Behind the Scenes| Seasonal Maintenance
by Kerry Batdorf, Lake Champlain Maritime Museum
For me, the season starts in late April or early May depending upon many variables, including projected tour schedule, the nature of planned maintenance/repair projects and funding. In addition, there is a factor included for discovered, unplanned surprises.
The work starts with Lois at her winter berth in the Perkins Pier harbor. With the winter cover still in place, cleaning the interior and painting the deck are among the first tasks to be done. The greenhouse effect of the winter cover affords a good opportunity for deck painting by keeping it dry and relatively warm. This is also the time to inspect and re-commission the plumbing and electrical systems. Next, with help from several volunteers, the winter cover is removed, usually taking 2 or 3 days of reasonable weather.
The Lois McClure under her winter cover at Perkins Pier in Burlington. All photos by Kerry Batdorf
Last fall, as the masts were being stowed for the winter in the Lake Champlain Transporation Ship Yard, we discovered that the top of the foremast had some rot that would have to be taken care of when the weather warms in spring. After removing the mast head bands, shrouds, stays, trestle tree and one cheek, we found about ¼ of the cross-section of the foremast, from the top down about 100" to just below the trestle tree, had rotted. Rob Thompson was employed to make the repair. New spruce was laid into it with epoxy. Speculation about why the wood developed rot in that location continues. The now lower white paint line covers and protects the repair.
While the spars are still under cover in the LCT Ship Yard they are coated with a 3:2:1 mix of turpentine: boiled linseed oil: pine tar. The serving on the shrouds and stays, dead eyes and blocks are coated with a thinner, 2:1 mix of turpentine: tar.
The original outer head stay has never been used; it was found to be a bit too long. It was remembered by some that the two dead eyes were either touching or overlapping leaving no room to take up the slack in the stay. After some careful measurements of the foremast, location of the dead eye at the stem relative to the tabernacle and the length of the existing head stay were taken with Bosun Len Ruth's help, it was calculated that the existing outer head stay had to be shortened by 3 ½ feet. Bob Dollar was contacted about having the stay shortened and he accepted the task. Sara Lyman efficiently delivered it to Bob's mother's front porch in Fair Haven, VT as she just happened to be on her way to a conference in Buffalo. Bob then picked it up, made the repair and delivered it himself to LCMM in time for us to include it in our rigging plan. The standing rigging was raised in Burlington with LCT's help at their maintenance dock on June 15-16. This time, for the first time ever, our rig was raised with a properly fitted outer head stay. The Captain is pleased.
Rob Thompson making repairs to the foremast.
As the tour schedule evolves, Roger and Erick determine that we will potentially need one more anchor on board for two of this season's planned ports. An old, rusty, 1800's vintage anchor from one of the LCMM flower beds was prepared with a new coat of paint, large shackle, chain, a long length of line and a new anchor rest placed on the foredeck.
Meanwhile, as work proceeds on Lois, CL Churchill is up on the hard at Shelburne Shipyard with her own list of "Things To Do".
Bob Abell, Ernie Haas, Zach Ralph and Tom helped with routine painting of the bottom, topsides and stack. Steve Page was employed to make repairs to the aging, worn cabin and wheel house tops. Barbara, my wife, and I then scraped, sanded and painted the cabin tops. The damaged port side buffalo rail was also repaired by Steve; making fast the tug on Lois' hip in rough water isn't always without incident.
A new drip pan for CL Churchill's engine? Hmmm. Would a 1/16" thick sheet of lead, 3 feet wide by 6 feet long be flexible enough to push, pull, bend and shape into a pan in tight quarters, with the engine still in place? Erick and I pushed, pulled , bent, shaped and *%#&*^!+&}* one day and, Yessiree! It works like a charm!
CL Churchill's stuffing box had been adjusted, tightened over the past 3 years as far as it could go and it's still dripping too much. The old stuffing was removed and six new rings were cut and installed to bring it back to normal.
The CL Churchill in the slings ready for launch.
These are wooden boats. The work is never done. Bottom paint, top side paint, sole board paint, saw open the sole boards (again!), clean the bilge, three new companion way stair treads, the galley foot pump died and was replaced, the wash down pump froze and broke again last winter .
Let's not say too much about the head. After two go-rounds already this season, it seems to be holding together. Knock, Knock.
Water (forever) has accumulated on the window sills in the main cabin bunk area everytime it rains. Today, I pounded some cotton caulking into the joint between the port side lodging knee and the transom and then covered it with paint. It will be finished with seam compound and more paint. Hopefully, this will help.
Oh, yeah; we need some more seizing wire for the next time we rig up in mid-September. And the tail board line is just about warn through from wearing over the transom cap rail. That's 3/8" hempex, about 12'.
Sailing, sailing... Burlington to St Albans. Yeah, that was a great day!
Lake Champlain Transportation Company