February 27, 2015
The work to restore RIPPLE, a 1925 Berthon built West Solent one design has been progressing with apprentice Lewis Still taking directions from seasoned Mike Prince in the corner of the big blue sheds at Berthon. Lewis, a 2nd year apprentice shipwright comments on the work he has been undertaking in this rebuild.
“Since I have been working on RIPPLE a lot has happened, the new stem made from laminated iroko using a template from the original stem to get the correct shape and size has been fixed to the keel using a stepped scarf joint. Before fitting it to the boat we had to first cut the rabbet into the stem to accept the hood ends of the planking; whilst doing this the bevel of the rabbet changed dramatically so to achieve accuracy we had to continually use the station marks on the original stem as a reference. The stem was then affixed using resorcinol glue and bolted to the keel, using a string line from stem to stern to use as our centre line.
“Now with the stem permanently fixed in place we got to work on fitting the final new frames (some of which around the mast-step area are partial ring-frames – see video) that had been made also from laminated iroko; eventually they were given the correct bevels that we lifted from the original grown oak frames.
Before the new frames could be fitted into the stem we had to mark the correct positions and cut out the housings in the stem; the frames were then glued using thickened epoxy resin and screwed with bronze screws. Now with the stem fitted and all the frames fixed in place you can really start to get a picture of how the boat will look in terms of shape and size. We are now at the stage of fairing the boat; this process is done by clamping battens around all of the frames, and we then looked for any high spots and uneven shapes, planing these high spots off until we have a completely fair shape around the boat.
We are still currently in the process of fairing and when we are completely happy the lead keel will be fitted followed by the hulls’ planking being installed.
Since working on RIPPLE I feel I have obtained a huge amount of knowledge and have had a fantastic insight on how traditional wooden boats were built. Mike originally served his apprenticeship here at Berthon when wooden boats were regularly being constructed so I am very lucky to be learning from a highly skilled shipwright within this sector. I feel it is an important part of my apprenticeship to be incorporating these traditional skills as well as using the original tools in the correct manner. Overall I have really appreciated and enjoyed this opportunity, and I look forward to using these skills that I have learnt on the many other refit & repair projects needing skilled woodwork that pass through Berthon’s Big Blue Sheds.”
Read more on the restoration of RIPPLE – West Solent One Design