Baker Mfg. Co.’s hard wing sail

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The large forward wing before the canvas was removed

In my April 23rd post I mentioned one of the more remarkable small boats in our collection, the sailing hydrofoil Monitor which was made by the Baker Manufacturing Company in 1955. In preparation for the Speed & Innovation exhibition we have started restoring the hard wing sail that came with the boat (apparently, it was supposed to have a mate but it was never completed). The sail is remarkable because it is amazingly similar to the hard wing sails used on the 2013 and current America’s Cup Class catamarans.

I am always astounded by the modern hard wing sails which—and yes, I know they are carbon fiber so they are obviously strong—have “ribs” (for lack of a better word) that appear remarkably fragile. Our sail, which is built like an airplane wing (think “biplane”) has a super fragile internal wooden structure covered by doped canvas. Sadly, the canvas became seriously brittle over the years—so brittle it tore if you stared at it cross-eyed!  Several months ago we removed the canvas covering in the hope that we would find a conservator specializing in historic airplane restorations that could help us recover it.  Despite our best efforts, we couldn’t find anyone willing to take on the project.   Read more

Adventures with unidentified hardware 

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Here you can see the unsorted hardware in a pile on the gallery floor–and my totally greasy hands!

As I mentioned earlier, many buckets of co-mingled hardware were found inside the hulls of the AC72. I spent several days sorting (after my volunteers conducted an initial sort) by size, style, shank and thread length and runout style. I also matched each piece of hardware with the appropriately sized washers and nuts. While I did this I studied everything to gain a good understanding of what we had to work with. Needless to say, I spent most of the assembly period looking like the worst kind of greasy auto mechanic.

By the end of the sorting process it was pretty obvious that we had the hardware needed to assemble the platform AND the rigging and possibly some of the mechanical systems (neither of which came with the boat).  This really complicated the process of determining which types of hardware we needed to connect the platform together. While we immediately recognized that hundreds of similarly sized/styled bolts had a black shiny coating on the head were probably used to connect the central pod to the forward and stern crossbeams (eventually I also used these bolts to connect the forward crossbeam to the hull at the daggerboard-well connection points) it wasn’t always so easy. In one instance, and I know the Oracle guys will get a chuckle out of this, I simply counted the number of similarly sized holes and matched them up to the number of pieces of hardware I had available (i.e. 44 identical holes, 12 bolts of one style, 18 of another, 30 of yet another, and 42 of a fourth, I’ll go with the 42 and assume a few got lost. After all, I don’t have to sail the thing just hold it together!).   Read more

Mounting the forward crossbeam of OTUSA 17 

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We tortured our administration staff by making them crawl under the port hull if they wanted to leave.

When Chris and I came up with our assembly plan we were working without any sort of advice from Oracle so we decided to mount the forward crossbeam first. We would later learn from Chris Sitzenstock that the Oracle team typically assembled the three central structures first and then lowered them onto the hulls as a unit.  Obviously we managed to get everything together without this knowledge, but knowing Oracle’s process helped ease the installation of the stern crossbeam.

To give ourselves room to work we shifted the hulls, central pod and stern crossbeam to one end of the gallery and pushed the hulls as close to the walls as possible—which made getting in and out of the Administration offices interesting to say the least.   Read more

Installing the bowsprit

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Lifting the bowsprit with the Skyjack

Friday was a fantastic day at the Mariners’ Museum! We spent most of the day in the America’s Cup gallery installing the bowsprit onto OTUSA 17.

All of the pre-planning for the installation made the process go very smoothly and we didn’t run into any unforeseen problems—well, except for the one I suspected might occur after we did a test fit of the bowsprit last Tuesday. As it turned out, all of the time (not to mention the bloodshed), I spent creating a cap for the end of the bowsprit proved fruitless. When we installed the bobstay it pushed forward through the front of the sprit thereby completely eliminating the need for a cap.   Read more

Setting the daggerboards

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Bolt through daggerboard. Aircraft cables run to each side of the bolt effectively hanging the board from the top of the well.

Yesterday we spent most of the day getting the daggerboards into position for the Speed and Innovation in the America’s Cup exhibition. We managed to lift the port foil about three feet using the combination of an engine hoist and a ratchet strap attached to the ceiling (unfortunately the ceiling is preventing us from raising the foil higher). To keep the daggerboard in position Chris devised a way to hang the foil from a hole in the board. With the hole positioned a few inches above the sliding plate at the bottom of the daggerboard well we ran a large bolt through the foil and attached loops of aircraft cable. Those loops are hanging from two two-inch square sections of metal channel that lay across the top of the daggerboard well.

We tried to introduce a little cant to the foil but this caused the daggerboard to press against spots within the well that originally held the systems that moved the board. We weren’t willing to accept that damage that these pressure points were causing so we decided to center the daggerboard in the well. For those of you whose reaction is “awwww… we want to see it canted!” you have to remember the boat is in a Museum now and it’s our job to make sure it lasts forever which means the white glove treatment from now on–we won’t change anything or do anything that might hurt it or cause damage. Centering the board was accomplished by running a ratchet strap through the holes where the hydraulic rams that controlled the cant of the board used to be (which, of course, meant that I had to crawl through the forward crossbeam on my stomach to reach the connection point between the crossbeam and the hull). The addition of the strap helped pull the top of the daggerboard toward the forward crossbeam which centered it in the well and eliminated the pressure points on the board.   Read more