Clipper's Vera Cruise Build

Clipper's Vera Cruise Build

Saturday, December 28, 2013

All Frames Are Part of The Boat Now

After several weeks of false starts and measures and re-measures, I finally got to the place where I felt confident that I could glue frame 6 into position. Since the last posting, the one remaining area of measurements I was not sure about was fore and aft measurements and how the frame corners would match up to the sheer and chine battens.

I had decided to try a temporary batten wrapped around the frame corners to see how they matched up. Since I didn't have the chine or sheer lumber yet, I elected to use the temporary cedar batten I purchased several months ago.

The amount of bend this would have to make to get from the breasthook to frame 6 would be quite severe. I figured that if I simply tried to bend this, the wood would break. I knew of two techniques to get around this problem. One involves steaming the wood but requires a source of steam and something to place the part into while it is steaming. Since I was still trying to save for lumber, I wanted to avoid this approach for now rather than purchase a steamer.

The second technique involves wrapping the lumber in towels and pouring boiling water over it, bending the part as much as possible, letting it set for awhile, and then repeating the process until the desired bend is reached. Once that point is reached, the wood is held in the bent position until it has dried out. It should then retain most of that bend and be much easier to get into position.

I had another issue that complicated this test however. The lumber to be bent is very long (16 feet) and initially it sticks out at an angle from the boat. Since I have very limited room on both sides of my boat, I had to rearrange things a bit to get enough room for the lumber. Unfortunately, when I get to the real lumber, this process will only work for one side of the boat. The other side simply does not have enough room. I am planning on prebending both pieces on the same side of the boat and then transferring one of them to the side that has limited room.

In the following series of photos, you can see the technique illustrated and how the space to the side was a problem. The batten was clamped into position on the breasthook at the front. At this point, the wood was sticking out to the side considerably.  I had to put a slight bend on it even at this point in order to clear my tool box.

I wrapped the bend area with a couple of old towels and placed a baby pool underneath to catch the water. After pouring boiling water on the towels, I started bending the batten towards the boat. With this wood it actually bent quite easily. When I use the mahogany for the real parts, it may take more effort. Anyway, I used a cinder block to hold the part at the bend I wanted. For some reason, I didn't take a picture at that point, but the following picture shows the setup before the bend.

After the towels cooled down, I removed them and let the wood dry out for the remainder of the day and night. The following day I placed frame 6 into position and saw that the frame corners would match up adequately to the bent part.

When I get to this point with the real lumber, I will post additional information explaining the process. But at this point, I felt confident enough to move forward with installing frame 6 permanently.

This installation process required a bit of clean up on the mating surfaces and permanently installing the lower positive locator for the frame. This locator is simply a piece of wood cut with a notch at the correct height that the frame needs to rest at. This part was screwed to the building form. The frame would rest on this and be clamped to it as well. It would positively locate the height and center the frame on the building form.

 In order to positively locate the fore and aft measurements and the vertical straightness, I clamped two wax paper covered blocks to the stem. The first photo shows these blocks behind frame 6. The other horizontal block was not used. The second photo shows a drop string to insure the frame was vertically straight. When the frame is vertically straight, the string would line up with the lower part of the frame.

The only remaining dimensions to positively locate were measured between the frames at the outer edges on both sides of the boat. Keeping these the same would insure that the frame was not rotated around it's center vertically. I accomplished this with braces screwed to frame 5 and extending to frame six. These would be clamped into position after I had the frame measurements the same on both sides.

The remainder of the process involved simply applying the epoxy, re-positioning the frame, checking all the measurements and clamping . I had originally intended to screw the braces between the frames to both frames but neglected to allow for the limited height under the frame so I could not get my electric drill under there. That is why I left the clamps in position.

And so, here it is. After several weeks, the last frame is in position. 

In other news, I've ordered the lumber for the chine and sheer battens. I should have that next week sometime. Now that frame 6 is in position, I can move forward with installing those parts, the keel, and the bottom battens. As mentioned previously, that will all be covered at a future date.

And finally, I had the pleasure of another boat builder visiting me over the holiday week. He had driven out here from Florida to visit family in Texas and wanted to stop by to see my project. It is always a pleasure to discuss the boat with other builders. 

I hope you all have had a happy holidays and the next time I post, it will be yet another year. I feel confident that I can still meet by next milestone of being ready to fair the boat by the end of January or shortly after that. Take care.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Positioning The Last Frame Part 2

After thinking about the position of this frame some more and getting additional feedback from a couple of other Vera Cruise builders, I got to work defining positive locators to insure that it will be in the correct position. There were a few lingering concerns from my previous efforts so I decided to systematically look at each measurement.I also double checked overall dimensions of the frame assemblies to insure that any measurements taken from points on the frames, were in fact where they needed to be.

The only dimension that I cannot positively locate is the fore and aft position of the frame.As mentioned in the previous posting, this is completely dependent upon how it meets up to the chine and sheer parts. I am not comfortable with the idea of trusting the given fore and aft dimensions and gluing frame 6 into position.

So the plan is to install the sheer and chine temporarily and then slide the frame fore or aft whatever amount is necessary to get it to line up correctly. I am hoping this is going to work because I cannot think of any better way to accomplish this.

However, before I can do any of that, it was necessary to glue the stem to frame 5. This is a task I have been waiting do do since this summer. Significantly, this is the first time that the sub assemblies have been connected together. All the work I have been doing over the last several months has been fitting. The pictures below shows the stem after gluing into position. Two wood screws were also installed through the aft side of frame 5 into the stem.

 The front of the stem also needs to be locked down so that it doesn't shift as I add the sheer and chine parts.  I used two wood screws drilled through the breasthook and into the building form to accomplish this. These screws need to be long enough to stay in place with any lateral stress. But they also need to be accessible later after the skin is installed, the boat is flipped, and when I am ready to remove the building form from the boat (the building form will be flipped with the boat).

Since the curve of the sheer and chine towards the bow becomes quite severe forward of frame 5, I anticipate there will be some stress on that frame as I install these parts. Therefore, I added bracing between frame 5 and the building form. You can see that in the next picture.

As mentioned in the previous posting, frame 6 needs positive locators to insure it is in the correct position. The following series of photos illustrate what I am going to use. At the connection to the stem, there will be several flat pieces of wood clamped into position. These will all be covered in wax paper during the gluing process to keep them from being glued to the boat. Since the frame may have to shift fore or aft, these will be installed just prior to gluing after I have insured that frame 6 will properly meet the sheer and chine..

 To insure that the frame is the correct height vertically, I have a support that will be attached to the building form which the frame will rest upon. This support is already cut to the correct height. The support will also be used in centering the frame side to side as well as insuring that the frame remains perfectly vertical while epoxy cures.

In order to get the frame perfectly vertical, I am hanging a weighted drop string from the frame. This will line up with the lower part of the frame when it is in the proper alignment.

I will need to insure that the dimensions between frames 5 and 6 are the same on both sides (upper and lower). Hopefully, positioning the frame against the sheer and chine will accomplish this automatically, but I may need to tweak it a bit. I may add bracing similar to that used for frame 5 if necessary.

So here is frame 6 in it's tentative final position.

At this point, I need the lumber for the sheer and chine before I can proceed with gluing frame 6 into position. But I was able to do a bit of supplemental work on the keel parts. These need to transition from their 4 inch width to the 3 inch width of the stem. This was accomplished by cutting angles on the end of the stem. 

So I am now deciding if I want to try and work the transom while I save for the sheer and chine lumber. In order to move forward on the transom, I need to cut notches for the chine and sheer into the transom frame before I attach the plywood skin. If I elect to go this route, I will cover that in the next segment.

I am partial to doing this as it would be a significant accomplishment to get the transom skinned. It would also allow me to install the keels permanently. Once I have thought this through some more, I will make my decision. Until next time, take care.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Positioning The Last Frame

As winter comes upon us (earlier this year - and colder!!!) the focus of building has to shift away from construction and into research and other indoor work. Already mentioned in previous posts has been the work I am attempting to do on the electrical system design. I won't go into that right now since it is just a bunch of reading and trial and error drawings as I learn.

The drawing I posted a few articles back looks childish to me now, but I am not so naive as to think I have reached a point of full understanding. No, I will continue to draw, research, and re-draw the design, picking up a little more knowledge here and there.

I'm hoping that by next winter I can have some form of heating in the garage so that I can get some outdoor work done . This year has been all about conserving money and applying it only to purchases directly related to the boat or items that I absolutely must have. So,no heaters in the budget.

But some work has been done since the last posting and I will show what I have done.

The first bit of construction occurred a few weeks ago during a brief warming spell. This allowed me to get some epoxy work done and glue the breasthook to the stem. The breasthook is a triangular piece that mounts to the top end of the stem and allows the two top side pieces (the sheers) to connect to the bow of the boat.

 I want to glue the stem into position on frame 5 next but before I can do that, I need to determine the exact location of frame 6 on the stem and provide a positive way to insure I get it to that position when ready to install. Frame 6 will be installed after the stem is permanently attached to the boat structure. Being cautious, I am trying to insure that I have any issues worked out before gluing the stem to the boat.

Here are two pictures of frame 6 being positioned. Readers will remember this is the smaller triangular frame with the wood inlays.

Frame 6 does not have any positive locators on the building form and only a single positive locator on the stem. This is the step on the stem shown in the second of the first two photos posted. Frame 6 must be located a specific distance fore and aft and at a specific height on the stem. Both dimensions are important so that other parts will eventually connect between frames 5 and 6 and the breasthook correctly.

Establishing the fore and aft dimension is fairly straightforward (although more on this in a moment). Setting the vertical position took a bit of head scratching. What I ended up doing was using a water level to establish the height of the building form. I then propped up the frame with small pieces of wood to hold it in position vertically. You can just make out the small wood scraps under frame 6.

The water level is simply a plastic tube filled with water. One end of the tube is set at the height you want to duplicate (the building form height). The other end of the tube will automatically show that height wherever the tube is placed. The next two photos show this.

This picture is the end that was used to set the building form height at frame 5. Not really visible in the photo is the water in the tube which is right at the line of the building form where the frame is resting.

The other end of the tube is taped to frame 6. You can see the water level in this picture. The plan dimension from that point down to the bottom of the floor timber (triangular piece in the photo) is 13 inches . By adding various thicknesses of scrap wood under frame 6, I got it to a point where the actual distance matched the 13 inches from the plans. I wrapped the small scraps of wood in tape and saved them for when I eventually re-install frame 6.

Fore and aft distance is another story that is still in flux. Because the bow is tapered, the frames need to be in proper position in relation to one another so that when the sheer is sprung around the corners, there will be no gaps. The following photos has a couple of red lines added to try and illustrate this. You can imagine that if the fore and aft distance is off, then frame 6 will either extend out too far or not far enough.

Unfortunately, I have found some discrepancies between the dimensions on the plan and the actual placement of frame 6. I have been trying to figure this out and have ruled out that the stem is mounted incorrectly or too short. The height of the breasthook above the floor is also correct. The only discrepancy I found in the plans is a slight difference indicated when measuring the plans directly. They seem to indicate a shorter distance than the actual written dimension.

Since I am currently at a loss to explain what is going on, I am going to spring temporary battens around these points and see where the frame actually sits. As long as everything lines up, I am not worried if the dimensions on the plan are different from the actual measurements. If they don't line up, I have a bit of fore and aft free play that I can work with. We'll see and I will let the readers know about that situation in the next posting.

So that's it for now. The weather is supposed to get a bit warmer this weekend and perhaps I can get the stem glued in place. Of course that depends upon what I find out about the position of frame 6. 

Saturday, November 30, 2013

The Importance Of Keeping The Dream Alive

Because I decided when I started my project  that I was going to come out of the other end of it with little or no debt related to the build, there have been slow periods while I save funds for the next large purchase. I have a regular budget for the boat, occasionally supplemented when I get some form of financial windfall. So saving can occur on a fairly normal basis.

But as the last two and half months (plus a similar period last holiday season) have shown, progress can grind to a halt if the next needed purchase is fairly large. There are things I can do about this, such as better planning for future purchases. I have been trying to come up with a general plan of construction so that I can try to lessen the impact of these types of events. I will also be able to increase the budgeted amount available starting in the spring.

But invariably, there will be periods of waiting to get through. I have dealt with these in a few different ways. First, I try an organize the purchases in such a manner that I can work on something that needs to be done and that can be done with the materials I have on hand. This current lull is such a session. I still need to purchase more lumber but I have sufficient materials now to keep me busy while I save for the next purchase.

Another approach is to keep a list of smaller tasks that either cost nothing, or very little to accomplish. These also work well when I get into a slump and don't feel like working on the more complex parts of the build. These types of tasks make me feel like I am accomplishing something and they sort of "prime the pump", getting me more inclined to do the bigger jobs.

A third approach, which can be fun, and which is very necessary, is researching and developing plans, and purchases for future work. Designing the electrical system for this boat is a good example of this. I have been doing this for the last month. This is information and planning that I will need to have in place shortly after flipping the hull, since I plan on installing as many systems before building the cabin as I can.

Finally, a fourth technique, and one which may seem frivolous at times, but to me is very important , is drawing and improving my concept of what the boat will eventually look like. In a sense, this is similar to the planning for the electrical system, in that I will eventually need to know what to purchase and do when I finish the outward appearance of the boat. I've just updated the appearance of the drawing and it has been added to this site at the top.

But the real value of this fourth task, and that which the title of this article is about, is keeping my dream of this boat alive. When I originally started this build, I read about other builders who were accomplishing their builds in as little as two years. Even though my boat is somewhat bigger and a bit more complicated, I felt that surely I could finish it in three years.

I quickly realized however, that this was going to take more like 5 years to accomplish, possibly longer (although I hope not). With that length of time, it becomes very important, at least to me, to keep the dream going, especially during those periods when construction invariably slows down.

In addition to working on the external appearance, I will sometimes go out in the garage and just sit and stare at my build, imagining it as it will eventually appear. Yes, I could be working on it, and often I do, but other times when maybe it's too cold, or I'm waiting for epoxy to cure, or I simply have nothing left I can do until more money is available, then day dreaming kicks in.

I do realize that day dreaming can and often does cause projects to either wither and die or never get accomplished. This is why I try and temper this approach with the other techniques mentioned previously.

All of this has been developed from previous long term projects I have been involved in and it has served me well, giving me the patience to see things through, knowing that eventually, this build will be done and I will have a beautiful boat to enjoy.

So, as a final note, I hope that this may help someone re-kindle their own project. I am sure that I am not the only person that engages in these activities or has these down times. Take care and next article I will have some construction updates.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Non Construction Continues

I figured that I had better post something lest readers think I might have given up!

No, with the holidays around the corner, and whilst saving for materials for the boat, I have been continuing to do work / research on balancing and on the electrical system.

It seems that my idea of balancing the boat was somewhat flawed in that I had to take into consideration every non structural component. But luckily for me, the boat has been designed to balance with a reasonable set of equipment and also designed to handle a range of engine weights. Additionally, because of the size of my boat, she is not as susceptible to smaller changes in weight moments like a smaller design would be.

I still have to keep these things in mind, and, if I decide to relocate the more significantly heavy items (batteries, fuel tanks, etc), I will have to try and compensate for the shift by relocating other items. I don't anticipate having to do much of this, but we will see.

At any rate, I developed a small and simple balance software program that I can use to aid in any movement. The original intention or this software was to handle a considerable number of moves. As mentioned, that may not be necessary. But the program will handle the small numbers as well. Besides, it gave me a chance to brush up on some software development skills that I don't normally get to exercise at work too often.

Developing the electrical system for this boat has been challenging. I foresee quite a bit of work to be done in this area before I have a complete plan in place that I can use for construction purposes. My experience with electricity has been confined to installing ceiling fans, and wiring up lights as well as a bit of college many years ago. I also have a small amount of experience with troubleshooting circuits, primarily in aircraft, but which I assume will work for marine as well.

There are numerous considerations involved in this process and I have only begun to scratch the surface of the work needed. There are wiring standards set forth by the Coast Guard. There are safety considerations, voltage considerations, battery management, cost,  weight, and accessibility considerations as well.

I started off by attempting to determine in a general sense what equipment I would like to have on board. Using brainstorming practices that I have used many times in the past, I came up with a long list of items. From those, I weeded out the unnecessary items and any that I felt were overkill. I organized them into priorities as well as grouped them by systems.

Using an example from another builder, I created a simple functional diagram that showed where the items would be placed on the boat. This was a top down view and served a couple of purposes. It aided me in determining how many of some items (for example, lights) that I would need. It also helped me to think up additional items that I missed when brainstorming.

I eventually plan to redraw this diagram to scale so that I can plan wire runs. One of the considerations I have is trying to minimize wire runs. I also want to make sure that I place convenient access points for future maintenance. By scaling the drawing, I can get some idea of how much wiring I will eventually need and I will know where to place them when the time comes to install.

However, before anything else, It will be necessary to design the actual circuits. I have been doing considerable reading on this. I found a book called the "The 12 Volt Doctor's Practical Handbook" by Edgar Beyn which I like because it explains the concepts and necessary work in terms that I find easier to understand. I am also referring to other books I have acquired such as Nigel Calder's "Boatowner's Electrical And Mechanical Manual".

Looking at wiring diagrams from existing designs can be overwhelming, so I elected to break the diagrams into smaller pieces as I work on them. It allows me to concentrate on specific areas without worrying about getting it to fit into the overall plan. It keeps the number of items on any given page to a minimum which makes it easier to read.

One of the ideas I had when I first started planning my build, was to create a maintenance manual based upon what I learned while building. This would include a complete description of the electrical system. I am planning on developing all these diagrams using software so that I can print them whenever needed. I will eventually combine them into a book as well.

It was the software for diagramming where I have had quite a bit of frustration. I first thought I would use a CAD program but quickly realized that the steep learning curve on this would get in my way of designing. So I went looking for diagramming software and found numerous examples of this. But the only one that was specifically suited for my purposes was a $150 piece of software, which was well out of reach for me.

I tried numerous free packages but they all seem to have limitations or difficult to use features. I have settled on LucidChart's diagramming software for the time being. It seems the least objectionable of the packages I have tried. The free version does limit you to 60 items per drawing which is a bit small, but so far I have been able to work with this limitation. I will have to eventually pay for the more advanced version when I want to create more detailed drawings, but this particular software works on a non-contract subscription basis, so I should be able to subscribe for the time I need to do the final work.

In the following image, you can see the first example of my attempt at a wiring diagram. This is still pretty simplistic, and may not be completely accurate. It doesn't use industry standards for wiring either. Some of this is a limitation of what I have available and some of it is simply my lack of experience in this area. For example, having no experience with outboard motors, I am not yet sure if this is accurate, but I will eventually determine what is accurate and the drawing will be modified appropriately.

One of the great things about using software to do this is that it is relatively easy to go back and "tweak" designs as needed. I fully expect to have to do this and I won't finish working on these until I am completely satisfied that they represent what I am after and comply with all the appropriate standards.

In other news, I have ordered the bronze hardware needed to restart construction and I expect to receive those items after Thanksgiving. I will then have enough materials to keep me occupied while saving for the next lumber purchase sometime in January.

We've had some fairly cold weather here this last week, so winter is definitely arriving and with it, the number of days I can use epoxy will be reduced. However, I expect there will be days when I can do some gluing. It will feel good to get back to hands on construction. All of this waiting has been frustrating.

So until next time, take care.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Continuing The Build But In A Different Direction

As I have previously written, I am in a continuing start and stop mode as I save for necessary materials to continue. I get enough to buy the next item, it gets bought, and then I continue saving for the next item after that. Unfortunately, for now, all of these items are inter-connected in the sense that I need certain items which I haven't bought yet (i.e. bronze hardware), in order to continue using the materials I have already purchased (lumber and plywood).

This is frustrating to say the least and I wish that I had though of this possibility earlier in the year. I expect to be able to get the hardware by the end of the month which will allow me to start building again, but I may have difficulties with the epoxy because of colder temperatures. Fortunately, living in central Texas, we have much milder winters generally and can even have days that get up into short sleeve weather.

So in the meantime, so that I don't feel like I'm accomplishing nothing, I have been concentrating my efforts on the planning portions for later stages of construction. At some point, I will need to begin working on the top side of the boat. There is quite a bit of work involved in that besides simply fitting and installing components.

One of the bigger projects is designing the electrical system  and determining placement of components to keep the balance of the boat correct. In order to design the electrical system, I need to know what I am going to put in the boat. In order to know that, I need to do some planning and research. So I will be doing that over the next several months.

The balance of the boat is very dependent upon how heavy particular items are and where they are located in the boat. The traditional way (as far as I know) of handling this is to take each items weight and determine what it's weight moment is given a certain distance from the center of balance. There is more to this subject and I will cover it at another time, but suffice to say that weight moment is how much weight is applied by a given item at the location it is placed at. Think teeter totter.

Anyway, each item is placed on the boat and it's respective weight moment is calculated. The goal is to balance the sum of the weight moments on each side of the center of balance. This can be done on paper, but can be tedious if items need to be moved around a lot to get the correct balance.

I have elected to create a small software program to allow me to keep an inventory of weighted items. The items (such as batteries, motor, fuel tanks, etc) are added to the inventory along with their distance from the center of balance and their weight. Distance is measured horizontally, vertically, and athwartship (side to side) from the center of weight of the item to the center of balance point on the boat.

The software will then automatically calculate weight moments and show the balance of the boat. I also plan on making it possible to easily move items virtually to see how the balance is affected.

This is the plan for the software, but the implementation is another story. I have been working on this for approximately a week but still have a ways to go before it is useful.

Finally, this last week, a friend from one of the builder forums I frequent, sent me some interesting photos and links of a different boat design that uses an outboard bracket in lieu of an internal motorwell to free up space in the aft cabin. This basically places the outboard motor another 2 feet aft of it's original location with a subsequent increase in it's weight moment. It is this idea that prompted me to begin working on the balancing software since if I elect to use this idea, I will need to find a way to balance out the boat .

I am very intrigued by this idea and I would very much like to have the additional space in the aft cabin, but it does present a few challenges. In addition to the added weight aft, it extends the boat's length beyond what I can fit in my garage as I build. I am still considering the idea and trying to come up with options so the jury is still out on whether I will do this or not.

I'm sorry there are no pictures this week. I don't think a picture of me hunched over a computer keyboard would be very interesting or useful. The photos of the outboard bracket idea are not mine and I have made a conscious decision to avoid using other's photos on my blog. I can however, provide a link to some of the photos.

So I guess that's it for now. 

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Work Continues On The Keel And Battens

Since the last posting, I have also purchased the plywood for the transom and have begun fitting all the battens as well as the remaining keel part. There's actually quite a bit that has occurred since last Saturday. Even before last Saturday, I managed to get in some checking of the structure

So I will start with that. Since this structure is made from many individual parts, one of the challenges has been getting all of them to be in the correct position in relation to each other. Certain positioning elements are controlled by the size of the frames. These measurements were accomplished earlier this year when I was manufacturing and assembling the frames. So when I positioned the frames on the building form, I could get some some of the position of the frame very close. This includes the vertical position of frames 1 through 5. The horizontal positions were likewise controlled by their placement on the building form. And centering the frames on the form was accomplished at that time as well.

But he correct position of the frames is only part of the process. There is always some margin for error in these designs and this needs to be worked out as you get further into the build. For example, the notches for the battens were not cut when I originally built the frames because I wasn't confident that their positions would be correct after the frames were mounted. This turned out to be a correct assumption. When I began laying out the positions of the notches, using the battens as a guide, I could see my original marks were off somewhat. I'll go over this more in a minute.

One of the processes I went through was to recheck the alignment of the frame sides and bottom edges by using a temporary wood strip. I wanted to insure that when I eventually add the actual structural members in place, that they will follow a natural curve without any dips or bumps. The following series of photos illustrate this process.

One thing to notice in the third photo is how the wood clamped in position is slightly high from the corner of the frame closest to the viewer. This particular frame is the transom frame and this offset is significant as I will get into a bit later. But as you can see in the photos, the temporary wood strip follows a nice curve around the various places it was clamped. This tells me that in general, I have the frames in the correct position side to side (athwartship).

After I got the mahogany board last Saturday, I cut the remaining keel part from it and fitted it into the keel notch on the frames. I had already spent quite a bit of time on the fit of the keel which I have covered in previous articles. The key point is that the keel needs to be straight from frame 4 aft. Not level, but straight, so that a straightedge set on the keel will show no gaps. This will also come into play a bit further into this article.

There was enough mahogany to cut two 16 foot battens for the bottom of the boat. I will eventually need more material to make the other battens, but I could use these existing parts to set the notch locations for all the battens. The transom frame already had notches cut when I made the part earlier this year. I had measured similar distances on each frame when I was assembling them. But I did not cut the notches for the reasons mentioned earlier.

I laid the batten in potion on the frames and used blue tap to mark the locations for the notches. As mentioned previously, these positions were slightly different from the measured marks.

I started cutting the first series of notches for one batten. This was accomplished using the router and the same tooling I used to cut the keel notches. After I cut the initial notches, I placed one of the battens into position to see how it fit.

This is were I ran into some issues. The battens, like the keel, need to be straight in the aft end of the boat. I checked the batten for straightness using a straightedge and found that there was a significant bow in the batten as it went from frame 1 to the transom frame.

This concerned me quite a bit and I spent several days trying to figure out what was wrong. The keel seemed to come into the transom frame perfectly flat, but the battens did not. This made me wonder if the frame was shaped wrong on the bottom. I measured various elements of the frame, and double checked it's position based upon measurements given on the plans. Everything seemed to be in order. So what was the problem?

If the keel would have been bowed as well, then I could have moved the transom frame up a bit and this would have corrected the battens. But this didn't seem to be the problem. This was mistake number one. I didn't actually attempt to move the frame up to see what would happen. I simply assumed that moving it up would throw the keel off.

I will digress for a moment to talk about my trip to Houston yesterday. I needed to get plywood for the transom skin and after considering all my options, decided to get it in Houston. But before I left yesterday morning, I took another look at the alignment of the keel in relation to the transom frame. I found that if I raised the transom frame 1/8" and added a 1/16" shim in the keel notch at frame 1, that the keel was still flat. Yes!!

So I went to Houston, a very long drive, and purchased my plywood. By the time I got back, I was too tired to do anything on the boat.

But today, I went out and looked at the transom frame again. I saw that I could indeed move the frame up 1/8" and it would correct the issues with the battens at the same time. If you look at the transom frame in the area of the notches, you can see an approximate 1/8" gap in every notch. All of the battens in the photo as well as the keel are straight . The gap shows how far up the pieces must be raised in order to get them to be straight. I also sighted along the notch edge of the frames, lining up the edges of frames 3 through frame 0 and I could see that frame 0 was low. Remember the third picture at the beginning of the article where the wood strip didn't quite line up with the corner of the transom frame. That is further proof that the frame was too low.

So I am satisfied that my concerns about straightness have been resolved. I spent some time today cutting more batten notches. I still have some more work to do on these and hope to finish up this task tomorrow. But here are some photos showing the results on one side. Remember that the wood shown in the notches are not the final battens (since I don't have the material for them yet). One of the pieces shown is too short and doesn't reach the last notch.

After I complete the notches, I will be making mock ups of the chine and sheer parts so I can cut the notches for them in the transom frame. This is because I will be removing the transom from the building form and adding the skin using the plywood I just purchased. I will also take the opportunity to raise the position of the frame when I eventually re-install it on the building form. Since the notches on the transom frame will be covered on one side by the plywood, I need to have them cut out before I add the plywood. I will be covering that whole process at a future date.

I still need to save up enough money to purchase the bronze screws to connect all these parts together, but I have enough work for now to keep me busy for a few weeks. By then I can order the hardware and begin putting parts in place permanently.

So until next time.................

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Still Alive But Waiting

I wish I could report on a bunch of progress being made. But other than saving some of the money I need, I haven't been able to do any additional work on the boat. So this blog entry is just to let readers know that I am still here, still alive, and still very much determined to continue.

On a progressive note, I did purchase one piece of lumber this morning, enough to complete the keel and make some of the bottom battens. I will be driving to Houston, next weekend and picking up lumber for the transom. This will give me enough material for about a month's worth of work. However, I still need to buy bronze hardware which will require another month before I have enough funds for that, sigh!

I did get an opportunity to share my build with two friends. Other than with my neighbors, this is the first time I have been able to show off the work done so far. It was nice to spend time discussing the build . One of my friends brought his father along who has experience with boat building as well as sailing. He discussed some of what he had done with me . It was fascinating to hear about his efforts and to hear of other methods of boat building.

I want to thank my friends for coming by and visiting. It made my day today. It also made it much easier for me to get that 16 foot piece of  lumber.

Take care and hopefully the next blog entry will have something more substantial to write about.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Additional Keel Work And New Look

As I mentioned in the previous posting, work would be slowing down for awhile while I save additional funds for more lumber. Fortunately, work hasn't come to a complete standstill. I've been using the time to adjust the fit of the keel and the stem. The keel lies in notches cut into the apex of each frame and into a notch cut into the stem. It will be bolted to the stem with two 3/8" bolts and attached to the frames with epoxy and wood screws. The following picture, although an earlier picture that doesn't show the final cuts, shows how the keel lies in relationship to the boat structure.

What needed to be adjusted was the the height of the notches, both in the frames and in the stem. The end goal is a two-piece laminated keel that is flat from the transom to just aft of frame 4. It is imperative that it be flat in order to not introduce instability into the handling of the boat at higher speeds.

Since the keel, frame notches, and stem(and it's associated notch) are all interconnected, I had to play around with various aspects of the fit. This included simulating different depths of the notches, re-positioning the stem vertically, checking and rechecking the height measurements I took several weeks ago for the stem, and insuring that enough wood remained above the notches to provide a complete resting space for the skins after I eventually fair the hull structure.

Readers will remember that the hull structure must be faired (shaped) in order for the plywood skins to lie flat on the structure. This next picture, again an earlier version during test fitting, shows how the parts must be larger than the notches.  When the fairing is completed, all of these parts will flow smoothly into one another with no gaps or high spots.

So the goal of fitting is to get the flat keel that I am after while insuring that adequate material is left for fairing. One of the items I wanted to insure was that the stem was mounted correctly in the vertical direction. When I made these parts earlier in the year, I made rough measurements for the slot in frame 5 to accept the stem. It turns out, after carefully studying the plans, that this slot was 1/2" too deep! This in turn made it seem that I didn't need to cut much of a notch in the top of the stem.

This next picture shows that. You can see the stem fits all the way into the slot on frame 5 and the notch to accept the keel is approximately the same depth as one piece of the keel. Remember that the keel is actually two of these boards laminated one on top of the other. This meant that nearly all of the second keel would have been faired away at this point. Trying to cut the notch deeper would have caused the keel to bow unacceptably further aft. I would have also had to cut the notch in frame 5 too deep.

In order to correct this I needed to absolutely establish the length of the slot in frame 5 to insure that the stem was in the correct vertical position. I took the plan measurements for the height of the frame, subtracted all of the measurements except for the distance from the slot closed end to the top of the floor timber to get the distance from the stem top (bottom in the photo) to the floor timber edge. This was supposed to be three and one half inches but was actually 3 inches. So I added a 1/2" shim in the slot and started rechecking the fit of the keel. After this re-positioning, things looked much better.

I was now able to cut a deeper notch into the stem and have adequate keel material remaining even after fairing. And the bow that would have been introduced otherwise went away. I am somewhat embarrassed by this mis-measurement of the slot depth, but I am glad that I found it before gluing everything together.

So this morning I glued in the shim and I will be cutting some water drainage cutouts in each frame notch.

For now, that is where I am at. When I get some more pictures, I will post them as well.

One last thing. I have been working on an alternative color scheme for my boat. Sometime ago, I decided that an all natural wood finish was going to present a maintenance requirement that I was not prepared to accept as I got older. Namely, having to sand down and re-apply varnish on a 2-4 year basis. I also felt that the additional wood on the hull would add weight that I didn't really want. It would also add considerable cost to the boat. After a lot of deliberation, I decided that I would rather have a painted hull and reserve the natural wood finish to the cabin and deck.

So I worked on many variations of paint schemes, rejecting many and keeping others. Eventually I settled on the one that now adorns the top of the blog page. It is a combination of white and blues on the hull with natural wood sides on the cabin and some additional white paint on the cabin roof. I wanted something that was going to look good with the additional height I had in mind for the cabin. I hope you like the final result.

So with that, take care.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Keel Work

Today ended with a successful attempt at scarfing two piece of mahogany together for the keel. More on that in a few minutes.

Since the last update, I've been working the few remaining items I can work on before having to spend additional money. As mentioned in that post, I am in savings mode to buy additional lumber at the end of October. So I am only doing tasks that use items and materials on hand.

Before I get into that, I wanted to show a picture of the boat as seen from outside my garage. I like this picture primarily because you get a good sense of scale. For me, this is pretty exciting as I can easily visualize the final product.

One of the first items to install on the frames after mounting them to the form is the keel. The keel is comprised of two 1" by 4" pieces of mahogany that are mounted at the very bottom of the boat and run from the transom all the way up to the stem. These pieces are laminated together and the combination is stronger than a single thicker piece of mahogany, Essentially this is the backbone of the structure.

In order to mount these to the frames, each frame must have notches cut into them.What's important about these notches is that they must not be too deep. What will eventually happen when the skin is to be applied is that any excess material must be faired away. The frames are angled on the bottom surface and come to a point at the apex. You do not want any gaps here after the keel is laid in and later excess is faired away. So the keel must be laid in so that there is still keel material at the apex. This is somewhat hard to visualize but the next picture shows how it should look after the notch is cut to the correct depth.

Notice how the keel does not go below the edge of the notch on the sides. Instead it protrudes up a bit. When the keel is later faired to match the frame profile, there will be material all the way up to the apex of the frame. Each frame's notch depth is different, but the end result should be that the keel follows a straight path across the frames. In reality some of the forward frames are somewhat lower so the keel will have a slight curve near the bow. My suggestion to other builders is that careful attention be paid to this area before accomplishing the work because other boats will be different.

I could have cut these notches using a variety of methods to remove the material. I chose to use a router which required a router jig. This next picture shows what I came up with. It is essentially two pieces of wood  that clamp on opposite sides of the frame. It has stops to control the amount of cut to each side. Depth is controlled by gradually adjusting the router down, taking into consideration the previous discussion about notch depth and continually checking before cutting away more material. The jig must be centered on the area to be removed and must be lined up with the same notches on the other frames. Remember, ultimately the keel will be laid in these notches and must follow a straight path to the bow..

The keel, as mentioned earlier, is two 1" by 4" pieces of lumber. It needs to extend from the transom frame to approximately 9" into the stem. This distance is nearly 17 feet. The longest piece of mahogany I had is 16 feet long. In order to get the extra length, I need to glue two pieces together. This is done with what is called a scarf joint. Essentially, the two opposite ends are cut at complimentary angles and then glued together. If done properly, this joint is very strong.

This next picture, of a couple of scrap pieces of plywood, shows the type of joint I am talking about. This particular photo was taken during the process of developing the scarfing jig and the pieces don't fit exactly as they should. When I got to the point of performing the scarfing cut on the keel, I had the process worked out so that the joint was correct.

The scarfing jig is simply two angled pieces of lumber attached to a board. The distance between the angled parts is the same as the width of the part to be scarfed. The angle has to be a certain amount determined by a ratio that is applied to the thickness of the material being cut. The recommended ratio for 3/4" to 1" boards is 1:8. Other thicknesses have different ratios. You simply multiple the second number times the thickness to get the length of the angled surface (hypotenuse of the future triangle shaped piece of wood). Using some math and some help from the Internet, I calculated the skinny angle to be a bit over 7 degrees.

The next picture shows the jig after the angles are attached to the board. They extend off the board because the end of the board is where the end of the scarf cut is made and the angle must be higher than the thickness of the material being cut.

The router is set on these angles and it's depth is set to cut so that the edge of the material at the end of the jig is very thin (essentially matching the angles). You can see the scrap plywood in the previous photo after it has been cut. The important thing to remember here is that you should do this in several passes rather than trying to cut everything all in one pass.

Not seen in the previous photo is a mistake I made subsequently to this last picture. The excess angles were cut off the scarfing jig. This was a mistake because it made it more difficult to keep the router level when cutting near the edge of the jig. You'll also notice I had to make a wider base plate for the router so that it could still be supported when cutting near the edges of the boards.

After completing the scarf cuts on both halves of the keel, it was time to glue them together. It is important here to insure that the two parts are straight with each other. The scarf joints must be fully seated or you will end up with the two boards offset in height from each other. After applying the epoxy, the boards will tend to want to slide away from each other. I found out about this the first time I tried to glue up the keel halves. The resulting joint was offset and worse, it wasn't even pressed completely together. The following picture shows the failed method I used on the first attempt.

The two cinder blocks on top were insufficient to press the two pieces together firmly enough. I also had too much epoxy applied which further held the two parts of the joint apart. And I couldn't see that the parts had slipped.

Fortunately, my two keel halves are long enough that I could cut out the bad joint, create new scarfs, and re-glue a second time. For the second attempt I clamped the two keel halves to their supporting cinder locks to prevent them from moving. I also used clamps and a scrap piece of wood to put enough pressure on the joint. And I made sure that I didn't put as much thickened epoxy on the joint. Note, it is important to get sufficient epoxy in this joint and you do not want excessive pressure on the joint.

By carefully and slowly applying pressure to each clamp, I was able to get the parts glued together without the two haves sliding apart and keeping the two halves straight in relationship to each other.  There was still a tendency for the two pieces to slide apart even though they were clamped . This is because the cinder blocks I was resting them on would rock slightly. I had to compensate for this and be careful when clamping the joint together.

The final result, after the epoxy cured is shown in the next picture. I haven't cleaned up the glue yet, but the parts are scarfed together correctly and the height of each half is correct in relation to the other (no offset). The boards are straight and lined up side to side as well.

I now have a keel piece that is approximately 21 feet long. When I get the remaining lumber next month, I will make the second keel piece. It is important to install the keels so that the the scarf joints for the two keel pieces are separated by at least six feet. That is why I made the keel longer than the 17 feet I actually need. This way I can slide it fore and aft to keep the two scarf joints away from each other. I'll cover that more fully in the future.

The only other work I've accomplished is to complete work on the knee. It is assembled and fully encapsulated. This part will eventually join the keel to the transom frame. This will be covered in a future posting as well.

As always, these pictures and others are available for viewing in my construction gallery available through the link at the upper right corner of the blog page.There are multiple folders of pictures organized into main tasks so that you can see like work grouped together.

My usual practice is to put all the newest pictures in the folder called latest photos until I create the next blog article.At that point some of those pictures are used in the blog and all of the pictures are moved into the appropriate task folder in the gallery.

So that is it for now. There won't be much more for awhile until I get the lumber. I don't have the hardware yet to attach the keel or the stem and won't be doing those tasks until after I get the lumber. About the only remaining task is to cut a notch into the stem to accept the keep pieces. So I ask patience while I save the necessary funds to get more material. Take care.