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.