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Deben 5-tonner by vaddoc - Scale 1:10 - a Whisstock yard design

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Today I put my newly acquired soldering skills to work and made the cranse iron. I bought some flat nose pliers and really they are essential for metalwork. I am now able to make tubes which is great. I tried the soldering paste but it is messy. Solder strips and borax are much more controllable. The next pic is using paste, the solder splashed all around




The cranse iron came out reasonable, considering this is actually the first item I have ever made. The solder did splash a bit but does not show, I think that the steel brush I used carried over brass so the whole piece is shiny brass colour. I messed up a bit with the holes and also it is not very symmetrical but with the rigging on, it will not be visible (I hope)
















I also made some shackles, I think I need to reduce their length and maybe increase the width.




It is freezing cold in the garage even with the gas stove full on, so no more work today.


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Dear all


Since the last post I did a bit of work on the boat, although it was 2 steps forward and one backwards!


First of all, I did not like the tabernacle. I used soft solder and did not wash the acid flux off so the brass started to corrode giving a green/blue tint. Also, I used some old leftover paint from the deck which was probably spoiled in some way. So I stripped the paint off and de-soldered it. I then tried to silver solder it and managed to melt the whole thing!


Then I made the tabernacle again which is quite fiddly and not really easy. I had to make the axle once again as the old one did not fit. I proceeded to silver solder it and managed to melt it again!


I made it for the third time and of course none of the previous two axles fitted so I had to do that as well. It came out reasonable but not as good as the first time. 






Then the side pieces were soldered, the corners ground and the mast base shortened and re-drilled. Everything was primed and then painted with fresh paint. Only thing left is some varnish, probably enamel.




Next was the bowsprit. I took the dimesions from the drawings in the plans but it looked a bit short to me. I would like a more dramatic bowsprit even though it might be unnecessary and not really accurate. Also, I wanted the base to be square.


So, I laminated some beach with PVA glue. I ended up with a thick solid piece of timber.






Next was turning it into a dowel. Somehow I managed to set up my horrible cheap plane correctly and the job was pretty easy.












Of course I forgot to leave the base square, I remembered only when it was shaped as octagon. Oh well, I think actually there are boats with octagon bowsprits out there...

The new bowsprit is much larger and certainly much more dramatic!




Next was the gammon iron. Here there is a massive problem. The top of the stem must be left square to allow for the iron to be bolted. I missed this part and sanded it off. I had to think of a way to arrange things, not accurate but close enough. Also, I had to provide a point to attach the foe bits of rigging. I soldered a few bits together and will nail these down with black iron nails. Hopefully it will blend in when all else goes on the boat












Next I made the templates for the cleats and cut one, finished with Tung oil




I also made the fixes for the bob and whisker stays. These will be secured with either brass or shiny black iron nails







Lots more left to do and quite a lot of head scratching coming up





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Wow, Vaddoc!


Your metal work and soldering skills have certainly  improved, big time.  You've gotta be pretty chuffed.


Nice job on the wooden cleats, as well.





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A month has passed and time for another post.


Many thanks Patrick, I am actually quite excited with the ability to make metal objects. This post will actually be silver solder heavy!


I had very little free time and a large part of it was occupied making nursery projects with my 4 year old daughter. I made Goldilocks, a bear, space rockets out of plaster, paper owls etc. All pretty over-engineered of course, the teachers at the nursery could never have guessed how many tools and what variety of materials was actually used...Great fun!


Back to the boat, I did a lot of thinking and web research and read a bit more of my gaff rigging books. I now have a less vague idea of the rigging. I also cleared the topsail issue, which will be rigged in an unusual way. The boat naturally will be very over-rigged, the more ropes the better!


I varnished the tabernacle and used enamel varnish. I had forgotten how good enamels are. Very hard, excellent coverage, maybe I should switch back. I then spent all of my time making the brass fittings for the mast. I first started making the gooseneck:



Later on however I scrapped these and made them again. I then made the first mast band







This however had to be scrapped as well as I had not understood the rigging well. following this I made a detailed plan of the rigging and re-measured everything. I then made the band that goes at the top of the mast, it will accept the top shrouds, forestay, (?flying) jib and topsail halyard.





I have also perfected my technique for making shackles and every now and again, just for variety, I make one in various sizes. These need to be polished.



Some of the metal work appears in this photo, many more will need to be made.



I also did some work on the bowsprit


With the above under way, I though I would start making the mast hoops. Unfortunately, the only thin strips I have are walnut, which is a horrible wood to use for modelling. I really don't want to buy more wood though so I I gave it a try.


The mast is 16 mm diameter so the hoops should be 20mm. I made a disc from some plywood and cut a notch.




Then I soaked the walnut strip in water and used my mother's old hair thingy.



Walnut wood is an unpleasant wood for this purpose, it breaks, has a wavy interlocked grain, terrible. I wish I had some beech. In any case, I wrapped the strip around the plywood disc and used PVA to laminate it.  A screw holds everything in place and will be filled later on with a tree nail.




Tons more work to be done but I feel a little bit more confident now





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Beautiful work, both on the brass, as well as on the mast hoops. I like the mold with the little cut to shape the hoop. Very nice jig

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Lovely work with the brass fittings! Had you considered rolled paper for mast bands, then painting them? Walnut is certainly unsuitable for the job.

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HI Vaddoc,


nice work, she's really coming together well.


Don't forget that a gaff main has running backstays that should go to the head of the mast. Looking at your fitting they could possibly fix to the topsail halyard loop (perhaps both going to one ring on the loop?). 

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Thank you all for your likes and comments.


Carl, this simple jig worked amazingly well. No failures and all hoops came out identical, very quick process too.

Druxey, never though of it. However terrible though, walnut finishes superbly. I think once sanded and with a coat of Tung oil on, the hoops will look good and they will be very sturdy as well.


Mark, I am a seasoned landsman so I am really struggling with the rigging. My source of info are actually logs like yours, a few sketches from various versions of Debens, a you tube video of a vessel built at Whisstock yard, a couple of books and of course the all-knowing internet. I have no rigging plan or deck plan. I actually had to measure the various lengths of spars on the screen and scale up!


It seems though that Whistock yard liked the backstays to end up lower on the mast. Have a look at these photos:


Deben 5 sketch



Snapshot of top mast from the you tube boat


Now you can understand my decision to go for dramatic rather than accurate. 😁 Although I think in the end I wont be far off.


It does look however that the Deben carries quite a lot of sail for its size. But then again, all gaff boats seem to have powerful sails eitherway



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HI Vaddoc


no problem, my assumptions about the rig this boat carries were wrong, I wasn't expecting her to be able to set a flying jib. I assumed the topsail carried both spars with it, in which case you don't have the top section of the mast above where the backstays meet the mast. 


You will be happily busy with that rig. Apologies if my comments were confusing.

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No worries Mark, "happily busy", what a lovely word combination.

Druxey, a small advantage of walnut is that it is soft and sands easily.


I finished the 4 hoops I glued yesterday. They are very strong. I sanded all surfaces to 400 grit (took a while...) but I think they came out alright. Tung oil really brought out the beauty of the wood.







Next I need to research how to define the number of hoops needed for a given mast length.




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49 minutes ago, vaddoc said:

I finished the 4 hoops I glued yesterday.

hello Vaddoc - I just came across you build - not sure why I took so long to find it. Very nice work. I have a question about your hoops if that is OK. What was the thickness of the walnut strip before bending into the hoop?

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I think they were 0.5 mm x 4 mm Keith.  I actually passed the hoops through the disc sander to reduce the height to half. Birch, beech or maple would be better choices though.

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Keith, Druxey and Michael, many thanks


I continued working on the hoops but also made the last brass band that will accept two shrouds on each side, the spreaders, the forestay and staysail and the throat halyard. It took a few hours to make and while I was polishing it, it got picked up by the steel brush wheel and ruined.





So I started again. This time it took much  less time and actually I think it looks better







The spreader is the correct length to sit at the proper angle, the top shroud will be at a 15 degrees angle to the mast. The shape looks a bit wrong  though, not sure if I need to reduce the thickness or just to round the edges.

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20 hours ago, vaddoc said:

it got picked up by the steel brush wheel and ruined

A common problem it seems. In my case I usually can't find it afterwards so finding it ruined should be considered as a partial success. The replacement looks just the job.

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Many thanks to all, I did not actually have the time to work more on the spreaders but good to know I am on the right path.

I have been slowly catching up with people's work and I was able to spend only a few moments on the boat as life got very busy again. I started work on the rudder and also did a few other bits and bobs.


I laminated two pieces of plywood and made a very strong rudder, sanded to final shape and cut two thick pieces of cherry for the side panels. For the tiller I laminated some cherry off cuts. This is the rudder assembly, the tiller is not yet sanded to shape




I also installed the ladder. it is only held in place by these 4 tree nails


Another task that I had to deal with at some point was to install the hatches. The cabin roof one was easy with some thickened epoxy but the fore hatch simply had no attachment points. I made a card pattern, drilled 6 holes and then used the pattern to drill 6 identical holes on the deck. Well, only 3 were actually aligned but even with just three tree nails it seems very well secured.







Then I sanded, sealed and primed the rudder and then the long process of applying dozens of coats of paint started. Acrylics are easy to use but coverage is abysmal compared to enamels. Still, being able to paint in the dining room table is a big plus.



Time to put the little ones to sleep!

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Many thanks Keith!


My parents have been visiting and this was the reason I was able to do some work, since they were keeping the little ones occupied. Today is their last day though, so I stole some time to do a few more little things, this time with the help of my dad. Precious moments...


Today was actually a big day! First I installed the tabernacle.



Then, I installed the two pieces of timber (don't know what they are called) that will support and spread the chainplates. They are not really necessary for this boat I think but they add complexity and look cool!

I drilled 1 mm holes, then counter drilled for the head of the micro screws I used with 1.7 mm drill. The actual hole on the hole was 0.8 mm. I used many screws as I think they will take a lot of load to support the 80 cm mast.






Then I installed the portholes. This was quite fiddly as I used 0.5 mm brass nails (6 per porthole) and I needed really a 0.4 mm drill. I only had a 0.5 mm drill and so I had to use CA glue to fix the nails in place. No matter what I did there is a lot of dust inside the cabin so the portholes kept on getting dirty. I can live with this though!





Next  filled the holes with some left over wooden plugs that happily had the exact diameter needed. This were trimmed and the timbers are waiting a final sanding and Tung oil.





The boat is a bit massive and actually quite heavy now as there is a lot of timber on. I think it is starting to look nice...




 Next will be the rudder and chainplates and at some point the bowsprit but I expect from tomorrow progress will go back to snail pace!




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Hi Vaddoc


Marvellous work, so far.  I still can’t get over how BIG your ship is.  Have you thought about a case for it, yet?  If so, it’ll have to be suitably large as well.


Have a good one!  





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Many thanks Keith, Patrick and Mark. 

Patrick, no thoughts yet, I am still very far from finishing.


Today was a bad day! I started work on the hinges. Initially, all went well and I made the hull ones.




Then things went pear shaped. I was not happy with the gloss polyurethane varnish on the rudder above the waterline but I had decided to live with it. When I removed the masking tape, the whole thing started pealing away.


The paint underneath and the mat varnish bellow the waterline are fine. Still, I sanded the blue segment with 1500 wet sand paper and started painting all over again.


Then all my metal work started falling apart. Pieces soldered misaligned, coming off, too wide or too narrow...I made the same hinge 6 times, all wrong. I gave up in the end!


I am still not happy with the water based varnishes, I need to work on this a bit.



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