Aeons’ Rudder propped in place
Though I know of people who’ve done it, casting bronze is beyond my skill and determination; but brass is relatively easy to find and work with hand tools, and perfectly suitable for boats that sleep on trailers when not in use, instead of in the water (it breaks down in salt water if submerged constantly).
I’ve had some 1/8″ solid brass sheets I ordered over a year ago, waiting for this point, though I only had a rough plan in mind for how to go about it. I ended up printing out the patterns drawn up originally, and used spray adhesive to stick the pattern to the brass sheet. Then, using a hack saw, cut all the patterns out by hand. The next day, nursing sore shoulders, I calculated it was like making a cut 16 feet long in that solid sheet by hand. Ouch.
The raw blanks then need shaping of curves and the excess taken down to the lines on a bench grinder, and finally filing the rough edges smooth. That’s step one.
Next is drilling for screws – a countersink for the screw heads, and hole all the way through for the shaft.
Then next step is just plain hard work: bending six pieces, three of the four parts needed for each boat, to fit the rudders and skegs. The brass is brittle as it comes from the mill, and will crack and break when bent sharply. It’s also very hard to bend by hand, expecially this thick. Annealing the brass first – heating it with a torch until it glows dull red – not only makes it easier to bend, but keeps it from cracking. You don’t even have to bend it hot – the metal stays maleable even when it cools. It was still difficult – I didn’t let it get quite hot enough – but at least it didn’t break.
I got some solid brass pipe from the plumbing department at the hardware store. (You’d be amazed how many boat parts you can get from the plumbing department. It’s my favorite traditional boat chandlery.) The pipe exactly fits the bronze rod I’ll use to hang the rudders. Sections of pipe are cut off like sausages and will be brazed to the hasp parts with silver solder.
This weekend, the pieces will get fine-tuned to fit, then the torch comes out again to put them all together. This should be . . . mmmm . . . interesting.
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