Strongback Is Ready

October 7, 2014  Hours spent building to date:  184

Strongback Today

Someday, waiting for good weather to cross the Straits of Mackinac and avoid 5 foot waves and 1100-foot freighters, Tardis will seem very tiny, about the size of her phone-booth namesake.

But today, with her building frame (called a “strongback” in boatbuilding parlance) almost totally filling the shop, she seems huge and I seem late-middle-age small.  (My shop neighbor Wally never uses the “S” word, and my AARP-employed wife is forbidden from using it, so late-middle-age it will be.)

I am very pleased with Mark’s strongback design.  Usually the frames are set up on cross-beams called “spalls” that have to perfectly line up on perfectly flat frames.  To find really straight lumber for a boat the size of Tardis and plane it down would have been very hard.  But his system of uprights relieves all that.  If the waterline ends up exactly 69 inches off a flat floor (mine is) and everything is plumb and centered, all should come out all right.

Shimming Blocks

I have added one embellishment to Mark’s plan for those working in a single-man shop.  As an example, frame 13 weighs something like 60 pounds and is very awkward to move around.  If it was 1/8th inch down on one side and 1/8th inch up on the other, trying to horse it around, get it level and redrive the screws holding it to the frame would be impossible.  So I cut all the uprights at 68 inches instead of 69,  They will rest on 1-inch blocks lightly nailed to the spacers at the bottom of the cross beams.  If something is off, I merely knock out the spacer, put a smaller or larger block at the bottom of the upright, and drive it home with my trusty sledge hammer.

Shimming block loosely fastened beneath uprights

Shimming block loosely fastened beneath uprights

Block is removable for taller or shorter block of necessary

Block is removable for taller or shorter block if necessary

Strongback Day 1

Strongback Day 1

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