Sunday, February 24, 2008

Planks & Sweisguth molds

Planks begin as rough cut 6/4 to 8/4 cedar. They are run through the planer to create parallel faces, edges don't matter at this point since each plank is spiled to fit. You can see a batten lined up on spiling marks to create the rough outline of the plank. Then it is band sawed to shape. The inside is hollowed to fit at each mold; see the template. We use a plane first and then sand and seal the inside before riveting it on the frames.

Some molds have been removed and will be returned to storage. Spyder is the third boat to be built by John Brady using these Sweisguth molds. In 1911, Francis Sweisguth designed the popular Star class boat based on a design by William Gardner. He also drew two A-cat designs. Tamwock (a codfish) was drawn for Francis Larkin in 1923 and Forcem was done for Edwin Schottle's syndicate. The earliest A-cats were designed by Charles D. Mower, a well-respected boat designer in 1922, as innovative racing boats created to beat the more common working catboats of the time. The working watercraft had been racing on Barnegat Bay since the railroads had made travel to the shore possible for Philadelphians. In 1871, the shore town of Toms River, NJ organized the Toms River Yacht Club and hosted the "Challenge Cup". Captains of all the local boats loved competition and wagering among crew and spectators was passionate. A trophy cup was created by the Tiffany Company and is the second oldest contest in American sailboat racing. The oldest is the famous America's Cup, originally from Britain. Two races were run in 1871 with eight Jersey catboats. The original boats were all working sailboats, shallow draft, either livery boats or freight carriers. By 1896, most working catboats had been displaced by boats built for racing on the bay.

The current fleet of A-cats have a common heritage of either Sweisguth or Mower design. The two are quite similar to a casual observer. Differences are in the shape of the bow and skegs, but cabins, cockpits and sailplans are the same. For more A-Cat history see A-Cats: A Century of Tradition, by Johnson & Wilkins, Nomad Press, 2005.

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