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Refit of the schooner CHARLIE by AON - Finished

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The Refit of the Schooner “CHARLIE”


16 June 2014

I have taken on a diversion project which is to complete a build started by a co-worker’s step father whose health has deteriorated to a point he cannot manage it.  My working associate does not want anything too fancy.


At present the build consists of

  1. the hull cut from a solid piece of wood
  2. the deck cut from a single piece and nailed to the hull
  3. the cabin walls made from four mitred pieces nailed together


The general shape of the hull somewhat resembles the BLUENOSE but this weekend was one where the gentleman could recall some memory of the vessel and he stated it was not any particular boat.


Link to photos:



My intention is to complete the shaping of the hull, add a rudder, put a roof on the cabin, add a metal hand rail around the deck edge, add masts/yards/gaff/boom and some rigging. Then mount it on a simple base and cradle assembly.


My first task will be to establish the centreline on the underside of the hull and copy the profile, transfer it to stiff cardboard, prove it to the hull and then create a “skeg” template for the piece to be made and added to the underside.


As for the vessels name: CHARLIE is how the gentleman refers to everyone whose name he doesn’t know or may have forgotten.  CHARLIE just seems fitting (considering the gentleman's condition) and I have to refer to it as something besides “that boat of yours”.


Meanwhile I have to finish the build of my modelling table (got my saws back from my son yesterday) and I continue to plot out my keel, stem and stern post for my build of my HMS Bellerophon.... mow the lawn, wash the car.... and fit some fishing time in there somehow.  I just might have to give up my day job to make time for all this.  ;)

Edited by AON
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I set the hull upside down on graph paper and centred the stern to the bow using a square.

I then marked reference (station?) lines at 1" intervals onto the hull and graph paper

Now I have the top profile on paper and reference marks on the hull

The model is 6-3/4" wide x 30-7/8" long (171 mm x 784 mm)


I then got out my trusty chalk line and established a centreline along the bottom

I drilled three tiny shallow holes on the chalk line as it will rub away

This is my permanent (until covered) reference for the centreline


My next step (tomorrow?) will be to use my profile gauge along the underside of the hull to trace the shape to transfer to a template.


I did take some photos (to be posted later today) but have to get ready for my day job now.


Hi Ho, Hi Ho, It's off to work I go............................

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Here are the photos ... and yes that is my unfinished modelling table I am using

The lift feature came in very handy!

It is definitely going to get a lot of use


1. plotting the shape

2. chalking the centreline

3. drilling three tiny centreline holes

4. the plotted shape


got to go

time to work.





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I managed to copy the underside shape of the hull onto paper and then cut and paste this to cardboard.


The black mark on my profile gauge is the overlap I made on the profiles to assure everything aligned.


I'll cut out the cardboard to make the template that will fit against the hull.

I'll then trace the skeg profile I want to build onto to cardboard template.

This will be fitted and adjusted to "look good".


I'll then cut the shape from wood stock with my band saw and finally finish the shape with hand tools and a sander.


Once fastened to the hull I will fill and blend the gaps with wood putty.




Edited by AON
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  • 5 weeks later...

Yesterday was a rather rainy day in Niagara and so far I’m not sure today will be much better.... the flowers, grass and trees love it.

Decided I needed to get going on this project as I could not get any yard work done.


Earlier (see above) I took my tracing paper hull template and taped it to some stiff cardboard

Now I traced the shape onto the cardboard with a soft (HB) pencil.


I printed out a picture of the Bluenose from the forum for reference, measured the overall length, compared it to Charlie’s O/All Length and had my ratio to estimate dimensions


After working out the dimensions of the skeg to be added to the underside I drew the shape onto the cardboard.  Then cut out the template.


I transferred the hull cross sectional shape to paper using my new (larger and brighter!) profile gauge and estimated the width of the skeg or piece of wood I would need to use (looks like 1-1/2 so I'll go with 1-3/4”).  I went down to the dungeon and scoured through my scraps. Although I was ready to plane and glue and clamp two or three pieces together I found one piece of maple about 1-7/8” thick.  I planed this down to 1-3/4” to create a flat surface. I then planed one edge.


I then traced the template shape onto the block of wood, cut of the “ends” to shape with my band saw and now I am ready to shape with chisels and rasps

I envision drilling two holes to glue and screw this to the hull.  I will insert two dowels to hide the screws and use this as the mount similar to the model/ image I borrowed.









Edited by AON
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  • 2 months later...

Monday. 13 October 2014

Ate my fill of the Canadian Thanksgiving Day meal followed by a healthy slice (or two) of pumpkin pie.

After having gotten my expanded play room in working order (and learning where I put everything all over again) I must get going on the Charlie refit as Christmas is right around the corner.  The good thing is the working associate does not expect it to be a 100% complete and first class job as he suggested eye hooks and … a strange shudder just went through me.

Completed the other half of the skeg as far as I dare go with it.  I find it is all to easy to chase the other side and then find you’ve gone too far and now you have to re-work the first side to match and….

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

After my darling wife and I took a long morning drive along the Lake Erie shore line to get some photos of the fall colours I went back to Charlie and cut the skeg out of the block with my band saw.

Sanded the top side on my belt sander and then sanded a flat onto the underside of the hull to help them both fit up a bit better.

I drilled and pinned the skeg to the hull with doweling after having applied a small amount of wood glue to the hull and the holes.  I’ll need to fill gaps and blend with wood filler and generous sanding to complete the marriage of the two pieces.

My plan now is to complete a simple support cradle as was requested to rest the schooner on and then start on the rudder.  I intend to use old copper electrical wire for the gugeons and pintles.  These will need to be hammered, filed and formed into shape.

Once the rudder is attached I’ll cap the cabin and build a small wheel house and ships wheel.

I intend to install stanchions along the deck edge once again using copper electrical wire and silver hobby wire of a much smaller gauge.

Then I will install the masts, gaffs and booms.  I will have completed my sail making course by then and will decide whether to add sails to hide the lack of full rigging as I may certainly have run out of time by then.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

I will have to run out today for wood filler as my small tub has dried up.

Does anyone know the secret of keeping the tub from drying out?

I thought of storing the tub upside down (like paint) but as it is not liquid I cannot see this working

Possibly I should by tubes rather than a tub as with a tube I can squeeze out the air and then put the cap on.






Edited by AON
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Wednesday, 15 October 2014

I bought a fresh new tub of LePage’s wood filler and my best friend suggested that to keep it fresh I should cover it with plastic wrap, push it down onto the wood filler to push out the air and then put the lid on.  So I’ll try this.  If it does not work the suggestion to add water seems like it should work but I’ll need to do this before it starts to harden too much otherwise it cannot be mixed it.


On with the work at hand.


First I filled all the cracks in the hull… and there were a lot more than I put on her.  I’ll let this dry for a couple days before I sand it down and reapply a second coat.


I then started on the rudder.  Having printed a couple images posted on a Bluenose build from the forum here I had a hint of the shape.  Took my block of wood and traced the image with my French curves.  Mine is a bit more bulbous but I like it that way.


Then it was cut out on my scroll saw and sanded to shape.  I got smart and wore a dust mask this time as the last time there was quite a bit in the air and of course I was too stubborn to stop and put one on.


Drilled holes in both ends for a short length of copper wire for mounting and then made the small missing block that is an extension of the keel for holding the lower end of the rudder.  I will not install this until I have the hull sanded to final shape.  The lower wire will be cut shorter!  Gugeons and pintles yet to be made but I'll wait to get the keel sanded to final shape first.


Gave some thought to the simple cradle.  Of course I want to do something different but it has to be simple so looking around my scraps I found some 1-1/2” diameter doweling that should work nicely!







Edited by AON
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Thursday 16 October 2014


Made a few attempts at banding on the rudder and settled on the following...

 - AWG12 copper wire

 - cut about 2 inch long piece and removed cover to reveal bare wire

 - hammered flat to a consistent thickness (or thinness!)

 - clamped straightest portion (as it curled like a snake) in vise between two wooden plates.

 - used pliers to grip and bend the curved portion to be straight

 - readjusted the straightened band in vise and filed the edges to be straight(er)

 - used a string to measure length of banding required by wrapping it around the rudder at the location the banding would go.

 - Cut the band to length

 - Measured the centre, held it clamped at centre with needle nosed pliers and bent the band around the pliers as this seemed to do a better job of making a good bend than my wire bending jig.

 - fit over the rudder and shaped the grip bend with only finger pressure

 - removed the band and bent the legs inwards to grip the rudder blade better

 - reassembled to the rudder

 - gently tapped the band with the wooden end of an old screw driver to shape it tighter to the corner radius of the rudder

 - removed the band and bent the legs inwards once again for a better grip

 - reassembled a final time


I've one more band to make

Presently thinking of how to create a faux nail head on a thinner gauge copper wire to affix the band to the rudder

I might try warming it up a bit and pressing it onto a metal bar to roll the edge over

that'll be tomorrow after I make the last band




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Friday 17 October 2014

Completed the third and last band for the rudder.

These need to be cleaned up a bit and nailed on but I won't be doing nailing for awhile for two reasons

1. my son has my propane torch nozzle so I cannot yet heat up the end of a length of wire to attempt to roll it over to create the button head of a nail.

2. due to the many colour tones on the hull I have my friend thinking about allowing me to paint the hull to make it look better.  I would not want to fix any copper bits to her if I'll be painting


I attempted to create a handrail stanchion using 12AWG copper wire (0.0808" dia.).

Ratios of model to photo to actual Bluenose length suggested 18AWG wire (0.0403" dia) might be a better choice to simulate a 3" diameter stanchion but as this is my first attempt I thought I'd make it easier on me.

 - I cut a length and bared a portion of the wire

 - I created a small flat on two opposite sides (if I can say that for a round wire) using a Robertson screw bit (the square one) and light taps with a small hammer

 - using my pin vise and a #60 bit I created a dimple in the flat to drill a hole (keep the bit from wandering)

 - using my dremel and a #59 bit I drilled holes through the wire

 - I rounded the top of the stanchion off on my wet grinding wheel

 - inserted short lengths of 22 gauge (hobby) Bright Wire to simulate the handrail cables


I think it looks fairly believable.

Now I need to calculate proper lengths and spacing and try it on 18AWG wire.


I also have determined Charlie is a bit shorter than the Bluenose so if I have trouble with the 18 ga wire I might stay with the 12 ga ... keeping my options open.





Edited by AON
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Saturday 18 October 2014


Completed the first sanding of the hull and fine tuning the shape and blend of the skeg to the hull

Re patched and will give it another sanding Sunday or Monday


Completed a trial stanchion with the 14 AWG wire and one out of three holes was good.  The wire is too small for me to locate and drill properly and then too much material is removed so wire strength is compromised.


I've decided to stay with the 12 AWG wire and also calculated the spacing necessary for the handrails

Made a jig out of scrap wood to allow me to stamp and drill the wire at a reasonable consistent location

The jig set up allows me to do two at once with one 2 inch long strand of wire

I'll cut them in two pieces when done

I also prepared 32 pieces of wire, 64 stanchions (a few extra)... so ready to start.


I made the wheelhouse.  Took three attempts to get it right.

This needs to be gently sanded after I scrape the edges down a bit.


I am also working on the main cabin roof.

The edges have been given a radius and am presently carving in slat joints.

When done the whole thing will be roughed up a bit with sand paper




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Sunday 19 October 2014


completed the second sanding


completed the wheelhouse, cabin roof and door


dry fit to the deck


did a test oak stain on a piece of scrap and did not like the results


glued the rudder lower block to the keel and will drill and pin it tomorrow


will start the stanchions and the ships wheel next



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Monday 20 October 2014


Did more sanding and hopefully a final spot application of wood filler

Will need a final sanding with progressively finer grit paper


The lower rudder mounting block is attached and I am happy with the look


Attempted the ships wheel

Created a template to mark the spoke locations and transferred the marks to 3/4" diameter dowel

The holes are located 1/8" in from the edge, half the thickness of the wheel (1/4")

Aligned the mark to the drill

Drilled four holes through for eight 1/8" diameter spokes


Not happy with this first attempt (threw it away)

Need holes to be smaller yet for smaller diameter spokes between the hub and outer wheel

The outer spoke grip will be thicker diameter and shaped a bit to look more realistic


Good news is I got the "go ahead" with the idea of painting!

Also asked about any name going onto the hull, as we are calling her Charlie should I apply it?

The answer was yes.





Edited by AON
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Tuesday 21 October 2014


Drilled ships wheel spoke holes in a new length of 7/8" dia doweling

It may seem silly increasing the size 1/8th of a inch but I think it will look better

I also decreased the size of the spoke holes so the spokes will be thinner than the outside wheel handles that will be separate add on pieces


I have ordered a 14 (dia) x 17 (dist between ctrs) wood turning lathe and will wait for it to finish this piece along with any tapering of masts and spars   ( www. general.ca   -  model 25-114QC MI variable speed (250 to 3600 rpm)

It will take up to 2 weeks to arrive

I also ordered the 40" extension, 4 jaw scroll chuck, and set of mini chisels

This should complete my workshop.


I think my glorious tool buying days may really be over this time


Having some issues with the stanchions

It is quite difficult drilling the holes in the wire and keeping them properly aligned.  The wire also curls out of straightness  ... not the end of the world as this can be rolled back to be straight but if the handrail wires are not aligned I am concerned it will present very poorly.

Haven't given up yet as I like the "bling" factor the copper wire will add but I have a plan B (wood dowelling)


Completed the sanding of the hull and have started sanding the deck

I will need to add wood filler to cracks here also.

Edited by AON
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Wednesday 22 Oct 2014

Because of my problems experienced with the stanchions I spoke to a working associate in our shop and he lent me a pin vise that I could put in my drill press chuck to possibly keep the drill steady (half the problem)... but I was too busy with other things in the evening to try it out


Thursday 23 Oct 2014

Continuing to have trouble with the stanchions.....

I took a long finishing nail and ground a very fine point on it to try and mark the drill spot better prior to hand dimpling the spot with a pin vise 

I had the drill press belts adjusted to 600 rpm where as my dremel operates at about 1000+ rpm at its slowest speed

The pin vise mounted in the drill press chuck was of no use as it spun off centre (wobbly)

I also cannot seem to keep the copper wire steady (presently holding (clamping) it down to the board with my finger)

I need to have a better way to hold the wire down and steady and also hold the drill steady


Tried a piece of wood dowel as opposed to the copper wire and it seemed easier but was not as good looking (to me) as the wire was


I ask myself: Why was the very first attempt so easy and now so difficult?

Edited by AON
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Thank you for the words of encouragement Bob.


Haven't gotten anything done since last week. Popped my back out Saturday morning and made it back into work yesterday. Managed to survive the day and took the evening off.

I need to get my homework done for the sail making seminar on November 7th, 8th before I do anything else.


My son (the machinist) leant me a small plunge type mill bit to possibly machine some flats onto the wire using my drill press.


I am game to try anything once... or twice.... or....

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Good morning Druxey

YUP... you are absolutely correct (as usual :) )... it has to do with the round stock and a wandering bit.

I need a good flat surface and managed to accomplish it the very first time and since have not replicated it.

I am not prepared to throw in the towel just yet and purchase square stock... I'll give it another go


I did try my son's plunge mill bit and it might work if I managed an X-Y-Z clamping rig... Otherwise it does not work for me

Possibly my speed was wrong too?

I'll have to get my son more involved before I scrap this idea.... he seems to love a challenge


Thursday 31 October 2014


Had a clear vision of the "simple" crutch mounting base and decided to get-er done

 - I took a piece of heavy hard and weathered shipping skid stock (1-1/2" x 5" oak) and cut it to 16" length on the table saw

 - bevel cut all four edges at 30°

 - used a 1-1/2" brad point bit to drill blind holes (1" depth) for the 1-1/2" maple dowels

 - copied the skeg shape to the dowel to mount Charlie to it


I will yet need to:

 - cut the sloped Vee notches in the dowels with my band saw

 - shape to fit, radius the edges of the notch to make it look a little less harsh

 - cut dowel lengths to suit to assure Charlie berths with a level deck

 - mill the top and bottom of the base plate, radius the edges and then sand all surfaces

 - glue the dowels to the base



Edited by AON
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