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Bob Smalser
10-07-2010, 2:22 AM
Snips taken from a decade reading boatbuilder's forums. You may have some to add. Or some to subtract. ;)




Boatbuilding Voodoo Hall of Fame

One-liners taken from boatbuilder’s on-line forums.

1) Old-growth, high-ring-count softwoods are much stronger than modern, plantation-grown softwoods. (Those strength tables available for comparison in the 1940 edition of the USDA Wood Handbook are really a work of fiction.)

2) The quality of boat wood is directly proportional to its trouble and expense. (The best woods come from illegally-logged endangered species in threatened ecosystems 6000 miles away.)

The Great Northwest Addenda: 1) That you can’t walk to your car in the morning without being showered with needles from woods of equal or superior properties doesn’t apply. 2) That local arborists haul more boat wood to landfills weekly than Edensaw has in their yards is equally irrelevant.

3) The larger and more symmetrical the tree, the greater its value. Hence residential yard trees are great sources of free lumber. (All those knots and nails merely make milling it more exciting.)

The Free Tree Addendum: Your invitation to harvest free trees usually comes after the homeowner chokes on an arborist’s estimate for the costs of removing them without damage to adjacent structures and utilities. (And hopes you’ll risk it sans experience, license, equipment and insurance.)

4) Girdling trees is a great method to dry the wood quickly. (Unless it’s the part of the tree not directly connected to the leaves you’re interested in. Like the heartwood.)

5) Girdling trees is a great method to dry the wood quickly. (Especially if your other hobby is entomology.)

6) Douglas Fir kilned to 19% moisture content for structural use (from 30% on the stump) is ruined for marine use by the heat. But Honduras Mahogany kilned for furniture to 7% (from 60%) is wonderful boatbuilding wood.

7) To produce the driest wood off the saw, trees should be harvested in winter. (That’s why those 70,000lb-limit log trucks carry so many more board feet in January than they do in July. Just ask the drivers…they need a good laugh, too.)

Ned Ludd’s Corollary: Wood reclaimed from the Mount Saint Helens blast rotted quickly in marine service because it was blown down during “high-sap season” in May. (That it was the subspecies having lower rot resistance, was exposed to boiling heat, and then lay on the ground for up to ten years before logging crews could reach it had nothing to do with it.)

8) Carvel planking is a poor choice for trailer boats. (Because the North American Association of Plywood Vendors and their subsidiary PlyBoatPlans Dot Com say so.)

Goo Brother’s Corollary: Better wedge-seam and glass that new Whitehall before it sinks.

Hyannis Port Corollary: Carvel planking is a disastrous choice for dry-sailed sailboats. (We should burn all those carvel-planked, centerboard Havens, Goellers, Marsh Cats, Flatfish, Biscayne Bays, Melonseeds, Whaleboats, Sneakboxes and Sharpies to recover their fasteners before the stays pull the hulls apart.)

9) Port Orford Cedar is the ideal planking wood. (That its weight and stability are more akin to heavy Douglas Fir than light Northern White Cedar make it perfect for your smaller boats and canoes.)

10) Alaska Yellow Cedar is too unstable for use as planking. (Those thousands of salmon trollers and Navy minesweepers, gigs, cutters, whaleboats, barges, torpedo chasers and lifeboats were all planked with a mystery wood masquerading as Yellow Cedar.)

11) Western Larch is suitable only for firewood. (Unless you happen to be in Idaho, Montana, or British Columbia, where the tree grows in forests instead of just back yards.)

12) Glassed spruce makes for a rot-proof hull. (Especially if your business is selling glassed spruce hulls.)

13) Tulip (Yellow) Poplar is a rot-resistant planking wood. (Just don’t omit that hot epoxy saturation step.)

Maritime Province Corollary: Red Oak provides 20 years’ service up here in the cold, why aren’t you guys further south using it? (Does fungus like warm and humid?)

14) Modern “marine” paints cost more because they contain special stuff other exterior paints don’t, like retarders that extend brushing time. (That the claimant was fighting the runs trying to paint in 40-degree weather had nothing to do with it.)

Classic Plastic Corollary: What did the original paint on all those classic boats look like? What brands of polyurethane and epoxy did Captain Nat and his son Skipper favor?

15) Linseed oil is a great moisture barrier coating. (Idle boredom was probably the reason man since the ancient Egyptians added fillers, proteins, driers, pigments and hardeners trying to improve it.)

Boys Toys Adjunct: If you enjoy watching otherwise mature adults get into a shoving match reminiscent of Junior High, ask any group of yachtsmen and/or marine tradesmen which spar varnish is best.

16) Because lead has a higher nobility than zinc on the galvanic charts, using red lead primer in the bilge causes galvanic deterioration of the wood. (Just like you can make a bomb from table salt because it contains all that explosive elemental sodium.)

17) Lie Nielsen and Veritas block planes are a significant improvement over vintage high-end block planes costing a third as much. (Especially if sharp and flat aren’t in your skill set.)

Maine Mafia Corollary: If it was made in Maine, the more you paid for it, the more it’s the “best evah”.

18) If there was a glue on the market that had a failure rate as high as epoxy, it wouldn't be on the market for long because nobody would buy it. (Don’t think about this one too hard or you’ll get a headache.)

19) The best outboard ever is the vintage Seagull. (You too can be part of the puzzle of why the same folks who would stop their car on the freeway to pick up their windblown gum wrapper, have no qualms about leaving oil slicks in the sensitive estuary their marina is built atop of.)

20) Three tradesmen standing around the fire barrel swapping lies trump a hundred+ Forest Product Lab scientists spanning four generations.

Martha’s Vineyard Corollary: Three yachtsmen swapping lies over drinks at the bar trump the hundred+ Forest Product Lab scientists, and trump the tradesmen as well.

Jason Roehl
10-07-2010, 9:24 AM
Being pretty much a landlubber, much of that humor was lost on me, though some of it did cause me to smirk (Boys Toys, epoxy, three tradesmen...)

The only boat humor I know:

BOAT stands for "Bust Out Another Thousand".

A boat is the hole in the water into which you throw all your money.

The two happiest days in a man's life are the day he buys his first boat and the day he sells his last one.

Dan Andrews
10-19-2010, 6:59 AM
Those are great Bob. I spent 6 summers working at a marina during my college years. I have never seen any group of people more opinionated than yachtsman, especially sailors.

Once when sailing at night with my boss we had a ship bearing down on us in the shipping lanes of Lake Ontario. We were becalmed, and needed to get the Brittish Seagul started to get out of the way of the frieghter. After much wrapping and rewrapping of rope around the flywheel pully (no rewind on this "best outboard ever") and rather frantically pulling the motor over, It finally started. Minus the freighter, this was SOP for starting this SOB of a motor.

Bob Smalser
10-19-2010, 9:11 AM
I have never seen any group of people more opinionated than yachtsman, especially sailors.

Some of the most surprising of these came from professional builders. ;)

Here's another:

15) Linseed oil is a great moisture barrier coating. (Idle boredom was probably the reason man since the ancient Egyptians added fillers, proteins, driers, pigments and hardeners trying to improve it.)

Boys Toys Adjunct: If you enjoy watching otherwise mature adults get into a shoving match reminiscent of Junior High, ask any group of yachtsmen and/or marine tradesmen which spar varnish is best.

PETA Adjunct: Antifreeze intended for car radiators is a great wood preservative. (Especially if you’re the kind of guy who used to sprinkle DDT on house cats.)