These concept educational drawings by G. Briggs, show the four main stages of building a small salmon coble. Construction techniques may vary but the drawings were taken from live observations as a build progressed.
First the keel known as a ‘ram” and stem is laid down and forms a sort of template around which the outside hull can be constructed from larch planking. Much use is made of a steam box which can be used to heat up timber so that it can be bent to shape. The steam box is seen in the background. The side board planks are built up and bent to shape using rivets to attach them. The boat is then turned over and two draft keels fitted on either side of the ram. Steel runners are fitted to these keels and the ram to protect them from damage when grounding.
Finally Oak ribs are constructed and fitted by hand on the inside of the boat to support the hull. The diagrammatic key sketch names the various tools used in construction.
Coble construction is an art form which relied heavily on the skill of the boat builder and close cooperation with the prospective owners, who would ask for amendments and alterations to suit their fishing needs These often involved changes in beam, length or form. Each boat a masterpiece, honed by years of boat building experience and fishing tradition.
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