Diesel Duck 382

Diesel Duck 382
Diesel Duck 382 with the "get home" steadying sails up.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Wooden boat keel bolts and floor timbers. Sea Dreamer Project ep.26

Saturday, April 7, 2018

sticks and stones

Now I would indeed be a fool if I began writing and making videos for the internet that I was not prepared to be criticized on.  Boy howdy, and critisim I do get!  That's ok, because I've made a ton of virtual friends as well.  People who have offered support, advice and even cash to help me achieve my dream.  Simply amazing!

However it's funny how humans work.  You can stand in front of a 100 smiling faces and only remember the single frown.  I do my best not to forget the smiles. But, in the spirit of never leaving ignorance, arrogance or just plain rudeness go unchallenged, I recently replied to a particularly insulting comment from someone on Wooden Boat Forum after I asked a question.

I'm going to post it here because while you may be unfamiliar with the specifics that led to this comment, I believe it represents well the spirit of our project.

If you really want to read the forum post you'll find it HERE

However the below, albeit out of context, is what I wrote in responsey.


You know Bob, your a bad human being.  A small, petty, divisive and arrogant human being.

I finished reading your comments last night before bed and I’ll admit, I was mad.  I initially composed a scathing response to your many insulting words in my head.  That’ll show’em! 

But as I’ve come to learn, never say (or write) anything in anger.  As adult men I believe our greatest strength should be to control our emotions.  So I went to bed, next to my wife with the sounds of my kids laughing and talking with a visiting friend (sleep over Friday you know).

So I’ll give you my response with a clear head.  Bob, I feel bad for you.  I truly do, and I’m sincerely sorry the path your life has taken that has made you the way you have become.  I know it’s not what your parents wanted for you and we as a society should feel true empathy for people like you.  We as a society should reach out to those who are so isolated, so bitter, so lonely and welcome them back to humanity.  

Life is good, people are good, try to remember a time when you believed that.

I get it Bob, believe me.  I’ve spent my entire adult life in a uniform of one kind or another.  While I would hate to say I’ve done it all……theres no other way to say it though, I’ve done it all!  I’ve seen humanity at its absolute worst.  Primal, base, savagery inflicted by one human on another.  I’ve also seen the depths of stupidity that could not be believed unless you were to observe it with your own eyes.  People who’s complete lack of common sense or any semblance of situational awareness led to their untimely death or the death of another.

When you work in that world it can easily consume you.  The drugs, the booze, the violence. The constant conflict, anger and rage in your workplace.  Now add to it the fact that you’re working nights, you’re  not sleeping, moneys tight, kids are needy and little and the wife wants a vacation.  It gets hard, real hard, real fast.  

It’s so easy to lose sight of all the good in the world, all the good in people.  You have to work to not to believe that everyone is out to get you.  Some guys just can’t do it, the light grows to dim to see and they remain in darkness.  Lonely, bitter darkness.

It’s not just for the people in a uniform.  Life, circumstances, even being a  wealthy lawyer can dim the light no matter how you make your living.  You can’t see the light Bob, but I assure you it’s there.

I never appreciated the quote that I’ll paraphrase from Mark Twain until I became the old man myself (sorta, I’m on facebook and that’s for old people).  About how the teenager was incredulous at the old man’s ignorance when he left the house and how shocked to see how much the old man had learned in just a few short years when he returned.  

That was me!  Not that specific, as there was no old man I thought a fool, I thought everyone not exactly like me was a fool.

In my 20’s and most of my 30’s there wasn’t a course of action, personal choice or lifestyle that I could not find fault with.  I mean it, I was a master poopooer of all things unfamiliar or different then how I saw the world.  I was the smartest guy in every room.  I fought bigger guys than me, shot guns and drove fast for a living.  Whatever you were doing, you were doing it wrong.  Trust me, just ask, I would set you straight.

But you know Bob, I aint that smart.  I aint that tough and it’s really none of my business what my neighbor does in his yard or bedroom.  I realized how much I still had to learn, how much I missed out on because I already knew everything.  

I hurt people Bob.  I isolated them, demeaned them and took them for granted because I knew it all and needed no one. 

Life always brings things into balance, it is the way of nature.  When you live as I did and as you still do, one day it catches up to you.  Nobody knows when, but it always catches you.

I almost lost it all Bob, everything I loved, everything that was truly important became instantly clear.  I won’t bore you with my all to common story, but my day of reckoning came and I had a choice to make.

So I did.

Live Bob.  Dream, Learn, Do.  

I say it all the time.  Lead people by positive example.  I tell my men and my children continually that I want leaders in the field!  Lead from the front with servant leadership.  Put others before yourself and get the job done. That is not confined to the work place.  Leadership can be anywhere.  Church, the grocery store and even wooden boat building.

Seek common ground and develop peoples interest into passions.  There is enough sun for everyone.  Cheer when people succeed, support them when they fail.  You don’t need to “fix” it, You don’t need to do it for them, you need to make them believe it can be done and they can do it!

This would not be an appropriate wooden boat post if I did not at least do a little shop talk so I’ll drop some knowledge on you.  

While on the one had it’s not fair to single you out Bob,  because there were some others who were nearly as insulting, condescending and rude.  Unfortunately you seized the prize for the most uncalled for behavior.  So as we say in my world, you caught a ballgame.

Despite what you say Bob, there is more than one way to build a boat.  The particular process I’m speaking of, has been done, is being done with hundreds of examples on the sea today.  My question was simply a materials question.  

I got some good responses about off gassing and interior appearance that I had not really thought of.  Excellent points that have led me to believe I’ll just use the white oak that is widely available in my area.  Pretty simple.

That is what I hoped this forum would be like.  A place where people with a common passion came together to solve problems and support one another.  Not a digital playground where the most obnoxious, ignorant, blowhards shout down anyone who dares ask a question.

You were not alone but among a few who spoke from a place of ignorance and assumption.  Some insinuated that I would let this craft become a derelict eye sore when I was done with her. That it will be unrepairable, not sea worthy and quickly dissolve into dust.  One even indicated I was the kind of person that gave wooden boats a bad name! 

Had any of you taken the time to ask a few more questions, or research the design or the project a little more you would know the kind of person I am.  The methodical, logical, responsible person I am and how ridiculous those assumptions were.

Many of you pass your opinions off as fact, with the scary thing being, to the uninitiated, that most of what you say is indeed opinion and just that.

But to Bob and the others; it’s not fact.  It is your opinion.  Which of course you are entitled to, but don’t think the rest of us are fooled by some keyboard tough guys who are better at writing checks than swinging a hammer to achieve their wooden boat dreams.

I tried to show appropriate respect for traditional methods because I truly do admire them, but they are just not for me.  My project is  not about trying to do it “cheap” “fast” or “easy”, it’s about a building concept that make sense to me.  It’s an approach that allows me to get on the water in an acceptable amount of time, money and effort for me.  Just me.  

I don’t know why that would be so offensive to anyone else.

Shockingly, a few hundred million of us do not live on a coast having grown up with triple masted schooners (yeah I don’t know if that’s a thing but it sounded good) in daddy’s slip at your “summer place”.  I thought I made it clear that this was simply a materials question, that I was not running out to do it one way or the other, just a question.

I get it, you may not like this construction method, George Buehler or his designs, but I do.  It also would have been fine for you to simply say, “I don’t like it, I wouldn’t do it”. But Bob, you chose to make it personal and insult me.  To question my intelligence, work ethic and my due regard for the safety of my family.

Who the hell are you?

Obviously my time on the forum has come to an end.  Equally obvious is it will be no great loss to the forum, I took more for the forum then I ever I gave.  I’ll continue my project of course.  I’ll write about, post about and make videos for YouTube because all of it is fun.  It’s fun for me and I hope it’s fun for others and gets them off the couch and out into the shop.  I hope it gets them off the computer, posting in some internet forum over 500 times a year and back into the real world. I hope it shows them the joy of building something with your own hands.  I hope it makes them believe that they can do it.

However, before I go, I’m going to leave this with you Bob, to ponder as you run out the clock on the bay.

The internet is forever.  Years will pass and we’ll both be long forgotten.  However, our words here will remain.  You may not have noticed but wooden boats and wooden boat building is teetering on the abyss between obscurity and a home building resurgence.  Which way it goes, will for the most part, be decided by us old guys.

One approach would be to encourage younger people to pick up a hammer and some coated deck screws and then scrounge around for some ACX plywood and some pallet hardwood.  Encourage them to try, to get started, to take some risks while they can afford to and welcome them to a beautiful hobby of woodworking and boat building.  Maybe that first boat they make is an ugly, hard chined, plywood boat, but it lites a fire in them.  Maybe they start to create demand for more and better materials.  Maybe the demand for boat building schools grows along with a demand for skilled traditional boat builders.  Then the next boat they build, when they have some money and experience in both building and navigating, is your idealize version of what a wooden boat should be.  

That sounds good to me.  A rising tide raises all boats.  The more people in the hobby the better.  Prices fall and access to materials increase.  Our hobby thrives and the traditional skills that we all admire don’t go the way of the dodo bird.

Or Bob we can do it your way.  Shout people down.  Insult them.  Mock them.

Because thats what you, along with a few others did in this thread Bob and here it is for all times.  For some person, potentially interested in the hobby, with maybe a similar question, to see how this forum treats people who dare attempt anything in boat building at anything less than a master craftsman.  Someone who will quickly dismiss the idea of boat building, because there are very few other resources for potential boat builders in Boise, Denver or Branson.  They’ll believe they can’t do it, that it can’t be done.  So will the next and the next and the next until their all gone.

Then you’ll sit on your rotting monument of a hull wondering where all the woods boat builders went.  Now you’ll know Bob, because you help send them there.

So hopefully, if your the new guy reading this thread and you are in fact still here and reading this, I’ll tell you some truth.

You can do it, this is not rocket science or brain surgery.  There are people in isolated corners of the world building ocean boats from pulp wood logs and caulking them with tree sap.  Your plywood, cedar stripped craft with epoxy will be just fine.  It may not be a “boat for the ages” but you can do it and you’ll learn how to do it better next time.  There are great books out there by guys like Pardey, Gerr and Buehler.  Guys who have really done it and are happy to show you the way.  

Don’t let what you have seen here and will see in other posts deter you from building your dream.  Furthermore don’t let the few keyboard commandos on here scare you away from the depth of knowledge contained in many of these pages.  Don’t miss out on the beauty that is created here by some really talented people.  It is inspirational if you can be more resilient than me! 

Finally, Bob, good luck.  Seriously, think about what I’ve said.  I mean this, if you come to NY you are welcome to stop over anytime.  I’m easy to find and you can send me an email and we’ll work out all the details.  We’ve got beautiful part of the world here in upstate NY and you’ll find plenty to do.  

Come out to the shop and take a look around, swing a hammer with me and let me remind you about that light.  It’s not the one out your window brother, It’s in your heart, it’s in there waiting for you to want to see it.  If no one else in your life will, I would be proud to help.  

Thursday, March 15, 2018

On our own

There is a saying that "hesitation kills".  I think it's origins are from the military but it's equally true in law enforcement.  However, like many things, it can be applicable in many other situations.  Hesitation can kill a good deal on a big purchase, It can result in a lot more work when you miss a weather opportunity and hesitation can be equally deadly for our dreams.

As I've said before, somewhere along the line of growing up we stop dreaming.  We dismiss it as childish, impractical, or a waste of time.  On the rare occasions where we let ourselves think about what could be, we often put it off for some indeterminate time in the future; someday.  The unfortunate thing is we never know how many "some days" we have left.

George Buehler 1948-2018


It's with sad news that I learned that our boat designer, George Buehler, died unexpectedly from an aortic aneurysm on February 28, 2018.  He had been loading his truck for a fishing trip when his wife found him collapsed in the driveway.  He was rushed to an area hospital and underwent emergency surgery.  His treatment failed and George passed away. 

Our deepest condolences go out to his family and we pray they find peace.  I would like to believe that George had one final lesson for us with his death.  

Don't wait.

Don't wait for tomorrow or someday if you dream of something.  Start taking steps today to make your dream happen.  Any tiny step is a start, and beginning is the hardest part. 

With George's death, the future availability of his designs and plans are in doubt.  For the many who have been dreaming of building their own Buehler designed boat, hesitation may have killed their dream. 

I have had some conversations with marine industry people and I know every effort is being made to keep George's designs alive and available to those that are interested.  However there are no guarantees in life and this situation is no different.  We at the Sea Dreamer Project can only hope for the best and pray that the future availability of George's designs continue on.

A reporter for Soundings magazine tracked me down for an interview related to George's obituary.  She was looking for some perspective from a home builder inspired by George.  We talked for quite a bit but what I hoped for the most, was that his wife and family knew that George's life mattered.

We all hope to impact the world in some form with our lives, to leave our mark.  Few of us do, in any lasting sense, but the goal is to do some good within our sphere of influence.  I told the reporter that even though George was not curing cancer or creating world peace, his contributions to the world were still vitally important.  

In one of George's books he said one clients wife called him a "dream merchant" as she argued over specifics of her husbands proposed design.  Her intent was to imply that he was filling her husbands head with unrealistic expectations that he couldn't possibly achieve.  

Maybe she was right, but inspiring people to dream big is no vice.  George inspired thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands, to dream big.  More importantly, he instilled the belief that not only were those dreams possible, but within their reach and ability.  Inspiring people to do, to act, to try is, perhaps, one of the greatest things we can hope to achieve.  George did it.  He lived it.  He showed the rest of us how we could do it too.  A rare combination indeed.  

The world is a better place because of George Buehler.  My hope is the family realizes and takes comfort in that fact.  God speed George, rest in peace.


If I didn't have enough motivation already, now I know I have to build a Duck that George would be proud of so work goes on for our 41' Diesel Duck.

We removed the dry fit transom in preparation for the transom knee glue up.  We got lucky with some unseasonable warmth so it became as good a time as any.  We made sure the sternpost was perfectly flat and prepped for epoxy.  We set up a couple of stop blocks to keep the knee from sliding around to much and mixed up a batch of epoxy.  We installed the knee after applying some neat and then thickened epoxy and secured it with a few screws.  This was a difficult clamping situation with the angled knee.  Another benefit of epoxy is that it only requires moderate clamping pressure.  In this situation, the screws held things together nicely until the epoxy cured.


While daytime temperatures were in the 60's, we knew at night it would be much colder.  We built a very rudimentary tent and placed a small electric space heater within.  Our fast set hardener requires temperatures not fall below 40 degrees.  I placed a cheap digital thermometer within the tent and zeroed it out.  When I came out to check it the next day it showed the temperature never dropped below 42 degrees.  Success! 



With the knee secured it was time to get started on the rabbet.

I went around and around on how I was going to do this.  Circular saw, chisel, angle grinder, router.  I knew I could cut the bearding line easy enough with the circular saw as that angle was only 22 degrees.  While I continued to think how to get it done the easiest and most accurate way possible, I got started cutting the bearding line.



After marking the rabbet and bearding line locations based off the plans, a batten was sprung around some finish nails tacked in place and the line was marked with a pencil.  With the circular saw set to 22 degrees and the depth at 7/16 of an inch,  I proceeded to run the saw down the bearding line.  I reset the saw to 90 degrees and with the help of a test cut on some scrap, established an appropriate depth approximately 1/2" down from the bearding line.  Another parallel cut was made to the bearding line along the length of the keel.  This gave me a rough guide for the appropriate angle to cut for the rabbet.  


With lines cut on both sides of the keel I chiseled out a small portion to get an idea of what was going to work best.  This process was highlighted in our last video on YouTube and viewers gave us lots of ideas on alternate ways to complete the job.  I haven't had a chance to try it, but it looks like our Rockwell multi-tool along with the Turbo Plane blade on our angle grinder will get the job done relatively quickly.

After the epoxy had a chance to cure on the transom knee it was time to install the 5/8" bolts.  Drilling these long, wide holes is a little stressful in light of our last failure.  However these holes are drilled down the center of the timber, so there is little chance of them blowing out the side.  Even still I wanted to drill them as straight as possible so I came up with a new design for our drill guide.


We used some more scrap frame pieces and plywood to build a jig that would slide over the keel and keep our drill bit in line.  Careful attention was paid to keeping the guide holes in line with each other.  Additionally the side pieces were cut in a fashion that made it simple to align with our marks on the keel so we knew our bolts would go exactly where we intended.

Once we measured out where our homemade bolts would go, the jig was screwed in place and the drilling began.  I used a succession of different length bits in order to ensure the most accurate hole.  It's much easier to keep an 8" bit in line than it is a 32" bit.  So we proceeded to step up from 8", 18" and finally to get us through, a 32" bit.



It could have not gone better and I found that the bit only wandered about 1/4" off it's intended course.  For this application it was well within tolerances.  Once the hole was drilled, we plugged the underside and filled the whole with copper napthanate preservative.  We let that soak in for a few minutes then drained the hole.  After that we lubricated the bolt with bees wax, lightly threaded on a nut and pounded her home with a hammer.  We then put washers and nuts on each end and tightened things up.



I guarantee that knee is not coming off without a fight!

After that we moved on to dry fitting a floor timber and station 38.  Details on that we'll have to wait but I was very happy with the preliminary fit.  I'm hopeful that things will come together nicely this summer.

As always, we are so grateful for all the support of our readers and viewers and we hope you know we appreciate it all so much.  Be sure to check out our Facebook page and Instagram accounts along with our YouTube channel.  Links are located at the top right of this page for Facebook and YouTube.  Just search "Sea Dreamer Project" on Instagram and it'll pop right up.

Stay tuned for our next step as we begin the floor timber installation!

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Looks good from behind

What an adventure it's been.  Truly, you just never know where life will take you.  A few weeks ago the digital media director for Totalboat epoxy sent us an email asking about our project.  They wanted to highlight our project on the Totalboat and Jamestown distributors websites.  We happily accepted and were delighted to so see links to our site from such large marine related company.  There was even talk of a small partnership opportunity, that Totalboat calls an ambassadorship, in which we would highlight their products, receive a small discount on our purchases and do a little mutual promotion.  Time will tell but it was awfully flattering just to be considered.  If you watch Acorn to Arabella you'll see them doing something similar and they have a video about their experiences touring the Jamestown distributors shop.  We sometimes forget that there are regular people behind these companies that we perceive as faceless corporations.  Totalboat and Jamestown distributors are made of good people and, to my eye, have earned our patronage.  You can check out their stories HERE or HERE.



Keel layout is in it's final stages.  We used a combination of our patterns and the CAD rendering of our boat to layout all the stations and the rabbet.  I'm going to say right from the start that we did have a few small discrepancies.  Nothing that makes me uncomfortable, but when working in the real world sometimes things got to be off by a 1/8" or so here and there. Everything from the thickness of the glue lines to slight differences in different tape measures, a little bit here or there adds up over time.  I'm a Type A kind of guy and I like things to be exactly how they are supposed to be.  However as a first time boat builder I have to accept that over these distances we are dealing with, sometimes things won't be perfect.  



I admire the pro's and the experienced amateurs I read about or watch online.  However, every builder is really the only who knows what's not right and nobody is perfect!  Just keep that in mind on your projects when the real world does not match the editing and clever camera angles of the flawless project you see there.    So for or any discrepancies, we just split the difference and things look darn good.

With all the stations and the rabbet marked it was time to actually spring a batten for the full rabbet line.  The rabbet is the point on the keel where the outside of the finished planking enters the keel.  It's like a triangle cut into the side of the keel to the angle of entry of the planking at each point along the entire length.  The angle is continually changing so when originally cut out it's just a rough cut.  The designer recommends cutting to the flattest angle indicated in the plans as you can always steepen up the angle when you actually get to planking.  Since our bottom planking runs side to side instead of the more traditional end to end, adjusting those angles can be done one plank at a time.  

Nothing complicated here, we just used a long piece of white oak scrap held on its marks with some finish nails.  Then it was just a matter of marking the line formed by the batten with a pencil.




The next step will be to actually cut the rabbet, but I'm still working out how I want to do that.  An online friend gave me the idea of building a jig and using a router. That seems really slick so I'm trying to work things out in my head.

While temperatures are still a little to cold here in upstate NY to use any epoxy, I wanted to get our last frame for the transom assembled.  If you remember from a few months ago, before we disassembled the framing table, we laid out the pattern for the transom on some red rosin paper.  We unrolled that paper in our basement and used some double sided tape to secure our planking setback blocks on the lines.




We machined up some white oak and went to work.  Assembly is the same as when we built the frames.  A process of laying out our lumber on the lines and marking angles and intersections for accurate cuts.  I was a little confused on how the actual assembly of this frame was to be completed so I added a some gussets and pocket screws.  The result is probably a little over engineered but we never complain about that here!



Each intersection was glued with epoxy and secured with outdoor pocket screws.  The pocket screws were really just used for alignment purposes but they do add a little mechanical strength.  




Once everything was dry fit and secured with one pocket hole screw to hold things in position, it was time to cut the curve at the top of the frame that forms the deck of the aft end of the boat.  This was accomplished in the same way we laid out our rabbet.  All the measurements to form the correct curve are included in the plans.  Then it's just a matter of working off the appropriate base line and measuring up at the specified location.  Once again a white oak batten and some finish nails formed the curve and a pencil traced the line.



The real strength of all these intersections was the addition of plywood gussets.  Just like the frames, we used cardboard templates to produce accurate gussets.  


For final assembly we used epoxy for all the joints backed up by the pocket hole screws.  The pockets were then filled with thickened epoxy and a coating of Titebond III wood glue was applied.  We then laid the gussets in place and secured them with coated deck screws.



While the transom is still laying down we took the time to cut the chine notch, just like the frames.  There is still more to be done to complete the transom, but we stopped here to keep the weight down for lifting it into position.  Once she's secured to the keel, the transom will get a layer of solid white oak planking, followed by 2 layers of 3/8" plywood.  When it's all said and done, each frame intersection will be backed up by 3 1/2" thick work of material.  Robust indeed!


Once complete my son was pulled into service for the big install!  We definitely could have used some more help, but with the aid of our gantry crane we muscled the transom into position.  





A little chisel work on the keel was required to get things to fit near perfect but the effort was well worth the result.  A little back and forth of trial and error got an excellent fit. We used a combination of our rolling gantry crane and a block and tackle secured to the ridge beam, to do most of the heavy lifting.


In a matter of an hour or so the transom was dry fit into place.  She sat plumb on her marks and the angles looked good.  Some fine tuning will be required but nothing major.  Once we get some warmer temperatures she'll be ready for epoxy.  


It was a few weeks of work from rough lumber to install but we continue to find as much time as we can for boat building.  I try to never pass up an overtime opportunity at work and so far this year, the opportunities have been plentiful.  

Sometimes it's down right fun, like last weekend when the state paid us to patrol along the walking path's of the Erie Canal.  We stopped at lock 33 and I grabbed a few photos.  It wasn't boat building fun but at least I was close enough to dream about doing the loop!




We got our keel bolts back from the galvanizer and things look great.  I'm glad I took the time to mark each bolt with the punch set because even after being dipped I can still see the marks.  That'll sure make things easier for identification purposes.



Finally we want to thank everyone for stopping to check out our project.  As I have said before it's been really fun connecting with people from all over the world.  Australia, England, Ireland, Malaysia and eastern Europe just to name a few.  So many have offered tips and advice or just a word of encouragement.  It makes the effort of writing and filming very much worth the knowledge and motivation it has provided.  So thanks!  Please send us an email or leave a comment and let us know what you're working on and where you're from.  The web has made our world so much smaller and it's great to connect with people who share a passion for creating.

If you have questions or would like to see something specific in our next blog entry or video please let us know.  If you like what you see, share our project on Facebook or instagram.  Help us spread the word and let google ad's help fund the Sea Dreamer Project!

Friday, January 5, 2018

digging deep

This time of year is a whirlwind and I'm sure that's true for most of us in the states and Europe.  Family commitments, ample overtime opportunities at work and just day to day obligations have left little time for boat building recently.  

I have come to recognize that the more I get overwhelmed with "stuff" the more I tend to shut down and not do anything.  It's a bad habit that I'm trying to break myself from.  It hasn't been easy recently as much of the "stuff" I'm struggling with have to do with work, and the changes that began January 1.  I work for an elected official, way down from the elected official, but work for him none the less.  After nearly 40 years of consistency with department veterans earning their way to the top, an outsider was elected, defeating my boss.  This was heartbreaking for me personally as many old friends lost their jobs after the unsuccessful re-election of the boss. Change is inevitable and logically I know that.  However, I still struggle when things do not remain as I know them. It troubles me to see an outsider put on the same uniform that was merely won and not earned.  I'm finding it difficult to accept a person who does not know the culture or understand the ethos of our agency.  Additionally, the onset of stifling cold weather has really sucked the energy out of me.  It's no fun to work outside when you can't feel your toes and your fingers freeze to your metal tools.  

We all have struggles, we all have obstacles to our happiness and success.  People grow and move on. Change is a factor in all of our lives.  We must continue to pursue our dreams and find motivation in the joy of that pursuit.  I would be wise to listen to my own advice.....Now if I could just control the weather!

In between my un-motivated "funk" and working overtime I have found a few hours here and there to keep working on our boat.  Our biggest project to date has been the building of our rolling gantry crane.  It took quite a few hours to complete but was not that costly.  Regardless of cost or effort I think it will pay huge dividends when we begin setting our frames.


We started with a fixed gantry crane and heavily modified it.  However, most of the main pieces were left at their existing dimensions so we saved some time not having to shape new timbers.  The "A" frame of each side of the crane was beefed up with through bolts and additional bracing.  With the final dimensions of each leg set and the base for the wheels to attach to was next to be assembled.  This consisted of a couple of 2x6's bolted and screwed to a wheel mounting plate on each end.  Careful attention was paid to keeping the frames for the base square and the wheels perpendicular to the assembly.  Plenty of screws and bracing were used to keep the whole system robust, probably more than necessary.  The base sections were then bolted to each support side.  Again, careful attention was given to keeping the base perpendicular to the vertical support.


Each completed assembly was quite heavy and the admiral was pulled into service until each side could be temporarily braced.  The attention to detail in keeping things square resulted in each side rolling smoothly on the track and each vertical piece being perfectly plum.



With the aid of corner level used for setting fence posts, each side was plummed in both directions and then secured to each other.


The tops of each of the vertical supports were notched to receive a 2x6 on both sides.  Once tacked in place with a few screws, each joint was drilled out and secured with carriage bolts.  Again, this is probably over engineering but I'll never have to worry about over loading it.


As I've talked about before, due to space limitations, our crane needed a relatively unique design in order to give us the height we need.  A single center support was laminated up of 2x6's.  After being planed to size, the base was mortised so it fit between the top horizontal supports.  Once in place it was drilled out and bolted into place.  The top support, perpendicular to the entire crane assembly, was also mortised and then bolted into position as well.  It was quite an ordeal to get these heavy pieces into place. It involved some questionable tactics on my part while balancing on top of a ladder.  The end result proved quite ridged and I was mostly pleased with the outcome.  However, It quickly became apparent that some sort of counter weight or support would be needed on the opposite end of the top support piece. 


I went back and forth between using actual counter weights or some kind of support system.  I decided on a support system consisting of stainless steel cable (left over from a railing project many years ago) turn buckles, eye bolts and a couple of carabiners. Eye bolts were secured to the top piece opposite the lifting side and the lower center section support.  The cable was then roughly cut to length, eyelets were made with the appropriate hardware and then connected with a turnbuckle in between.  The turn buckle was tightened to put tension on the cable but not overly so.  I gave it the hanging test using my body weight and it seemed to work great.  A few additional braces were added and the crane was complete.  It rolls very smoothly and has all the height we'll need to set our frames.

As we have done with everthing on this keel, each keel section that is glued together is backed up by a mechanical fastener.  A fastening schedule was provided in the plans and calls for several 18" long, 1/2" drift bolt.  Drifts are essentially just big nails.  They are drilled out partially undersized and then a sledge hammer is used to pound them home.  The only complicated part of the operation is in the aft end when the drifts have to be installed on either side of the shaft log.  The holes need to be far enough away from the side to avoid obstructing the rabbet, but not to far or angled to punch through the shaft log.


This was another part of the build that I was dreading.  I was very imtimidated about having to drill such long holes perfectly straight.  I built a drill guide to assist with keeping things plum in both directions.


After attaching the guide to the keel with a couple of clamps and a nail, I chucked the extra long auger tip drill bit into our heavy duty corded drill.  The hole was completed without incident and the drift was pounded in, No problem!  I was relieved and thought to myself I had worried for nothing.  How wrong I was!

I moved to the opposite side and repeated the process.  The first hole made it about 8" before it encountered some kind of embedded metal.  This was nothing I installed and must have been something that got in there when the wood was a tree.  After all we've already found one bullet, maybe this was another!  I started a new hole a few inches up from the first.  I made it down about 12 inches before disaster struck.  The drill bit deflected and blew out the side!  On the bright side at least it did not punch through the shaft.  I withdrew the bit and moved it a few inches away and began again.  Same result! 



I had read that boat builders preferred "barefoot"drill bits for long holes.  That did not make sense to me and I went with the auger tip.  Additionally, it seemed no matter how straight I attempted to keep the bit, the auger style drill bit was not stiff enough to keep from deflecting.  Maybe I was pushing to hard, maybe the bits were not high enough quality, never the less, I went back to the drawing board.  Luckily I had purchased a 40" long, 1/2" fluted bit.  This bit by it's style was much more robust and was not easily deflected.  I moved a few inches from the now 3 failed attempts, and with the fluted bit and drill guide I was able to complete the hole.  The drift was pounded in and it was on to the next two.  The remaining drifts were drilled out without incident using the fluted bit.  As all our drifts are installed at opposing compound angles, the drilled holes had to be made at slight angles to one another.  The opposing compound angles of the drifts ensure they will never come out and will provide support to the assembly regardless of which direction the loads are applied.  An important consideration when the boat is rolling and pitching in open water.


With the drifts in place I now get to worry about the through bolts that must be drilled out for 3 stations in the aft end.  That will have to wait until we are actually ready to install the floors at those locations.  Our galvanizer will be shipping our keel bolts back to us today so that install will be happening sooner rather than later.

I next went on to complete the final rough sanding to clean up the glue squeeze out from the various keel components.  Our angle grinder with an 80 grit flap disk made quick work of that.  The keel was now ready for the final layout for each of the stations.  All that was left to do was to jack up the keel to the height indicated in the plans.

We used our new gantry crane and some tow straps to lift it to the prescribed height.  We then added cribbing and some shims to hold it in place nice and plum.  My next step is to add some side supports to keep the keel from being accidentally knocked over.  As we have added on all the pieces in the aft end the entire assembly has gotten quite tall and a bit tippy.


I also wanted to show you a little experiment that I conducted with a laminated cut off from our keel.  I cut some of the pieces down to size so they would fit in the shop wood stove.  I know, I know, you're not supposed to burn this stuff but it provides free heat and it was in the name of science!  I threw a laminated piece on the fire at the end of one of my work days when the fire had burned down to a smolder.  When I came out the next morning the piece was heavily charred but not completely burned up.  What was amazing was the fact that the glue lines were still holding.  It could be broken apart but it was the wood that was breaking and not the glue joint.  It was a real testament to the strength of modern resorcinol based glue (Aerodux 185).  It really inspires confidence in the strength and durability of our keel.



As I write the current air temperature is -1, with wind chills down to -30.  This makes for tough building conditions but I hope to get out in the shop this weekend to get started on laying out the stations on the keel and machining up some white oak for the transom.  I look forward to a productive new year and renewed building vigor as spring is a mere 5 months away!

Thanks for checking out our project and happy new year to all!