New USCG ladder now on Graves Light wharf

Installing a new USCG ladder on the Graves Light wharf.

Installing a new USCG ladder on the Graves Light wharf.

A great weather weekend on April 9-10 found us “on station” with friends. Lots of springtime projects on our list, and one of the most important is installing the ladder at the end of the wharf.

Here’s Cap’n Pat and Chris readying the USCG ladder (which we’ve half-installed) after they secured our trusty aluminum ladder and hoist. Sure makes loading materials and people easier!

Plenty of seals frolicking in the cove today, too.

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Custom building a lighthouse kitchen stove

With his high school engineering education and his own imagination, Wyatt designs the stove.

With his high school engineering education and his own imagination, Wyatt designs the stove for a small space with curved walls.

Without any flat interior walls, a lighthouse needs custom-made everything. Since kitchen space is the most precious, and the sea air corrosive of steel, conventional appliances just won’t work.

Wyatt's bronze stovetop, after it came back from the metal shop.

Wyatt’s bronze stovetop, fresh from the metal shop.

Luckily, Wyatt is studying engineering in high school. After drawing out the exact curve of the interior wall of the watch room, Wyatt whipped up a curved stovetop design on his computer.

We sent Wyatt’s design to a metal shop, which crafted a stovetop out of 1/2-inch thick bronze, using a water jet cutter.

The rest is up to us. We’re modifying propane barbecue burners to fit under the top and will design a curved faceplate for the knobs.

Can you smell a delicious chowder simmering this summer?

The stovetop design, from computer to metal shop.

The stovetop design: Wyatt measured the curve from the lighthouse radius, for fabrication from a sheet of half-inch-thick bronze.

 

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On-shore basement project: Building a lighthouse desk

Winter is a great time for on-shore basement projects for the lighthouse.

We converted an old oak desk into a keeper’s desk. First, we crafted a new top to fit the curved inner walls of the tower. We secured it to the two base drawer units with brass fasteners (no rusty steel in the lighthouse environment) and stained it to match.

The desk is installed on the 4th level, which will be the master bedroom. Next, we’ll start building a space-saving Murphy bed, whose mattress can be stored vertically when not in use, and pulled down flat for the evening.

 

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Diver’s discovery helps us complete our interior doors

Chris, of Boston Scuba, discovered an original Graves Light porcelain door knob on the bottom of Boston Harbor.

Chris, of Boston Scuba, discovered an original Graves Light porcelain door knob on the bottom of Boston Harbor.

Discovering the original from under water let us install authentic replacements.

Discovering the original from under water let us install authentic replacements from a wrecking company..

Some of the clues to the faithful reconstruction of the interior of Graves Light have come from the bottom of Boston Harbor.

Chris, a diver from Boston Scuba, found yet another artifact offshore at The Graves.

Pictured in his hand is a heavily weathered porcelain door knob.

We had already restored the surviving interior door and built two copies on Nantucket, but we didn’t know what the original knobs looked like. Now we do.

So we found four antique sets of knobs at a local wrecking company. Voila! The doors are now complete. Thanks, Chris!

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Glass jewels for lantern room get cast on Nantucket

Getting the glass jewels ready for the Watch Room skylights/Lantern Room floor panels.

Alison MacDonald of ACKfire studios gets the replacement glass jewels ready for the Watch Room skylights/Lantern Room floor panels.

We’re getting down to the fine details now. The missing glass jewels that form the skylights for the Watch Room ceiling and the floor pieces for the Lantern Room are now being cast.

The Nantucket artisans at Ackfire Studios are hard at work right now creating replacements for the missing heavy glass jewels embedded in the round bronze skylight frames.

Alison MacDonald of Ackfire visited Graves Light in April to examine the job and take measurements.

Now, the colored glass disks have been cut and are being cast in tiny molds within a large kiln.

We love our local artist community! Here is the Ackfire crew cutting individual discs of glass which will be melted and formed in these little molds.

The resulting glass jewels will be glazed into the lantern floor this month.

These glass pieces are reproductions of the missing original glass from the 1903 architectural design, and are copied from the remaining originals.

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Drone’s-eye view of Graves Light

Randy Clark took this picture via drone while helping with carpentry at Graves.

Randy Clark took this picture via drone while helping with carpentry at Graves.

Our pal Randy Clark took this nifty shot of master carpenter Karl Phillips sanding the new mahogany railing prior to installing it on the 4th level stairwell.

Look closely and you can see some of the work we’ve done:

  • Power-washed the stone exterior, which used to be streaked with black soot and grime;
  • Replaced the mortar between the stone blocks;
  • Removed the block-glass windows and restored the original appearance with oak casement windows (that Karl Phillips built);
  • Cleaned and painted the iron railing around the watch deck;
  • Cleaned and painted the bronze circular wall, as shown (in black), on the watch deck;
  • Installed vintage brass portholes in the bronze wall of the watch deck, to provide natural light in the interior;
  • Cleaned and re-caulked the original curved glass panes of the lantern deck;
  • Installed an exact replica of the interior mahogany staircase railings (which Karl is shown sanding on the outside deck).

A photographer by trade, Randy also swung a hammer to fix the shed while piloting his new drone. Thanks Randy!

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What’s going on down below

Greg and Greg deliver the compressor.

Greg and Greg deliver the compressor from shore to Graves Light.

We’ve told you a lot of the more glamorous activity going on at the top of the tower, but there’s lots down below, too.

Lloyd and Greg unload the compressor from the boat and hoist it up to the dock at Graves Light.

Lloyd and Greg unload the compressor from the boat and hoist it up to the dock at Graves Light.

At high tide this week, Boston Harbor Cruises delivered the big air compressor so Derosier Bros. Painting & Sandblasting can give the steel pilings under the deck a fresh coat of marine-grade paint.

That’s no easy task. They painters must work suspended from above at high tide, and lower down to the rocks at low tide.

Graves isn’t their first lighthouse, and it probably won’t be their last.

Boston Harbor Cruises are the folks who bring you the lighthouse cruises, ferries, water taxis, whale watches, and Codzilla.

Many thanks to Graves veterans Robbie and Larry, and Lloyd and Bob. And thanks to Greg & Greg from BHC for driving!

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Bronze rails in the lantern room

John builds the bronze lantern railing so that we can have an open area and still keep the beacon secure as a US Coast Guard aid to navigation.

John builds the bronze lantern railing so that we can have an open area and still keep the beacon secure as a US Coast Guard aid to navigation.

Remember those bronze castings we made over the winter? John and John from Nelson Metal Fabrication machined them to perfection and fitted pickets and rails made up in their Portland, Maine shop.

John installs the bronze lantern railing. The solar-powered beacon is visible at top right.

John installs the bronze lantern railing. The solar-powered beacon is visible at top right.

Then they brought them out to Graves and hoisted them up the ladder and into the lantern room.

Three days later, the results are amazing.

Graves Light remains an active aid to navigation. We have to make sure that while we make as much use as we can of the lantern room, the topmost level of the tower, we have to keep the solar-powered lantern safe and free of obstructions. We also have to make sure it remains accessible to the Coast Guard for their maintenance visits.

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Oak ceiling is put in place

G installs the 5th floor ceiling

G installs the new 5th floor ceiling, an exact reproduction of the original, surviving parts of which were left in place.

Remember the oak ceiling we showed being built on Nantucket back in April? It’s now installed at Graves Light.

Karl installs the 5th floor ceiling

Karl Phillips puts the new oak ceiling panels in place.

Master carpenter Karl Phillips built perfect replicas at his Driftwood Construction shop, based on surviving original panels and the original architectural drawings.

Karl and G put the new oak panels in place up on the 5th floor library of the lighthouse. G is performing the trimming and shaping.

Karl did most of the other woodwork at Graves, too, including reconstructed oak windows based on the original casement design, interior oak window panels and sills, interior oak doors, and the mahogany staircase handrails.

As we’d previously noted, we decided to leave the original damaged ceiling panels in place, covering them with the new ones to give some future renovators a surprise.

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Bunk room ‘almost ready’ – lots more work going on

First look at the new Bunk Room at Graves Light, June 2015.

First look at the new Bunk Room at Graves Light, June 2015.

What an amazing week out at Graves!

Carpenters Nat, Karl, Will, and Peter are installing the new mahogany stair rails (see where brass castings of the original fixtures were made) and bunk beds, finishing the windows, and hanging the interior doors.

We’ve never seen this level of activity inside the tower, and it’s really getting exciting out here.

As a safety test, the carpenters camped out a couple of nights. They proclaim the bunk room “almost ready.”

 

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