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Pilar by birchbaysider - FINISHED - Constructo - 1:27 (Ernest Hemingway's Fishing Boat, 1934)


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I had a build log of Pilar before the content was lost and wanted to repost the photos.  Pilar was Ernest Hemingway’s faithful yacht, notorious for chasing big Marlin, Tuna and German u-boats.  Many people call it The Pilar or El Pilar, but it is just Pilar.  I posted a history of Pilar on the Nautical History Forum for those who are interested.
 
 
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The plans come with color photos
 
 
 
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The kit includes Lime, Ayous, Mansonia, Mukali & Sapele
 
 
 
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First step is to fix the bulkheads to the keel.

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I know the importance of the frame being perfectly straight, so I wanted to come up with a jig that would keep the keel from twisting and at 90 degrees to the bulkheads.

 

 

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Keeping the keel straight

 

 

 

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Fixing the bulkheads

 

 

 

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Bulkheads fixed

 

 

 

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Frame complete

 

 

 

Next will be to plank and attach the bridge deck.

 

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I decided to alternate Mansonia and Sapele veneer to plank the bridge deck.

 

 

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Bridge deck planked and attached

 

 

 

Hemingway ordered Pilar with the back 10 feet of the stern lowered 1 foot for fishing, so the main deck is 2 pieces.

 

 

 

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Aft main deck reinforcements attached


 

 

 

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Bending aft main deck

 

 

 

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Aft main deck attached

 

 

 

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Fore main deck attached

 

 

 

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Main decks attached

 

 

Next will be to fair the frame in preparation for planking.

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Frame faired and ready to plank with Balsa filler blocks at the bow

 

 

 

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Attaching garboard strake alongside keel

 

 

 

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Attaching sheer strake

 

 

Since Pilar's stern had been lowered 1 foot for fishing, the first strake from the top to extend the length of the hull would be the third one down.

 

 

 

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Garboard & sheer strakes attached

 

 

Next will be to take some measurements and plan how to finish planking the hull.

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I put temporary battens in place and marked the positions with tape.  Due to the shape of the hull, the way the planks wanted to naturally lay was to pile up on top of each other near the bow, so I thought this boat would be a challenge to plank.  But since almost every plank needed to be tapered one half width at the bow they were easy to bend into position.

 

 

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Temporary batten

 

 

 

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Temporary battens position marked with tape

 

 

 

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First strake next to the garboard

 

 

 

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Halfway

 

 

 

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Near finished

 

 

 

 

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Planking complete

 

 

 

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Hull sanded and ready to paint

 

 

 

Next step will be work on the stem and keel.

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Cutting the rabbet for the stem took some time getting it straight, the right depth and width so there would be no gaps.

 

 

 

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Rabbet cut, stem bent & keel planked with Mansonia veneer

 

 

 

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Planking the aft main deck with Sapele veneer

 

 

 

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Planking the fore main deck

 

 

 

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Main deck planked

 

 

I built the display stand to hold the hull steady while marking the waterline.

 

 

 

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Display stand planked with Sapele veneer

 

 

 

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Brewed some joe & marked the waterline

 

 

Next will be to start construction of the cabin.

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Cabin roof attached

 

 

 

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Planking cabin roof

 

 

 

 

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Cabin roof completed

 

 

 

The bridge console frame had to be carefully shaped to fit in place and then removed for completion.

 

 

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Bridge console

 

 

 

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Cabin door made from varying grain types of Sapele strips with some decorative carving

 

 

 

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Completed bridge console

 

 

Next up will be to add some edge trim and varnish everything topside.

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Mansonia edge trim & window frames installed

 

 

 

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Poop deck supports attached & everything topside varnished

 

 

 

I had some Sapele veneer from a previous build that was a different grain type than the veneer that was supplied with this kit and alternated them on the cabin roof.

 

 

 

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Sapele veneer

 

 

 

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Cabin roof

 

 

 

Next will be to construct the seats and complete the bridge.

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Bench seats

 

 

 

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Captain's chair

 

 

 

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Fish fightin' chair

 

 

 

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I thought that Pilar needed a gaff hook to land all those big Marlin and Tuna so I fished a barbless hook out of my tackle box and made one trying to make it look well used.

 

 

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Gaff hook with wrapped handle for improved grip

 

 

 

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Bridge completed

 

 

 

Next will be to build the hatch frames and complete the poop deck.

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Hatch frames

 

 

 

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Poop deck frame

 

 

 

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Poop deck frame attached

 

 

 

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Poop deck underside

 

 

 

I installed the acetate windows and kept accidentally poking them out, so I put some temporary covers over them.

 

 

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Poop deck attached

 

 

 

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Mast frame, anchor cover, companionway door & lid installed

 

 

 

Next will be to paint the hull.

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Originally, Hemingway ordered the hull to be painted black.  After a few years he had the hull re-planked with Mahogany and it was left all natural above the waterline.  The kit shows white below the waterline with all natural wood above.  The restored Pilar in Cuba has a red, yellow and black hull with green and natural wood above deck.  The pilar replica in Florida has red and black below the waterline with natural wood and green above. 

 

 

 

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Early years of Pilar at sea

 

 

 

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Restored Pilar in Cuba

 

 

 

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Pilar replica in Florida

 

 

 

I like this color scheme because of the contrast between the white, black, red waterline and natural Sapele wood.

 

 

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Next will be to construct the flying bridge.

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I'm not fond of working with metal, so the flying bridge was a challenge.

 

 

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Marking holes to be drilled for the flying bridge

 

 

 

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Installing flying bridge railing supports

 

 

As you can see in the photo, Pilar actually had six galvanized pipes running from the bridge up through the poop deck to the flying bridge, but the model has two.

 

 

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Hemingway at the helm

 

 

 

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Flying bridge platform made from Mansonia strips

 

 

 

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Flying bridge complete

 

 

 

I alternated grain types of Sapele veneer on the poop deck like on the cabin roof and I think it turned out looking fine.

 

 

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Next step will be to work on the skylight, prop and rudder and small metal components.

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I painted the cabin roof black below the skylight to give the impression that the dark cabin is below.

 

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Skylight

 

 

 

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Lights, cross bitt & air shafts painted

 

 

 

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Port holes, air shafts & position light

 

 

The model has one prop, but Pilar actually had twin screws.  Hemingway ordered the boat with a 40 hp 4-cylinder Lycoming engine for trolling in addition to the standard 75 hp Chrysler Crown reduction gear engine.

 

 

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Prop & rudder

 

 

 

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Nameplate, stern roller, stern cleats & live well frame

 

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Greetings Scott,

 

Nice model of Pilar. Wooden Boat magazine did an in depth article on her recently. I wish I had kept that issue. After seeing your build, I will be getting the kit soon. It will be good to get away from spars, guns, rigging, etc. for a while. She looks to be not much more than 24", so she is a good size too. I might try to model an engine for her as well. If remember the article, her main engine was a gasoline fueled flat head straight 6 cylinder, but she also had a smaller engine for trolling. Very interesting model and I give credit to Constructo for manufacturing the kit. Also, your work on her is top notch.

 

wq3296 

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Thanks for the info.  The article is in the July/August 2013 issue of Woodenboat Magazine.  I put a hold on it at my local library.

 

When Hemingway had the flying bridge added it came with a Model T steering wheel.

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Greetings Scott,

 

I found an article online at www.woodenboatrepair.com. There is a picture of the Pilar replica showing the running gear. It is quite different from what the Constructo plans might show and truer to how she was built. You will note that the propeller shaft extends from the keel and is closer to horizontal, and that the shaft support is a casting. Further, the rudder is part of this skeg assembly, which is the way she would have been built. It looks as though Constructo was playing it by ear when they designed the running gear.

 

wq3296

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