Saturday, October 14, 2017

Long Steps, other builders and a small victory.

Blog 14 oct 17

Long Steps is making progress,  or I am with the build or somesuch. I’ve two planks to fit on the starboard side, leaving those two off while fitting the ‘offcentrecase” was a good trick,  made it much easier to get in there and push it into place.
I’ve done the pivot bearing cap on the waterballast tank side of the case, taped the case sides to the bottom panel and garboard plank, and done a whole lot of coating on the inside of the boat, three coats is whats recommended but gosh it takes a while to get done. Sigh, have to do it though, there are parts of this boat that are in places that will be impossible to get at later on.

While I’ve been distracted with other things Phil McCowin and Howard Rice are putting a Long Steps together for Phil, Howard taking a break from the Voyage of Southern Cross project  ( Here’s the link) to help Phil out.  That’s put the pressure on here, I’d not done much at the drawing board for a while, other things having to take precedence, so I’ve spent the last week working to stay ahead of them.  The other two builders will be getting those drawings as soon as I’ve had feedback from Phil as to corrections and errors, and there are aways one or three.

So I’m pushing on, have drawn out the case and ‘board, the mast boxes and the plank shapes.  One of the things that will be evident to Howard and Phil, Howard having assisted with or built around  70 SCAMPs and Phil having built his own one, is that this boat is built like a battleship in comparison.

When designing I work out the stress paths,  hogging, wracking, rigging and such, and make an estimate of the forces involved.  SCAMP is 11ft 11in, that’s near enough 3.60 metres in my own language, but this is 19ft, has twice the ballast of its smaller relative, and will be carrying a lot more sail plus will be moving much faster at times, all of which will about double the stresses that the structure has to cope with.

My own planned voyage being one that will take me well out to sea, I prefer to have the boat slightly overbuilt rather than find out on a dark and stormy night that I should have used slightly thicker material or more glue.  So she’s designed tough, light by the standards of most boats of her length but tough all the same.

Howard and Phil are making famous progress with Phils boat, and Phil has been kind enough to send me some pics. This is toward the end of week one of the build,  two guys working pretty much full time though, but its impressive all the same. I’m doing several hours each day trying to stay ahead with the drawings.

Here's where they're at.  Photos by Phil, don't you love the clean and tidy workshop!

I still have distractions though,  to help the monthly bills I do some specialised engineering work, on site maintenance and repair of woodworking machinery, it’s a field that I know my way around and enjoy, most of the people I see while working are very glad to see me as their machinery will be running not long after I roll in the door, but occasionally I come across some really funny things.
Last Thursday I was called to a company with a heavy duty 200mm jointer,  one with long tables and a heavy duty fence, probably 200 kg or so ( 440 lbs).  They’d had a bearing issue, contacted an opposition company who sent a technician out, ( about $200 just for that) he’d told the client to get it to his workshop ( I do bearing replacement for those on the job, no big deal) which added to the cost, the job was done and the machine was returned, having to hire a fork truck to load on the way out and unload on the way back added to the bill.

It vibrated, it shook so badly that it literally walked around the workshop!

After seeing the bill, close to $1000 in total, the client was bitching at the company rep for the outfit that I contract to, and he said “phone John”.

I was there a day later,  listened to the complaints, fired it up and sure enough, it was unusable.

Out came the stethoscope, listened to the bearings, they’re ok.  The drive motor was ok, but there was a low frequency rumble in there that was much slower than the cutter rotation or the electric motor rotation.  The only other moving parts in that machine are the drive belts and the low frequency noise was about what I'd expect from the time it took for the belts to rotate so off they came, all three from the triple groove pulleys.
Bingo, they immediately took up a long oval shape, and all three had been on the pulleys in exactly the same place relative to the ends of the ovals. They'd most likely been cramped up tight in some form of packaging for a very long time and taken a "set", two flats and two sharp corners instead of a smooth circle.
The belts were marked to show where the distortions were, went into a sink full of hot water for 20 minutes, were fitted with the marks evenly distributed and the machine fired up again. Smoooooth!
The customer was super pleased, I’ve been asked to go back every few months to do a service run on all of his plant.
I was super pleased, that was fun.

Mind you, I don’t know what I’d have done if it hadn't worked.

Tomorrow I’m off to town to learn how to post videos on YouTube ( thank you in anticipation Paul) , then  go to Haddons house to help lift his brand new almost ready to launch Pathfinder out of the shed and onto his trailer.  There are steps in the way which will make it interesting, but I’m hoping that we can combine the new knowledge of how to use the video camera, how to post on YouTube with the moving of the boat to provide you with some entertainment.

Back in a day or two.


Friday, September 8, 2017

Boatbuilding is a good thing to do when its raining.

Its springtime here, but spring here is usually changeable weather, the “all four seasons in one day “kind of changeable.  It means that on average the air temperatures are climbing but there is so much rain that the ground is saturated, there is mud everywhere, its windy and that’s driven rain into places it does not normally get to, and the river is full of silt that’s overflowed the sediment ponds that the earthworks up stream where there is a lot of new construction going on.

Ah well. It will come right given time.

This morning was catchup with emails time, there are plenty left for tomorrow.  How did we ever live without them? Life must have been so simple.
I’ve had quite a lot of the day up there in the workshop though, after a major cleanup, sweeping out a heap of dust and shavings from when I shaped the offcenterboard, restacking some of the offcuts and clearing all the rubbish off the benches I cut out the starboard side seat top, glued the reinforcing doubler under the section where the access port will be, and faired the framing underneath. 

Having used jarrah hardwood as the ‘case packers, putting the angle on the top was a bit of a mission.  The seat tops are angled slightly for comfort, when the ‘case was made with a square top, me figuring that it would be easy to run a plane along the top to get the angle right, I’d forgotten just how tough and hard Jarrah is.
My angle grinder with 40 grit sandpaper just bounced off, the power plane was not much better, so it was sharpen the number 5 Stanley to a perfect edge and use lots of elbow grease to make it blunt again, several times!  

Memo to self, remember where the nails from the cordless nail gun are!  

Its done, didn’t take long, but gosh that stuff is tough.

Next job was to work a little on the cockpit floor. I’d decided when drawing the boat to make a footwell at the after end as, this being a combination rowing and sailing boat, she’s a bit shallow in the body to provide the perfect seating position and still have the cockpit floor self draining. So, like Howard Rice has done with several SCAMPs including his own, I’ve put in a footwell with a liftout floor piece so, when needed, that can lift out and there is sufficient seat height to be really comfortable.
The lift out section also gives access to the lowest point of the boats interior where the venturi bailers will be fitted, and where the pickup for the bilge pumps will be.

Ok, done that, then the compass mount.  I’m planning to do some reasonably serious voyaging in this little ship, so a good, accurate compass is needed.  I managed to obtain a very good unit, second hand but still with its box, instruction manual and even a set of spare correction magnets.
Long Steps  will have a solar panel charging a big truck sized battery mounted up forward, that to power  lighting both navigation and interior,  vhf radio, GPS, sounder and such, and there will be quite a bit of electrical wiring, switches and so on up under the cuddy cabin roof, so that’s not a good spot for a magnetic compass.  Sure, GPS will tell me which direction I’m headed in, but the magnetic compass will work even with complete failure of the electrics, plus its easier to steer by.

Also, the distance between the helm and the forward end of the cockpit is such that it would require binoculars to read the compass when steering. Its about 2.5 metres, thats over 8 ft 6in for the metrically challenged, too far to read the figures on the compass card.

That means that its going at the after end of the cockpit floor, the mounting lifts it up enough to be clearly visible from the helm position,  or when rowing, and the mounting box is strong enough to act as a footbrace to stop me sliding around when the boats heeling a long way.
It will also be part of the mounting for the rowing foot braces and hide the drains into the area where the two venturi bailers will be located. I much prefer having one thing do several jobs than  have several things doing one function each!

The removable section of the cockpit floor is clearly visible there, finger holes to drain water into the cavity as well as making it easy to lift out, there are locks to fit that will keep it in place until removal is needed.  Note that the rest of the cockpit floor to the forward end of the seats covers the ballast tank which is about twice the size of that in a SCAMP. If I'm forced to right the boat out there at sea, I want all the help that I can design and build in, that plus I want the boat stable enough so it wont tip around so much when someone moves that my drink gets spilled.
The compass mount is that box structure at the after end of the cockpit floor.  Its just loose fitted as yet, will be sanded off and the interior of the box coated, the drains cut where it sits on the bottom against the bulkhead, and pieces fitted to the sides to take the rowing foot braces. Yes I know that the competition rowers call them "stretchers" but this is not a competition rowing boat so I can call them whatever I like.
Incidentally, that reddish wood you can see on the starboard side seat front is the jarrah offcentercase packer I was wittering on about.

A couple of days ago I cut out one side of the cabin, the foredeck and the side decks for the port side.  They’re just sitting there loose at the moment but do give a flavour of progress, making the ship look more complete.

 The fore and side deck pieces loose fitted, and the "cabin" side piece sitting held by a couple of spring clamps, I like making ellipses, two nails, a piece of string and a pencil, fun but I promise I'll draw the shape full size on the plans.

The cabin side from inside, yes, I've been in there and sat for a few minutes.  There will be a little side locker below the side deck edge which will form a backrest to make it more comfortable. 

I’ve drawing work to catch up on, so no more boatbuilding for a few days, but its nice to go up into the shed for a few minutes now and again, lean on the gunwale and dream a little.

Summers coming.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Essential Skills for the beginner boatbuilder course coming up, 23 and 24 September

A reminder, this year, rather than run my boatbuilding skills course in my own overfull workshop, I've been given the run of the New Zealand Traditional Boatbuilding School workshop in Te Atatu north, west Auckland.  Its a nice space, well equipped, dedicated to boatbuilding in wood and I'm very much looking forward to running the course there.
Previous courses have been real fun, and the graduates have gone away with a whole lot of new skills, shortcuts, tricks and, very sharp tools.

Heres the link,

Here's what we'll be covering.

Essential Skills for the Beginner 
Essential skills for the beginner boat builder By John Welsford

This is a two day course and will cover a range of essential skills including:
  • Introduction to epoxy resin and glue systems
  • Gluing and Fibre glassing plywood
  • Sharpening common hand tools
  • Selection and use of power tools
  • Selection and setup of woodworking machinery
  • Reading plans and drawing components from scale drawings and much more...

Saturday 23rd September 10:00 am - 5:30pm
Sunday 24th September 09:00 am - 4:00 pm

  • A hand plane that you can practice setting up and sharpening A chisel for same
  • Closed toe footwear, old clothes and your lunch!

Cost $250 pp, includes morning and afternoon refreshments.

Please contact us if you are interested.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Progress on Long Steps.

My current building project.

Just a reminder of what she's intended for, this little ship is intended as a long range sail and oar adventure boat, capable of multi day coastal voyages in open waters. Water ballasted, with a SCAMP style "veranda", light and slippery enough to row if needed, and able to self recover single handed from a full rollover or capsize.
I am developing plans as I build, and they should not be long in becoming available.

Long Steps progress.

I’ve not done much boatbuilding of late, while it’s a calming and rewarding way to spend a few hours there are times when other things have to take priority so the partly planked hull has been just sitting for the past few months making me feel guilty every time I walked past.

But there has been progress, in order to produce a comprehensive build manual for what is a slightly unusual boat I decided to plank up one side so I could get good clear pics of the inside structure.  I’d planked her with two each side to stabilise the structure, to prevent the fitting of stringers and planks on the one side pulling her frames out of line, then planked up the port side to the gunwale.
Note that I’ve left the top two stringers off the starboard side so I can fit the “offcentercase” more easily. The ‘case is a big lump of a thing and its going to be a task to get it positioned and fitted anyway, better access will simplify the task.

 The "Sharp end".  Yes I know the under edges of the lapstrake planks are uneven, its my practice to flip the boat over and fair them with a rebate plane before filling, sanding and painting.

 Inside aft, if you look past those temporary braces you can see the "stand up at the helm" space and the lazarette where the mizzen mast box is.  There will also be a deck box for the main anchor and rode under the tiller which is to be hinged between the two holes at the top of that bulkhead, the tiller lines go through there.

 Stern, some trimming yet to be done but the rudder fittings have been dry fitted into reinforced bolt holes.
A view of the structure from the bow end, simple plywood frames and stringers, the stem is three layers of plywood and the middle layer extends as a spine which locates the frames all the way to the back of the "cabin" The little semicircles on the frames are plywood doublers that make it easier to screw the stringers into place.

My "home away from home",  a 2.5m long cockpit, lots of space, it would be a piece of cake to put filler pieces between the rowing seat support stringers on the inside of the seat fronts to form a double bunk if you wanted to take your sweetie cruising.
Mine, ( Sweetie that is) wants to come along in her kayak but she cant sleep in that so I've planned on a suitable space from first concept .
The "offcentercase" goes down the right hand side of the cockpit floor as you see it here.

have dry fitted the cockpit floor, that’s a nice big space and I’ve laid myself down and relaxed to see how it feels.  Plenty of space, it feels nice and secure, and the space under the SCAMP like “veranda” being a little bigger than Long Steps fat little relative is big enough to sit in comfort with room for the cookstove and galley tasks to be done in a sheltered space without having to erect the cockpit tent.

She’s looking good, at least from the port side, slippery, the beam being quite narrow at the waterline when she’s upright, the intention being to make her easy to row, but the center of buoyancy moves out very quickly as she heels so there is stabiity there to carry a good sized sail area. I’d rather sail than row, the latter being for the most part to enable me to row into a marina where the rules prevent sailing in.

A couple of minor setbacks, I had gone to the trouble of scarfing up a stack of stringers, rounding all the inner edges with a router and sanding them off nicely. But found that kiln dried Agathis Vitensis can be very brittle. ( I already knew that,  but thought that the easy curves in this boat would be gentle enough to get them around).

Bang! Twice! 

Not what I wanted to hear, but my habit of dry fitting things first meant that there was no glue to clean up when I took the broken pieces off,  I can use those bits elsewhere.
Hook up the trailer and off to a local sawmill that specialises in Cupressus Macrocarpa.  Thats Monterey Cypress in the USA where it comes from, and “Macrocarpa” here in NZ, bought a  big plank of the stuff, 50 x 250 x  4.2m and sent a few hours making up more stringers.

The other thing was that I’d been offered a heap of  the heads from leadhead roofing nails to help with the casting of the weight in the offcenterboard, I’d got involved in conversation and forgot to load them into my truck so had to scrounge around to find enough wheel balance weights to make up the difference.

I got that cast though, no problem. 

The "offcenterboard", thats the core and one side with the lead cast in place, the hardwood protective leading edge and tip ready to glue into place and the lifting tackle pulley in place.  There is another layer of plywood to glue onto the face that you can see there.

That pulley takes the 'board lift line which runs from the forward end of the dogleg shown in the pic of the case side below, around the pulley and back out the forward end, around a mast head halyard box and along the seat front with a big reduction tackle on that end.  The hardwood block that its bolted to is to make very sure that its secure, cant pull out no matter what the provocation is.
I dont like putting a multi part tackle inside the "case though, two parts like this is ok but more tends to get tangled and its not easy to get at, hence the big four part tackle being "outside".

One of the things I get asked is “how do I make a mould for the weight in the middle of my centerboard?  Or, “how do I stop the wood from catching fire when I pour the melt into the cavity?”.
The core of the offcenterboard in Long Steps is two layers of 12mm plywood,  I cut out the cavity, glued the outside piece of 6mm plywood to one side, and poured the  lead straight in. The other side 6mm piece was glued on after planing the lead down flush with a power plane ( take care doing this, use a “slicing action” rather than cutting square as it reduces the chance of a violent kickback).
When you are going to melt lead for  very simple casting like this, first of all make sure that the wood it is being poured into is dead dry . Any moisture will flash in to steam and boil through the molten lead causing splatter and a porous casting.
Second, don’t overheat the melt, get it just molten and pour as a continuous stream to avoid layering.  You’ll get some smoke but in my experience not much, and the minor amount of charring will be hidden inside the board where its of no consequence.

Heavy boots, heavy clothing, eye protection and a well ventilated space, stand upwind. Its fun but be safe.

 Here, the last layer of plywood is glued on, and I'm getting the pivot pin hole sorted.  I've drilled it well oversize, (Holesaw) and filled it with fibre reinforced epoxy, set the pin ( a chunk hacksawed off an old bent piece of stainless steel propshaft that came with a bent propellor I'd bought for the bronze, note that I've drilled and threaded the end of it so I can put a bolt in there to make it easier to grip should I want to pull it out) I've coated the pin with silicon car polish as a release agent so I could pull it out when the epoxy had set, and yes it came out without much of a fight.
The "case." 9mm plywood with two layers of 6 oz fiberglass on each side, put on before the case packers that you can see there were fitted. Those packers are fitted with glue, screws that overlap within the packers and will have through bolts in the high load areas.  They're made of Australian Jarrah hardwood, and you can bet that its hard! 
The "dogleg" at the top houses a 2/1 purchase which is increased by a 4/1 purchase along the seat front in the cockpit, thats a heavy 'board".

Next job, fit the double doublers,  drill for the pivot and reinforce the pivot pin holes in the "case, then I can fit it and get on with planking.

I went north to Whangarei and visited Annie Hill the other day

Annie is making progress on her floating home.

SIBLIM,  ( Small is beautiful, less is more) is coming along well, as always with projects like this its taking longer than expected but for a solo build learning the skills as she goes, SIBLIM is coming along well.

Although only 26 ft long, this boat has an amazing amount of space, there is a luxury sized bunk up forward with good standing space to the side, lots of storage, a head and wash space and more storage just aft of that and a lovely spacious main cabin back from that.

Being less than tall is a real help in the headroom requirement, but even for me  at a good handspan taller the spaces feel comfortable, and getting around inside this little ship wont be hard on my head should I contact the overhead.

The only area that is really finished, ( just some fittings to be bolted in) is the anchor deck, that’s the area just back from the bow where one stands to handle the ground tackle. Now, I’ve stood on a rounded, wet and slippery fiberglass foredeck deck while heaving a 25 lb anchor and a heap of chain up  and it wasn’t a nice place to work. But this area, with its wide Junk style stem, lowered deck level leaving good bulwarks each side and secure footing is a much safer place.
I like it.

Here are some pics of the interior and foredeck,  I’ll be back there again soon and will report as the cabin fitout goes ahead.

 The companionway to the head and forward cabin, plenty of space here. Thats Annie of course, ever the smiling one.

 Sumptious space in the "bedroom". 
 Now thats a foredeck that I'd be happy working on.
The view from forward through the main cabin to to cockpit, lots of work to do there as yet but progress is being made.  The dink on the back wall of the shed is my "Offcuts" design, the predecessor to "Scraps".