Trades class gets lesson from Arnold’s Cove boatbuilder
Students from Tricentia Academy in Arnold’s Cove visited Lloyd Wareham’s workshop last week to see how boats were built before the days of electric tools and computer-assisted design.
Lloyd Wareham (right) shows Tricentia Academy teacher Garry Walsh and his class how he put together the frame of a boat. — Photo by Shawn Hayward/The Packet
Wareham is a retired machinist who has built boats in his spare time all his life. For his next project, he wanted to build a motorboat in the traditional way, using techniques he saw used when he was growing up.
“I always wanted to do it,” he said. “I built four speedboats and a couple of flats, but never built a motorboat. I always wanted to do it so here I am.”
The boat is 19 feet long, 5-9 wide, and 33 inches from gunwale to keel. It’s going to be propeller driven and, in keeping with tradition, will be run with a three-horsepower Atlantic engine, known as a “make-or-break.”
Wareham showed the students the basics of how a traditional motorboat is put together during the hour-long session, from shaping the wood to the operation of the engine.
The 14 students were from the technology education and skilled trades class at Tricentia, a class offered for the past five or six years to give students a background in residential construction.
Garry Walsh, the instructor, says it’s important students learn the fundamentals of building in general, and that includes traditional boatbuilding.
“What I like about it is it’s just basic tools to build a boat,” said Walsh.
Wareham relies on paper drawings and his eye to plan out his project. These days computers do a lot of the work in boatbuilding shops.
“It’s not relying on a kit you buy at a store,” said Walsh. “Every one of the pieces you have to sight up yourself and make it fit the profile.”
A lot of the basic techniques Wareham uses applies to modern building. He explained that the engine must be lined up closely with the propeller shaft, otherwise it would cause vibration.
And an engine is an engine, even if it’s water-cooled and has a large flywheel attached to the drive shaft, which is started by pushing it down with your foot.
The engine comes from a foundry in Lunenburg, N.S., and the distinctive heart-shaped holes in the flywheel prove it’s an Atlantic model.
The engine was lying in someone’s shed for several years. Wareham bought and fixed it. The propeller came from the same shed and is made of brass so it doesn’t rust.
The oarlock at the stern is replaceable, which Wareham says is a trademark of Placentia Bay boatbuilding. In Trinity Bay, Wareham said they put a hole in the back of the boat that the oar goes through.
Wareham cut some of the wood himself, using black spruce trees, but the keel is made of a single tree that was cut at a sawmill in North Harbour.
The frame of the boat is complete and Wareham is putting in floor planks. The boat will be steered by a tiller and should reach speeds of five or six knots.
Coun. Edna Penney of Arnold’s Cove, is a liaison with the Arnold’s Cove Heritage Foundation. She said Wareham’s project keeps an important aspect of her town’s history alive.
“This is very exciting for our heritage here in Arnold’s Cove,” she said.
“It’s a plus for heritage to have something like this built. It’s amazing when you see all the different wooden sections that go into this. Everything is more or less hands-on, and it’s an excellent project Mr. Wareham is doing.”
Wareham says he hopes to have it in the water by this summer. After taking it around the harbour a few times, Wareham said he’s not sure what he’ll do with it.
Traditionally a boat like this would be used for catching herring and trawling.
But it’s already demonstrated to a group of students how people built craft long before power tools became the norm in workshops, when plans were drawn by pencil.
“This is a tool that’s been around for a couple of hundred years,” Walsh said, holding a hand wood scraper.
“It’s good to see those traditional tools to build a traditional boat.”