Old Sound, New Wood

Perhaps it is nostalgia or maybe a tight wallet, but I’ve taken a small interest in “vintage” stereo equipment. It is surprising how fast we cast off technology. “But it doesn’t have WiFi, Bluetooth, etc”.  I know, and I do like the depth of music Spotify has given me (I trust the artists are justly compensation. They signed on, so I assume so). However, I do feel I’m somewhat of a hold out. I remain unconvinced that digital sounds better. There is a harshness to my ear. As evidence, I offer Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue. Despite the occasional hiss or pop, vinyl simply sounds fuller on vinyl than CD. While playing Rock, this may be a difference without distinction.

Anyway, a couple weeks ago I picked up some vintage Fisher XP-55B speakers. They were packaged with a Harman Kardon “One Thirty” receiver which had a hum in the left speaker channel, but not the headphones. Nonetheless, I wanted the speakers and $15 seemed more than fair. Maybe the stereo can be easily fixed. I’m guessing it is a ground problem.

Back in the ’60’s, before the mass production of stereo equipment, Fisher produced quality speakers in line with KLH or Wharefdale. The company was sold to Emerson in 1969 and later to Sanyo.

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This pair was made in Long Island City, NY and in good mechanical condition, nothing blown and good woofer foam. Some use was evident in the roughed up faux wood veneer edges. I liked their easy clear midrange sound and decided to dress them up. The “veneer” was readily peeled off to reveal the particle board cabinets. Easing the cabinet edges with a rounding over bit removed barked up corners. Four coats of polyurethane, brass finish washers to hold on the grilles and I had “new” retro speakers. Wood pegs made good speaker stand offs. In combination with some Baby Advents for the highs, these speakers are a joy to listen to. Pat Metheney’s Watercolors and Bright Size Life rotated in the CD player (now more old school) and these speakers have proved themselves. Now I just need to get a fire going and kick back.

The Gloucester Light Dory

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My daughter has notions of building a rowboat. I wonder where she got that idea? In an effort to help her find a simple and effective build, “Dynamite” Payson’s Gloucester Light Dory came to mind. I’ve seen the design several times in Maine and have been impressed with its docile qualities, simple construction, functional details and elegance. My daughter read the Payson’s “How to Build …” booklet yesterday. However, she didn’t know I’d decided to make her a model as a gift. No push is intended, but maybe it will remind the girl to follow her dream compass.

 

 

Doug Hylan’s Chesapeake Crab Skiff

Doug Hylan has a number of beautiful designs. Not the smallest, but certainly one of the prettiest, is this little 15′ plywood constructed skiff. Off Center Harbor featured the boat awhile back here. I built a 1/2 model … Go figure. This would be an excellent boat for teaching how to “simply mess about in boats”. I think I will. Get it?

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In the meantime, we have some more wall art.

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Now, back to work!! Slacker!

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Mikey Floyd’s “Salty Heaven”

This 17′ boat is one of several boats I mulled over before building UNA. Floyd really got some beautiful lines set here. She looks so workmanlike.

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Mikey Floyd in his “Salty Heaven”, the original boat.

No laps in the intended clinker construction in this 1/2 hull, but the grace still shines through. Could still be a project down the road. In the meantime I’ve some more wall art.

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Dare I Err?

When will it stop? The symptoms are consistent and persistent, indicating a severe case of “next boat” psychosis: a beautiful design catches the eye, offers a possible solution for some niche of boating I’d like to do or perfect. From there an infatuation develops quickly. Much studying and “rationalizing” time is spent. Once past those tests, I jump wholeheartedly … until, the next one comes along. How I’ve finished the boats I have built surprises me. Thank God there are far fewer lovely designs compared to the loads of uglies never to steal my time.

I was set on the Gartsides’ Lugger, had cut staves for the spars and shaped the boomkin. All was fine until I found he had posted a new design, the Ditch Witch, interesting in concept, but too small. However, it led me to taking another look at his Spartan II, a trailer capable cutter whose dimensions approximate those of the Lugger. Why me?!

To add fuel to the fire, Boat Design Quarterly reviewed the original Spartan. I ordered that issue, read and re-read the feature. Curiosity took hold. I then purchased study plans for Spartan II to which Mr. Gartside graciously added the lines plan allowing me to build another half hull matching the scale of the  Lugger for close comparison. A nice enough 2×6 pine board was found for the model’s lifts which were cut, glued, carved, and sanded fair. Details and rig were added.

 

 

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Here are some final model pics.

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This design is a beauty too. For a whole host of reasons, I’m torn between these 2 boats. As luck would have it the staves already cut for the Lugger can be used for the Spartan. I suspect the cutter is another 25% time investment to build. That wineglass Lugger transom is nice. The cutter has a group of sails that would be fun to play with and I bet she’ll plane. The simple Lugger is one I know and love. Her cockpit is more generous and no compression post in the cabin.

Geez! See what I mean?

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Framing Nailer Fun

About a month ago I spent a few days helping a friend resurrect his backyard shed that had burned to the ground. One day we used the tried and true 24 oz hammer to raise 3 of 4 walls. The following day the right “wing” was quite sore. On the next visit, a framing nailer was available for use. I knew it would be more efficient, but experiencing the difference was an enlightenment. The tool moved to the top of the wishlist. I searched for a deal. Got an Hitachi.

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We were quick with Project #1: more sawhorses. Made from 2×3’s, they’re sturdy and relatively light.

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Project #2: Mothers Day Adirondack chairs. Got tired of buying “disposable” plastic ones each year.

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Adirondack chairs. 2×4’s and 1x’s

With galvanized ring shank nails, these projects are darn near impossible to pull apart. How do I know? I measured twice, but should have thrice. Had to pry off one of the curved back horizontals. Tore it up. Wood dough is good. Primed and 2 coats of Rustoleum should keep these in service for years.

I now see all kinds of use for wood cut offs. Awesome tool!

Lugger? Bugger!

There is nothing like self imposed distractions. Winter has a habit of forcing more of them upon me. Is it a restlessness? Perhaps. If so, it seems to have set in early this year.

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While motoring LUNA around to the boatyard a few weeks ago, I thought it preferable not to undertake all I was about to go through: the down rigging, packing the trailer, rechecking  that, hauling the boat some 80 miles and then providing cover for the cold season (forget the hassles of a flat trailer tire, old tarps, etc.). Such was my mindset when someone suggested looking again at Paul Gartside’s Design #166: the 6 Metre Centerboard Lugger (above). Shouldn’t have done that. Firstly, Gartside can’t draw ugly lines. His catalog demonstrates that. Secondly, this pretty trailer sailer was all it took to get me dreaming of extended cruises along distant coasts. No offense is intended towards UNA, but this other lugger appeals in many ways also. Some quite differently. A couple days on and LUNA was home under wraps. I paused. The bug struck again. Attempting to be rational about it all, I began a list outlining the pro’s and con’s of not just this design, but several others. A quick spreadsheet of the contenders considered size constraints, construction limits, sail area to displacement ratios and naturally that question, “Is she fast?” Further on, an inordinate amount of time was spent perusing  WoodenBoat Forum and the myriad of suggestions and opinions. Some were valued. To justify my growing library of design books I flipped back through volumes by the likes of Chapelle, Oughtred, Culler, Gardner, etc. Another few days passed. So many beautiful small boats with history. However, undaunted, this little lugger kept popping to the surface.

I had to do something. You’d guess enlisting “moral” support from fellow sailors isn’t helpful (boy, was that putting gas on the fire!). Right, no firehoses were offered. Any critiques were mere droplets, and only objections to small details or did I even hear them?

I ordered study plans from Gartside and crafted a half hull model at 1″ to the foot.

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I find the study process enjoyable. Maybe that is part of the forever search of the “next” boat. From selecting wood, cutting lifts, laminating, planing, carving, sanding, and finishing, each stage allows meditation. What is the damage anyway?  If you choose a nice boat, at worst,  you’ve some wall art. Yea, but does it end there?

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But what about the Ducker?! I know. I know. She’s not forgotten. Her molds are still hanging ready to be used in the shed.

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But then, what have I done? I should have just finished putting the leather ties on the F-1 and stayed out of bigger trouble.

Why has it so far been painless? That’s good, right?  … or is it?

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Luna’s Half Hull

I enjoyed carving the Ducker model so much that I wanted to try another. This time of Luna. Here are pics of the early progress. In removing the last bit from the keel I accidentally buzzed off the tail end of the keel. This gave me the “opportunity” to add that corner back as a delineation of what would be the lead ballast per the lines drawing.

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botched trailing keel corner and tick marks for fairing

 

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added “ballast”

 

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rudder added. cardboard stations beyond.

 

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ready for hanging
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hung

I’m learning as I go. Too late for this one, but I just rediscovered an old Rudder Magazine article on model making by none other than L. Francis himself, I’d like to do one more. In his description I realized there may be a quicker way to remove the waste wood by not gluing the lifts, tracing the lower lift onto the above lift and separating the individual lifts to work on each separately. Once the majority of the waste wood is removed, the lifts can be rejoined and tuned for the final finish. Rewarding projects. What might be a next go?

Boat Hooks to Crochet Hooks

Last Fall my daughter went for her first sail in UNA. She was quick to take note of the 8′ long boat hook I made from oak and red cedar. She suggested that I could cut the hooked end of the pole off for her crocheting use! Alarmed at the idea, I defensively I manufactured for her 3 hooks of various sizes mimicking UNA’s. I had trouble tossing the hardwood scraps from the build and here they got some use. However, apparently the largest hook wasn’t large enough, so a fourth hook made use of what was the bumkin cut off and some oak scraps. I’m now officially out of that business.