Sunday, February 20, 2011

Charles W Morgan Restoration; A Volunteer's Perspective, Part 3

Outside, the paint is getting is coming off too.

As soon as the surface is clean, a coat of primer goes on.

The framing on the starboard side is done!

The forward part of the keelson has been removed. The rumor is that you can smell whale oil on it.
I could not smell it but...

This is the new one.

All the framing on the port side is done. The last piece proved to be quite a "Rascal," requiring a lot of persuasion to get it in place.
But now it's done.

On the Morgan, the paint removal on the port side is done. The "Plastic Palace" came down and we are reassembling it on the starboard side. Paint is going back on where we finished scraping.

The first thing I found walking in yesterday was a new floor timber in the rough. The wood is part of the old Boston Shipyard cache.

Back in the DuPont Restoration building the mizzen mast for The Morgan is coming along.

Meanwhile up on deck, the butt joints are being cleaned out in preparation for re-caulking.

The caulking was removed while the hogging was being removed from the keel. As the keel straightened out the joints on deck moved closer together. Removing the caulking allowed for free movement of the deck planks.

The keel has a new look. At first I thought it might be a new layer of sacrificial wood used to protect the ship from worms. This was done before modern bottom paints to protect the hull. Between the sacrificial wood and the hull was a layer of Irish felt soaked in tar. The worms bore into the top layer and were stopped by the tar.
Not this time though.
This is a temporary shield used to help keep the keel's moisture level up. The Morgan has been out of the water for two years and everything is drying out. The deck is hosed down every day and spread with salt. While I have never seen it in use, I talked with a man last summer who was installing a spray system to keep the inner hull damp.
Under the protective wood is a thick layer of burlap. The burlap will be soaked daily. I assume it will be a salt water mix.

This floor timber was made from the wood found buried in Boston.

This piece weighs around 1,000 pounds.

Inside, the chain falls did the heavy work.

Lowered into place, now it's time for the fine tuning.

Here the deck clamp is being milled to size.

This is the last part of the re-framing project of Morgan's hull. On March 16, I reported that the first new futtock had been installed. On November 17, the last frame member was installed. This time it was a naval timber.

All photos and captions courtesy Carl Swebilius , Mystic Seaport and the WoodenBoat Forum

To be continued...

see editors note at the bottom of the page!

Part three of this series:

Carl continues in his volunteer work and his posts to the thread. His work following the restoration, taken on apart from his volunteer work, is a labor of love, obviously and a great resource for us, and for Mystic Seaport. The Morgan is apparently on schedule for splash in 2012 and first cruise, to New Bedford, MA in 2013.

'I'm a big fan of the WoodenBoat Forum. I almost exclusively follow the design forum, but recently thought I should take a look at the at the building forum and was rewarded by finding there a huge thread on the restoration of the Charles W Morgan, the last remaining wooden whaleboat in the world. The thread is posted by a volunteer, Carl Swebilius, who works at Mystic Seaport one day a week and follows the work being done on the Morgan as well as branching off into many other stories about Mystic. It's a casual read, but also hugely informative and entertaining. Well worth a look.

Here's what Mystic Seaport say's about the Morgan:

"The Morgan is comparable to many whaling ships of the time: 105' on deck, 133' overall. Her beam (width) is 27.7' and her draft (depth) is 12.6 feet, although fully loaded she could draw as much as 17.6', her registered depth. Her displacement (weight) is 313.75 tons.

Her longest voyage was four years and 11 months, while her shortest was 'only' eight and a half months.

The Charles W. Morgan is the last surviving wooden whaling ship from the great days of sail. Built in 1841 in New Bedford, MA, the Morgan had a successful 80-year whaling career. She made 37 voyages before retiring in 1921, and was preserved as an exhibit through the efforts of a number of dedicated citizens. After being on display in South Dartmouth, MA, until 1941, she came to Mystic Seaport, where each year thousands of visitors walk her decks and hear the fascinating story of her career as a whaling vessel, historic exhibit, film and media star, and a porthole into America's rich history."

Some numbers:

The Charles W. Morgan slid out of Jethro and Zachariah Hillman's shipyard in New Bedford, MA, on July 21, 1841.

She took 7 months to construct with 31 men working on her.

She cost $26,877 to build and another $25,977 to outfit for her first voyage.

She was 113 feet long and classed as a 351 ton whaling ship.

Her beam was 27-feet, 6-inches with a 17-foot, 6-inch depth.

Her main truck was 110 feet above the deck.

The sail capacity was over 13,000 square feet.

She carried 4 whale boats (later a fifth was added).

The Morgan typically carried a crew of 30 to 36 men.

Her cruising speeds could reach over 9 knots.

Nat Arata, VP of Development at Mystic, and my liaison for this project, along with Carl Swebilius, the volunteer who is telling the story, sent this answer to my query about what the costs from 1841 equated to in current dollars, just for some perspective. The question was answered by another VP at Mystic, Paul J. O'Pecko, Vice President, Collections and Research Director, G.W. Blunt White Library,Mystic Seaport:

"According to the website, $1340000.00 in the year 2009 has the same 'purchase power' as $52854 in the year 1841.
Another historical currency converter says 52854 dollars in 1841 had the same buying power as 1.31908712e+6 current dollars. So very close, somewhere near 1.3 million dollars."

I visited the Morgan this summer during the WoodenBoat Show this summer and have to say she is the imposing presence on the Seaport's waterfront. Out of the water as she is, the word that comes to mind is massive. Definitely worth the trip.

Editors note. I am endeavoring to keep the flavor of Carl's posts to this thread by not editing his captions. Note that I have not, by any means, used all of his work. It's all there on the thread.
This is the third post in this series, and in reviewing Carl's material, I find that I may do one more. For now, but then the work is ongoing, so I may catch up later as well.

Also, there are whaleboats to be built to kit out the Morgan properly. This work has been allocated to the Workshop on the Water at the ISM with John Brady taking the lead and Rock the Boat in NY, with Goeff McKonley, formerly of the Philadelphia Wooden Boat Factory, in charge. I met with John yesterday to discuss the project, they've already lofted to plans supplied by Mystic Seaport and will begin building the molds in a couple of weeks. The workshop will also build a set of molds to be sent to Rock the Boat. You'll be able to follow the progress of these builds here. John also hinted at the possibility that there cold be some competition in the future, and that at least one other institution, the Cold Spring Harbor Whaling Museum is considering a build. Hopefully other Museums will also partake, the New Bedford Whaling Museum would be a likely candidate.
This is a 29' whaleboat, originally built by Beetle, and has a crew of 7. There is also a gunter sailing rig. The boat is a combination of lapstrake and carvel construction. These boats should prove to be magnificent in their own right. John also raised the possibilty of a kit for the boats, to enable more institutions to build one. More to come...

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