Clipper's Vera Cruise Build

Clipper's Vera Cruise Build

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Keel Completed, Chine Started

Really, the title is a bit of a misnomer as there was very little left to do on the keel and I've only just started initial fitting of the chines. But it has been a while since I posted and the next round of work is going to be a lot of trial and error fitting with little to show, so rather than delay the next article, I am providing this short update.

All that remained to do on the keel was to add the hardware that fastens it to the frames, the stem, and the knee. The frames were fastened using #14 3 inch wood screws. The holes had to be recessed so that the screw heads are below the level of the keel. This is because eventually this surface will be faired at an angle to match the frame contours and I needed to insure that the screw heads would not be sticking up too high after the fairing.

I didn't have any good way of determining how deep to recess the heads other than to eyeball the angles of the frames and try and visualize where they would meet in the thickness of the keel. Then I recessed the holes slightly below where I though that angle was.

I learned a quick lesson in the application of these screws. All of these need to be pre-drilled and I did so, however, the drill bit was a bit on the small side. When I attempted to screw down the first screw, it got most of the way in and then snapped off!!

I had to break out a trusty screw extractor and after some effort, I managed to remove the broken off screw. I then went back though the hole with a slightly larger drill and was able to install all the remaining screws with no problem. One additional step I took was to place a small amount of epoxy resin in each screw hole before putting the screw in. This helps to seal the hole and the screw. After getting it into place I added an additional small amount over the screw head to completely seal it.

The stem and knee are fastened to the keel using the 6" long 3/8" carriage bolts and a matching washer and nut. I had previously drilled the holes in the stem and knee before attaching the keel and simply had to back drill through these holes to make the holes in the keel after it was installed.

Like the screw holes, the bolt heads also need to be recessed. The heads in the stem area are especially at risk of sticking up as quite a bit of keel will be faired away in this area. I bought a 1" Forstner bit to recess the hole. This simply cuts a 1" hole. I didn't want to drill all the way through, simply a small amount to provide the recess for the bolt heads.

The Forstner bit uses a centering point when drilling. This would normally cut into virgin wood as the larger hole is being cut. However I already had 3/8" holes in place. I needed some way to give the Forstner bit a centering point to bite into. What I did was temporarily insert 3/8" dowel rods into the holes before drilling. This worked great.

The knee bolts fit just fine and I quickly had them into position and tightened down. Like the screws, I applied epoxy resin on the bolt holes and around the bolt heads.

The stem bolts were a bit of a problem. Because of the notch in the stem and the recess for the bolt heads, the bolts were too long and when pressed all the way through the holes, I had smooth shank material showing in addition to the threaded  portion of the shank. Ideally you want little or no smooth portion showing so that when the nut is tightened down, it doesn't hit the end of the threads before tightening up against the part.

The amount of smooth shank was too much to cover with washers. Good mechanical practice says that a maximum of two washers should be used with one washer being ideal. So I had to buy a tap and die set and add additional threads to the bolts. With smaller bolts this is not usually too hard, but these 3/8" bolts were fairly tough to add threads to. Fortunately they are bronze rather than stainless steel so the material is not as hard.

After these bolts were inserted and tightened down, they had excess threads showing past the nut. I simply sawed off the excess using a hacksaw and then cleaned up the ragged end with a file.

The final step in the process was to restore the encapsulation at various places on the frames, stem, and knee using fresh epoxy resin. This was accomplished and I could call the keel complete until I return to do the fairing.

Tonight, I started on fitting the chines. Readers will remember that these are the long horizontal members that connect the middle frame corners together in a similar fashion to the keel. This will be a fairly extensive process requiring cutting notches in the frames to accept the chine, making the chine members longer by scarf joining two pieces of lumber together, steaming and bending the chine to match the contour of the boat and fastening it into position. I will cover all of this as I get to it.

For today, I simply contented myself with seeing how the chine would fit and making the initial lines for the first frame notch cut. These notches are not simple straight cuts into the frames, but rather are cut at various angles to match how the chine meets up the frame. So each notch will have to be fitted, cut, fitted some more and cut again (if necessary) until the correct fit is established.

It is important to install the chine so there is excess material to fair away afterwards. This has to be taken into account when making the frame notches. The next photo shows approximately what this might look like. You can see that the side and top edges of the chine will eventually be faired away to match the shape of the boat so that the plywood skins lie flat against all pieces.

As mentioned previously, there are several angles to consider for each notch. The next  photo illustrates an example of this. The chine will have to be cut so that it mates up to all the various angles or alternatively, the frame notches will have to be cut so that they mate up properly to the chine. Fun!!

I'm using a variety of long pieces of lumber including the chine lumber (the larger piece in the following photos) and the cedar batten I purchased last year. Mainly at this point, I am making sure that the chine won't have to be bent downwards to meet up to each frame corner. Bending inwards is fine and expected, but bending down would be a problem meaning that the frame was in the wrong position vertically.

This is where all that effort fitting the frames last year comes into play.The cedar batten confirmed that the frames are correctly placed.

So that is it for the moment. I mentioned this process is going to be lengthy with little to show for the effort. But I will try to find interesting sections to include in the next posting. Until next time, take care.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Keel Installation - Part 1

The installation of the keel is one of those tasks that I have been waiting to accomplish for a long time. It converts a collection of parts (the frames, stem, and transom) into a single part (the primary boat structure). To be sure, there are other parts of the primary structure, namely the chines and sheers. These are also significant milestones and I look forward to accomplishing them.

But the keel holds special significance to me because of the  connection of parts that it represents. Therefore, this week when I completed gluing the keel into position, I spent some time pondering where I was in 2012 and where I am now. Admittedly, I had hoped to be much further into the build by now, but things being what they are, I am not. However, I am thankful that I have been able to continue making progress even when it appeared that every possible roadblock would try and prevent me from doing so.

Such roadblocks are still making themselves felt, and I won't go into the details of them. But I will continue to make every effort to move forward in the build, even if it is only a small step such as sanding down some epoxy, or installing carriage bolts for the keel.

So what did I manage to accomplish this last two weeks? Primarily gluing the keel into position, and getting the glue lines cleaned up. I still need to install the wood screws into the frames and the carriage bolts through the stem and knee. I'm hoping I can get to those this coming week.

Gluing up the keel was a two step process. The keel is made from two 1" by 4" mahogany planks running most of the length of the boat. One of those was actually two slightly shorter pieces joined together using a scarf joint. I covered this joint last year. The other plank was full length as I was able to acquire a piece of lumber long enough to make this second part.

The first plank had to be epoxied to the frames. This was the plank that I had pictures of in the previous posting where I had done some pre-encapsulation of one side. Gluing this into position was fairly straightforward requiring only a few clamps. The main concern was keeping it in the correct position while tightening down the clamps.

Over the last couple of months I have been purchasing clamps when I could. Laminating the second keel member to the first required many clamps and I barely had enough. I wanted to insure that all points of the keel where adequately clamped together while the epoxy cured.

This second lamination required coating the entire surface of one of the keel members. I pre-coated it first with unthickened epoxy and then added a layer of thickened epoxy. Then I had to flip the part over and lay it down on the first keel member and clamp everything together. Since it was a bit warmer that day, I had to work fast before the epoxy began to set up. 

It was a messy job and there was a lot of squeeze out. All of this had to be at least partially wiped off or I would have had a huge job of sanding to contend with. Because of the amount of time it took to get all the clamps into position and insure that both keel members were aligned with each other, I had difficulty wiping off the remaining squeeze out as it started to harden. However, I did manage to get the parts fairly clean before this occurred. You can see in the following pictures the number of clamps I had to use.

Interestingly enough, when I get to gluing up the sheers later on, I will need even more clamps. I estimate perhaps 30 more will be needed. Thankfully, I can get these at the local discount tool store for a reasonable price.

After this second glue up cured, I then spent a few hours over several evenings, cleaning up the glue lines on the keel. I could have probably left this as it was because a portion of the keel will be faired away later on and the remaining part will be hidden under the floor, but my conscious made me take the time to do the task.

At this point, I am ready to add the hardware to add the extra bit of strength to the joints. But I need to acquire two expensive tool attachments (a tapered drill and a larger router bit) before I can continue. Once the connecting keel hardware is in place, I will be moving onto the chines.

The chines are the fairly thick longitudinal members that connect the frame corners together. These parts are curved around the frame corners and take a fairly severe curve at the bow where they connect to the stem. Getting these to bend like this is almost a guaranteed breakage of the wood unless something is done. That something is using steam to soften the wood fibers.

I will go into this process more when I have accomplished some of it, but the basic process is placing the wood into some sort of chamber and adding hot steam to the chamber for a period of time. This causes the wood to become more limber and much easier to bend. I am looking forward to this experience as it represents something I have never done before.

I will have to join the lumber for the chine into longer pieces as I need approximately 23 foot long pieces for these. This means I will be using scarf joints as I did with the keel . The fun part will be getting the long pieces to fit in my 21 foot garage!

So until next time, take care.......

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Preparing The Keel For Installation

I decided to post today's blog article because I am running into a few delays getting the keel installed. I had originally hoped to complete that process and cover it all in one article. However, things being what they are, I am still not quite ready to do so.

The delays are due to several life events including getting sick once again, and cold weather on the days when I actually had the time to do work.

The transom was nearly ready to re-install when I last posted. It needed a few more encapsulation coats. I ended up giving it an extra coat because the first three didn't seem sufficient. Even then, I found some edge areas I missed and will have to go back to before too long.

The next step was re-installing the transom to the building form. I had made efforts to try an insure that it went back in exactly the same position as it was when I took it off back in December. I had already gotten it to the point where the keel and battens appeared to be dead flat across the bottom so I wanted to avoid having to re do all that fitting. (More on this in a minute).

The building form had to be modified to clear the extra thick motor board. Basically, I just cut a 1 inch deep notch into the back side of the building form legs. The notch was a bit longer than the height of the motor board. I also had to install a new longer support board because the original supports were in the area of the cut out and no longer matched up to the transom.You can see that here.

Also apparent in the previous photo is how the knee sets in relation to the transom and the future keel installation.

The keel notches needed to have what are called limbers cut into them. These serve to allow a pathway for any water in the bilge to reach the back end of the boat where it can be drained through drain plugs that will be eventually installed in the bottom edge of the transom in the center. Limbers are just an extension of the sides of the keel notches. I rounded over the edges of the limbers just to provide a slightly smoother surface in case there is any junk (grass, leaves, etc) caught up in the bilge at some future point.

Also, since the keel will eventually need to be encapsulated for water protection and because I felt it would be difficult to do this later after the boat hull is flipped, I elected to pre-coat most of the inside surface of the keel. You can see that in the previous photo as well as the next one. The bare wood areas are where the keel notches and the transom knee will be bonded so they will get coated when the keel is installed. The two pictures are bit misleading because the keel is flipped over from it's actual installed position. The encapsulated surface will actually be facing downward towards the inside of the boat when finally installed.

The last time I was working on the stem, I had cut the notch for the keel but had made a poor job of cutting it. I knew that eventually I was going to have to do something about this in order to have a flat surface for the keel to bond against. Most of the surface was fine but at the very forward edge and the aft edge, the cut dipped down a small amount. I fill this with thickened epoxy and sanded it smooth.

Although I don't have a picture of this, I also drilled the 3/8" holes through the knee and through the stem for the carriage bolts that are used to secure the keel to these members.

Now, as far as getting the transom back to it's original position. Yesterday, I set the keel into position and saw that I needed to do a small amount of fairing on some of the frame notches because the keel to notch junction are not perfectly perpendicular (by design). As the keel transitions back to the transom it lays across each notch at a slight angle, so I had to file the notches a bit to allow the keel to lay flat.

I also tested the flatness of the keel as it rode across the frames and into the transom. When the transom came off in December, this has been addressed by careful placement of the transom. But at that time, the knee had not been installed. I also discovered in January, that the knee was not cut to the correct 14 degree angle. I believe I mentioned this in one of those articles and that I had to sand it to the correct angle.

Well, after testing the keel again, I saw that it once again was not flat across the frames and the transom. The reason this is important is because any dips or bumps in the bottom surface at the aft end of the boat will negatively affect the handling of the boat under speed. So it is vital to get this area flat.

I had to do some readjusting of the height of the transom on the building form and also determined that I will need a small shim in frame 1's keel notch. The transom was adjusted today and the shim will be installed tomorrow.

So that's it for now. By the next time I post, I will have something that is more than a collection of parts . They will all be connected together and I will have the beginnings of a boat hull structure. Very soon, I will be tackling the chine which readers will remember are the longitudinals that connect at the middle corner of the frames.

Until next time.........