Lost an irreplaceable part? Was it damaged? Ripped from your vessel by a particularly nasty Nor’easter? What do you do when you need to replace a 100-year-old, one-of-a-kind piece of metal marine hardware?
The art and science of pattern making (or patternmaking) goes back generations in the Fuller family. Pattern making isn’t just about creating schematics or blueprints. South Shore Boatworks creates the entire mold for whatever marine hardware is needed, which means if you need another one in the future, it’s as simple as pouring and machining the metal.
That makes it the ideal solution for limited-run or one-of-a-kind metal parts or custom marine hardware. Skegs, cleats, rudders, chocks, etc. are all great candidates, and for vessels from bygone eras of hand-made parts, pattern making is the solution for modern replacement boat hardware that will look and fit right.
A skilled patternmaker takes numerous ship hardware factors into consideration – making sure every detail is attended to. Will the metal pour into every crevice of the mold. Will each half of the mold be removable? Does the pattern accommodate the shrinking that different metals experience as they cool? If any components need to be machined off after metal is removed from the mold – called the sand mold cast – are those sections clear and easily removed?
Bob Fuller’s grandfather, Charles Fuller, ran a bronze foundry at the Panama Canal in the 1930’s, helping to keep that crucial waterway functioning. Bob’s father, Robert, apprenticed in Panama's boatyards in the 1940's and 1950's, learning his craft as a boat builder and patternmaker. He then brought his trade to his own shop in Massachusetts in 1961. Bob Fuller apprenticed with his father and grandfather in their family shop, starting age four, and gained a lifetime of experience. The family is dedicated to the art and craft of pattern making, passing down the skills and techniques to produce patterns for producing bronze hardware and fittings. South Shore Boatworks focuses on the woodworking stage of the process. Most patterns are carved in wood first, and are used to create impressions in the molding process that produce bronze hardware.
Beyond precision woodworking, it takes a pattermaker's knowledge of metallurgy to create accurate, repeatable parts. The pattern must account for shrinkage, proper draft, and metal flow to produce a casting.