Saturday, February 10, 2018
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!
Wednesday, January 17, 2018
Friday, January 5, 2018
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!
Friday, December 15, 2017
Tuesday, December 5, 2017
Boat building certainly fits my personality type. I like to be busy but I get bored easily. Luckily there always something else to work on when you are building a boat. We've been busy doing glue ups, threading bolts and building our rolling gantry crane. This post will probably be all over the place however, you'll see we are making good progress.
First off I wanted to give a big thank to my son's friend Cole for developing some channel art for our YouTube channel and our blog. I'm not sure yet how I want to incorporate them but I really appreciate his effort.
We continue to be fussy about the fits of the very keel components. I'm running each keel piece over the jointer to give the cut face a nice smooth, flat and square surface. Careful attention is paid to each preceding glue up to ensure the mating face is flat and level. I might have a sickness with regard to how much I enjoy looking at the glue lines of our lamination's. They just came out perfect!
I called in the admiral to assist with the deadwood glue up. The dry fit was easy but after applying epoxy it became quite slippery and wanted to slide off when clamp pressure was applied. We used a 2x4 to brace it against the wall to hold it in position as we applied the clamps.
We continue to double check our measurements and angles against the plans and what we are getting in the real world. The shaft log angle was a 1/2 degree off which is well within are margin of error. So things are looking good.
We simply dry fit the stem knee just check our angles and fit. Things look great and the angles matched the plans exactly.
The the rolling gantry crane project continues to progress nicely. I don't foresee the crane carrying any overly heavy items, but the crane itself is substantial so I wanted it to have a firm base to roll on. We planned to install the track right on the building cradle since we knew that was already dead flat. With 2x4's laid flat on the cradle, they did not have enough stiffness to span the space between each timber. I fabricated a support system that looks like half of an I-beam, like a long T.
We milled up some left over larch from our frame stock that we did not use. These were the pieces that had knots, sapwood or other defects that were not good enough for the boat but are perfect for this application. Machining them to approximately dimensional 2x4 stock, they were then turned on edge and screwed to the flat 2x4 from underneath. Plenty of screws and a couple of support blocks made the track bed very ridged.
With the track bed sections secure, it was time to lay the track. We used a string line to make sure over the course of 36 feet the bed was nice and straight. We left the string in place and aligned the track the same way.
It was then just a matter of clamping the track in place with some C-clamps to keep them from moving while it was screwed into place.
With one side in place it was time to lay the opposite side. Since the keel is in the way there was no real easy way to accurately measure or use a gauge block. We built a jig to straddle over the top of the keel. It was a very simple jig using some 2x4's and the v-groove wheels we purchased for the actual crane. With the wheels square on the track it was just a matter of rolling the jig down the track and adjusting as necessary as the wheels went out of square. We were pretty close to begin with but some adjustments were required.
We've also been busy finishing our keel, knee and rudder bolts. This is a perfect project when time is limited like after work or when it gets to dark in the boat shed. All 35 bolts are now complete and we are currently making arrangements to ship them to the galvanizer in Cleveland, Ohio.
Finally, we finsihed the last keel glue up the the sub-assembly that supports the transom. We learned from the previous slippery glue up and drove a couple screws in to hold the piece in place until the clamps could be applied.
After a couple of days we removed the clamps and proceeded to dry fit the transom knee. Things look great and this keel is truly monstrous, nearly 8 feet tall at the top of the knee.
Next up is modifying the crane similar to what was described in the previous post and adding the wheels. Once complete I think it's going to be a huge labor saver when go to install the frames. We also have some work to do machining and laying out the pieces for the transom.
There's never a shortage of things to do, and that's just the way we like it! Thanks for checking out our project and we hope you have success on your to-do list.