Clipper's Vera Cruise Build

Clipper's Vera Cruise Build

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Continuing Work On The Forward Bulkhead And Hatch

Another week of working on the forward bulkhead hatch and opening. But I am getting close to the point where I can assemble this compartment. The opening was cut into the bulkhead and then I started making all the parts for the opening framework.

The original plan was to hinge the door on the left side, and careful measurements were made to insure the opening was big enough to allow for the hinge and door framework. However, during discussions of this on the Glen L Builder's Forum, it was suggested that I do the hatch without hinges. The advantage of this approach is that it gets the hatch completely out of the way when it's opening and it eliminates the difficult joinery work trying to get the door and hinge in the correct position. It also eliminates the need for the hinge hardware, which I wasn't too happy with appearance wise anyways. I decided to go with this approach instead.

The way the hinge less approach works is the hatch has a tab on it's forward bottom edge that "hooks" over the door framework. The hatch is then rotated up into position and held in place with some sort of latch.

Because I had already cut the opening slightly wider on the left (to allow clearance for the hinge), I would have to make some sort of filler to take this space up. Fortunately, there will be trim surrounding the door opening and the filler will be hidden.

The framework around the opening consists of four reinforcement strips on the forward side of the bulkhead along with three backup plates to give the hatch something to rest against, and four covering plates to hide the edge of the plywood.

Here is that framework being made and assembled. You can see the various parts before gluing into place.

First the reinforcement strips were glued into place and then cleaned up.

Then the three backing plates were glued in. No pictures of that operation. Finally, the covering plates were glued in place. I wanted to clamp these during the cure, but the sides of the bulkhead, being angled, made it necessary to create a clamping jig for the two side covering plates.

The top and bottom covering plates were clamped directly.

The hooking tab was added to the hatch.

Everything was cleaned up and sanded. I will still have to stain and varnish all of this down the road. I just had to see how this was going to look in the boat.  Here are a series of photos showing different aspects of this.

In this first photo, you can see how the hatch top frame member will serve as the aft support for the anchor well floor above the storage compartment.

These next series show how the hatch fits up into the bulkhead

I plan on surrounding the hatch with trim pieces to hide the glue seams of the opening framework. These and the other trim work, (making the light pads, the decorative artwork above the opening, and making a vinyl covered trim board) will all be accomplished in the future.

And here you can see the relationship of the anchor well to the storage compartment. The anchor well floor is visible at the top of the first photo.

All of this took most of the week. I am trying to get all the remaining small tasks accomplished so that I can do final assembly on the forward compartment.  One of those tasks was to round over the edges of the drain slots for the anchor well. This was accomplished with a router and and a round over bit followed by light sanding.

Tasks remaining include fiberglassing the storage compartment walls, drilling the holes for the bow eye (this one has me quite nervous),  and encapsulating and painting the areas that will be covered by panels. All of that is is coming up. So until next time, take care.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Forward Compartment Bulkhead Hatch And Other Fittings

I feel like the forward compartment is taking a long time to complete. And in fact, it is. So much so that I will be shifting gears after I am finished with it and starting on a different aspect of the build. However, that is still a bit of a ways off. For such a small part of the boat, there is a surprising amount of work that needs to go into it. This posting covers some of those items.

My plan for this section of the boat is to get all the parts ready, encapsulate and paint the compartment, and then do final assembly. So there is a lot of parts work required before this assembly can begin. One of those parts is the anchor bracket. I had originally intended to make a stainless "U" shaped part to fit over the stem. This part was to been crossed bolted to the stem and have a "U bolt bow eye attached to it for the anchor rope. However, getting into the bow to drill these cross bolt holes was not practical with the tools I had.

So what I came up  with instead is a thick piece of oak with the same "U bolt" bow eye. The oak will be screwed and epoxied to the stem and epoxied to the anchor well floor and port side. In order to get this part to lie flat, I had to flatten out a portion of the stem. The part itself required several tapers at odd angles to match up to the floor and side planking. I am also considering adding a brace to the backside for additional strength.

Next up was a wiring run to protect the electrical wire from the bow navigation light. This light will be mounted on the center line of the deck over the anchor well. The wiring will go through the deck strong back member and run to the aft wall of the anchor well. Then it will run down and across to the starboard (right) side and exit through the frame where it will continue aft to the main circuit board. In order to protect the wiring from getting snagged by the anchor or anchor rode, I wanted to build a protective wiring run. 

I elected to make this from PVC pipe cut in half lengthwise and glued into an appropriate shape. Since the anchor well is going to be painted white, I can also paint the pipe and it will blend right in. Originally, I was going to attach the pipe to the bulkhead and strong back using small PVC tabs glued to the pipe (blue pieces in the photos). But I found these to be of insufficient strength, so instead I fashioned small brackets from aluminum from an old auto license plate. The blue tabs were removed.


 Then work shifted back to the bulkhead hatch. This hatch door is a rather complicated construction requiring a framework to be built to hold the slats, covering boards to hide the slots that the slats fit into, and eventually a structure on the bulkhead to attach it to. I'll cover the bulkhead structure in the future as I am still working on the details of that.

The hatch is made from mahogany and making it's initial parts was covered in the previous posting. When assembling it, I had to take additional precautions to insure it stayed flat while the epoxy was curing. I also wanted to make sure the joints were strong so I drilled each joint to hold mahogany 1//4 inch dowel rod. This was glued up and then the parts pre-stained.

 To make the covering plates, I had to special order 1/8 inch thick mahogany and cut these into 1 inch wide strips. Since I wanted this to look nice, I practiced cutting these strips on my table saw using scrap wood. These didn't turn out so well, so I elected to try something different. Using a cutting bit in my router and a guide, I cut these strips from the mahogany.

 I wanted to have a rounded over edge on both long edges for a more finished look. I was originally thinking I would have to buy (or make) a router table, but I found that I could clamp my hand router in a vise and accomplish the same thing.

 However, the 1/8 inch mahogany presented a problem in that it wasn't thick enough to provide a surface for the the router bearing to ride against. The solution was to attach a thicker piece to the strips temporarily, aligned along each edge that was to be rounded over. I tried using double sided tape, but this was cumbersome and not accurate enough. Then I hit upon the idea of using a hot glue gun. This worked out great and the parts were subsequently rounded over.

The inside edge round over had to end short of the ends on the long pieces so that it would match up with the round over edge on the side pieces. The outside edges were done later after the parts were glued onto the door.

 The cover plates were glued on with their outside edges slightly extended over the edge of the door. This was so that I could trim them flush afterwards for a nice finished edge.

 The outside edges were trimmed with a flush router bit and then rounded over. Everything was sanded and readied for final staining. I am going to wait before doing that final staining because I want to mortice the edges for the hinges. However, that is dependent upon the final structure of the door frame so it will have to wait for a bit longer.

The last thing accomplished was to cutout the opening for the door in the bulkhead. The opening needed to be large enough for the door, and allow additional space for the hinge and cover plates as well as a small gap. I worked out these dimensions and laid them out on the bulkhead.

The opening was cut out with a jig saw and sanded to final edge using an air powered grinder and a sanding disk. The gaps are wide for now because the other door frame structure is not in place.

 Finally, to give a preview of what I intend to do for the door frame, here are a couple of photos showing simulations of the door frame structure. The structure needs to support the door, provide strength to the bulkhead, and cover the end grain of the plywood.

 So that's it for now. As I continue working on my home in preparation for selling, I am having less time to work on the boat so the postings will by necessity be a bit further apart. Take care.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Shop And Bulkhead Door Work

The last month has had me occupied with working on my home as I try to get it ready to sell. The ultimate goal is to move to the country and acquire property with a proper boat building and shop.

However, I have to live with the garage shop that I currently have. Fighting my way around the lack of space, and tripping over things while I try to squeeze around something that gets in the way, was getting to be too much for me. I was finding myself getting angry in the garage when I should have been enjoying myself.

Since I needed to get a storage unit as part of the moving process, this seemed like an ideal time to re-arrange the garage and get some things out of the way. One of the biggest culprits was a shelf I had in the corner. It took up a lot of valuable floor space, forcing me to put tool boxes in other areas, thus leaving less space. The shelf did hold some things, but overall, it's usefulness was overshadowed by the drawbacks of having it there.

Of the many different tasks I have performed, mixing epoxy has been up there near the top of things I do often. This required epoxy, mixing supplies, and a scale to be readily available. The epoxy was stored on the shelf. The supplies took up a valuable deep drawer in one of my roll away tool boxes. And the scale sat on my workbench, always in the way. To get around this, I decided to make a mixing cart to eliminate the need for the shelf in the corner and to free up the tool box drawer.

The cart was made from leftover lumber and plywood from the boat flipping structure and building form. It took me approximately 10 days working about 30 to 45 minutes a night to complete it (lots of other things to do after work unfortunately).

It contains a drawer for holding the supplies and storing the scale. There are two shelves, behind doors, for the epoxy and paint. I placed the cart on casters so I could move it around. Putting all of the epoxy stuff in this cart eliminated about 70% of what the old corner shelf was being used for. The remaining items went into storage or were moved to overhead bins which were freed up when other items were moved to storage.

Once the shelf was gone, I was able to re-arrange the toolboxes and get all of them on the same end of the shop. This is handy because I was getting very tired of having to walk back and forth across the garage just to get tools or put them away. With a little creative re-organizing, I manage to free up some floor space. An added benefit was getting the table saw close to the garage door again so that it's easy to move outside when I need to use it.

Another issue I was having was with the accuracy of my table saw when making 90 degree cross cuts. I have been watching YouTube videos about shop organizing and something that most woodworkers do is create a cross cut sled for their table saw.

Taking some more of my left over lumber and a few extra evenings, I put together a workable sled. 

Unfortunately, my table saw leaves quite a bit to be desired and the sled was less than perfect, making it still somewhat difficult to slide in the tracks and use. However, I can now get accurate 90 degree cuts which was great when I started back on the internal joinery of the boat.

The first use of the sled was in making accurate frames for the bulkhead door which will eventually allow access to the forward bow storage. This door will be ventilated by using a slat type design, similar to window louvers. 

In order to create those louvers, I had to figure out a method of creating the angled slots on the sides of the door frame. There are any number of expensive jigs out there for doing this, one in particular which I would love to own, but I really need to keep expenses down on the boat construction, so an alternative approach was warranted.

What I decided to do was to cut slots at 30 degrees  every 3/4" using the original cross cut slider from the table saw and rigging up a stop block that allowed me to get accurate placement of the slots. Then,  using shallow cuts of the table saw, I cut the slots. 

The plan is to cover the open ends of the slots with a cover board on the front and back of the door.

Cutting the actual slats was relatively easy using the cross cut sled and stop blocks. I cut 12 of these from 1/4" thick material and temporarily placed them in the door for a photo shoot.

These slats will be sanded to more pleasing profile and the cover plate over the door will probably have some decorative milling. We'll see on that. I am still in process trying to figure out how I am going to dress up the forward bulkhead using the mock ups I created earlier this year and still allow maintenance down the road.

So that's it for now. Not a terrible amount of work, but at least I can move around in my garage again, and starting work on the door has re-started my creative urges. Until next time, take care. 

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Hatch Milling

I was originally going to wait until I had more of the hatch completed before posting, but things being what they are, I was delayed by a week of sickness and then a shifting of life's priorities.  As it may be some time before I can return to the hatch, I have elected to post what I have.

My friend Skip offered to help mill the hatch some time back. He has proper routing tools which made this job easier than anything I could have done at my house. He is also more experienced at wood working than I am, which insured a more likely successful outcome in this endeavor.

As readers will remember, I had epoxied together 8 pieces of mahogany into an octagon shape approximately 22 inches in diameter. The intent was to mill out the center and outer edge to get a round deck hatch to replace the plan's rectangular hatch. The hatch would eventually receive a smoked polycarbonate insert in the center. Additionally, the hatch would fit down over a deck ring that I had previously made from strips of mahogany glued edgewise into a circular shape.

The first thing that needed to be accomplished was for the octagon to be attached to a sacrificial plywood board and a center point established. This center point would be where a circle cutting router attachment would be mounted. The octagon was attached upside down to the plywood. We accomplished this by using double backed tape to hold the octagon to the plywood and then stabilizing it by attaching blocks of wood to the plywood around the perimeter of the octagon.

Additional wood was placed in the in the center before establishing the center point. This wood would elevate the circle jig to the same height as the deck hatch.

Then, after setting the router jig to the correct dimension, we routed out the inside of the hatch.

Next, we needed to mill a rabbet edge on the inside of the circle. This would be the eventual landing place for the deck ring. Since the deck ring was made from rectangular pieces glued together on the edges around a circular form, it was not a perfect circle. Close, but still not perfect. This required that the rabbet edge be large enough to allow the entire ring to fit. The ring was placed on the hatch and rotated until we found the best fit. From that we marked the extent of the diameter that was needed and set the router jig appropriately.

The depth of the cut was set to 1/4" as the deck hatch is only 1 inch thick. The cut was then made.

Next, we wanted to cut the exterior of the hatch. This required that the stabilizing blocks be moved to the inside of the hatch. The leftover wood from the inside cut was conveniently used to make placement of these blocks easier. The router jig was adjusted to the outer dimension and the outer edge was cut. During this process the router bit broke and my heart skipped a beat. But all was well, and after replacing the bit and resetting the depth, we continued on and completed the cut.

At this point the hatch was removed from the plywood. We had intended to cut a rabbet on the inside edge on the opposite side (the topside) to receive the smoked polycarbonate plastic. I am planning on purchasing 3/16" thick material for this, but since we didn't have it available, and because I wanted this cut to be exact, we elected to not perform this step. I will do this in the future when I have the plastic.

The remaining task was to bevel the topside to give the hatch a more pleasing profile. It would be beveled 10 degrees down and approximately 320 degrees around the hatch with the remaining  40 degrees left square in profile. This area is where the deck hinge will eventually be mounted.

But how to cut this bevel. At first we considered the router, but realized quickly that it wouldn't work. I had considered, prior to Skip's offer of help, using my table saw to cut the bevel by fashioning a rotating jig and holding the hatch at an angle to the rotating blade.

Skip suggested we do something similar but angle the blade instead. After scratching our heads for awhile we came up with a jig that rotated the hatch vertically on a  fence with the blade angled outwards 10 degrees. In order to make this work, we had to start the blade spinning and then gradually raise it up in small increments with the hatch in place. We would then rotate the part in the jig to cut the bevel. In order to stop cutting before we reached the area that was not to be beveled, marks were drawn on the hatch which we would stop at as we rotated the hatch.

It was a bit dangerous and potentially could have ruined the part, but by taking our time and coordinating our efforts, we got through it with no damage to us or the part. The bevel had slight steps from where we raised the blade each time, but these are small enough that sanding will take them out. Where the bevel transitions into the non beveled area, we had to stop short on both sides of that area, so it will be necessary to manually clean the remaining wood out and clean up the bevel. But this is a small amount of work and the bevel turned out good. There will also be some additional edge rounding and cleanup required.

The plan is to return to this sometime down the road when I get closer to needing it. I want to figure out a way to create a slight dome on the smoked polycarbonate insert, rather than have it go straight across the top of the hatch. I have some ideas on this that I am going to look into at that time.

However, I just had to see what this was going to look like on the boat. And since I still had to finish assembling the center deck structure, I could do that and get a look see at the same time.

The only assembly work done on the deck structure was to epoxy the cross brace behind the hatch ring into place between the two fore and aft members. The hatch ring will not be installed until after the deck is in place in order to facilitate cutting the opening in the deck for the ring to pass through. The deck structure will also be left off for now while I continue work in the forward area of the boat.

One other accomplishment during this time was to work out the design for the bow compartment bulkhead hatch door and other decorations. These were mocked up and various ideas tried out. In order to do this work properly, I determined that I am going to need to do some upgrades to my table saw and acquire a router table.

With space in my garage being at a premium, the time had come to make some changes in the layout of the garage. The plan is to replace a shelf with a rolling cart that doubles as a mixing station for epoxy. The shelf is going away and the tool boxes will be rearranged together at the right of the work bench. Other items in the garage are going into storage. The workbench will become the place that I set any new power tools I need.

While this arrangement is not ideal, given that I hope to move sometime in the next six months and the fact that I have alternatives to the bench that I can use, I feel this is an acceptable solution. It does require, however, that I build the movable mixing cart, which I have started on.

This cart construction,  the moving of items to storage, and making upgrades to the table saw will require some time. So boat construction will be suspended for a little while. Hopefully not too long, and I may still sneak in a little work here and there.

Until next time, take care.