Oracle Team USA’s shore team NEVER looked like this!

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I dare Oracle Team USA to don high heels and push their boat around!

The platform of USA 17 arrived on January 30th and by February 20th we had the boat assembled and the hardware in place. Chris, our exhibit production manager, had designed, and Hampton Sheet Metal had constructed the four platforms that would support the boat in the gallery. But we had one little problem—well, it wasn’t little, it was about a 6 ton problem—the platform was in the wrong position for the exhibition.

Knowing we would need to move the pieces of the platform around after they were in the gallery we purchased four 3,600lb Yardarm dollies (these are V-shaped adjustable dollies for boats). We worked with Hampton Roads Crane and Rigging to seat the hulls on the dollies as we put the hulls in the gallery (we located them under or near bulkheads to make sure they provided good support and wouldn’t damage the boat). It made moving the hulls around a breeze during the assembly process, but we weren’t sure how easy it would be to move the entire platform. So I did what I always do when I need to move a big boat—I put out an all call to the Museum staff.

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Installing the hardware in the stern crossbeam

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Climbing into the stern crossbeam

On the Saturday after we seated the stern crossbeam my husband Todd worked with me to install the remaining hardware between the forward crossbeam and central pod and the hardware that connected to central pod to the stern crossbeam. This was a fairly interesting process as I had to crawl through the stern crossbeam, which wasn’t much wider than my shoulders, to get to the connection point where the hardware needed to be installed.

We had help again from the Oracle guy who couldn’t remember what hardware went where in the form of a few letters and numbers painted on the outside of the central pod near each bolt hole. In most instances these matched up with titanium bushings (and sometimes even bolts) with engraved letters or numbers—but not always. We had to spend a lot of time putting hardware in and out of each hole until we found the right combination of bolt, bushing and washers. Sometimes we even had to re-position carbon fiber plates that had come loose from the interior or exterior of the connection points.

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Spanish Rapiers

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Recently we had to pull several weapons to photography, including several that are on display.  For four of them, three rapiers and a sword, this was the first time any of us were able to get up close to them as they have been on display in Age of Exploration since the early 90’s.  The three rapiers are attributed as Spanish, but one of our curator’s has pointed out that this is most likely inaccurate.

This first one is a  composite rapier with tapering blade, iron hilt, comprising vertically recurved quillons, arms, and a pair of asymmetrical shells framed by a double ring, knuckle guards, globular pommel and later wire bound wooden handle, ca 1600’s.  Its origin is unknown though, and we haven’t found any markings to give us any clues.

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