Oral History Tutorial George Luzier on the craft of building beautiful wooden boats

Well, let’s start over there with the first ones. My name is George B. Luzier. And I was born 61224 in Sarasota, Florida. So I’m a downtoearth Cracker. This was my second boat. My first boat I don’t have pictures of right now. I was about 14 and that’s built in my mother’s garage over on Pomelo Street. And this is Clark’s Ark and it was built way back, that was over in the old Rec Hall building. And it’s still up in Bradenton and it’s still going strong. It’s been a very successful boat and everybody loves it. That’s a 16foot outboard. We built, I don’t.

Know, 5 or 6 of them. My typical day is I get up at six o’clock and get moving, try to get over at the shop about eight. There’s always something I can do. Some days, you know, you’re building or doing something, you’re right in there cuttin’, sawin’, and goin’ at it hammer and tong. Now right here. I don’t see my favorite tool but that’s a Stihl electric plane. You can see it’s had a little hard usage. I’ve had it, I know, 50 years. It run good, never gave any problem. They never made a better saw than that 14inch Delta. And that saw’s, oh, I’m sure it’s at least 60 years old. I’ve had it for 50odd years. I bought it secondhand.

But it’s just a good, ruggedit’s a heavy little mother. And on the bigger boats, see, we’d pick that up and throw it inside the boat, don’t have to walk back and forth and save a lot of time. That’s a 3115 Singer, and it’ll sew most anything you stick under it. But it’s full of all sorts of glameration of. whatever. And I’ve got, you know, most of these tools, I don’t want ’em to hang on the wall and show and this and that, they’re to be used. Like this little plane here, a lot of things you want to set at a depth or something, on a surface, and this works great. And this old timer. Well, you never got enough clamps. Nah, it’s been, ah, it’s been interesting to do and I’ve had a lot of enjoyment.

Out of it. You know, some of the job parts are not that easy, but you know, it don’t usually last too long. It’s not like you was in a production line or some kind of crap like that. So, you know. laughs No, I don’t know, I’m sure there will always be some wooden boats built but it’s not like it used to be. And, I don’t know. I’m not gonna worry about it.

MITs Annual Cardboard Boat Regatta

The Head of the Zesiger is a cardboard boat regatta in which three students put together a boat. They can actually have as many boat builders as they like, but they need to be in the cardboard boat, paddling during the actual competition. The real challenge each year is the fact that the race course changes so there are different challenges. And so, when designing the boats there’s a different theme and focus in mind.

I was terrified on Thursday because we were like only halfway through, a bit more really, but we didn’t yet have the hull so that was a bit of an issue. But we got a lot of people to help the last two days so we able to finish it and paint it, and, well, we’re going to win. My freshman year was the first year I competed and my brother, he went to MIT as well, he’s two years ahead of me so when I got here as a freshman my brother Brian was.

Like, quot;Oh man, there’s this cardboard boat race and I’ve always wanted to do it but I could never get a team together.quot; I’m a mechanical engineering so it sounded like a really good challenge mostly because everything you do you have to innovate. There isn’t any set way to do this sort of thing. It’s not like, you know, everybody that builds a Formula 1 ® car, well people build Formula 1® cars and there’s a way to do it, so you do it. But a cardboard boat.

You have to completely come up with how it’s going to work on the stop, every time. The difference between most cardboard boat regattas is the students actually design it ahead of time. They don’t design it day of. Most schools that offer this type of competition will give the supplies and they have one hour to put some duct tape together, use some styrofoam and different formats. This is purely based on cardboard, paper tape and paint, that’s it. They’re not.

Allowed to use duct tape. They’re not allowed to use styrofoam or anything that has natural buoyancy to it. So we went into this with a little bit more of a challenge then you’ll see at most schools. I think MIT students just like to problem solve things and this is a really good opportunity to try it out. Some people have tried it, maybe in High School or something, but MIT really takes almost everything to the next level when we do this sort of thing. A good fraction of.

The students are young students, in the first couple of years. Maybe some who haven’t declared. Others are graduate students so they’re pretty far down the road. The goal of building a cardboard boat to navigate a course in water, however appeals to all of them, many of the core disciplines of mechanical engineering happen to be well represented. If you just look at our core classes: mechanics of materials, well there’s the cardboard and the strength of beams.

There’s the dynamics, when the boat go unstable with people trying to control it and the steering. And then there’s fluid part, both in the efficiency of the hull and in the use of paddles and other propulsion devices. And these are very broad themes across the school of engineering and science as well. So they bring in their boats and they line them up next to the pool. They are judged before they go in the water for of course infractions, that’s bad, but then.


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