Saturday, May 16, 2009

Laying the Keel

Progress on the boat this week was slowed by a stomach ailment but by Friday I was feeling well enough to begin working again. Using the electric planer I planed the gunwhale pieces and bilge keels down to the same thickess and started planing the spacer blocks for the gunwhals to thier final thickness. This morning I started heating a large pot of water in preparation for mounting the keel. When it neared the boilin point I pulled the keel out of the trough it had been soaking in since Sunday and screw it to the bottom of the boat leaving enough overhang to bend it around the bow. I wrapped a towel around the overhanging wood and affixed a clamp to the end of the wood and hung about 20 pounds of lead decoy weights from the clamp. I then began to ladle the boiling water over the towel and wood. After 30 minutes the end of the keel was about 3 inches from the top of the bow. I bent the keel the rest of the way by hand and clamped it to the bow. I then added a few more screws to the stem but left the clamp in place so the screws are not bearing the full pressure of the wood trying to straighten itself out. The process of bending the keel was muchin easier and quicker than I expected, heating the water was the longest part of the process, and my fears of hearing a loud crack and seeing flying splinters never materialized. I will let the keel dry for at least a week and glue it and the bilge keels in place.


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