Clipper's Vera Cruise Build

Clipper's Vera Cruise Build

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Short Update

As is sometimes the case, projects have to take a backseat to other things in one's life. That has been the way it has been for several weeks now, so the amount of work on the boat has slowed to a crawl. This is not necessarily a bad thing since I am in saving mode for more lumber and I will need several months before there's enough saved. So the few tasks I have that I can work on will last longer.

Of course, this puts pressure on my goal to get the hull flipped by next summer. But I have completed a few things. Rather than getting into the mundane aspects of these tasks, I'll simply list them and include the new pictures.

Up first, the breasthook has been glued up and encapsulated. The breasthook connects to the top forward end of the stem and provides a place to anchor the sheer longitudinal pieces to the stem. It has not been attached yet. That will have to wait for the stem to be permanently attached first. That task is waiting on some notches for the keel to be cut in the stem and frame 5.

 I also have been working on the knee. The knee will provide a connection between the keel longitudinal and the transom frame. Basically it passes the load from the transom to the rest of the structure.  That piece has been cut out, and glued up, but not yet encapsulated. The third photo shows the glue up after two members have been glued together, however, there are actually three pieces laminated together in the final piece.

And finally, I've started working out how to cut the notches in the frame members for the keel and the battens. The next picture shows an early rig to do this on the transom frame.

However, this approach didn't work so well. The surface needed to keep the router steady is insufficient. So I am formulating an alternative jig to perform the task. I still plan on using a router, but the jig will need to provide more surface area for the router to ride on.

This coming week I will be encapsulating the knee and hopefully getting back to the notches. I'd like to get to a point where I can immediately begin adding the keel and battens when I get the lumber. There are seven notches per frame and five frames to add notches to, so that will take a bit of time to accomplish.

So that's it for now. I'll try to get enough work done so that the updates aren't too short.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Analysis Of Current State Of Affairs And An Update

This last week has been spent mounting the frames to the building form. I'll cover that in a moment. There will be some pictures later in the posting as well.

 During this last week, I kept running up against things that needed me to spend money in order to accomplish. Since I was fairly busy with other aspects of my life, I refrained from going out and spending any money on the boat.

This got me to thinking about where I was headed and what I was going to be able to accomplish. One of the biggest hurdles I have to moving forward right now is lack of more lumber to continue building the structure. Readers may remember that I am building this boat out of mahogany and marine grade plywood. Both of these are quite expensive (especially the plywood), so in the back of my mind has been this desire to save enough money to make the purchase.

This is not as simple as it sounds because I have to make a four drive to Houston in order to get the lumber I need, so there is the cost of the trip to add into the cost of the lumber. Furthermore, since it is a long trip, I am inclined to want to get as much lumber as I can when I go there. That means I need to save more money.

But here's the rub. I am continually working on the boat on the remaining things I can do and all of these keep taking money. Usually smaller amounts, but nearly constant and it's been difficult to get the savings going for the lumber.

So today, I sat down and started analyzing the current state of affairs. I had several goals with this analysis. First, I decided to limit myself to what I can reasonably expect to complete by next spring. I wanted to see what I had left that I could do without spending any money (or spending very little money). I wanted to try and determine what I did need to buy. I also wanted to determine what I wanted to accomplish in the next 6 months and what roadblocks / dependencies where in the way of accomplishing those tasks.

The list of no cost / low cost tasks is fairly short but probably enough to last a month or possibly two. The list of tasks dependent upon money or other tasks was longer. Most of the dependencies came down to a need for more lumber and hardware. The list of purchases needed mainly consisted of lumber and hardware, with a few hand tools and lots of clamps thrown in.

All of the non lumber purchases are dependent upon more lumber in order to make use of them, except for a few pieces of hardware. The silicon bronze hardware I need is fairly expensive and has to be ordered online (thus there are shipping costs involved). I feel that I need to order all of that hardware at the same time to avoid paying too much for shipping.

I reasoned that buying the hardware now just so I could accomplish a few minor tasks would not be worth it at this time because it would further delay getting the lumber. So for the next several months, I am going to concentrate on the no cost tasks and try to save as much money as I can . I hope to make the trip to Houston in late October or November to buy the lumber.

So for most of the remainder of this year, my updates will consist of the smaller tasks I have to accomplish. Some of these will be more significant than others and I will try to make the articles as interesting as I can.

As for the update, I have finished mounting all the frames to the building form except for frame 6 which mounts to the stem, The stem is not mounted to the form yet but I have got it fitted and partially ready to go. Unfortunately, mounting the stem permanently is one of those tasks dependent upon other tasks  or money.

The transom frame is mounted to the building form but will have to come back off before final gluing of all the longitudinal pieces of the structure. This is because the transom still needs to be completed (adding plywood, encapsulating). Again, one of the tasks dependent upon money.

Mounting the frames primarily consisted of adding wooden cleats (small blocks of wood) and connecting them to the frame and the building form. The other task was adding a brace across the open end of the frames and connecting this brace to the building form as well.

The following photo shows the cleats. The frames appear to be mounted securely and there is no movement, but I am not totally sure about the strength of these cleats. I may go back and replace these with something a little sturdier.

The braces across the open end, were nice straight pieces of pine connected to the vertical members of the frame and connected to the building form legs. You can see that in the next two pictures.

Frame 5 (one of the two frames I dressed up several months ago), already has a cross member that will eventually form the roof of the berthing area at the bow. Since this will be visible in the cabin, I didn't want to drill any holes to brace it. Instead, I clamped it to the building form. The frame is still mounted to the form using cleats, only the bracing was handled differently.

The stem needs to be mounted so that the forward upper section (where the breasthook eventually will attach) is a certain distance down from the reference line on the building form. The reference line is the tops of the long horizontal boards making up the building form. Since the stem extends quite a distance beyond these horizontals, I needed some method to get the height down to the breasthook.

What I did was mount a laser level on a tripod and shot a line over an extended piece of the horizontal members of the building form. I had to insure that the laser was level and the same height as the horizontals. I did this by moving the laser up and down until it rested right on the top edge of the form. I then then rotated it so that the line was projecting on the far wall where the stem was. I marked that line on the wall and insured it was level.

I also took measurements from various points on the floor and building form and compared them to the measured height of the drawn line. I wanted to insure that I had projected it to the correct location. Once I was satisfied with that location, I measured down 40 inches and drew another line. This 40 inches is the distance indicated on the plans for the front forward piece of the stem.

I added some scrap wood to support the stem at that line and then set the stem in place o see how it looked. I had to add the breasthook part under the stem (triangular plywood piece under the stem in the photo).

Because of the previous encapsulation work down on the stem and frame 5, the stem would no longer fit into the slot cut out for it on the frame. So I had to do some cleaning up of the epoxy resin and a bit of widening in order to get the stem to set in place correctly. You will notice that parts of the stem stick up above the frame. That is intentional as all of this will be faired later in construction to provide a nice flat mating surface for the plywood skins. The gaps in fitment are to allow some room for the thicken epoxy that will be applied when these parts are glued into position.

So that is it for now. I feel pretty good about the progress made over the last two months and hope that the delay from saving for lumber will not prevent me from making my goal of flipping the hull next summer. Take care .

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Positioning The Frames

With the building form finished, I could finally get to positioning the frames on the form. The frames need to be in specific positions measured fore and aft, up and down, and side to side. They also need to leveled in relation to each other and square to the building form (except the transom frame which is mounted 12 degrees from vertical).

The building form was constructed so that it's two long horizontal members were level with each other and the legs on one side were aligned with the legs on the other side. I also made every attempt to keep the form square. Readers will also remember that I had to level the form in the garage. All of that was necessary in order to make this next step possible.

The steps I went through with each frame were essentially the same, with minor variations to fit each frame's situation. First I would establish the height of the frame on the form as well as the correct distance from the front of the the form.

The long horizontal members of the building form are used to establish the height for most of the frames. Only frames 4 and 3 (and the transom frame) were different. Frames 3 and 4 were mounted on the legs 3 inches higher than the rest of the frames.

The distance from the front of the form was established when the legs were added to the building form. The frames rest up against the legs (or in notches for frames 3 and 4) which automatically set the correct distance fore and aft. Of course, part of the process in positioning the frames is to insure that these height and fore/aft measurements are correct and do any compensating as needed.

The next photos show the two different ways of mounting for height. The frame on the left is essentially mounted at the level of the horizontal members of the building form, although this particular frame is actually setting on a crosspiece between the two horizontal members. It is also mounted flush with the end of the form, establishing it's fore and aft position.

This photo shows frame 4 mounted on the leg 3 inches higher than the other forms.

All of the frames were built in such a manner that when they are mounted on the building form, the bottom of the boat will be the correct contour. In other words, the inside edge of the frame (or  the inside edge of the floor timber) is the reference point for the frame.

Once the mounting height  and fore/aft positions were established, I needed to insure that the frame was centered in the form. The form was as square as I could make it and the distance between the horizontal members was 24 inches (outside to outside). But to insure that the boat itself was centered correctly, I took all measurements from the same horizontal member.

Each frame has a given measurement from a centerline to the outer edge at the tops of the side frame members. This is where the sheer will eventually be mounted. In order to get the frames centered, I used a drop string from a measured point on the building form. A horizontal bar was clamped at the measurement points on each frame and a centerline established on the bar. This line was then aligned with the drop string.

This is why it is important that the building form be level in both directions, because otherwise the drop string approach would not work as it would be hanging at an angle in relation to the building form.

After getting the frame centered, I insured that it was level in relation to the form by using a level lying on top of the horizontal bar. In order for this to work, the bar had to be aligned to the same points on opposites sides of the frame. I used the sheer points for this.

The final step was to insure that the frames are 90 degrees to the building form when clamped into position. 

Throughout this process, I continually checked all measurements and adjusted where needed. When I was satisfied with the frames positioning, I clamped it into position. I did not permanently mount it at this stage of the process.

Each frame went through this process. The transom frame was a bit different in that it needs to be mounted at 12 degrees from vertical. This required that I rig up a different method of hanging the drop string. You can see that in the next photo. It is the two short horizontal pieces attached to the bottom of the building form horizontal members.The drop string drops from a board lying across those two short members.

The transom frame is not completed at this point, requiring two sheets of 3/4 inch plywood which I am in the process of saving for. So I have to make allowances for the fact that it will be taken back off and completed when I get the plywood.

In the next photo, all the frames have been positioned and clamped into place.

The final step in this process is to test the alignment of  the frames to each other. I did this by using a 16 foot long batten  clamped to the transom frame and then placed into position around the frames up to the forward frame 5. This was done at several points on each side and several points on the top (the bottom of the boat).

What I was looking for was any place where the batten was forced out of a natural curve by a frame being out of position. I was also looking for any spots where the batten was significantly away from the batten, in other words a low spot. You do this after the batten is clamped in position by sighting down the length of the batten and look for fairness of the curve. You can see this well in the next photo.

 As mentioned, I did this at several points on the frames. here , the frame near the sheer points is being checked.

So this process took me quite a few hours to accomplish, primarily because I made some mistakes along the way and had to go back and redo some work. But I also wanted to insure that the boat was going to be built right. After completing this process, I am satisfied that the boat will be even and the correct shape. A lot of work, but worth the effort.

This coming week, I will permanently mount the frames to the building form and then start getting the stem and frame 6 into position. I will cover that in another blog article. So until next time, take care.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Building Form - Corrections

It's been really hot here in Austin for the last month. Working in the garage, even with the portable air conditioner going, can get pretty uncomfortable after a while. Add to that a need to spend a bunch of time working close to the floor, and this older man's body start's complaining. It gets easy to find excuses not to do something or to take longer to accomplish a specific task. Add to that my normal tendency to delay when I am unsure of something and you end up not seeing a lot of work completed. That has been August.

But I am glad to say that I am 95% completed on the building form structure. I have to add a few more pieces of cardboard under the structure to protect the garage floor and I may add a few diagonal braces on some of the legs, but I feel like I can now begin mounting boat parts to the form.

Along the way, I had to make some adjustments. The form required additional leveling and I found that my original plan for attaching the structure to the floor was inadequate. I had started off with "L" brackets mounted in the center of four of the legs and attached to the floor using concrete expansion bolts.

These were fairly easy to install, I started out buying predrilled "L" brackets already bent. These are the same types used in house construction. They were fairly expensive at a bit of 4 dollars apiece. I had to increase the hole sizes to accommodate the hardware I was using.

Using the "L" bracket, you mark the hole in the concrete and then  drill a small hole of the required size into the concrete using a rotary drill hammer (rented from Home Depot) and a concrete drill bit (also rented). Then concrete expansion bolts are hammered into the hole.  The "L" bracket is mounted to the expansion bolt and then the bracket is screwed to the building form legs using lag screws.

Anyway, these original four brackets were not sufficient to keep the form from being rocked side to side. So I went out to buy enough brackets for each leg to have two brackets. That would have required an additional 8 of those 4 dollar brackets. Pretty pricey!. Fortunately, I happened to notice some straight straps that were also pre drilled. I determined that I could bend these to a 90 degree angle in my bench vise. They were only a bit under 2 dollars a piece.

I moved the original brackets to the sides and added the additional brackets so I ended up with two per leg on all six form legs. This was much better and the form now cannot be rocked from side to side.

I also wanted to protect my garage floor from epoxy resin drips when I get back into the build, so I've added cardboard to the floor, held in place with duct tape. Needless to say, this required a bunch of time on my knees and they are complaining as a result of this.

However, as mentioned, the form is now ready for the next phase of construction. Here are a few updated shots. The first two are earlier shots but they give some sense of the amount of workspace I have. It looks like a lot in the photos but with all the frames added, the garage is somewhat cramped. The wall with the yard tools is pretty close to the boat structure. There is enough room but just barely.

The remaining shots how the completed structure. In the first photo you can see a long horizontal piece near the floor going out towards the wall. This will be where the stem mounts when it is added. There will be more on adding the frames and boat structure in a future blog posting.

About the only remaining thing I want to do is add a bit more cardboard in the center on the floor and add a few diagonal leg braces on some of the legs. The structure is pretty stiff but the braces would remove any remaining flex.

The next step will be to start mounting the boat structure to the form (finally!!). That requires leveling, measuring, and other activities which I will cover another time.

Take care.