Sunday, February 12, 2017

________________ WALNUT SHELL, FLOUR AND WATER _______________

Yesterday as I was preparing to go for a sail a publication arrived for me in the mail. This slim A4 sized volume of 50 pages gives a good overview of the history of the yacht designer Des Townsons Zephyr class sailing dinghy.

As someone who has built or renovated a variety of boats over the last 40 years and wrestled with G - Clamps and various glues I was delighted to read this:

"The 50th anniversary of the Zephyr class was run at Milford Cruising Club in Jan 2006 and attracted the largest ever Zehphr national championship fleet of 83 boats. From the designer came the following words for the regatta programme:

"When the 21st anniversary of the Zephyr class was celebrated in 1977  by the French Bay Boating Club, it was quite an historic occasion, as the life expectancy of a dinghy in 1956 was about ten years. Most Zephyrs are constructed of untreated pinus radiata, the timber blamed by the building industry for the rotting homes problem. The glue used was heavily extended with walnut shell, flour and water. Much of the styling of the Zephyr is influenced by the traditional form of the North Sea fishing boats dating back to the mid 19th century. So we have a classic built of inferior timber bonded (in effect) with a flour and water paste, and of antiquated styling. That the Zephyr has remained durable and popular for 50 years is good cause for further celebration. I therefore welcome you to this significant regatta and trust you will have an enjoyable regatta."

The slim volume that arrived in the mail also provided me with some other interesting information. Over 500 Zephyr have now been built. Hull numbers #1 to #233 were built in Auckland during the second half of  the 1950s by Des Townson himself. My Zephyr 'Slipstream' is hull #195 which means it's at least 50 years old and held together by a glue "heavily extended with walnut shell, flour and water" !  Yikes!!!!!

(On reflection, a Stradivarius Violin is not held together with modern epoxy or resorcinol glues either - I really like the comparison).


Dan Gurney said...

Well, hopefully your boat will last another 20+ years. Now you know, and can keep an eye on your boat and give her the TLC she surely deserves.

Alden Smith said...

Quite right Dan - In fact both 'Slipstream' at 50+ years and myself at 65 years are both in need of a bit of TLC - 'Slipstreams' impeccable sailing manners are a bonus and an aid to this arthritic old sailor; and I will certainly be returning such behaviour in the appropriate manner.