Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Cutting Bulkheads and a first lamination

So another slow day at work.  Unseasonably warm in Portland right now, and the furnace Biz just isn't that bizzy.

I stopped by the home depot and picked up some warm tubes of PL Premium 3X, the stoutest caulking gun I could find and bought a few more clamps.

Got back to the house and slapped the last piece of ply I'd already bought up onto the sawhorses and cut out all of the blanks for the permanent bulkheads and the transom.  I took the measurements for the heights off the side panels instead of the plans, and everything was within 1/8".  God that's a good feeling.

I had a little energy left not to mention warm glue and a new gun to put it in, so i cut out the leeboard halves and glued them up.  The leeboard is 60" x 20",  and i was interested to see him many tubes i'd burn.  I'm still wondering what i want to use between the two layers of bottom, that's acres of glue area.  I started by cutting open the tube I'd hacksawed and used a squeegee to spread was was @ 1/3 of a tube on.  Not even close to enough.  Grabbed a new tube, stuff it in the new gun and whack the end off full diameter for maximum splooge.  did a lap all the way around the perimeter, the a second lap inside of that one.  Broke out the squeegee again and did some more spreading and got a nice 3" band well saturated on the perimeter.  had a nice 4" side stripe down the middles as well.  Called it good enough and clamped her up.

Called it a day.  I'm going to end up glassing the edges anyway, only fear is water getting into where there's no glue.  Not that much of a fear, It would be really easy to whip out a new leeboard if this one fails somehow.  

I AM wondering what I'm going to use for a bottom lamination.  the bottom is 3 times as long and roughly twice as wide.  Need to fine something fairly strong and idiot proof that also is somewhat water proof and doesn't require loads of clamping pressure.

Minor work interruption this Tuesday

So I get done with my appointments and I'm headed home for lunch and a little work on the boat.  I stop for a right hand turn and wait for a lady and her stroller to get out of the crosswalk.  next thing i know WHAM and I'm rolling at the stroller.  Slam on my breaks and pray i was quick enough.  Thankfully I was.  Some woman in Lala Land had ass ended me with a 4WD diesel F350.

Luckily no one was actually hurt.  I spent the rest of the day talking to insurance companies, unloading the truck, getting a tow company etc.  Barely a ding in the F350's bumper.

The silly crap that interfere's with getting a boat done.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Shoulda warmed up the tubes

So I got done with what I "had" to do at work early today.  Sun was out, day unusually warm for January in NW Oregon.  Stopped by Winks hardware ( One of those good old fashioned hardware stores.  You take a number like at the DMV, tell the counter person what you need, and they fly into the racks and bring back exactly what you need, almost every time), bought a pound of bronze 1-1/4" ring shanked nails, and ran home to butt my panels together.

I'm using some nice 5 ply 7/8" plywood I had laying around the shop for the butt blocks.  I cut them to length, beveled the exposed corners fore and aft.  I marked a centerline and the 4" intervals, and started the ring nails in the blocks roughly center between the butt and the edge on each side off the butt.

Broke out a tube of PL premium, stuffed it in the gun and buttered the edge of the boat side in the butt.  spread it with a putty knife, then butted them up and lined them up.  Walked over to the first butt block, and started laying down glue.  Gun started "stripping gears" 6" into the first bead.  Several"expletives deleted", grabbed the hack saw, cut off the end and started bobbing it out with a putty knife.  got the first one buttered, took it over and carefully lined it up and hammered all of the nails home.  got about 1/4 of the way buttering the second one, hacksawed another tube to finish and nailed down the second butt.

I had @ 2/3 of the second tube left, so I took a vinyl glove and sucked it over the end.  If it doesn't work, I'm only out @ $3.00.  general cleaned up a bit and gave the glue some some to squeeze out of the joints.  ran down the edges to get most of the excess, waged my hands and shut the shop down.  I'll got out tomorrow night and stand the halves up, check out the back side of the joints and butt the two sides together to see how well i kept my alignment.

In the picture below, you'll see I ran a continuous strap from the interior framing of the cabin top right flue to the bottom.  According to the plans the chine log and sheer stringer are interior, and I should have notched for those.  I made the executive decision to move them to the outside of the boat (Like a proper Michalak design) and make my life much easier. This also means they'll "sandwich" the butt with the block from bottom to sheer.

2 lessons learned.

1)  keep your tubes warm.
2) don't buy cheap calking guns.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Pays to read the fine print

So here I am assuming that the boat is designed at 48" wide.  Closer inspection of the plans and bulkhead dimensions reveal the fact that the width of the temporary mold at the widest point is only 45".  Add an inch for the 1/2" ply on each side, and you have an O.D. of 46".  There's a whole 1" of ply on each side to spare, so the chine logs can easily go to the outside at no extra cost and a lot of labor and headache savings.  I could actually do this with the sheer stringer as well, let and the butt strap be continuous from the bottom to the framing for the cabin top.  This would sure make it easier to bend the ply around the bulkhead as both log chine and sheer could be installed AFTER the boat goes 3D, and saves me 8 notches to fit.  I'll also have my butt joint "clamped" at two good spots.

Owner design modification #1 has been self approved :-)

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Fore sections curt and ready to butt

The fore sections came out just as nice as the aft sections.  I can finally see a whole profile.  Gracie, my Girlfriend in the picture is 5'4" tall.

I put everything flat on the floor so see how it squares up/lines up.  I couldn't be happier.

Bottoms line up, tops line up, lines for the sheer stringers line up.  Just have to get some proper 1-1/4" fasteners and I can glue/nail the ends together with the butt blocks.  i have some nice dense 5 layer 7/8" ply that I'm going to make 5-1/2" wide butt blocks out of.

After that, clamp the sides back to bad again, clean up the curves on the bottom and start making bulkheads.

I'm seriously considering buying enough extra ply to go to exterior chine logs.  It simplifies so much, and is a lot more failsafe baking up the butt join on the ply.  The boat is a bull 48" aide as designed. so I'd have to narrow it 1.5" if I don't buy the extra ply.  that messes with more than one bulkhead width and the angle of the stem.  It's only money, right?

Friday, January 23, 2015

The Aft sections have been cut

So I got done working and the dog around the block in time to head out and run the saw for a bit.  I double checked my layout and angle on my saw, made one more lap with the flat hammer to align the sheets and shot the screws to keep them aligned.  Pulled the trigger and about 20 minted later had made all of my cuts.  I had one inside angle (where the aft of the cabin meets the sheer) I had to finish will my little pull saw to avoid an over cut with the skill saw.  I love that little saw, it really lets me crowd the lines with very little fear of going over.  it's got plenty of power to go through the 1" of plywood it had to cut.

Here's the end product.  this is the "down" side that had me wondering about the angle of my saw and the quality of my layout.

I'm thrilled.  I had almost the exact saw clearance to the lines, and didn't cross inside of them on either piece.  Well, cutting the curve of the bottom i took out the line more than i wanted, but I'm going to be VERY close to the curve that Jim drew.  I might end up robbing 1/4" of inside vertical clearance sanding the curve fair.  This assumes i do as well on the forward half later today/this evening.

I set up my old HI8 tape video camcorder to record the process.  Turns out all of my current computers are too new to talk to it.  I'll have to abscond with my old Toshiba laptop I've been letting our shop foreman use on his bench to get the video uploaded.  I should have that done by this weekend for any other Newbie boat builders to see how quick and easy this was with the right saw.  The trick is very careful layout and alignment.  measure 6 times, cut once :-)

Thursday, January 22, 2015


So I've laid the two aft side panels onto some junk 2x4 on the floor.  Grabbed my little 4.5" diameter porter cable skill saw and started fussing to try to get it at a dead on 90 degree cut.  The gauges on these tools are worthless, you really need to break out a square and measure to the side of the tooth, not the meat of the blade.

I think I have it pretty well set, but I'll do a test cut on some scrap before tearing into my boat.   Second thing I need to do is get the panels perfectly lined up.  My Sheetmetal hammer has nice flat sides and works well for this.  About 12 laps around the two sheets going "tappity-tap-tap" and I think I pretty well have it there.  I'll shoot 1"drywall screws through areas like where the window cutouts will be and where bulk heads and chine logs are landing to make sure the finished work stays aligned.

First I'm gonna have to go walk the dog in the rain though.


So in my travels about town in my capacity as at large estimator and project manager, i stopped in at a couple of the last "Real" hardware stores here in Portland.  At the Parkrose Ace, they has 11 gauge copper ring nails with a roofing head at $19.00 a pound in every length i might need on this boat.  Fasteners i can trust to leave in that won't corrode and back up my first attempts at structural gluing with stuff other than epoxy.  Only a real issue because  I'm wondering if i'll get the kind of fits and clamping necessary for Titebond to do the job, though the Pl Premiun test layup I did seems plenty damn strong.  Still not a great gap filler though.

I put out the plea for information and recommendation on the exact size and head style on the Duckworks and Michalak forums.  Gotta love the wealth of experience on those sites that's more than eager to comment/help.

Tonight I screw panels back to back and break out the skill saw to cut the sides out.  Can't wait to see how close I can skirt the lines and how well they match up on the back to back layouts.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Sides laid out, time to cut and Butt (sounds like a dance...)

Got the to aft side panels laid out today.  did them end for end/mirror image at the same time just like the front ones to make sure i got a left and a right.  Once again I came up within 1/8" on the bottom curves, and within 1/4" on the heights of all of the bulkheads shown on the plans.

I'm Going to screw the two aft panels together and saw them out at the same time with my 4" Porter Cable skill saw.  I'll spend  quite a bit of time making sure the blade is dead on 90 degrees before i cut.  I'll do the same with the fronts.

After they're all cut, I'll butt the fore and arts together before fairing.  the burr edge is 42" long thanks to landing in the cabin and the peak of the bottom curve.  I've also got the sheer line being dead straight and the exact same level for and aft to use as a reference line for alignment.  it should be no trouble getting things glued up straight.  After the glue is dry, I'll screw the two full side together and break out the sanding equipment to fair everything together, and i should end up with a really nice match.  After that's done, i'll have the finish heights for all of my bulkheads and transom so i can build them to match exactly.

I'm definitely just butting up with a board on the inside.  I've been watching the ring nail discussion on the deform, and I think I'll lay the panels flat on the floor, goober on the glue and nail them from the inside out.  This avoids any holes on the exterior.  I also want good access to line these up because they're interrupted at the chine stringer (Thanks for getting back to me so quick on that one Jim), so they'll be going on in 2 pieces.  If I properly align a 1x6 (3/4 x 5-1/2) the butt board will actually align the temporary mold for me when it comes time to stick it all together.

I grabbed one of the nice 3/4x1-1/2 doug fir chine logs I found and went to bend it around the bottom curve with the 1-1/2" side flat to the side panel as Jim specifies

Problem.  NO WAY is that stick gonna take that bend without a steam box.  I figure Jim doesn't expect us to build steam boxes.  I'm thing I' going to make a change here and go with something like a 1x1.  It was my hope to put both the sheer stringer (No problems here, dead straight in the tough dimension, able to take the bend of the sides no problem in the small dimension.  I checked!) and the chine log on the sides before cutting the notches in the bulkheads and bending the sides on.   I'm sure of one thing now, and that's the fact that the chines are definitely getting tape and epoxy to back up the glue and screws (or ring nails) on the chine logs.  the glue and nailing meat is gonna be less than I'd hope for to get these suckers to bend into place.  Maybe if I leave the off and bent them in after the sides and bulkhead are in place, I can torture them far enough.  Or maybe the steambox idea, PL premium likes moisture :-)

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Back to glue indecision.  In cruising a few of the forums more intently focused on glue, all of the "old" boys are really pushing the titebond over PL premium.  This sent me over to the manufacturer's sites to look up the specs on all of the glues.  Sure enough, I was testing at 45 degrees, and titebond III is not supposed to be used under 47 degrees.  To compound the situation, the bottle has been in my garage through a summer and winter, and so it's been beyond the recommended storage temperatures.

The PL premium gives testing data for gluing frozen lumber together.  it's pretty temperature insensitive.  The ultimate strength for dry doug fir is 800psi.  Titebond III is apparently @ 4,000psi.  What crosses my mind is how I'm going to load a bulkhead doubler or a chine that high.  The one place I'm going to spend real money on this boat and flirt with my chemical sensitivity is epoxy sheeting the bottom and sides with the extra layers of tape on the chine.  This is mostly for abrasion resistance, but it's gong to add substantial strength to the stem and chines as well.

I've never been a cabinet maker.  I became one fine sheet metal worker, and can do a really good job on basic carpentry.  I fear my ability to make lots of really tight joints as well as my clamp count to get the clamping pressure required for properly applying the Titebond.  I wonder what the clamping pressure provided by a drywall screw is, and how often they really need to be spaced to achieve it.

This is my first build.  Things I make like sail, leeboard, rudder, hardware, mast, etc... can always be used in a second build using superior materials and an improved skill set.  It looks like the material bill for the "disposable" hull is going to land in the $800.00 range, depending on how much glass and cloth I slather onto it.  Is that an acceptable financial risk to me to gamble on the glue i can just keep building with and not have to wait for spring, or at least run out for mad glue sessions whenever the temp comes up far enough for long enough to run out and use the preferred glue of my peers?  If I time that wrong, I'm in worse shape.

I think I just talked myself into the PL premium again.  The boat should last at least long enough to prove if it's the design for me.  If I truly love it I can send Jim another fee and go buy the pretty marine ply, the epoxy, and possibly find someone to apply the epoxy if the sensitivity becomes too much of an issue.

Better get back to my day job to pay for all this.....

Saturday, January 17, 2015

The first Plywood lands in the shop

Well I got done playing with the glue, and I have to say that the PL premium won.  The one drawback is going to be dealing with the squeeze out, but I'm amazed at how good that stuff grabs.  I'm tempted to leave out all of the screws.

I picked up my first load of lumber Friday afternoon.  The suns was out and rain was forecast for Saturday, so i squeezed it into my day.

Saturday I hit home depot for some more fluorescent bulbs to get more light in the shop. I decided I was going to layout the bow pieces end to end or "mirror" at the same time to 100% avoid making two of the same side.  Also, it seems simpler that once i determine a point for one side, to run right over to the other while it's still fresh to mark it on the other.  I laid out all of my station lines, the sheer line and the top of the cabin.  I'm going to stack them for a cut after very carefully setting my little 4" Porter cable skill saw to a 90 degree angle.  This small wall is very easy to control, and i should be able to crowd the lines pretty close leaving a minimum of fair to the actual lines.

I'm also going to take some videos and upload them to youtube.  Here's the first one.

I tried using one of my long 1x2 chine logs for a batten to lay out the bottom curve, but it's way too stiff.  Hopefully the box stores will have something i can use, other wise Sunday is a bust for much until I can get back to a decent lumber yard.  

Friday, January 16, 2015

The Glue that Binds....

The 2 things I see discussed more often on all of the boat building sights are plywood and glue.  Everyone would love to use all marine plywood with epoxy everywhere, but due to costs and sensitivities we're all looking for cheaper options we can trust.  I personally have used just enough epoxy to know that it won't take a lot of work with it before I'm up a glue creek as far as it's concerned.  My father could tell if you dumped a little resin out from the other end of the house when I was young.

I found my plywood solution with some absolutely beautiful ACX at my local lumberyard.  Nothing like it in the big box stores, and only @ $10.00 a sheet more than the best crap I could find there that was only exposure 1 rated. 

In my previous post I slapped some short pieces of 1x2 on to an indiscriminate piece of 1/4 ply with absolutely no surface prep and only a single clamp on each piece.  One using gorilla glue, the other using Titebond 3.  I did this in a 41 degree garage where the wood has been sitting for the last 1.5 years.  About 4 hours later I took a chunk of 2x4 and slapped it in between the other two pieces with some PL Premium 3x, no clamping at all.  I gave it not quite a day, pulled the clamps and had a look.  I could tell I was clamped better at one end than the other on both pieces.

I started twisting with my hands on the PL premium piece first.  I was pretty impressed, but I managed to "tear" the glue.  It was probably holding the wood apart somewhere between 1/16 & 1/8 of an inch, but I was pretty impressed anyway.

Both the Titebond 3 and the gorilla glue held surprisingly well.  I had to "roll" the pieces off the glue bond.  There were definitely torn wood fibers, and I could see the ends where I had little clamping pressure  I would have absolutely no problem using either of these glues where my fit was tight, but I wasn't done testing yet.  I rolled one of the 1x2's to the clean side and glues it down on the other sie of the 1/4 ply, the time with good clamping all along.  Then I took the PL premium and glue it down much more carefully and clamped it as well to give it a real chance.  That was @ 10:am this morning.  I'm going to give it a full 24 hours this time.  It's actually up to 55 degrees right now, and it looks like we're going to be in the mid 40's to low 50's over the next 48 hours.

I'm hoping the Titebond 3 impresses me even more.  it's definitely the cleanest and easiest to work with, and any excess dries clear.  The foamies on the gorilla glue are easy enough to shave off with a sharp chisel.  The PL will definitely be the messiest of the bunch.  I think the PL might be just the ticket for laminating the two layers of bottom together though.  Kind of like what it was designed for :-)  It also might be a good choice where my fit isn't quite so nice and the finish isn't so important.

I can't believe I'm having fun waiting for glue to dry.....

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

And so it starts

I've been reading Bolger books and messing around with boats for at least 40 of my 51 years.  It all started with rehabbing an old Glen-L TNT I bought for $100.00, moved through plastic kayaks to an aluminum fishing sled, and then moving onto a 36ft 1967 Grandbanks Woody trawler and living there for 8 years.  While on the big boat I had an El Toro sailing dinghy, various plastic dinghies, another plastic kayak and finally a 3m Marples sea clipper tri.  I still have the sea clipper as well as a 15ft West Wight potter I purchased last year.  I've done rehab and repair and modification on all of my boats.  I built a cambered junk for the sea clipper tri that worked out great.

About 2 years ago i sold the Grand banks and bought a 1000ft2 garage/shop where they threw in a house.  I've been wanting to actually build a boat since the early days,  and 95% of the reason for the purchase of this particular property was to give me the room to do that in comfort.

What boat?  That was a long time to figure.  I love multihulls, but all of the storage, trailering and accommodation issues kept me from going down that road.  I love the Potter, but hate the way the centerboard destroys the cabin and how all the weight is forced to the rear of the boat with the classic cockpit.  The "Modern" sloop rig is also a pain in the ass to set up.

Needless to say Bolger and Michalak have come up with many boats that address these issues.  I mostly sail on the Columbia and Willamette rivers up here in the PNW, so protection from the weather and capsize are pretty paramount.  I love Layden's paradox design, but that's a complicated boat for a first total build, and I'd like to be done in a year or less.  Then I saw Michalak's Robbsboat and set out to find all of the info I could on the net.

There's not much.  I haven't found a single picture of a completed boat, let alone a sailing review.  I love the design though.  I ordered the plans from Duckworks, they arrived last monday, and I've found where I'm going to buy my plywood and lumber.  I'm picking up enough to get started this Saturday.

And so it starts.....

First thing is a 45 degree glue off between Gorilla glue and Titebond III.  I image I'll use a bit of both.  I'm trying to avoid epoxy as much as possible due to cost and sensitivity.
Next is checking out my cheap table saw to see if i can cut an accurate Bevel.  The gauge on the saw itself is Sh***.  I took a protractor to the blade with my eyeball, and did a test cut on a good piece of Doug Fir stud that was laying around the garage.  It came out perfect!  This is step #1 on the building  specs.  I've got my first Part built!  Jim has this full size on the drawings, and the angles match perfectly when I laid it on.
Stay tuned........