Clipper's Vera Cruise Build

Clipper's Vera Cruise Build

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.........

Click Here To Comment:

  1. Hey Carl,
    I completely caught up on your blog the last couple of days and also read a few other blogs and a bunch of information on boat building, and I can honestly say that you are the most meticulous, and well thought out boat blogger that I can find. Your attention to detail amazes me and is something I hope to strive for. I look at how precise and careful you are with everything and know that for me, that kind of patience will be a struggle, but one I'll have to overcome since the quality of your product is amazing so far. And I expect that you will continue to treat this project with the patience and respect that it deserves. I'll definitely be continuing to follow this as you continue your work.

    I am now trying to convince my wife now that I should start building a boat, this is posing some problems as I always have a ton of ideas of things that I want to do, and I just tend to lack a lot of the money to do them. I really like your idea of extending this out several years to be able to afford it without accruing debt along the way. I'm hoping that, along with being able to incrementally purchase things, will allow me to get far enough that my wife will be fully supportive. :)

    I am moderately curious as to a ball park of how much you have invested in your boat as of now as well as how much you think you'll have into it by the end. I have almost zero experience with boats and boating and am trying to get a rough idea of what I'm looking at as far as overall cost is concerned.

    After measuring my garage, I've narrowed my choices down to two, the LazyDaze and the Raven, although I'd like to do some modifications to the styling of the boat to give it a more classic / retro look. I'm 6'3 so I was looking for something with a bit more headroom, and I'd also like something that will sleep up to 4 so it will accommodate my future kids. :) I believe that the LazyDaze will fit my design style better, particularly if I can find a way to increase the deckhouse head room 2-4 inches.

    Anyways, I have been rambling for a while this morning. I'll leave it at that.


    1. Hi Sean,

      Firs off, I want to say I appreciate you following my blog and I thank you for the compliments on it's content and my abilities and patience. I can tell you that there are other builders out there that are far more talented than me. I elected to do this blog because I had seen other detailed bloggers and was equally impressed. This particular boat does not have much in the way of existing material to look at so I hope to fill in that gap.

      Building over a period of time is the only way I can possibly afford to do this so it seemed the natural thing to do. Like you I have almost no boating experience, however I believe that many people end up getting rid of their boats because they have enormous payments in addition to insurance and the cost of running the boat. I wanted to eliminate the payments part by paying as I go.

      As for costs, well that's pretty hard to estimate because I am still quite a ways off from completion. Every builder's cost will vary considerably because of choices made for lumber, supplies, and equipment. For example, new outboard motors can run as high as 15k or used ones can be had for as little as 1000 dollars. The size and year of the motor is also a factor. If you elect to build an inboard design, motor expenses can run even higher because of the extra equipment needed. The lumber (from what I gathered), is fairly constant and represents about 20 to 30 percent of the cost, but again it depends on what type of lumber you use.

      Epoxy is a large expense. You'll almost certainly use more than the amount included in the kits.

      Marine grade plywood comes in different grades and can be quite expensive per sheet. I paid 170 for one sheet of 3/4" . Admittedly it is top quality.

      I looked at the designs you mentioned and they look like they would work for a family. However, there is so much about choosing a boat design that I couldn't possibly cover it all here. My recommendation to you is to visit the Glen L Marine builder's forum (see the link in the sidebar) and begin following what other's are doing and saying. There are many experienced builders there and they are willing to provide information if you ask. I spent nearly two years on that board before I finally decided on my boat.

      One thing I now know though. My original estimate of 2 to 3 years was way too low. I figure I might have it ready to into the water in 2 more years but it won't be fully finished even then. As for my estimate of cost, well I once thought 20k at the end. That still seems doable to me, but cruisers require more equipment than speedboats. 20K will only happen if I rebuild my own motor. If I buy a new one (and I won't be doing that) it will easily cost another 10K. The designs you are looking at are larger than my boat so they will probably take more time and money.

      All that being said, I want to leave you with this. Do what you want because ultimately it's your boat and your dream, but please take plenty of time to think this through because it is a long term commitment. It is definitely doable, but you have to go into it with eyes fully open!

      Good luck.

  2. Hi Carl! Congratulations on getting the first part of the keel laid down!

    I know what you mean about the roadblocks and obstacles. Sometimes the interruptions seem endless, I know. Still, EVERY PART of the process is necessary & essential. So, even completing seemingly small tasks are real and measurable progress. I have to remind myself of this, as I'm in a rather monotonous planing & sanding stage right now. All of these steps add up, and at some point you will launch this boat. That is an accomplishment few people can claim - and you're gonna do it.

    Getting this keel down is a major milestone on one heck of a boat! Congratulations!


    PS-The plastic wrap on the scale worked great. I actually used a freezer bag. Thanks for the tip!

    1. Thanks Mike. I learned the saran wrap trick when I used to do composite work for United Airlines.

      I ran into one of those roadblocks the other day. One of the keel to frame screws snapped off before I could finish setting it. Bummed me out for a couple of days. Tonight I used a screw extractor and manged to get it out.

      So now I can sleep tonight!


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