich Mayflower, you’re in a very privileged position. You are lucky enough to be able to see how the Mayflower was built and watch as the shipwrights from the ship’s original home port, build the ship from old English oak using traditional methods where available. It’s one of those traditional methods that I’m going to focus on in this post.
You’re probably wondering what the shipwrights and carpenters building the Mayflower get up to when they’re not working on the ship. Well, they work on making tools to help with the build! A few days ago, I asked if there was anything that I could take pics of and was shown a pole-lathe that had been hand built by one of the guys working on the build.
A pole lathe is a wood-turning lathe that uses a long pole as a return spring for a treadle. Pressing the treadle with your foot pulls on a cord that is wrapped around the piece of wood being turned. The other end of the cord reaches up to the end of a long springy pole. As the action is reciprocating, the work rotates in one direction and then back the other way. Turning is only carried out on the down stroke of the treadle, the spring of the pole only being sufficient to return the treadle to the raised position ready for the next down stroke. Modern pole lathes often replace the springy pole with an elastic bungee cord. [Wikipedia] Photography and content: James kelly. Pole-lathe built by Tony Wilding.
If you’re going to make a pole-lathe, then you’re going to need to make some chisels as well. The picture below shows some cold forged chisels made to work on the pole-lathe. In an age when people are straining to get the latest iphone or play the latest xbox or play station and where children are forgetting how to climb trees, I think it’s amazing that there are still craftsmen around that have a skill they can pass on. Not only that, but a skill that built The Mayflower and will build it again.
After several posts that gave you a little insight into the background of the Harwich Mayflower project, I think it’s time we got back on course with the actual build of the ship. While the keel itself remains covered up to protect against the unusual heat of an English summer, the Shipwrights are busy working on other sections of the keel.
The Forward keel is currently being cut and shaped and will eventually be joined to the keel with a scarf (scarph) joint, which was described in an earlier post. The pictures below show a 2 ton piece of English oak as it sits on the bandsaw, partially cut and waiting to be finished to match the template which can be seen sitting atop of the oak. The forward keel will eventually be worked on to finish with an upturn at the front end. You’ll be getting more pics as this piece of the Mayflower progresses.
My next post will show you some of the tools and instruments being used to build this ship and will include a lathe powered by human muscle and not electricity! Photography and content: James Kelly.
Today the Harwich Mayflower project had a stand at the local county fair. The Tendring show is an agricultural event that takes place every year and attracts in the region of 25,000 visitors in a day. The Mayflower Project was promoting itself and trying to raise awareness within the local community about what it does. Several of the staff as well as trustees and the Chairman, Tom Daly, were there. The shipwrights were working on a piece of oak, while everyone else was handing out leaflets and talking to visitors about the Project. There were various competitions run throughout the day and lots of ribbons were awarded. In fact, the Mayflower Project won first prize in the ‘Best Charity Stand’ category. Apart from a ribbon, they got a cup, which Tom Daly received on behalf of everyone at the Project. As usual I took hundreds of photos and a small sample are below.
The images under the main photograph are a gallery, clicking on any one of them will open a slideshow for you. Photography and content: James Kelly.