With my Dad’s help, and that of his well equipped shop, we manufactured almost 60 ribs for the boat, close to 500′ worth of ribs! I first ran the 1″ planks through the bandsaw and ended up with (mostly) straight strips of 1″ x 1/2″ by 8′ long ribs. One pass on each side through the planer took out any humps, and then twice through the router table with a one quarter round over bit. It took a bit of finagling to get the exact dimensions, as the ribs need to fit through the holes in the keel that’s already installed. I had a leftover piece of keel to use as a test piece, basically if the ribs slide through and are mostly round, they’re good.
To steam the ribs, the original steam generation a-la-camp-stove wasn’t going to hack it, so I ended up buying a wall paper steamer from Home Depot. It claims 75 minutes of steam, and has long hose. I concocted up a series of adapters (think me standing in the plumbing aisle at Home Depot putting random pieces together) to bring the 4″ PVC pipe down to 1″ diameter, and then used some water proof duct tape to hold the hose inside the PVC pipe. It worked marvellously, and the condensation managed to find a way to drip through the tape. After wrapping the whole thing in old towels, the temperature at the far end was around 96C, good enough for what I need. On the left is the steamer putting out a cloud of steam (hard to see in the picture) and on the right is the generator plus a pile of ribs. Ignore the mess, my boat shop doubles as storage for roller blades and newspaper delivery bags.
Finally came the nerve wracking part, trying to bend a rib into the boat. After steaming it for 30 minutes (which is probably overkill), Jodie and I bent a rib into the boat. Minus the bleeding fingers it worked perfectly, although I did manage to forget that steamed wood expands, and getting it through the keel was pretty tight. I’ll have to sand the rest a bit more aggressively. Later that day my brothers and I figured out a decent system for getting the nails clinched in, which is good because we estimate there to be about 3,000 nails. And here’s a picture of the first rib neatly bent into place. Only fifty more to go!