Ontario Up Close

When we’re building something as complex as the HMS Ontario, every detail counts. To make the gigantic masts, we started with two 16-foot long 6″ x 6″ square  redwood timbers that we needed to transform into round masts. To achieve this, we built a 16-foot long box to act as a lathe. On the left, Cam slowly turns the post while Moises uses the router with a custom jig to round off the square edges. On the right, Moises shows Cam how to grind the almost-finished mast perfectly.

Here, Marco and the guys are lugging a 9″ x 9″ glued-up timber that was routed to be round as they create one of the two fallen mast bridges.Our crew lifted up the mast, lowered it into place, and bolted it to the ship in several places. Here, Marco checks to make sure it is plumb while Eric and Jose look on.

Another unique feature of the HMS Ontario will be the six black cannons jutting out from the broken ship parts.  Both true-to-life and designed to spark kids’ imaginations as they peek through the hollow metal tubes, these cannons are attached to the structure with welded plates that fit into the openings in the redwood lumber.

The ornate scroll bow stem, located just below the bow sprit (broken mast), is one of the most recognizable features of the HMS Ontario. On the left, we see the rough fabrication, and on the right, we see master carver Luis adding the details.

For comparison, here is an image of the actual shipwreck showing the iconic scroll bow stem. In fact, when it was discovered in 2008, this was a key part of verifying the wreck’s identity.

There will also be two ships wheels, one on the upper level and one below.  Each one is meticulously mortised and tenoned from solid mahogany.

Creating massive structures calls for teamwork.  In fact, each ship piece is so large it takes a crew of six guys to push it out to the Staining Bay. Here, a portion of the ship is rolled through the building bay roll-up door onto the dock, which is large enough to hold 2 parts.

Above, separate parts of the structure await their turn in the Staining Bay. As you can see, these structures are designed to look like broken pieces of the ship. The faux jagged edges give the feel of a dangerous wreck, but are actually grinded smooth and designed to be safe for play. Stay tuned for staining pics coming soon!


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