Clipper's Vera Cruise Build

Clipper's Vera Cruise Build

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas And Happy Holidays

Well, another Christmas has come, I'm a bit older and wondering what the next year will bring. This last year was quite an experience with two major hospital stays for my wife and I, and I started the boat this year. Thankfully, the both of us are fine now and good health.

The weather has been warm for December and I've chaffed at the bit wanting to work on assembling frames. The epoxy requires 50 degrees or warmer and we've had plenty of that. Unfortunately, it also requires a wallet full of cash and that has been somewhat lacking due to the medical bills.

Thankfully, that too is coming to an end and 2013 looks to be a great year for us. I'm hoping to have the hull built and flipped by the end of next year. We'll see.

Since we are planning on a nice wood finish, the hull will be covered with a mahogany veneer  which will require more time to apply and finish. But I find that finish to be extremely attractive and I feel the effort is worth it. The veneer will carry up the sides to the deck and probably the cabin as well.

Anyway, here's to another year completed and wishing all of you a great year in 2013.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Still Alive

I haven't died or fallen off the face of the earth. I've been taking a break from the boat to catch up on house chores and to save up some money for the next phase. I was originally going to use some of my funds to order epoxy and boat nails but several expenses came about so that's on hold for a few more weeks.

I'm not going to bore you all with my mundane non-boat experiences. Just thought I should post something to make sure people still know I'm around. Take care.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Small Update

I've been continuing on the frame initial fitting and gusset construction. Frames 3 and 4 have been been completed as well as 5 and 6 completed last week. I'll be starting on frame 2 either tomorrow or Tuesday. I've added pictures to the construction gallery.

Not much new to see other than the shapes of those frames. Frames 3 and 4 do not have top pieces, therefore I have braced them with 1" by 4" pine temporarily. Frames 2 and 1 will be the same way. These braces will remain in place until the hull structure is completed and the hull has been flipped upright. Without the bracing, there would be a risk of these frames being damaged as I fit the longitudinal pieces into position.

There are a couple of shots of my garage in the gallery as well. This is mainly to show that it is not necessary to have a full blown workshop. In fact, I have several photos of boats being constructed in garages as well as numerous other tight fitting areas. To be sure, a larger workspace is desirable, but with careful planning and patience, a smaller space will work.

While constructing gussets for frame 4, I ran into an additional snag, which while unfortunate, is not a show stopper. The 3/8" plywood I purchased for gusset construction had a fairly sizable delamination between the layers comprising the plywood. Approximately one fifth of the board is unusable because of this delamination. I know this wasn't there when the wood was purchased, but it must have been weakened when I transported the lumber from Houston. Fortunately, most of the lumber is sound and I double checked the parts I had already made from this sheet. However, to be safe, I am going to subject a test piece to some stresses such as flexing and nailing to see if the part has any glue failures. If necessary, I will purchase another sheet and remake the gussets.

Finally, I will be ordering epoxy glue and the boat nails this coming week. Assuming, the plywood passes the stress testing, I will begin assembly of the frames in approximately two weeks.

So that's it for now.

Update 6/10/2015: I've decided to add a small tidbit about the patterns. Because of paper shrinkage, they are a bit smaller than the measured dimensions in the plans. I learned this in October of 2012 (see "Bit Of A Setback To Deal With" in sidebar). I resorted to laying out the measured dimensions on a large layout board and then using that to aid in getting the frame parts correct. Rather than repeat all of that here, it is suggested that you read that posting and subsequent posting to see what I did.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Back On Track

Well, I've completed the corrections to Frames 5 and 6 and they are ready for final assembly. This puts me back on track and at the point when I first discovered the issues with the frame parts.

The parts needed minor corrections and this was accomplished by gluing small strips of mahogany on the ends of some of the pieces. These strips matched the amount of shortage on the parts. Care was taken to insure that the thickness needed for the various strips was the correct amount. The strips were glued with epoxy and then the glue lines cleaned up afterwards.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Frame Contours Completed

After two days, I have completed transferring the frame contours to the layout board. This entailed quite a bit of time standing up or getting down on my knees while I lined up the various patterns with the measurement points. Needless to say, my legs are rather tired.

But I can now do the initial assembly and fitting of the frame parts with confidence that they will be the correct size when completed.I utilized a different approach for transferring the contours to the board. On my first attempt at this, I had used the original patterns, cutting small holes in the patterns and lining up pattern lines with lines drawn on the board.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

New Layout Board

My second attempt at a layout board has been completed and the measurements added for frames 1 through 6. Frame 0, the transom, is not on there yet because that frame is going to take some additional thought before laying out.

That is because, the transom is mounted at a 12 degree angle from vertical and the drawing has some notes about the transom being shown true size and having to adjust for the angle. Since I haven't studied that part yet, I felt it best to wait until I understood better where the measured points will be.

At this point, I am ready to start re-doing the initial fitting of Frames 5 and 6 and make the corrections necessary for those frames. Then I will examine the other frames and also make any corrections needed for those. I will not be able to do Frames 1 and 2 because I do not have enough lumber to complete them yet. Probably later this year or after the holidays since mahogany is fairly expensive.

Here is one photo of the layout board. There are a few more images in the photo gallery (link in upper right corner of the blog site).

The line at the bottom of the photo is the baseline where all vertical measurements are taken from. The layout board is actually two pieces of plywood connected together. You can see the joint in the center of the picture. Just to the left of that are two vertical lines. The one closest to the joint is the centerline (the other was the first centerline but it was too far left). The centerline is used for all horizontal measurements.

The center line is 90 degrees perpendicular to the baseline but looks a bit off when compared to the joint because the baseline is not exactly parallel to the edge of the panel. This is fine as long as the center line and the baseline are exactly perpendicular to each other. I took great pains to insure this was so. The other marks are the chine, sheer, keel  points as well as some other reference lines that will be needed later.

The various points are determined by measuring up from the baseline and left or right from the centerline. All points are labeled for later use. So until next time.......

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Bit Of A Setback To Deal With

I began work on the third frame last weekend by laying out the frame outlines on my plywood layout board. When I went to match up the pattern to the layout, it didn't match up. Further checking of the pattern against the plan measurements showed that my assumptions about certain points on the patterns were wrong and were actually short of the mark in some cases.

What this means is that some of the parts were made too short. The shortage is not a great amount, but it throws off the entire frame if not compensated for. Being suspicious about this, I decided to go back and check the frames that I had already worked on. I found that they too were a bit off.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Odds And Ends

This will be a short update in the middle of the week. Just enough to cover the other steps I'll be accomplishing on the frames before final assembly. I'll be saving finally assembly for a later post. It's more than just putting parts together so I want to be able to devote more time to it.

First off, I decided to delay cutting notches for the keel, sheer, chine, and battens (don't worry, I'll explain what these are another day - suffice to say they are the lumber parts connecting the frame and giving the boat it's shape lengthwise).

The location of these notches are somewhat dependent upon how the frames sit on the building form and how the wood that connects the frames bends and meets the frames. The depth of the cuts as well as the angles of the cuts are very dependent upon how the connecting lumber meets the frames. So better to wait until I have a better idea of that instead of cutting the material incorrectly.

But there are several minor steps that need to be taken with the frame parts. The inner edges of the frames will eventually be the work surface I have to kneel on when the hull is flipped over (If I haven't mentioned it, the hull is built upside down initially). Since I don't want to wreck my knees, I will be slightly rounding all the inner edges of the frame parts.

The gussets have to be nailed as well as glued when assembling the frames. To avoid splitting the wood, and to insure that I put the nails in the best locations for each part, I will be spending time laying out a nail pattern on each gusset and then drilling a small dimple at each location. The dimples will allow the nail pattern to still be visible after I final sand each part for smoothness.

Each frame part will be final sanded to remove any roughness and then re-marked with the frame number and location information. Before assembly, they will be encapsulated with epoxy resin to make them waterproof  Actually, only the attachment points will be encapsulated initially because those areas will be harder to insure complete coverage with epoxy after assembly.

After final assembly of the frame, any holes created in the parts during layout and manufacturing will be filled with epoxy resin and sanded smooth. The the next phase will be to encapsulate any remaining areas with epoxy.

Because I have quite a bit of frame work to accomplish, the next few updates will be a little shorter and perhaps not as often, unless I have something else I want to discuss.We'll see.

In the meantime, consider this. If you feel like you want something or want to try something, but are afraid of failure, look yourself in the mirror and convince yourself that you can do whatever it is you want. Taking on a boat build is a daunting task, and I have had self doubts many times. But ultimately, I want to be able to say I accomplished this so I am going to go through with it in spite of doubts and any obstacles.

Okay, so I'm off my soapbox now :)

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Gusset Construction Continued

This post will cover the frame gusset and floor timber construction. As mentioned in previous posts, the gussets serve to strengthen the joints of the frame parts. They extend 6" (or more) over each frame piece. They will eventually be nailed and glued to the frame assembly.

There are two gussets per joint, one on each side of the frame. In addition, there is a filler block between the gussets to fill in the space outside of the frame parts that the gussets lie over. These filler blocks serve two purposes. First, they add additional strength to the joint. Secondly, they fill in an area that would be difficult to encapsulate with epoxy resin later.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Gusset Construction Started

Just a quick update tonight. I've started the process of laying out the gussets and the floor timbers for the frames.

Gussets are 3/8" thick plywood parts that will ultimately be fastened and glued over the joints on the mahogany frame parts. They provide extra strength for these connection points. Plywood is used because it is less likely to split than solid wood. It's cross grain structure is very strong for the amount of thickness.

Two gussets will be applied to each joint (one on the front and one on the back of the frame). They will be fastened with what are called ring nails (sometimes called boat nails ). Essentially ring nails have multiple little ridges around the shank of the nail that prevent the nail from coming out later. In combination with epoxy glue for each gusset, these will be very strong joints.

Floor timbers a made from 3/4" plywood and will connect the bottom joints of the frame pieces (on the frames that consist of two bottom pieces). Their purpose is to provide strength to this joint and serve as a support for the floor (sole) of the boat when it is installed later on. These have to be an exact height so that they line up later when the frames are attached to the building form.

The question might arise why plywood is not used for the frame parts if it is so strong. The problem with plywood frame parts is the edge of the plywood. It has two disadvantages. First it is not a strong connection when parts are screwed or nailed into the edge (solid lumber is however). Secondly, the edge of plywood is harder to seal against water (not impossible, just more difficult to get complete coverage).

By using a combination of solid lumber and plywood, the frame structure can take advantage of the strengths of each type of wood product while minimizing the disadvantages.

Here is an image of the paper patterns used to create the gussets. This process will also be used to create patterns for the floor timbers and repeated for all the other frames. Other frame gussets will be slightly different shapes but will follw a similar pattern of extending 6" over each adjoining frame part.

The next update will continue the discussion of the construction of these pieces. There is an additional photo in the photo gallery showing the gussets laid out on plywood.

Update 5/2/2014 - More in depth explanation of gusset construction

Update 6/10/2015: I've decided to add a small tidbit about the patterns. Because of paper shrinkage, they are a bit smaller than the measured dimensions in the plans. I learned this in October of 2012 (see "Bit Of A Setback To Deal With" in sidebar). I resorted to laying out the measured dimensions on a large layout board and then using that to aid in getting the frame parts correct. Rather than repeat all of that here, it is suggested that you read that posting and subsequent posting to see what I did.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Engine Thoughts & A Teaser - Updated

The week has been slow as far as construction goes. Many things to do besides boat building but I did spend some time researching the choice of engine and installation.

When I first decided to build the Vera Cruise, I was interested in building a boat with an inboard engine but utilizing a sterndrive for propulsion. For those that might not be familiar with this, it is commonly seen on fiberglass boats purchased  from boat dealers and is often referred to as an I/O (inboard/outboard). It consists of a drive unit that is attached to the aft end of the boat and which sets in the water. The drive unit connects through the aft end of the boat to an engine via a connecting drive shaft.

This drive unit swivels to control steering on the boat while tilting for trimming the boat when it is underway. Trimming for this type of boat means adjusting the angle the boat sets when it is at speed so that the bow of the boat is out of the water and the stern is riding across the water.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Starting to look like a boat!!!

So final sanding to shape of the first batch of frame parts is completed. Took me nearly a week to do this but the parts are looking good. Next phase will be to begin laying out gussets to lay over the joints. The gussets will be made from 3/8" marine grade plywood. I'll detail that process in a future post. For now, I couldn't resist the urge to lay some of the parts out roughly and take some photos.

They are starting to look like a boat and I am very satisfied so far with my progress.The following photos are quick shots of three of the frames (2,4 and 5).

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

A Sanded Part Example

Here are two photos of what I am after with the sanding. The first photo shows two parts that look like one part. These two parts are part of a bottom of the frame and will be symmetrical across the bottom.

The second photo is another angle

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Sanding Parts To Identical Shapes

Yesterday, I started sanding the parts to shape. All of the frames have some duplicate parts that need to be identical shapes when finished. These parts make up the left and right sides of the frame. Especially critical is the outside curve. Some of the parts require the inner edges to be a specific distance from the outer edge.

In order to accomplish this, it's best to sand both parts at the same time. This provides the best means of insuring that the parts are identically shaped. Most of the parts have at least one straight edge from the original board. I am using that as my starting point. However, to be more accurate, a second edge needs to be lined up.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Still More Frame Parts

Another short update since there isn't much new to say. I've used up all the mahogany I purchased for frames and one piece of the keel. A couple of boards had splits in them so some of the wood wasn't usable (grrr!). Wish I would have noticed this when I bought the lumber.

Chalk that up to experience.

Now that the parts are cut out, I will be spending some time sanding them to the final shape. I suspect that is going to take a week or two since there are quite a few parts.

Then I will be doing some initial assembly in order to determine the shapes of the plywood gussets that overlap the joints as well some floor timbers for three of the frames. The floor timbers will be used to support the floor at the back end of the boat. All of these plywood parts will need to be laid out, cut out, and also sanded to final shape. So as you can see, there is quite a bit of this type of work still to be done.

I've added one new picture to the gallery showing me cutting a part out.

So on to sanding.

Monday, September 3, 2012

More Frame Parts

Just a short entry. I was able to complete laying out and cutting out of another 7 parts. I probably could have gotten more done but the heat here in Austin is pretty high and after several hours in the garage, it gets to the point where you need to take a break.

So here is a picture showing some of the new parts. Not shown is the first of the top crown pieces. These form the shape of the deck forward of the cabin.

All of these parts still need to be sanded

That's all for now.

Small update 9/4/2012 Cut out the parts I laid out yesterday. and lay them on the floor for a photo . Most still need to be sanded to final shape. Still have another 16 parts in this first batch of wood plus a bunch of plywood parts to connect the parts together..

Update 6/10/2015: I've decided to add a small tidbit about the patterns. Because of paper shrinkage, they are a bit smaller than the measured dimensions in the plans. I learned this in October of 2012 (see "Bit Of A Setback To Deal With" in sidebar). I resorted to laying out the measured dimensions on a large layout board and then using that to aid in getting the frame parts correct. Rather than repeat all of that here, it is suggested that you read that posting and subsequent posting to see what I did.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Lessons Applied

Last post, I mentioned how lightning was a factor and something that needed to be addressed. My garage now has some new fluorescent lights hanging from the ceiling. It was a bit of a chore because my garage is short on electrical outlets. I decided to replace the overhead light with an electrical outlet which I then plugged the lights into. But the original electrical box that held the light wiring was too small for the outlet so I first had to pull that out and then replace it with a proper outlet box.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

First Parts Completed - Post Mortem

As I mentioned in the previous post, I wanted to use the first parts as a learning tool to fine tune my process for creating the frame parts. Unfortunately, one of the smaller parts was cut too close to the line and ended up being unusable.

Lesson Learned #1 - Insure that you have adequate lighting when cutting out the parts.

Although I knew that I had to cut away from the line outlining the frame, I got too close because of difficulty seeing the line. The light in my garage is not too bad, but for this type of work, a brighter light is needed. So I will spend some time to obtain a second light source before cutting out the next parts.

Monday, August 20, 2012


The weekend was pretty busy with other tasks so I didn't get a chance to do anything until yesterday afternoon. I've started laying out the frame parts on the mahogany. This is where taking the time earlier to lay these out on scale drawings has made this task easier. The parts fit on the real wood even better than the scale drawings.

I haven't had a chance to cut these initial pieces out yet, but I hope to begin doing that either tonight or tomorrow. I've decided to begin with just one board in order to learn and get used to the process. The wood is too expensive to screw up on so I am taking my time.

One of the parts is the bottom frame piece and establishes the width of the boat at the bottom. Looking at the part, I was amazed at how big it was. The boat is going to be fairly large.

Already in this process, I've determined that I need to buy a belt sander next. This is because cutting out the parts cannot rely upon me keeping the jig saw on the lines that I've drawn on the wood. My intention is to cut outside the line a small amount, and then sand the wood down to the line. Going to create a lot of dust!!!

So I'll post some pictures as soon as I get some of the parts cut out.

Update 6/10/2015: I've decided to add a small tidbit about the patterns. Because of paper shrinkage, they are a bit smaller than the measured dimensions in the plans. I learned this in October of 2012 (see "Bit Of A Setback To Deal With" in sidebar). I resorted to laying out the measured dimensions on a large layout board and then using that to aid in getting the frame parts correct. Rather than repeat all of that here, it is suggested that you read that posting and subsequent posting to see what I did.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Picked Up Lumber Today!!

Today was the day to drive down to Houston and pick up the first order of lumber. Because of the cost of this stuff, I could only order some of the lumber I needed. So this first order includes 7 pieces of mahogany 9 feet long, a sheet of 3/4" plywood, and a sheet of 3/8" plywood.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Initial Lumber Supplies Ordered

So today is another concrete step in the direction of building this boat. This step makes it more official in my mind. I'm more committed to carrying this through now, even though I was already very committed to do this. But it's no longer just talk, thinking, or low hanging fruit. The order for the first portion of the lumber was placed today with Houston Hardwoods. This lumber will be enough to build all of the frames except the transom as well as a portion of the keel.

The price of quality mahogany is quite high as is the price of marine grade plywood. The last week has been spent trying various combinations of laying out the patterns in an attempt to get the most parts from the least amount of wood.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Lumber Plan Completed

I've completed my lumber plan. This took longer than expected but I wanted to try and get the pieces laid out in such a way as to minimize waste. The difficulty lies in the fact that most of the parts are not straight. Determining a rough cut for each part is easy enough. You simply need to determine the length and width necessary to accommodate each piece. But what this doesn't do is show how pieces can sometimes be placed next each other in such a way as to use less wood.

I am also trying to decide whether to buy a band saw or a quality jig saw. The band saw would probably be easier to use, but will cost much more than the jig saw.I am delaying making a decision on this until I have a chance to discuss lumber prices with the supplier.

Regarding a lumber supplier. There are three places I have narrowed it down to. There is an outfit in San Antonio, one in Houston, and one in Austin. My preference is is to use the Austin location because it is convenient, but that will depend upon availability, pricing, and my general feel about the place. That will be my task for this week.

Not much else to report at this point. Life has kept me busy this week. Until , next time....

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Lumber Purchase Plan

The building plans include a list of materials to aid in purchasing lumber. However, if I were to buy lumber as listed, I very likely would spend more than necessary to acquire the wood. Furthermore, I am deviating somewhat from the building plans in that I intend on doing a laminated keel rather than a solid keel and the planking of the hull will be a lamination of thinner plywood and mahogany strips.

The reasons for the deviation:

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Blueprint Easel Completed

I've completed building the easel to hold the blueprints. It was a good warm up exercise for woodworking and taught me to make sure and make a list before going to the hardware store. Saves wasted trips and prevents spur of the moment purchases!

I've also added a link to the photo gallery where construction photos will be visible. The link is in the toolbar to the right of the posting.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Look And A Small Bit Of Progress

Been pretty busy with things other than the boat but I have managed to get a couple of things accomplished.

I haven't ordered the lumber yet because I haven't had time yet to sit down and figure the best way to buy it, nor to find the best deals. I hope to do that this weekend so that I can purchase next week. But I have been thinking of how I want the boat to look. This actually has a bearing on the lumber purchase as well because I've decided to go with a natural wood finish on the sides and cabin.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Boat Construction Plans Have Arrived!

I am in a bit of daze right now now, so this entry will be short.

The first thing I did was open up the package and look over the contents. Iincluded in the package were five large sheets showing all the construction details of the boat. Additionally, there's a set of detailed step by step instructions for construction, an illustrated guide of building the hull, a bill of materials, a catalog of parts, and numerous other miscellaneous pieces of paper. 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012


This is where I am going to document the building of a Glen L Marine wooden boat. This blog will have highlights of the construction and a link to a photo gallery will provide more detailed images and construction details. The link is not present yet, but will become available when I have images to upload.

This boat is a cabin cruiser style boat, 21 feet in length and will most likely be an inboard / outboard style. The design name is Vera Cruise. The boat's actual name hasn't been decided yet. She was designed in 1956 and reflects the styling of the time.

I have ordered the building plans and begun the process of setting up a place to build her.

In the meantime here is a teaser image.