Artisan craftsman and knife maker Ed Louchard of Port Townsend, Washington, who also runs his Zephyrwerks block business, has expanded his product line to a variety of boat equipment. Notably sheaves of various sizes (any diameter up to 12″/305mm) and materials (aluminum, 316L stainless steel axles, oil-filled bronze sleeve bearings), as well as custom work for traditional and modern craft. He does his own anodizing and can even add color to the bodies. His website showcases turning blocks on the U.S. Coast Guard’s training ship Eagle.
When I asked Louchard how he came to be a builder of custom hardware, he told me: “I arrived in Port Townsend in 1980, and was invited to have a beer by a fellow who initially wanted to buy my old Volvo. Turned out he and his fellow students at the Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding [see “Loft, Cut, and Fasten,” PBB No. 137] were having a beach gathering. Didn’t take long to get around to ‘Have you seen the shop?’ As soon as the door opened and I was hit with the smells and visuals of a boatbuilding shop, boats in frame, linseed oil and turps, oak, red cedar, Douglas-fir, I knew what my future would be.
“At the time, I supported myself by building custom knives for collectors, mainly in Japan, Europe, and America as well. I continued to build and sell my knives, expanding into tools for violin bow makers and other luthiers, and boatbuilders. I spent six months at the boatbuilding school in 1981. Upon graduating I started my own business repairing and restoring classic wooden sailboats and even some powerboats. Sailing on Port Townsend Bay became almost a daily exercise. I gained experience in what boats and sailors needed to trim their sails well.
“During that time I rented space to a number of boatbuilders and associated types, including Brion Toss, the rigger. Brion expressed a need for some sheaves, so I turned a few out of Delrin for him on my little lathe. I realized that there was nowhere a rigger or boat owner could access any size sheave they might need. I researched sheave material and the bearing issues and decided on Delrin sheaves with pressed-in Oilite bronze bushings to run on 316 stainless steel axles.
“I put together a website, and put an ad in WoodenBoat magazine. That got things started. Together with my restoration business and my knife business, I have been kept busy ever since.”
Recently Louchard has added anodized aluminum and titanium products to the line. He gained experience working with titanium a few years ago making parts for Core Builders, which was building the last of the America’s Cup monohulls in Anacortes, and the first two multihull AC boats for Oracle. Besides sheaves, products include rope-stropped block kits, anchor rollers, titanium marlinspikes, and custom hardware. Just ask.
Zephyrwerks, Port Townsend, WA 98368 USA, tel. 360–385–2720.