Ben Her restoration

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NorfolkNick
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Joined: Mon Apr 04, 2011 2:29 pm

Ben Her restoration

Post by NorfolkNick » Wed May 23, 2018 5:44 pm

I went to collect Ben Her from the boatyard yesterday. Some of you may remember that this was one of the 14's that went up for sale last year at auction. I brought the boat home from the auction and after a bit of digging realised that (of course) there was more work needed than initially thought.

I should say that some technical terms for certain boat parts are unknown to me, so please bear with me if I get anything wrong, and feel free to correct me as we go along.

So the work Ben Her required is / was as follows:

Two holes in the planking caused by some careless moving operations during her incarceration at the Museum, possibly caused by a forklift, needed repairing, along with one broken rib caused by the same operation.
The hog had, for the central one third of its length, split, not length-ways but in what I could best describe as echelon fractures (like this //////////), and therefore needed the keel and centerboard casing removing so that the central part of the hog could be replaced, along with the garboards. The hog had also started to sag away from the centerboard case at the aft end, and the gap had been filled with a hard resin which was not doing any good at all, but this was rectified in the process of removing and replacing the centerboard case. While the case was off the boat, I took the opportunity to strip it back to bare wood and re-varnish.

As this work was way beyond my personal ability I have used a local boatbuilders here in Norfolk to do the work. Robin and Patrick Richardson run the Phoenix Fleet of electrical day boats at Potter Heigham, as well as having a long established boat yard. Although they mostly concern themselves with larger keelboats (mostly Broads sailing cruisers) they also have a Slipstream Dinghy http://www.broads.org.uk/wiki/index.php ... le=Slipstm, which was designed by their father, and could be described as a local version of a Thames Rater. Robin and Patrick have a rental business to run as well as a few other projects ongoing, so I was happy for Ben Her to be dealt with when they had the time, which explains why I have only just got her back from them.

Robin managed to determine that the wood used on the planking of Ben Her was Honduran Cedar, rather than Mahogony, and managed to use his boat building contacts to source enough for the required repairs, along with a now much treasured extra piece which will be kept in case any future work is needed. I am very happy with the work Robin has done and can now start working on my part of the operation which will involved replacing a broken seat slat, and a couple of other non structural pieces, and of course the complete stripping and revarnishing of the hull, inside and out. All the hardware is already off the boat and most is in good condition, although some of the rigging might need replacing.

At some point in the future a new sail and possibly a bamboo boom will be required, but probably not this year.

I made a start on dry scraping the outside today and will post some pictures as work progresses.
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Last edited by NorfolkNick on Thu May 24, 2018 8:12 pm, edited 3 times in total.
International 14 #85.

NorfolkNick
Posts: 24
Joined: Mon Apr 04, 2011 2:29 pm

Re: Ben Her restoration

Post by NorfolkNick » Wed May 23, 2018 5:55 pm

Is there a three photo limit for attachments, or is it due to file size?

Here is another photo of the boat, with detail of one of the holes and its repair, I am very happy with the colour and grain match on the wood.

Also a photo of the very heavy bronze plate, can someone tell me what the slot in the leading edge is for, the bolt goes through the left most hole, so I am not sure what the slot is for?

A question for any Metallurgists out there. The bronze bolt was bent (probably another moving operation at the Museum), looks like the plate was partially down when the boat was dragged backwards against something, so the middle of the bolt is about 4mm off center. Obviously heating will help to straighten the bolt, but what should then be done in terms of quenching etc, to give the bolt the right properties?
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Michael Brigg
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Joined: Fri Jul 06, 2007 7:11 pm
Location: Gosport, UK

Re: Ben Her restoration

Post by Michael Brigg » Wed May 23, 2018 11:37 pm

I congratulate you on your careful assessment and repair of a beautiful piece of history. :) I congratulate you on your use of appropriate professional help and admire what has already been done. :D

Like you I have doubts about my wood work skills on some of the repairs that are needed, but I believe (from my own experience of using a yard to mange a restoration) that a collaborative approach in which you do the time consuming preparation work (Stripping, revarnishing and sanding) and leave the clever stuff to a (motivated and trusted) yard that is fully and expertly tooled up for the job, can be a practical solution to managing a restoration project..

In my own experience it is worth negotiating "special rates" in which the yard do any work in less busy times of the year (a bit like paying for off peak electricity on a storage heater.) The yards work is charged by the hour, but the really time consuming stuff can be down to you with just a good well sharpened scraper. It is surprising how quickly the woodwork is done and even quite major repairs might only need a few hours of work to be paid for, while the scraping, revarnishing and sanding between the coats might need weeks on you own account! You are also likely to do a better job doing the menial work (labour of love) than the bored junior yard apprentice.

For this purpose, I have found the most useful tool that I use is a 'fine' grade oil stone (available off ebay usually for less than £20) and a good quality triangular scraper, and also a Tungsten Steel "Pull" scraper tool. Correct use of the Oil stone will give you a literally razor sharp edge to your scrapers, and these will eat through old varnish and take a very fine top veneer of the wood. Carefully used this will give the wood an 'as new' brightness. You need to resharpen the tool about every 50 strokes or it loses its effectiveness. Scraping off the old weathered surface gives a spectacular finish but care is needed if the boat is moulded veneers, but it looks from you pictures to be all solid wood carvel planking, so you can be more thorough without risk of "going through" to a middle veneer! :(

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Michael Brigg

Pat
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Re: Ben Her restoration

Post by Pat » Thu May 24, 2018 11:49 am

See viewtopic.php?f=3&t=1880 for Neil's image posting guide. Size matters!
(Also the top topics in the announcements section of the forum)
(Half Cut and What a Lark Removals Ltd)

NorfolkNick
Posts: 24
Joined: Mon Apr 04, 2011 2:29 pm

Ben Her restoration

Post by NorfolkNick » Sat May 26, 2018 11:16 am

This week I have dry scraped the starboard side of the hull, mostly the varnish was quite loose and brittle, and came away easily, with a couple of small areas where some stripper was needed as the varnish was so hard that even a new blade would just skid over the surface.
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In many places the scraping has removed a very thin veneer of wood, but in others, some varnish impregnated wood remains, especially either side of the nail heads where the nail stopped the scraper from engaging with the wood. So the plan now is to do another second, more detailed scrape to get these last remaining traces of varnish, before I get the sander out.
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Michael Brigg
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Re: Ben Her restoration

Post by Michael Brigg » Sun May 27, 2018 12:24 am

I think there is going to be an issue with all those nails as there is evidence of oxidation affecting them (That green powdery residue and some cracking appearing around all of the nail heads.)

However well you work around the nail heads the effect of oxidatiion on those 'green' headed screws will cause the overlying new varnish to lift and bubble. Inevitably this in turn will allow moisture to get in under the varnish where you have screw or nail heads, and this will need attention in every winter session otherwise the wood around the nail heads darkens and provokes further deterioration / oxidaton of the copper. This can only be prevented by preventing contact between the copper and air (oxygen) and water.

I would also advise srongly against polyurathane or non-natural Varnish. Epoxy may last longer but the same problem will arise and might be far mor difficlt to manage once the epoxy is in situe.

Best option is to sand down the wood around the nail heads so that it is bright copper, and apply the varnish to the screw heads immediately after gently tapping the nail head with a picture hanging hammer to push it in flush with the wood surface. Remove and replace nails / tacks where this cannot be done. After tapping in the nails it should then be possible to use your scraping tool more effectively around or even over the nail head. Alternatively use a small hammer and a small rod (tapper).

Don't forget to keep that scraper tool as sharp as a razor as this will allow you to be more accurate in application of the tool.

Anyone else have any ideas to inhibit oxidation problems around nail heads where they are traditionally kept in situ?
Michael Brigg

GBW505
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Joined: Wed Aug 30, 2017 5:51 pm

Re: Ben Her restoration

Post by GBW505 » Sun May 27, 2018 11:11 am

Michael,
Forgive me, but won't tapping in the nails loosen the tight contact between the strakes and ribs? With my vintage 14 the nails go right through the ribs with the ends turned over to make a tight bond, any tapping of the heads would loosen this.

Nick,
At the risk of causing offence, if you MUST use a sander, do please go extremely cautiously, I've heard of an instance of the nail heads being taken right off!

I think the slot in the centreboard would originally have slid down over the bolt in the c/b case. The bolt going through the LH hole would seem to be a later idea.

Michael Brigg
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Re: Ben Her restoration

Post by Michael Brigg » Sun May 27, 2018 2:26 pm

GBW505 wrote:Michael,
Forgive me, but won't tapping in the nails loosen the tight contact between the strakes and ribs? With my vintage 14 the nails go right through the ribs with the ends turned over to make a tight bond, any tapping of the heads would loosen this.
You have a point there, ... I was thinking in terms of tapping the nail heads just enough to encourage them to be below the level of the varnish as it is scraped off.

The (ply) deck on my firefly is held by small tack/nails to the hull, but the majority of beef in the attachment of the deck is in the Glue. Where these have been varnished, the nail heads seam to act as a focus for the varnish to deteriorate and lift, clearly driven by the formation of oxides around the head, which will substantially change volume with variable water of hydration, and cause the varnish seal to break. Many firefly sailors (and other boats with similar decking, will remove the nails entirely after glueing as their presence becomes superfluous.

This of course cannot be done in the case of copper rivetts, (or clenched nails) which are essential as it is a non- glued construction. I am not sure if tapping the nails while internally braced with a heavy dolly would be better, and prevent the nails from loosening, or simply waiting for the hull to take up fully (in which case the nails will, like other parts of the structure be "pulled into" the structure.)

Certainly there is a need to research how this is best done to allow complete removal and restoration of the essential varnish, without producing a millenium of nailheads with heads above the wooden parapet and assotiated wooden ridges. Perhaps patient and gentle Hand sanding might be the only long term option, with constant attention in the year to sustain the right level of hull hydration.

We have to remember these boats were the disposable playthings of a priviledged class of sailor, often replaced on a yearly basis, and the structure takes no account of need for durability of the construction.

There are others, (particularly Chris I believe) who have done extensive renovations of the carvel built era of i14, with rather more experience than myself on this point. I would say that if as you say you have 'tight' clench nails, this problem in the case of your boat will not need attention. The problem in many of the boats in the Thornhill collection was that they had been forgotten about neglected and left to dry out excessively. A sad case of the difference between a collection and a hoard.
Michael Brigg

GBW505
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Re: Ben Her restoration

Post by GBW505 » Sun May 27, 2018 8:35 pm

Michael -

Many thanks for your response and for taking my point seriously. I agree that I am in the fortunate position of not needing to worry about this nail head business. But, in order to give Nick and others like him the right advice, further input from someone with more extensive Int 14 experience would indeed be very helpful.

Gillian Westell

Michael4
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Re: Ben Her restoration

Post by Michael4 » Sun May 27, 2018 11:06 pm

In my limited experience nail fastenings that are 'turned over' or bent on the inside (often through a rib) are best left well alone if possible.

Clenched nails (rivets) can sometimes be tightened using hammer, drift and dolly. However, if things have got to this stage then refastening is most likely needed because the nails may have wasted and might now a bit loose in their holes. Also when attempting retightening I suspect one is often just bending the nail rather than whacking the rove further down the nail.
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NorfolkNick
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Re: Ben Her restoration

Post by NorfolkNick » Sat Jun 02, 2018 10:27 am

Michael,

Thanks for the information regarding the copper nail heads. This is all new to me, and justifies the posting of the pictures of the restoration so that others with more experience may keep an eye on what I am doing. Although I was aware there was some green oxidation around some of the nail heads I did not know that this would lead to problems with adhesion of the varnish. Otherwise is there any chemical that may reverse the oxidation process, I am thinking of a product similar to Hammerite Kurust but which works on copper. Is there such a formulation out here that anyone is aware of.

For now I'll just carry on with the scraping and once that is done and the boat (lightly) sanded, I'll get someone to appraise the situation and decide what to do. Obviously refastening would solve the problem but this may prove costly so I could just proceed with the varnishing and see how much of a problem it is before going down this route. If its only a few nails are affected I may bite the bullet and redo them. I could have a go myself, as presumably if one nail is removed at a time and subsequently replaced it is a fairly simple process, or am I fooling myself?
International 14 #85.

Michael4
Posts: 483
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Location: West Sussex

Re: Ben Her restoration

Post by Michael4 » Sat Jun 02, 2018 11:13 pm

Just a thought, my comments regarding nails (two Michaels here) are based on my experiences with clinker boats, not something like your 14 though the principles should still apply. I am of the 'let's go sailing' school so would take the route of of varnishing and getting out on the water. Old nails are old nails. If they do the job intended and don't leak they can simply be seen as part of the ...vile, overused word alert...patina.

Refastening is not much fun, takes ages and really needs two bods. Getting someone else to do it would cost the earth.
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Aquarius
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Re: Ben Her restoration

Post by Aquarius » Wed Jun 06, 2018 6:00 pm

Tremendously good job on matching the planking.

I did think of "hardening up" the nails on Galatea, using a clench hammer and a dolly on the inside, but after grasping the transom and wiggling her, to see how sloppy she had become, I concluded that she doesn't yet need it, as she is still very rigid, so I left well alone. Some owner after me can do that!

Just throwing out an idea, if it's not possible to get the green nail heads "bright", because they have been driven below the level of the planking, one might paint a drop of epoxy on each of the nail heads, to seal them, before continuing with conventional varnish.
CVRDA eligible:
1962(?) Firefly F3163 "Aquarius"
1946 International Fourteen K478 "Galatea"
Not CVRDA eligible:
1991(?) Nethercot IC K229, "Ogaf the Unbearable"
Squib. possibly number 251, "Squirt"

NorfolkNick
Posts: 24
Joined: Mon Apr 04, 2011 2:29 pm

Re: Ben Her restoration

Post by NorfolkNick » Wed Jul 04, 2018 2:39 pm

Right, my first attempt at putting photo's on Google so hope this works, here is the link.

https://photos.app.goo.gl/buC3yxYZzCd9DHCK9

Just got back from overseas where I have to go sometimes to earn a crust, managed to get back into the shed and continue working on the starboard side of the hull. So the big question is, have I finished? I feel I have got to the point where if I scrape any more I will start to remove a little too much boat.

I could certainly scrape more and get down to deeper coloured wood (it's Honduran Cedar) but I am not sure if I should.
Likewise either side of the nail head pairs there can be seen a small vertical ridge, I could scrape that away leaving the nails standing proud, but I am not sure if I should.

Quite happy to continue scraping / sanding, but don't want to go too far, so thought I had better post some pictures and see what you all think. I should add that as far as the intended end result goes I am less bothered in the boat being cosmetically amazing than I am with maintaining the fabric of the boat. My understanding is that any lighter / darker patchiness will blend after a few years, so that does not bother me too much.
International 14 #85.

NorfolkNick
Posts: 24
Joined: Mon Apr 04, 2011 2:29 pm

Re: Ben Her restoration

Post by NorfolkNick » Thu Jul 19, 2018 2:58 pm

I added a few more photo's today now that the port side is scraped and lightly sanded. Took the boat out of the shed and gave a good wash with Net-Troll, which is supposed to clean and darken the wood where it has been bleached by the sun. Not sure how well that worked, and I may have to give it another go.

https://photos.app.goo.gl/tDxvB54kP5ByypxC7

I weighed the boat out of curiosity, and it came out at 76 kg for the hull, considering the centreboard is 57 kg that's quite a ratio, it should make Ben Her quite stable I would think.

While cleaning it, the boat got a good wash and it gave me a preview of how the boat will look when varnished. There are lighter patches where perhaps I have not gone deep enough with the scraper, but these do appear to be sun bleached wood rather than old varnish, so I am reluctant to go any deeper (unless someone really thinks I should??).

You can also see the two repairs on the port side, one in the fore quarter and the other on the aft underside of the hull, I think the match is pretty good, it will only get better with time.

There are a couple of small gaps that need filling, like the one above the drain hole in the transom on the port side right where planking, hog and transom meet. What would be a good filler for this application, Brummer??

So before I start oiling and varnishing, if anyone has any comments on anything they think should be done before that, please let me know.
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