Building the Ontario

Based on a remarkable historical event, our HMS Ontario Shipwreck project will eventually land at a New York Thruway rest stop near the site of the actual wreck. At the moment, the Ontario has entered the construction phase, where we fabricate all the components in our shop in Northern California. Above, we see Barbara and the skeleton of the shipwreck structure.Here, Luis builds one of the three ship decks. On the deck joists, our standard sustainable redwood lumber is covered with an additional barrier to protect from weather and decay. This underpinning will create a solid foundation that can handle all the running and jumping of excited kids let loose at a shipwreck!To create a more authentic nautical feel, Barbara’s design calls for curved top rails.  To curve the wood, we begin by cutting a redwood beam into 1/2″ wide strips. Next, we create a “buck” that has the exact radius of the curve we want. Then, we glue the boards back together, clamping to the buck to get the curved shape.  After setting for 24 hours, the curve is permanent and stronger than the original beam!
The next step is roughing in the cannon openings and upper rails. The edges of the ship sections will also be cut to look like the ship was pulled apart when it was shipwrecked. Once the basic framework of the structure is complete, we’ll move on to the more detailed elements of the design, including faux cannons, fallen mast bridges, standing masts, and rope net climbs. Stay tuned for more about that in our upcoming posts!

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