Of Mooncursers and other Spun yarns

Of Mooncursers and other Spun yarns
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Friday, December 29, 2006

Boat Building Machine Shop: Read oldest posts first

We did aerospace work and a fair amount of work for the local waterman. We had what was probably one of the last all around blacksmith shops. Our blacksmith started making oyster tongs in the spring and early in the fall they began to sell. All were sold before spring the next year. We made on order patent Tongs for clamming and oystering, as well as oyster drudges. The clam and oyster tongs were operated by winches run off the power take off of the main drive engine. The power came into an automobile rear end where the drive shaft had been on the car. We used a car wheel brake and master cylinder to stop one side of the differential. A differential being what it is, when you stop one side the other side turns one direction when you release the brake the other side runs the other way. One way lifts the tongs by way of a gin pole and the other way lowers them. Pretty clever these waterman. Some of the sons from Tangier island and Smith Island are working out there on the Chesapeake Bay today with college degrees. They left for the cities couldn't stand being away from the water and returned and most before age 30. A few left high paying jobs for satisfaction.

We worked for Nasa doing wind tunnel models, strain test samples and models of the shuttle. They were made of hardenable stainless and were about 3 inches wing tip to wing tip. They were tested at 9000 miles per hour in a wind tunnel.

All of this was coming to an end, so for the navy we began making steam turbine rotors and blades along with bearings for turbines and even ships propeller shafts. This rather boring work kept the machine shop busy but left the welding shop with nothing much to do.

Half kidding manner, so I could grin and back out if everyone said something like your nuts. I was at the same time dead serious and hoping some would say that's a good Idea. Feeling a little sheepish, I said, “ Don't laugh you guys but, LET'S BUILD A BOAT”. My two partners busted out laughing, followed by the guys in the shop. They all knew where I was coming from. We had a bad habit of building toys in our spare time so I knew none would be greatly surprised. So in defense of myself I said,” Just hold on and hear me out.” I explained what I wanted to build for my self and how if I liked the boat surly there must be one or two people a year in the world who would also like it and buy one. If I or nobody else liked it we could always sell it at cost and find another project. With a minimum of success we could build two boats a year, not Exactly a booming business but enough to keep the welding shop busy.

It was agreed to by all. To my amazement there was not one single desenter. Amazing, I thought!

We were a shop of model makers who were bored sick with making production runs of thousands of parts. The morale picked up right away. Conversations turned to boats and building them. I began to find magazines and books in the shop on boats and boat building.

I drew a chalk sketch on a concrete slab in our stock yard. It was crude and somewhere near full size. My partners and everyone else thought it too small. They all had kids. So we bumped the size up to 26ft.

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