Construction and Reconstruction
Carvel paduk planking on oak frames, teak deck, hatches, lights and rail
MARIGOLD has been restored as faithfully as possible to her original specification as a Victorian yacht, the hull reconstruction undertaken by Canal & Marine Services and completed, bar the counter, to Lloyd’s A1 by 1992.
Originally iron straps 2 ½ x ¼ in were laid on the inner face of the planking and diagonally let into the frames, forming a cross on each side of the hull which stretched from keel to beam-shelf. She also featured double 3 ¾ x 2 ¾ in) tapering oak frames, but with a 3 in gap between each pair of frames. The aim was to spread the loading more evenly around the hull and to prevent rot in what would otherwise be an inaccessible space. In fact it was the iron cross pins holding the pairs together that had caused the deterioration of the oak in later years, thereby speeding the vessel’s decline.
Unlike the heavy old working boats, MARIGOLD had no lodging on deck, thus saving weight above the waterline and her relatively narrow beam – a width to length ratio of 1:5 – and swept deck on an elegant framework of deck-beams were to give her sufficient stiffness.
Her keel arrangement was minimal and crisply engineered. Keelson and oak floors were discarded in favour of a wide, flat elm keel – strapped to the frames with heavy, wrought iron floors and through bolted to carry the 12 ton lead keel beneath. Though apparently sound, the original keel was condemned by Lloyds when the inspector found soft patches. Due to Dutch elm disease, elm trees of this size are now almost extinct, so oak was chosen instead. A huge 38 x 6 ft oak butt was purchased from Barchards, who sawed it into suitable timber for the keel – a single length 2 ft l in x 5 ½ thick as well as beam shelves and bilge stringers.
In order to meet the Lloyds stringent standards for AI classification, all the frames had to be replaced. The hull was shored up and every second plank removed thus creating a ‘basket’ to cradle each new green oak frame, band sawn out with its correct bevels and temporarily bolted to the remaining planking. New 9 x 2 ½ in beam shelves were worked into place after several hours in the steam box.
The remnant of the original deck structure was in dire need of replacement. Several of the 4 x 4 in deck beams still held the correct camber, however, and the teak king planks forward were sound, showing the rebates for the swept deck as well as the original positions of the bitts, ventilator, chimney, and capstan. Most of the original wrought iron floors and hanging knees were heavily corroded and it was decided to sand cast them in bronze from wooden patterns.
After months of exacting work, the tangled web of grey, mildewed wood had vanished to be replaced by fresh new oak deck beams, carlings and stanchions, all liberally coated with raw linseed oil. The original 1 ¾ in planking was pitch pine below the waterline and teak above, however, due to the difficulty of obtaining sufficient quantities of the original materials at a sensible price, it was decided that paduk would provide a suitable alternative. Though very difficult to work, long lengths were available, allowing planking to Lloyd’s rule with a minimum of butts.
The entire deck, however, was planked in teak for its longevity, beginning with the covering boards that were meticulously morticed and fitted over the stanchions using templates. Meanwhile, the owner had designed and built all the teak hatches with Francis Browne to be screwed and bolted down on the deck beams, followed by the laying of the swept deck in 2 ¼ x 1 ¾ in teak, with a ¼ in bead beneath each run of plank as originally.
Composite plywood and teak decks are very popular on many traditional boat restorations today but, besides being unnecessarily stiff on a planked hull, it is often impossible to locate leaks, resulting in rapidly rotting decks if the caulking fails – as has often been the case where modern compounds are applied to traditional decks. There have also been successes, however, and though anxious to maintain traditional materials, Life caulk, modern polysulphide mastic, was used to pay the deck seams, which had been caulked beneath with cotton. In order to meet Lloyd’s updated requirements, it was necessary to compromise the strict authenticity of the original in other areas too – such as the inclusion of a watertight bulkhead and extra knees. A small engine, with twin hydraulically driven propellers, was also installed. In so doing however every effort was made to ensure none of this should be evident to the onlooker.
In July 1992, with only a few details to finish, Canal & Marine Services completed their work after 2 ½ years of work. The standard of workmanship they maintained on the hull was excellent: the hull hardly leaked a drop once MARIGOLD was in commission.