rudder mold, marine hardware
rudder, marine hardware
boat hardware

Metal Pattern making

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 patternmaking goes back generations in the Fuller family. Patternmaking isn’t just about creating schematics or blueprints. Southshore 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, patternmaking 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 removeable? 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 boatyards, learning his craft as a boatbuilder but also keeping his hand in patternmaking at the foundry. He fined tuned his craft formally in the 50s, and brought it to his own foundry in Massachusetts in 1961. Both were dedicated to the art and craft of patternmaking, and handed down those skills and techniques along with many time-tested patterns. Bob focuses on the woodworking stage of the process – most patterns are carved in wood first, and the molds are created around these facsimiles before the metal is poured.

It’s a combination of woodworking, marine carpentry, metal working, handcraft and mathematically figuring out the most creative, efficient way of creating a mold that will make accurate, repeatable parts.

boat hardware
steering wheel hub


These same skills are on display in the hand crafting of marine steering wheel hubs: Hubs that tie your wheel – and your cockpit – together

The hub is machined out of bronze. In keeping with the ship-building traditions of the Fuller family, Bob’s brother, Charles Fuller, is a machinist and patternmaker with a specialization in machining wheel hubs. The brothers have collaborated since they were children to create an exquisite balance between the metalworking and the woodworking.

Every boat steering wheel is designed so that neither wood nor metal overpowers the end result. The steering wheel hub isn’t just the geographic center of the wheel – it’s also the functional ship steering hub.

The machinist has to know and match the dimensions of the bore hole, whether the hole is straight or tapered and how much, as well as the length of the bore, the keyway, and the threading of the nut that will be used to attach the hub to the wheel shaft. It all has to be exact.

ship steering

Your Artwork or Ours

Steering wheel hubs can be finished in a number of different styles – chrome plated or polished.

They can also be engraved – we work with expert engravers throughout the region. And, they can have any logo, seal or graphic you’d like reproduced. These designs are mounted in the center of your wheel’s hub. We can also custom design a graphic for your steering wheel hub.

marine steering wheel
marine steering wheel
marine steering wheel

Keywords that apply to this page: Marine hardware, boat hardware, sailboat keel, steering wheel hubs, marine steering wheel