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Vilma B Reconstruction

Click on the small thumbnail photos to see them full size

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First step: Poppa Neutrino takes the chainsaw to the deck so we can take it apart and

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get down to the original, individual pontoons we built back in Fridley last year,

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which we then take out of the water one

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by one in order to rebuild them.

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For each of the first two, which were already raked at the front end, we built a new, raked transom at the back, capable of holding an outboard motor.

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Shawn finished off the work on the back of the second pontoon by herself.

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Vilma B and June's Barn as seen from the river, tied up at Sanchez' Bait Stand in Arroyo City.

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We took the back section out for a test run all by itself.

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We put the first two rebuilt pontoons back together with new crosspieces, this time only 4' apart instead of 8' apart; and built additional braces and gussets holding the cross pieces to the pontoons, and battening in the foam.

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Once this new section was ready, now 20' long and 12' wide, raked at both ends, and heavily reinforced, we moved two of the cabins over onto it so we  could get to more of the pontoons.

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Here you see our friend Steve Chadborne, from Portland, Maine, helping Shawn and Poppa take apart the next section. Steve stayed several weeks and did quite a bit of work on the rebuilding, as well as playing music with Poppa.

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The various sections of the raft got moved and retied again and again as we worked on one part after another. For a while we had our own "swimming pool" in the middle between the pontoons, with planks across for walking between the different sections.

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The next two pontoons to come out of the water each had a new, pointed bow built onto them. This of course was stuffed with foam, and we even poured foam in these new bow sections for extra strength.

Photos of the foam pouring operation coming soon!

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Poppa examines the new bow point before we get ready to pour foam into it.

The time at Arroyo City was spent preparing the raft for coastal travel, which requires a different form than river travel. Although to a cursory examination, the Vilma B after reconstruction does not look much different from its river form, there are some important differences. Each section now has either a rake at each end, or a pointed bow, both of which provide for better action in the seas. The addition of poured foam inside the bow sections adds extra strength. The narrowing of the space between pontoons also adds strength, as does the doubling upof the cross members and the plywood gussets between the cross pieces and the pontoons themselves. The cabins are now gusseted to the pontoons as well; on the river, they were just tied in place.

As for propulsion and steering, we are presently in Port Isabel, looking for a diesel motor for primary propulsion, and daggerboards and sails will also be fitted before a coastal run; these assist with steering as well as adding to the propulsion options. The raft is now designed so that each section can run independently, and so that they can be beached if necessary if bad weather arrives when we are between ports.

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Hurricane Rafts ] Video ] Son of Town Hall ] Neutrino Ideas ] Poppa Neutrino Speaks ] Captain's Columns ] Absolute Absolution ] Island Rooster ] The Rafts ] The Crew ] Press ] FAQ ] What Can I Do? ] Donors ] Links ] Guestbook ] 

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Special Thanks to Wiel
Last revised: May 30, 2006