25 Sept 11 Last week I drove up to visit my best friend Steve for some welding (since he clearly does not have enough to do). I have written about him on this site before. We have been friends since college. He is a retired fighter pilot and a master of many trades: sailor, home builder, soccer coach, artist, small business owner, arborist, IT master, mechanic, godfather of my kids, etc. And, he is truly a "Thousandth Man." He is one of those guys that can fix just about anything. He is currently building an airplane in his shop. Click here to visit his site. Last year he taught himself to weld with Oxy-Acetylene, but recently upgraded to a TIG welder and has been learning its many ways. So, instead of casting the stanchion brackets that need to also support a raised bulwark, he suggested we try to weld them. Having never welded bronze before, he did some research to figure out how to approach it. I ordered a small sheet of 1/4" silicon bronze and some one inch ID silicon bronze tubing from Atlas Metals. After making some drawings, we cut out the parts for a test pattern on his metal band saw. He made a few test runs and then welded up the test pattern. Though Steve was not impressed with his first effort welding the bronze bracket, I think it came out pretty darn good. Because it will eventually go completely green, all the little imperfection and grinding marks that I failed to remove won't be noticeable. By the time we are finished I have no doubt he will be an expert welder of bronze. I would not be surprised if he starts welding bronze art work in his spare time.
Welded bronze stanchion-bulwark bracket.
In the photos below you can see how the one we made compares to the ones I had made by a local SS fabricator who welded on the brackets to a stanchion bracket that came off the boat. I didn't think they were very strong. The SS bracket to the far right is designed to provide extra support to the bulwark. The plan is to install six stanchion/bulwark support brackets on each side of the boat. Then we will add six bulwark support brackets on each side, alternating them with the stanchion support brackets, designed to provide extra support to the bulwark. They will be patterned on the SS one I designed last summer which is pictured below. The one big change is we won't build the new brackets angled to accommodate the 6 degree deck slope. Instead, I will install beveled teak wedges under the brackets. The brackets are much easier to build that way and I can cut each wedge to better align the brackets so they are exactly vertical.
3 Dec 11 We took few days off over Thanksgiving to travel and link up with all my brother and sisters. We had a fine time. Other than that, work has continued even though I have not made a post in a while. Last week, I rolled and tipped three coats of Interlux Pre-Kote primer to the overhead v-groove panels. I sanded between coats with 220. After the last coat of primer I sanded with 320. Next, I rolled and tipped two coats of Interlux Brightside sanding in between with 320. I am pleased with how they came out. Because the temperatures dropped, I had to move the painting into the guest room over the garage where we could control the temperatures. I spread drop cloths, set up the portable work bench to paint off of, and laid down some 2x4 supports so the panels would be off the floor. After the painting the last coat I left them to try for four or five days to cure before we handle them and install them in the boat.
While I was in Virginia visiting family, I linked up with my best friend Steve http://www.mypiet.com/ He has spent his evenings for the last couple of weeks welding up the bronze stanchion bases and support brackets for the bulwark. He is amazing. He has not been welding that long but he can do just about anything. I think they look fantastic. We worked on the design together over the phone and skype in the early fall. I ordered some bronze from Atlas Metal and had it shipped to Steve house. I was up there in Sept and we built a single prototype. Once we were satisfied he went to town cutting the remaining parts out (a tedious and boring job) and welding them up. There are 24 brackets: 12 stanchion supports and 12 support brackets. Do I need to mention I owe him big time?
The plan is to mount the stanchion supports about every six feet and in between them mount the support brackets. They are all 5" H X 3 1/2" L X 3" W. They are built out of 1/4" silicon bronze. We designed them so I can drill a hole in the horizontal half moons for the stanchion bases and in the gussets of the support bracket and fasten shackles to them for halyards, preventers, etc.
Yesterday I radiused the corners using a template and a 4 1/2" angle grinder. I spent today polishing them up with a a special cake polishing compund and buffing wheel attached to my big grinder and clamped to a portable work bench. I wasn't looking for perfection since we will let them turn green with verdigris just like the rest of the external bronze. The buffing wheels slowly shred apart as you polish so I needed to do it out side. Last time I did this in my shop and it was a mess afterwards.
All these brackets will be bolted through the deck with backing plates. The raised bulwark will be through-bolted to the vertical plates.
The buffing wheels start out much bigger but slowly shred as you polish.
I spent a lot of time sorting out how to best install the bulwark and stanchion brackets . . . time was spent test drilling the bronze to see what is in the art of the possible regarding fastener options. Yesterday, the interior of the lockers were sanded and taped in preparation for varnishing which, with luck, will take place today. I bought a shockingly expensive teak plank to be milled as wedges under the stanchion and bulwark brackets.
Spacing options. Note the mockup for the beveled wedge under the stanchion base.
19 Feb 12
The focus of this past week's effort has been the installation of the stanchion bases and the bulwark brackets. Basically, as of this evening I have completed the temporarily installation all the stanchion bases. It was a heck of a lot of work but I am pleased with the results, so far. The only thing holding back the completion of the installation of the stanchion bases is the arrival of some longer bronze bolts. The gist of it is that until I actually drilled the holes I could not know how thick the deck would be, therefore I could not be sure of how long the bolts needed to be. One of the photos below shows that there is maybe 1/4" of the bolt protruding through the inward turning deck flange. The inboard bolts have no issue . . . they are plenty long enough to include a 1/2" fiberglass backing plate I'll install this week. I'll use a 1/4" backing plate for out outboard bolts. But, of course it is more complicated than that . . . of course it is! The gap between the upper horizontal support on the stanchion base (I call it the "half-moon") and the lower base plate is 2 1/2". That is how long the bolts are. But, due to the combined thickness of the deck, inward turning flange, and the teak wedge I need 3" long bolts in order to have enough threads to install a backing plate. So, how will I get the longer bolts through the hole in the base with the "half-moon" preventing the longer bolt from sliding into the hole in the base plate? The only answer I could come up with is to drill holes in the half moon directly over the outboard holes in the base plate. The upper hole will allow the bolt to be dropped through the half-moon and into the lower hole. There are several advantage of the large holes in the half moon. First, it is the only way to get the long bolt into the base. Second, the hole in the half moon will allow access for a screw driver to hold the bolts while they are tightened from inside the boat. Last, a shackle and be fastened to the hole for any reason I may need one there--securing halyards or attaching one end of a vang/preventer.
The photo below depicts test drilling of two holes in the original test stanchion base. I drilled a 5/8" and 9/16" hole. I like the 9/16" hole better. It leaves a little more "meat" on the outside edge of the "half-moon." I can't be sure which hole will work though till the longer bolts arrive. In the meantime I decided to get a head start installing the base stanchion bases.
I started off by drilling pilot holes in the stanchion bases at the Camp Lejeune Machine Hobby Shop. It's a great resource even though I would rather do as much work as I can in my own shop. But, they have a nice slow turning floor mount drill press and a great selection of large diameter bits. I could not complete the job there as I was unable to determine what the best size would be for the hole above the base plate . . . and I did not want to rush the decision. So, after drilling out the four pilot holes in each stanchion base and the two test holes in the half moon I returned home. After measuring and some experimentation I decided the 3" bolts would do the job. I made some phone calls and put in an order for 3" long, 5/16", bronze, roundhead, bolts. Next, I went to work cutting the teak wedges, drilling holes, and temporarily installing the stanchion bases. It went pretty smooth. I worked carefully and deliberately. The hardest part was drilling through the unique Cape Dory steel weldment that runs under the inward turning flange and to which the pad-eye chain plates are through bolted to (the weldment is about 44" long and only one stanchion base had to be installed in that area. It is important to also get the teak wedges right so the vertical plate on the stanchion bases (and the same for the bulwark brackets that I'll install next) are vertical and consistently offset from the edge of the deck. I built a small jig to help keep everything accurate. I ultimately decided on using five stanchions, per side, spaced seven feet apart. The bulwark support brackets will be positioned half way between the stanchions so the bulwark will be supported every 3.5 feet with a 1/4" silicon bronze bracket (stanchion base or support bracket) bolted through the deck and through the bulwark itself.
I decided a while back that I would eliminate the stern pulpit and the bow pulpit. With the windvane, boom gallows, and perhaps a sculling oar the stern pulpit cluttered up the stern of the boat. We will run a safety line across the stern from one stanchion to the other. With the Cape Horn Windvane there is very little room to squeeze through anyway. The rest of the week will be spent working on a mock up bulwark to insure the proper placement of the bulwark support brackets.
26 Feb 12
For the last couple of days I have been focused on installing the bulwark support brackets. Though they are dimensionally the same stanchion brackets they are different in that they do not have a tube welded to them for the stanchion to fit into. A support bracket is a welded "L" shaped bronze bracket with a gusset for added strength. Support brackets alternate with the bulwark stanchion brackets. There is seven feet between bulwark stanchion brackets with a support bracket located half way between each stanchion bracket. I drilled and mounted (temporarily) the stanchion brackets last week. Then, I determined the approximate location of the support brackets, determined the deck camber, cut wedges to match, drilled holes in the wedges and routered the edges. Next, I needed to drill holes in the deck to mount the support brackets. The plan was to clamp a 16' long batten that I milled from a cheap piece of Lowe's lumber around three stanchion brackets and use it to "scribe" a gentle curve that matched the curve of the gunwale. Then I planned to use the clamped batten to determine the location of the support brackets ensuring they were evenly set back from the edge of the hull/deck edge. Once that was done I would reclamp the batten further down the deck and install the next couple of support brackets. But the reality is with a span of seven feet between the stanchion brackets the batten flattened out slightly between them. So, I set the "batten" aside and just continued to use the same small jig I used to locate the position of the stanchion brackets from the deck edge when it came time to install the support brackets. After I installed the all the support brackets I clamped a 1"X2"X16' batten to the stanchion bases and it was perfectly fair around the all the brackets (see photo's below). So, in the end it worked out fine, though I lost about a day milling and fiddling with the batten. There are 12 brackets per side which looks like a lot, though I think once the bulwark is bolted to the brackets it will look seamless.
Tomorrow I will remove the brackets (only the stanchion brackets have nuts on the bolts) and start installing the fiberglass backing plates. The whole bulwark project has been a whole lot of work . . . I can only hope that it will be worth it in the end.
5 Mar 12: Ridiculousness Knows No Bounds. Where to begin? For those following the daily log, installing the stanchion bases and bulwark brackets have been the focus of my efforts for the last couple of weeks. Originally, the plan was to counter sink the brackets and install flat head bronze machine screws. Sounds simple enough. The problems started when I could not get the countersink to cut and because it was more difficult than I thought to use the extension. My first mistake was not trying to figure out why the counter sink would not cut. Instead I abandoned it and moved on to installing round head bronze machine screws. Then, mistake number two, it became apparent after drilling the holes through the deck that the 2 ½” bolts would not be long enough to pass through the ¼” base, ¾” teak wedge, deck, inward turning flange, and backing plate. I ordered some 3” long bolts. I cut holes in the half moons to accommodate longer bolts. Mistake number three--after epoxying the backing plates into position—necessary to fill the gaps in the wavy inward turning flange—I found out that about half of the outboard bolts (where the deck/wedge is thickest) were too short by about 1/8-1/4”. It doesn’t sound like much but the nut needs to be fully engaged, else why build these strong brackets and use large bolts. OK, the fix would be simple, order some 3 ½” bolts and the problem would be solved. Mistake number four—I found out this week there are apparently no 3 ½” round head bronze bolts anywhere in America—no one makes them or imports them. I did find a place that would custom make them for $28 each! So, after thinking about it this weekend I decided to see what the deal was with the countersink. Though it was new it just would not cut. I decided to try and sharpen it with my dremel and a small grinding stone. With a few minutes of work it cut like a champ. Amazing. So, I spent the day trying to get the suppliers to take the round heads back. Jamestown Distributors were heroes. They were happy to take them back and provide a full credit. B&S Bolts, however, was not so enthusiastic. It took some wrangling but they finally, grudgingly, half heartedly agreed to a credit on future orders. If you ever order fasteners from B&S Bolts make sure you discuss with them about their refund policy. They told me they don’t make refunds if you use a credit card (???) but failed to mention that to me when I placed my order plus that little gem is not stated on their website. They also want a restocking fee though they failed to mention that when I ordered and it is also not stated on their website. Other than their refund policy, they have been easy to work with and can provide milspec and ISO certified fasteners. Their prices are competitive. “Caveat Emptor.”
So, now I am back where I started. Countersinking the holes in the stanchion bases and support brackets. I’ll place the order for the much easier to find flat head fasteners which are available in many more lengths than the round head fasteners.
Lessons learned. Some of the mistakes were probably unavoidable. I had no reasonable way of knowing that I would need 3 ½” long bolts until I had the all the backing plates in position (over half the bolts worked fine). Also, I had no way of knowing that they don’t make 3 ½” long round head bolts until I needed them . . . who knew? But, the real learning point was I bailed out on the countersinking without really running to ground why the countersink would not cut. I had a good plan that I had researched. A little more time investigating the cutting problem and I could have avoided all this ridiculousness. Sloppy analysis of the cutting issue created a chain of problems that were not necessary. Lesson learned (again) “work the problem” until you are sure you understand what the issue is. I failed to turn known unkowns into known knows.
7 Mar 12
I spent the majority of the day countersinking the holes for the 5/16" bronze flat head screws I'll use to install the stanchion bases and the bulwark support brackets. This is the first through-hole countersink I have used. It cuts very smooth. In the photos below you can see how it cuts paper thin spirals of bronze. A countersink with a 5/16" pilot on the end, to guide in the predrilled 5/16" holes, would line up more accurately but I used what I had. The drill press was key to making accurate cuts. I ran out of time before I could finish up the bulwark support brackets. I should be able to finish this up tomorrow easily.
9 Mar 12
The next project was to drill a small hole in the stanchion base and tap threads into the stanchion so that a machine screw could be installed to secure the stanchion in the base (there are some photos of the project below). To do that I used a small wooden block as a jig so the hole would be located in the same place on all the stanchion bases. Then I drilled a 3/16" hole in the base. Next, I used another small block as a jig and marked where I wanted the tapped hole to be located in all the stanchions. When we designed and fabricated the stanchion bases we made a little hole in the bottom of the tube near the back so that water that gets inside will drain out. To ensure the drain hole works as intended, I drilled the hole in the stanchion to ensure the bottom of the stanchion is raised about 3/16" above the bottom of the tube. My hope is that by doing so, the water will have a clear path through the drain hole. In order to install #10-24 machine screws the correct pilot hole for tapping is 5/32". I used my little tube holder (cut from some scrap 2x4 which I made last summer) to hold the stanchion steady under the drill press while I drilled the 5/32" pilot hole. After drilling the hole I used a tapered tap to make the threads.
I had never tapped holes in metal so this was another new skill for me. It was not hard. The key was to turn the tap a little--maybe a half turn--then back up a quarter turn to clear the shaving from the hole and just keep going till I got the tap through. Stanchion side walls are pretty thin so this was a good way to learn. I also used a little cutting fluid to keep the tap lubricated.
I did not have any #10-24 round head bronze machine screws. So I went with what the SS pan head ones I had on hand. I am not in too big a hurry to install the bronze screws as the stanchions are SS too so they go together. Once day I would like to install 30" tall bronze stanchions. But, they are expensive and not essential to where I need to spend my time and money. When I get them I can install the bronze screws.
I finished off the day taping off the cabin sides and sanding and taping the sink cabinet base (it's in our guest room over the garage) in preparation for another coat of varnish. One more coat of varnish on the cabin side and I can install the portlights.
31 Mar 12
We took a day off to relax after completing the installation of the portlights. Then, it was on to the stanchion and bulwark support brackets. I chamfered the holes on deck and in the top of the teak blocks a few days ago. I spent the last couple of days drilling holes in the vertical plates to accommodate the bolts that will secure the wood bulwarks to the bronze bases. I built two simple jigs so the holes would be consistently positioned. We staggered the holes to avoid splitting the wood which can happen if you drill multiple holes along the same line in the bulwark plank.
Next, I laid out all the bolts and prepared the tools we would need. It took Gayle and me about 30 minutes to wipe down the base, wedge, and deck area with acetone, apply the butyl, and install the brackets. We tightened them gently two times over about two hours and it was interesting to see how the squeeze out continued as the butyl slowly compresses. The butyl was not difficult to work with. A real advantages is that it was not messy. If I had used caulk I would have had to tape off the wedges to keep the caulk out of the grain of the wood. We will tighten them again tomorrow and once more the next day. That should do it. Today we installed 11 brackets on the starboard side. Tomorrow we will install the port side. The pictures in the gallery below explain the steps.
A perfect spiral.
Finally, at last, the "wall of bronze" is installed . . . and it's not even an April fools joke. It was beautiful today. We opened up the SRF--the doors and transom hatches. A wonderful slightly cool breeze blew through while the sun created a warm layer of air up on the deck of the Far Reach. After developing a routine yesterday, Gayle and I pretty much had the sequence and technique down today. It was enjoyable work as we chatted about all manner of things while we cut and applied the butyl, dropped the bolts through, and tightened the nuts. At the conclusion of installing the portside fittings, we went back and retightened the starboard side. There was a little more squeeze out but not much. We will tighten them some more tomorrow and that should pretty much do it. All that will be left to do is to trim the butyl squeeze out and move on to the next task.
The wall of bronze is finally installed.
I am still learning the characteristics of butyl. I have gently tightened down on all the nuts for the stanchion/bulwark bases for the last 3-4 days. Each time, within a few hours the nuts are no longer tight due to the butyl continuing to squeeze out. Today, was the first day some of the nuts felt like they were still pretty tight. I am not using a big wrench, just a standard handled 3/8" drive socket and a small box end wrench. I am not "gorilla gripping" it but want the nut to be a little shy of snug. That's it. Today, I broke four bases during what I thought would be the final tightening event. The good thing is I didn't break more. I also got to remove them and see how the butyl compressed. There was very little butyl between the wedge and the deck and the wedge and the base. The chamfer hole had a good amount of butyl as you would expect. The deck is kind of tricky since it is not perfectly flat--remember I glassed the hull deck joint over with three layers of biaxial and though I worked long and hard to fair it well it would be unrealistic to think it was perfect. There must have been some spot under the wedge and when I tightened down they cracked. I examined the deck after I cleaned up the butyl but I could see no obvious unevenness. So, I will mill some new wedges tomorrow and not tighten as aggressively when I install them. I'll still spread it out over a couple of days.
We knew from the beginning that wood wedges had pros and cons. Well, today one of the cons landed right in my lap. Not completely unexpected but certainly unwanted.
As soon as I cracked the four wedges from over tightening them--I think the deck was uneven under those four wedges--I made new ones and installed them the same day. As much as I hated to do it, I replaced all the bronze nuts that would be covered by the white interior panels under the side deck with 316 ss nylon lock nuts. My concern was that if the butyl tape compressed any more, the nuts would be loose and could back off on their own. I left the bronze nuts on all the other bolts, the ones I can get to in the cockpit locker, lazerette, and anchor locker.
The replacement for the cracked deck wedges. I made them a little thicker.
I finally started on the bulwarks. The basic design is three layers of wood stacked one on top of the other, bolted to the vertical bronze stanchion and bulwark bases, with V grooves between to serve as a divider and avoid a slab sided appearance. The picture to the right (scrap pine mock up) shows the bottom two horizontal pieces, without the V groove. They will be topped by a third smaller piece. The lower, wider pieces will be painted blue and the top piece white. I have to scarf two pieces together to get the length I need (about 18 feet long). The forward section and the aft section will be joined amidships by a hawse pipe with a backing block. I ripped the mahogany about 2 3/4" wide which is wider than I need. I want to allow for any "bowing" and then I will have enough width that I can run them over the jointer and straighten them back out. I will probably start scarfing tomorrow.
Ripping the mahogany to oversize width.
Pine mock up of the bulwarks to determine milling requirements.
14 Aug 13 More Scarffing
Yesterday and today I have been working on the bulwark scarfs. I am getting much better with the scarfing jig. At some point I would like to be able to do this with hand planes . . . but not now. Now is time to finish the rebuild and get the boat into the water. From start to finish it takes about 15 minutes to cut a 24" long scarf. First, I look the planks over and determine how they will be fit together. I'd like for them to be perfectly straight but sometimes, even after milling there is a slight bow. That's OK since I will have to bow them when they are installed to follow the sheer. But, I want the planks to be straight or have one very slight but continuous bow--no "S" curves. After I determine the layout, I place one plank in the jig and draw a line using the tapered part of the jig as a guide along the plank. Then, I remove the plank and use my jig saw to cut off the excess about 1/16" away from the line. I trim both planks the same way. Next, I lay both planks in the jig and clamp them in place making sure they are flat to the bottom of the jig. I set the router bit depth to remove about 1/16" - 3/32" of wood. Then I work the router back and forth across the planks letting the tapered edges of the jig do the work. I start at the top and work to the bottom. I incorporate a squeeze clamp to secure the planks in place and along with the other two clamps every thing remains secure and steady. When the router has move down to the squeeze clamp I remove the clamp and then clamp it behind the router and continue on. When I have routered the planks to the bottom and I am satisfied with the results, I removed the clamps and sand the beveled faces with some 120 grit paper on a block and take the planks to the saw horses for gluing.
I spread some plastic sheeting where the joint will straddle the saw horse. I check the fit of the scarf and align the two parts. I use a pencil to make three alignment marks to ensure they are clamped together with a proper fit. Next, I mix up some Aerodux 185 resorcinol glue: five parts resin to one part powered hardener . . . by weight. I have a little digital scale I bought at Walmart. Next, I use an acid brush and apply the glue to both surfaces. Stir it well. Then I clamp the joint tight with numerous clamps. Let it sit over night. I had enough mahogany for the bottom bulwark planks for both the port and starboard sides and for one of the four planks for the top bulwark. Tomorrow, I will router the tenon for the tongue and groove edge to ensure the planks are aligned when installed. The top planks will have the mortise. I'll need a little more mahogany to finish of the bulwarks. But, I have enough to keep me busy for the next few days.
20 Aug 13
Work on the bulwarks continues. After the resorcinol glue dried in the scarf joint, I removed the clamps,and set up a long infeed and outfeed table for router table and milled a tongue and groove along the full length of the long mahogany planks that make up the bottom and top bulwark strakes to ensure that they would be properly aligned when bolted to the vertical support plates. I cut the tongue in the top edge of bottom strake and the grove in the bottom edge of the top strake. Then, used the router with a round over bit to radius what would be the bottom edge of the lower of the two bulwark strakes as well as a V-groove that would extend along the joint between the two strakes on the outboard side. Unfortunately, I only had enough mahogany to make the bottom strakes and just one of the four top strakes. None-the-less, I pressed ahead with what I had on hand. The 1 1/2" bronze bolts and nuts did not arrive by the time I was ready to start so I used some SS ones I had in order to keep moving forward. When I remove the strakes for painting and bedding I will replace them with the bronze bolts and nuts. It's a small think but I want to have bronze nuts on the bonze vertical plates. The SS would be fine and I don't think it would be a "galvanic" issue but simply look better and of course will last forever.
To install the strakes I started by placing 1" thick spacer blocks next to the bulwark stanchion and support bases to insure a constant gap between the gunwale and the bottom edge of the bulwark. Then, I clamped the strake in place extending well forward of where I would bolt it so I could determine the proper arc to scribe the butt block to join the two 18'+ long sections. Once I scribed the line, cut, and test fit the butt block I unclamped the strake and slide it back to the proper position, reclamped and then drilled and bolted it in place. (See entry below for making the butt block). I used 1/8" drill bit to drill through the predrilled holes in the stanchion base vertical plates back through the strake (from inboard to outboard). Next, I drilled the countersink from the outboard side. Then, I drill through that hole with a 1/4" bit, installed the bolt, and tightened the nut down. I then moved to the next bracket and so on and so forth. Once I was at the predetermined amidships location I had to install the butt block to join the two 18'+ long strakes. I chose not to scarf this joint for a couple of reasons. (1) I did not want to scarf a 38 foot long section of mahogany and (2) because I plan to install a hawse pipe at that location I would have to have a backing block anyway.
Normally, butt blocks are not very long, but to work properly then need to span just short of the full distance between adjacent frames . . . or in this case the vertical support plates. The span between the vertical plates that support the bulwarks is about 40 inches. If I made a short butt block the wood could twist or deflect from the desired arc. So, the butt block would need to span about 38 inches. I used some 5/4 white oak I had on hand. I ripped it to 4 1/2" wide and 39" long and then placed it along the area where it would be bolted. I marked the arc on the edge of the oak and then took it to a work bench. I used a flexible batten to create the proper arc and marked it with a pencil. Then, I used a power planer and belt sander to trim the oak to the prescribed arc. It did not take very long to get a good tight fit. With that complete I proceeded with bolting the bulwark strake in place.
I installed the lower strake sections on both sides of the boat. I made the port side butt block in the same manner used for the starboard side. With the lower strake installed I test fit the one upper strake I had see how it fit and to check for height, etc. I though it looked great. As mentioned previously, it will be topped with a 2/8" tall cap rail. The total bulwark height will be about 6 1/2" including the 1" gap at the bottom. It will dramatically increase safety when sailing, especially offshore.
For the past week or so I have been focused on the bulwarks. Since my last post we scarffed the mahogany for the upper strake and temporarily installed it. I took some time to think about how to finish the ends and how I would complete the bulwark trim. I made some drawing and generally just thought about the options as we worked on other smaller projects. Once I had a plan I built a pattern to serve as a template for cutting and trimming the ends of the bulwarks at the bow and stern. We removed the strakes and laid them out in the shop. I traced the template on the bulwarks and rough cut them with my Bosh jig saw. Next, I clamped the template in place and using my router with a pattern cutting bit I cut the excess away leaving a perfectly smooth cut line. I made up some trim pieces that cover the ends and will tie in with the 7/8" tall cap rail. I reinstalled the bulwarks to look at the cuts. It is a gentle radiused end for both the bow and the stern. I'll add the trim pieces on the ends and the cap rail. As I mentioned before, the end pieces, the cap rail, and the inboard side will be painted white. The outboard side of the strakes will be dark blue.
I think the new bulwarks are looking great. Then will be blue on the outside with a white cap rail and end pieces.
Satisfied with the radiused ends, I removed the strakes again and began the process of painting them. In a perfect world they would be made of Burmese teak. But that would have run about $2000. Instead, the African Mahogany cost about $350. The mahogany is lightweight, reasonably strong, and takes paint well. They are also easy to glue for scarfing. The one concern is rot caused my water/moisture getting between the bronze stanchion plates and the mahogany and between the oak butt blocks and the mahogany. I decided to try something with a nod towards tradition. I bought a quart of red lead paint from Kirby's and used it to prime the mahogany wherever it would be covered by butt blocks, stanchion plates, and the tongue and groove. It's expensive but the wood boat community swears by it. The first thing you notice about it is that is about twice as heavy as regular paint. Its impressive. Anyway, I applied two coats. Next, I applied two coats of Interlux Prime-Kote sanding with 120 between coats then I sanded with 220 and applied the first of what will be several coats of white Interlux Brightside to the inboard side of the strakes.
6 Oct 13
Several projects are going at the same time. The focus, however, has been on the bulwarks. There were numerous steps and without blueprints everthing has to be thought out and I don't like to rush when I am on unfamilar terrain. So, the progress has not been fast but it has been methodical. We are not finished with the bulwarks but we are very close--another coat or two of blue paint, install the hawse pipes, and paint the trim white and check it off the list. My last few posts detailed the milling and fitting the horizontal "strakes" that comprise the main part of the bulwarks. This post describes the installation of the strakes, the cap rail, the hawespipes and the first coat of paint. The bulwarks are 6 3/4" tall from deck to the top of the cap rail and that includes the one inch gap between the deck and the bottom edge of the bulwark.
The first coat of Interlux Brightside in dark blue.
After completing the priming of both sides of the strakes and the application of two coats of white Interlux Brightsides to the inboard side, the next step was to install the strakes using Dolphinite where the strakes laid up next to the bulwark support brackets and between the strakes and the amidships white oak butt block. . I chose Dolphinite because it does not make a sticky mess and it is easy to apply. It remains soft and pliable and also has an anti-fungicide in it that makes it more difficult for rot to get started. It also makes it much easier to take wood construction apart for repair. I gooped it onto the bonze plates with a putty knife. When we tightened the bolts that that hold the strakes to the bronze plates we had plenty of time to scoop up the squeeze out. In fact, you can then put the squeeze out in a cup and reuse it. However, I did use a very small bead of 3m 4000UV along each side of the “tongue” of the lower strake where it fits into the upper strake. Once the butt block for the amidships joint was bolted up, I installed the wood plugs and we were ready for the cap rail.
I wanted the cap rail to be one continuous piece of wood which meant it needed to be about 37 feet long? That required several scarfs which were completed without fanfare. I cut the scarfs same as the other using my scarfing jig and I glued them up with resorcinol adhesive after laying them out in my garage from the side that contains the cars, through the double door, and into my wood shop. After the scarfs were cured we needed to mill them to the correct dimension which was a challenge. I had never milled anything 37 feet long which meant I need 37 feet for the in-feed and the same for the out-feed. My sister proved to be a big help as it required some finesse to keep from breaking them as they were feed through and then out the planer. After we milled them to ¾” by 1 1/16” I applied two coats of Kirby’s red lead pain to what would be the underside of the cap rail. A couple of days later we clamped them in place and cut and radiused the ends to match the end pieces that we previously cut and fit to the strakes.
We clamped the cap rails in place and drilled holes and counter such the screws every eight inches. We then removed the cap rails and applied Dolphinite to the top of the bulwark. I gooped the Dolphinite into a big syringe and used that as a caulking gun. It worked great. We gently lowered the cap rail in place and drove the #10 1 ½” long SS screws home. We cleaned up the Dolphinite and used the squeeze out for the cap rail on the other side of the boat. Next, I installed about 50 wood plugs per side then trimmed them and sanded them flush. Next, I took the trim router with a 3/8" round over bit and guide bearing and radiused the top edges.
The next task was to drill the holes in the hawse pipes for the bolts that would secure them to the bulwarks. Mystic River Foundry cast the two part hawse pipes for me from Lin and Larry Pardey’s patterns used on Taleisin. They did a great job and were reasonably priced. After deciding on the hole patterns I wanted (I used one pattern for the hawse pipes that would be located at the fore and aft ends of the bulwarks and another pattern for the amidships hawse pipes that sits astride the butt joint. I make a little plywood jig that I cut by tracing the footprint of the hawse pipe on a piece of ¼” ply scrap. I measured out the hole pattern and drilled it using a drill press. I laid the template on each side of the hawse pipe and drilled the holes one side at a time. I use a smaller bit than the 3/16” machine bolt required because I needed to tap what would be the inboard flange of the two part hawse pipe. Then, I drilled out the outboard side with a 3/16” bit. Next, I countersunk the outboard holes so the machine screws would fit flush. This was not a complicated project and just took a few hours. I knew that get a screw to perfectly line up with the holes would be difficult so I spent about two hours hand filing 36 2 ½” long bronze machine screws to a point so they would essentially “seek” the hole and “self-align.” With the hawse pipes drilled and tapped I was ready to cut the holes in the bulwarks to accommodate them.
One I determined where the hawse pipes would be located, I cut backing blocks from African Mahogany. They were 8 7/8” long x 4 ¼” wide x 7/8” thick. I clamped the backing blocks to the bulwarks and placed one side of the hawse pipe in the location I wanted to install them. I traced the outer edge of the spigot onto the bulwark and used a 1 ½” holesaw to cut three adjoining holes. I cut the peaks of the holes out with a jig saw and then used my cabinet rasps to file them smooth and put a radius on the edge. It took a little while to get the holes just right but with minimal work it was accomplished to my satisfaction. With the two halves of the hawse pipe in place (one on each side of the bulwark) I marked the holes. To ensure I was drill square I removed the backing blocks with the inboard half of the hawse pipe and drilled the holes for the inboard side in my shop with the drill press.
I reclamped the backing block in place and drilled the holes for the outboard side meeting the previously drilled holes on the inboard side in the middle of the bulwark. I used a little wooden block that I held next to the drill bit while drilling to ensure I was drilling square and plumb. It sounds complicated but it was a very straightforward and easy to accomplish task. The bolts that I tapered with a file worked perfectly. Once I had installed all six hawse pipes I removed them and prepared the bulwarks for painting. To help get a good seal for the bedding compound I used a laminate router with a cove bit to cut a calking grove around each hole. The caulking grove will be under the flange of the hawse pipe (one on each side) and will ensure that when I tighten the flanges down I can’t squeeze out all the bedding compound. Once the painting is accomplished I will apply bedding compound and install the hawse pipes.
After completing the test fit for the hawse pipes I applied some epoxy fairing compound to a few places on the bulwarks where I had dinged them up. I sanded those places smooth along with the numerous wood plugs in the vertical face and then taped off the cap rail with green 3m 233 tape. The cap rail will be painted white while the outboard face of the bulwarks will be dark blue. Next, I vacuumed the bulwarks and deck, wiped down the bulwarks with Interlux 303, and then Gayle and I applied the first of what will be several coats of Dark Blue Interlux Brightside. I have used Brightside before and it is great paint. It is slick, self levels, and appears to be pretty durable. It took about two hours to apply the first coat. After 24 hours to cure I'll lightly sand it with 220 and then apply another coat.
The first coat of dark blue Interlux Brightside on the bulwark.
The last tasks to complete on the bulwarks were to paint the cap rail and install the hawse pipes. My sister offered to paint the cap rail while were gone--a wonderful gift. She applied two coats of Interlux Prime Kote followed by three coats of white Interlux Brightside. What a difference it made. I fit the hawse pipes before we left for FL so it was not a difficult project to complete when we returned. I bedded them with 3M 4000 UV. I may try painting the white bedding compound around the hawse pipes with some blue paint though it is barely noticeable. I think the white cap rail around the blue helps to make the bulwarks look more integral to the boat vice an add-on element. Total bulwark height, from the deck, is 6 3/4" tall. The two part manganese bronze hawse pipes were cast for me by Mystic River Foundry from patterns made and used by the Pardey's on Taleisin.
The bulwarks are complete.
I bedded the hawse pipe with 3M 4000UV. I'll attempt the touch up the bedding compound with some blue paint.