Tuesday, May 2, 2023


 After a long, cold winter it's finally started to warm up here in NH and now that I've put away the skis and fat bike, thoughts of boat projects have begun to invade my headspace again.  The new sails have arrived (Rolly Tasker) and they appear to decent enough for the intended purpose and were significantly cheaper than anything I could have had made stateside.  

The new keelbolts are also finished and I was able to get the first 2 sets in and torque'd down so I could free up the forward 2 sets to remove the old rotten ribs and have something for the keel to hold onto while I worked on those.  

The ribs and keelbolts that were in the boat when it followed me home from craigslist were obviously a mess, but part of their problem was that each keelbolt had a single 1" washer that just crushed the wood in the rib.  Seemed like spreading the load would be a better idea, so I cut some 1/8" flat bar 316 stainless to fit in the rib pocket where the keelbots sit to use as a big washer (along with nylon lined nuts to keep the nuts from backing off).  I'm pretty happy with the outcome except that when I tapped the keelbolts after installing them into the boat (I took a different approach for the forward 2 sets of keelbolts), I didn't drill straight up, so one of the bolts is a little bit out of line.

Once the keel was secured, I was able to pull out the forward 2 ribs that support the keel and grind the lumpy mess off of fiberglass that was holding the rotten wood in place.  Satisfied with the grinding, I templated each new rib and cut out the basic shapes on the bandsaw and set to work with a rasp to clean up any high spots in my ribs so they sit flat on the hull.  Next, I cut the limber holes and pockets for the keelbolts and routed all the top corners with a roundover bit so the 1708 biaxial glass will conform when epoxied in place.  

I wouldn't say I planned a different technique for tapping the keelbolts and glassing the ribs, but heavy rains and cold temps in the last week of April forced me to take an alternate approach to what I had done for the previous ribs. The new approach was to hold each rib in place while I had my son go under the boat and tap just enough so that I new where the 1/2" hole should be.  Then I took it to the drill press and finished the tap so it was straight.  I wish I had done that with the other 2 (oh well).  

I also decided to get the ribs glassed over before I put them in the boat.  Obviously, I will need to tab them in with additional glass once they have been installed, but it was certainly easier to do outside the boat rather than having to crawl around on my hands and knees for any longer than neccesary.  The temps are now warm enough to glass outside, but I'll have to wait a few more days for things to dry out before I install them. Hoping the weather will cooperate by week's end.


Wednesday, January 18, 2023

I'm Not Dead Yet

 It's been a while since I last posted, but I did get quite a bit done since November.  We had a solid week of warm weather that allowed me to get most of the transverse ribs into the boat.  Time ran out before I was able to get the last 2 in, but it was for the best as it allowed me to remove 4 of the 8 keelbolts instead of all of them.  

My original plan was to drop the keel and start fresh, but after hemming and hawing about it for quite some time I decided to keep the keel in place and replace ribs 6 and 7 (which hold the 4 aft keelbolts) and leave ribs 8 and 9 in place until the 6 and 7 were completed and bolted back into place.  At this point I'm happy with this decision because I would have needed to construct some sort of lifting gantry to lift the boat off the trailer and drop the keel which would have presented a new set of challenges (and problems).

Anyway, prior to removing what was left of ribs 1-7, I took height and width measurements for each rib based on a slight curve between rib 2 and rib 8 (rib 1 had completely disintegrated and was no longer anything more than food for isopods (yes I found a bunch of the little buggers happily eating what was left of the ribs).  With the height and width measurements taken care of, it was just a matter of patterning the curve of the hull onto each rib and cutting them out with a band saw.  

After I cut out each rib, I dry fitted in place and made adjustments as neccesary before cutting out the limber holes to allow water to drain between ribs.  A far more pleasant task than grinding out old ribs and glass tabbing.  It was also sweeter knowing that I was actually starting to rebuild (rather than tear down).

I cut out and fitted 2 at a time (ribs 6 and 7) and once I was satisfied with the fit, I routed the top edges (and limber holes) with a roundover bit to keep hard edges to a minimum.  Next, I mixed up a batch of epoxy and coated the bottom of each rib and corresponding hull surface where they will be bonded and follwed up with another batch of epoxy thickened to peanut butter with fumed silica and globbed it onto the ribs and hull before setting them in their final position.  I used the epoxy that squeezed out of the bonded surfaces to create a 3/4" filet along all the bonded edges.

After the epoxy had begun to kick, I mixed up another batch of unthickened epoxy and applied the first of several layers of 1708 biaxial cloth to really tie the deck and rib together.  I had precut strips of cloth before hand and dry fitted them before I broke out the tubs of epoxy.

At this point I repeated the same process for ribs 4 and 5 followed by ribs 1, 2, and 3.  I let everthing cure for a few days and then cleaned up all the ribs with 80 grit paper and a shinto rasp (maybe my favorite tool) for some of the tougher sections.  With that complete, I cut and fitted more cloth for the tops of each rib and epoxied that into place.  At this point in time, the weather window had closed for me and cold temps rolled in and prevented me from finishing up.  I tapped 4 holes for the keelbolts but the new bolts I'm having made by a local machine shop weren't complete yet so I just left them as is. Once it warms up (March?), I will clean up and apply a second layer of biaxial cloth to the new ribs to fully encapsulate them.  By that time, the keelbolts will be finished and I can get the first 4 bolted into  place and get to work on ribs 8 and 9. 

Until then, I'll be ordering new sails and figuring out what else needs to be done to get the boat back in the water.