Sunday, January 23, 2011

Deck and Rails

Some pressure flattens the slightly warped deck into prosition
Twirl the hull... special thanks to yeoman's work by Jonah -  and off we are to the next phase... installing the deck and rear seat, the "knees" front and back, cutting the upside dagger board slot, gluing the motor mount and, of course, gluing and shaping the rub rails.

First though, I checked the screws of the bottom skids to find that two were not as much counter-sunk as one might have wished. Well, this fix was easy. I simply removed the screws, drilled in a bit more of the counter-sink bit and then reseated the screws. Voila, all is well now.

Rear seat is in place
So, on to the tasks at hand. Sequence is not so important. I installed the seat and deck before the rails. Also, the manual shows installing of the rub rails (two slats in either side) in a single procedure. That seemed a bit much especially since I was not going to get any help. So. I glued the first rail on both sides one evening and then did the second one on the following day. This was suggested as a "less hectic" option by the manual and worked well.

I think that I have to figure out something other than those saw horses. At this point, they make the boat sit a bit too high. I may build myself a much lower saw horse or else try to improvise i.e. jury rig something. Also, since I installed the skeg, I have to bring the saw horse closer toward the center lest the entire boat rock'n roll side to side as though at sea.

Well, not quite so fast, my little nutshell.  You'll get to play in the water before too soon, little rascal! Ha, almost like the babe - in utero - kicking and ready to get out and go. All in due time!

First set of rub rails - tomorrow the second.
Okay now, quasi patiently waiting for the epoxy to cure so that I can get on with the job of making the most perfect rub rail.

... maybe I'll get to watch the Steeler game tonight... surely, my sons would be shocked.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Scraping by the 100 Mark

After two coats of clear epoxy
Back to the outside hull... once again with the able assist of mon capitaine.

Incidentally, shortly before the upside down maneuver, I reached a milestone of sorts! 100 hours of ship-building fun and 100 nitrile disposable gloves. Gosh, I had to buy another box of 100 and I would not be surprise if the entire project also rakes up another 100 hours.

I am guessing that I am about 50% of the way to launch-ready. Of course a lot depends on the desired level of perfection. The last 5% of attaining a nearly perfect boat may require a massive effort. Not sure how far I would want to go in that regard. After all, its not going into a museum but on the water.

The fillets in between the planks are now reasonably smooth.
If I were only building the rowing version, I'd expect to be done quite a bit sooner but spars (mast, boom and yard) each have to be carved out of blanks. Then there is the rudder, the tiller and extension, the dagger board and related blocks and fittings.

Anyway, back to work at hand. At this stage I sand smooth the lap strake edges that were filled up with epoxy paste and then lay on two coats of clear epoxy.

Oh yeah, and I scrape and scrape right through the aforementioned 100 mark! These special epoxy scrapers are invaluable! They arrived from CLC just in the nick of time to save me a bunch of dusty sanding hours. If I had had those at the outset, I might have saved myself a chunk time sanding and cut down on the epoxy dust.

Thinking ahead while waiting for epoxy to cure
NOTE to other "wood-be" stitch-n-glue shipwrights: Unless you already have them, get thyself those scrapers! 

During this upside-down stage, there are several critical steps that do require the willing and able assistance of a second pair of hands. The two new coats of epoxy were readily administered single-handed. If the second coat is applied 24 hours after the first, it is not even necessary to do any sanding. 

Preparing for the installation of the skeg requires attention to detail and precision measurements. An improper placement of the skeg would forever compromise the performance of the boat. This is easier said than done because you are working on a slippery slope.

In order to make the job easier, I cut open the bottom slot of the dagger board box. The manual does not direct to do this until much later but I found it very useful in eye-balling the correct center line which, of course, has to run right over the middle of the slot.

Once the skeg has been fine tuned for a perfect fit, it is time to drill four holes... initially small pilot holes, evenly spaced, from the outside into the hull. This is where the cooperative assistant will be most appreciated - nay: essential. The skeg is held firmly in the correct position while you crawl underneath the hull and then countersink into the pilot holes four screws which become the anchor to lock the skeg in place. After that you need to mix up a nice batch of peanut butter epoxy and create a fine fillet to forever bond skeg to hull. 

When that task has been completed, you basically have to go through a similar maneuver (countersinking four screws each) with the two 40" runners (bottom skids). Essentially these serve the purpose of  protecting the hull when it is beached. After I allowed the fillets to cure for about two hours, I decided to apply a layer of fiberglass roving on top of the skids. Presumably, this will make them extra scuffing resistant. 

The manual does not mention this final step but the CLC on-line slides of the construction of the PMD do show a wide band of roving being laid on top of the skids. The kit does not come with such a ribbon of fiberglass but luckily, I had enough left over from another fiberglass job. I suspect that at some point or another they decided that this was not necessary.

One more layer of epoxy on the skids and skeg and the hull will be turned again. 

Once the seats and rub rails are installed, it'll actually start looking like a little skiff.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Rug Cutting Time

Blue masking tape to ensure a neat, clean epoxy application
Catching up on my progress report...

Yep, the installation of the bulk heads and the center assembly went as planned the day after my previous entry.

I will say that prior to the actual installation of the bulk heads, I measured, test-fitted and re-measured just to be sure that everything lined up and was in the right position, at the right angle. I had no trouble with the dagger board box. It found its way into center line without trouble even though I had feared that this might be problematic since I had detected a 3/8" warp in the trunk... that was even before I glued the assembly together.

I took great pains to make certain that the forward bulk head was positioned such that both the lug-rig mast step and the leading mast support (glued in front of the bulk head) both fit totally snugly. A small deviation would cause the mast to be raked incorrectly.

I am planning to glue into the inside center of the rear transom a support bracket. This is not part of the kit and had to be made with a separate piece of wood. I used my imagination and kept rasping, filing, sanding until it had the perfect fit.

This special bracket was inspired by some comments I read on the PMD Forum. The purpose is not only to provide additional support for the back seat and added strength for a motor mount but more importantly to make the proper installation of the rear seat a lot easier.  A dry run confirmed the point. However at this point we don't install the back seat and the front deck just yet. More work must be done on the bottom and outside of the hull.

I also cut the holes for the inspection ports prior to gluing the bulk heads into position. Making these holes while the bulk head is still very accessible makes a lot more sense to me than (as the manual suggests) cutting the hole while everything is already glued in and a lot more awkward to reach. Actually, I was using a small Bonsai saw to do the job and I am glad that I did not wait with that job because I found it hard enough to cut the curve as it was.

So, around she goes - face down - for the general beautification of her backside. I have actually begun the job, yet much remains to be done.

Full report to come...

Done! Bulk heads and center assembly are glued in place.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

An inside job...

A small batch of roving for extra mast step support
70 hours into the project and boat flipped back over and up, I am ready to do the inside job!

Oh boy, there are so many tasks. So here are the basics steps:
  • Lay down the fiberglass roving and epoxy
  • Fill in all of the copper wire holes
  • Two additional layers of epoxy
  • Make sure to fill all crevices between planks
  • Make inspection port holes in bulkheads
  • Assemble center console with dagger board box
  • Install center assembly
  • Install front and back bulkheads
  • Fix in place with epoxy paste

After the second coat of epox
I opted for several deviations from the manual. For the most part I was guided by suggestions I found on the PMD Forum (see link)
  • Add an extra patch of roving for mast step
  • Make holes for inspection ports prior to installation
  • Pre-drill pilot holes in hull floor and center seat for the dagger board trunk slots- that takes out the guess work later.
  • Start sanding the hull interior prior to installing the bulk heads
  • Bought some mahogany and capped the dagger board trunk front and back.

Test seating: seems to fit quite nicely

Moving right along... (90 hours into project)

This weekend was very productive and I put in two good working days. My wrists ache though from a lot of sanding where the orbital sander did not work.  

NOTE TO SELF: For the next project buy the set of scrapers which allow you to scrape epoxy instead of sanding.

Waiting for the epoxy to cure
Lug rig: install both mast support plus mast step

Preparing for the final assembly of center seat with dagger board box

 Tomorrow evening I should be able to install at least one of the bulk heads... perhaps even the center assembly.

We'll see...

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The outside shell

Okay, I had the luxury of two back to back long weekends and consequently I was able to make good progress.

After turning the hull upside down, I epoxied the seams, removed the wires and fillet the crevices between rabbets and planks as well as plug the wire holes.

Then came the first of the two fiber glass jobs. ...but I'm puzzled as to why we are not glassing the first set of planks as well since that is what the inside job calls for.

Anyway, I stuck to the instructions but, gosh, there certainly was enough roving to cover the adjacent planks.

Since I only covered the center section as directed, I laid out the roving in such a manner as to have a lot of overhand on one side, thereby giving me a nice 12' long chunk of fiber glass roving for any future projects.

Not much to report otherwise. The job was fun and easy.

Wait! One thing I had a bit to trouble with was the removal of some of the wires. Apparently, the epoxy got a number of them stuck and I had to follow the technique of Playing with Fire (recommended in the manual) which struck me as potentially inciting pyromania. Anyway, I did not burn down the house and though the picture in the manual looks quite dramatic, it really is easy and works well.

Now that the transoms have been cleaned up and sanded into alignment with the plank ends, we are ready for an inside job...

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Beware of Prickly Pear

The last several days have called for a certain amount of circumspection around my project. Prickly pears sprouting everywhere or so it seemed! The copper wire sutures have ever so OUCH-spiny ends.

This was a particularly thorny challenge as I was engaging in hand-to-hand combat, cajoling the bulkheads in position and wiring them in place. I finally figured out that in order for the bulkhead ends (tops) to run flush into the gunwale, I had to loosen temporarily a number of the copper ties to give the planks sufficient "breathing room" to expand.

The manual directs "not to obsess" over this task but this stage seemed quite important to me since the planks would soon be glued and become less pliable. Also, I wanted to make absolutely sure that the future mast step would be flush and fair with the forward bulkhead. In fact, when I did a physical check I found that I had to adjust the bottom of the bulkhead to achieve a perfect fit. Clearly, my floor measurement had been a bit - ah - let's call it fuzzy.

With the troublesome transoms subdued and safely tucked into their respective ends and the bulkheads now  secured, it was time to turn the hull around - bottoms up - as it were. A special thank you to Mon Capitaine  for her outstanding assist. (And now - time out for a favorite IPA reward!)

Sip 'n Sigh - Wow! - my project laying there like a giant Saguaro cactus supine in the Sonoran Desert.

After licking my wounds and consoling myself with a cool one, I plucked up my courage and put on my pastry chef hat. Yep - that's right.

Cooking up some special sauce made of epoxy mixed with silica powder into a quasi-runny consistency so that it could be dispensed from a pastry bag (i.e. freezer bag with a snipped hole) into the trough between each of the planks.  This requires just the right touch. One wrong move and the bag gets punctured with glue flowing out everyone. Oh well, clean up and try again.

I soon found out that this was a job for more pokes not only into the pastry bag but also into the gloves and fingers. The solution (duh!) was to flatten and align the copper spikes. Live and learn.

Getting over 60 hours into the project and lovin' it - injuries, success, embarrassment an' all.