Three Weeks behind the mask

No, I’m not talking about an extended tour of UK High Street as lockdown is eased. It’s fairing time! What an incredibly messy job. It reminded me of the slightly eccentric chap who taught me real physics at the tender age of 16 (me, not him). He gave us all a handout telling us how to rejuvenate old cycle lamp batteries – those things with a zinc case, containing some noxious black powder with a long carbon rod stuck in the middle of the powder. The carbon rod made the positive terminal and the case the negative one and some sort of chemical reaction between the powder and the case produced the volts and some meagre amps. The cycle lamp (dim at the best of times) would get fainter and fainter until is became a dull red low. “Instructions for Rejuventation” it read. “Pull the top off and remove the carbon rod. Shake the powder out onto a sheet of paper and stir it about. Repack it and the carbon rod back in the case and glue the top back on. It will give you another few weeks. IT MAKES A TERRIBLE MESS. DO IT AT HOME, NOT AT SCHOOL”. I didn’t attempt it in either location, so still don’t know if it would work 1

But, as usual, I digress.

The art of fairing 2 involves mixing up lots of fine powder with lots epoxy resin, smearing it across a surface and then sanding it off again leaving, one hopes, a super smooth surface without defects or lumps that, when painted with gloss paint will look fantastic. This way plywood pieces that did not quite align as they should have 3, finger joints that make two seven foot planks into one 14 feet long 4 and glass fibre tapes that reinforce the joints 5 (not to mention the spills of epoxy and the inadvertent saw cuts) are all hidden from view.  It was (a) quite hard work and (b) made an awful mess, with white dust everywhere.

Bearing in mind the last part of the instructions for rejuvenation (see above) I didn’t do this at home. The boat was upside down on the trailer so it could be pushed out through the doors of the boat shed and do it outside, weather permitting. Thus, lots of plastic particles were released to the atmosphere…

There were four stage to the process

Stage 1 Making the tools

I soon realised that my little 50mm x 100 mm 6 wooden sanding block was not going to be up to the task. The electrical orbital sander would be effective on smaller areas but the dust would be beyond  the capacity of the inbuilt collection filter and I really needed something that would sand the filler flat over long stretches and sand it over the curved surfaces at the bow. This called for some serious inventing.

First of all an improved dust collection for the orbital sander. Some duct tape 7 and a convenient piece of tubing made an effective coupling to the Vacuum Overhead Dust Extraction System.8

Then I needed some larger sanding blocks. The first one, for long flat surfaces, was easily made up using a piece of 18 mm ply wood and a few screws and a long strip of 80 grit sand paper. A couple of handles (more plywood) and there it was.

Now, how was I going to be able to sand round convex shapes? I needed something springy. I tried a saw blade but it was too stiff. I had some 1mm thick ply from years ago and cut that into two 75 mm wide strips, which I laid along a thicker bit of ply to act as a base. The strips were held off the ply base by blocks at each end and only fastened to one end.

Sand paper was then laid along the strips and fastened at each end. When the whole lot was pressed over a convex shape, the strips slid over each other and at the loose end, forming a uniform curve support for the sandpaper. So we now had a fixed flat sander and a variable curve sander. Off we went.

Stage 2 Mixing the fairing compound

I’d been used to mixing generous amounts of epoxy and a hard filler to make joins and fillets. Now I needed to mix large amounts of epoxy and a much finer filler. It was a bit like mixing flour and milk to make scones. You had the liquid (the epoxy) and the flour (the filler) and it took skill and patience to mix them together to get a uniform and useful constituency. Not too stiff, other wise it’s a B****r to spread. Not too soft, otherwise is runs all over the place when put on sloping surfaces. But just right, like Goldilock’s porridge.

Stage 3 Spreading the porridge

This was like plastering a wall. I need one of those things that plasters use to hold the sloppy plaster in one hand so that they can scoop it up onto the float and then on to the wall in one fluid movement without spilling a drop. I think they call them a Hawk.

Another piece of scrap ply was fitted with a handle and the plasterers float was found at the back of the shed in the box marked “it might come in useful”.

The Hawk (not to be confused with a dinghy of the same name)

But, alas, the fluid motion had never been very fluid and was now positively creaky. I learned to limit my ambitions and do on about half a square yard at a time.

Eventually the bottom was covered with the stuff, as was the transom.

Stage 4 The fairing

To my surprise and delight both sanding tools worked quite well. Despite VODES, sanding dust flew all around, on my shirt, in my hair and up my nose. Here’s where the mask came in. VODES was successful in controlling the dust from the orbital sander and the collection bag rapidly became full.

I forgot stage 5

Repeat Stages 2 – 4 until satisfied.

It took three weeks.

Oh Yes, Stage 5. Clean the last of the dust off with tack rags and get sticky hands

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 20200710_150345-1.jpg
Stahe 5 – Tack Cloths to wipe off the dust

Next week, the boat gets turned the right way up9 and gains a cockpit floor, a ballast tank and a bouyancy tank.

Notes

  1. Do NOT attempt this with any modern battery – it could catch fire or explode!
  2. One of my readers has sent me an email, suggesting I’m an artist. I’m not sure where he gets this idea from…….
  3. Surprisingly few – only at bow and stern.
  4. So far, over 100 metres of the stuff.
  5. I’m sure you all have got the hang of converting metric to imperial by now
  6. Never travel without it, particularly to the Moon – it saved the guys on Apollo 13 7
  7. Assuming Apollos 11 and 12 didn’t take place in some unknown desert location
  8. Don’t get excited. It’s only a pond vacuum cleaner.
  9. Without all that hard work of leaning on the centre board – that comes later in life.

A little light metal work

Hey, I’m excited. I’ve had two like and one comment to the blog. Thanks for the like patmcf and the like and comments from saxisgood. Saxisgood is one of the most loyal of the readers1 and can be relied on to make comments. Thanks for you both – please keep it up. 2

Anyway, this has excited me so much that I’ve just had to burst into print but a few days after my last post.

In the last couple of days I’ve given up woodwork, gluing, filling , fairing etc3and have fallen back on an old favourite – metalwork.


And it concerns the centre board4 pivot.

The centre board is set in a slot in the bottom of the boat and is held loosely in the boat by a rod passing through a hole in the board. This rod is glued across the slot so that, as the board is pivoted about this rod, more (or less) of the board sticks out of the bottom of the boat. Now any self respecting engineer would know that this is guaranteed to make the board wobble. A better mechanical solution would be to have the rod stuck to the board and to pivot it by having a bearing surface at each end, running in bearings glued to the boat. But no, sail boats don’t follow this logic. The rod is fixed and the bearing surface is the hole in the centre board. It’s a very short bearing surface (25mm max) so is quite highly loaded and the board wobbles . Having a stainless steel rod passing through a wooden centre board won’t last long, so two stainless steel trunnions have to be glued into the centreboard.

The piece on the left is one “trunnion”

Here’s where the metal work comes in. I had to hand a piece of 3 mm stainless steel. Cutting these pieces out posed a problem. A hacksaw would take too long, the angle grinder would probably do it but would also take some time and make a lot of sparks. How about the jig saw – I had used one several years go to cut up two Triumph Herald rust buckets to make one slightly less rusty car which my son drove around for a year or so- so I knew they could cut thin metal – how about this stuff. I found some “special” blades for stainless steel, held the sheet firmly with a couple of G gramps, spread oil liberally along the cut line and, with the jig saw to as slow a cut sped as possible, got to work.

The noise was appalling, smoke and oil went everywhere but the special blade did the job – it took about 10 minutes to cut each shape. Then the corners had to rounded off and the burrs removed using the angle grinder and that was it.

All I have to do now is glue them in place and cover the board with glass fibre cloth ………

Wish me luck for next week.

Notes

  1. Now at the grand total of 3 in any one day – so much for making a living with this!
  2. The making comments, that is.
  3. Only temporarily, you understand.
  4. Just in case you don’t know what a centreboard is, it’s a large flat (or aerofoil) board that replaces a fixed keel in a proper yacht. Keels (and centre boards) stick out below the boat to provide some lateral grip in the water so that by clever resolution of forces at different angles lets the boat sail at an angle towards the wind, and it does it without the benefit of software – isn’t that clever?

Real, rough carpentry

Another two weeks has flashed past, it must be because we are comping out of lockdown and a social life is just hull up on the horizon. I’ve been getting into practice, partaking of the odd drink or two in other peoples gardens. But then the weather closed in again, so it’s been back to boat building.

We’ve made a bit of progress. The glass fibre cloth has been successfully fixed to the outside of plank one and the spectre of fairing is coming closer. Before undertaking this messy task, the boat needs to have vestigial keel and bilge keels fitted and the plywood centreboard case that sticks out of the hull needs a hardwood casing. All of these bits are necessary to provide some protection to the hull when (inevitably) the bottom strikes some hard stuff, either gently as the skipper deliberately parks her for a night so he can sleep on board above sea level or (more likely) he’s not been paying enough attention to navigation.

The glass fibre cloth in place on the bottm

Another delivery arrived – a few feet of Utilie.1 This is a lovely dark brown wood, usually with a smooth, close grain. I had elected to have standard sawn sizes, rather than bespoke sizes2 and the first thing to be done was to convert my hand held electric circular saw to some sort of bench saw.4

A large piece of rough plywood and some offcuts of roofing joists were soon cobbled into shape and there is was – a bench saw. As a sop to ‘ealth ‘n safety I fitted an earth leakage trip in the electric supply and placed the stop button near my foot.

To my great surprise, it worked quite well and I was able to trim the planks to the required sections without trimming bits off me……

Here I am fitting the protective bits around the centreboard case – the weather had warmed up for the day!

The protection for the centre board case used two pieces of 50 x 25 mm section, each just over a metre5 long. A trial fit showed that they needed to be bent to match the curve of the hull. Fortunately I found that the force need to bend them wasn’t that great provided I could devise a mean to apply it. In the end I settled for a loop of rope through the centre board case at one end and a weight at the other. As you can see from the video, I supplied the weight and then used G cramps and friction to hold them inplace whilst the epoxy set.

The two bilge keels needed bending too but there was no convenient centre board case to hand, so I temporarily screwed them in place from inside the hull. After the epoxy had set, I was able to remove the screws and fill the holes.

The keel strips were another matter. The yard had supplied three pieces of utilie, cut to shape to form the stem and the first two pieces of the keel, where the bend round the forefoot was through 90o on a tight radius. The next pieces of the keel (up to and aft of the centre board case) were to be made out of 35 x 40mm section. Cut to lenght, these pieces wouldn’t fit my steamer, so I scrounged a piece of sewer pipe from the builders yard and built a bigger one. Despite soaking the timber in water overnight, and steaming each piece for 6 hours, I could not entice them to bend and stay bent to conform to the required curve. In the end I cut the timbers into strips about 10 mm thick to laminate them into position. This worked really well, only needing a selection of building bricks6 at end to make the laminate conform to the keel. Four triangular blocks, 30mm think, formed a transition from the keel to centreboard case.

The electric “thicknesser” – or plane, as I prefer to call it – smoothed out irregulaties at the joins and it all looked rather professional.7

Rough carpentry done. Fairing can commence. But that will be in another episode.

Rough carpentry completed

NOTES

1. Well, metres of the stuff which, I was assured, was from an FSC approved forest

2. At the time of ordering, I had only a rough idea of the sizes I would need, so couldn’t be specific3

3. It was more economical too.

4. I had been meaning to do this since I bought the thing about 20 years ago

5. Conversion for those on the west of the North Atlantic and for the brexiteers who still cling to the Empire.

6 The builders yard has a plentiful supply!

7. From a distance.

Deliveries Deliveries

I notice that it’s more than a fortnight 1 since the last post. MY faithfully follower (s) will have given up, Google will have lost me and Facebook – well I don’t think FB knows me – I’ll never be able to live on the proceeds of blogging.

Enough.

Two weeks ago I ran out of glue 3 – well Epoxy to be precise. So I had a chat with the Bank Manager 4 and ordered some more. This time, as it seemed that summer had set in, I ordered the hardener part that likes higher temperatures. As one of my commentariat has pointed out (with a one word comment of “No” to my last post), the summer that the UK enjoyed in May has given way to a distinctly chilly and wet early June. So probably not a good idea. Anyway, the Epoxy duly arrived, together with a tub5 of smooth filler (required, I am reliably informed, for the fairing operation that will take the next month or so), and work resumed.

The next task was to cover the bottom of the boat with glassfibre cloth. The idea of this is to give the plywood some protection when the owner (or other users) run onto the hard stuff (sand or mud, I hope, not pointy rocks) either on purpose (to let off unruly crew) or through lack of attention (a sign of oncoming Alzheimers).

I viewed this operation with some trepidation. How would this cloth drape itself over this boat shape with out funny folds or ruckles? After a little cogitation, I convinced myself it would not be a problem – after all, wasn’t the hull made of pieces of wood that originally been flat? So, if I cut the cloth into pieces that reflected the original plywood panels it should be OK. But I find cloth is a b****r to handle and decided to cover the bottom four plywood sheets 6 with 6 pieces of cloth.

So I cut out the cloth into the right sized pieces. Then the trouble started – no matter how carefully I cut the cloth, once cut the cloth seemed determined to snag on every little lump on the hull and the warp and weft seemed to want to be parted 0 they unravelled at every opportunity. It took great care not to end up with a piece of the stuff that looked like a flag that had been flying for years in high winds. It (and me) were definitely frayed at the edges.

Finally suitable pieces were cut and arranged on the bottom – it seemed to work quite well when I tried it out “dry” – without epoxy. I also had to cut out matching pieces of Peel Ply. There then followed a period of epoxy mixing, spreading it on the hull and then, with trepidation, laying the cloth in place and smoothing it out. Start from the middle outwards, say the books. Well, it started off well but then the cloth moved and shrank and expanded and crinkled and ruckled and would not lay down.  Eventually each sheet was cajoled into place, overlapping at the joins and turning over the chine edge onto the second plank. The peel ply cloth was laid in place, smoothed out and the bubbles between it and the glass cloth were chased with a squeegy to the edges.

That’s the first part of the job down – now for lunch. When I get back, I should be able to lift the edges at the joins and carefully cut the sheets so that the overlaps are converted to lap joints. I should have plenty of time – I was using the slower setting hardener.

Wrong. It was all stuck irretrievably together. “It’s OK”, I thought “It looks fine – if necessary I’ll just cover it over with the smooth filler”.

So I fiddled about putting the rudder stock together and sanding the rudder blade into a sort of aerofoil section and then went home.

At home, there had been another delivery of Epoxy, hardener and smooth filler…..Who ordered that?

Notes

  1. In fact its  almost a month since I last put fingers to keys.
  2. Obviously both Google and FB know all about me (as well as everybody else)– I just pretend that they don’t.
  3. The Owners Agent is convinced that the boat is made of glue and nothing else.
  4. AKA The owners agent – this confirming her view about the composition of the boat (see note 3 above). If it were to be so, I point out to her that it would be even more expensive as, so far, the glue has cost £800!
  5. Think of a tub of popcorn that you used to buy at the cinema and multiply by 10 in all dimensions

Rollover Day!

Hello, dear reader. Are you sitting comfortably or are you in the queue of traffic dashing to Dorset, only to be deterred by the local Police?  It’s the “late spring ”Bank Holiday in Staying Alert England and still lockdown in the wee lassies Scottish Empire, and the other outlying parts of the UK. We’ve just had a week of warm and settled weather and, in typical fashion, the weather has broken for the holiday weekend.

The other day I arrived at the cow boat shed to report for work as usual, flung back the pair of sliding doors and was assailed by a cloud of angry bees. I beat a retreat to my inner tent 1 and then, when things had calmed down a bit , I went to find out what was going on. It seems that a small colony of white tailed bees have established themselves  in the cavity between the outside timber wall  and the inner Asbestos cement wall of the of the cow boat shed. They seem quite active, a dozen or so bees hard at work.

White tailed Bees at Work

I’d temporarily run out of things to do on the inside of the boat – all of the inside surfaces have been given a coat of epoxy. Those that are liable to flooding (the ballast tank and the capsize recovery tank) have been given several coats and have been given a snazzy blue gray colour.  I’ve even fitted a couple of fittings (the drain / flood bungs for the ballast tanks).

It was time for RollOver. Not the kind associated with the National Lottery 3– but one that turns the boat over so that I can work on her bottom. I needed some help so arranged for the Purser and the (ex) NDN 5 to provide me with some socially distanced hired muscle. Before they arrived, I had to remove the boat from the trailer and get that out of the way.

I had arrived at work that day by bike, forgetting that my task for the day would require the use of a jack. So, some improvisation was required. Fortunately, as regular readers will recall, the CBS 6 os part of an extensive graveyard7 of builders equipment part of which is a varied collection of bricks and lengths of timber. So I built towers of bricks, used levers and generally utilised late stone age technology and, at the cost of a few scraped knuckles and strained muscles, the boat was lifted high enough for the trailer to pass underneath and so out of the barn. The boat was lowered to the floor and then dragged sideways ready for ROLLOVER day.  We’d need the trailer tie downs for the morrow and some sort of softish support to rest the boat on.

The labourers arrived at the appointed hour and the camera was set rolling.  Pieces of softish insulation were put in position under the boat. The trailer tie downs were secured to one side of the boat and then passed underneath her and back to the hired muscle. I stood opposite them where the boat was at it’s widest and gave the command. I lifted, they pulled and before you could blink, she was standing on her side and the hired muscle held her there.  Between us we walked her towards the stove to give more space to let her down in and slowly we lowered her to the floor.

Roll Over

Job done and the muscle went home. She then needed lifting off the floor to make working on her easier for my back.

A day spent rubbing her down 8 with sandpaper and getting ready to glue and tape the joints between the planks and between the hull and the centre board. I need to buy some more Epoxy before starting that set of tasks.

In the meantime, enjoy your trip to Dorset and back.

Notes

  1. The physical one, made out of cheap white tarpaulins, not the metaphorical (mental) tent 2
  2. According to the owners agent, I’m in that most of the time
  3. This lottery, introduced in the time of John Majors premiership is (in my view) a voluntary tax, so I do not participate. 4
  4. It’s used by the lottery fund to pay for a lot of stuff that used to be met out of GeneralTaxation
  5. Next Door Neighbour
  6. cow boat shed
  7. I think he refers to it all as “stock”.
  8. This seems to be known as “faring” in the boat building trade. I think there’s a lot more to come become she is ready.

Lock Down 3 – Mid May Motors

It’s now mid May. The trouble with writing a blog is you have to keep at it or your  reportage becomes rapidly out of date. My reader(s) (yes, there is now more than one of you) would think that with this lockdown stuff there would be oodles of time for me to put my thoughts on paper 1 as well do the boat building. Sadly, this is not the case for it seems that search engines produce the same time dilation effects as those emanating from  libraries and book shops (see previous posts on this matter). I apologise to one of my readers – the insurance underwriter (ret’d) – he is complaining that he doesn’t understand my blogs anymore because of these weird references so he’s probably watching cricket or golf – except that there isn’t any at the moment. 2

But, as usual, I digress. Now for some nature notes. 3 The weather can’t make up it’s mind about the season. On Monday last week, the workshop fire went unlit for the first time since I started this project. Only for one day, because we seem to be back in winters grip, with strong gales that rip the young leaves off the tress behind the cow boat shed. Speaking of cows, the farmer has bought some livestock. Last weekend he moved them into the field adjacent to my shed.  They were curious beasts and came to see what I was up to.

They soon wandered off when they discovered I hadn’t any buckets containing calf nuts (or whatever). No wonder the one in the middle looks cross.

Other news: I had an exciting (and probably illegal) visit early last week. It was the purser, last seen in blog form in Vagabond on the north Cornish coast. He was excited by the project and has requested to be present at the launch. That’s at least five who want to come – I’ll be able to sell tickets soon.

Now to the exciting topic of the motor. The designer and I had decided that it is time to go green and be rid of the noisy, oily  and smelly outboard that is usually hung on the back of a small boat. Yes, I now it’s going to have a sail (lug rigged) and even oars. But there will be a time when these can’t be used 4 so some form of engine is essential.

The intention is to use a new electric motor known as a Pod 1 supplied by epropulsion. Here’s a photo (taken from their web site).

The design of the boat has a well in the middle of the stern section that has been tailored round this Pod and the intention is that the Pod will be mounted in this well on some form of lifting platform so that the motor can be raised from the water when it’s not in use. 5

‘Don’t worry about that’ I said loftily to the designer, I’ll sort that out. It’s now time to put my creative skills to work.

A prototype of my efforts is shown in the next video, together with voice over. 6

Clearly, the design needs a bit of refinement! Now I know that there is room for the motor, I suppose I’d beter buy one, rather rely on the wooden blocks!

That’s about it as far as the motor is concerned.

Other stuff that’s been done in the last couple of week has been the addition of scantlings and lips around all the bulkheads in the boat, to add a bit of stiffness and to provide some “lands” on which to glue decks. The interior faces of the ballast tank and the various buoyancy compartments have been coated in epoxy to try to make them waterproof. Now that’s a really messy job.

We’re almost at the stage of gluing on the deck. But I’m sure there’s lots more I’ve go to do before taking that step.

You’ll have to wait for the next thrilling instalment.

Notes

1 A little outdated I’m afraid. I am actually bashing the keys on a pc.

2 Although I’m wrong about golf, I think our great leader Boris allowed it to be legal between consenting adults as of today!

3 This will annoy the other of my regular reader who complained the other week about woodpeckers etc

4 E.G. when the owner has mislaid the oars and nature has lost the wind

5 Or can be lifted out of the way when there is a danger of running into the hard stuff

6 Does this mean that I’m now a vlogger?

By the way, the pursers last exploits can be seen at :

http://vagabond-round-britain.blogspot.com/2012/07/westward-ho-and-ilfracombe.html).

Lockdown 2

It’s nearly the end of April and the last few weeks have seen great changes and contrasts. The weather has switched from cold to hot and back to cold again with some welcome rain. Then it was hot again Spring flowers came out and then stuttered and slowly matured. The Bluebells have been at their most intense blue throughout the local woods. Honesty and Herb Robert compete on the grass verges. Suddenly, the Hawthorn is in flower and it’s not even May. And now it’s cold again with some welcome heavy rain.

There been little motor traffic and no aircraft, making the birdsong seem intense. Woodpeckers pounded themselves silly in the woods close by the boat shed and large bumble bees thundered around looking for who knows what. One came into the boatshed and disappeared into an empty post hole in the floor.

Despite all these distractions, the boat is coming into shape. Scantlings 1 have been glued along the outside top corners of each bulkhead, steam bent into shape at the bows.2  

The top plank (sorry, plank 3) was tack glued to this strip whilst cable ties held the bottom of it to plank 2. Similar wooden strips have been glued to the sides of the various bulkheads to provide resting places for the cockpit floor, the “capsize righting” tank and other buoyancy tanks.

Steaming with a stripper

The horizontal “decks” have been adjusted to fit and a start has been made with epoxy coating the insides of the ballast and buoyancy tanks. Now that the workshop is warmer (thanks to the weather), I’ve had to watch how long mixed epoxy lay unused and what sort of container it’s been in. On a couple of occasions, the container has been too deep and the material had been left unused for too long. The chemical reaction became strongly exothermic and let off visible fumes 3 and I had to hurriedly take the container outside.

Despite this, plank 3 has been glued in place, and the “capsize righting tank” has been painted internally and glued in place. I’ll explain all that in a later edition.  I still haven’t told you about the motor pod.

It will have to wait for the next edition.

Notes

1 Scantlings are thin strip that run longitudinally along the boat to provide form for the plywood planking. I called them stringers when building model aeroplanes several decades ago.

2 An elderly steam wallpaper stripper steamed merrily away for about 90 minutes for each scantling. By then the steamer was dry but the larch was wet and flexible.

3. No doubt toxic

LockDown – 1

As my regular reader will know, time keeping in the boat building blog is a matter of relativity. As far as the waves of effort emanating from the boat shed are concerned, only those issued from the source during the first week of UK Covid 19 lockdown have passed through the open slit of the workshop door to be resolved as particles on the screen of this blog. They can now be observed without disturbing the fabric of known space (or unknown space, who knows?).

It’s the end of week 1 of lockdown. I’ve not (yet?) received a letter from my GP telling me that I’m a real health risk, so that’s a point in his favour but it doesn’t help me get a delivery slot from Tesco. Nor have I received the letter that Boris Johnson has promised us all. By the time we get it, the info contained therein will probably be out of date. So, (shh) I’m continuing working – after all I can’t work on the boat from home……

By the way, I had query from the retired anaesthetist concerning the photo of the dead accurate placing of the centreboard case. He claimed that there was a dead animal at one end of the floor. As far as I know, no animals have been harmed (so far) in this bit of boat building but I thought I had better investigate – there’s certainly something odd in the photograph. I found the original. It wasn’t much help having been taken on a mobile phone in low light, however, I think the item in question is a tape measure with a couple of inches of tape still sticking out of the case! You can judge for yourself. 1    

This week has seen the fitting of the last internal bulkheads that will be under the cockpit floor in the fullness of time. It’s been fiddly work, either leaning over the side of the boat to reach stuff deep inside or climbing into the hull to work on bits near the centre line. This has been accomplished whilst radio 4 plays in the background, so I have been kept fully (if not over) informed about the progress of the pandemic. I note that Womens Hour has reverted to the 1950’s and now talks about cooking and “making do”: it seems to have lost  the woke focus on transgender issues. I suppose I could listen to something else but the wireless I’m using only works on VHF, DAB hadn’t been invented when it was built, let alone the internet. Also, there’s no wi fi within a mile or so of the shed and the mobile signal is 4 G if you’re lucky so the idea of streaming something is for the birds.2

Oops, I’ve wandered off topic. Back to boat building. If you’ve been wondering why there are all these bulkheads under the cockpit floor, they exist for two reasons one is for buoyancy and the other is for balance3. To keep the boat light (so an older user can handle her out of the water) the only ballast she carries (apart from the crew) will be water, so one set of under floor bulkheads form the forward and aft ends of the ballast tank. Another set, under the aft part of the cockpit form a buoyancy tank and, in the middle of this lot is a small well (or sump) that forms the bilge. You can see all this in the photo below. The front of the boat is to the left and the strip stuck to the starboard side will support the floor of the cockpit over the water ballast tank. The bilge well has a piece of glassfibre woven tape draped eligantly over one side.

On the right of the picture is the buoyancy tank that will be under the rear floor of the cockpit. There’s now a boring but essential job to be done; to glue strips of larch along the top edges of all these bulkheads to provide “lands” for the cockpit floor.

So far so good. Next week, if I’m still allowed to boat build, I’ll talk about the motor room.

Notes

1. On reflection, the photo gives little indication of the scale of this boat. The r.a. clearly thinks I’m making something about 30 feet long – in fact it’s less than half that!

2. There are a lot of those about. A pair of buzzards live in the adjacent wood, Red Kites swirl across the sky and flocks of pigeons play hide and seek with a pair of kestrels

3. Note, I’m not talking about the BBC

Precision Required

It’s still March (2020). It’s BCSD1 as far as the blog is concerned (just). Loyal readers (all two of youwill notice that there is no time lapse video in this post. The management apologies for this omission – it was initially due to a memory lapse by the operator and then a shortage of critical equipment meant that this facility was temporarily unavailable.

It’s time to fit the centre board case. As they used to say on Blue Peter 2, it’s something I made up earlier – a hollow open sided rectangular box about 4 ft long x 2 ft high x 2 inches wide 5. The long top and bottom sides are open so I leave you to imagine how flexible the whole thing was.

The snag is the inside needed to be lined with glass fibre cloth and I could not work out how to do this after the box had been assembled, so I made it in two L shaped pieces – each consisting of a big side slab and a little end flap. Glass fibre cloth was epoxied in place on the inside surfaces of the L and then, once everything was fixed but not totally cured, the two L were married together. Thickened Epoxy was slathered over the inside of each end and a piece of glass fibre tape was lowered through the slot and pressed firmly into the goop. Not particularly pretty, but I hope effective.

Now back to fitting the slot into the hull.

I needed to climb into the hull. This would be the first time I’de attempted this feat. Would it take my weight? The hull has a 4 foot long slot in it where the centre board case will fit, between the left and right (oops, port and starboard) sides of the bottom plank (sorry, plank 1 7). So the bottom of the boat is quite bendy without the slot glued in place. Fortunately, the underlying trailer has a convenient transverse beam in the right place and there were a few pieces of 18 mm plywood lying around so a pair of supports were made to hold up the planks and there was a space for the centre board case to fit between them as it  protruded through the hull.

I climbed gingerly into onto the hull – there were a few creaks and groans but no rending sounds so the first test was passed. The centre board was “offered up” and the slot was found to be slightly short. Easily fixed with a rasp.

But then the implications of this slot hit home – if it wasn’t lined up longitudinally and vertically true to the hull, the centreboard would be all wonky and she wouldn’t sail at all well.

Back to all that wearing alignment of the hull with the laser guide. I needed to use the camera mount to hold the laser level…(in this case for a vertical line).

Laser display

This turned out to be quite simple and the case was soon lined up and tack glued into place.

The following day I mixed up lots of Epoxy, thickened it with filler, wetted the joints with un-thickend epoxy, soaked yards of woven glass fibre tape in un-thickened epoxy and glued the case in place with lovely filleted joints.

Phew.

Notes

1 Before Corona Shut Sown

2        

File:Blue Peter.gif

Blue Peter 3

                                                                              

3 Not that Blue Peter (international code flag P). I mean the childrens programme on BBC TV (is it still being shown?) where the presenters made stuff using sticky backed plastic 4

4 I never got a badge

5 1.2 x 0.6 x 0.05 metres. 6

7. See nomenclature in a previous post “And a few steps back”

8 I’d left the laser display board at home and Samantha too 4

9 Apologies to I’m Sorry I haven’t Clue and the late Humphrey Littleton.

Mad March winds

It’s now (in real time 1 ) the second week of March. The last three weeks have seen almost continuous rain and strong winds across the UK. But the builder and the owners agent have not been here to experience them. We’ve been skulking in the antipodes, in relatively benign conditions (except where we particularly needed clear weather). Now back in the UK we find the local intermittent chalk stream in full flow – the first time for over four years – as the water table has finally risen above the spring line. The local fields are sodden and trodden into seas of mud by cattle or horses. But the daffodils are coming out and there’s even a sign of green leaves on the local blackthorn.

Enough of these nature notes: I wonder how the cow boatshed had survived this turbulent atmosphere.

So, we awaken Martina from a four week slumber and trundle north west, along the valley road. Then up rocky lane, passing a sea of mud where HS2 work is restarting. Through the various copses before turning onto the farm. Still up, past the old chicken sheds, turn left by the yellow (sometime) site office, towards the bonfire site.

Somebody has helpfully put a skip in the way. Turn towards the scouts canoes and then reverse down the track to park outside the shed doors. But do make sure you miss the old site loo.

So far, so good.

Past the scouts canoes, a digger other useful stuff

The empty plaster tank is still there – so perhaps no one has been in. Slide it away and open the doors the would be boat is still there – a trifle damp and dusty but unchanged from when I last worked on it. It’s blowing hard outside, the roof creaks and groans and the sliding doors rattle on their rusty tracks. But we must get on.

Mind the old loo
The doors had not been touched!

Bring in the tools. Light the fire. Fetch the water. Today is rubbing down day.

Before I left at the end of January, I had tacked in place a couple of longitudinal bulkheads that make up the cockpit sides. First positioning them and holding them in place with cable ties and then “tack welding” their edges in place with little strips of mixed epoxy.  I’d put the sides and end of the engine bay in, too and held the transom against them, using the former supplied to bend it to the right shape. All these “tacked” joints need  to be roughened with sandpaper before a glass tape covered fillet can be laid over the joints.

So that’s todays weary task. The spaces are too small to get at with an orbital sander, so it’s all to be done by hand. The dust gets everywhere. The vacuum cleaner 2 howls in the background in an attempt to keep it down. I’d forgotten to don my overalls, so my clothes became dusty too. My hair became whiter that ever – but a least I had had the sense to wear a dust filter mask.3

After several hours of finger and hand weary work, the job was done, the obvious dust cleared from the boat and the joints all rubbed over with a tac rag or two. 4

Another day: now to start filleting the joints.5

Filleting a joint makes the glue joint very strong. You mix up a large lump of polyester resin and hardener and mix into it a filler material that bulks it up and makes it stiffer. This is then spread along the joint and shaped to make it appear a bit like the coving between a ceiling and a wall. Then glass fibre tape is coated with more mixed resin (this time without the filler) and laid along the joint, Two or three layers are applied. It’s very messy and sticky and has to be done quite quickly otherwise the resin will set before you have finished.

The joints between the longitudinal bulkheads and the planks of the hull were each about 3 metres long. It took me ages. Then there were some fiddly small ones to do around the engine housing. But they are yet to be done.

I hope that I can now walk on the inside of the hull so that I can put the centre board case in place.
Almost looking like a boat

Notes

  1. Now there’s a phrase that’s worth conjuring with.  It seems that neither physicists nor philosophers can agree on what time is or how it is made up, let alone why it can’t run backwards.
  2. Not the household one, the owners agent takes a dim view of such items being misappropriated for unofficial uses. It’s the one used to clean out the pond.
  3.  was not trying to avoid  Corona virus – having spent several hours in the terminal buildings in Hong Kong last week, I don’t think there’s much point. I’ll just self isolate in the boat shed for a couple of weeks
  4. If you haven’t come across these things, I recommend them for the final clean of surfaces before they are painted. The tac rag is a cloth impregnated with some sort of sticky stuff (a bit like a fly paper, I suppose). When you rub it across a surface that you think is clean it’s amazing how much stuff is picked up.
  5. No, I’ve not started a butchery business (although, looking at the quality of the carpentry, some might think so).