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,

http://www.atbs.org.nz/courses/page5/page5.html


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

Requirements:
  • 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". 

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Catchup time, again.

Sunday 21 May.

Its been  a busy time of late, spending time with Denny, had a big adventure walking the Tongariro Crossing with a group she's part of.  Thats a big walk, my fitness tracker wristband showed 35000 steps for the day. Its a mighty climb up one side of the mountain, and a long decent down the other side. The scenery is amazing, the walk is very crowded though, there are often over 3000 people a day doing it so its hardly a wilderness walk. But its a good one, recommended. It was a good weekend.
We had a "little" adventure recently, we wanted to watch a particular boxing match and the SKY people wanted a lot of money to view it, and Denny being here that weekend suggested that we find a sports bar with TV showing it. After some enquiry we found one, used the money that would have been spent on the SKY viewing on a nice dinner and sat in front of the big screen and watched the match.
It was noisy in there, but the food was good, I had good company with me, and  “our” boxer won his fight. The outstanding thing about the evening was that someone had very kindly paid for our meal and drink.  Thank you Northern Union bar and restaurant.

Engineering work has taken up  a lot of my days, I do maintenance and repair on woodworking machinery in woodshops and school tech classrooms, and I'm in catchup mode there, it pays pretty well though so thats another catchup thats happening. Its usually fun, I had a job to do in a yacht interior specialist shop the other day and was watching while working, a young man putting together some intricate marquetry ( inlaid wood) on a big motor yachts saloon table. He's got a lot more patience than I have, anyone who says the old skills are disappearing hasn't seen this. Maybe those skills aren't as common but they're still around.

There has been a heap of maintenance to do on my old ship. Welcome to owning a 45 year old wooden boat,  she’s a constant project, and with an unusual amount of wet weather this year its been hard to keep up the sanding and painting so she’s looking a bit scruffy at the moment.
I’ve had issues with the paint on the hull, water getting behind it in patches and peeling some areas off.  I’d not completely sanded it back to wood last year, and although the paint I applied was the recommended system and was applied over a well sanded surface, the undercoat underneath seems to have failed in a couple of areas.
That plus a tiny, suspicious area on the side of the flying bridge turned out to be a major rot spot hiding under the paint, so that piece of wood has been cut out, the soft plywood ground away and sealed with low viscosity epoxy, and I’m about to fit a new piece in there.  The issue has been that the original piece had not been sealed where it stood on the cabin top to support the flying bridge side, and although it was mahogany it was possibly sapwood and has soaked up a lot of water, and rotted out.

I’ve done some rewiring of the lighting as well, and can recommend strip LED “warm daylight” lighting, it doesn’t look as nice as a “proper” light fitting, the LEDs just being stuck on in a strip, but the light that they give from 12 volt supply is really nice.  I’ve a 10 metre roll of them, and am gradually working through the ship to replace the tired old flouros, another benefit is that the LEDs don’t cause the phone or the radio to buzz plus they draw a lot less current. Recommended!

That fitness tracker was included with a Garmin GPS and depth sounder that was going on a very good deal from Burnsco, thats been fitted by the way although the transponder for the depth part has to wait until I can put the boat on the hard.  Its a magical little thing, has all the charts for NZ on it, and replaces two non functional depth sounders, one of which has to be as old as the ship, replaces all my charts ( I keep them though just in case) compass ( Same) and log, which the ship has never had. Technology is getting cheaper all the time.

I’ve got back to work on Long Steps again, fitted the next two stringers up, that’s two done out of four taped the inside seams of the lowest plank to the bottom, cut out and glassed the offcentercase sides, cut the end posts and begun building the ‘board.  I’ll have to scrounge up some lead to melt into the cavity in the tip of the core, that’s 11 kg, a small pour.  I enjoy doing this sort of thing.
I recall, being around 10 years old, making moulds from clay, drying them in the sun, melting lead on the hearth inside and pouring to make things.  I only got burned once, pain helps the learning process.
Its time for a lot of sandpapering, the framing and interior is being gradually sanded and coated, I’m using a very low viscosity epoxy from a supplier who no longer does that product, but its similar to “Everdure” but with a higher density, so two coats, scraped or sanded between, gives a glossy finish and the third ensures a really good coverage.
The ballast tank framing is in, the cockpit floor, at least the centerline piece has been cut from ½ in plywood and it’s a big space, I tried lying down on it with my head and shoulders in under the cuddy and it feels very cozy.

Back to paint.  SEI had a water based semi gloss enamel paint on her, with three different undercoats to see what worked and what didn’t.  She sits on the dock alongside “The Ship” so  often gets a lot of rainwater in her, the intention being to test the paint system to its limit with sun and water.
It didn’t work, 18 months and the paint was falling off in places ( undercoat number one) checking in some places, ( undercoat number two) and sort of doing ok where I’d used International Prekote.
On sanding a few patches I found that the Prekote had stood up well, but the water based enamel was not lasting.
She was past scruffy, I use her for rowing on the estuary and doing my trash collection run on the river, so she’s often scraping the bottom, ( oysters in mud) or pushed into the mangroves, hard on paint for sure.
She needed it, so she’s been sanded off on the outside and a new full gloss water based exterior rated paint applied. Vibrant blue this time!

Its softer than the solvent based enamels, but so far seems to be surviving ok.

When I find my camera case with the charger in it, I’ll get some pics.

John Welsford