Saturday, December 31, 2011

Floor Timbers











Floor timbers are one of the reasons wood boats are so expensive. They are important down there in the bottom of the boat keeping the starboard side connected to the port side, making it possible for the backbone to live up to its name. A floor timber is joined to every frame. In the forward part of the boat the floors are joined to the backbone structure with silicon bronze angle brackets. In the after part they span the keel and will be bolted through it and the skeg.
All of this contributes to their cost. The bronze is not a low rent material. Once purchased it must be cut, bent, and drilled. But the real cost is in the floors themselves. There are 36 sets of frames in Silent Maid. Each requires a pattern picked up from the lofting, that pattern is marked with the angle of the boats bottom to the floor. These angles change as we move out along the curve of the bottom and will be cut by two people, one pushing the piece through the band saw while the other tilts the table to the proper angle. Then the face of the floor must get cut square to the bottom so the frame sits tight against it, this is done with a band saw and a router.












All of these fits must be perfect, each floor must be tweaked to perfection. This is the bilge; it seldom sees the light of day. There can not be places for dirt and water to collect. Imperfect fits provide the perfect environment for evil fungi to grow, jeopardizing the union of port and starboard. The only thing for it is to devise a system for the production of floors, to go after the task in an orderly way, to create labor saving devices as needed.
Before we go out and buy that c&c router and transfer our data to cad remember there are 36 floors, not a thousand, not 36 million. The set up costs are only amortized over 36 units. This is what keeps wood boats fascinating and beautiful, the handwork in the bilge.

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