With the notches carefully marked and chiseled out of the cap rail, we were ready to make it real. First, we marked a spare rib arm at 1 1/2” and checked to see that each notch was both wide enough to accept the rib arm, and deep enough to allow the rib arm to sink the full 1 1/2”. The cap rail was then placed back on its cradle and ratcheted so the notches lined up to receive the rib arms.
Once the notches were lined up, we needed to actually bring the cap rail into position. Forcing the 35′ piece of pine upward to accept each rib arm and accommodate our rocker proved to be a challenging task. Not only did the board need to accommodate the bend of the taper, it must also adjust to the half inch drop in height from each rib as we moved away from the center. Each notch was cut so that the rib arm fit would be snug, and as we hammered on the cap rail, it had a tendency to jump back.
Ultimately we ended up using two 4”x4” pine boards, one on top of the rib and the other underneath the cap rail. On the side we weren’t working on, we would strap the boards in place. We then went to the side we wished to raise and brought the cap rail into position with clamps. We worked one rib at a time, and skip back and forth from end to end, working toward the center of the boat. Next time I will probably work from the center out, as it was very difficult to force the pine board up to the center rib once it was nailed into the ribs on either side.
Overall our method of driving the cap rail up with a dead blow hammer, in conjunction with the leverage from clamping the 4”x4” pine top and bottom, proved very effective. At times we clamped the rib arm to the outside of the cap rail in order to bring the two pieces flush.
Once the rib arm has sunken fully into the notch, we pre-drilled two alternating holes for our boat nails. These nails, from Tremont Nail in Massachusetts are square cut from a press that is over 100 years old. Our first drill bit goes all the way through, with a diameter just smaller than the tip of the nail. The next bit is just smaller than the fat upper end of the nail, and only inserted about 3/4” of an inch. The size of the pilot holes is very important- too big and your nail is loose, too small and you risk splitting the wood.
In the last week we have been pleasantly surprised with visits from old and new friends. As we were getting ready to nail up a few rib arms, we were paid a visit by my good friend Jessie McDonald and his sons Ryen and Kael.
We hit a few hangups along the way, but overall each rib fits very well into its notch, and the cap rail will lend tremendous structural stability to the boat.