Construction - IV

Progress Report - Jan. to Mar. 2000

My Y2K testing began on January 1 by waking up and turning on the light. It came on so that was good. The next test was to open my garage door and see if the boat project was still there. It was. Unfortunately no Y2K elves (opposite of bugs) finished the boat for me, so there was no choice but to dig in.

I mentioned in my last page that I was doing things in a chaotic fashion and this continued to hold true. A quick look at the building instructions revealed that I was working on 5 line items at once. Essentially, the order I've been proceeding has depended on how I perceive things to be several steps in advance. There is no good or bad way of going here, just personal preference, most likely.

From the last sequence of pictures, the most obvious is the slow development of the cabin house. The center stringer is in place, as are the carlins that form the cabinsides and coaming rail. The curved bulkhead tops that used to be slightly wobbly are now firmly locked into place. That gives me comfort because I need them all the time to help me climb in and out of the boat.

My plan was to use up my supply of 1/4" ply to put the cabinsides together. Since we're getting down to the short strokes I don't want to buy more material than I need. The side stringer is still oversized (or stands proud, as traditionalists say); it will need to be planed down to match the cabintop. At this stage, there are precious few measurements listed in the building instructions. Mainly because you don't need them. Most measurements are taken off the boat and transfered to the material. It takes a bit longer, but at least everything fits in the end.

Obviously my camera angles haven't improved much. It's a bit limiting when the boat fills up the whole working space (have I mentioned that before?). So you'll have to bear with me until I can get the whole contraption into a different setting.

This picture shows how the interior is progressing. The bunk platform has been glued and screwed down. The things left to do in this picture are glueing the port "head", the starboard "galley", and the hand lockers on each side (located below the porthole in the cabin side).

Everything has been glued together with an eye that it serves a structural function. So each seam is glued, screwed down every 7 - 8 inches, and then given an epoxy/silica fillet. The designer's notes mention the need to distribute torsional stresses by installing the furniture and deck so they form one homogeneous unit with the hull. I can say that the hull itself is pretty solid right now, based on how things went in the Turn Over. Now with the bunks, and eventually the deck, it should go from pretty solid to rock solid.

Here's a picture of the "head" on the port side. You can see the installed eyestraps that will help hold the lead ingots in place. Also slightly visible here is the epoxy coating mixed with white pigment. It's not pretty, but I'm looking for sealing properties here, not beauty. The white pigment was intended to make it look slightly finished, but as you can see, my formula isn't quite right (More pigment, Igor! More pigment!). By the time I finished the last coating near the stern, I had the shade to just about what I wanted.

This picture that shows the cockpit coaming carlins. A rope stretches across the ends because they aren't supported until the plywood portion is glued in. Speaking of plywood, the outside coaming and the cabin side is theoretically all one piece. I stopped at Blkhd E for now because it was a good place to divide the fore and aft sections. Plus it's easier to deal with smaller pieces of wood than larger (remember the topside hull panels...Uck).

For the outside coaming ply, I measured and cut the starboard side plywood first, then used it as a template for the port side. Hopefully this would make each side exactly the same curve (see boat profile on the Boat Page). For those places where the coaming carlin didn't match the curve cut in the ply, I forced it in place during the glueing/screwing, then sanded it smooth later.

This picture also shows another development in space reduction; my 3 bicycles now hang from the ceiling near the port bow. My son's bicycle handlebars are just visible in the lower right corner. Huh? Oh, right...I've mentioned the space problem before.

At this point several things have my full attention. The first is the rig. The designer recommends a fiberglass mast, since it would bend correctly and carry a lower center of gravity than an aluminum one. The recommended builder of these spars no longer exists, probably due to the owner's death in a plane accident. Other NIS builders have opted for spun aluminum, carbon fiber, or a combination of wood, fiberglass, and carbon fiber. Prices and techniques vary all over the map, so I'm still reserving judgement until I have as much information as I can.

The second attention draw is paint. What type, what system, what color? So I'm glued to brochures and other advice sources. Several builders have recommended painting the interior before the deck is on since it will be harder to reach those infernal nooks and crannies. So I'll be following that plan shortly.

Third item is the cockpit layout. Since the inside furniture phase is nearly complete, it's the only major section left. I want to install a traveller, since as a racer I enjoy the added control benefit. I also want it to be close enough to the hatch so I can reach it and the mainsheet from inside the hatchway (you know, so I can dump the main if caught in an unexpected gust). This and structural considerations pretty much dictate that it needs to span across the cockpit at Blkhd F. I'm sure that underway this will become known as the "shin-banger" or less politely formed descriptions. It also defines the mainsheet system as being "mid-boom" rather than "end-boom" arrangement. In addition to this complication, there will be 6 hatches in the cockpit seats to access the space below them. Although quite voluminous, the small hatch size may limit the use of the space. Maybe it won't be as bad as it looks now.

The 300 hour mark

So it has come to 300 hours of labor. The hours leading up to this milestone were spent mostly on the cockpit. As with most boats, this area is fairly complex and has required quite a bit of measuring, cutting, fitting, glueing, coating, and then repeating it all over again.

Another milestone done during this period was planing down the sheer log and top cabin side rails to their exact dimensions. Now for the first time the graceful shearline is evident and also ready to receive the deck. And with that, I've started cutting and glueing the forward deck pieces.

The bow forward of bulkhead A is the most structurally critical part of the whole boat. This is where the mast tries everything it can to tear itself free. As a result, the designer has indicated reinforcement at the hull bottom and the deck. The amount of doubling (laminating 2 pieces of ply together) at the deck was shown to cover the mast step area, but not all the way to the bow. I know I'm going to install a fairly hefty cleat forward of the mast, so I decided to double the entire area forward of bulkhead A. The next statement about using a continuous sheet of ply from the bow back to the cabin and beyond is logical but not practical. The difficulty is that the deck flares out beyond 4 ft shortly aft of bulkhead A. So obviously a butt block joint was needed, but where? After some engineering-inspired thought, I've decided to place a butt seam athwartships just aft of bulkhead A. The end result will be a foredeck that is almost entirely laminated to 3/4 inch thick, plus fiberglassed on the top.

I'm a stickler for wasted movement. I'll do anything to prevent having to make the same cut twice. But for the deck around the cabin and cockpit I'm putting aside this idiosyncrasy. Over this area the sheeting has to follow 2 curves: the hull curve at the gunnel, and the cabin/coaming sides. The outer curve at the gunwale is easy--just cut the sheets oversized like I've done many times before and pare them down after glueing. But the inside curve of the cabin and coaming affords no such luxury. So taking a step straight from "Dynamite" Payson's book, I clamped a scrap piece of ply next to the cabin and drew the curve using the block-with-a-pen-hole trick. Then by cutting the curve in the scrap, it'll serve as a template for the real piece. Fortunately I had the right sized scrap to do this. My lumber supply pile has disintegrated into a jumble of increasingly unusable junk.

Another milestone is deciding on going with the Interlux paint system. It's not really an endorsement of the company, just a decision based more on color choices and the amount of BTDT (Been There, Done That) information I was able to find. The most important thing, I think, is to stick with one product line. Mixing and matching different products from different companies could lead to tripping at the finish line if you don't know what you're doing. And I don't know what I'm doing.

Here are my interior paint plans:

  1. Coat interior with a thin layer of epoxy. Just enough to seal the wood
  2. Wash with water to remove any traces of amine blush
  3. Sand with 100 grit paper
  4. Vacuum, clean with Interlux Fiberglass Solvent
  5. Apply a coat of Interlux 404/414 Epoxy Barrier-Kote
  6. Sand with 100 grit, repeat 5 and 6 if necessary
  7. Apply coat(s) of Interlux Premium Enamel

I'll give an update on this system later.

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