On Wednesday, 29 July, Gazela entered Dry Dock No. 2 at Rhoads Industries in the Philadelphia Navy Yard. She crossed the sill at 0805, followed by the barge Poplar, and the water was pumped out beginning at 0955; at about 1230 she touched the blocks.
This is the first time the ship has been hauled out in ten years and the first time the barge has been hauled out in probably twice that time. Once the dry dock was pumped out, the scaffolding was built around Gazela.
During the week of 3 August, workers and volunteers began taking off the copper and inspecting Gazela‘s framing and wood under the copper. After the copper was off, we began removing selected planks, which was accomplished with chainsaws, chisels, pry bars, clamps, big wooden levers, and plenty of teamwork.
The condition of the framing under these planks is better than we had expected, which is quite promising. We also started work on the thru-hull fittings, which will include replacing plastic fittings with copper or other material, and on removing the zincs (sacrificial anodes) that will soon be replaced with new ones.
With the planks removed, work started on prepping the ship for new planking (cleaning up seams, reefing seams, cleaning between the hull planking and the ceiling planking, etc.); in addition to this, the shipwrights began the process of roughly shaping the planking stock so that when the patterns are made they will be easier to cut.
During week three, we worked simultaneously on documentation, inspection, minor repairs to plank edges, and plank prep. There was spiling (using the space that the plank will go in to work up a pattern to make a new plank), cutting, steaming, and fastening, and by the end of the week we got the first plank of the project in and got another ready to steam.
With about fourteen more planks to make, we have a planer to get them to the proper thickness, after which the shipwrights will cut them to shape based on the patterns that they have made for each plank.
Getting the shape and size of each plank is critical, as they all have very specific places in the ship where they have to precisely fit. After the planks are put into the ship in the coming weeks, we will be putting copper back on.
Work on the barge Poplar
During the first week, we started with chipping rust and power washing the hull, and we also removed the sole boards on the port and starboard side in order to clean up those spaces and inspect them.
In week two, we continued the rust chipping and moved all of the combustibles off the barge in preparation for hot work. We also began needle-gunning in order to further eliminate rust (and to try to make more holes in the hull, since this is our chance to fix them) and continued removing things that need to be removed/moved.
We continued the prepping of the barge for hot work during week three, and with all of the concrete and rust removed from the bow and stern rakes, we began the removal of bad steel in those areas and cleaning up the hull in preparation for welding and painting.