Thursday, August 10, 2017

Rudder Time

Despite life being way too busy to fit everything in, I am still hoping to get this boat done before the end of the season, but I'm beginning to think I'm dreaming about getting it done. All the little things are adding up and you can only do them so fast.  Even so, I've spent a few long nights in the shop this week and knocked out the rudder assembly.

The plans call for a swing up rudder accomplished by 2 cheeks that capture the blade on a pivot bolt. It's all hung on the boat with standard pintles and gudgeons that I sourced through Duckworks Boat Building Supply.

For the cheeks, I epoxied together 3 - 6 mm sheets of marine plywood.  I cut them quite a bit larger than the overall dimensions of the cheeks so I would have plenty of room for trimming later on.  Once these cured, I cut them down to the rough dimensions of the assembly and then found a nice piece of cherry to serve as the filler block and cut that to size.  After a few trial fits, I mixed up a batch of epoxy and glued and screwed the cheeks with the cherry filler block together and set them aside to cure.

For the blade, I dug out a 1x6 douglas fir board I had and cut it into 2 - 1120 mm pieces (1097 mm finished length) and then ripped them into 4 - 45 mm strips and 2 - 35 mm strips to get a total glued up width of greater than 244 mm (max design width).  I turned them end for end and then mixed up another batch of epoxy and slathered them up and lightly clamped them together before calling it a night.

The next morning I came back to find everything hardened up nicely and I got right to work whittling the blade down to size.
While I probably should have waited for a full cure to avoid gumming up my thickness planer blades, I went ahead and planed it down from 25 mm to 18 mm.  Fortunately, the planer didn't seem to care and all went well.

I located the final blade dimensions on the freshly planed rudder blank and then cut it out with a combination of the table saw and band saw along with a small helping of the Shinto rasp for the final details.  Now I dug out the tool that all wood should fear.... The belt sander.  I don't use it often because it is not a precise tool, but relies on brute force to make wood disappear.  This is good until you go too far, but I needed to remove a lot of material from the trailing edge for shaping and this can be a good tool for that when used judiciously.

It made quick work of the douglas fir and within 10 minutes I was close to final shape on the trailing edge.  I left a little for some finish work later on, but it's pretty close now.  For the leading edge, I used the low angle block plane, the Shinto rasp and some sandpaper to achieve the bull nose I was looking for.
I finished up the day by tapping the pivot hole for the blade and test mounted it in the cheek assembly.  It was a bit loose, but I will be glassing the blade and the extra width from the cloth should take up any space in the cheeks.

I still have to add about 5 pounds of lead to the blade before I glass it over and I'm currently waiting for some wheel weights I ordered on eBay to show up before do so.  I also plan on mounting a replaceable delrin bushing at the pivot hole so the 5/16" bolt holding it to the cheeks doesn't dig into the blade.

Knowing that I was about to start on the rudder project late last week I found and ordered a set of Racelite RL490 pintles and gudgeons from Duckworks Boat Building Supply in Port Townsend Washington (Racelite RL490).  I've ordered a fair amount of stuff from this place over the years and they have been very reliable and shipping is surprisingly fast even though it is literally on the other side of the country from New Hampshire.
The pintles and gudgeons showed up yesterday afternoon so I got right to work.  I had previously epoxied up a gudgeon cleat blank (as specified in the plans) with one of the batches of epoxy from the rudder blade so I fitted the cleat along with another thinner one that didn't require a multi-piece glue up.  The plans call for the top cleat to stand off 15 mm from transom and the bottom cleat called for 60 mm standoff.  To fit them, I basically held up the rudder cheeks where the corresponding pintles will mount and guessed since the plans don't actually specify where on the transom they should be mounted.  I screwed both cleats right on the vertical centerline with temporary screws, and screwed the gudgeons in place with more temporary screws.

At this  point it was just a matter of lining up the pintles with the gudgeons and marking their location on the rudder cheeks.  More temporary screws and I was ready to test mount.  I could feel the bottom gudgeon binding a bit on the first fitting, so I took the bottom cleat off and ran the face through the table saw at a really shallow angle.  That fixed the binding issue.

So by now, it all fit well, but the cleats were looking pretty ugly, so a few passes on the table saw at a 25 degree angle followed by a 45 degree cut on the ends knocked down the boxy look and then I took the low angle block plane, rasp and sandpaper to soften up all the edges.  I fitted the hardware again to make sure I didn't screw anything up and then epoxied both cleats in place.

I still have lots to do before I can sign off on the rudder project.  First, I have to do some shaping of the rudder cheeks to give a bit of curvyness to them.  I also need to ballast the rudder and add the Norwegian tiller arm as well as permanently mount the pintles and gudgeons, but that will wait until after paint.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Seat Tops Complete

When I left off last week I had cut out some of the seat top planks but I wasn't entirely sure how I was going to fix them in place.  On the woodenboat forum (here) I had a number of good suggestions with various methods that would not require me screwing them to anything, which would be ideal, but after a number of tries with various temporary fasteners I pretty much gave up and went back to the original plan.

I did learn a new term along the way though, the strips that I intended to epoxy in place to hold the seat tops were called 'cleats'.  So with my new terminology in hand, I got to work.  First I tried cleats that were 18 mm tall, but once I put everything together, it just didn't look right.  I called my wife over to the shop who seems to have a good eye for all things aesthetic and she thought that the cleats were too prominent.  She suggested making them a little less tall.

So I cut them down to 10 mm and both of us felt it looked much better so I went ahead and glued them all down with a thickened batch of epoxy and called it a day.  The next morning before work I coated the newly glued down cleats and all the seat tops with unthickened epoxy.  By the time I got home it was dry enough to test fit the planks and I was happy with the look.

After that, I cut out all the middle planks that will cover the rear hatch and deck and rough fitted them.  I cut the outboard ones a little bit longer than the middle two because my plan was to strike a slight curve on the aft deck planks to make it a little less boxy.

I screwed down the side planks and further refined the aft deck/hatch pieces before taking it all apart again and rounding over all the planks top and bottom with the router.  Once again, I screwed everything back in place for a few final fitting adjustments and then drew an arc on each of the hatch corner pieces to cut out.  I tried a bunch of different curves, but finally decided that part of the curve on the bottom of the 5 gallon bucket laying in the corner was just about right, so I drew it on and took the pieces over to the band saw followed up by a roundover with the router.

So now I have to pull everything apart again (this is getting old) and sand and finish the planks. My plan right now is to use Deks Olje 1 for a matte finish, but I may change my mind on that.  Also, I think it's time for a serious date with some sandpaper and get the interior sanded down for primer.  I still have the removable thwart to do, and a bunch of work forward, but I'm getting close.  I may sand and then flip the boat for final finish work there, but  we'll see.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

A Step Forward and a Step Backward

So I have made a lot of progress in the past week, but like everything these days, it just doesn't seem like as much as the early days.  I started off by getting the aft compartment painted with 2 coats of primer on all surfaces to before epoxying the rear deck in place.  I know final paint will wait, but doing the priming now should make things easier down the line.

After I got the smell out of the shop when the second coat was finally dry, I glued down the rear deck and seat tank tops and held them in place with screws while the epoxy kicked.  Fast forward a day and I took the router with a roundover bit and trimmed off the edges of the seat tanks and did the same around the hatch coaming channel.

Next up, I sanded down the entire interior below the seat tanks and rolled on a coat of unthickened epoxy.  Overall I spent about 3 hours sanding and because there were so many tight corners, the vast majority of it was done with little pieces by hand.  In fact, I sanded so much with my fingertips that my fingerprint reader on my phone and computer stopped working for several days.  I literally sanded off my fingerprints.

Once the coat of epoxy was mostly dry (the next day), I fitted floor stringers (probably the wrong word here) to the frames that will be used to accept fasteners from the floorboards and help stiffen the plywood frames.  I epoxied them in place with thickened epoxy and then painted on a coat of unthickened epoxy to seal them up.

I spent some time cleaning up and sanding the seat tops and rear deck and that's when I found the screw up.  I have been planning on doing pine planks on top of the seat tanks, rear decks, and seat compartment but as I visualized how I would do it so it would look good, I realized I had made the rear compartment hatch and opening too wide to accommodate the pine planks running fore and aft without cutting out part of them.

So after several days of thinking about whether to just get on with it or fix it so it doesn't bug me, I came up with a plan to fix it that wouldn't take too long and would allow me to decrease the width of the compartment.  In a nutshell, I cut out a notch in the front and rear of each side of the compartment coaming and glued in another channel.  At the same time, I decreased the width of the compartment hatch by cutting off the ends and glued in 2 new pieces for ends.  I lost about a day's work, but in the end it will look better once the pine planks are in place and run fully fore and aft without any cutouts that disrupt the visual flow.  A side benefit is that the channel will drain water better and keep it out of the compartment.

Finally, I found some nice clear pine planks that will make good seat tops and had just enough time this afternoon to rough cut them out.  They will have to be bent in place, but I was able to easily push them into place to accept the curve of the seats as they move aft.  What I need to do first though is to epoxy plywood risers on top of the rear deck, seat tanks, and hatch.  These will allow the planks to have a little space underneath them to drain water, but I'm not 100% sure that I will do that.  I won't be able to work on the boat for the next few days so I'll have some time to mull it over.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017


For once, I finished a project in the time I allotted myself.  The mizzen mast step assembly is done and mostly glued in.  Now that there aren't single big jobs to focus on I have been trying to get better at organizing and doing many small jobs at once.  I can easily see where build projects like these can go from months to years.  Hopefully it won't come to that and I still have hope that I will get the boat finished and launched by the end of August.  We'll see.

I mentioned in the previous post that I was going to use a piece of 3" pvc pipe to contain the mizzen mast and keep water out of the aft compartment.  I spent a fair amount of time getting and marking the 94 degree angle needed to have a 6 degree rake on the pvc pipe before cutting it. I had bought enough extra in case I screwed up, but I think it worked out fine.

Next I found a nice old piece of mahogany that used to be a deck support in my Alberg 35 and shaped it so it would fit in the channel I installed earlier when I was building the supports for the aft deck.  I like using salvaged wood where I can because in many cases, the quality of the older wood is way better than what you can buy today.  This piece was in the Alberg for at least 40 years and I like the thought of carrying a piece of my old boat with me for new adventures.

Next, I bored out a 25 mm hole on center to accommodate the butt of the mizzen mast and drilled out limber holes in the top and bottom to make sure water drained.  Next I found another piece of mahogany (from a different project) and bored out a ~90 mm (3.5 inch) hole to accept the butt of the pvc pipe.   I did a little shaping to get a good fit in between the deck support pieces and then epoxied both pieces into the boat (one on top of another).

The step assembly will be the only piece I actually epoxy to the boat; pvc pipe will just have sealant holding it in place and the top piece on deck (collar?) will be screwed to the surrounding deck supports with #12 x 2" screws and waterproofed with a bead of sealant.  This way I will be able to disassemble the step for periodic inspections and make sure everything is ok.

For the top piece I used a piece of 25 x 190 mm wide white pine.  I know, it's shocking that I am not using some high end wood for some of this boat, but it's light, cheap and I can replace it if needed.  I am coating every piece of wood in this boat with epoxy, so hopefully I can keep rot in check.

Anyhow, I bored another 90 mm inch hole in it to accept the top of the pvc pipe and made a plywood trim piece to cover the pvc and screwed and glued it together. Once it cured, I did some shaping and radiused the corners to make it all pretty like and put it all together.  I haven't glued the plywood deck down yet because it will be easier to paint the compartment first, but aside from that, I'm calling the step done.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Little Bits

It's been a while since I last posted but I've been on vacation up in Bar Harbor Maine for the 4th of July week. Obviously no boat work was done that week, but we did get a bunch of sailing time with the craigslist Force 5 I found last summer and was the inaugural post for this blog (Click Here). I did manage to sneak in a bit of work though before we left and this week as well, so all was not lost.  I'm still making good progress, but each step is taking a bit longer now because there are a bunch of small pieces that need to be glued to the boat in a very specific order and it just takes time.
My son enjoying the Force 5 in Somesville
When I last checked in I had just purchased a new trailer and was working my way aft building out the seat tanks and aft compartment.  I won't go into too much detail because honestly, it just took a ton of time to figure out all the cuts, angles and general layout when not working from a plan.  

The side seat tanks run aft of the daggerboard trunk to the sterb and will be watertight in case of capsize I will have several deck plates installed in them, but so far I have only installed the 4" aft plates that will be accessible from the aft compartment just forward of the mizzen.  

I also spent some time designing the mizzen mount and glassed in the 25 x 50 mm stringers that will run from the stern to the 1st bulkhead.  These will provide a channel to drain water from the mizzen mast to the bilge.  I've selected a piece of 3" pvc pipe to be the tube for the mizzen mast step that should keep water out of the aft compartment.  

For the aft compartment I built a channel around the perimeter and glassed sides onto the compartment lid that will fit into the channel to keep the water out (hopefully).  This took quite a while and lots of sitting and thinking to make sure I got it right.

Finally, I purchased a Whale Gusher Compact 50 for the bilge pump and cut out the mounting hole in the forward part of the port seat tank.  I think this will be a decent location because it will allow me to pump the bilge while seated with the tiller in hand. I'm not fully committed yet, but right now I'm leaning toward mounting the discharge in the stern adjacent to the rudder (obviously above the waterline). 

By the end of this upcoming weekend, I hope to finalize the mizzen step and get the tube installed at the 6 degree angle specified in the plans with the corresponding partners.  We'll see, but I don't think it should be too hard, I'm pretty sure I figured out the plan tonight while sitting and staring at the boat.  Aside from that I have to glass in 'stringers' to the plywood frames to provide some material for the floorboards to screw into.  

Monday, June 26, 2017

A New Trailer

I've always been plagued by crappy boat trailers with lights that never work and very questionable safety margins.  Currently I have 3 trailers in the yard, one of which I bought new in the 1990's and for my O'Day Daysailer and the lights have not been fully functional on it for many years.  It seems that the wiring harness on these trailers are just awful and break very easily.  Another one of the trailers for my Force 5 actually has working lights, but the trailer itself is kind of a disaster.  I had it welded last year to hold it together, but I really don't think it's very safe.  The third is just a hot mess and it just needs to be cut up and thrown away.  It's that bad.

So the new boat is going to need a trailer and I've been looking on Craigslist for several months now and haven't found anything suitable. Either they are too long or too crappy or are too stiff for such a light boat that I expect the Apple to be.  So this weekend I finally decided that I am sick of looking for another disaster so I went out and bought a new one.

It's a galvanized Karavan KBE 1250 and it has sealed/submersible LED lights that actually work and are bright.  Woohoo.  I'm sure I will break the harness somehow in short order, but at least it will not shake the boat apart.  It has the new style torsion suspension that I'm told has a less bouncy ride.

I have to spend some time setting the boat up on it though because the rocker of the hull does not allow it to sit flat on the bunks and there is currently only one roller up front.  I think I will add another roller aft to support the hull weight, but I'm not really sure the best way to handle it (suggestions are appreciated).

Friday, June 16, 2017

Moving Aft

With the forward deck area roughed in, it was time to move aft and fill in some structural details that should really stiffen the boat up.  As I've said in previous posts, I have gone rogue for the interior and other than a few vague reference points, I am not working off the plans anymore.  It's not that they aren't good, I just wanted something a bit different.

So with that said, I spent a fair amount of time staring at the empty hull trying to envision where everything would go and how it would fit.  After many beers and many days, I finally arrived at an executable plan.  Part of the consternation I had came from deciding the elevation of the floor which dictates the elevation off the hull of the frames.  I ended up running a taught string fore and aft and found an elevation that would allow for flat floors for the entire length of the cockpit and a transition area to seat with watertight tanks on each side.  To add to the mix, I'm planning on a removable thwart to allow for a sleeping area when not underway.

Once I established elevations with the string, I made hot glue templates at the frame locations and cut out the 4 frames needed with the bandsaw.  After a few adjustments with the rasp to get everything fit well, I mixed up a batch of thickened epoxy and fileted them in place.

After letting them cure I made templates for the side panels of the cockpit seats. Since these will be watertight, they are extending down below the frames and will be filleted and taped to the hull.  I notched out the location of each frame for both sides and got them fitting in place nicely like an interlocking puzzle.  I cut white pine stringers (I think that's the wrong word) to add some rigidity where they mount to the frames and epoxied everything in place.  I know that eastern white pine is not particularly rot resistant, but it is light and all of it will be encapsulated in epoxy and not continuosly exposed to water, so I think I'm good.  Plus around here it is really cheap.

After waiting for another cure cycle I cut more stringers to help strengthen up the top and to act as a surface to mate the top of the seats to and did some more epoxying... The endless small bits glued into place that have to wait to cure is getting old at this point, but what can I do.

Finally, I made templates for the top of the seats, but left the forward section open for now.  I plan on mounting a bulkhead bilge pump (Whale Compact 50) on one side so I want to have an access panel from the top for servicing, but I haven't decided which side to mount it on yet.  The side that I don't mount it on will end up being epoxied in place.  The other, more practical reason for not cutting the seat tops to full length is that I am trying to save wood and only have a 4'x4' sheet left.

Next up I will be taping the frames over the filets with 75mm tape as well as the bottom of the seat sides.  I'll probably hold off gluing the seat tops in place until I get some of the aft deck framing completed.