Clipper's Vera Cruise Build

Clipper's Vera Cruise Build

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Working The Stem

The title pretty much says it all. This week has been devoted to gluing up, cleaning up, and beginning encapsulation on the stem. This piece is made from three pieces of 3/4 inch marine grade plywood, cut to shape and then laminated together with thickened epoxy.

The process is, coat the parts with an initial coat of unthickened epoxy, followed by a coat of thickened epoxy (before the initial coat has set up). Then lay the two parts together in the jig and connect together with bronze wood screws. As always, the holes should be pre-drilled. A few screws should be driven home to insure the parts stay aligned before drilling the remaining holes and driving the remaining screws.

It took me three evenings to sand down the glue that squeezed out. I am always careful about not applying too much pressure when attaching the parts together, but I also tend to liberally coat with resin, so inevitably, there is squeeze out. The reason it took so long is because my air compressor is inadequate to maintain high enough air pressure to efficiently run the high speed grinder I sanded with. Also, I was short on sanding discs and they tend to get dull fairly quickly when sanding epoxy.

 Before beginning the glue up process, it is advisable to have as much ready to go as possible, since the resin will want to kick off as you get near the end of the process. So I measured out and marked the screw holes beforehand. The holes near the outer edge must be far enough back from the edge to avoid interfering with future fairing of the stem forward edge.

The forward edge of the stem will eventually be where the two sides of the skin of the boat meet at the bow. The cross section of this area will be changed from square as it is currently, to more triangular shaped. This is because the forward edge will be planed and sanded down so the skins lie flat on the forward part of the stem. I will illustrate this in a future posting.

A simple alignment jig was used to keep the parts in alignment while the gluing and fastening process was accomplished. It is important to cover the area beneath the stem with wax paper, as well as the alignment blocks, so that they don't get glued to the stem. Once the parts were screwed together, the blocks were removed and some squeezed out glue was cleaned up.

Here is the stem after the epoxy has cured. Some areas of squeezed out resin were worse than others.

The sanding of the stem in progress.All edges needed to be cleaned up. I use the shop vac to suck up the dust as it is generated by the sander. This requires me to hold the hose in one hand and the sander in the other. Therefore, the part must be stabilized so it won't move. It is also important to keep the sander moving all the time so that dips and gouges aren't created in the wood.

I try to keep a fairly light touch and sand gradually rather than trying to press hard and sand quickly. I only used the high speed sander on the edges and any large chunks of resin that might have gotten onto the flat surfaces. I used an orbital sander and a light touch to clean up the flat areas so there was less risk of sanding through the plies.

In addition to the vacuum, it is a good idea to have ventilation and a respirator or dust mask to keep from breathing the sanding dust.

After glue clean up, the stem needs to be coated with epoxy like the frames. Since this area is more likely to come in contact with water, I am giving it an extra coat of epoxy. Like the frames, there is no point in coating the outside edge yet, because this edge will receive considerable planing and sanding later in the build. I am coating the inside edge, however, since little structure will be attached to that edge. In the areas where the frames are attached to the inner edge, I am only applying an initial coat of epoxy since more resin will eventually be applied there as well.

This process should take a few more days. I will also begin work on the knee. The knee is a "L" shaped brace that connects the keel to the transom. This will be described and illustrated in a later article. That's it for this week.

Friday, July 19, 2013

First Year Anniversary

Yesterday marks one year since I embarked on my boat building project. While I am not as far along as I had originally hoped to be, it has been a very satisfying journey and realistically, given the constraints I have had to work under, the progress I have made is what I should have expected.

This time last year I had already received the study plans and made the decision to build the boat. The building plans were ordered and on their way. Over the course of the following month, I organized my garage for building, including upgrading the lighting. I developed a lumber purchasing plan and made initial purchases.

From there I had to purchase a few power tools and then began the production of boat frame parts. Initially, I was tentative about cutting the expensive lumber and went slowly trying to develop my technique. Looking back on that time, I could have done things differently, but we all learn from experience and that is precisely what I have done.

There was a delay of four months, an interminable period or me, when financial reasons required me to stop. While I never lost my enthusiasm for the build, I feared that things would go south and the build would be undone. But I persevered and was able to re-start back up in January of this year.

Along the way I met some new people, two who are building the same boat as myself, another who intends to after he gets through his own issues, as well as many more on the Glen L Boat Builders Forum, most of whom are building their own boats of various designs.

This year, so far, has seen the completion of construction of six of the seven frames. Within a month I will be beginning the construction of the building form and at that point I can get the frames mounted and start assembling the boat hull.

For me, these will be exciting times. Although there have been days when I could look at the completed parts and see the boat taking shape in my mind, mounting the frames on the building form will lend a visual representation of the boat that will be undeniable. Another builder put it differently; "Holy !&%#$^ , I'm building a boat!". Thanks for that quote Andrew. :)

This week's update is rather small. I've had many other things to do and have only been able to put in a very few hours on construction. Frame 5 has had several coats of epoxy added. I still have two more coats to go on this frame and then it will be complete.

I also began gluing up the stem. Readers will recall that this is made of three pieces of 3/4 inch plywood. Two of those pieces have been laminated together as well as having bronze wood screws installed. I have yet to clean up the glue from this first lamination.

Gluing up was simple but somewhat rushed. I found a spot on the layout board and nailed down several small pieces of 2 by 4 lumber to hold the stem pieces in position. Wax paper was suitably placed to keep the stem from being glued to the blocks of wood as well as to the layout board.

Then came the rushed portion of the job. These are rather large pieces which had to be completely covered with unthickened and thickened epoxy. The unthickened resin is applied first to presoak the plywood. It is followed within minutes by the thickened resin. Since the resin will "kick off" fairly quickly in the mixing cup, I had to work fast.

I did what I could to reduce the amount of time needed to mix and apply the resin. I knew that if I simply mixed up one big batch, that most of it would harden before I could use it. I knew from past experience how much resin I could work with and approximately how long I had before it hardened.

So I filled several mixing cups with measured amounts of part "A" of the resin. All the stir sticks were ready to go. I had a foam brush (and an extra just in case) ready to smooth out the unthickened epoxy first. The silica gel for thickening was ready to drop into the mixing cups. And I made sure that I would not get any distractions once I started.

The first piece of plywood was set in place between the blocks of wood. The second piece as on the workbench, ready to go. Both pieces were cleaned prior to beginning the glue up. The second piece had also had the screw locations determined and marked on the unglued side. The screw gun was ready to go and the bronze screws were in a small pile ready for use.

The process was, add part "B" of the resin and mix up cups of unthickened epoxy (one cup at a time) and apply that cup using the foam brush. Then mix up thickened epoxy (again one cup at a time), and spread it out over the same area using a plastic spreader.

Then the second piece was placed in position on top of the first piece. I pre drilled two holes and installed the wood screws, ensuring that the parts stayed lined up. Then the remaining holes were pre drilled and the remaining wood screws were installed. Then I had to clean up as much squeeze out as I could and set cinder blocks on the assembly.

The whole process once started lasted about 25 minutes, but I felt like I was running a marathon, and it was very warm that day, so I was drenched by the time I had finished.

So that's the extent of the work for this week. This coming week I will complete frame 5's encapsulation, complete the glue up of the stem, and begin work on constructing the knee. I will explain about the knee next time, but it is a small piece that reinforces the transom.

Until next week........

Thursday, July 11, 2013

More Frame Work.................

After last week's flurry of activity, this week has been quite a bit slower. Frame work is winding down now as I complete the last work on frame 5. That work includes completing the dressing up of the gussets and some additional reinforcement work.

This frame required more work dressing gussets than frame 6 for two reasons. There are two extra gussets to deal with and I had to dress up both sides of the frame. The veneers were completed last week as well as several of the gusset end caps. I completed the remaining end caps on Sunday. Here are photos of the completed gussets. They have not been coated with epoxy yet.

The junction on frame 5 where the stem connects looked like it could use some additional reinforcing. You will recall that the stem is the curved piece that forms the shape of the bow. It will be made from three pieces of laminated plywood and will be connected to frame 5 like this older photo shows.

Frame 5 is the frame at the back of the picture and frame 6 is the forward frame. The stem butts into frame 5 and is glued and screwed into position. The picture doesn't show the floor timber but the screws will go through the back of the floor timber into the end of the stem. Additionally the entire assembly will be glued into the slot in the floor timber.

This floor timber consists of two pieces of 3/4 inch plywood sandwiching the frame members and a mahogany filler block. The following photos show the sequence of events of construction for this portion of frame 5. In the first photo the back floor timber is already in position. The filler block has been made from mahogany and fitted to match the interior section of the frame members.

A paper template is used to get the shape of the second floor timber.

The second floor timber after it is cut and sanded to shape.

All the pieces and the stem

And once again, the completed floor timber

The additional thickness of the slot will strengthen this critical junction between frame and stem. There will be other reinforcement from the secondary structure of the boat when I get to it.

Still to come for frame 5 is encapsulation of both sides with epoxy. That will take several days. I also plan to glue up the stem this week and get it encapsulated as well.

The transom frame was supposed to be the next project on the list. It still needs a sheet of 3/4 inch plywood and two gussets. The plywood is very expensive and financial concerns dictated that I wait  for awhile before purchasing this. This primarily has to do with the cost of transport. Shipping one sheet is not cost effective nor is going to get it.

Since I also need to purchase lumber for the building form and assemble that structure, I have decided to move in that direction and continue to save money for additional lumber that I will need. When I have sufficient funds, then I will purchase the lumber in a larger quantity and thereby justify the cost of getting it delivered.

So that's it for this week. 

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Happy 4th Of July

Well, here in the states, we celebrate another anniversary of our independence. This typically involves barbeques, swimming pools, picnics, and of course fireworks. In our household we will be going semi-traditional, cooking polish sausages over coals with BBQ corn on the cob and a few beers. This evening, we will most likely brave the crowds and parking issues so we can see the fireworks display our city is putting on. The show is usually pretty good with the finale always delighting everyone in attendance.

But not all of today will be in celebration. I am still on vacation this week and I still hope to get near completing the frame portion of my boat build. Frame 6 is now completed, including the wood inlay artwork and final epoxy encapsulation. I am very pleased with the decision to go with the wood inlays from Chesapeake Light Craft. Installing them was a straightforward process.

Last week I showed the process of getting the inlays ready. To complete the process, required taping off the seam between the inlay and the veneer so that resin did not seep up onto the inlay. I also taped off the edges. I used painter's blue tape for all of this because I have found that this tape comes off easily even if it has been left on too long and the resin has cured. The idea of course is to pull it off before that happens but sometimes it is not practical.

Once I had the veneer / inlay ready to go, I coated the backside and the the surface of the gusset with unthickened epoxy and then laid the veneer down onto the gusset. It wanted to slide around a bit so I secured it with several small pieces of blue tape. Then I covered the entire piece with a sheet of wax paper (wonderful stuff) and carefully laid a plywood board on top of it. Then on top of that I carefully set a cinder block. You have to be careful in these steps because the veneer can still move a little.

After the resin was cured I cleaned up the glue lines and installed the end caps made previously. After that epoxy had cured and been cleaned up, the frame was wiped down and given three coats of epoxy.

The final result, well the pictures show it best.

At a future date, the backside of this frame will get a plywood sheet to close off the forward portion of the boat. There will be an opening in the sheet to allow access to that compartment. That compartment will be were the anchor will be stowed. I haven't decided yet if the opening will have a hatch cover or not.

The lower triangular floor timber will support the berthing compartment floor and will be painted to match the rest of the bilge area, hence the reason there is no veneer on that portion.

Frame 5 is bit further behind with several veneers and most of the end caps to still install. It also has not been encapsulated yet. At this point the only photo I have that has not previously been published is this shot of the end caps. They are ready to install, but the veneers have to be installed and cleaned up first. I was hoping to complete frame 5 by the weekend but I think it may go into next week.

The only other frame to work on after this is the transom. I will need to purchase a sheet of 3/4 inch plywood before I can move forward on that. I suspect that won't be until the weekend of the 13th since the lumber yard is not conveniently located to my home or work.

So this ends this week's update. I hope all of you who celebrate the 4th are enjoying yourselves. For those of you who are not celebrating, well, I hope you are still having a good day. Take care.