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by Charles Darley

Formation of the bilge keels

Bilge keels form an important part of the construction of the ship. Flat bottom ships such as this, I am told, tend to have a propensity to wallow when a side wave hits the ship in a swell. By the use of bilge keel, each side of the ship, placed at 45 degree to the bottom of the ship and located such that they will not bear the weight of the ship should she bottom on a falling tide. The bilge keel stop the free flow of water from under the ship to up its sides.

The slot into which the the bilge keel will sit is being routed out to a depth of 11mm and to the width of the timber to be used. This is the first time that we had used a routed and the learning curve was steep !!! We very soon learned that the depth of cut possible, all be it with a relatively blunt cutter, was 1mm. Anything deeper then the cutter somehow made it way out of the chuck. Thus several cuts at small increments were made and a final cut at full depth, to widen the grove, completed the task ready to glue the timber into place.

A guide to rest the cutting tool upon had to be made up. With out this assembly the job could not in my opinion have been undertake. A stop was put in place at the end of the cut so that each cut stopped in exactly the same place. Much care was taken to ensure the that wood was not burnt by the cutter, by making slow but stead progress, resting for a short while between cut to allow the bit to cool.

This set of picture shows the bilge keel being fitted into the slot and with views from above and below. The keels still have to be sanded off.

Following this first time success of the routing it has been decided to try to rout out other sections of the boat decking to take side walls etc. More on this ideas as the construction progresses.


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