Friday, July 21, 2006

The boat gets a bottom!

Dan and I have been slowly working at the boat this week, as we get an hour here and there. Much has gotten done, I just haven't been faithful at updating the blog! Finally, you can see what we've gotten done...

It takes nearly two full sheets of 1/4" plywood to cover the bottom of the boat. The process begins by laying the wood end to end on the bottom of the upturned frames and sides. Then, you have to mark the plywood with a pencil along the chines. This line gives you your sawing line. Here you see Don beginning to draw the line...
And here's a closeup... we made sure to make a nice dark line.After both sheets were carefully marked, we set the sircular saw at a 15 degree angle (to match the angle of the sweep of the sides of the boat), and carefully made the cuts. Here you see Dan finishing up the back half of the bottom of our vessel. We cheated a little outside the line, just to give ourselves little wiggle room. You can always take off a little extra material once the boat is together. You can never add some if you accidentally cut off too much!And here, you can see the two pieces laid on the boat. Seems to fit pretty well!
Next, we had to repeat the procedure used earlier in the build, when we spliced together the two 20" widths of plywood to make the two 16 foot sides. To do this, we used the same sandwich of plastic, fiberglass cloth, epoxy, and plywood. We layed weights up on it to encourage a good straight joint... and then let it dry overnight.
Extra weights along the one side, where the wood seemed determined to be warped and difficult. Do any of you know people who are stubborn like this wood? I didn't think so! I don't either!Here's Dan taking care of a little detail after the assembly dried over night... he's using a razorblade tool to cut off the fiberglass that was overhanging the edges of the joint.
Next we spread plenty of glue all along the chines and the bottom edges of the frames... and layed the 16 foot completed bottom on top of the frame... and began to attach it with screws. In case you were wondering, the glue we are using is Tightbond III. This glue comes highly recommended as a superior wood glue that has a unique quality... it is totally waterproof! So, in theory, we are creating joints that will not leak!If you look real close at the photo below, you might see a fdaint blue line upon which Dan is drivign a screw. We used a carpenter's chalk line to mark the spot where the three frames meet the bottom of the boat. The trick worked! We didn't miss with any of the screws!
I am sorry now that I didn't take more pictures of this attaching process. It took a LOT of screws and a lot of glue to attach the bottom to the chines and frames. When we were finally done, we were like little kids, and couldn't wait to flip the boat over. When we did, this is what we saw! Finally, a boat!!! If you look carefully at the transom, you'll see another project we undertook this week... to begin filling in all our screw holes with some wood filler. This is the first step in what will be a considerably time-consuming finishing process... puttying, sanding, brushing on wood sealer, and painting! Our plan is to recruit Leslie (my wife) and Heather (Dan's fiance) to help with this process!And of course, we couldn't rest till we took turns sitting in it! All I need are my oars! I guess we better get to work building those!

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Adding on...

Over the last couple of days Dan and I have found a few hours here and there to continue adding pieces onto our boat. Because we did so much of our cutting out before, the build seems to be progressing quickly now! We start with attaching the stem to the front of the boat. As you can see, this small piece of wood pulls the two sides together very nicely!Here's an interior close up...
And a view from the top looking down.
Next was the installatiom of the transom. We had a little trouble putting the sides on this... because of a combination of a couple of factors: The side pieces are a bit warped... and, I believe I cut the bevel on the sides of the transom a little under the proper angle. After some "encouragement" via muscles, glue, and screws it finally came together.
Here you can see the back half of the boat...
And here's a side view...
Next it was time to install the chines. If you remember, the chines run the entire length of the boat, and serve at least two purposes: 1) They tie the entire boat together along the bottom of the hulls, adding strength and a smooth line in the process; and, 2) They provide a surface on which to screw and glue the bottom of the boat! Here we used some clamps to hold the first chine in place while we drill pilot holes.
Dan drilling pilot holes.
And here's a shot of the boat with the chines installed on both sides of the boat. We were thrilled to see that these narrow 3/4" square pieces of wood pulled the boat together amazingly well. They took out alot of the twisting caused by the warped plywood. You can see the string we tied from tip of the stem to the center of the transom to test the squareness of the boat. It's looking much better now!

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Together she goes!

It's been a difficult week for everyone involved with this boat build. Dan's grandfather died in Manhattan... so he was in NYC for most of the week for the services, and for much needed time with his family. I have been busy trying to support many people who have been terribly effected by the flood. It's unbelievable what people are facing now. The boat has definitely taken a back seat.

When I have been able to steal an hour, I was able to epoxy together all the frames and build the "stem" and the "transom." The stem is the piece of wood that ties together the two sides of the boat at the very front. The transom is the back board of the boat... where the rudder or a motor mount would be placed. I also was able to cut some very specific bevels on the bottom and sides of the transom and each of the frames.

On Sunday afternoon, Dan and I finally found a couple of hours together, and we set to work putting the boat together... finally!

We started with the frame at mark #10... just a little behind the half way point of the boat. Here you see Dan drilling a tap hole for the first screws.One by one, we screwed and glued each frame to each side of the boat. It really worked well as a team effort. I spread the glue and held the frame in place against the sides. Dan drove the screws through the plywood into the sides of the frames. Here's #10 frame installed. As you can see, we used the grill and a small table to prop up the boards as we were beginning the process.
Next, we installed frame #6... a bit in front of the middle of the boat. And then she looked like this:Then we installed the frame at #14... just two feet away from the transom. And here are a few shots to show you what we ended up with.
As you can see, it's really beginning to look like a boat now!

It looks like it'll be Tuesday before we can do much more. Until then...

Monday, July 03, 2006

Boat sides cut out finally!

Dan and I finally got some time to work together today... and decided to tackle laying out and cutting the sides of our boat. We started by marking two spots on each of the station lines I marked yesterday. Then we had to "connect the dots." To do this we used one of the 16' chines... because of it's length and bendability. This is where the boat really begins to take on some shape... and we don't want straight lines. Instead, we want long sweeping lines. Here's Dan bending the chine so that a bunch of the marks all line up. This prep work took nearly an hour! Next we pinch the two 16 foot x 20" pieces together with numerous clamps. We'll cut through both at the same time. This way the two sides of the boat will be identical. We clamp along the side that is away from where we'll make the first cut.
Here's Dan about half way through the first long cut. Notice also the spacers we've placed between the board and the concrete floor of my garage. It's amazing how quickly concrete will dull an expensive blade!
Now the two long cuts are done, so all there is left is to cut out the straight cuts that mark the front of the boat (that will meet each other at the stem) and the back (where the transom will be connected.) We set up a guide 1 and 3/16ths of an inch away from the drawn line... the exact distance from the blade and the guide on our circular saw. It makes a perfectly straight cut.
And then we're done! After spending an hour drawing the lines, the actually cutting took about 10 minutes! Here are the two mirrored sides of our boat. Can you imagine the boat a little better now?
We will do a little sanding to these pieces before we wrap them around and screw/glue them to the outsides of our three frames and the transom. Tomorrow we will finish those frames (they need to be epoxied and assembled), and we'll build the transom. Then, we'll finally be ready to go three-dimensional! It's getting really exciting now!

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Station Grid and Chines

I had an hour or so this afternoon, and decided to get a little done on the boat. I took the weights off the epoxied butt joints from yesterday, and was pleased to find that they seem to be strong. The second one I did looks a little cleaner and smoother than the first... but hopefully they will both be strong!

The next step is to draw "station grid lines" on both sides of the 16' planks. These are drawn every 12"... and are necesary because they mark the exact locations for the placement of the frames, oarlocks, mast partner, etc. If you look closely at this picture, you might see that I have labeled this line "6"... the location of the first frame. There will be other frames placed at Grid #10 and Grid #14. Here you can see many of the station grid lines... and can also see the almost invisible butt joint. After a little sanding and a good paint job, it really should be virtually invisible! You may wonder why we had to make grid lines every 12 inches when there are only three lines needed for the frames. Simple! We will lay out the shape for the sides of our boat by making marks on each of these lines. Hopefully, Dan and I will get to that tomorrow night!
The other thing I got to today was manufacturing our chines. A chine is another piece of wood that runs the entire length of the boat. Just like the gunwale runs along the top edge of the boat, the chine runs along the lower edge. Unlike the gunwales, the chines call for two full length cuts... the second being a tricky little 15 degree angled cut.

I started by ripping a 3/4" x 1 1/2" board from what's left of the 18 foot 2 x 10... exactly like we did for the gunwales. Then, I set the angle of the blade on my table-saw to 15 degrees, and my rip fence in the right spot that I could split the board directly in half lengthwise.
With my wife's help, I pushed the wood all the way through...
Creating two slivers of wood that are 16 feet long, and roughly 3/4 of an inch square... with a 15 degree bevel along one edge. These pieces will be glued and screwed along the bottom edge of sides of the boat... and will give us a perfect surface for gluing and screwing the bottom of the boat to the sides of the boat! Here's a good end-view of the chines.
Until tomorrow then...

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Epoxy and "Butt Joints"

It's been a terrible week in upstate NY! As reported previously, we have seen unprecedented flooding here. The past two days I have spent trying to support family and friends, and visiting churches that have been devastated by putrid river water. Because of these realities, the boat has taken a back seat. Today I finally had some time to be at home, and get back to building our vessel. Unfortunately, my nephew Dan is even busier than me! Between his work as a volunteer fireman (nearly around the clock help for evacuees for four days) and his bus driving of folks from shelter to home, he's had NO time whatsoever. Our goal is to have this boat in the water by August 1st, so that Dan has a little time to enjoy it before he heads to school. So, with the feeling that we are behind schedule, I decided to try to experiment with epoxy resins for the first time without him. Hope Dan can forgive me!My order of epoxy arrived from NJ on Thursday. I had read a great deal about working with this stuff... it's miraculous boat building qualities, but also it's dangerous chemistry ( you don't want to have it come in contact with your skin, nor do you want to inhale it's fumes!). So, I was a little apprehensive getting started, but was thankul for a beautiful dry day, so I could take the work outside! Here you see the four 20" x 8' pieces of plywood Dan and I cut out a couple of weeks ago. According to instructions, I have laid out 6" wide pieces of plastic... under each work area. Then, I have cut out four 2" x 22" pieces of fiberglass cloth... and laid the first two on top of the plastic. These are the beginnings of a kind of sandwich.

I mixed together the resin and the reactant... in a two to one ratio... stirred it vigorously for two minutes... and began to apply it by soaking the fiberglass cloth. Next, I soaked the last 1" of the bottom edge of each board with epoxy, before placing the two pieces butt-end to butt-end on top of the already soaked cloth. Here you see me applying a thick coat of epoxy to the top edges of the two pieces...
careful to get plenty down into any gaps in the joint.
Next, I place the other piece of fiberglass cloth on top, and give it a thorough coating of epoxy.
I complete the sandwich by placing another piece of plastic on top... and weight it down to ensure that the ends are perfectly aligned, as the epoxy dries. It takes many hours for it to harden fully. In theory, when it hardens fully, the joints will be even stronger than the wood itself. That is if I did it all right. We'll see about that!
It will be out of these now 20" x 16 foot long boards that we will cut the the sides of the boat. Once dried, we will lay out the shape of the hull in pencil... and then cut them out... ready to be bent around those frames I was working on earlier in the week! Until next time... be good to each other!