All Hands on Deck

Getting to spend more time in the park’s Small Boat Shop as I wrap up my internship at SF Maritime. I cant believe how fast 10 weeks can feel. With so many volunteers and things to do, there’s always something or someone new. However, one of my main tasks lately has been to fasten boat parts together by riveting them. It’s pretty easy to do, but also pretty easy to mess up and its a pretty integral part of ship building as its what keeps the boat together, literally. It’s a 2 person job and it involves first drilling through the pieces you want to fasten to each other, for example the planks that make up the outside to the framing. then you stick a copper nail through the hole, then while one person presses against the nail head with a special tool the other person has to insert a washer on the other end, then clip the nail but leave a little bit to get smashed/mushroomed with a hammer. It can be hard because the way the boat is positioned and someone has to lay on their back and try and get under it and sometimes there’s just not enough room. Also, we got to steam some planks and attach them to the frame. The planks are the outside of the boat/hull, they get steamed for an hour in a long metal box for every inch they are. So for example, the planks are about an inch thick so they’ll get steamed for about an hour. Once they are done steaming everyone working gets ready for action: they all have an assigned station and must work fast but be mindful of being precise. The wood only stays malleable once its out of the steamer for about 45 seconds. So once its out, its all hands on deck. The planks get placed on the frame and then held tightly to it with clamps where theyll stay for about a week as the wood hardens and takes shape. They usually let visitors know when this is going to happen with a sign outside on the Pier so we get a pretty good crowd coming in to see and cheer us on. Its a great opportunity for visitors to see history being rebuilt right in front of them.      

Clamp: Tools of the Trade

Clamp: Tools of the Trade

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