28 Mar 11 After several days of putting off cutting out the drawer openings in the forward berth vertical panel, it is finally done. I picked up a pattern cutting router bit (bearing on router side of cutting edge) today at a local hardware store. I used a plywood guide bar attached to the front plywood panel with dry wall screws. I triple checked the cutting lines and made the cuts by moving the guide bar around accordingly. The rounded corners still need to be chiseled out. I think the advantage of this technique is that when the staving is epoxied on to the ply, I can use the cutout to serve as a template for a pattern cutting router bit with the bearing on the cutting edge end. Done this way, the staving edge will exactly match the cut out.
The center span between the drawers is 1 1/2". After the staving is attached and it is trimmed to match the drawer cut outs, I'll add 1/4" thick pencil bead trim which will make the center span 2" wide. My plan is to use mahogany for the rails and styles and a lighter colored wood, such as ash, for the raised panel.
Routers are indespensible for wood work. It's an amazing tool that, with a few jigs and special bits, can be used for all kinds of things. The bit in this picture is a pattern cutting bit. It is straight fluked, carbide tipped, with the bearing between the router and the cutting edge. Just as useful is a straight bit with the bearing on the end of the cutting edge. This is also an excellent technique to make an exact copy of a pre-cut pattern usually make out of thin plywood, e.g. 1/4" thick MDF, tacked or screwed to the wood being cut.
28 Mar 11 "Sometimes you're the bug; sometimes you're the windshield." A very frustrating day. After about 10 gorgeous days the weather went to stink . . . about 45 degrees, windy, and raining for the last couple of days. The SRF is closed back up. The boat is closed back up. The heater is running. Dark and depressing after being teased with spring.
I spent a lot of time hovering around the forward berth today trying to determine how I am going to cut the drawer boxes out of the front vertical panel. The short version is that I need to get the cut-out exactly right because after the staving goes on, the plywood cut-out that will then be underneath the staving will serve as the guide bar for a pattern cutting router bit to trim the staving to exactly the same edge as the plywood. Because the drawer faces will be flush mounted (in-set) drawer fronts the cut-out has to be perfect. The basic plan is to draw the drawer opening on the front panel--which I did today--then use a guide bar to cut it out. Since I can't get the router on the inside of the panel--the dividers are in the way--I need a pattern cutting bit with the bearing on the router side, which I don't have, vice the end of the bit, which I do have. Now I have a reason to buy a couple. So, it will have to wait. Part of the challenge was to determine the height of the drawer boxes which is based on the dovetail jig I use (increments of one inch + 1/4"), e.g. 4 1/2" or 5 1/4", etc. I decided on 7 1/4" depth (top to bottom) for the box. Then I had to allow for 1/4" pencil trim, 1/16" gap all around, and a little extra space above and below the drawer box, etc. Overlay drawers are about 100 times easier but I like inset (flush doors/drawers). It's what I usually make for cabinets in the house but I have always used full extension metal slides. For the boat, the drawer boxes will run on ash cleats. It's trickier and more complicate than overlay drawers/cabinets but very doable. Most boats have overlay doors for lot's of good reasons--easier to build, less issues with swelling, etc. Nothing wrong with them. But, flush doors, to my eye, are more elegant. Simple but elegant is part of our vision besides I need to find more ways to make the project more difficult . . . much too easy so far. I could use a face frame but not here. I'll do that in the galley where I think it will look better.
Some good news is that my 5/4 quartersawn walnut to be used for the cabin sole is ready. Ken Elliot cut if for me last fall at his sawmill and stacked it to air dry in his barn. It's been air drying for seven months. He has been great to work with. His saw is set up on his farm in near Winston-Salem, NC. When I talked to him today he told me he has some ash he wants me to look at too. I'll need ash for the horizontal surfaces (counters, chart-table, saloon table, etc. I've been thinking I might use ash for the the raised panel cabinet doors and drawer faces if I go that way. He has some huge ash pieces which would work well for a sculling oar or whisker pole if I decide to do that. I also have a neighbor with a kiln who will complete the drying process for the walnut but I probably won't be able to get it into the kiln for a couple more weeks. Then it will be in the kiln for about three weeks so it won't be ready till the middle of May. I won't lay the walnut down for the majority of the cabin sole for awhile but I do need it under the galley and in the head to tackle those projects.
I ran down a couple of leads for some more bronze hardware and talked to Port Townsend Foundry today regarding the gammon iron. They are ready to cast and are waiting for some materials to arrive from the supplier. As soon as the gammon iron arrives, work on the interior will stop. I'll fair the gammon iron with thickened epoxy so it fits properly on the bow/stem and then prep the boat for painting the topside, cabin sides, cockpit, etc. Not sure when I will paint the non-skid but not before I have solved the hardware placement which comes later. Still have not decided on prism lights but I am seriously considering it.
27 Mar 11 I was able to get several things done over the last few days. Nothing gigantic but progress nonetheless. This afternoon I spent some time laying down a temporary cabin sole in the passageway though the head. I was tired of stepping on the last remaining exposed floor beams as I traversed back and forth between the forward cabin and the saloon. I also wanted to use up some scrap 3/4" birch plywood that has been using valuable space in the garage. I laid 3/4" blocks on the floor beams and then laid out some doorskin strips and fastened them together with a hot glue gun. I didn't have enough wood but the purpose was just to create a safe path through the boat. So, I lined up some strips of plywood under the pattern, traced what I could fit, cut it out and installed it. Just in the little bit I walked across it this afternoon it made a big difference. It also made the head compartment look a little smaller.
I also secured cleats to both sides of the divider that I installed a couple of days ago. This particular divider provides support the double berth and serves as the aft end of what will be the "cabinet" box for the drawers that will be installed in the vertical face panel of the double berth. The drawers can only extend about 16" before they hit the starboard side main saloon bulkhead. Because they are not full extension slides--they will ride on ash cleats--they will end up being about 20'-22" long and only extend about 3/4 of their length. I'll install a rear panel to this drawer cabinet to prevent other items stored in the compartment from interfering with the drawers. Essentially, it will be it's own little drawer compartment. It is a waste of space and not very efficient but sometimes you just need to have a couple of drawers and this seemed the best place to put them.
The bigger project was getting the aft divider for the anchor locker installed. This was not particularly difficult but it took longer than I would have liked due to family obligations so I spaced it out over two days. After making the template I laid it on a piece of 1/2" okume plywood. After I cut out the divider I went back and forth from the boat to the shop a few times trimming it and getting a good fit. It required a 28 degree angle cut on the sides. When I was satisfied with the fit I used my pencil compass to scribe a line 3/8" from the outer edge then took the divider back to the shop. I used the jig saw to cut this part off the divider and provide room for the 3/8" thick closed cell foam spacer. I cut the foam spacer with 45 degree angles on both sides on my table saw. For a long time I used a serrated knife to cut closed cell foam but the table saw works much better and leaves a very smooth surface.
Next, I used my power planer to remove 1/16" of ply about 2" wide on the aft side of the diver so the tape would lay flush with the surface of the ply. This makes it easier to apply the mahogany staving. Since the forward face will not have staving on it--you can't see it and it would only make the locker smaller--I did not plane that side. I sealed the edge grain with two coats of unthickend epoxy and left it to cure over night. I then cleaned up the table I use for wetting out biaxial and cut some more sheet plastic. I precut 4" wide biaxial tape so I would be ready to go the first thing the next day. I also sanded the fiberglass surface in the boat where the tape would lay as part of the preparation. I vacuumed the dust up and performed a thorough acetone wash down.
Next morning, with everything set up it was a simple task to contact cement the foam wedge spacer onto the edge of the plywood that had been sealed the day before. With the clamping system in position I test fit it one more time. I did a final acetone wipe down, wet out the hull where the 4" wide tape would lay as well as the plywood, and then wet out the biaxial tape. It only took about 10 minutes to lay the tape down--a single strip on each side port and starboard and on the front and aft sides of the divider. About two hours later I used a box cutter to trim the edges of the tape that extended past the top and bottom edge of the divider. It is a hundred times easier to trim the biaxial when it is green than went it is cured.
24 Mar 11 Yesterday I started working on the support/divider for the forward end of the double berth. It also serves as the aft divider for the anchor locker. An explanation is in order. The current plan is to incorporate 240' of 5/16" HT galvanized chain as the cable for our primary anchor, a 45lb CQR. The chain weighs about 210 lbs not to mention the anchor and the bronze ABI windlass. There is no denying that it's a lot of weight. "Excessive" weight in the bow of the boat--or stern for that matter--can adversely affect trim, which can usually be mitigated, but more importantly it can cause the boat to "hobby horse." A little hobby horsing is not necessarily bad. It softens the rise and fall of the boat and reduces the sharp fatiguing jerk lighter displacement boats often have especially when the majority of the weight is centered in the middle of the boat. Centering the weight is usually good for performance but can be tough on the crew . . . modus omnibus in rebus (everything in moderation). The real question for us; what is excessive? Don't know. But we have some wiggle room to move the chain a little further aft than the normal "stock" CD 36 position which is forward of the forward bulkhead. You can see the forward most bulkhead in the photo below right (it's the one with the big cut out).
When planning the forward cabin double bunk I removed a small wardrobe closet on the port side aft of the V-berth. It was about 14" wide. We have another huge wardrobe closet opposite the head. How many do you need on a 36' boat? The answer for us was one, so I removed the small one. That allowed the foot (aft end) of the double berth to be moved aft 14 inches, which allows us to create a new chain locker aft of the forward bulkhead and just forward of the head of the double berth. The new chain locker with be about 47" wide, 15" front to back, and 24" deep. The old anchor locker will have the Sampson post (part of the new bowsprit design) coming down through the deck and bolting on to the forward side of the stock positioned forward bulkhead. Besides forcing the chain to go even further forward (it would be entirely above and forward of the waterline) it would also push it on to the bob stay backing plate and nuts--a minor problem. But, more importantly, the chain would be so far forward that it would be very difficult to get to in the event of an entanglement or jam during weighing or setting the anchor. By installing a more open chain locker aft of the forward bulkhead, the chain can drop straight down and be quickly accessed should there be a problem. The chain locker will be fitted with a padded waterproof "catch-bag" secured to the hull. This will provide protection to the hull interior and allow a drain system to be incorporated that will take any water aft, through a dedicated drain line all the way the bilge sump. Like the Pardeys we will rig a "spray curtain" to protect the double berth from flying water during anchoring.
The double berth will be about 55" wide (at the widest point) and about 6'6" long . . . nearly 8' on the diagonal. There are some pros and cons to this design but we think the former outweighs the latter. Some may ask why not go with a chain/nylon cable combination. A fair question. We feel more comfortable with an all chain primary cable if we can make it work efficiently and reliably. There are advocates for both systems. I think either will work provided good seamanship and a proper set up.
To get an idea of how much space 240ft of HT chain will occupy I used the old forward water tank, as a mock-up, that closely resembles the shape of the area we have to work with. I cut the top off the tank (it had a hole in it), built a simple support frame, and headed to West Marine. They kindly allowed me to pull 240 ft of 5/16" HT chain out of the barrel and load it into the mock up to see what it looks like. It was not as bad as I thought (see the top right photo).
With that info I built a doorskin template of the proposed divider this morning (see bottom right photo). The rest of the day was consumed by personal business. Tomorrow I'll cut the divider from 1/2" ply and, with some luck, epoxy tape it in position.
240 feet of 5/16' HT chain.
The template for the anchor locker divider clamped in place.
23 Mar 11 For the last couple of days I've been working on the forward double bunk. We have been thinking about adding some drawers since we don't have plans for them anywhere else in the boat at the moment. They are usually a huge waste of space. Since the head compartment is taken up with the sitz tube, the head, and perhaps a sink there is not a lot of room for cabinets or storage in there. We thought we should have a couple of drawers for convenience close to the head even if it cost us some space. So, we covered the forward berth vertical panel with brown paper and drew them on it. We liked what we saw. I took a day to think about how to build them . . . measuring, sketching, reading some cabinet-making books, and comparing with cabinets I have built in the past. I decided it required two dividers be installed the appropriate distance apart that would match the outside diameter of the drawer box itself. In this case, 15 inches. It was not an efficient way to divide up the compartment but it seemed the best way to build the drawer support system and protect the drawers from loose stuff in the storage area under the forward berth from interfering with them. It will also stiffen of the whole assembly.
I built templates from doorskin and a hot glue gun. I test clamped them in place. I sealed the edges with epoxy. When I was ready, I used contact cement to glue on the foam wedge between the divider and the hull and then clamped the divider in place. I used a single piece of 6" wide 17.8 biaxial wetted out with West Systems epoxy on each side of the divider. I installed the forward divider two days ago and the aft one today. For the aft one, I cut back to 4" wide biaxial and that seems to be enough. Tim Lackey suggested to me that a single layer on each side was sufficient for non structural things like dividers. I have to work at overcoming my desire to apply multiple layers. But, strong enough is strong enough and there is no sense making the boat heavier than it needs to be.
I spent the rest of the day sorting out how to attack the forward support for the bunk and how it will tie into the anchor locker that will be install "aft" of the forward most bulkhead. I'd like to get 240' of 5/16" chain out of the nose of the boat if possible.
19 Mar 11 I was busy today but was only able to do a little work on the boat. It started off with my 11 year old daughter waking me up. As I looked at her with one eye open standing by the bed she handed me a cup of coffee and said, "Dad, let's go fishing." She is an early riser. She had checked the tides, pulled the Sweet Pea out, loaded it with fishing rods, life jackets, oars, cast net, and snacks. How can you say no to that kind of initiative. So, we went fishing. We got skunked but we had a fine time together.
When we got back it was time to epoxy tape the panel in place. It went smooth. I cut the panel out yesterday after making a doorskin template. I beveled the one end that fits against the bulkhead so it fits flush with the vertical cleat. The cleat is also beveled at 35 degrees. The curved edge of the panel is beveled 30 degrees to fit the sloping hull. I planed the edges and sealed the bottom edge with epoxy last night. So, all I had to do today was cut the foam and contact cement it to the plywood, clamp it in place, and check it for fit. I glued and screwed the bulkhead edge to the cleat I installed yesterday and then taped both sides with a single piece of 6" wide 17.8 biaxial tape and West Epoxy. It looks good and it's great to get it installed. It will need at least one, if not two, dividers. The front face will eventually be covered with mahogany staving.
I spent a little time this afternoon milling a test piece of Juniper (Atlantic White Cedar) to see if it will work for bunk boards. This is super light wood. I ran one side of the 5/4 test piece over the jointer, then planed the other side. Next I resawed it with a thin kerf blade and then ran the resawn edges back through the planer. I was hoping for 1/2" thick but the best I could do was 15/32." Close enough for bunk boards. The test piece came out nice. Too bad I need to varnish them as they smell terrific.
It feels good to look forward and see the double berth vertical panel in place.
17 Mar 11
The Unknown Unknowns: Another Perspective
This is a website about rebuilding a sailboat, not politics.But, bear with me . . . .
Back in 2002, then Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld uttered his famous quote about the “known knowns.” The pundits and the comedians had a grand time with it. “There are known knowns; there are things we know we know.We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know.But there are also unknown unknowns – the ones we don't know we don't know.”
Now don’t get all worked up.As I said, this is not about politics. To the uninitiated the above statement sounds convoluted and, perhaps, even bizarre.But military planners understood exactly what he was saying and of course having spent many years as a planner in the Marine Corps I intuitively understand the difficulty of getting one’s arms around difficult operations.Though I am not suggesting the administration planned either wisely or unwisely, it was, and remains, a very valuable tool, among many others, to initiate planning for complex operations.These word categories are often used to capture all we know and don’t know about a particular situation to start forming options that serve as the basis for operational design; what we know we know; what we know we don’t know; and what we don’t know that we don’t know. Sounds crazy doesn’t it.But it works as a tool to start the planning process.
So what does this have to do with boat building?I submit it captures perfectly the essence of boat building (or rebuilding) especially when it is being undertaken by an inexperienced builder.The first two categories are kind of common sense and easy to get your arms around—what do we know we know and what do we know we don’t know.I deal with this every day on the Far Reach.Projects that fall into these two categories are generally easy to sort out—review and assess your previous experience, conduct research, ask questions, make a plan, and execute.But, the last category, we don’t know what we don’t know (the unknown unknowns), is the real danger, the 800 lb gorilla if you will.I always hated this phrase as a military planner and would tell my action officers that when we say “we don’t know what we don’t know” it essentially means we haven’t done our homework, we aren’t professional or competent enough to understand what we are doing, that we are stumbling forward blindly, and it’s unacceptable. We can accept known unknowns (you never have perfect information) but not unkown unkowns.We simply must know all the essential questions that must be considered, even if we can’t determine all the answers.As the historian Jay Luvas once said, “You can’t do anything about your 50 year old body, but there is no excuse for not having a 5000 year old mind.”
Well, a few days ago during a morning workout I was musing about where I was with the rebuild of the Far Reach.I found myself lamenting some of the difficulties I was having at the moment and how much there was still left to do.It then occurred to me how much I had accomplished so far.As I thought back over some of the projects I began to wonder if I would do it again.I was forced to admit that it has been more work than I had anticipated (sometimes it seems as though it will never end).For the inexperienced, ripping out the fiberglass headliner, glassing in the propeller aperture, tearing off the toe-rail and glassing the hull deck joint together, and gutting the interior and designing and installing a new interior sound simple when you say them.But actually completing them is anything but simple.It occurred to me that when I first picked up that wrecking bar and we began gutting the boat I simply did not really understand how big a project this was (my 50 year old mind was on vacation and a 5000 year old mind was nowhere to be found).And, for those without the resolve of a junk-yard dog, running into obstacles like these could be a show stopper.It is a well know fact that there are countless half-completed boat projects laying abandoned in back yards across the country because the owners underestimated the amount of resources and time required, got overwhelmed, and gave up.God bless ‘em for trying.
But, my thinking about the unkown unkowns has changed a little since my days as a military planner.Maybe, just maybe, if one is truly determined, not knowing how difficult and time consuming a project really is, might just be a blessing in disguise.In other words, if we knew how hard it would be, we would never start.But then, of course, if it was never started, it could not be completed.And where would we be then?Maybe we would consider ourselves fortunate . . . but then again, maybe we would be just another forlorn sailor dreaming about what could have been . . . watching our dreams slip away with the passing of time like so much sand running through our fingers.And so I have reconsidered.Maybe a few unknown unknowns are essential to picking up that wrecking bar . . . .
16 Mar 11 For the last few days I have been working on installing the beams that will support the bunk board for the pilot berths. Most berths have plywood screwed down to cleats along the edge of the dividers installed between the hull and either the back of the settees (if the boat has pilot berths) or to the backside of the face of the settee if they double as berths. It's a good solid well proven installation. But, it can be inconvenient. You have to wrestle the cushions up and then you lift the cut-out hatches in the ply wood top to gain access. The cut-outs, at least the ones I have dealt with, are always small and it's just plain cumbersome to find what you are looking for. The space under the pilot berths on the Far Reach will provide a whole lot of storage but we need to be able to access it easily. Instead of the aforementioned plywood top method I installed beams that will be spanned with 6" wide 1/2" thick planks divided half way along the length of the berth. The cushions will be divided in the across the middle of the berth as well. To gain access, lift and slide one cushion onto the other. Then lift a plank up and stack it on the adjacent plank--as many as necessary--to gain full access to the locker. This is the same system that Lin and Larry Pardey use on Taleisin. I think it's a very clever system.
After installing the cleats on each end of the pilot berths I clamped strong backs the length of the berths (two for each berth). Then I epoxied two small "knees" to the hull--on top of the mini-ribs that support the ceiling strips--and clamped them in place. I fillited them and then laid on a single piece of 17.7 biaxial and let them cure over night. Next I cut 1X2 African Mahogany beams to span from the "knees" to the inside vertical face of the settee back. After that I cut 1X1 1/2" cleats from Douglass Fir to be installed vertically from the bottom edge of the settee back to the inside edge of the beam. Then I took the beams out of the boat and cut half-lap joints in the beams and the cleats. This allows the weight of the beams to be supported by the cleats while the cleats further stiffen the backs of the settees. I did not make the half-laps flush. I let each side stand a little proud because I did not want to cut the beams down too much and weaken them. It seemed to me they would be stronger this way. . . .probably way stronger than they need to be. Once I was satisfied every thing fit nice and tight, I drilled for 1/2" bolts to attach the beams to the knees. Then I glued and screwed the cleats to the back of the settees. I will drill a hole through the half laps for similar bolts but I my drill won't fit close enough to the settee back to get the hole in the right place. If I'd been thinking I would have drilled the holes before I glued the cleats in place. I figure I was lucky to get his far without a major foul up so I will just have to buy a new tool to drill the hole. What a tough break!
13 Mar 11 A couple of weeks ago ago I noticed a little rot on the bottom of the main bulkhead. To say I was not happy is an understatement. I was surprised that I only now discovered it. It was down low where the bottom of the bulkhead was tabbed to the hull . . . and buried under the fiberglass tabbing. This is another one of those sloppy installations from the factory that cause unnecessary problems later. The plywood bulkhead reached deep into the bilge area and was tabbed all the way across from the side of the hull to the mast step. There was no limber hole!! And, to make matters worse, this was the head compartment area. I don't even want to get started on what a bad idea it is to take a shower in an open compartment that has only Formica faced bulkheads for protection but that's what people do. The grey water also drained into the bilge . . . another bad idea. What to do? Well I probed the area and mused on it for a few days. The rot was limited to the bottom six inches--all below the cabin sole level. So, after some thought and consultation with someone I trust I cut off the bottom eight inches and made a nice smooth flush edge with a router. Then, I took my power planer and cut the one exposed forward face back 3/16" deep and 3" wide.
Next, I used some doorskin to build a template of the part of the bulkhead I cut out which then I transferred to a piece of 1/2" ply. Then, after thinking about it some more I used the ply as a template to transfer the shape to a piece of 1/2" G10. Because the bulkhead head is separated from the floor beam about 1/2" I decided it would be stronger if I tied to two together. So, I cut a piece of 1/2" Iroko which is very rot resistant (nearly as much as teak) and trimmed it till to fit exactly between the floor beam and the G10 causing the forward face of the G10 to be perfectly flush with the forward edge of the planed surface of the bulkhead. I cut a piece of closed cell foam as a wedge between the bottom edge of the G10 and the hull to protect the hull and aid in creating a nice radius for the biaxial to bend across. When I was satisfied everything fit correctly, I heated the bottom edge of the remaining bulkhead up with UV lamps. When the wood was very warm, I brushed on neat epoxy and shut the lights to let the wood cool and create a capillary effect to pull the epoxy into the edge grain and deep into the plywood. Then, I epoxied the Iroko to the floor beam and the G10 to the Iroko and the bottom edge of the bulkhead. I used epoxy thickened with 406 and piled it on so it squished out when I clamped everything together. Then I let it kick. Once it was just tacky I laid on three layers of 17.7 biaxial to create a nice flush surface on the bulkhead. This will make it easier to cover with the Mahogany staving. I tabbed both sides of the G10 to the hull. It is very strong and will never rot. I was pleased with how it came out. The picture to the left shows the wedge, the G10, and the flush fit of the epoxy layers.
11 Mar 11 A busy week. Last night I finished installing the settee backs, pilot berth foot divider panels, and the dividers between the forward end of the settee and the sideboard on the port side and settee and the heater compartment on the starboard side. This was a lot more work than I anticipated but it turned out well I think. I worked hard to have everything fit properly--square and plumb, dados for the dividers, flush rabbet cuts for epoxy tape, drain holes for condensation, and epoxy sealing where necessary.
Below are photos that tell some of the story. The first problem began when I bought the boat . . . just kidding . . . when we decided the compartment for the heater box needed to be a little smaller. So, in order to move the divider forward I had to scarf on a 2" wide extension on to the front end of the starboard settee locker bottom. That made both settees 60" long. Even though the two settees are slightly staggered, due to the bulkheads being staggered, it looks much better. Scarfing the piece on was a fair amount of work but worth it I think. Next, I removed the settee backs, that had been temporarily held in place, and cut dados for the back edge of the dividers and also cut 1/16" deep and 3" wide rabbets with the planer along the bottom edge on both sides . . . 3" on the inside face and 2" wide on the outside. Having the tape lie flush will make it is easier to apply the vertical staving when the ply has a smooth face and also when I install sub dividers inside the settee lockers and under the pilot berths. I also cut slots, with a slot cutter on my router table to ensure proper alignment between the pilot berth divider panels, to be attached on the top edge of the settee back. At the time I also cut and fit the two upper panels to be attached to the settee back top edge. I made splines to fit in the slots and marry up the two pieces of plywood. I thought about using a biscuit cutter but I don't always get the alignment I am looking for with a slot cutter. The splines lined them up perfectly. Then I cut rabbets with the planer along the edges where they joined to provide a recessed surface for the biaxial tape.
I used foam wedges under the edge of the settee backs, not so much to prevent "hard spots, but because it would elevate the edge-grain of the ply and create a more uniform bend to the biaxial tape. To allowed for a few drain holes along the bottom edge of the settee backs, I cut the foam out in a few places so water (condensation when running the heater in cold climates) would have a place to go. Before the epoxy tape was fully cured I cut the tape were the gaps in the foam were and filled the space under the edge and between the tape on the two sides with thickened epoxy leaving little rectangular holes and smoothed them out so water could drain from behind the lockers into the holes I cut last summer in the outer edges of locker bottoms. The holes will allow any condensation that forms along the hull to make its way into the bilge. After I epoxied the settee backs in place I checked the fit of the dividers. Satisfied with the lower ones I scribed the top panels to fit against the not very plumb forward bulkheads--I don't think anything Cape Dory installed was level, square, or plumb . . . though maybe it does not matter on a boat. The upper panels serve as a divider between the pilot berth and a book shelf to be built over the sideboard on the portside and between the pilot berth foot and the heater compartment on the starboard side (see the drawings in the photo section of the 28 Feb 11 entry below). The starboard divider is a safety issue to prevent bedding from being kicked off onto a hot heater and catching fire.
The tabbing was pretty straight forward. I screwed a temporary strong-back in place to make sure the upper panels stayed plumb after I taped them in place. All tabbing was done with a single layer of 17.7oz layer of biaxial: 6" wide on the inside of the settee back; 4" wide on the outside; 4" wide inside and outside where the panels join the settee back; and 3" wide biaxial where the top of the panels are tabbed to the underside of the deck.
I can't install the settee fronts until I add more staving on the aft end of the two dividers as the cleats will be fastened to the staving. All in all, a good week.
Settee backs, pilot berth, and heater and sideboard dividers are installed
28 Feb 11 I am ready for the boat to start shrinking inside. I have been waiting a long time for the boat to start shrinking inside. I welcome it! Today we made a little progress towards that end.
I began by installing cleats on both sides of the settee back dividers. I test fit the settee backs again. I temporarily screwed in the starboard side settee back. I measured and built templates for the bulkheads that separates the heater compartment from the settee on the starboard side and the sideboard from the settee on the portside. I cut out the patterns and test fit them in place. I let both of them run wild. The one on the starboard side will be cut down quite a bit (see the drawing below) but I don't want to do that till I have decided how they will be attached.
I was unable to decide how to attach these two small bulkheads. Do I dado the settee backs for them to fit into or use cleats or both? If I use cleats how will I hide them or blend them in to the mahogany staving, yet to be installed, so as not to draw attention to them. I'll muse on that this evening. Maybe the answer will come to me.
27 Feb 11 Today I made the pattern for the port side settee back. I made it the same way as I made the one for the starboard side (see 23 Feb 11 entry). This time I took a picture. After cutting the settee back out of 1/2" BS 1088 I test fit it. I cut some foam for wedges to place under the bottom edge of the settee back when I epoxy tape it in place. Then, after more measuring I removed both settee backs, held in place with clamps, and trimmed the dividers level. To do this I used a plywood straight edge clamped in place and checked for level. Then I used a small roto-zip with a flush cut router pattern cutting bit (with a guide bearing on the end). I usually use a more powerful router but the space was small and the roto-zip worked well. After that I spent some time in the wood shop gathering the wood I will used for cleats . . . mahogany if it will be seen and Douglass Fir if it won't be seen.
26 Feb 11 In order to build dividers that would support the back of the settees I needed to build a proper pattern. There are lots of different ways to make them. Some folks like to use a "joggle" stick. I have not used one but will at some point. Because I had to keep everything on a single line I thought the doorskin pattern would work well. I clamped two of my modified "square and level" 2x4s cut to the correct length to fit between the bulkheads and clamped them to the cleats that I installed a few days ago and which support the settee backs. I checked to make sure they were level and plumb. Then it was just a matter of using the hot glue gun and strips of doorskin that I cut with tin snips to make the pattern. I made sure it would be a little taller than necessary so I could cut it level after it is installed.
When I was satisfied with the pattern, I laid it on 1/2" BS 1088, and made tick marks at the end of each pointed "stick." Then I connected the dots with a pencil. I cut the pattern out with a jig saw and test fit it in place. I had earlier decided to install it on one of the glassed over foam "ribs" used to support ceiling strips along the hull that was exactly halfway between the bulkheads. I test fit the pattern and used the hot glue gun to make little brackets on the 2x4s to hold the dividers in place. I used my power planer to run a 1/16" deep rabbit cut along both sides of the divider so the tape would lay flush. I then vacuumed the area, did a thorough acetone wash down, and brushed on slightly thickened epoxy on the hull and laid a 6"wide strip of wetted out 17.7 biaxial over the rib to reinforce it. I used a squeegee to remove any air bubbles. Next, I sealed the edge of the plywood divider with epoxy and positioned it in place. I mixed up well thickened epoxy and made fillets on both sides of both dividers. Then I gave it about 45 minutes to start to firm up. Next, I took the pre-measured and cut 6" wide biaxial strips, wetted them out, and laid a single piece on each side of the divider.
23 Feb 11 I tried to get right back to work on the inside of the boat after shipping the gammon iron pattern off to PTF. I spent some more time measuring, which is what I always do when I worry. Measure it again. Look at the drawings. Measure it again. Ha. Anyway, I decided to use mahogany cleats if they will be seen. I have some scrap 1"x1" so it they work just fine. The cleats at the forward end of the pilot berths (the foot) extend to the deck overhead because there will be about a 16" wide panel there that comes down and will be scarfed into the top edge of the settee back. Staving will cover it so it should look seamless. Click here to see drawings of the basic layout. On the other end, the cleat only has to only be long enough to support the settee back. I cut the cleats, measured and drilled the holes, countersunk them, and routered the visible edge with a 1/4" round-over bit. Then I installed them. When I am sure I won't have to remove them for some reason, I will plug all the holes in the cleats. Everything will get varnished.
Next I took a couple of 2x4s that I have run over the jointer and through the planner several times over the last year to keep them nice and straight. I clamped them to the cleats to make sure everything was lined up plum, level, and square to the centerline.
After that I used a pice of 1/8" doorskin plywood to make a pattern for the settee back. I cut it to basically fit between the cleants but not reach the hull. This would be the foundation for the pattern. I used 1/2" stips of plywood between the cleats and the doorskin to offset the face of the doorskin to the same place the real 1/2" ply will be position. Otherwise the doorskin pattern would not be in the same spot as the inboard edge of the 1/2 ply sette back would be. Make sense? Then I used a hot glue gun to attach little strips of doorskin ply to the doorskin foundation to just touch the hull (I don't have a picture of this but will post one later). When I was satisfied I removed the pattern and laid it out on 4x8 sheet of 1/2" BS 1088 Okume ply. I made tick marks with a pencil where the pointers were and connected the dots. I checked the angle of the hull from vertical with a bevel guage and dialed that in on my jigsaw. Then carefully reviewing which way the pattern was laid and which way the angle needed to be beveled on the 1/2" plywood I cut the pattern out. I smothed the edges with a block plane and clamped it in place, made sure it was level and plumb, and checked for fit.
It dawned on me pretty quick that I needed to install the support piece for the back of the settee before I could go any further.
19 Feb 11 I spent the last two plus weeks building the pattern for the gammon iron. Since I have never built a pattern for a bronze casting this was slow tedious work. The result was a daily battle of inches instead of miles. So, I decided to wait to post the project to the website until it was complete.
The pattern will be used by Port Townsend Foundry to cast a custom designed silicon bronze gammon iron (or gammoning iron if you prefer). The gammon iron is a metal fitting attached to the deck at the stem head that the bowsprit passes through. Usually, the tack of the staysail is secured to a tang on the top of the gammon iron. That is how this one is designed as well. The gammon iron is essential to mounting a removable and more conventional and slightly longer round tapered bowsprit. The original plank style bowsprit was bolted through the deck and could not be inspected without a huge and often destructive effort. In fact, the original bowsprit was through bolted in eight places to a mild steel backing plate (another one of those odd Cape Doryisms that defy reasonable explanation). The backing plate was pretty rusted due to water intrusion through the bolt holes and through a gap in the hull-deck joint at the top of the stem. I removed the bowsprit and the backing plate in the early phase of the rebuild. Click here to get the background on that project. The new bowsprit will start off square with the heel set into a solid wood sampson post about 4 1/2' abaft the stem-head. As the bowsprit passes through the gammon iron (at the stem-head) it will become round and taper to the end where a bronze kranze iron will be fitted over the end. The head-stay, bob-stay, and whisker-stays all terminate at the kranze iron. The new bowsprit will be relatively easy to remove and be about 18-21 inches longer than the original bow sprit but weigh about the same. The new gammon iron will allow the terminal end of staysail stay to move forward the same distance the headstay moves forward. The longer conventional style bowsprit will provide a better mount for the manual windlass, a proper lead for the anchor chain, help to reduce weather helm, increase sail area, and slightly reduce headsail sheeting angles.
As I said, I have never built a pattern for a bronze casting . . . and this one was complicated for a beginner. It was slow going. Pete Langley, founder and owner of PTF, was wonderfully generous with his time patiently walking me through the many steps and monitoring my work through pictures I emailed to him. The type of casting that will be used to make the gammon iron is called the "loose sand, method. This type of pattern is called a "split pattern." One side is called the drag while the other side is called the cope. A very brief overview of the steps are explained in the text associated with the below photos. For more information about pattern-making and metal casting click on the pdf file to the right. The document was produced by Port Townsend Foundry.
In between work on the gammon iron I applied a couple of more coats of varnish to the cabin sides. One of the coats came out poorly and I had to sand, and sand, and sand to fix it. It was quite a bit of fun. The most current coat developed very tiny bubbles shortly after it was laid on. This is only on the cabin sides and not the staving. Not sure what is causing this. I have done some research and there are lot of different views. It's not the wood. It started with the fourth coat. It is definitely not the brush or roller. I don't think it is the temp. I vacuumed the night before, did an alcohol wipe down that night and again the next morning. I led the application with a good quality tack rag. Hmmmmm . . . . this is a mystery. Epifanes says it sounds like dust. I am not so sure but I have some time to sort it out. I changed mineral spirits though (I add a capful to 10 oz of varnish. So maybe I should go back to the other mineral spirits.
All that is left to do is add the styrooam peanuts, the top slotted wood panel, the styrofoam top, tape it up and mail it to the foundry.
30 Jan 11 Today I applied the third coat of Epifanes High Gloss Varnish. I started off by performing a final wipe down with denatured alcohol to eliminate any dust that found it's way back on to the wood since last night. It was 62 degrees on the cabin sole and probably about 70-75 at head level. Overall, it went pretty smoothly. I probably used about 20 oz of varnish. I thinned it about 5-10 percent but to be honest I probably did not need to thin the third coat. I used only a 2" badger hair brush to apply the varnish. I applied the varnish across the grain, vertical strokes, to the cabin sides then tipped horizontally. I applied it vertically to the staving. I focused on getting good coverage, working quickly, and keeping a wet edge. When I finished I applied a third coat to the tiller.
I would like to try some of the Jenn-Mar foam brushes just to gain some experience so I can decide for myself which works best for me, though it occurred to be while I was brushing on the varnish today that I will likely require a bristle brush to apply varnish to the "V" groove.
I am pleased with how it looks as of this evening. I did not see any obvious sags or holidays. It is much more glossy looking than after the second coat. Tomorrow I will sort out whether I will apply a fourth coat now or start working on the interior and apply the rest of the coats later on.
29 Jan 11 The interior varnish in the Far Reach was not ready sand yesterday due to the cold night time temperatures so no varnish was applied. But, because I am working on the tiller in the spare room over the garage it was ready for sanding and a second coat of vanish which I undertook and completed yesterday. Afterwards, I spent several hours writing out all the steps necessary to build the core master, core box, and pattern for casting the bronze gammon iron and making some rough drawings of the different phases for that project. I also ordered the Repro 83 Blue plastic resin used to pour the mold for the core box. I'll post a separate entry for gammon iron project when I get further along.
Today, I sanded the staving and the cabin sides in preparation for the third coat of varnish. I started off with a rubber sanding block, same as I used last time, on the cabin sides. But, when I started sanding the staving I decided to switch to a narrower wood block that seemed to do a better job as the rubber block is wider than any single piece of staving and I seem to get more even coverage with the narrower block. I used 220 grit abrasive as before. It took nearly four hours to sand, vacuum, and do a thorough wipe down with denatured alcohol. If the weather is good tomorrow, I'll apply the third coat of varnish.
Below are a few more pictures after the second coat of varnish was applied. I think it looks great. As I mentioned before, the wavier grained staving, installed on the outboard side of the bulkheads, will mostly be concealed behind book shelves and other furniture. All the rest of the mahogany set aside for the remaining staving is straight quarter sawn A. Mahogany, the same as I installed on the inboard edges of the bulkheads. I am pleased with the color and finish. I have enjoyed this phase of the rebuild and I continue to learn a lot. My next boat will be much easier . . . ha! Not. I'll be too busy sailing!!
27 Jan 11 The day before I left for Virginia, last week, I applied the first coat of varnish. I prepared the surfaces by sanding them with 120, 150, and finally, 180 grit abrasive paper. I was pretty aggressive with the hardwoods but I only used 180 grit on the mahogany plywood as I did not want to abrade through the veneer. After sanding, I vacuumed using a soft hair vacuum brush attachment and then performed a wipe down with denatured alcohol. The next day, I thinned the Epifanes high gloss varnish on a 1:1 ratio--varnish and pure mineral spirits (I checked with the Epifanes tech rep about using mineral spirits and he said it would work fine). After stirring it thoroughly, I laid it on quick and easy with a 15 year old 2" wide badger hair brush. The next day I left for Virginia.
This past Monday, the day after I returned, I just relaxed and recuperated. On Tuesday, 25 Jan it rained all day. I spent the day sanding the first coat of varnish I previously applied. I sanded the mahogany surfaces with a rubber sanding block and 220 grit paper. I was careful to sand with the grain. For the bevels, I used a six inch long 1"x1" rectangular wooden block cut with 90 degree sq corners. I wrapped the sanding paper around it and ran it up and down the bevels gently. It took about three hours of light sanding to properly sand the staving and plywood cabin top sides. I vacuumed and then did a through wipe-down with denatured alcohol and lent free rags.
On Wednesday, 26 Jan it rained again but it did not matter since we took the day off for some family time.
Today, the sun was out and the SRF warmed up. I removed the covers from the port holes to improve ventilation. I was able to work in a T-shirt. I started off by doing another wipe down with denatured alcohol and then applied the second coat of varnish. This time, I cut the varnish 25 percent with mineral spirits. It went on easily. No need to be fussy since there are many more coats to go before the final coat is applied. It looks very nice though the third coat will make it start to look much more glossy. It was great to get the second coat of varnish applied. The wood grain really pops. I went back up into the boat tonight and was very please with the colors of the wood and the warm glow of the work light reflecting off the varnish. If the varnish is dry enough I will sand it tomorrow in preparation for the third coat. My plan is to get three good coats on now to protect the wood then go back to work installing the interior. The final additional 3-4 coats (6-7 total) will be applied later. I also applied the first coat of varnish to the laminated oak tiller today.
The second coat of varnish.
20 Jan 11
I have not been working on the boat since last week due to a family emergency. My 18 year old nephew Forrest was seriously injured last Friday and I have been with my sister's family providing support. A blog site has been created to keep friends and family informed. There has been an incredible outpouring of support for this wonderful young man. Please keep Forrest and his family in your thoughts and prayers.
11 Jan 11 For the last few days I have been working on finishing up installing wood plugs. I have learned a lot about installing plugs, especially trimming them. I have developed a good system for keeping the chisels sharp which is essential to trimming the plugs. I am pleased with how they came out.
The saloon staving is now installed, minus the trim. I have some personal business to attend to tomorrow but I hope to get started on sanding. I'll sand the forward cabin staving, the staving in the saloon, and the cabin sides. Then, I'll apply three coats of thinned varnish. In between the work on the varnish I'll start milling more mahogany for additional staving. I'll also start work on building the pattern for casting the gammon iron for the bowsprit.
5 Jan 11 I was able to finish installing the staving in the saloon today, though it was not without some fanfare. I took the time to fit all 10 pieces. I trimmed them to length, cut the angles, etc. Got everything set up in the boat, sanded the staving, vacuumed wood, wiped down all surfaces with acetone, etc . . . I was preparing like a well oiled machine . . . or so I thought. I laid out the first staving, mixed up the epoxy, put it on the bulkhead. I went schmeered it on the staving and spread it out with the notched squeegee. Then, I suddenly realized that I did not recess a bevel at the top of the staving to fit over the tabbing. Good grief! I quickly wiped down the top 4 inches of the staving with acetone, carried it down to the bench top disk/belt sander, the rest was still covered with epoxy, and ground the bevel. I kept the staving up current of the grinder so as not to contaminate the rest of the epoxy loaded staving. Then I returned to the boat and was able to get it installed without making a mess. Then, I had to remove the excess epoxy from the bulkhead and take all the remaining staving pieces down the ladder to the shop and recess the bevel before I could restart. It was like I left my brain somewhere else . . . .
Tomorrow I'll only be able to get a few hours in on the boat. I'd like to go through the remaining staving to see how much more I need. If the weather holds, I'll go to World Timber Friday and pick up some more mahogany. I'd like to get enough set aside to finish up. Then I'll tackle the head and forward bulkhead so I can start on the furniture.
Starboard side saloon staving installed.
4 Jan 11 Got a late start today but managed to get about half the staving up for the bulkhead that separates the saloon from the navigation station. I have been cutting the top edge of the staving about 3/16" long. I plan to go back, after I remove the clamps and install woodplugs, and trim it with a flush-cut router bit. Standing in the boat and looking at the staving makes me feel like I am making progress. It is slowly starting to look a little like a boat. OK, so I have a big imagination . . . .
Starboard saloon-nav station bulkhead staving.
3 Jan 11 I finished off the saloon side of the partial bulkhead that separates the galley from the saloon. It moved along fine. It took about six hours. I was able to get it finished today because I spent about two hours yesterday selecting and preparing the staving. I ordered another gallon of T-88 System 3 cold weather epoxy today. This should be more than enough. I also ordered another 400 #8x3/4" SS screws to further secure the staving after I remove the clamps. It's probably not necessary to install the screws but they are pretty inexpensive and besides, since I have to countersink and install the wood plugs anyway I might as well stick a screw in there . . . can't hurt . . . or as we say when building demolition charges " P for plenty."
I will go to work on the starboard bulkhead next and when that is finished I'll probably install staving in the head. Once that is complete I'll apply the first three coats of thinned varnish. Then, I should be able to start installing furniture in the saloon, fwd cabin, and head.
Portside bulkhead staving
1 Jan 11 I started off the New Year with more staving work. Good progress on the portside galley/saloon bulkhead. It took a while to cull through all the staving and figure out the best plan for allocating the remaining wood. I pulled the staving with the most wonky and wavy grain and set it aside. Then, I laid the remaining staving out across some tables and looked it over grouping it by color and grain pattern. I measured what I have to do in the boat and kind of matched it up with the different lengths I have to see if I could develop a logical plan. The wavier stuff I'll use where it's mostly covered by furniture. The nice straight grain I will use where it is plainly visible. It's a little frustrating to not have perfect wood. But, like everything, you have to make choices. And, all the wood is good. Some of the staving is prettier, to my eyes, than others. The twisted and deformed and the stuff that is too striped I won't use. It can be tough sometimes fighting the urge to make everything perfect. I have to remind myself that I have a budget. I violate it occasionally but have pretty much stayed on target. Besides, the goal was not to create the perfect boat . . . but one that would be a strong, practical, elegant, and simple sea-boat that sails like a witch. This is not an apology but a reminder to myself to not get too bogged down trying to pursue a level of perfection I neither have the time, nor money, nor skill to pursue.
Portside galley-saloon bulkhead.
I chose to run the staving from top to bottom on the saloon bulkheads even though a good portion will be covered by the settees and pilot berths. Why? Well, because I wanted to. Seriously, these are the lockers we will be getting into all the time and I decided I would enjoy it more seeing the staving run down into the lockers when I opened them up instead of something that is only skin deep. The other more practical reason is I am not exactly sure how the settees and pilot berths will be built. I mean, I have a plan and some drawings I have worked on but I am not confident enough to cut the staving short and cover the ends with cleats, etc. This gives me more flexibility but I will probably need some more quartersawn mahogany before I can finish up . . . though not much.
Today was pretty simple. Select the stavings ( I usual do about 8-10 at a time). Test fit. Cut to length. Fit again. Wipe the bulkhead thoroughly with acetone. While the air is clearing in the boat, sand the back of the stavings with 60 grit. Vacuum and wipe with acetone. Mix the epoxy. Apply the epoxy to the staving and bulkhead and spread with glue spreader. Fit saving. Mark for screw block clamps, drill, and install screw block clamp. Then, do it over again for the next piece.
Though I sometimes fell like I am moving like pond water, it is definitely getting easier and it's kind of fun doing some work without a lot of stress and drama or sweating three gallons of water in a paper suit while wearing a respirator and wielding a high-speed grinder. I am very happy to have that behind me.