Planking the Small boat

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  • Pub No.: 7915
/ The basic principles and some good ideas.

Years back a boat’s keel was considered the most important part of its construction, but today’s application of engineering to boat design arranges the planking to form a sort of fore and aft girder, using it not only to keep water out but also as the most important strength member. This makes it necessary to use the type of planking specified in the plans of any boat you may be contemplating building. For instance, if the designer specified batten seam construction, indicating thin strips to be let in frames behind the seams, he figured the additional strength and help from the battens to keep the seams tight would permit frames being kept twice as far apart as if ordinary planking were used. If you leave out the battens and plank the usual way the absence of enough backing frames will result in a leaky boat. Much of the popularity of the common flat-bottomed skiff results from the ease with which it can be planked, particularly on the bottom. Here planks are run athwartship, or across, and being on the heavy side, and usually in short lengths, necessitate only one keelson, or fore and aft inner strip, to keep them from. working. Still, satisfactorily planking such a boat is not as simple as it sounds. The trouble is not in putting the planks on but in laying them in such a way that subsequent swelling in the water will not cause them to crowd each other so much as to warp and start leaks where they fasten to side planking.

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