Friday, October 20, 2017

Bringing it all Together (Sort of)

So I have been slacking ever since I've sort of come to terms with the fact that I probably won't launch this year.  I haven't totally ruled it, but even though this weekend is going to be great weather wise, I don't think there are many warm days left in the year and I'm just not quite ready. 

With that said, I did a mini push over the past few days to get my shit together and get some more of the odds and ends closer to completion.  It all started when I picked up a lathe (Rigid w1200) on craigslist for no good reason other than I happened to be looking in tools and this was really cheap.  It's not a very good one, but it came with a set of tools and I've never done any lathe work before so I wouldn't really know the difference.  I had been thinking about a lathe ever since I saw a nice implementation of a Norwegian tiller arm somewhere out on the interwebs. 

Anyway, I glued up two pieces of sapelle I had laying around early last week and once it cured, I threw it on the lathe and started turning it down.  Originally, I was going to do a round hole through the rudder for simplicity's sake (just cut through it with a hole saw), but as I started playing with the lathe I decided it would be fun to have a square cut threw the rudder and have it taper to round on either side.  Really no reason other than I was having fun with the lathe.  Now that I have a lathe, it's just the most fun toy ever, it's fascinating to watch

Next, I drilled out the rough margins for the square hole in the rudder and then chiseled it out.  It took a while to get the fit right, but I finally got a good tight (but not too tight).  For the backside of the opening, I drilled a 1.5" hole in a piece of cherry and screwed it on so the tiller arm would seat in the hole.  Last up I rounded off the top edges of the rudder to get rid of the angular look it previously had and dry fitted the assembly on the boat.  I still have to rout the edges for a little more smoothing, but I'm satisfied with the overall look.  Ultimately, I will paint the rudder assembly, but will varnish the tiller arm. 

The second thing I got done this week was to get the bilge pump installed in the port seat tank.  On a boat this size having a mounted bilge pump isn't really necessary, a bucket will do, but I wanted something that could drain water under the deck without having to remove them.  The pump is a Whale Compact 50 and was the biggest one I could find that would fit in the space I had.  It has a removable pump handle and a cover that makes the whole arrangement look tidy.

It was still a tight fit, and getting the hose routed from the bilge, up into the seat tank was awkward.  I had previously dry mounted the pump itself prior to painting, but not with hoses attached so it took a bit of work to get it all set.  In the bilge itself I mounted the hose to a strum box with a 3 pound lead weight and butyl tape to hold it in place but be movable if necessary.  I ran the discharge hose from the pump through the port seat tank to the stern where I installed a discharge pipe as high up as possible near the rudder.  I finished it up by sealing up the access plate with caulking and screws to keep it watertight. 

Finally, I reinstalled the seat tops that I had spent a few afternoons applying way too many coats of Deks Olje oil.  The pine I'm using for seat tops soaks up Deks like crazy.  Anyway,  kind of a mish-mash of accomplishments for the week, but it all had to be done and there's lots more of the same to come as I get closer to launch.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Floors and Round Things

I'm so close to finishing this boat I can taste it, but no matter how hard I try, there is always another thing to do.  This weekend I picked away at a bunch of little things but the big win was getting the floors cut and installed.

I'm not using anything exotic, just the same clear premium grade pine that I used for the seat tops.  This task was pretty straight forward, but I did spend a fair amount of time marking out the curves along the forward portion of the deck area.  Once I cut and dry fitted all the boards I ran the router over them with a roundover bit to eliminate any hard edges.  Then I refitted the boards and tapped each one with a countersink bit and screwed them to the frames. 

The only exception is the center floor that I will not be screwing down so I can access the strum box for the bilge pump and inspect the lowest point of the bilge.  I will fasten this floor with some sort of button toggles on the underside to keep it in place, but I'm not 100% sure how I'm going to do it yet.  Once I figure it out and implement it, I will pull all the floorsboards out and have a marathon oiling session with Deks Olje D1 as I did with the seat tops and spars.

I really like Deks because you can get everything oiled in an afternoon.  The application process goes like this: wipe or brush on Deks onto the surface you want to oil, wait 15 minutes and do it again, and again, and again, etc...  You keep applying it until the wood stops absorbing it and then you leave the last unabsorbed application on the wood for 30 minutes and then wipe off.  The only other thing you have to worry about is that it shouldn't be put into service for 3 days.  It gives a nice satin finish and gives the wood a nice glow. 

In other news, I finally got around to installing the seven round deck plates throughout the boat.  There is one in the forward compartment, two adjacent to the mast step, two big ones amidships in the watertight seat compartments, and two in the aft compartment along either side.

Monday, October 2, 2017


Not much to say on the topic other than I mostly finished up the interior painting this afternoon.  I used grey bilge paint in the areas that will be covered by floorboards and and put two coats of white primer followed by two coats of Kirby's Marine Paint (#32 Sand, low lustre).

I hadn't planned on using Kirby's, but I have heard a lot of people saying good things about the paint so I checked out their site and found that their prices were right in line with Brightside Polyurethane and the color range was much wider, so I ordered a free color chart.  Computer monitors tend to change the color a bit, so I try to always get something real and in person if possible to see it in natural light.  

Two days later I received the color chart in the mail along with a hand written note from George Kirby Junior thanking me for my inquiry and that he hoped we could do business in the future.  You don't get personal service like that very often anymore, so I thought I'd give it a try.  It didn't hurt that their shop is in New Bedford, MA which is just a few hours away and shipping usually only takes a day.

I won't go into the details of painting because it's about as much fun as watching paint dry, but I will say that I really liked the flow and coverage characteristics of the Kirby paint much better than some other paints I have tried and it smelled very different, more like turpentine or something old time-y, rather than made in a giant factory somewhere.   We'll see how it holds up, but so far so good.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Friggin in the Riggin

As I near the end of the build and approach some semblance of a launch date I realize how many little things I still need to wrap up.  So many in fact, that I feel a bit like a mental patient who hasn't taken his meds in a week or so.  The shop looks like hurricane Irma hit it and I'm getting a bit crazy.

As of my last count, I have the following major projects in a partially completed state:

  1.  Daggerboard
  2.  Rudder assembly (the whole steering thing in fact with Norwegian tiller)
  3.  Floorboards
  4.  Interior fairing and paint
  5.  Sails and Rig

There are lots of other things that I know I won't get done before my first test launch this fall, but the projects above are 'must haves' if I want to get the boat in the water and test it out before winter inevitably hits Central New Hampshire.  Being a backwards kind of guy, I decided to focus on #5 (sails and rig) this week.  On paper, it seems like I had this all wrapped up a while ago, but if you do a little math, having a bunch of spars I built that are hanging on a wall does not make a completed rig.

In between other projects from the week before, we had a good stretch of weather that gave me the opportunity to protect the spars using Deks Olje D1.  It's a combination of oils that need to be reapplied from time to time, but it is way easier than actually varnishing and gives the spars a nice warm satin finish.  We'll see how it holds up, but it's easy to apply and looks nice so far.

In the previous post I also mentioned leathering up the chafe areas on the spars so I had that taken care of as well, but that was about it for rig.  All the lines, blocks, sails, and everything else that makes a rig a rig needed to be done.

The sails had shown up several weeks before from Michael Storer's Really Simple Sails (He designed the Goat Island Skiff which is a similar boat to the Campion Apple).  I had taken them out briefly only to verify that the measurements were correct, but waited for the spars to be Dek'd before doing anything with them.

I am a total newbie when it comes to lug rigs (or any traditional rig for the matter), so this is all a learning curve for me.  A yard always meant something you grow grass on and make your kids mow; but now there are two on the boat.  Very confusing, and there seems to be about 10 million ways to rig a balanced lug depending on your budget.  I've spent almost every night for the last month researching the rigging procedure and asking questions on the woodenboat forum and other resources.  Now the time had come to just jump in and find out what sucks.

I had decided to use a mast traveler based on a bunch of posts recommending it in the woodenboat forum.  The traveler is basically a steel hoop with a hook to hold onto the yard and a halyard tied to the top end.  They don't bind on the mast and make the whole rig very easy to disassemble.

My welding skills are pretty weak, but it looked like the kind of project I could do.  I went through a number of iterations before settling on a design that I could live with and actually worked.  I used stainless steel rod but the weld is just regular steel so I coated them with rustoleum to keep out some corrosion.  I still have to leather the rings, but I think they will do fine.

Onto the sail, I started by lacing up the mizzen to the yard by tying each end off tight (the throat and peak) and then lacing the grommets in between with nylon cord that came with the sail. Pretty easy, but I'm sure it will need to be adjusted once I actually sail this thing.  Next, I tied off the tack and clew to the fore and aft ends of the boom.

For the mast I through bolted a Harken Carbo 29 cheek block to the aft side and ran Dynema line through it and tied it off to the mast traveler I made.  I tested it on our back deck by tying the mast to picnic table benches and hoisting the sail.
Amazingly, it didn't look terrible and despite me wondering how the yard would raise up above the mast, it did in fact do so.  Once you see it done, it makes total sense.  I added a cleat to the mizzen mast on the starboard side and moved onto the main mast.

The main was almost the same just bigger.  The only difference was that I used another Harken Carbo 29 cheek block through bolted to the aft end of the boom and a clam cleat just forward of that to make an easily adjustable outhaul.  Then I tied the tack to the forward end of the boom and ran a line from the clew through the outhaul block and made it fast in the clam cleat.

Finally, it was time to bring it all together.  I pulled the boat out of the shop and stepped both masts and raised the sails for a dry sail.  Again, I was amazed that it all worked and looked halfway decent. I showed some of the photos to Michael Storer (see above) who is an expert on balanced lug sails and he gave me a few pointers on what could be improved, but it wasn't a disaster.

I still have to rig the main sheet to the boom and setup the boomkin and sheet for the mizzen, but I've mounted the main sheet swivel base on the daggerboard trunk, so I'm pretty close to crossing this project off the list.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017


I'm still a bit hobbled with my new hip this week and I'm trying to take it easy so I took on a few less physically demanding tasks this week.  The leathering on the mast step I did the week before surgery was actually fairly fun so I was looking forward to working on the spar leathers to prevent chafing. The problem is that I have never done any stitching, let alone on thick leather.  Lucky for me though, the interwebs are full of tutorials and videos detailing every step of the process.

I started with the mizzen yard because it was the smallest and hopefully not too visible knowing that I'm never all that great on the first go round.  I figured that by the time I got to the main boom, my work would be acceptable.

After finding the mizzen yard attachment point (520 mm from front end), I took a piece of 9 inch wide leather and wrapped it around the yard to find the circumference.  Once I had that, I used my wife's fancy cutting tools (a Fiskars roller shear and some sort of quilting cutting board) to cut the width needed to circle the yard with a small gap in between the seam (so
the stitches pull tight).

Next I marked a line 1/4" from the edge of each side and took a four hole leather punch and hammered out holes on both sides.  I found the leather punch at Hobby Lobby and it works quite well as long as you put the leather your working with over a piece of softwood so when you hammer on the punch there is something for the punch to dig into once it pierces the leather.

I applied a coat of contact cement to the back of the leather and the area on the yard where the leather will be covering and then pressed it in place and held it there with a spring clamp.  Using waxed sail twine, I unrolled about 7 feet or so and fitted a big sailcloth needle on either end.  I won't go into detail of the herring stitch (aka baseball stitch) because there are literally hundreds of tutorials online that describe it better than I can, but it is pretty simple and easy to do as long as you pay reasonable attention.

My mind did wander a bit a few times and I skipped a stitch and was forced to redo a few rows, but overall it went pretty well and it took about 30 minutes to do the whole thing.  It's not perfect, but it seems strong and should provide good chafing protection.  Just three more to do and I expect each one will get better as I perfect the technique.

Friday, September 15, 2017


I've been a bit slow on the updates lately, but I've been picking away at a lot of little things and not really finishing any one thing.  After painting the boat, I gave the paint a few days to dry, my son and I flipped the boat back over onto the trailer bunks so I could get more work done on the interior. There aren't any big jobs left, but lots of little things that will just suck up time. On top of all of that, I had my hip replaced last Thursday and I had a bunch of non-boat related things to take care of before getting my hip chopped and taking a few weeks off work.

Anyway, once the boat was flipped over I started on the bow area to get that completed.  It was in pretty decent shape, but I still had to frame in the hatch opening and fair a few spots on the deck.  I glued in the plywood riser pieces and followed up with a round of fairing compound on the surrounding deck area.  Another round of fairing and a bunch of sanding and I felt like the foredeck area was good for primer.  

At the same time, I started working on the mast partner assembly.  Knowing at the start that the mast step and foredeck design was of my own doing, there was no plan to follow, so it took me quite a bit of thought (ie. drinking beer while staring at boat) to come up with a design.  The number one feature I wanted in the mast partners was that it should be able to be easily opened and closed so the mast could be stepped and unstepped in seconds.

What I came
up with is best described with photos, but a few words on how it works can't hurt.  So the design is basically a thick piece of Sapele with a 4 in circle cut in the center and then that piece cut across the circle perpendicular to the centerline of the boat.  On the aft piece, I mounted a 1/8" stainless steel plate in which 2 - 5/16" bolts come up from the surrounding deck area and capture the piece with wingnuts.

It took a bunch of trial and error to come up with the final design, but I think it should work pretty well and should certainly be strong enough.  For some of the final test fittings, I pulled the boat out of the shop and did a trail step and it seemed to work as planned.  I slide the butt of the mast into the step, raise it up to full height, and then slip the aft piece over the 5/16" bolts and then snug it all down with wingnuts.

After I was satisfied with the design, I leathered the new partner to protect the mast from chafing. I had never done it before but found a number of tutorials online and it didn't seem too hard.  I found some suitable leather pieces and 1/2" copper tacks online and went to town.  I cut out the pattern lathered up both the back of the leather and wood with contact cement and once dry I set the leather onto the wood and tacked it all in place with the copper tacks.  I'm pretty happy with the way it turned out, we'll see how it holds up over time.

Finally, I put a few coats of varnish on the partner assembly (not on the leather) and put two coats of primer down on the foredeck that I had faired and prepped earlier.

Thursday, August 31, 2017


Way back in February soon after I started the build I ordered 18 feet of 3/4" x 1/8" 316 stainless steel flat bar from online metals and it's been sitting around the shop until now.  Raw stainless flat bar is reasonably cheap and it should do a good job of protecting the bottom.

The whole process only took a few hours. I started with measuring and cutting the four lengths I needed;  1 for the skeg, 2 for the side pieces surrounding the daggerboard slot and 1 for the keel strip forward.  Next I measured and tapped equidistant #10 holes in each of the pieces.  Finally, I countersunk all the holes so the screws would sit flush.  This is where most of the time was spent. With the drill press at slow speed and periodically adding lubrication while cutting it took quite a bit longer than I expected.  

I bedded the skeg and foward sections with LifeSeal and then screwed them home with epoxy dipped screws.  Before I mounted the strips alongside the daggerboard opening, I cut and fitted some slot gasket material (mylar with dacron scrim backing) and fastened it with 2 strips of wood that I had previously cut, shaped, and painted.

Once that was complete, I bedded and screwed down the stainless pieces and called it a day.  So with that complete, the bottom is officially done.  Of course I still have to build the daggerboard and I guess that will be part of the bottom some times, but I'm not counting it now.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Hull Fairing and Paint

I took a break from finishing the rudder last week to get the boat flipped over and take care of the hull finish.  I'm not a good judge of weight, but I'd guess the hull is now in the 175 - 225 pound range. The boat is still pretty light but if I keep adding chunks of wood and various pieces it is going to get much harder to turn over, so I decided to get it done now.  My son and I had little difficulty turning it over and I setup some boards on the trailer so the boat could rest upside down on it, allowing me to still wheel it in and out of the shop for the upcoming sanding sessions.

I washed the hull to remove any amine blush on the surface although I've found that the Raka epoxy is fairly low blush.  The hull had a layer of 6 oz cloth and 2 filler coats of epoxy to smooth out the weave, but there was still a bit of a rough weave texture, so once it dried out I sanded the whole thing down with 120 grit on my random orbit sander.

I did a few spot fills of noticeable low spots with TotalBoat TotalFair fairing compound.  I've been using this for a few years on various projects and like working with it.  It uses a 1:1 ratio and one part is colored bright yellow, the other bright blue.  You know that it is all mix well when they turn a uniform green.  I've had trouble in the past with not properly mixing other fairing compounds because both parts are the same color and it's easy to miss fully mixing when you can't see a color change. Other than that it spreads out nicely and works just like any other fairing compound and cures to sand in about 3 hours.

After sanding again, I rolled on a coat of high build one part primer (also TotalBoat) and let it harden up for a day or so.  Now that I had a uniform color on the hull I could really see where filling was needed.  The vast majority was on the hull panels in between the chine tape, although the bottom two panels starting from the keel were in pretty good shape.

After sanding most of the first primer coat off, I mixed up several batches of fairing compound and slathered it on to get rid of the tape lines and waited for it to cure.  Then it was time to sand again, and if you detected a pattern, you'd be right.  Sanding was officially getting old now, but I kept telling myself that the prep is what matters, not the actual painting.  Once sanded, it was again hard to tell where the low spots were because of the mottled color, but I was pretty sure I had gotten most of it.

Another coat of primer, another round of very minor fairing, followed up by a final coat of primer and 220 grit sanding and I was ready for real paint.  When I say ready, I mean good enough for me.  I like a nice finish, but I can only go so far before I call it quits.  Other's may be much more meticulous here, but I know that the boat is going to spend it's life getting rammed up on beaches and rock shelves and trailers and I want to use it, not show it.

For the real paint, I went full stack with TotalBoat products from Jamestown Distributors and chose TotalBoat WetEdge one part polyurethane paint in Kingston Gray.  I've used 2 part paints in the past (Interlux stack), and they do produce a very nice finish, but they are expensive and a bit finicky to use.  I hadn't used TotalBoat polyurethane before, but I've used Brightsides in the past with decent results and I suspect they are probably made in the same factory (TotalBoat is slightly cheaper too).

I mixed up a quart thinned to 10% with their 'special brushing thinner' and went to work with an enamel/urethane 6" foam hot dog roller and did the margins with a good brush where the roller couldn't reach.  The first coat took about 2 days to harden up enough to sand (it has been really humid here in Central NH) and I did the second (and hopefully final) coat last night.  The humidity levels dropped yesterday afternoon and when I closed up the shop for the night I put a heater underneath the boat to speed up dry time.  When I checked on it this morning the shop was a nice warm 85 degrees and the paint was dry to the touch.  From what I can tell so far, I think it looks pretty good.  With the thinner added, it leveled nicely and I don't see any brush or roller marks.  It's not perfect by any means though.  I can vaguely see where the panels are scarfed if you follow the reflection across the bottom of the hull, but there isn't anything I can do about that now.  I'm ready to move on.