Friday, 22 August 2014

Varnishing & Primer Coats

Pushing ahead these last few days and managed to get two coats of primer on the inside of the hull.

Each day, I have been varnishing my mast and yesterday I poured some Hempel's Wood Impreg inside the mast, which will hopefully add further protection.

I called to my local bronze plate suppliers today and they are going to cut out the plate for my mast fittings.  Once I have these fitted, I can step my mast and call my sail maker to measure up my sails.

My seats turned out quite nice, book matched.  But the process of reattaching the cutoff to the rear of the seat shows up in the grain pattern.  So far I have just put sealing coats, but I will start the varnish coats over the next few days.

I finished the edges of the seats by hand, which I have come to prefer over using my router, as it seems to give a more natural finish.
Smoothing out the inside curve with my spokeshave

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Summer update

Yours truly on Embla
Hopes to launch this summer came to an end when a shop restoration project took me away from my boat building, then summer holidays complaints as cruising the Ionian in Greece is not hard sailing by any standards!

On my return, I decided to get stuck in and made a conscious effort not to procrastinate as to what way to make parts, but to get things done!  I've found that I seem to spend more time thinking about what way to approach a task rather than just moving ahead.  The result has been encouraging....progress at last!

I began with finishing the mast and spars as I wanted to get these varnished while the weather was reasonably clement.  July was a very hot month in Ireland - when I was sailing in Greece, but when I came home, the weather turned quite wet, which didn't really help
Mast hanging to dry
matters, but at least the temperatures were suitable for varnishing and painting.  I had to reduce the diameter of the mast from the foot to the mast partner in order for the MP to fit - I had built a birdsmouth mast which was 20% larger in diameter than
Orange peel on centre board trunk cap
original spec.  Once completed, I applied several coast of varnish.  I'm using Hempels Classic Varnish which I find tricky to use - it needs to be applied in very thin coats, anything heavier results in orange peel on flat surfaces and drips and runs elsewhere.

I had to redo some bright work as the varnish never did seem to cure properly.  So I had to scrape off the varnish and start again - this time I was especially careful to apply the varnish very thinly and it seemed to dry satisfactorily overnight.

Next I scarfed some Sapele to make the rub rails.  Once again my trusty Farriers
Farriers File on scarf joint for rail
File makes short work of the hardened epoxy excess from the joint which saves blunting planes and scrapers.  The plans call for a variety of angled cuts on the table saw, but my table saw tilts in the wrong direction, so I couldn't make this work.  I then resorted to the router table with a selection of bull nozed cutters.  The rails need to be tapered at both ends in two dimensions so the final trimming was done by hand.  The result was reasonably elegant.

Attaching the rails was quite easy although the thin ends which were tapered were tricky to counterbore and plug.

Side rails being molded

Sole boards with spacers in
between to even out planking
Next up was the sole boards.  I had bought lengths of  US Red
Wood as per John's plans.  I resawed and ripped these into plank lengths and then went about fitting them to the floors.  I made the soles in two halves either side of the centreboard trunk.  It was more tedious than I had originally envisaged.  I then finished them with Hempels Wood Impreg, which seems lighter than a wood oil and seems to penetrate the timbers.   Job done...

The mast step was next up.  Not having sailed small boats like these before, I had no real picture in my mind as to how this was to be fabricated and the plans did not enlighten me.  A fellow SS builder, JohnC kindly send me a photo some
time ago, which I was able to reference and construct the mast step out of Sapele. I had read on the Yahoo Glued Alpstrake forum that some builders were planing on having the step rest on the keelson, but I elected to stay with the plans and have it sit for and aft on its designated cleats, which you can see ffrom the photo opposite.   It is quite a solid beefy part, which is reassuring.

Then the dreaded sanding..... I had been sanding intermittently on the inside hull but as additional parts were added more epoxy spilled here and there, and even when wiped off, it still seems to leave an uneven surface.  So out with my Bosch Multi Tool and I spend a good solid day sanding the inside hull.  Next I applied a coat of Hempel aluminium primer which showed up a few minor imperfections and so began the tedious iterative process of epoxy filler,sanding, priming again, filling, sanding etc.. you get the picture.  It is difficult to know when enough is enough....I guess when the finish coats are applied, I'll know the answer to that conundrum.

Yesterday, I began working on the seats.  My boat has been in my garage for nearly 3 years in the making and I had three large 16ft long x 2" thick x 14" wide
sitting under covers underneath the building jig and cradle.  So the time had come to take her out of the garage into the sunlight.  Four expensive caster wheels later and my son Harry, my good lady Siobhan and I were pushing the boat out of the garage sitting in its now mobile cradle.  It's a heavy boat make no mistake!

Just as I was about to take some photos, the rain came down - so this is as much as you can see of her now!!  But I was pleased that the planking lines looked good to my eye, which was a relief as up to now I had about 18" of a vantage point looking at her bow!  Such are the joys of building in a tight working space.

The clear garage space allowed me to tidy up and get working on the seats.  Since I had opted for the lockers, my seats would need to be 14" wide necessitating in cutting a curve in the straight 14" board and gluing the inner curve to the back of the outer curve.  I made this cut first as my thicknesser will only handle 12".   It also meant that the band saw would have a slightly easier time resawing the boards.
As it transpired the band saw protested and squealed its way through the board with quite a lot of drift, so I had to thickness the resulting boards down from 1" (25mm) to  more like 19mm.   However, I think the result is
actually quite fine as 1" seats would have been very heavy - as it is they are quite heavy at 19mm.  Maybe at some later stage I might router out faux planks in the seat either side of the lockers to save weight and allow water to flow away more easily.

Here's a shot of making the two parts mate to each other using John Brooks advice to flush trim each edge against a common straight edge.  On such a long run, I found that I had the odd splinter however, I think the result will be fine.  It's gluing up tonight so tomorrow will tell the tale when I get to finishing off the seats.

You can just see a glimpse of  caster wheels on the cradle in this photo.

I'm happy now that I am well on the way to completing this boat.  I need to source some more bronze plate to finish off the mast hardware.  Finish painting, screw on the bronze hardware, organize a trailer and buy some sails....Can't see a 2014 launch...can you??

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Some fiddly bits

Progress has been slow as I had been waylaid on another project.  However, I have been fitting some smaller trim pieces, which are quite time consuming.

Probably the most consuming was making the supports for the quarter boards.  These need to follow the contour of the hull while maintaining a vertical outside profile in a straight line along each side of the aft deck back to the transom.  Subsequently, I noticed from some photographs taken in JB's workshop that I had been overly fussy making the cleats fit exactly to each strake, but the job's done now and I have all these left over misfits!!

Next I made the mast step - which is comprised of three parts and fits between the front of the trunk and the mast bulkhead.  Not sure if this is the ideal arrangement, but it seems to be a screwed in removable part, so there will be plenty of opportunity for redesign or fine tuning later on.  At a minimum I will need to remove it so that I can cut the shoulder on the base of the mast to fit into the slot in the mast step.
You can see from the photo opposite that there remains a space underneath the mast step to the keelson - which seems to be as per the plans.  However, I read on the glued lapstrake forum that some have allowed the step to sit directly on the keelson, following its contours.

I began making the sole next, which involved ripping up 14 lengths of US Redwood into 70mm by 12mm boards.  Once I had these thicknessed and dimensioned, I began fitting these to the hull. It's not explicit in the plans as to how these should be fitted, so I am taking my time to work through a shape and design that will satisfy the inevitable scrutiny of crew as boredom sets in and they stare at their feet (and my sole's craftsmanship!)

A more satisfying project was building the unit for managing the keel lift.  This sits atop of the trunk cap and is made in two halves and then glued into one unit.  I used a 2" Tufnol sheave running on a short length of bronze 3/8" bar.  Use a keyhole drill and forstner bits I was able to cut out a recess to fit the sheave snugly.  Here you can see the sheave sitting in one half on the bronze pin.

I reckon that I will attach this with large screws from underneath the trunk cap and some goo, rather than epoxy so that it can be a serviceable item.
So far the unit looks like this, but I may work it further on the sander to make it look less bulky and more elegant.  I plan to install a 3" bronze cleat on the unit just aft of the sheave.

My next major task is to contour the rubbing strip, which is made from 50mm x 16mm sapele.  JB suggests using the table saw with four different angled cuts and blade heights to rough out the profile and then finishing with a sander.  I don't have so much confidence in my table saw skills and so will look to see what I can accomplish on the router table.  Once I have this fitted, I can varnish the bright work and then paint the hull's interior.

Saturday, 26 April 2014

Coamings Installed

Finally I have installed the coamings and I declare to quite pleased with the result!

If you look closely you can see where I re-modeled the plank of 10" sapele so that I could get the deck curve out of the smaller stock - otherwise I would have needed a 14" wide board.  Even though you can see the different wood grain, the fact that both sides are symmetrical makes it quite attractive - at least to my eyes.

Once I had both side of the coamings laminated, I decided to glue both on at the same time so that I could adjust each coaming where they join at the front and ensure a symmetric fit.

Here you can see where I had jammed two lenghts of 2x1 on top of each coaming close to the front join up to the workshop ceiling in order to give me sufficient downward pressure.

I also re-purposed the clamping cauls which JohnB describes in his instructions for the fore deck.  I clamped these sideways at the front of each coaming and then placed a further clamp on them to pull the coamings together at the joint.  It seemed to work fine and allowed for finer adjustments during the final glue-up.

It's a lot of clamps but it worked out fine in the end.

Friday, 28 March 2014

Progress on Coamings

John Brooks, SS designer, did warn that the coamings are the most difficult part pf the boat.  He's right! John has issued further detailed instructions on how to make the coamings.  The process is to first laminate the two halves to each other, but not glued to the boat.  Then remove, and lay and epoxy on the dynel cloth onto the deck.  Once set, the finished coamings are attached.

On my previous post you can see how I grafted some additional material to the end of one side of the board. The glue up on the plank turned out fine, although had I planed the board before glue up I might have been able to match up the pattern better.  As it happened while I grafted on a piece from the same end the board, it did cross over a very attractive grain pattern.  Nonetheless, the joint was clean and tight and I think it looks just fine.

I then ran the board through my thicknesser before resawing.  Although I needed 4 x 1/4" thick boards from the board which measured 2"+, it's still a challenge to resaw this accurately.  First I resawed into half  - which went reasonably well but even the smallest wavering of the bandsaw blade eats into your usable stock.  I then thicknessed again before final resawing into the 1/4" boards.  As it happened I ended up with slightly different board widths but the sum of the parts equaled the required 1/2".

The final thicknessing was done with both 1/4" boards held together so that I was able to accurately thickness down to the 1/2" dimension.  Lots of noise, dust and helping hands from my wife and daughter!
The following day, Brian and I attempted to bend the boards into place.  
It went reasonably well until crack! - one board developed a slight crack where it meets the deck.  JohnC who is also building a Somes Sound did warn me about this and suggested using a layer of glass cloth epoxied in between the laminates.  So we planed back the inside of the laminates for about 5" either side of the stress point and epoxied a light glass cloth into the planed area.  Once sanded it was completely flush with the rest of the board and made for a strong and flexible solution.

You can see in this next photo the board with the glass epoxied into it where it meets up with the foredeck - an obvious stress point.  This is just one laminate - the other half, which also has a glass cloth insert, will cover this entirely.

We had to make up several clamp extensions, as none of my F-Clamps reached more than 6" and the coaming needs clamping in areas wider than this.  They are crude but effective - just two lengths of timber separated by a block and wired together, over which a regular clamp is used to apply pressure through the clamp extension legs. We ct a 15deg bevel on one side of the leg, which ensures that the coaming was evenly clamped to the side deck filler.

Once we had one half reasonably fitting, we cut down the edges to size using a batten to create fair lines.  This reduced the width of the board making it easier to bend.  The epoxied glass cloth worked really well and no sign of crack appearing at the stressed areas.   We then cut out the second laminate from the first board, making sure to continue the bevels at the transoms and foredeck - the two halves are not identical.

The glue up went smoothly and the subsequent fitting was easier than when the boards were dry as the epoxy operates as a lubricant initially before it starts to kick.

Here you can see Brian admiring the motley collections of clamps!

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Decks & Coamings

Now with the hull right side up, I needed to attach the decks permanently.  But first I needed to sort out inspection hatch for the front bulkhead and install the eye bolt in the stem.  I'd read somewhere that the eye bold should ideally be placed closed to the water line if used for towing,
whereas for pulling onto trailer, I guess a higher position would be more desirable.....compromise ensued and I positioned it just below the bronze plate for the forestay and above where the bronze keel band will end.

I had cut out the hole for the bulkhead inspection hatch, in a oval shape centered on the bulkhead.  Subsequently I had seen other builder use two hatches, either side of the mast.  However, since I don't intend using the flotation chamber for storage, I'm satisfied that the centered position behind the mast will work fine.  I'm working on the assumption that is is only needed for occasional airing of the chamber during off season.

Next was to epoxy and screw on the decks.  I also painted on a second coat of clear epoxy on the undersides of the decks before final assembly.  The camber on the fore deck was too severe for the 1" screws on their own, so some clamps were needed to pull the deck down tight and then the screws were able to keep it there.

Next step was to make up blocks to clamp on the coaming.  There is to my mind a peculiarity in the plans which state to bevel the side deck filler to 15deg and also make the clamping blocks to 15deg, but these block are sited on the foredeck which already has some camber on it, so this results in the coaming flaring out where it sits on top of the foredeck.  I'm not sure if this is by design, but I will wait until I trial fit the finished coamings to decide which has the fairest lines.

I made templates from 1/4" ply.  The plans call for 11 1/2" wide template, but it turrns out you need wider if you want the coaming to cover the side deck filler.  This necessitates a 14" wide board, which would leave quite an amount of waste cutoff.  So I decided to glue up a 10" board like so:

Using John Brooks excellent technique which he describes in his Glued Lapstrake Wooden Boats book of running a router bit between the joint off the one guide, I got a very tight joint, so I am hopeful the glueline will be invisible as I used the cutoff from the same end of the board.

Next job is to resaw this board into 4 1/4" boards.  The coaming can be either steam bent or made from a laminate of two 1/4" boards, so given that I will have a glue joint in the board, that rules out the steam option.


Saturday, 8 March 2014

Hull Turning

I've had a few requests for further explanation on how I turned the hull, while the lead keel was attached.  I had some reservations about doing this - wondering if the hull itself was strong enough to carry the keel upside down - but an email to the designer, John Brooks elicited a swift reply to say that it would be fine.  I had seen where Dave Johnson in his building blog of the SS 12.5 also had taken this approach and Dave also confirmed to me that it was quite straightforward.   So, armed with these encouragements, I decided to take this approach.

To recap, I installed an I-beam spanning wall to wall running perpendicular to the hull.  This carries a rolling beam trolley
onto which I attached a relatively light 1-tonne block and tackle.  This allowed me to lift the lead keel onto the hull by simply letting the chain loop through the centreboard slot in the lead around a short length of flat steel underneath and attaching the eye to itself above the lead keel.  Once, I found the balancing point, the keel was docile and easy to manoeuvre.  I simply lifted it off a small trolley on the ground beside the hull and used the beam trolley to position in directly over the keel on the hull.
 This trolley proved very useful at various stages for manoeuvering the keel, and I am hopeful that I can use it also to wheel the finished boat out from the the garage.

Here you can see the keel being lifted onto the hull, with keel bolts ready, prior to epoxying the keel.  Before setting the keel onto the hull, I placed additional timbers from beam to beam to support the extra weight on the hull.  Once in place, extracting the flat steel plate from underneath the lead keel, I used a garden root cutter to pry the lead off the hull, while spreading the load across the cutting blade. A flat wide spade would probably work just as well.  You need to have some system figured out in order to remove the flat steel, as the weight of the lead will cause damage to the keel, if you try to pry the lead up with a narrow tool.

Next step having secured the keel and faired it into the deadwood, paint the hull etc., was to create a set of slings to support the hull while turning it over.  I used ratchet straps for the slings.

It's quite important to have the fixing points for the slings far enough apart so that when you turn the hull on its side, the narrower profile on its side doesn't allow the hull touch the ground. I have a small loft over the workshop, so I just drilled holes in the loft floor, positioned lengths of timber perpendicular to the joists over the loft floor to run the straps around and back through the holes.  When I first turned the hull around (before the lead was installed), we had quite a hard time, as we had made slings from ropes which were positioned over the hull approx 6ft apart (same size as the beam).  This proved troublesome as the hull dropped too low when on its side.  We were able to manhandle our way out of trouble, but that would not be an option when the lead is installed.  By comparison, I reckon the anchor points for the slings when we made our most successful turn was about 14ft apart, from an 8ft height.  (yes it's a small tight workspace!) On a different occasion we had the slings even wider apart and this also proved difficult as the hull was not inclined to swivel as easily.

Here you can see the hoist having been threaded through the centreboard slot.  To protect the top of the trunk we took a 4ft length of 2x6 stock and drilled a 30mm hole through it.  The chain loop was put through the hole and a length of steel bar placed through the chain loop which then was pulled tight against the 2x6, which in turn rested against the top of the trunk.  The hoist eye was too wide to pass down through the centreboard slot, that's why you can see it looped back onto the chain outside the lead keel.

My friends Brian and Brendan were on hand to help with the turnover - as it transpired they ended up having to complete it themselves, as I rushed off to a forgotten appointment!  No drama, apparently the hull rotated in its slings, while the trolley for the hoist was moved across the I-Beam and locked in place to one side with ViceGrips.  This allowed them to use the hoist to pull the hull around in its slings, and when it reached about 50deg they propped up the lead keel and released the hoist.  Then they reattached the hoist through the centreboard slot from the opposite side, with the following result.

So the secret to stress free hull turning is to bring your friends along, set up the operation and then make some flimsy excuse about having to go to an important appointment!  Come back 2 hours later to find the hull right side up and sitting it its slings!

I should say that the hull seemed completely rigid throughout the operation.  No sign of any damage or scuff marks to the sheerstrakes.  That said, the hull had both its bulkheads fitted as well as the seat lockers, which provide additional torsional strength to the hull.  Similarly, Dave Johnson turned his hull before any interior fit-out without any damage.  Dave told me he had slight scuff marks from the nylon straps.  He used eye bolts in the lead keel, because apparently they were already installed in the keel for lifting it, but he concurred with my approach to thread the chain through the slot.

Once the hull was rights side up, I was able to balance the hull on the chain hoist, remove the straps and push the hull around so that it sat correctly and evenly on my stands - using the design JohnB prescribes in his plans.    When it comes to the time to take the boat out of the workshop, I will deploy the same approach with the hoist and remove the boats stand and replace with my trolley.