Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Taking a Long Look at the Plank Lines

Harold studies the plank line. He is not frozen over, just covered in sawdust and wood chips.

Henry S. studies the plank line as well.

Zach Teal and Chuck Redman get a look at the plank lines from the stern end.  

Since this photo was taken, there are now five planks on each side...making headway now!

-The wedges in the trunnels here are called blind trunnels - they don't go all the way through a frame but settle deep into the wood - these are more the exception than the rule as most of the trunnels are hammered into the frame and out again.

Dan had to get some altitude to take this shot of the interior- yeah photographing from this height is no easy feat!

The trunnels are into the frame as the shipwrights fasten another plank. Eventually the trunnels are cut off and a wedge is put in.

Here is a good example of what a trunnel looks like on the other side - in this case it is through a frame.
During a day of planking, cutting, planing and steaming frames some time must be spent studying the plank lines and of course everything must line up well. While there is a lot of background work to all of this, sometimes the naked eye can assure a shipwright that the lines are straight and fair. Everyone working on the boat now takes a moment to look at each plank after it has been clamped on and Harold is a master at making the call. The end of the plank is cut and so far each one has fit well into the other. After the planks line up, Harold  fastens it to the frames using a few bronze screws. Then the shipwrights drill holes through the plank and through the frame where they are fastened by wooden trunnels driven in by sledgehammers. We go through a lot of trunnels each day. Harold's father says the old shipwrights could hammer a trunnel through in seven strokes. It takes some, like the author of this blog, about 77 strokes. So far, the planking has been very satisfying ...and the momentum is really going now! Thank you Dan Tobyne for these fantastic pictures.

The creek between the Essex Shipbuilding Museum and the boatyard is great. Pictured here still embedded in ice is the Pinky Maine on the Burnham side and the Lewis H. Story on the museum side.


  1. You said "Eventually the trunnels are cut off and a wedge is put in."

    Just where is the wedge put and if with the trunnel how do you get it started if the trunnel is that tight in the hole to start with ?

    Bill Kelleher

  2. When a blind trunnel is driven, its first kerfed and the wedge is insterted just barely into the kerf. As the trunnel bottoms out in the hole, it drives the wedge, splitting the end so that the trunnel will never pull out. Through trunnels are just driven through the pieces to be fastened and then split with a splitting iron and wedged on each end. The trunnels are always split and wedged perpendicular to the grain of the piece they are passing through. - HAB

  3. Thank you very much for the answer.
    I now understand how it stays put.

    Bill Kelleher