Build update

Planking repairs: part one

It was quiet in the workshop in early February as a broken boiler for 5 days curtailed activity as the temperature dropped, so work stopped on Zenith until the house and workshop warmed up.

I was able to spent lots of time looking at the damage in more detail and planning the next steps. The damage on the starboard side towards the bow was more significant than initially thought, I’d be hoping to find a small crack in the hull that could have been addressed by a graving piece, but the picture below shows that a more significant repair would be required,

There is also the requirement to insert a couple of small graving pieces into the garboard and keel , shown in the next two images.

With all the work identified, the next stage was to remove planking in order to fit new timber. This did seem quite brutal, exposing the ribs and removing timber. The new pieces will be joined using epoxy on 1:8 scarf joints, and I wanted at least 3 ribs between adjacent scarf joints. So, after everything had been measured at least 3 times the planking was scribed and cut, leaving some lovely geometric shapes.

Two planks to repair on the port side.

Three planks on the starboard side, amidships.

The single repair on the starboard side towards the bow.

After removing material it was time to put some wood back in, the first pieces to be sorted was were the graving pieces in the garboard. I used some of the timber removed for the planking repairs, these pieces will be epoxied in place and nailed through the ribs. The next couple of images show the graving pieces in place, they just need cleaning up.

After the graving pieces were fitted is was time to cut the scarfs. Zenith’s planks are all original and at least 90 years old, possibly 100+ years old. The main characteristic of mahogany this old is that it is extremely hard. Due to the length and angle of the scarfs I needed to buy a new paring chisel, I do have one but I couldn’t find it – no doubt it is in a box somewhere. With the timber being extremely hard the skills of sharpening a blade have had to be rapidly relearned.

In total there are six new pieces of planking to scarf in, and cutting the twelve scarf joints in the hull timber has taken a few hours. Not only is the timber very hard it is also brittle, so I’ve had to take a lot of care not to lose the edges.

A few years ago I was fortunate to talk to John Moody, purveyor of marine timber, when the work first started on Zenith. As well as supplying 100 oak ribs he sold me some Honduras mahogany from the 1950s. He’d recently machined a load for a superyacht refit in Italy but had enough left for Zenith. You can see from the pics below that it is a lighter colour (but a lot easier to work than the original timber). I was pondering about trying to stain/colour match it but it looks like it will darken down with varnish. I’m happy to have an honest repair showing, and for most of the time it wont be seen unless Zenith is capsized.

With the ends epoxied the centre of the repair piece does sit a little but proud of the adjacent plank but once it is nailed through the rib it will align nicely.

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