Tag Archives: Sistering Frames

Cracked Frames, Saw Teeth and the passing of old friends.

Another short window of opportunity opened last weekend and I leapt out of it and into a more thorough investigation of the cracked and sistered frames.

Looking at the way some of them have failed really highlights why sawn frames are just not up to the job. I guess grown frames were hard to come by or more expensive, or both, and in 1930 there was not much laminating of frames going on.

Starboard midships frame failure
Starboard side midships frame failure
Portside midships frame failure
Port side midships frame failure

Both these frames have been reinforced and are in such an awkward place I’m going to leave them.

This one however, has been ‘mended’ but has failed again where the bolted on ‘sister’ frame finishes.

Failed, mended, failed again!
Failed, mended, failed again!

This picture shows the rather slapdash original repair…

Straight butt join.... not good enough!
Straight butt join…. not good enough!

I think the butt joint (if you can call that a joint!) allowed too much movement and simply transferred the stress to the next weak point, with inevitable results.

Taking the bull by the horns, or at least the screwdriver by the handle, I have released the screws from one section, of one frame that needs repair, near the bow. I used an old spoon bit with a handle and a heavy duty awl, to chip out the old filler and expose the screw heads.

Old tools
Old tools

I love old tools! That screw driver has been with me since I started work at a cabinet makers in 1981, I made the mini gouge from an old spoon bit at about the same time and used it for wood carving. The heavy duty awl came ‘free’ in an old carpenters tool box I picked up at a boot sale.

Some screws are more reluctant to leave their little hidey holes. Awkward buggers!
Some screws are more reluctant to leave their little hidey holes. Awkward buggers!

This weekend, if I get a break from daddy day care duties, (Tracy is away on a course) I will, with fingers crossed and a small prayer to St Nicholas (patron saint of seafarers) Take a saw to the frame and cut a scarf ready for a new section of frame.

Maybe best to hedge my bets and throw in a couple of words to Isis, Posiedon, Neptune, Mazu, Njord, Tangaroa and any other seafaring dieties I can think of. 🙂


So I did get some time on the boat despite my day care duties. Actually if I’m honest I neglected the day care in favour of too many milkshakes, cricket on the lawn, movie nights, nerf gun battles and late night snacking. This shocking neglect also meant that someone went to school on Monday having not had a bath since Thursday, but hey, how grubby can a small child really get… oh.

Anyway, back to the boat, I made a couple of templates for the new sections of frames but actually cutting out the dodgy sections was so scary I embarked on some displacement activity.

I salvaged a whole load of 3mm ply from a skip at work. Perfect for templates
Making a pattern for the new section of frame

Along with a selection of hand tools in that old carpenters tool box I bought for £12 at a car boot sale, were a couple of old saws. I hadn’t really paid them much attention until I watched this video;


Seeing Jimmy Furey build a beautiful boat, largely with traditional hand tools reminded me those old saws are a classic design that has evolved that way for a reason. I’m so used to disposable, all purpose jack saws now, that the idea of having a saw for ripping, one for cross cutting and one for fine work seems a bit over the top. However, as a displacement activity to put off actually sawing chunks off Flamingo, saw sharpening is right up there! It’s time consuming, fiddly, satisfying and sort of needed… ok I don’t need them, but they are lovely old tools, and I am a sucker for old tools…

I needed a jeweller's loupe for this close work which caused much merriment from youngest daughter
an old saw clamped in the vice for shaprening

Friday’s activities were interrupted by the sad passing of Mrs Black. She died with her friends around her and the sun was shining. I guess there are worse ways to go…

Mrs Black two keeps vigil for her perch partner
Mrs Black #2 keeps vigil for her perch partner

Sunday was gardening day, various family members came down to lend a hand working through the list of chores the Head Gardener had left on the blackboard. Not that the Head Gardener takes a hands off approach, oh no, despite her nearly eighty years she was mowing and trimming with the rest of us.

The Head Gardener

Next weekend is a shake down sail training weekend getting ready for the Round the Island Race with some friends. So no Flamingo work for a while. 😦


One Step at a Time

I love internet shopping! Lunch time on Thursday I remembered I really did need that extra large adjustable spanner if I was going to undo the huge nuts holding the mast step in place, so I ordered it…. Saturday morning it arrived! By Saturday lunch the reluctant mast step was removed along with a very badly corroded steel floor. £17 well spent! The massive lump of oak reminded me of a piece of timber we once dug out of the foundations of the house, a  relic of the old mill that used to stand here. It had lain under the ground so long it had turned to a dark ebony like material that was so brittle and crystalline  it fractured across the grain and blunted tools very quickly.

Showing signs of nail sickness ?
The mast step showing signs of nail sickness or turned to bog oak ?

Removal came with a lot of sweat and swearing and at one point I considered just leaving it. Once removed though I was glad I persevered, given the rot that was revealed in the frame and the level of corrosion of the steel. The base of the mast is such a high stress area I’ll be much happier with a new step, and repaired frames.

This frame has a large spongy area of rot where the floor bolts through.
This frame has a large spongy area of rot where the floor bolts through.

The picture doesn’t really do justice to the extent of the rot, but when one of the bronze bolts just fell out and my probing screwdriver sank an inch into the soft pulp, I realised something was amiss.

The heads are looking a little public but I think clearing out all the furniture and bulkheads, though time consuming, will be worth it just to get a really good look at all the frames and sort out any sistering or repairs that need doing…

Public Toilet!
Public Toilet!

I am wondering whether to keep the Baby Blake at all or whether a modern cassette type toilet might be better, less holes through the hull, less mechanics to go wrong.

The weekend wasn’t all about Flamingo (Tracy may beg to differ) There was apple pruning, whittling, and archery too!

Luke testing one of the longbows.... turns out its not as easy as Legolas makes it look
Luke testing one of the longbows…. turns out its not as easy as Legolas makes it look

Apparently, come the apocalypse, we will be hunting for our food. After half an hour of practice Luke commented that perhaps broccoli might be easier to catch…

Tracy getting to grips with the winter pruning, and Tilly Whittling marshmallow toasting sticks
Tracy getting to grips with the winter pruning, and Tilly Whittling marshmallow toasting sticks

And finally. The Old Man has hung up his ditty bag…. or at least passed it down to me. Its a treasure trove of well used, much loved sailing paraphernalia, whipping thread, fids, shackles and needles and more, all in a canvas bag he has had since sailing Dulcimer, a 1973 Bowman 46.

Dulcimer's Ditty Bag and a well used heaving line
Dulcimer’s Ditty Bag and a well used heaving line

The heaving line with Monkey’s Fist is the same vintage and similarly well used over the years.