April has seen the conversion of the log, which was cleaved at the end of January, converted into planking stock. As is the nature with all cleaved timber, (and quarter-sawn timber which is the modern equivalent), every time we cleave a larger section into a smaller section the width of the planking available is reduced. This means that these planks will need to wait to be used when we are ready to fit the narrower ends of the strakes.

At the very end of April another log, larger in diameter than the previous one, was cleaved at another site. The cleaved boards from this tree will be brought to the Longshed and the process of converting them into planking will begin again. Planks from this and a previous log will form the important end sections of the garboard strakes (these are first strakes, or length of planking, that are fitted against both sides of the keel).

The garboard strakes in this method of construction (in archaeological terms this is known as ‘Shell-first Construction’) perform a very important function as they support the scarf joints in the ‘plank keel’ and strengthen the centreline timbers. From previous Newsletters, you will recall that the five sections of the backbone are joined by scarf joints that are caulked with woollen fabric and pine tar before being fastened with oak trenails.

The search for timber to replace the damaged underloute continues. Most of our local sources have now been eliminated and we will begin travelling further afield to source this very important timber.

The timber for the replacement underloute will need to be even more specific in size than the one it will replace as the new timber will now have to fit precisely between two existing timbers – the keel and the sternpost. Previously, it was possible to adjust the length of the sternpost and underloute to take account of the shortening of the keel. One tree which we looked at was nearly perfect in girth and curvature but was frustratingly just 4”/10cm short in length.

Potential timbers

Work has continued on the hollowing of the stem to enable the ‘hood-ends’ (the very ends of each strake of planking) to be attached to the stem.

We have also started the important work of setting out the plank widths on the temporary molds, which will allow us to determine the shape of each individual plank. Data for this is being taken from the 1:5 scale model.

Setting out plank widths on molds. Once this has been done on all molds and any anomalies accounted for, ribbands (long battens) will be fastened along the plank edge locations to check for fairness.

We have entered the next phase of meticulous, steady and accurate working. Unfortunately, this means that we won’t see as much change in the Ship as we have in recent months, but we are making really good progress. Our new cohort of production volunteers are settling into the life of the Longshed following their training and perhaps one of our newest problems is the number of volunteers we have that are called David, with 14 at the last count. If you shout ‘David’ in the Longshed you can be sure to get lots of attention.

I’d like to end by thanking, once again, all our volunteers either called David or otherwise for your hard work and commitment to the project.

Tim Kirk, Master Shipwright