Clipper's Vera Cruise Build

Clipper's Vera Cruise Build

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.

Sunday, August 4, 2019

Cabin Roof Beams Part 2 And Starting On The Fore Deck

Summertime seems like it would be the best time for productivity when it comes to boat building. And perhaps if the garage was air conditioned, this might be true. Outdoor sessions, especially those requiring me to work outside of the garage, have to, by necessity, be limited in duration. But the good news is that the longer days provide more opportunities to work outside. So it balances out. 

Anyway, enough rambling. This last three weeks I focused on two items, with the bulk of the work being on the cabin roof beams. As mentioned in my previous posting, these are made from laminated strips of mahogany which must first be cut from a thick slab using my band saw, and then planed down to a thickness of 3/16". Then they are laminated together on the form I made. After curing, the excess epoxy is cleaned off and the beams get rounded edges and a final sanding.

It's the cutting and planning that took the most time. I also waited 24 hours after laminating each assembly before I did any clean up. But the end result were four roof beams with a 2" crown that will eventually be fitted into the cabin roof structure.

In these photos they are simply resting on top of the cabin sides. Final installation will see them lowered so that the top edges are approximately flush with the cabin side tops edges. I'll cover this more when the time comes to get back to that.

But before that can be accomplished, the cabin sides will need their final fitting and installation. And before those can be installed, the decking needs to be added to the boat. The reason why the decking needs to be installed on the boat before the cabin sides is because parts of the cabin overlap the deck and need to be fitted against it before final assembly.

In order to install the decking, there are a few things to consider and to accomplish. Because I desire to have an anchor well at the front of the boat, and because I also desire to have a opening hatch over this anchor well, I had to give some thought how that was going to be accomplished. My concern was that there is a camber on the deck and that it might be difficult to get the smaller hatches to match up to the deck. I decided to do some initial testing of the deck planking to get some idea how much of a problem this would be. 

I also wanted to get some idea how the hatches would be mounted and supported. And although I don't have any photos of this particular part of the assembly yet, I do have it figured out in my head and will illustrate that at a future date. 

But here I am checking the deck and trying to get some idea of the fairing needed.

At first, I thought I was going to cover the deck from side to side and wanted to see if this would be the best approach. However, this presented difficulties in how to get the very front of the deck to camber properly with a very small area of wood for leverage. I reasoned that a complete piece of plywood fitted installed first and then cut out would be the easier approach. 

I also decided that each side of the deck would be installed separately. The reason for this is because the fore deck needs to go aft past the front of the cabin sides and tie into the side decking. The further back the better to avoid future cracks at the seam.

This meant that a standard 4 by 8 sheet of plywood would only cover half the fore deck since it would have to be mounted long wise on the hull. However another task had to be completed first. That was installing the strong back batten over the anchor well center.

As you can see in the previous photo, some fairing will be necessary in order to get a plywood skin to lay down on this correctly. This is especially true at the forward most end of the strong back. Having the full half skin made from plywood would make it easier to determine the fairing needed.

So I made a template from poster board. You can see how the deck continues aft on to the side decking structure. From that point to the bow is just under 8 feet, so this is why I will be using two sheets of plywood to plank the fore deck.

Fairing started today and the strong back has been faired to allow the deck to lie properly. In these photos, I am doing the checking as I fair the structure underneath.

The side decking has not been started yet, but the fairing there is already completed. What does need to be done, before adding the side decking, is to add tubing as an electrical wire conduit through the frames (behind the carlings) and determine where the various deck fittings will be placed. The deck fittings require additional backing in the underside of the deck and this will be easier to add before the deck is installed. All of that will be covered in a future post.

Decking of the boat will be a great milestone to complete and I look forward to accomplishing it. In the meantime, I will continue to plug away at all the myriad number of tasks. So until next time, take care.

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Cabin Roof Beams And Designing A Helm Station

After completing the cabin sides, the next step was to start making the roof beams. These are curved with a 2" crown and are mounted crosswise from cabin side to cabin side giving the roof a crown to allow for water runoff.

These could have been made in two ways. The first would have been to cut the curve out of large slabs of mahogany, but this would have been difficult because they would have to be 1 1/2" by 1 1/2" in cross-section. I would probably also have been wasteful, but the alternative may not have been any better.

The second approach was to make the beams from laminations of 3/16" strips using epoxy as the adhesive. This approach requires a form to laminate over and the effort to make the thin strips. It also requires cleanup of the part afterwards. It main saving grace is that it is likely stronger and more stable than a single beam cut from hardwood.

Having never laminated wood before, I thought I would use this approach. Two 8 foot long 2 inch thick by 7" wide slabs of African Mahogany were purchased. As a plug for the business, I purchased them from Austin Fine Lumber which has a great selection of lumber and a friendly staff. I have no connection with them, simply a customer.

The plan was to cut these slabs across the long edge approximately 1/4" thick and then plane them down to 3/16". They would also have to be narrower by 1/2", but that came later. Cutting these rough strips proved to be tougher than I thought. I knew it was not going to be easy, and it wasn't. Thirty two strips needed to be made in order to make four roof beams.

I had two choices. My band saw which I didn't think was up to the task, and my table saw. I also knew the table saw would never be able to cut through the entire two inches in one cut because it is under powered and the wood is very dense. But I reasoned that if I was careful and cut the strips a bit thicker, I could probably make it work.

To help with this, I purchased a new saw blade and installed it. The saw's fence was set at 5/16" and the first cut made with the blade up approximately 1 inch. Then I made the first cut and could see already that it was going to be difficult to keep the wood straight and the saw edge even. After flipping the board over, I ran it through again to complete the first cut. The cut was not even and a step was introduced on the side. Dang!

Thinking I could probably rough hand plane this down and then use the power planer to finish it, I decided that a bit more thickness was in order. So I increased the fence cut to 3/8". 

Again, the process was repeated and the results were equally as bad. Both parts were thick enough that they could be saved, but it was terribly wasteful. Additionally, the table saw was complaining quite a bit and there were burn marks along the cuts.

So I started to cut the third strip. The saw was screaming but I didn't pay any attention to it at first. But as I was completing the second cut on this third piece, smoke started coming from the motor. I shut it down and saw right away that the bearings had frozen again. Readers might remember this happened to me about four years ago and I had to replace the bearings on the motor.

Well this was a problem and I was beginning to regret not having the lumber yard mill the boards to the rough cut for me. At first I was resigned to repairing the saw again, but I decided that I had had enough of the saw. It wasn't a very good saw and not very precise. There were other issues with this saw as well. So I  decided to replace it with a new saw. This was ordered, but was not going to be available for a week.

At the same time, I decided to give the band saw a try with a new blade and ordered blades for that tool. These blades arrived in a day so I installed them and set up everything for the cut. 

This cut was also difficult and impossible to get a straight cut even with a fence. The saw was capable enough, but the blade would sometimes slow to a stop and I had to quickly back off to get it going again. A bigger problem was supporting the heavy slab as I made the cut. It was slow going, taking an average of 5 minutes per piece to cut the full 8 foot length. But it was working and the rough strips were more even faced than those from the table saw. So I continued on and cut out enough to give me a total of 8 strips.

I elected to wait to cut any more because I was not sure of I could get them to plane down correctly and wanted to see what happened with this first effort. First I ran them through the band saw to cut their width down from 2 inches to 1 3/4". This was mainly to save time later when they would have to be cleaned up and planed to a final width of 1 1/2".

Because I don't have a jointer and because the surfaces of the strips were a bit wavy, I ran them through the power planer taking very small cuts. As the sides became straighter, I would flip them over and do the other side. By going slow, I was able to plane all these rough strips down to the correct thickness.

I was encouraged by this and knew that I could probably get the remaining strips made and planed using the band saw and planer.

The next step was to laminate them over the form. The form was prepared by adding packing tape as a release film on all the surfaces coming into contact with the wood strips. Because of the heat, I elected to do the lamination early in the morning. This was a bit stressful because of the number of pieces that had to be used, worrying that the epoxy would start to set up before I could complete the assembly. But I managed to get it all together and clamped to the form.

I let it cure for 24 hours and then removed it. There was a large amount of excess epoxy on the part which was going to have to be cleaned off. This was initially done using the power hand plane and then the belt sander. The piece was also run though the power table planer to get it to the final width of 1 1/2". Then the edges were rounded over with a router.

So I now know I can make these beams and have started the process  in cutting and planing the second and third sets. The fourth set have not been cut yet because I have run out of time this weekend.

I'll cover the fitting of these beams to the boat in the future.

The other work that I have been doing is designing a helm station. I tried to do a second mock up, but it was difficult to make it look like I wanted it and I had trouble visualizing the end product. So I decided to give Sketch Up a try . This is a free 3D modeler and is fairly easy to use.

I am still working on the final design and have gone through a few iterations as I figure things out. Each drawing helps to better visualize what is needed and I try to incorporate the ideas into the next drawing. 

The following drawings are not the final product as I still want to do a rough mock up for fitting the helm to the boat and myself. The seat in the drawings and the placement of switches and instruments is only a representation, not the final design. But I want to use a raised platform under the seat for storing a folding table and table post. And the helm needs to have room for the instruments, a steering wheel and a throttle control. Also room for a GPS/Chart plotter and anything else I can think of while designing.

I will continue working on this until I am satisfied of the final design and then set it aside while I design the other parts of the aft cabin.

So that's it for now. Still much to do, but every task completed is that much closer to getting her in the water. Take care.