Clipper's Vera Cruise Build

Clipper's Vera Cruise Build

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Fiberglassing The Deck And A First Window Frame Attempt

Fiberglassing the deck was the main focus of this last round of work. This needs to be completed before I can move on with installing the cabin sides. To cut down on the amount of sanding I did previously when I glassed the hull, I decided to use a week off from work to accomplish the glassing. The key point here is that each section glassed needs approximately 5 coats of epoxy with some time between coats required for partial curing. 

The five coats consist of an initial seal coat. This insures that when the second coat (which includes the fiberglass cloth) is applied, that the plywood deck won't steal some of the epoxy needed to wet out the fiberglass cloth. Then another three coats at minimum are needed to fill in the weave of the cloth.

The other key point is that there is a window of time between applications where the next coat can be applied and it will still chemically bond with the previous coat. 

Therefore, I wanted to work on the entire deck continuously staying within the windows of time all the way. This will provide the strongest bond and best protection of the deck plywood.

There are four main areas of the deck, the two aft deck sections and two parts of the fore deck. This is dictated by the size of the fiberglass cloth I purchased. At this point, there is only a small section forward remaining which I'll be working on tomorrow.

Later on in the build (probably a year or so from now), I'll be using fairing compound and primer to insure the deck is smooth from front to back. But the current applications of epoxy are fairly smooth thanks to the use of thin foam rollers and tipping of the epoxy with a foam brush.

One of the hazards of painting (or applying epoxy ) outdoors is the occasional stupid bug that decides to commit suicide in the finish.

The rest of the process in a few pictures.

Between applications of epoxy, I started doing more work on the cabin side window frames. After my initial prototype for these was deemed unsuitable, I came up with a new design which allows the windows to be flush on the exterior of the cabin and still open (more on this in a moment).

The following drawing is a cross section of my idea for a window frame (essentially the same as a window sash). The window pane (polycarbonate in my case) is sandwiched between two frame pieces whose combined thickness is the same as the cabin sides. The shape of the frame is the same as the window opening in the cabin side. 

The frame is hinged along the top edge allowing the window to hinge upwards when open. A support rod provides the necessary support when the window is open. And a locking mechanism overlapping the cabin side keeps the windows secured when closed.

The window frame rests against a landing surrounding the window on the interior surface of the cabin side.

In order to make these window frames, I need to glue several sections of wood together  surrounding the window opening. These pieces of wood need to be cut a certain way to fit together properly and then planed down to their final thickness before they are glued together. At this point, they are a rough size.

Next they are glued together insuring that they maintain the desired shape and stay flat. Then the idea is to lay them over the window opening and trace out the window opening onto the rough cut wood. From there the frame is cut out and sanded to fit loosely in the cabin side opening.

It was when I started fitting them to the cabin opening that I started running into problems. First off, I determined that the aft windows would not have a sufficiently long horizontal upper edge to allow hinging, meaning that the aft window cannot be opened.

Then I noticed that my window cutouts were not as smooth or straight as they appeared when I had sanded them earlier in the year. This manifested itself in slight irregularities in the gaps between the window frames and the opening.

I was also unsure as to how I was going to cut out the inner edge of the window frame and make it match the outer edge contour.

The biggest problem was the irregularities in the gaps. This area of the boat will be highly visible and sloppy gaps would be very noticeable.

The inability to hinge the aft window was not too bad because the main reason for hinging the windows was to get access to the cleats on the side decks. Fortunately when I determined where to place these, I insured they could be reached from the front window or the aft cabin. I will still be able to hinge the forward windows.

At this point, I decided to cut my losses and start over on the windows. I spent a few days thinking about it, doing some research on how to use a router with templates and then came up with a plan to make it work.

The plan is to first use a template to true up the shapes of the window openings. Then using these templates, create the frames. I also will be remaking the rough lumber for the frames, making them wider and with fewer pieces. 

Today I started by tracing the existing openings onto poster board and then trued up the curves, straight edges, and corners using a pencil and various shaped pieces (cans of paint mostly).

This week, I'll transfer trued up drawing this to some MDF to make the templates, which will then be cut out. I am going to spend considerable time on these templates so that they are as perfect as I can make them. Only then will I use them to make the real pieces. 

I'll be covering all of this more next time.

So that's it for now. I ad originally hoped to have the windows and the deck finished by the end of this week, but, that's the way it goes sometimes.

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Deck Installed!

This is going to be a short post, but covers another significant milestone. As the title says, I've completed the installation of the top deck. Or at least the main construction phase. After several weeks of fitting, sanding, and prepping, I have gotten all the starboard side deck pieces installed. The port side was completed earlier this month. 

What remains is fiberglassing the exterior. This will follow a similar pattern used on the hull, namely, a seal coat of epoxy, a layer of fiberglass cloth, and several fill coats of epoxy. This will take a week or two to accomplish and I want to try and do it with few long breaks between tasks. So I'll be planning some time off soon to do that.

There is a small section on the centerline seam of the foredeck, in the middle of the deck, where there is no epoxy and limited screws. This is where the deck hatch will eventually be located so this part of the deck was only screwed to a temporary backing block. You can see that in the first picture above.

The outer edge of the deck pieces have been rounded over in preparation for fiberglassing which will slightly overlap the sides. This forms a watertight barrier and protects the end grain of the deck pieces. It also gives the deck a more finished appearance.

I was originally going to include some prototype work on the cabin windows, but after making the prototype of the window frame and hinge assembly, I decided on a completely different approach which I'll cover in a future posting. But if it works out like I want, the cabin windows will be flush mounted on the sides and still able to open.

So that's it for this time. I'll be working on preparing the new window frames next as I want to get this accomplished before installing the cabin sides. Installing the sides will be the next big project after I fiberglass the deck. 

Until next time, take care.

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Deck Work Continued

I've been continuing on the deck work these last couple of weeks. Like the side planking several years ago, there's more to this than is first apparent. But as of today, two of the six pieces are attached.

Picking up from last time, there was still some encapsulation to finish up on the undersides of the deck pieces.

After that there were some structural work. Namely, backing blocks for the seams.

On the foredeck, there will eventually be two anchor well hatches. In order to make these conform to the deck curve, a plan had to be made as to how the hatches would be constructed and attached to the boat while maintaining that curve.

The plan is to initially deck over the area, cut out the hatch openings later, make some frames for the hatch which copy the curve of the deck, and cover the frame with more of the plywood.

The hatches will be attached to the centerline using piano style hinges. This presents a problem in that the centerline is also where the bow light will be mounted. So the center line over the anchor well needs to be wide enough to accommodate the light. The original strong back I installed was insufficiently wide enough for this.

What I did was add extensions on both sides of the strong back. These extensions are what the hatches will be hinged to.

There will be a need for some landings for the hatch to rest on when closed, but these will be attached later when the hatch is made and installed.

The next step was pre-drilling the deck pieces and then transferring the holes to the structure underneath. This serves two purposes. First  it insures correct alignment of the panels when doing the final installation. And secondly, it makes for a less stressful install since it's a task I won't have to do while rushing to get the deck pieces on before the epoxy starts to set up.

I also had to trim the starboard side skins and get them ready.

On the starboard side, there will be at least one electrical conduit, possibly more. The one will be running from frames 1 through 4. This is a larger diameter conduit than the port side because there will be more wires running through there.

First the holes were drilled in the frames and then cleaned up and encapsulated.

The conduit will need several points along its length where wire can exit. To accommodate this, I elected to cut ovals at various points. These ovals were then cleaned up and the edges smoothed with sandpaper.

The conduit was installed and sealed into position.

At this point, the aft and middle deck pieces could be installed. The fore deck pieces would have to wait a bit longer while I clean up the anchor well.

Installation of the two deck pieces followed the same pattern I used several years ago, namely, initially install the decks with epoxy and temporary stainless screws and sacrificial plywood washers. Then these were replaced with silicon bronze wood screws.

That's where things are as of now. I just finished installing the second port deck piece which is shown upside down in the pictures above.

By the time I post again, I should have all the deck pieces installed. I've ordered fiberglass cloth to cover the entire deck so I can start on that after the installed pieces are cleaned up.

Take care until next time.

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Decking The Boat - Continued

Decking the boat consists of fairing the deck structure and fitting the plywood pieces that make up the skin. I had previously rough cut the pieces from templates made from poster board. My main concern initially was leaving additional material so that final fitting could be performed.

But before doing any final fitting, I had to complete the fairing of the structure underneath. This mostly meant at the bow where the deck slopes down a bit.

Using the rough cut skin, I clamped it into position to get some idea what fairing was needed and then started removing material using a block plane. Then it was simply a matter of test fitting, making additional fairing adjustments and test fitting again. I went through this process a few dozen times before I was satisfied with the fit.

The previous photo shows how the strong back was faired down at the bow end. I also added two small faired pieces to close off the area forward of the anchor well.

The next three photos show what I was after. The plywood decking pieces setting nicely on the structure. All of these are showing the decking from the underside.

Next I spent a couple of days getting the port side skins final shaped and fitted. This was a fairly straightforward process. Two areas I wanted to insure were correct were the edge of the side decking where it butts up against the cabin sides and the curve of the foredeck.

The side deck edges had to be cut at a slight bevel to match the cabin sides which slant slightly inwards (by design). This was easily accomplished using a block plane and finishing with a sanding disk in the drill.

The curve of the outer foredeck was roughly traced using the boat as a guide and then using batten, I got the curve corrected. 

Next up was determining the locations of various deck fittings. These include deck cleats, and fill ports for water and fuel. There are also attachment points needed for the bimini top and lights. But the cleats and the fill ports require backing plates that would be much easier to install before the skins are installed.

The deck cleats I have are the folding variety and look to be made very well.

Laying these and the fill ports on the deck, I played around with the positioning trying to take into consideration, access from the boat, symmetry, and correct placement with regards to handling the boat. Additionally, I had to make sure that the backing plates underneath would not interfere with the structure underneath.

To make installation of the deck easier and to give me references for where to place the backing plates, I clamped the deck pieces down and traced all the frame structure on the underside. This was a process I had used when installing the bottom planking several years ago and it helps considerably having the frame locations marked. This insures that I put the screw holes in the correct location.

Backing plates were made slightly larger than the the cleats and fill ports and then there locations were determined using the previous structure tracings as a guide. These backing plates where then installed and edge sealed.

Next I needed to start the encapsulation of the interior area under the decking. Most of this has already been encapsulated with the exception of the outboard side of the carlings which run fore and aft. 

There will need to be a few backing blocks required under the deck seams. These will be installed between the carling and the shear. In the previous picture there is an small un-encapsulated area where the clamp is located. This will be one of the locations for the blocking and the area will be final encapsulated afterwards.

One last bit is the first part of the electrical system. There will be some wiring that runs between the frames on both sides of the boat. The port side that I am currently working on has minimal wiring but I wanted a means to isolate this wiring from the fuel tank that will be installed later below this same area.

Using Schedule 40 gray PVC electrical tubing, I cut an appropriate length of conduit and drilled a hole in frames 3 and 2 to match the outside diameter of the tubing. These were sealed with epoxy and then the tubing installed using sealant.

Still up to do is make and install the previously mentioned seam blocking, pre-drill the screw holes in the skins, finish the preliminary encapsulation of the deck undersides and make some supporting structure in the anchor well for the anchor well hatch that will eventually be cut into the fore deck. I've also got to get the anchor well cleaned up and touch up the paint. 

Once these items are done, I should be able to install the port side decking. Then I can repeat the process for the starboard side. I'll cover this work in the next posting. Until then, take care.