The Naiad Voyages

Mark Austen

2016.04.09 - Steaming Hot

Considerably more than two hours was spent on Naiad today although most of it was sitting around doing nothing. The task for today was to steam at least one of the out-wales if not two. This involved retrieving the correct pieces of wood from the lot I bought from Robbins Timber, planing it on all four sides with a thickness planer, putting together the steamer, steaming the timber and then bending it on to the hull.

Traditionally steaming is carried out by piping steam into a wooden box in which you place the timbers to be bent, however, for work 5.3 metres long, this would involve building a box longer than that. I have heard of other boat builders using 4” plastic drain pipe instead of a wooden box but the method I chose to use was one that I found demonstrated here.

The photos below show the progress of the job. It took longer than I expected so only one piece of timber was steamed but I know how to do it now so the job tomorrow should be a lot easier.

The two pieces of timber that will form the out-wales.


A closer look at the timber showing the newly planed surfaces.


The burner that will heat the boiler.


I cleaned up the area around the burner, so much wood and sawdust on the ground near a naked flame was probably not a good idea.


The lay flat plastic tube come in rolls. This is the smallest roll I could buy at 50m. i could have bought cut lengths but that would mean knowing in advance how much I needed.


You have to be quite careful once the roll is unpacked, the plastic is slippery and it would be very easy to drop it and have a pile of messed up plastic tube everywhere.


A length of the plastic has been cut and one of the pieces of wood inserted and then clamped at the middle to the hull. A pipe from the boiler was inserted in the plastic and tied in place.


The inlet fitting has a piece of old T-shirt stuffed in to it to stop the steam from getting out that way. Nothing fancy but f the pressure gets too high in the boiler the rag will come out and relieve the excess pressure. We are ready to go.


The pipe is not very good for this, the heat has made the pipe all floppy and the kinks in the tube restrict the flow of steam.


Some steam is getting in but not very much.


Change the pipe for a better one that doesn’t deform with the heat.


Plenty of steam getting to the end of the wood.


The back half of the timber doesn’t need to be steamed as there is not much of a bend, so this has been clamped to the hull already.


The front half of the wood is gradually pulled in closer and closer to the required shape. It has take 2 hours of steaming to get this far.


Finally the wood is bent to the correct shape and the steam is turned off. This took 3 hours to get to this point. Hopefully tomorrow it will take less time.