Preview: WESTERN FLYER Restoration – Episode 4: Project Tour

February 28, 2019

Nate Rooks Nate Rooks

Project Director Chris Chase’s enthusiasm for WESTERN FLYER’s restoration and the videos that bring it to life make you want to binge-watch the entire series, all the way from salvaging through to the nearly-completed state of her hull. She’s a hunk of a boat— a 135-ton, 77 x 30-foot West Coast seiner that John Steinbeck wrote about in The Sea of Cortez and The Log From the Sea of Cortez after he and his biologist friend Ed Ricketts cruised there aboard WESTERN FLYER in 1940.

Managed by the Western Flyer Foundation, the vessel is presently in one of the Port Townsend Shipwrights Co-Op sheds, not far from where Leo Goolden has relocated TALLY HO. WESTERN FLYER was built in 1937 by The Western Boat Building Co. of Tacoma, one of the many, many seiners and commercial craft turned out by that yard between its founding in 1916 and its last launching in 1982. Tim Lee and Mike Rust head up the FLYER’s restoration crew whose numbers have ranged between four and ten since the project began in early 2019.

Even if your interest is in building small craft, you’ll find plenty of helpful techniques here despite portable tools being called upon more often to shape the heavy timbers.

February 25, 2019 – Episode 4: Project Tour
WESTERN FLYER’s original keel, damaged in one of her unfortunate trips to the bottom, was made from a single 64-foot-long, full-length Douglas fir timber. Lumber like that isn’t available these days, but the crew is putting together a new keel from laminated mahogany. They’re also pulling off the impressive horseshoe stern and lining her interior with temporary molds to keep her shape during reframing.

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