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.


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