Marina Fire
GloryBe History - The Story of the Restoration

Old Boat Teaches New Boat Builders

The restoration has begun on GloryBe, the 1914 Northwest raised deck cruiser which was badly damaged in January’s fire at the Seattle Yacht Club.

The Marine Carpentry program at Seattle Central Community College has incorporated the GloryBe restoration into its curriculum. The boat building vocational training program is six quarters long: the first is an introduction to professional woodworking, then a quarter on lofting, layout and basic joinery. The third and fourth quarters introduce students to fiberglass construction and repair, along with pattern making and wood fitting. The final two quarters are spent in the wooden boat shop. GloryBe is one of several boats in the wooden boat shop which serve as real-life projects for students learning about planking, framing, systems installation, interior joinery and more.

GloryBe arrives at Seattle Central Community College’s Marine Carpentry program.

One of the first restoration projects undertaken on GloryBe was repair of the stem, whose top foot or so was burned in the fire. Once the burned material was cut away, it became evident that there were a variety of old repairs (around eight engraving pieces) which could be “cleaned up” while the repair was underway. A difficult decision was choice of wood for the stem. The stem was originally white oak, however getting the needed dimensions in the oak today, without laminating, proved difficult. After consulting many people, Angelique was the wood chosen for the stem repair. It’s very dense and very strong and is available from East Teak Trading Company in Sultan. Beware – it smells terrible when you mill it!

The first repair underway on GloryBe is the stem.

Another early project was to explore the condition of the hull, specifically the frames. That of course meant removing planks. But removing planks raises the question as to how to best maintain the boat’s shape while essentially taking the hull apart. A temporary clamp was bolted along each side of the boat from bow to stern, and threaded rod was bolted from side to side to hold the shape laterally. Then burnt planks have been removed intermittently – leaving every other plank in place to help hold the shape.

A temporary clamp bolted to the outside of the hull helps hold the boat’s shape.

Happily, new frames have already started going into the boat. In most cases they will go in as sisters (sitting next to the old frames) instead of replacing the old ones. That’s because there are still planks below the waterline that are going to be preserved, and it would be difficult to take out the old frames without damaging those planks. The frames are milled from green bending oak and are stored in water until they’re used. The frames are milled to 1 ½ X 1 ½ then beveled to match the existing frame, and the corners rounded over to minimize splitting. Each frame is steamed for about 2 hours then quickly driven into the boat and clamped into position.

New oak frames will sit next to old frames to reinforce the hull (“sistering”)

In addition to students doing work on the boat, GloryBe is used as a “demo” in lectures on boat construction. Because the boat is so old and so many people have worked on her over the years, there are lots of examples of ways to do things (and not do things! ?). For example, five kinds of wood have been discovered as planking; fasteners have ranged from the initial square boat nails to silicon bronze and stainless steel, to ring nails and galvanized. In the frames, the styles of sistering have included laminated frames (some from the inside of the boat), sisters less than a foot long, some sisters abutting their frames, others apart. And butt blocks have been made in a variety of ways as well: only some including bevels to encourage water to drain off, only some placed to give a place to fasten plank ends (others hiding sins like a crack in the plank).

Instructors use GloryBe to demonstrate boat building principles during class.

The boat school itself has quite a history. As far back as 1917 there were boat classes offered in the Seattle Public Schools at Central II School (6th and Madison). It was shifted to Broadway as part of the evening school and later moved to the Thomas A. Edison Vocational School in the Edison building.

Seattle Public Schools’ boat building program at Edison Tech where the Jacobson’s Lady Grace was built.

In 1936 the school district rented property on North Lake Union and the boat classes were held there on the water. Then in 1967 the boat school became part of Seattle Central Community College and it moved from Lake Union to the Rainier site it is at today. It was initially called the Gompers branch and is now known as the Center for Wood Construction.

As announced on the CYA website, the school is offering the public a chance to learn about classic boat restoration via some new classes which are offered in the afternoons and evenings. This is a hands-on class that will be removing and replacing carvel planking, sistering or replacing bent oak frames, replacing sheer clamps aft and replacing various hull components as necessary.

Jan Skillingstead of Spirit working on GloryBe during afternoon class.

If you have any questions about the restoration of GloryBe or the Marine Carpentry program at Seattle Central, or if you’d like to come take a look at the restoration, feel free to phone CYA member and GloryBe owner Betsy Davis, or the school’s instructors Dave Mullens (206-587-4916 ) or Gordon Sanstad (206-587-4915).