Construction - VI


Progress Report - July to Dec. 2000

Believe it or not I feel like I'm getting to a point of termination. Whenever I leave a store I think, "That's the last (of that) I need to get." I don't need any more wood. I don't need any more epoxy. There's still a lot left to do, however, so I have learned to contain my enthusiasm.

The first part of this report period was spent putting the fiberglass on the deck, cabin house, and cockpit. Although somewhat more time consuming than the glassing the hull, everything went according to plan. Next was glueing on the finishing trim pieces and completing the sliding hatch cover.

This picture shows how everything looks on the cabintop.  The handrails were made in 2 pieces because it conforms to a pretty good bend.  The pad between the handrail and the hatchframe near the aft end is for a small winch and 2 cleats.  I didn't put one on the other side.

This shows a bit more detail of the hatch. The plans suggest installing stainless steel pieces on the hatch to help it slide along the rail.  I've decided not to do this for now; I'll wait to see how much it wears.  I do know that shiny metal sitting under the summer sun becomes really hot, so I'm trying to avoid that situation.  Epoxy doesn't like extreme heat. I designed the hatch so it can be slid forward off the rails at any time.

Turn Over II - The Sequel

I got a number of comments over the last year questioning why I had decided to turn the hull before I had completely finished the bottom and topsides. My answer was that I wanted to do the sanding and painting all at once, and since the turn over process was fairly easy I could do it several times. Not much wisdom involved here. But as I proceeded with attaching the deck, I found that my decision did indeed contain great wisdom. As I worked around the gunwale with the deck, fiberglass, and finally, the trim, little rivulettes of epoxy would run down the topsides. Had it been painted I would have had quite a bit of resanding and repainting to do (not to mention another problem detailed below).

I used the same technique as before, with some slight modifications. I reinforced the blocks in the ceiling, and used the mainsheet and boom vang blocks for more purchase to raise the boat. As expected, the line around the stern was tight enough to play a tune. Last time I didn't sweat; this time I did. The boat now weighs an estimated 850 to 900 lbs. and was no easy task to turn it by myself. Memo to me: Get help for the final turn-over.

I got a question of how I supported the boat after I turned it over.  It was pretty simple--shown in this picture.  Four sets of these concrete blocks held up the boat and wood boards were placed on the top to protect the deck from the rough surface of the blocks.

After it sat on the blocks for a bit, I checked to see if there was any deformation of the deck around the blocks indicating too much stress.  There was none.  This boat is pretty strong so far.

Now having the hull upside down, I started in working on sanding and cleaning up what I call "pimples". These are small spots where the fiberglass has not adhered to the layer underneath so it shows up as a small discolored blister. As mentioned before I cut them out and filled the remaining space with epoxy filler. In this process I accidentally discovered some sticky goo in one part of the bottom. It didn't make any sense, so I investigated further. Poking my razor blade around I soon discovered that the goo was actually epoxy that had never hardened, and I could easily peel up whole sections of hardened epoxy from the never-hardened epoxy underneath. My reaction was a classic filmmaking moment:

Movie Director: "...and, Action!"

Me: "AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRRGGHHH!"

Movie Director: "Cut!"

I kept rooting around and peeling up the top layer, some with 10 oz. fiberglass in the goo, until I got to where the epoxy had bonded correctly all the way through. It came to about 1/2 a square foot in area, but it really made me nervous. Were there other such areas? I checked carefully but everything was sound. So I filled the uneven holes with my usual patch of epoxy and collodial silica. I remember that during the bottom fiberglass job I was mixing up large batches of epoxy. Somewhere during the 10 oz. layer I didn't mix it thoroughly enough and this patch never solidified, although the succeeding layers did. I don't think anything bad would have happened had I never caught it since it was still sealed on all sides and water couldn't penetrate the wood. But it still goes to show that there can be goof-ups here and there. Memo to me: Fire the Quality Assurance Engineer.

Then it was a-painting I do go!  Two coats of the barrier epoxy were applied to the hull, then I taped 2 inches above the waterline and applied 3 coats of one-part polyurethane up to the rail.  I followed the directions to the letter and everything went much easier than I would have thought.  I don't plan to paint the bottom--instead leaving it as white barrier epoxy.  The boat will not be in the water long enough to worry about growth.

The Centerboard

So I got this big chunk of aluminum plate cut by a machine shop to the right shape. But the leading edge is perfectly square. Not exactly hydrodynamic. So on the advice of my neighbor I used my belt sander with 50 grit paper and turned the leading edge into something closer to parabolic. Worked out pretty well and went quicker than I expected. The designer recommends tapering the trailing edge, but since the plate is only 1/2" thick to begin with, I'm not going to worry about it. The machine shop was supposed to drill the holes for the pin and the pennant, but they blew me off. That turned out to be a blessing since it gave me some flexibility of size and location. I hadn't decided until late in the game how the pin would be put together, and it turned out that the pennant attachment had to be moved.

This exercise also gave me my first experience with 3M's 4200 Fast Cure goop. I've chosen 4200 because 5200 is too permanent; I want to be able to undo it at a future date. All deck hardware and attachments will be sealed with 4200, and the centerboard pennant block and pin was an excellent starting point. I learned that the moniker "Fast Cure" means that it starts curing immediately after you purchase it at the chandlery. After buying the larger tube and having it solidify on me after the first application, I bought the smaller tube that has a screw cap so you can seal it back up. Much better.

After some thought on the subject, my plan for the centerboard pin was to eliminate any electrolysis caused by connecting dissimiliar metals in salt water. So I seized upon the idea of using an aluminum bushing between the centerboard and the stainless steel bolt that would hold the whole thing in place. A piece of aluminum conduit did the trick.

Here is the centerboard in its entirety followed by a closeup view of the bushing and centerpin hole.  Notice also how the leading edge looks after having been rounded off.

Now came the really tricky part. After enlisting the help of my bride to install the pennant block inside the case, I was ready to put the board in. Well, let me put it this way: I was ready but the case was not. After struggling to get the board over the slot, it wouldn't go.  "Doctor," I thought, "I'm feeling a severe pain in my chest." The board is 1/2" thick; the case is  3/4" wide. But my exuberance in sealing the end grain of the bottom sheet of ply made the slot much narrower. Less than 1/2". Out came my dremel tool and a-sanding I did go. Any exposed wood I had to re-seal with epoxy, so a week later I was ready to try again. This time it went in, but it soon started to bind with sounds of mangling wood. "Doctor," I thought, "Everything's fading to black!" The pennant cable shackle was not following the planned groove in the trunk (see Constr. I, barely visible in the last picture), so I had to move the attachment. Of course, more wood to re-seal. A week later a friend helped me maneuver the whole thing in place and install the pin/bushing. Then, the moment of reckoning was at hand. Slowly I let the whole thing slide down, and it did so with no complaints until it was all the way in! Well, almost, that is. It still sticks out about 3" on the aft end, probably because it is bumping into something like the pennant block guards I made. I don't mind at this point. "Doctor, I'm alive!"

Now a side view of the centerboard in place.  The block and rope is to prevent the board from allowing gravity to take its course.  The board is not extended fully here as it would bump into the garage door, but you get a good idea of the intended purpose.

Another picture before the board was sent home into the trunk.  Here you can see the subtle change between the barrier epoxy and the polyurethane at the waterline.  It's not much more than a change of gloss, which is exactly what I wanted.  There will be no bootstripe.

But nagging questions remain. What if the board becomes jammed in the case? I have no mechanism in place to fix this problem. The hole at Blkhd E where the pennant wire comes out is inappropriate for any other use. I can see myself raising the board to go downwind in a race, reaching the leeward mark to go back upwind and not being able to get the board down. That would be, to put it mildly, a disaster. My thought now is to drill a hole in the top of the case just a few inches aft of Bkhd E. Then I could ram a rod down the hole to help things along. The hole could be plugged when not in use.

Turn Over III - The Final Episode

By now, a piece of cake. I did get a friend to help so I didn't have to sweat. Instead of setting the boat down on the floor like last time, I built a cradle out of scrap lumber to hold the hull. I'm hoping that this cradle will allow me to slide the boat out of the garage when the time comes.

Here's a gander at the foredeck, complete with the quarter-round trim that graces the rail.  Again, since it is made of mahogany, it was tough to bend into shape.  I screwed it in place, then after the epoxy dried I backed out the screws and filled the holes with more epoxy.

You can also see the half-round trim on the sides of the gunwale.

Oh-my-gosh!  The whole deck is now primed white, ready for my color scheme.  The change is quite dramatic, I must say.

Lastly, I submit a picture of the oars.  The one on the right is not coated with epoxy yet, the left one is.  They are built to a stretched pattern provided by Jim Michalak.  Made of 3 glued sections of ash, 9.5 ft. long, they were cut, planed, and sanded to this point.  They'll be painted as well.

So it's back to sanding, sanding, a little painting, and sanding again. Most of it is now temperature dependent, and since winter has arrived the painting process will be haphazard at best. Once it is done, looking around for a trailer will be next because...

I am now having a new house built, so most of the funds I had earmarked for the boat will be redirected to financing the new boatbuilding site...I mean, the new house. As a result the boat project will take a back seat for awhile.


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