William Riley
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Traditional Woodworking - Part One

From the outset the trust were aware that the boat was going to need a degree of specialist work. The hull is a double planked hull and in order to effect the repairs to a suitable standard the trust acknowledged quite early on that repairing these hull breaches would be the domain of the professional. We are fortunate that Whitby has such a unique heritage and although there are a limited number of people still working using traditional methods we have some fine craftsmen who are able to tackle such a demanding tasks. Having the ability to effectively invert the hull as required would be beneficial to the people responsible for the repairs.

Reducing  The Timber

David Ross, is a joiner who is more than qualified to help the trust, having served his time as a boat builder he is well acquainted to traditional methods. The fore and aft parts of the keel were such that they required quite a bit of work including replacing substantial parts of the keel wood work. Before he could tackle the job however, it was necessary to source a section of quality timber.

David gave the trust guidance on what to look for as well as tips on sources likely to hold the timber we needed. In order to get timber that would stand the test of time we were advised to look for a section of quality 'wet' Oak following David's advise to avoid seasoned timber. It is possible to use substitutes such as Ash or Elm although Oak was the preferred choice. A suitable section of quality oak was purchased and taken to the workshop where David started by reducing the timber to a size that was easier to work with. It was interesting watching David reduce the hulk of timber.

Not personally knowing David, I asked him how he had become involved with the work on the lifeboat. He told me that he had been persuaded by the current Whitby lifeboat coxswain Mike Russell to come along and see what we are doing. David told me that although he is now retired he is happy to help where he can and that 'it helps fill the day'! Given his skills we are glad that he has been willing to become one of the many people involved with the project sharing his skills and knowledge as a traditional boat builder.

William Rileys Keel

The timber arrived 'on site' as a section of oak and David has skillfully managed to make it an integral part of the William Riley's keel. David has joined the timber so that as the hull work progresses it will not be visibly different from the original section of keel.

As the work within the hull progressed the project seemed to move along quite well, whilst the breaches craved attention, as this task alone was a demanding one requiring speciliast knowledge. Mike Coates was the person best chosen to this work and his input follows in my next traditional joinery page pages.

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