|Timber Arrives - May 2002 -
This project is now up and running and is
already substantially supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund and although the launch date may
seem ages away the critical seasoning countdown has already begun.
tide and natural seasoning wait for no man, even an impatient boat builder
(but then no really good boat builder can be impatient ...). The first
delivery of Saturn wood arrived in December last year, but it was only
after inspecting that first consignment that this second (see Stuart
Finch’s account below) could be sensibly ordered. The trees are bought as
butts, in the round, and although you can make an educated guess you only
finally discover what you’ve bought when it is sawn into planks, shakes
here, a bad knot there. Then you can re order for the shortfall. In
amongst the 2” planking this time was a massive 4” thick slab destined to
be sliced down the middle for the keelson, the central stiffening internal
keel of any narrowboat, and possibly the most important structural member
of the whole craft.
All this timber already represents a big
investment, both of money and commitment. It was not such a problem in days
of yore, when wooden boat building was part of the slow moving continuum of
canal transport, when 5 or years was just a relatively short period of time
in the expected life story of a boatyard.
With that old-fashioned expectation of
continuity, and the big machinery to handle them, the foreman could buy in
any local trees that might be suitable for use some time in the future, at
whatever bargain price he could negotiate. It was capital well spend to have
a few trees planked and stacked to season because it was bound to come in
useful sooner or later, and the drier the better.
But today, with major rebuilding jobs few
and far between, a stack of seasoning timber represents a large outlay of
money not earning a modern return on capital, taking up valuable rental
space. Thanks to the Lottery Fund we have been able to get this relatively
small 5 year restoration plan underway. Now for the big one — now for the
several millions needed for the core collection!
Timber alert! - Stuart
On Monday, 22 April 2002, Tony Lewery and I set
off to Malkins Bank where Malcolm Webster, the Boatbuilder, and his
assistant, Nick, had started to unload another delivery of timber for
Saturn. We were joined by John Goodier and under Malcolm’s direction, set to
work! There were two full oak trees sawn into slabs of different thickness ,
plus other pieces - a few tons in total. By using crowbars, rollers and
ropes, five hours of hard graft saw the wagon unloaded and the timber
stacked alongside. We then helped to move slabs into the yard where they
were stacked with sticks in between each slab to season. Malcolm made mental
and written notes as to the suitability of each piece for the build.
When we left I was pleased to have
contributed, if only a little, towards taking Saturn into the 22nd Century.