It’s a month since I’ve blogged (or whatever the term is). My regular reader must be wondering if I have succumbed to the virus (which one do they ask?) None, I say but the one of mild laziness. I’ve actually been quite busy but doing other things, one of which being pretending to do some research for my PhD. I’ve actually been to the British library, for the first time for almost a year. I’ve been on London Underground. It’s almost civilised, as you can see from this photo, taken on the Circle line at Kings Cross at 3:30 on a Thursday! Social distancing was NOT a problem.
(I suspect everyon was crowded together in Regent Street)
But enough of this social comment, let’s get back to boatbuilding. The more assiduous of my readers will remember that I had a blog post some time ago about lockers and realised that my approach towards making them in some specially selected spaces in the forward end of the cockpit was totally wrong. They wouldn’t have been watertight and would have flooded in the event of a capsize which meant that would I be unable right the boat and she’d probably sink. Which wouldn’t do it all.
I had then bought some rectangular hatch plates which turned out to be too big. So I gave up the whole idea and sealed the hollow spaces when I put the deck on.
In the meantime, I found some circular hatch plates that were about the right size and had ordered two of them. They finally arrived but I realised they needed entirely flat deck to sit on to keep them watertight. The area I had chosen to install them was curved in at least one, if not two, directions. I needed some way of getting a thin flat ring glued to the deck on each side of the cockpit over the space where each locker could be. I retired to my bath for some thinking space.
This proved unsuccessful but the following morning I had the solution. The hatch plates are circular and fit over a circular hole in the deck. The watertight joint between the hatchplate and the deck is formed by a an annular rubber seal stuck to the underside of the hatch plate just inside its outer edge. I needed to glue an annular mating face onto the deck. Here was the plan: if I cut a thin disc to the diameter of the deckplate and a thick disc th same size, I could use the thick disc to keep the thin one flat whilst it was expoxied to the deck. Then I could cut a circle through the two pieces of ply and the deck and lift out the piece in the middle. Provided that the glue holding the two discs together was not covering the outer ring of the disks, I could then lift off the outer ring of the thick piece and there was the mating face glued to the deck. Her’s how it looked:
So now we had hatches. But the cockpit rim looked untidy – it was all raw edges of ply wood.1 Something had to be done.
So I cut some thin pieces of Utilie and started epoxying them to the edges. They had to be very thin so that they could be laminated around the corners of the cockpit it was a fiddly and messy job, requiring many spring clips and cross cockpit supports.
And that, as they say, was the end of the glueing for a bit. It was time to get her painted. I’d arranged with the boatyard that they would do a professional job on her on the basis that it would cover up all the defects in my workmanship! The only trouble was that the boatyard was in Wales and England was locked down because of the virus.
The first thing to do was to get the boat and the trailer out of the shed and that took most of the day. I had to find some more pallets to build a better roadway immediately outside the door and then the ensemble was pushed gingerly outside and turned round so that Martina (the car) could be back down towards the towing hitch. Oh dear, I nearly forgot to strap the boat to the trailer! And then I had to find the lightbar and test it. I towed the trailer and the boat down the barn near the road and left them there for the night.
The following morning we were off. It was a misty start. Martina ) and I towed her across (or rather round) the Cotswolds, roughly following the line of the Ridgeway, along an almost empty M4 (well it was still lockdown in England) to cross the Severn at Bristol into Wales, where it started to rain in torrents. Along the South Coast of the Principality, past Port Talbot and then up to Cardigan. It was foggy, damp and cold when I arrived at the Boat Yard and left her in their care. I assume she’s still there in their new paint shop……..I hope they’ve started painting her.
That’s it for the time being – more to follow next year – I hope.
The observant ready will notice a certain amount of artistic licence in this blog. It’s all to do with the relative nature of time and whether a writer is obliged to record everything in strict chronological order.
As I write this it’s the beginning of November. We had our first frost of winter this morning after what seems like weeks of rain. But I must get on, I’m meant to be taking the boat to Wales to be painted in the middle of this month. Whether I can or not depends upon the new lockdown. Can I classify the trip as work? If so we can go. If not we can’t. It’s a moral question for the moral maze that we all now inhabit.
Anyway, putting that to one side of the moment (as the salesman are taught to say), I had better report on progress. The chimney has been cleaned and the stove works. A new chain on the chainsaw makes light work of cutting up pallets to feed the stove.
Most of the cattle have been sold, so I no longer hear them attacking the water trough behind the shed or noisily chewing the cud as they moodily observed progress. Charms of Goldfinches gathered in the woods as the leaves and rain fell in torrents.
The farmer tells me he is looking for more shed space. Would be customers of his appear at my door telling me that I’ll soon be finished. I tell them that you never finish building a boat and I’m keeping my retreat. I’ve no intention of moving out. I’m feeling frosty towards them all and battening down the hatches.
Speaking of which, back to the boat. I had been pondering the hole (sorry, the hatchway) in the foredeck. Was I really meant to go sailing with that wide open? Despite the buoyancy tanks I imagined the boat diving like a submarine when in a head sea. I had already glued a raised lip around the hole but decided that wouldn’t be adequate.
“It’ll need a cover to fit over the top (and round the lip)”, I thought. “ But, the hole is a ’designer’ hole, not a simple rectangle but with a curved side and corners. To help matters, the deck it sits in is curved – or cambered as the yacht designers say. It’s not going to be easy.”
This all posed a challenge. The hatch had to conform with the camber of the deck. More inventing required. I decided to make it out of a double layer of plywood. The bottom one would be a match to the plan of the outside of the lip, the other somewhat larger. The mating faces would be coated with epoxy, there then clamped to the deck whilst the epoxy set. The sides would be strips of plywood epoxied to the sides of the bottom layer of the cover. Three were easy for they were straight; the fourth was curved and would need some sort of former to hold it in place whilst the epoxy “went off”. Then there were the rounded corners to consider.
I thought I’d leave that for another day or to and set to “make it so” (as Captain Kirk would have said)……Two days later the epoxy had set and the “trial fit” of the cover showed that, so far, it was OK.
Now for the corners. I had already used “slotted” pieces of ply to make the corners for the lip, so I thought I’d try the same pocess again. I made a jig to cut the slots, cut a trial slot, counting the saw strokes as I went until I thought it was deep enough. 20 strokes were about right. 60 saw cuts later, I had one set of “slotted” wood for one corner. Only another 3600 saw strokes to go.
By the time I had got to the third strip, I was onto a new piece of plywood – it didn’t have the same characteristics as the first and, to make matters worse, was not very uniform. So we had a few cuts that were too deep (bad) and several that were too shallow (not good, but could be rectified). Eventually there were four pieces of slotted wood that could be carefully bent round the corners (against the bottom of the hatch) and held in place by packaging tape whilst the epoxy set. Phew.
Of course, it didn’t fit. It took few hours of “fettling” before the lid fitted, with enough slack to allow for coats of paint (perhaps).
The centre board was antifouled (I had taken this home to do over a wet weekend).
.The rudder gudeon and pintle were fitted to the transom with a stainless steel plate in place behind (well, in front really) of it. Their twins were fitted to the rudder stock and the rudder stock and blade were “trial” assembled and hung on the gudgeons and pintles.
Now what else it there to do/ Lots. Find out in the next exciting instalment.
All over the northern hemisphere the clocks change tonight and we all experience collective jet lag for a day or three until the body clock gets back into synchronicity. Then it’s Halloween and then (in England) Bonfire night and before you know it it will be Christmas (except in Scotland, where it’s been cancelled by the wee lassie with the pursed lips and her team). The local shops (those that are still in business) are aleady garlanded and, I have no doubt, teams of Elves are churning out expensive “Holly and Ivy” , or Reinder and Robin face masks, so that we can all look even more ridiculous – paricularly when we wear that “Christmas” pullover 1 that has ben cowering in the drawer since last Boxing Day. 2
In the meantime there’s been a little progress in the boat shed. She’s now on the trailer. After much thought, suitable lengths of wood were scrounged from the surroundings, lots of bricks were piled on top of each other and levers applied to stout parts of the boat. She was lifted and pushed sideways. The trailer was inched past and she was pushed sideways the other way and lowered onto the bare trailer. Then came the task of sorting out bits of the trailer that were meant to take the load and adjusting them to evenly distibute the weight.
I’d fogotten to put an eye in the bow to secure her. With some trepidation, I drilled a 1 inch hole across the boat, immediately behind the Utilie stem post. Then a hole (longitudinally this time) through the post. The threaded stem of an eye bolt was pushed into the hole and a nut pursuaded to screw onto the stem. The hole was then filld with epoxy and it all looked as goods as new…….Will it stand the strain when hauling her onto the trailer? Time will tell.
Now it was time to get on with other stuff
Like Fairing the deck.
Putting the filler on was easy – it’s the rubbing it all off again that takes the time. Luckily (?) the weather had turned cold and you will notice that the elegant Swallow Yachts woolly hat has made a reappearance (and the scruffy overalls). It was so parky a couple of days that I lit the woodburning stove. Or, at least I tried to light it. It puffed smoke furiously into the shed. ‘The chimney must be cold’ I thought and suffed a burning piece of paper up it. That didn’t work. ‘The damper must be stuck’ I thought. Yes- stuck open.
So it’s not the damper. There’s only one thing for it, take the chimney apart.
Now we can keep warm. I expect the weather will get warmer too.
Despite the thunder and lightning at the end of August, summer has conducted a fighting retreat and September has been a glorious month. The local harvest has been safely gathered in, basking in warm sunshine. Nonetheless, the evening twilight comes earlier and is increasingly chilly to remind us of what’s coming. The leaves are turning on the trees and rattle (yes, rattle, not rustle) in the stroner breezes.
To the sound of mice running around the insulation in the cow boatshed roof, the boat building has continued. To be honest, it’s getting a bit tedious. All the big stuff has been done, it looks like a boat and she’s itching to get in the water (or I’m itching to get her in the water). I’ve even got a name for her……..
But there’s lots and lots of details to be completed. And, as the Owners Agent will be delighted to tell you, I’m not a completer finisher.1 So this bit of the build is proving difficult for me and I’m always finding things to do that do not include boat building.
The gunnels down the side of the boat (at the join between hull and deck) are to be made of hardwood, about 70 mm wide and 10mm thick. The timber that I had was 3 m long, but each gunnel is over 3.5 m, This meant that scarf joints were required. These are joints where the ends of two pieces of wood to be joined are cut at the same shallow angle and then the resultant faces glued together to make one long piece of straight timber.
I don’t have the skill to make such joints by eye, so made up a jig that would hold each piece of timber at a constant angle to the saw blade. The Mark 2 version worked surprisingly well.
The decks have been glued to the hull, so some compartments have now been sealed permanently (I did vacuum and wipe them clean before gluing the deck on and counted my tools to make sure I hadn’t left any behind). The decks have some awkward camber angles and I was a little at a loss about how to clamp them in place whilst the epoxy set. In the end I used stainless steel wood screws to hold them down. There is a danger with this technique as the effects of temperature changes might make such screws emerge from the deck over time so I crossed my fingers when screwing them in, hoping that I could get them out2. To my surprise (and delight) I was able to extract most of the screws after the epoxy had set. Those that I couldn’t extract usually hid themselves as the screw heads shearied off.
I’m now reinforcing the edge of the deck around the cockpit and forward hatch, fixing some hardwood edging around the centreboard base, making up a grating for the bilge well and upper and lower supports for the mast.
Now the deck is in place, I can tackle the awkward gunnel around the transom but the bend required here is too much for one thickness, so I will have to resort to laminating it. Here’s a selection of pictures:
There’s still lots to do before I can take her to be painted – getting her on the trailer will be a big challenge for she is now heavier than I can lift on my own…..
A long time ago, when team building was the management buzz word 3, I had to complete a survey of my management traits. I discovered I was a “plant”4 and wasn’t very pleased about it.
A bit like Boris when he signed the “Leave the EU” treaty although I don’t have to break international law when not boat building.
It probably still is (or would be if you workers were allowed to meet f2f).
It turned out that a plant was (is?) s someone who is full of ideas: I was moderately pleased about that until I read the next bit of the description “some of a “plants” ideas might be useful if given to a completer finisher to execute but most were usually judged to be too ‘off the wall’5 to be any good”.
It’s a wet, chill afternoon in late August. Lightning bolts have lit the sky and thunder has rolled around the Chiltern Hills. The epoxy is taking ages to set and I suppose I should light the stove. But the boat is too close to it and the epoxy is soft – it’s best not to move her. I know – I’ll write the blog, it’s been a while. Many thanks to all you who have expressed support (if not sympathy!). And please accept my deepest apologies, I’ve been forgetting to approve your comments. 1
Martyjn – the now not so new owner of Riff Raff – sent a photo of her from somewhere in Holland and said it was a good job that I’d thought about the waterline and the ballast tanks. It was but I fear my solution to the problem may have been a little cavalier – there were gaps and holes in insulation I used2 so she may not floaton an even keel when the tanks are fully loaded.
The retired anaesthetist thought I was being artistic in the build of the boat – I’m too sure why
Patmf likes the idea of a boat builder making his own tools – well, Pat, if you read on there’ll another one on display in this edition.
But, as usual, I digress, although less tangentially than usual.
I’ve checked. Blog time3 is still set in July, so it’s overdue for an update. Sadly, very little seems to have happened in the month. I’ve fitted the stem post. I’ve coated the main forward locker with white coloured epoxy – at least it might now be possible to see stuff in it. I’ve bought a pair of bronze rowlocks (very posh). A samson post has been fitted just ahead of the locker. The engine mounts have been glued in place. I’ve trial fitted the bulwarks and attempted to make two scarf joints. I’ve discovered that bending the bulwark timber round the transom is impossible…..
That’s it. I’ve also replaced my 8 yearold obsolete laptop with a new one. WWW no longer stands for world wide wait but why does getting the files from the old one, and getting it to remember all those passwords take so long?) . And I’ve attemptd to assist the cabin boy5 with his A level Maths……..
So, I suppose, you might like to know the detail. I think I’ve some photos.
The stem post was provided to me with the flat pack of plywood – machined out of (I assume) Utilie hardwood. I had already trial fitted it when I put in place the keel strips7 and also prepared a flat bed of epoxy on the prow so that the stem post would line up with the center line of the boat. All I had to do was mix up some epoxy, line everything up and push the stem post into place….
The laser level was fired up – but the batteries were flat. A trip to the local garage supplied new ones. The boat wasn’t level but I found a setting on the laser that allowed me to align the laser with the centre line none the less. The bottom end of the stem post had been shaped to match the hardwood at the foot of the stem and required careful positioning to make the join almost perfect. But how to hold it in place whilst the epoxy set? The weight of the post caused it to slip slowly downwards dispite the efforts of a G clamp over the top. Eventually I hit on the idea of glueing a small strip of plywood across the inside face of the post using an instant glue.8 This allowed the post to hang on the plywood bow in the right place and the G clamp then completed the fix. The epoxy was mixed up, slathered into place and, eight hours later the stem was complete.
Then followed the samson post. “Get a large square section of utilie and epoxy it to the forward side of the forward bulkhead” I was told. How large? “Large enough.” The biggest length I had was about 40mm x 30mm. So two were glued together and then sawn square. The laser pointer came into play again to place the post vertically on the bulkhead and it was epoxied into place. Then I spotted the obvious fault. OOPs, I hadn’t take equal amounts either side of the seam, so the Samson post has an obvious off centre join – but at least it’s lined across the boat, rather than fore and aft.9
The motor slide mounts in the well at the stern were postioned using a simple jig which had been “laser cut”10 somewhere in Scotland. These mounts have to be reasonably aligned so that the motor can slide up and down out of and into the water as required. After a little jiggling about and more instant glue, the jig was held in position and the utilie mounts were glued into place.
I sense that I’m in the home straight. Only the gunwales to fix in place, and then the deck and the rowlocks and a grid to cover the bilge well, the fairing of the top plank and the deck and the painting…
But I’m getting ahead of myself. The gunwale, that strip of wood that runs along the ede of the deck and plank three needed to be over 4.5 metres long. My timber was only three and a bit. This called for a scarf joint – a long diagonal joint in the timber. I knew I’ve never cut that unaided by hand so; it called for another jig. You’ll have to wait to discover how it worked out.
There done it. You can see them all now going back to the beginning of the project.
See previous post “Imagination and Bloody Mindedness” for the full story
This is a derivation of Terry Pratchet’s L space where all libraries are interconnected in space and time and you enter a library and lose all awareness of time and space. AS was outlined in both dimensions. Blog time was fully explained in a previous post but that itslf is now lost in the past. In summary blog time is time past, when the author last put finers to keys.4
The new computer and the old remote kybaord are kybord are not getting on too well. Somhow letters kep eing missed. It’s as if there’s Brmuda trianleof some sort, covering an area of the keyboard bounded (and including) etgvxs where, every now aain, ky presses are not rcognised. I think it might be related to coffee spill a week or so ago…..
Well he was when he helped me launch Vagabond several years ago. H’s now a 17 yar old, who is taller than me. 6
See an earlier post “Real Rough Carpentry”
Where would I have been without instant glue and accelerators? With more skin on my fingers.
I’m sory to go on about this, but lockers are important on a boat. All that stuff that you need to have to hand in case of merency: lifejackets, fenders, ropes, anchors, sandwhiches, beer 1 has to go somewhere, preferably in a place that doesn’t get wet and won’t fall over the side. So lockers with lids are IMPORTANT.
The designer had (after some pushing) let me have a pair of lockers with lids, one on on each side at the forward end of the cockpit. I’d agreed to provide the design for the lids without really considering too much about it. I thought a lid would be a flap in the deck, hinged on the outboard side, with a vertical inboard edge that matched the side of the cockpit.
At some point it occurred to me that the deck has a transverse curved camber, so the locker lids need to match this curve. Each lid would need an end piece to follow the curve shape and hold the lid to the camber. If I made these ends, and then held them in position (glued to outboard side of the plywood cockpit side), I could then glue them to the underside of the deck when it was fitted to the hull. Once the glue was dry, I could cut out the locker lids and they would hold the curve of the deck.
Well, that’s the plan. So I set to work making these false sides and the ends of the locker lids, whcih I duly glued to the outboard sides of the cockpit side panels. I had to create a straight ede for the hinge line and recognise that, at some point, gutters would need to be glued in place to stop the locker filling with water.
I sat back, in the aft corner of the cockpit, satisfied with my idea and the way it was progressing, and anticipating a gentle sail in some quiet waterway.3 I was looking at the place of the lockers and imagining getting ready to go alongside, with the locker lid open….
I woke with a start – with the locker lid open there was a large chunk out of the deck and that longitudinal bulkhead that forms the side of the cockpit. This might seriously damage the structure at a point of high load (sail, centreboard and wave bending stuff). Not only that, but I had the suspicion that the deck plan hereabouts was an inward curve.
The deck was placed in postion, the position of the locker lid was marked out on it and the cockpit side.
Never mind structural integrity, the shape of the deck rather b*****s things up.
I looks as if I’ll hae to revert to just having an oblong hatch within the deck that conforms with the locker rectangualr plan. At least it will still need to have ends that are shaped to match the camber, so they can stay in place and the time spent on them may not be wasted.
I wonder what desing impossiblity will present next week?
None of which is included in the “sail away” pricebut without which it is almost impossible to make the boat work or stop. 2
I’d omitted an anchor from the list
She’s getting quite boat shaped now and it’s easy to slip into these daydreams
Welcome back and thank you all for the comments. Please keep them coming in as I need the inspiration. I’ve discovered that building a boat is a combination of craft skill (for want of a better description), imagination and bloody mindedness. The last of these is most important. When I was assisting the designer with the specification of this “little” boat, I said that I wanted lockers in the sides of the cockpit. In my experience, there’s never enough locker space in a boat – for the fenders, the ropes, the anchors and all the other stuff that’s needed to take a boat from the “sailaway”1 condition to one that you can actually use.
The designer kindly left three locker spaces in the plan – I said, full of confidence and DoomBar2, ‘Don’t worry about the locker lids, I’ll take care of them’. I’m still thinking about it – the inventiveness (see above) is somewhat lacking – my initial idea involved cutting away a significant chunk of deck and of the longitudinal bulkhead ,as well as some tricky “preassembly” of the sides of the locker lids before the deck was glued on top. The bloody mindedness came into play when I continued to fiddle about to make my idea work, even though I realised it was totally impractica. After several days work, the main lockers were “put on hold” and I’ve contented myself with a couple of self draining “letter boxes” on each side of the cockpit.3
Don’t hold your breath for the solution.
So, it’s mid August, the Owners Agent wants to know how much progress has been made. After all, as she points out, the project is already 3 months late. She reminds me that my voyage round Britain in Vagabond took 3 years, not the one promised and she doesn’t want this bloody boat to take up so much of my time.
At least she’s upright4.
I managed to do that all by myself, although she did get stuck on her side for a few minutes – I’d forgotten how low the ceiling was in the workshop. Now she’s had the cockpit floors fitted. The aft floor covers a buoyancy tank and the forward floor covers the water ballast tank. This is one tank on each side of the centreboard case; these are connected by a pipe at the forward end to keep the water levels the same.
They are filled and emptied through the bilge well, just aft of the centreboard case. Just before I glued down the forward floor, I was imagining filling the ballast tanks. I’d pull out the plugs between the well and the tanks and then open the plug(s)5 in the bottom of the well. In theory, water would flood into the well and thence into each tank until the water level in the tanks was the same as outside the boat…..It just so happens that, for this water ballast system to work properly, both tanks must be full to the brim. If they are not, water will slosh down hill when the boat heels – Herald of Free Enterprise here we come 6. I phoned the Designer – ‘Oh yes’, he said. ‘ The waterline is a couple of inches below the cockpit floor – I meant to have told you to glue some foam to the underside of that floor’…….
So, a little imagination averted a potential disaster. The builders scrap lying around the cowsheds provided the necessary insulation foam and the floor was glued in place.7 The anticipated capsize test will tell me if there’s the same amount of foam in each tank 8….
That brings us to the end of July – when the Owners agent and I made a long anticipated visit to Fife to reunite with the shaman, herbalist and author of the family.9
To my surprise we were allowed into Scotland (and out again) without let or hindrance. I had my new passport at the ready.10
This is the advertised condition of a sail boat to give a prospective customer the idea that the boat is good value and that he/she can afford it. Unlike many advertising phrases, it means exactly what it says.
A rather tasty “artisanal” brew, once limited to Cornwall but now spreading
So at least I can store handy supplies of liquid (see note 1), sandwiches and other essential supplies, and still leave room for the hand bearing compass and the binoculars.
The boat that is.
This reminded me that these plugs are in my imagination only, as I had forgotten to fit them
A cross Channel car ferry that sank several years ago because water sloshed from one side to another.
I almost expect to have to take this floor up again next winter, after the capsize test8
Part of the acceptance trials, the full extent of which are yet to be determined – I expect the Owners Agent will have much to say on the subject.
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”.
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
Next week, the boat gets turned the right way up9 and gains a cockpit floor, a ballast tank and a bouyancy tank.
Do NOT attempt this with any modern battery – it could catch fire or explode!
One of my readers has sent me an email, suggesting I’m an artist. I’m not sure where he gets this idea from…….
Surprisingly few – only at bow and stern.
So far, over 100 metres of the stuff.
I’m sure you all have got the hang of converting metric to imperial by now
Never travel without it, particularly to the Moon – it saved the guys on Apollo 13 7
Assuming Apollos 11 and 12 didn’t take place in some unknown desert location
Don’t get excited. It’s only a pond vacuum cleaner.
Without all that hard work of leaning on the centre board – that comes later in life.
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.
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.
Now at the grand total of 3 in any one day – so much for making a living with this!
The making comments, that is.
Only temporarily, you understand.
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?