Over the last month, we have made significant progress with the completion and fitting of the replacement stern underloute. The October 2022 newsletter (add link) details the trials and tribulations involved in converting this timber.

The new underloute section (shown inverted as it rests on the trestles waiting to be put into place. The scarph in the foreground attaches to the aft end of the keel and was made entirely with axes, drawknives and chisels.

It took nearly 450 hours to get the timber to a stage where it could be fitted. This was more than we had hoped and was a result of needing to include a variety of volunteers in this project rather than just one person supported by a few others like the last time.

The old underloute has been removed and replaced with the new piece of timber

The fitting of this timber will no doubt prove to be the most critical operation of the whole build in that a piece of freshly cut ‘green’ timber has had to be fitted between two seasoned pieces of timber. Additionally, allowances have had to be made for the subsequent shrinkage of the underloute as it seasons over the coming months. It is to the great credit of everyone involved that the operation to insert the replacement underloute went so smoothly. To add to the pressure, this exercise took place while being filmed by Time Team for their future documentary on the build

Assistant Shipwright Laurie Walker supervisors volunteer Nick Eddery-Joel as he cuts a trenail hole through the underloute and keel using a spoon auger. All were observed and filmed by Steve Shearn from Time Team.

We will now continue to shape the inside of the underloute and monitor shrinkage before fitting and fastening the first planking to it.

Volunteers, Rod Daniel, Philip Waring and Mike Pratt hollowing the underloute and fitting trenails

Also, this month, volunteers have been gaining experience in fitting sections of framing to the full-size midship model of the Ship. This again is a technically challenging operation involving the careful fitting of the timber around the many plank edges that the frame sits on. The accuracy here needs to be close to the thickness of a piece of thin card, otherwise, once the frame is fastened up to the planking it is potentially possible to split the plank (leading to leakage) and alter the shape of the Ship

Sections of framing can be seen in the forefront, centre and back of the model. Each one has been worked to the exact shape of the hull.

The one-fifth scale model has been fitted with its completed outer stem and sternpost and is now undergoing sanding and finishing before being given its final preservative coatings

5th scale model looking sleek and ready for finishing

The team, led by John Cannon, has made a precise stand for the model to sit on. Once the outside has been completed it will be removed from the mold and turned upright before fitting the framing.

As alluded to above, we spent three days at the end of the month filming different elements of the project for a documentary being made by Time Team. Two of these days featured the fitting of the new underloute timber, the third was spent filming at Blickling Hall in Norfolk. Here we were looking at the processes involved in selecting the correct trees for the project, their felling and transport. The weather was foul – wet and windy – although the sun did pop its head out for a short time in the afternoon. Many thanks are due to the staff of the National Trust at Blickling Hall, particularly Heather Jermy, Stuart Banks and forestry contractor, Gary Bambridge. We now await the delivery of four magnificent Oak trees donated by Blickling which will allow us to continue to convert planking for use in the New Year

This oak tree at Blickling Hall is over 1.2m in diameter at the butt end and has 8m of useful length

We were also delighted to welcome the children from Melton Primary School (Rivet 1119), Kyson Primary School (Rivet 3348), Stradbroke Primary School (Rivet 3349) and the Gorseland Primary School (Rivet 3350) who took part in the Follow the Ship programme administered by the Woodbridge Riverside Trust. As our contribution, we gave each child the opportunity to rivet up a copper nail and rove using plywood planking so that they could understand the process and appreciate how difficult it was for the Anglo-Saxons to nail up nearly 4000 much larger iron nails. We made a lot of noise and had a lot of fun.

Tim Kirk

Master Shipwright