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Any rules re planks between butt joints?

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Hi All


Started my first build. Model Shipyards cutter Mermaid, a small boat, 56' in length, and a beam of 18'.

Having finished the first layer of planking, Ive decided to plank the deck prior to fitting the bulwarks.

Based on my limited exp, Ive decided to deviate from the plans and stagger the plank butt , however without fitting margin planks.


After reading Ulises Victorias great guide on planking, my only ques is re any rules concerning the number of planks used between butt joints and the size of a ship.

Thanks in advance...........what a great site.



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If you search "Mermaid" you'l find a couple of builds plus a few queries that I've made regarding accuracy (or not) of the plans supplied. Before you fit the bulwarks be very careful as two of us have had a problem here which I later solved - "there is a 2mm difference in height one end to the other for the bulwarks and although the fit appears better with the high end to the bows it should in fact have the lower end to the bows thus allowing the extra room in the bow keel for the required drill holes.

The instructions just say "identify and fit" no mention of the 2mm difference - I did point this out to the manufacturer and was told that they'd fix this in their next review." 



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Here's my finished product http://modelshipworld.com/index.php/gallery/member/15284-rick01/ -a little different to the kit but not hard to achieve. Main differences being rigging and position of deck furnishings. Yell if you want to talk about any of it. I'm only a first time builder but happy to help if I can.



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My gut feeling on these smaller boats is that planks might be joined with a backing plate between the ribs instead of on the rib itself. 30 years hanging around wooden fishing boats in Alaska tells me this. Don't really know the rules. I think that a butt in 3 planks would be reasonable and not closer than 6 feet apart longitudinally. Bill

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Record of American and Foreign Shipping


American Shipmasters' Association

                   1870  &  1885


Deck Plank

section 25.


The upper or main deck planking should be of the greatest obtainable length,

and free from defects, close-jointed and fastened with two spikes in each beam,

and one in each carling.  No butts of adjoining plank should be nearer each other

than the space of two beams ( when a strake intervenes the distance of one beam

will be allowed).  No butts should meet on the same beam, unless there be three

strakes between them.

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My gut feeling on these smaller boats is that planks might be joined with a backing plate between the ribs instead of on the rib itself.... Bill

I think a butt plate would be used when the frames were too thin or narrow to take the fasteners, or provide proper landing area for the two butts.  Steam bent frames over moulds come to mind.  A butt plate also should be a tad wider than the plank width and could provide some support for adjacent strakes or take support from them.

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Was talking to a freind today who lived in Sitka. He once owned a wooden troller about 35 long. He said the planks were always joined with a block between ribs,  The plank ends were through bolted and countersunk on the exterior and plugged. Also bedding compound was liberally applied between the plank and joiner. Decks were done the same way. On a boat that size ,screws for joints driven into the frames and carlins will weaken the wood and allow water to enter. At one time in Sitka it was popular to apply Pliobond ,a rubber cement as a waterproof deck paint.It proved to be too subject to wear and the practice was stopped.   BILL

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