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Welcome to the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum's Boatyard Blog, where all things related to Chesapeake Bay Boats are discussed. Follow the Museum's progress on historic Chesapeake boat restoration projects, watch wooden boats being built from scratch in our Apprentice For a Day program, and meet the dedicated staff and volunteers working hard to give you the experience of Chesapeake Bay history while preserving traditional Chesapeake Bay boat building techniques. Make sure to join us as a follower of this blog so you will be notified of new posts, and make comments on anything you see on the blog.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Deckhouse and Monkey Rails

The Rosie Parks restoration gang made much headway on the skipjack's deckhouse (or doghouse as it is sometimes referred to) prior to the holidays. Then we ate too many brownies, and way too many cookies. Work slowed considerably, but the new year brought a new apprentice, Eric Hervol, and we are now back in full swing. Hopefully our shiny new cabin and fancy new monkey rails speak for themselves.

Shipwright apprentice Shane and our high school intern Johnny pound a 1/2" galvanized rod to tie together the Douglas Fir strakes of the deckhouse. A strake is an individual board or system of boards that composes the side of the deckhouse

Three strakes down, one to go. The rough openings of the window and companionway hatch are formed into the sides rather than cut afterward.

The individual cabin-side strakes meet at the corners with a half-lapped joint. A portion of each strake is removed to interlock with the remaining portion of the other strake, similiar to a dovetail joint. This builds strength and stability into the cabin's design.


Similar to the forward hatch, an oak ledger is attached to the cabin sides for deck beam bearing, and mortised with carlin notches. Volunteer Cliff inspects while Shane marks for a carlin. Carlins are short beams that run perpendicularly to the cambered deck beams.

Close up shot of carlin with routed bead on bottom and fastener hole at top.

Beams, carlins, and vertical corner posts at the companionway in place and ready for the cabin top strakes.

Cabin top strakes in progress. Several strakes on each side are tapered or "coopered" like a barrel to form the trapezoidal shape of the cabin top. Always remember...nothing is square on a boat!

On with the sealer. Two coats and she'll be nice and shiny--and protected for the winter, prior to spring painting.

The monkey rail is a low railing around the aft half of the boat, abaft of the roller knees. We first laid 1/8 luan pattern stock over the existing log rail and then trimmed it to shape with a pattern making bit in a pin router. Next we laid out our scarfs in the patterns, and then transferred them to our stock.

In this shot, the two portions of rail at the aft corner of the boat are taped and ready for "Sika-flex," a phenomenally tenacious, pervasive, ubiquitous adhesive caulk. They will be joined with (2) 1/4" bolts at each scarf. 


Here, "space invaders" block the monkey rail up off of the log rail 6", allowing for drilling and installing 1/2" galvanized rod with clinch rings. The wood spacer blocks happen to be shaped like the infernal aliens from a  fantastic 1980's video game. The rod is then peened over creating a head (a 3 day process for volunteer Mike Corliss) that fits into an indentation in the clinch ring. It is effectively a homemade bolt. 

Shane drills through the monkey rail and the log rail while Special Project Manager Marc Barto gives the drill bit "the evil eye" checking for plumb.

The rod is driven through the clinch ring, and then into a piece of 3/4" pipe. After the spacer blocks are removed, the pipe holds the monkey rail off of the log rail. 


Close up shot of rod and pipe. To remove the spacer, twist the leg up, and pound it out with a hammer.

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Volunteers Mike and Cliff pounded down the rail the last 3/4" and the rail was complete.

The fruits of our labor. Monkey rails in. Deckhouse in progress. And built just like Bronza Parks intended for her to be built for his brother, Captain Orville Parks, in 1955.

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