Installing the hardware in the stern crossbeam

Posted on
Climbing into the stern crossbeam

On the Saturday after we seated the stern crossbeam my husband Todd worked with me to install the remaining hardware between the forward crossbeam and central pod and the hardware that connected to central pod to the stern crossbeam. This was a fairly interesting process as I had to crawl through the stern crossbeam, which wasn’t much wider than my shoulders, to get to the connection point where the hardware needed to be installed.

We had help again from the Oracle guy who couldn’t remember what hardware went where in the form of a few letters and numbers painted on the outside of the central pod near each bolt hole. In most instances these matched up with titanium bushings (and sometimes even bolts) with engraved letters or numbers—but not always. We had to spend a lot of time putting hardware in and out of each hole until we found the right combination of bolt, bushing and washers. Sometimes we even had to re-position carbon fiber plates that had come loose from the interior or exterior of the connection points.   Read more

Mounting the stern crossbeam

Posted on
Maneuvering the stern crossbeam. Notice the forward crossbeam is lifted and the aft of the central pod is raised to provide enough space to tuck the crossbeam into position.

I’ve been waylaid by the cleaning and repair of the Baker hydrofoil rigid wing sail but I think it’s time to relate how we mounted the stern crossbeam. You might remember that when the Oracle team assembled the AC72 platform they connected the three central structures and then lowered them as a unit onto the hull and that we couldn’t do this because of a ceiling height and possible weight restriction.  Because of the shape of the crossbeam and where it needed to go—seated on the hulls and tucked inside the end of the central pod—we knew we needed more clearance over the hulls than we had available.

Since we had to pick up the stern crossbeam and move it about ten feet to get it into position we used our gantries. This meant having to disassemble them afterwards but using chain falls severely hampered our maneuverability.  We lifted the crossbeam and moved it as close as possible to its final seated position.  At that point I crawled into the hulls and loosened the bolts at each end of the forward crossbeam. This allowed us to lift the aft end of the central pod about a foot or two and the forward crossbeam about six inches (we didn’t want to raise it too far because we didn’t want the hulls shift position and misalign the connection points). Then, with five people working together (two operating chain falls on the forward crossbeam, one on the chain fall at the aft end of the central pod and two on the gantry chain falls) we slowly tucked the crossbeam into the back of the central pod and gently lowered all three pieces onto the hulls.   Read more

Mounting the central pod

Posted on
The only remaining system on the platform is this electrical panel inside the central pod.

The next step in our assembly plan for the AC72 was the mounting of the central pod. The central pod is the structure that connects the forward and aft crossbeams. The design of the central pod effectively extended the boat’s wingspan and reduced drag. Tom Speer, an aerodynamics specialist with OTUSA, believes it was this particular structure that made USA 17 faster than New Zealand’s Aotearoa. This is also the only place in the platform where we can see some of the systems used to operate the boat—namely an electrical panel and the one spot where a lot of the cabling remains in place.

Mounting the central pod proved to be quite a challenge for the Mariners’ team because it had to remain perfectly aligned with the forward crossbeam in order seat correctly. Since we were hanging the pod from a gantry lift and a chain fall attached to the ceiling we were able to make minute changes in leveling and cant to port or starboard (the same way we had to manipulate the hulls in order to match up the connection points). Despite this we could not get the pod to seat all the way into the crossbeam.  We could get it within 5” of the seating point and it would stop dead. No amount of pushing or pulling would make it move.   Read more

Baker Mfg. Co.’s hard wing sail

Posted on
The large forward wing before the canvas was removed

In my April 23rd post I mentioned one of the more remarkable small boats in our collection, the sailing hydrofoil Monitor which was made by the Baker Manufacturing Company in 1955. In preparation for the Speed & Innovation exhibition we have started restoring the hard wing sail that came with the boat (apparently, it was supposed to have a mate but it was never completed). The sail is remarkable because it is amazingly similar to the hard wing sails used on the 2013 and current America’s Cup Class catamarans.

I am always astounded by the modern hard wing sails which—and yes, I know they are carbon fiber so they are obviously strong—have “ribs” (for lack of a better word) that appear remarkably fragile. Our sail, which is built like an airplane wing (think “biplane”) has a super fragile internal wooden structure covered by doped canvas. Sadly, the canvas became seriously brittle over the years—so brittle it tore if you stared at it cross-eyed!  Several months ago we removed the canvas covering in the hope that we would find a conservator specializing in historic airplane restorations that could help us recover it.  Despite our best efforts, we couldn’t find anyone willing to take on the project.   Read more

Adventures with unidentified hardware 

Posted on
Here you can see the unsorted hardware in a pile on the gallery floor–and my totally greasy hands!

As I mentioned earlier, many buckets of co-mingled hardware were found inside the hulls of the AC72. I spent several days sorting (after my volunteers conducted an initial sort) by size, style, shank and thread length and runout style. I also matched each piece of hardware with the appropriately sized washers and nuts. While I did this I studied everything to gain a good understanding of what we had to work with. Needless to say, I spent most of the assembly period looking like the worst kind of greasy auto mechanic.

By the end of the sorting process it was pretty obvious that we had the hardware needed to assemble the platform AND the rigging and possibly some of the mechanical systems (neither of which came with the boat).  This really complicated the process of determining which types of hardware we needed to connect the platform together. While we immediately recognized that hundreds of similarly sized/styled bolts had a black shiny coating on the head were probably used to connect the central pod to the forward and stern crossbeams (eventually I also used these bolts to connect the forward crossbeam to the hull at the daggerboard-well connection points) it wasn’t always so easy. In one instance, and I know the Oracle guys will get a chuckle out of this, I simply counted the number of similarly sized holes and matched them up to the number of pieces of hardware I had available (i.e. 44 identical holes, 12 bolts of one style, 18 of another, 30 of yet another, and 42 of a fourth, I’ll go with the 42 and assume a few got lost. After all, I don’t have to sail the thing just hold it together!).   Read more