Clipper's Vera Cruise Build

Clipper's Vera Cruise Build

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Building Form - Continued

It's been over a week since my last blog entry and I had hoped to have more progress on the building form completed. I had been delaying doing a blog entry for that very reason. However, things being what they are, progress slowed while I worked on other things (including re-arranging my garage so I have more working room on the boat).

Form construction this week basically involved correcting the issues found in the trial run, adding some bracing (but not all yet), and leveling the form. I have determined that I can mount the form to the garage floor rather than make it movable. This has been my preference all along, but I had to remain open minded about the possibility of adding casters. There appears to be sufficient room on both sides (not a huge amount, but doable).

As you can see, the legs are now on the inside. This photo doesn't show the aft most legs since they hadn't been installed yet. It turned out that the horizontal assembly on the left side of the picture was mismeasured. Each leg (except the first)  is supposed to line up with a 36" mark, starting from the end closest to the viewer. I did this correctly on the closer horizontal assembly, but on the other assembly, I started measuring the 36' from the first legs mark, which is 3/4" from the end. Thus all the marks were off by this amount. So that had to be corrected.

 Next step was to install the remaining rear most legs (where the transom mounts). These have to be mounted at an angle of 14 degrees (plus or minus 1 degree). At first I was a bit confused where to line the leg up horizontally, but a careful look at the plans seemed to indicate that they would line up 3/4 inch forward of the last 36 inch mark using the bottom edge. In other words, if you imagine the transom frame as being 3/4" and lying flat on the angled legs, then the outside edge of the transom frame would line up with the 36" mark on the lower edge of the horizontal member. The horizontal members are then cut flush with the legs.

As you can see, the legs don't reach the ground because of a step in the garage floor. This was a mistake on my part since I had measured their length based upon calculations for a finished height and because I had forgotten about the step. In other words, I forgot the rule measure twice, cut once!

Not a huge problem as it turns out since the garage angles down towards the opening from the back wall, and the entire assembly had to be leveled up . I ended up adding leg extensions after I got the entire assembly level (more on leveling in a moment). This is where my inexperience, and occasional lack of patience caused me to have more work than necessary. If I had reread the information I had about building the setup form, I would have seen that the process was to make and install the legs to the floor first, then install the horizontal members level.

As for leveling, well, the form needs to be level fore and aft and side to side. Fortunately, I had paid a lot of attention to the constructing the two horizontal assemblies and they are level side to side at all points on the form. The fore and aft leveling was accomplished by lifting up the transom end and placing wood scrap under on set of legs until the fore and aft level point was reached. Then the previously mentioned leg extensions were added.

So if I had to do it over, of course I would do it the way the instructions mention. It would have been easier. But the good thing is that I was able to adapt to the situation and correct it. And I was reminded of the need to slow down and think things through more before moving on to the next task.

After getting the extensions on, I could finally see where the form would fit in relation to my garage. I alway knew it would be close, but seeing it in person drove home just how close it is. The next two photos show the front and aft ends of the boat. You can see just how close they are to the back wall and the garage door. With the great weather we have here in Austin, opening the garage door to work on the transom is usually no problem.. And I think I will be able to work with the front end since it will be relatively narrow there.

Still to do is add another set of braces on the lower portions of the legs, add a horizontal member that extends forward (to mount the forward part of the stem to), and secure the form to the garage floor. I will probably also add some additional cross bracing on each side between the legs.

But before I do any of that, I will have to complete the task of rearranging the garage. One of the previous photos showed my air compressor which will have to move. I'm in the process of adding additional ceiling storage so that I can get stuff off of the floor. A sad fact of modern homes is that garages are no longer made for full size automobiles, hence they are limited in storage capacity. Add in lawn equipment (mower) and space gets cramped quickly. I'm still trying to work out a solution to this that doesn't require building a shed in the yard.

That's it for now. I don't expect there to be a lot of progress over the next several weeks since I have gotten to a point of having to make a fairly large purchase of lumber and will need to save some money to do so. 

For anyone that is waiting for me to post another entry, I apologize for the lack of interesting material. I will therefore probably spread the blog entries out a bit from time to time from now on for this very reason. Take care.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Building Form Trial Run

Over the last several days I have been slowly getting the building form together. I had purchased some of the lumber and hardware last Sunday. The reason for not buying all of the lumber was because I was unsure if my plan for a movable form would work out. I reasoned that at the very least I would need the two long horizontal members and legs to hold them up. I could add the additional bracing, casters, and other pieces after I had done some of the initial work and had a chance to look it over.


The previous photos show one half of the main form. The horizontal piece is 16 feet long, but will be a bit shorter when finished. The assembly is made from 2" by 6" framing lumber. I took care to find the straightest pieces I could get. The legs are bolted to the horizontal member using 5/16" bolts. This is because of two reasons. I want the structure to be strong enough to support the entire weight of the hull (around 1000 pounds) and take the stresses of assembly. I also want to easily remove the legs when it comes time to flip the boat. I estimate the building form will weigh somewhere around 150 pounds so I can make the task of flipping easier if I can shed some of the weight of the building form.

I decided to do a trial run of putting the frames on the form. There were a few reasons for this. First, if the legs turned out to be too long, I could shorten them. Having the frame mounted on the form allowed me to see this relation more clearly. The legs are 8 inches longer than the plan calls for because I want to be able to get under the boat during assembly and the original plan would have had the boat to close to the floor.

The second reason for the trial run was to see if there were any other issues. Getting the form to stand up while attaching it to the other form was difficult because of it's weight but with some cinder blocks for support, I managed. I temporarily clamped the two pieces together. Later they will be fastened together and additional bracing installed.

The pictures show frames 5 and 4 setting on the form. Not immediately apparent are the problems I found when I did this.

This picture shows frame 5 setting on the end of the form. The plywood floor timber is barely resting on the horizontal form member. I will have to add a cross piece between the two horizontal members for the floor timber to rest on. Also notice that the leg sticks up higher than the curve of the frame. More on this in a moment.

Here is frame 4 setting on the form. The form legs have small steps cut into them that the floor timber is supposed to rest on. Notice however, that the frame side piece is resting on the step instead.

What is apparent from these previous two photos is that the legs of the building form should be on the inside of the horizontal members. This will correct the leg outside the frame curve in the previous picture and will allow frame 4's floor timber to rest on the building form leg's steps.

Fortunately, since I only temporarily clamped the two form assemblies together, I can simply swap them from side to side and the legs will then be on the inside.  Otherwise I would have had to remove each leg and reinstall it on the inside.

However, there is another problem that will require repositioning  of two legs. The legs of the form are supposed to lineup on 36 inch measurements so that the frame members are in the correct position. I made a mistake in measuring one oft the legs marks and it is either an inch short or an inch long (I haven't determined yet). This also means that the next leg is also off by the same amount. The next photo shows the offset.

None of these problems is hard to correct, but I am glad I found them before permanently connecting the form assemblies together.

Finally, just to give some idea of much room I have to work with on the far side of the boat, you can see in this following picture that the distance between the frame side member and the wall is around 2 and a half feet. I will gain a bit more because the building form is not in it's final position yet. Also, the plan is to have casters on the form so that it can be slid sideways if necessary. I will be playing that by ear since my preference is to have the form mounted to the floor rather than moveable.

It's been very hot here in Austin for the last several weeks, so I am only able to work in the garage for about 90 minutes before needing to take a break from the heat. So all of this is going a bit slow. However, I feel that the slowness is probably an asset in this case because it allows me more time to think about the process.

Once I get the form together, the boat frames will be bolted to it . They will need to be aligned and leveled so there will be some trial and error fitting involved. For me, though, the cool thing is that I can begin to see the boat taking shape. So until next time..................

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Getting Started Again

Recently, I've become aware that I had reached a crossing point in my boat build project. I had completed work on the structural components and knew that the next step was to begin assembly of the boat itself. I had gotten very comfortable with the process of working on the frame assemblies. It was quite easy to go out to the garage and do some part of the process such as applying a coat of epoxy.

This crossing point was similar in a way to when I had made the decision to build the boat early last summer. I was all excited about the idea and had purchased the plans. After I received them, I started realizing the magnitude of what I was about to embark on. My mind went into overdrive and started worrying about this detail and that detail. It became quite easy to come home from work, sit down at the computer, and spend an evening “researching” rather than “building”.

I’m talking about the process of getting started, also commonly known as getting over procrastination. Like most humans, I have ideas about what I would like to do. It’s quite easy to go the next step in this process, namely finding out more about it. What is not so easy is moving on to the constructive phase.

There are some rare individuals, who can take an idea and immediately begin putting it into execution. Perhaps they suffer from self doubt and procrastination as well, but they manage to shove these issues aside and get going with whatever endeavor they undertake.

However, I believe that many people are like me in that they get an idea, look into it, and then have difficulty moving beyond that point. Often this process is subconscious. We’ll find something else that “has to get done”, or we have doubts about our ability to do something and so we figure we have to “plan for it”, or perhaps we feel that we “don’t have enough tools”. Maybe “life gets in the way”, as it often legitimately does.

It’s been said that getting started is often one of the hardest parts of doing any project. What I would like to talk about are some strategies that have worked for me in the past to get beyond the start.

The first thing that anybody beginning a large project like a boat build should do, is to understand that it is going to take time to do it. That means that the person needs to have some degree of patience. If one can be patient with the process, then it is possible to use another strategy, namely breaking the project down into smaller pieces.

I think that people probably instinctively do this, but then get bogged down in this “thinking stage”. So it is necessary to develop some form of plan to continue moving forward. What works for me, is to look at the first thing I want to accomplish, and make a list of 20 to 60 minute tasks. to start making it happen.

For example, one of the requirements for my boat build is to build a structure to assemble the boat on. In my case, this structure needs to be movable because of size limitations in my work area. It also has to be fairly strong because it will carry considerable weight and be subject to stresses from various operations. This structure is fairly complicated and I spent a bunch of time “thinking about it”, which was a necessary task, but then progress stopped.

To get it going again, I figured out the minimum amount of material I needed to begin building, went to my lumber supplier, and bought the wood and hardware. Not enough to complete the structure, just enough to begin. These were two separate 60 minute tasks.

Additional short tasks involve measuring out cut lines and rearranging my garage. I try to do things I can get done quickly, rather than planning on spending hours and hours trying to get through some phase. This allows me to go out there every night and “make some progress”.

This has the benefit of allowing me to build momentum, which is crucial to getting started. I can accomplish my task or set of tasks, and go to bed knowing that I've moved forward. I also know what I am going to do the next evening when I get home.

I've used this process over and over and after a short time I find myself engrossed in whatever process I am involved with. Before I realize it, another phase of the project has been completed. Then I have to ”get started again”.

So what do you do if you don’t have enough tools” or have “serious doubts about your abilities to do this”? Make a list of short tasks. It doesn't matter what they are, so long as they are something that moves you forward, even if it’s only a very little bit.

Don’t have enough tools? Then take a serious look at what you have to do and ask yourself, if you really need any tools to actually start. Maybe all you really need is a pencil and some carbon paper. Doubt your ability to do the task? Then, find some part of the task that you can do AND do it. The important part here isn't the actual task, but rather the momentum you begin to build by doing it. Make sure you have a list of tasks you can do initially so that you can keep going.

Finally, I’d like to say that none of this is promoting rushing into something you can’t do, or moving too quickly, or failing to plan. These are all important, and procrastination has it’s place. It keeps a sanity check on our activities. Just don’t let it get in the way if you’ve made the decision to do something. And remember, start with baby steps, but keep stepping and build momentum. Soon you’ll be fast walking, and before you know it, you’ll be at your destination, or at least the next way point in your trip.