Diesel Duck 382

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

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Spread the News!

As if finding the "magic bullet" wasn't exciting enough! However, it was topped when we received a visit from one of the local News stations.  The picture I posted on Facebook of the magic bullet made it's way to the lead anchor, Adam Chodak, at our local CBS affiliate (WROC) here in Rochester.  He was even more interested to learn about our project and requested a visit to the boat shed.

We happily agreed and Adam along with his cameraman, Christian, spent nearly two hours learning about the Sea Dreamer Project.  Working in my job I have frequent contacts with the media.  Being in a mid-sized market often leads to a transient press pool. They work here to gain experience while they hope for a job in a Major market. This often leads to inexperienced reporters in the field who are more interested in being first then being right.

Well Mr Chodak does not fit into that category.  A Rochester area native, he is committed to this town and it's residents.  He was extremely thorough in his questioning and committed to getting the story right.  His professionalism was reflected in the news story he did about our project.  It was a great experience and he certainly demonstrated that his is a voice that viewers can trust.

If you would like to check out the news piece you can click THIS LINK and check it out.  I have no interest in becoming internet famous or a YouTube star.  I know that some readers may be doubtful of that statement when I'm regularly making YouTube videos, posting on Facebook and sharing our project on various internet forums.  

The reasons I started writing and making videos about our project were primarily twofold.  First, I was disappointed that I could not find something similar when I originally began thinking about building this boat.  It was frustrating that I could not find any videos of a build on such a relatively common boat, designed to be built by the home builder.  Additionally there were less than a handful of blogs on various builders constructing Diesel Ducks.  Most of them were incomplete.  I decided that since I was going to build this boat, I would provide the things I wish I could have found before I started my project.  I didn't want to complain about a problem and not be willing to do something to fix that problem.  I figured it would only be a little extra effort to provide people thinking about building a Duck some pictures and commentary about the process.

Secondly, and this was a reason that slowly evolved, was the fact that I wanted to do my part to motivate people to take on their own dream project.  I hate how that sounds, because I'm not "that guy" who is some arrogant, self absorbed jerk who thinks people hang on his every word.  I'm certainly out going with friends, but around strangers I'm fairly quiet.  I enjoy my solitude and often feel awkward in social situations with those that I don't know.  My job has taught me to "fake it" when necessary so that I appear comfortable talking with anyone, but in reality it is always a struggle. It's not in my nature to be the "rah, rah" guy trying to motivate people to fulfill their potential.

With all of that said, the more I got into this crazy project the more I realized how blessed I truly was. Taking on such a bold project, such as this, is very out of character for someone as measured and calculating as myself.  I began to see that if someone like me can do this, then hell, anyone could! Additionally I began to see how fortunate I was to have such a supportive circle of friends and family around me.  Without their support, particularly my wife's, I would never be able to consider taking on such a massive project.  I felt very strongly that I needed to pay this forward.  I wanted others to see the blessings in their life and believe anything is possible if we are willing to try.  

I hate how that sounds too!  I have lived much of my life with a cynical eye towards peoples wacky endeavors.  Yet here I am, acting like one of these wacky individuals I have been critical of in the past.  The only conclusion I can draw is that I have been wrong.  Wrong in my perceptions of others, wrong to be so opinionated  about the things I knew so little about.  My options were to either dig my heels in and continue my ignorance or go public with my failures and hope to bring some good out of it.  I have chosen the latter which bring us to my long winded point writing about my motivations.

Finally, there was one more reason to go public with this build.  It's an obvious one and I'm sure we all know what it is.  Financing!  Would I like to have a 1000 views a day on this site and 100,000 subscribers on YouTube?  Hell yes!  Not because I want recognition or fame but because I would love to find a way to fund this build with advertising dollars and corporate sponsorship.  I know how lucky my family is to have steady employment and enough disposable income to even consider starting a project such as this.  

However I would be lying if I did not say that I was terrified of the costs of this build.  I know I can do everything required to build and operate this boat.  The only thing, and it's a big only, is how the hell am I going to pay for this.  I don't want to wait 20 years to build this boat only because I'm waiting on financing it.

I knew I had to do something more to supplement our boat building budget.  What better way then to monetize something I love doing.  The only way to monetize it is to publicize.  I proudly admit that I welcome the exposure from our local media and the reach provided by social media.  

From the bottom of my heart we believe in our mission of providing quality information to fellow builders (and/or dreamers) and encouraging people to live their dreams.  Those will always be our top priorities when creating content surrounding this project.  However the financial aspect, I un-apologetically  admit, is very important to us as well.  

I'm not sure why I felt compelled to explain all that.  I think it might be so people reading this can get a sense of the person I am and believe that I'm not some guy who is full of shit. Being authentic and representing the truth throughout this project, the good, the bad and the ugly, are very important to me. I guess I still process the things I write and say through my perpetually cynical mind and what I would have thought had I read or saw this stuff before I began this project.  It's always a struggle to be the person you want to be, fighting against the person you wish weren't.

Blah, blah, blah......lets get to the boat stuff!  With all the frames complete, station 34 being the last, it was time for some reflections on the process.

As they say, the 19th time is the charm!  I think I finally figured out the best order in which to build these frames.  The most important thing is that after you have temporarily attached the first two gussets go ahead and attach the cross bracing pieces.  Those being a board across the frame at the sheer, a board across the frame above the keel and then two diagonals.

If you build them how I did the previous 18 you'll find that once the other gussets are attached and bolted, it is very difficult getting the frame back in position exactly against the set back blocks.  This is important because you want the frames to exactly match the lofting you so carefully drew out on the table.

By attaching the bracing while it's still in the correct position without the opposite side gusset and bolts getting in the way, you essentially create a template for the frame. This allows you to take off the bracing as one piece (think of a giant X) for all the flips that are required for assembly.  This greatly eases the process of cutting the notches and adding glue and bolts where you are continually flipping the frame over, back and forth.  

The bolt box is empty!
Once you have attached the opposite side gussets and glued and bolted them in place for the port and starboard side of the frame, you simply reattach the bracing.  As long as you ensure your screws go back into the frames in their original holes, your frame instantly returns to the correct shape. I'll be sure to remember this for my next large boat build!

I had one final loft to complete and that was for the transom.  Since I'm going to build the transom in place I had to do this now so I could dismantle the framing table and recover some much needed floor space.  I used the back side of the red rosin paper I taped up when I lofted the stem back in the winter. I simply laid it out on the table, taped it into position and used the measurements provided in the plans.  This included the only curved part of the lofting that was required for any of the frames.

The curve was simple enough and involved some careful measurements provided in the plans and then springing a batten around some 8p finish nails.

With that complete it was time to retire the framing table.  Finding the screw heads buried under 15 layers of paint was the only challenging part.  Even with that, the table was gone in under an hour. With all the new space ready to filled my son was drafted into helping.  We organized each frame in order fore and aft.  The fore frames were placed on the right and the aft on the left.  Once neatly stacked I was able to slide the keel to the center of the building cradle.

Next up was leveling the keel athwartships.  Generally I was pleased at how we were able to take most of the twist out of the keel with the use of the super clamps.  However, it still wasn't perfect, particularly at the very aft and very forward sections of the keel.  It only took a few passes with the power planer to remove the high spots and give us a completely flat and level surface to continue building up the rest of the keel.  In hind sight I probably should have done this with each sub-assembly but this method worked as well.

With that job complete it was time to install a few drift bolts.  I was completely unfamiliar with drifts until I began this project.  They are just big nails.  The ones I purchased where 1/2", hot dipped galvanized, 18" long drift bolts with a hex head.  The install process is pretty simple and involves drilling out holes for each bolt at opposing angles to each other.  You start by drilling out 1/3 of the required length to the full thickness of the bolt.  You then drill out the remaining  2/3 of the length of the bolt slightly undersized, in my case by 1/16".  I then coated the full thickness part of the bolt with some asphalt based "tar" and pounded them in with a sledge hammer.

It takes some real muscle to pound these things in and you need to be careful not to bend the drift. Even though my lower keel is completely glued together into one solid timber, these drifts provide additional security that those boards will never come apart.

Labor day weekend is coming up so I'll be taking a break from the build to enjoy the final days of summer with the family.  As I look back on the summer I'm pleased with our progress even though we did not complete as much as I had hoped for.  I'm learning that things in this project just take longer than I expected.  Our goal continues to be accuracy and not speed.

The fun continues, thanks for following along on our project!

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Mystery and milestones

It's been an excellent week of work!  We are finally seeing some tangible results with items being scratched off our to-do list.  The lower keel assembly is complete, consisting of 15 layers of 2x8's glued with Rescorcinol.  Our upgraded super clamps worked perfectly and as the keel sits, it's nearly perfectly flat.  A few passes with the power planer and she'll be perfect.

We let the final glue up cook in the clamps for 48 hours just to be sure before removing them.  She still needs to be cleaned up and cut to shape but the largest glue ups for this project are now complete.

This past weekend we worked hard to reach our next milestone, the frames.  With only 3 left to build I was determined to get these done!  We finished milling up our beautiful larch and made it happen. These frames have become quite mundane to build, essentially repeating the same steps 19 times. However, on Saturday, I got a little surprise.  

After cutting the miter for the port side chine on station 24 a long hidden surprise was revealed.  I didn't notice when I made the cut, but after flipping the assembly over I noticed a distinct shape on the face of the cut.  I've heard of other woodworkers finding such treasure but it's quite rare.  The dull grey, oblong sphere encircled by a very thin ring of copper could only be one thing.  A bullet!

I grabbed a chisel and pried the object out.  My suspicions were confirmed, it was indeed a full metal jacketed bullet, probably a .45 caliber.  It was at least 14 years old judging by the rings, however without the whole tree to examine, I'm not sure exactly how old.  Being that this is Larch, a type of pine, which is harvested fairly regularly it's probably not that old.  I'm told they've been manufacturing these types of jacketed bullets since the late 1800's, but this one is probably from within the last 50 years.  

It's kind of neat to think that so many years ago a man with a gun was out in the forest.  Was he there for target practice? Hunting? something sinister? Maybe the shooters bullet missed it's target or perhaps the target hung on this very tree. Whatever the reason, this bullet lodged itself in an unsuspecting tree.  The tree healed itself around the bullet and I'm sure it thought it's secret was safe for eternity.  Then one fateful day, a sawyer in upstate NY felled a tree and milled it into lumber. Still the tree concealed it's past, certain that this needle was well hidden in it's haystack.  Then I came along, machining the board flat.  Positioning it several times on the lofting table until I was satisfied that the best parts of the board were being utilized.  Then it just so happened, that this tiny part of a random tree, in an endless sea of Larch trees, was placed just so, a miter cut exposed it's long kept secret.  And just like that an errant bullet was once again exposed to the world.  Along with it came a story for this author that will be remembered forever.

Like I said, I've heard of this happening before.  What makes this interesting is the fact that I hit it nearly perfectly lengthwise.  A few cm's left or right and I would have never know it was there.  Just lucky on this day, but much like life, you just never know what's going to happen next!

This excitement slowed us down a bit but in short order we were back to work.  We finished up two frames on Saturday and then the 19th and final frame Sunday morning.

It's taken five months or so to complete all the frames.  It certainly could have been done faster but I wanted to take advantage of the warm weather while I could for the other big glue-ups.  Not to mention summer is a time for family, and it's important to maintain balance in one's life.  So here are some of the numbers for the frames:

76 Rough boards machined, beveled and cut to shape.
6 sheets of 3/4" BCX plywood
114 Miter cuts
380 5/16", 4" galvanized bolts, nuts and washers

Building them was quite a project in and of themselves, The fact that they are just one part of this build really brings the scope of this project into perspective.

All 19 frames stacked and ready for install
I plan to lay some red rosin paper on the lofting table and loft out the transom.  I'll then save that pattern for later and will dismantle the table.  I'm in desperate need for more space in the boat shed so I'm looking forward to getting the table out of there.

We'll move on to gluing up the remaining keel components, like the forefoot and a knees.  From there we'll finish making our keel bolts and move forward with installing all the components.  There is never a lack of things to do when your're building a boat!  However it makes every step a triumph. We'll celebrate tonight and start work again tomorrow, and so it goes until we splash her.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Thread life: Making keel bolts and other stuff

Work smarter not harder!  Maybe I'm getting soft in my modestly old age but working in 90 degree + conditions kicks my butt!  So we added air conditioning to the wood shop.  Pretty simple install that involved popping out a window and replacing it with some OSB.  72 and sunny year round, I love it!

Not much I can do about the 112 degrees it was in the boat shed this past Saturday.  As I've said, if I get out early enough, open the doors and get the fan going, it's tolerable.  However, I had to work early on Saturday so I didn't get out to the shop until mid afternoon.  By that time it's to late so I began work on the keel bolts.

I ordered hot rolled steel rod, pre-cut in 48" and 36" lengths from an online steel supplier.  Delivery charges were under $28 dollars and the total ended up being around $175 for approximately 25 pieces of steel in 5/8" and 1/2" sizes.

The keel is through bolted at each station through the floor timbers and the entire thickness of the keel.  Since each one is a unique length and some are almost 4' long, these aren't bolts that you can buy off the shelf.  Each will need to be custom made, cut to length, threaded and then galvanized.

I've never threaded steel rod before but online it looks really easy!  I remember threading galvanized pipe at our cottage for a new water service when I was a kid and it was quite straight forward.  I still have my grandfathers pipe vice, which is at least 80 years old.  It's very heavy duty and worked well holding the rod securely.  However the threading of 5/8" rod is not quite as easy as I thought.

The directions indicated to use a file to chamfer the edge of the rod to help with getting the threads started.  However you really need an aggressive bevel for this to be effective and a file was not cutting it.  I turned to the bench grinder to get an approximately 1/2" bevel machined to the end of the rod.  Once I figured that part out, the process went much easier.  I used a light weight oil designed for threading and tapping but it still required quite a bit of muscle to cut the threads.  I threaded one end of 5 pieces before I called it a day.  The threads on the other end will have to wait until the rods are cut to their final length once the keel is complete.  My plan is to take advantage of random times when I have a few minutes and thread 1 end of each piece of rod.  Once you understand the process it's actually quite fun to see the threads develop as you cut the steel away.

Work continues on the keel glue up as well.  We are down to one remaining glue up before the main keel assembly is complete.

I noticed that their was a twist developing in the lower keel assembly.  No matter how hard you try, wood moves and there is no way around it.  I stole an idea from Doug Jackson over at SV Seeker and used some bottle jacks to pull the entire assembly flat against the building cradle during one of the glue ups.  Since I know the building cradle is dead flat, I figured that holding the keel tightly to that would help straighten things out.  The idea worked great and eliminated nearly all of the twist giving me a nice flat and plumb keel.

The only down side is I made these super clamps out of wood and they were designed for a fixed dimension, which I could not adjust.  I wanted to do the same thing for the next two glue ups so I did a little more research.  I found an item at home depot that fit the bill perfectly, punched steel plate. These steel plates are about an inch wide and come in lengths of 48 and 36 inches.  Each one has regularly spaced holes along it's entire length.  This allowed me to come up with a fully adjustable super clamp.

Even though I had taken the twist out of the first assembly I didn't want to give it a chance to twist again, so on the next glue up I applied 4 upgraded super clamps along the length of the keel to keep it nice and flat.  Worked perfectly!

So now we have only 1 more glue up and it should be the easiest one yet.  One glue line, two sub assemblies and then we can start adding the other keel components.

I've been neglecting the frames as we pushed to get the keel done.  My job has not been boat building friendly and we've only had a few hours here and there.  However work will continue and we are down to just four more frames to build!

Thanks for checking out are project and keep an eye out for our next video installment of the Sea Dreamer Project on YouTube.