Chapter 62

The first build of Rebecca – 1/12 inch model

Now I had the plans I had to plan the work schedule, buy tools and put my money where my mouth was. My first project was to build a model of the hull on a scale of 1 inch to 1 foot or 1/12. To do this I cut the frames out of balsa wood, stood them upside down on a strong back frame fixed to a plank the same way I would build the hull and braced the frames. Then the hull sheeting was secured to the frames, overlapping the cine position.

This was marked from the inside by lining up two dots on the frame and drilling a hole through the overlapping sheets at each frame. These holes were fixed in place with a batten to give a smooth curve and the sheeting trimmed to this curve. With the hull upside down you started with the side sheets and trimmed them to the chine line. Then the next sheet was put in place, marked and trimmed, using the edge of the sheet below to trim the upper sheet. In this manner there was a minimum wastage of steel sheeting and any error in marking out was obvious so you ended up with a fair hull.

It was a slow job and took up many hours but I got to know the plans and ended up with a fair hull which did not look like a banana. I then glassed it over with a thin flibre-glass layer. It proved to be well worth the effort as it was easy to take quantities off for steel framing, plating, painting and sand blasting etc., and a ready means of checking head room when setting floor positions.

Living at Hemmant made it easier to keep a check on Dad who was managing well. I would do his shopping and any running around he needed. It was incredible how he managed.
Then I was down to Head Office, Melbourne on 5th to 8th August and in Sydney on the 9th before returning to Brisbane that evening, after seeing how Enrichie had set up his hull.
Betty and David were awarded a joint travel grant by the Literature Board of the Australia Council to gather materials for writing in Indonesia and planned being away for the months of September, October and November, so it was arranged I should move back to the house at 8 St. James Street, for that period to be with the children. They had had enough of moving around. Betty left on the 29th August and returned on the 1st December and I made the most of that period. First I fenced in the back and made it secure for the children to have a dog and I got one for them. I think this was the one they called ‘Boof’.

Now project management was operating I had no staff answering to me direct, but was responsible for all structural work through the Project Managers and therefore had no hesitation calling on the expertise of the specialist Engineers in Head Office, especially Mervyn Frost Drury, for welding problems, also I called on Peter Taylor for foundations and piling. Mervyn was often in Brisbane and gave me advice on the type of welder to purchase and different electrodes, along with other welding and cutting accessories and set me right from the start. First of all I needed a lockable shed for storing gear, a solid work bench and a weather-proof cover for the area so wet weather would not stop work completely. I found a supply of 1 inch O.D. black steel at the right price and had a bundle of this delivered to 8 St. James Street. The frame for the shed was made of this with a timber floor and kliplok roof and walls and had to be small enough to fit on the back of a truck yet large enough to hold all loose equipment. To cover an area about 40foot long by 20 foot wide I fabricated an arch frame from this pipe. Each arch was a semicircle made up of three segments bolted together and mounted on 2 1/2” diameter pipes about 5 foot high. These posts were braced to take any horizontal loads due to wind or construction loads. There were six arches spaced 8 feet apart, bolted together with the 1 inch tubes to act as purlins for the canvas cover. I found three ex-army tents which opened out and could be laced together to cover the whole frame. I had arranged the arches and bracing to permit a monorail I beam to be secured in place between arches by bolting to the node points of the arch. It carried a ½ ton chain block so I could position it to lift frames and plates where I needed the lift. This fabrication was done at 8 St. James Street in my spare time so I had settled on the shed and cover. Hugh had arranged for a switch board to be put on the external wall of the slipway winch house with a three phase point and a couple of single phase 15 amp outlets. To get power to the site allocated I had to put a pipe under the gravel road and run the lines through the pipe to prevent damage by vehicles.

Hugo, my neighbour on the site, was building a ferro-cement hull design by O’Kell and he was busy meshing up the hull. He was living in a caravan in the park. About the same time Rod and Kay were having a hull built by John Gilbert who had started a boat chandlery business in the shed at the back of the winch house and this saved a lot of time getting items needed for construction or fitting out. This seemed to be a time when everyone was dreaming and building yachts and there was a good cross section at Hemmant. There was Eccles and Jill building a balsa core fibreglass hull. Eccles was a pathologist in his working time, come radio announcer, come boat builder and philosopher; they also were living in a van on the site. Hugo was from Switzerland, a surveyor who had driven around Australia and produced a documentary on the trip. Rod and Kay were teachers and named their yacht ‘Truant’. There was a constant stream of yacht builders and I was moving into this category.

I had another trip to Darwin from 29th September to 3rd October. This must have been in connection with Project Management in the region as others in that committee were there also.

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