Gravely Tractors

September 15th, 2010

Remember that old tractor laying about under the trees 5 years ago? Bet you forgot; not me. It’s a 1961 Model L Gravely; a collector’s item so I can’t let any more rust ruin this ‘Terraplane of Tractors.’

Yikes! The head had been removed and water in the cylinder isn’t good. The rims have rusted through exposing the inner tubes! And parts are missing… This was a mess….

First step is to strip off the body and degrease everything, then de-rust it with “Ospho.” I hooked up temporary gas tank and she started on the second pull. OK, I thought, it’s time to order some real parts….

Well, here she is today. Everything was renewed and in case you think this is a spray can job, here’s a look under the hood:

Thanks to the internet, I found all the parts online and an expert who used to be a factory rep for this Model L built in 1961 by the Studebaker factory. This beast starts on the second pull, too! Here’s the first…..

It usually starts on the first pull, really! Here I’m off and running hauling wood:

It’s off to the garden! Wait a minute….this looks like work!

Then it’s a coat of paint for the outhouse…..or is it an outhouse? No, it’s a pilothouse using the old doors/windows from the Katahdin that doubles as an outhouse….

Then nailing down the last of the roof on the gazebo–I used up every last shake and finished with about a dozen shingles….we’re getting this place in shape!

OK….what do the kids in this town do for fun? 1.) they sit at the east end of the airport and watch the jets land right over their heads….and 2.) They crawl up in this old fishing net strung in a group of trees, and drink beer…. Now why didn’t I think of this?

Stay tuned.

Sven Again

September 12th, 2010

Remember the Sven? Two posts earlier. Well, I continue to put her back together. After removing the garboard planks (top oak ones), the boat starts to lose it’s shape so I tie each frame with rope while I continue the project. Note the gunwhales/inwhales getting bent on a jig out in the rain.

Here’s the new forefoot–not an easy piece to fabricate. I removed all the ribs or frames, then spread open the planks and carefully fit this piece in–it has to be nearly exact or the boat will leak.

Here’s the outside of the same piece of wood with a small graving piece (or Dutchman) fit in where the plank broke. I simply caulk this small piece with cotton and seam compound.

Here’s a caulking (pronounced ‘corking’ by the salty shipwrights) iron and the cotton. The depth of the seam is only 3/4″ or less so one round of cotton is enough. On the USS Constitution, the planks are 9″ thick with 3′ square frames stacked solid (i.e. no frame bays) which is how she got her nickname “Old Ironsides.” Years ago, a patient of mine in Seattle wanted me to make patterns for some custom caulking irons which were 9″ long, using dental impression materials. Turns out they were for the rebuilding of “Old Ironsides.” He gave me a set for my efforts–cast in case hardened silicon-bronze; but that’s another story….

The ‘hood-ends’ were pretty beat up but I managed to fasten them with silicon-bronze screws and epoxy the ends pretty well. The fasteners were copper boat rivits/roves, 660 of them had to be peened over–a two person job and tough on the wrists.

Here I’m finishing up some small details after painting the hull….

….and here’s a stern view with the boat name installed, an interior coat of paint and ‘furniture’ or seats–removable for repainting. Pretty slick!

Well, I’m underway with a few small leaks–the trouble with lapstrake construction. She’s very stable in water and I’ll get some proper sized oars….

Wonderful day yesterday–look at this view! And people wonder why anyone would live in this rain forest? Can’t imagine why…..stay tuned

Stikine River

September 8th, 2010

For my birthday this year, Martina arranged a trip up the Stikine River with a neighbor who has a jetboat. The Stikine is one of the longest, wildest rivers left in the Americas with a watershed of about 20,000 square miles. Here is the Wiki site which can tell you all the Stikine River facts. We wear our survival suits & goggles for the long cool run up the glacially fed river.

A tremendous amount of water flows here leaving huge logs on this lower part of the 160 mile long river and at levels many feet higher than we now are navigating. Here we are running at 13 feet in height. High flood levels are up to 30 feet here near Shake’s Lake.

Spectacular peaks greet us as we progress up river. Here is a list of river guides to this incredible area. Also check out this site which has a good description of the geology and history of the area.

This is a highbush cranberry–delicious when made into cranberry ketchup.

Here’ we’re cutting out leaner trees over the riverbank near Tom’s cabin. If the spring run-off tears the whole tree out, it takes a large bite out of the riverbank. By leaving the stump, it stabilizes the erosion somewhat but this is an age-old and continuous process of wild rivers. He loses about 3′ per year.

This is one big river when it runs at full capacity…..

We visit briefly with four kayakers who left Telegraph Creek, 160 miles upstream from the mouth of the Stikine, six days earlier. The best way to kayak this river is to fly in from Wrangell and have your kayak shipped to Telegraph by boat. Guides offer trips to Telegraph–a two day trip each way–it’s on our list.

We motor up a side-channel and find a small creek with clear water–perfect for trout fishing. Note the animal traffic here–a large moose and two bears among other smaller mammals and many frogs!

Here Thomas catches a fine cutthroat trout–the first of several which composes our lunch

We build a fire on the beach, heating rocks and place the fish back down to fry. Simply delicious.

Stay tuned…..