Clipper's Vera Cruise Build

Clipper's Vera Cruise Build

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Head Box Work

I had hoped to have more to post about (don't I always feel that way).One thing I've definitely learned, is that this build is going to take some time. Tasks that are easy to think about will almost always take longer than I figured on to accomplish. Throw in life, shortage of funds, general tiredness, and any other number of "excuses" and the build progresses as it does.

This posting will cover the work I have been doing on the head. As readers no doubt remember, my plan is to use a composting toilet, hidden away in a box in the cabin. Since this is not a full size box, the height of the box is dependent upon the height of the toilet bucket. The width and depth of the box is dependent upon the space available and the desire to allow for certain other features of the construction. And finally, the head box is dependent upon the floor that it rests upon. So after three weeks, I have some progress made and the basic shape of the head box built.

So let's start with the partition between the head and the seat box. My original design for this was a 1/4" piece of plywood with 1/8" mahogany veneers on both sides. This was a tedious process of adding one veneer at a time, cleaning up the epoxy, and then adding another. Each veneer took a full day to accomplish because of epoxy curing times and subsequent clean up.

Then I had to find a way to make additional veneers because I had used up my initial batch. I had a 2 inch thick piece of mahogany that I tried to cut on a friends band saw and table saw. Both attempts failed because of user error and the machines struggled with the density of the wood.

I tackled this  in a different manner with my table saw, namely, cutting the thinner slices in shallower cuts and then progressively raising the blade. Because of the width of the wood, I had to flip the wood over and make the same cuts from the other side. Needless to say, instead of getting 7 or 8 pieces out of this lumber I managed 4. They were very roughly cut to varying thicknesses but planed down nicely to the pieces shown in the picture.

At this point I went back to the partition and realized that I had a problem with it becoming curved from the veneering process. Furthermore, I wasn't very happy with the appearance of the narrow veneer planks. I started thinking that perhaps I needed to step back and rethink the whole approach. This also got me to rethinking about the overall colors of the interior. 

I got my wife's help in coming up with a coherent plan for colors which involved lighter colored wood. We brainstormed about design ideas and I am happier with the path forward in this regard.

But to deal with the partition curve, I elected to scrap the part and make a new one from thicker ply. The plan is to veneer it with thinner veneers of the same type of lighter colored wood planned for the rest of the interior. As for the veneers I made previously, well they are back in the spare wood pile since I will not be using them as intended!

Next i wanted to get back to making the structure of the head box. But before doing that I needed to have some idea how the toilet was going to be constructed.  Instead of buying one of these (which are quite expensive), I found plans on the Internet to build my own. It essentially requires the use of two large plastic buckets from the home supply store. The material of these buckets can be plastic welded using a heat gun. Here are photos showing the process of making the basic bucket with built in urine diverter. I'll be adding the smaller remaining parts at a later date.

This gave me the bucket I needed for height measurements of the head box. This and the toilet seat allowed me to come up with the final dimensions necessary.

However, to be sure, I wanted to make the floor under the bucket first.This involved yet another diversion because it was affected by the desire to make the center of the cabin floor removable for bilge access. 

I had originally planned on a 15 inch wide panel running full length of the cabin floor. But after thinking about it some more, I decided that a wider panel, nearly the full width of the cabin would be preferable. Only a narrow strip running down each side of the cabin would be permanently mounted. This narrow strip would be tied into the floor going under the head box.

This last photo shows the end result, however getting to that point involved making various cleats to support the floor, cutting holes in the floor to allow the vertical head box supports to extend through to the structure underneath, and of course making the various support pieces. All of this tied into thinking the process through continually.

Here are some examples. The vertical supports had to be a certain height. This required setting the floor piece in place and the toilet on top.

The partition had to be temporarily mounted in it's final position. This required making spacers for the areas of the frame that it would be mounted to.

The head box eventually needs a privacy curtain which will be drawn across the cabin opening. This means there needs to be a space for a rod to hang the curtain. And some means of making this space look better. A white poster board mock up of a potential idea is shown in these next photos, although I will be doing additional design work on this later.

Next I had to make the support frame for the head box and get it glued together.

And finally, another shot of the end result.

There are a couple of additional bits of information that I will convey about the last photo. The center floor panel is still yet to be made, what you see in the photo is the temporary floor I made earlier this summer. Only the starboard side floor strip has been made so far. 

Secondly, the seam between the center floor and the side strips is not supported, so I am in the process of making floor support cross beams for these areas. That will be covered along with other progress in the next post.

So that's it for now. The next several days will involve encapsulating 12 cross beam floor supports and getting them mounted. After that, I am not sure yet, but I may start on the other side of the cabin.

Until next time, take care.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Cabin Floor Supports Part 3 And Going Vertical

This stage of the build is falling into that pattern where it seems like there is a lot of work being done but it doesn't have a lot to show for it. I work on this boat almost everyday. Since I still work full time and have other responsibilities, this usually means 30 to 60 minutes per day. So by it's nature, this means that it will take time to get things accomplished. When coupled with the need to setup things in my garage every time I need to work and adding in waiting times for epoxy to cure, it can sometimes feel like the pace is slowing to a crawl.

However, progress continues to be made. The floor supports for the cabin were completed. I used a different approach to making the second set. They are a simpler design which provide the same level of stiffness and were much easier to install. Basically they are a piece of mahogany bonded to a similar sized 1/2" piece of plywood and then fitted into slots on the floor timbers. This avoids the complicated center support I used on the forward floor supports. Eh! Live and learn.

You can see the slots in this photo.

In the previous compartment, before installing the floor supports, I elected to paint the bilge white before doing the installation. As I was doing this second compartment while off from work, I wanted to maximize the amount of progress I made and avoid long unproductive waits for the paint to dry. So I elected to wait to apply the bilge paint until a later date and focus instead on getting the floor supports installed. 

Also in this compartment, there will be two sets of bilge pump and switch combos. In order to attach these to the hull skin, it is necessary to provide a small mounting pad to screw the parts to, rather than screwing directly into the skin and risk opening a hole into the hull. These pads also allow me to mount the parts perpendicular to the hull rather than at an angle. There will be a pump and a float switch on each side of the keel. As I only have one set at the moment, I cannot show both at the same time. However, I will be purchasing these fairly soon.

 The important point of this installation is that there is good access to these pieces as they will eventually need replacing.  They also have to fit under the floor, so I spent some time researching and thinking about this before doing the work and buying the equipment.

The floor supports and mounting pads were installed and then a temporary floor placed into position. The plan for this floor was originally to provide a center access panel running it's full length. The panel was going to be the same width as the center floor supports. But as I got to thinking about it more, I realized that access to the bilge was still going to be somewhat difficult. I eventually decided to increase the width of the access panel to the outer supports and make most of the floor easily removable. Only the sections under the seat boxes would be permanent. I'll cover this more in detail when I actually get to doing it.

Here are some photos of the support  installations and the temporary floor .

Next up, I could finally start moving in a vertical direction. Working on the boat is satisfying, but working down near the bottom of the boat is uncomfortable and I am glad to start moving up for a change of pace. 

As I am deviating quite a bit from the original plans interior, there is a lot of thinking time needed, combined with trial and error fitting and custom part manufacturing. I spent quite a bit of time drawing up sketches of how the parts fit together (or at least how I thought they would fit together). When I started actual construction of course, most of this turned out to be inadequate planning and I had to do additional thinking and trial and error fitting.

Because all the parts attach to each other, it is necessary to build somewhat in the order that they will be assembled to get spacing  and size requirements correct. For this portion of the project, that meant starting with the seat support structure and vertical facing for the forward V berth compartment. These are going to be plywood facings, covered in a mahogany veneer. The support is simply a horizontal cleat to support the forward end of the seat box. The support mounts to the facings, so the facings had to be made first. Here they are in progress. I still have to make the veneers for them.

Next up was making the structure for the starboard seat box. This needs a vertical support at it's aft end and two horizontal supports. The seat box is at the same height as the V berth as it forms the aft portion of the berth. The previously mentioned cleat on the facing and another cleat mounted to frame 4 provide the mounting points for those supports. The vertical support needed a gusset to attach its lower end to the frame.

 Spacing of these parts had to take into account the next set of structure and a partition. The partition is necessary because I realized that the person sleeping on this side was going to have their head right next to the head box and I wanted to provide some separation between the two. I wanted this partition to be tall enough to provide adequate separation, but not so tall as to make the cabin seem cramped or block view to and from the person sitting on the seat box. It mounts to frame 4.

The partition is plywood and will also be veneered with mahogany. Additionally, it will have a mahogany cap on it's edge for a better appearance. You can see the mahogany strip setting vertical in the previous photo. It will need to be steamed and wrapped around the curve of the partition. I'll do this after veneering both sides.

The veneers take the form of seven 1/8 inch slats per partition side and each needs to be fitted after the other is installed. This is similar to the approach I used several years ago for the transom veneer. So making these slats gave me an opportunity to finally use a power planer I bought a few months ago. Installing them, however slowed progress to a snail pace. The process after installing the first veneer was to clean it up, fit the next veneer and then install that next veneer. Only one of these clean up/fitting/installation sessions could be accomplished per day due to having to wait for epoxy to cure and because of my other responsibilities. This is why it was slow going.

I used cinder blocks and a piece of scrap plywood to provide the necessary downward force to bond the veneers to the partition. Plastic wrap between the veneer and the scrap plywood kept the parts from being bonded together.

And the final result after doing one side. It's not installed yet as there is more work to be done.

I need to make more mahogany slats and finish the veneering process. Also install the end cap. The partition installation will require spacers (still to be made), and of course there is the next structure parts for the head box.

Trying to explain all of the thoughts and effort involved in this would make for pretty boring reading so I won't go into any more detail about that. Suffice to say, that this process will continue until I have a full structure for the starboard side. Then additional veneered facings will be needed to box it all in. 

And the seat box will need the additional parts needed for the flip up extension I have in mind. I'll cover that more in the future.

Before I can move forward, it is necessary to make more veneers. These are going to be made from a 2 inch thick piece of mahogany. My first attempt at cutting this ended up not working, so I am going to try a different approach. Hopefully, I won't turn an expensive piece of wood into firewood.

So that's it for now. Until next time, take care.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Cabin Floor Supports Part 2

I am focusing on getting the cabin floor installed now, as I want very much to get started on the seats and other cabin fittings. The cabin floor is approximately 31 inches wide and 6 feet in length. It will be a 12mm (1/2 inch) of Okoume marine plywood and needs adequate support in order to not be springy. So, most of the work for this posting is for those floor supports.

However, before covering that, I will show the remaining work that I did on the forward V berth. This involved two tasks, getting the lower floor unit prepared for installation and getting the upper platform prepared for fasteners. 

The lower floor assembly is a removable piece so it requires screws to install. But before I could do that, I had to finish painting the part. 

Installation is only temporary for the photo shoot since I will be making quite a mess in this area for some time and it will be easier to clean it up without this part in the way.

Next, I wanted to get the upper platform mounting holes drilled and threaded inserts installed. I won't be mounting this platform for awhile longer as it ties into the cabin cabinetry and I want to leave it loose for fitting purposes. But I got the holes drilled and the inserts added to the platform support structure.

The next step in the cabin is to get the floor supports installed. There are several tasks to accomplish for this. There are the floor timbers on frames 3, 4, and 5 which need additional work. There are fore and aft horizontal supports in the sections between the frames which needed to be made and installed, and there is encapsulation and painting of these sections.

When I first started on these floor supports, I wanted to insure that they were very stiff and came up with a design which had a center span support on the inboard supports that straddled the battens below it. However this approach, while it works, was fiddly and hard to get installed. Here are the parts in preparation. 

Before these could be installed, I had to add some trapezoidal shaped fillers on frame 5. I also needed to widen and install the floor timbers on frames 3 and 4. I needed to install a forward floor support cleat on the frame 5 floor timber. And I started encapsulation and painting of the area between frames 4 and 5.

Then, installation of the forward supports began. As I mentioned, it was somewhat fiddly and difficult to get them installed. Because of the heat in the garage, I installed them in phases so I wouldn't have to rush because of the epoxy setting up. It also made it easier to get each one set up with installation jigs so that they were in the correct location. However, getting the drill into position to drill the holes and then install the screws was fairly stressful and uncomfortable. It doesn't help when the screw heads strip and they have to be removed.

Because the floor timber on frame 3 has thicker plywood members, I decided to try a different method of installing the aft floor supports. First, I was going to dispense with the center span supports that straddle the battens. That design works, but as mentioned was a lot of trouble. With the new approach, I had to compensate for the missing center span supports by bonding a 18mm piece of plywood to the inboard supports to make them stiffer. The outboard supports will be under less stress, so they got 12mm plywood bonded to them. All of them are quite stiff. To mount them, instead of using cleats (which were hard to fit and install), I cut slots into the floor timbers. This was done using a multi tool after marking the locations.

The slots were cut out and the parts placed into position. The whole process only took me two days compared to nearly two weeks for the first supports. Once I get the bilge pump pads installed and the entire area encapsulated and painted, I will do the final installation on the second set of floor supports.  

The floor extends just past the outboard supports when it is made and fitted. This gives approximately 25 inches of side to side floor space after the cabin seat boxes are made and installed. 

As I am off from work this week, I will continue working on this area with the goal of getting the area basically completed other than final installation of the floor. That will have to wait until I complete the cabin fittings because there will need to be some electrical wiring run in underneath (for the bilge pumps).

All in all, I feel pretty good about the progress made. It does get rather daunting at times when I think of what still needs to be done, but every day, I get closer to that goal of putting her in the water.  Take care.