Clipper's Vera Cruise Build

Clipper's Vera Cruise Build

Monday, May 26, 2014

A Few Different Views and An Update On The Sheers

Since Tuesday of last week, I have been trying to spend some time daily working the sheers. This typically involves 30 to 60 minutes a night so the amount of work getting accomplished is not tremendous, but it is another set of steps towards the final goal.

After the glue up of the port sheer second lamination, I got the sheer glue lines mostly sanded down. I didn't do much to the bottom edge (the eventually top edge) because it's difficult to do and it's better to wait until I have the boat turned over. Mainly I knocked down any sharp glue squeeze out so people won't cut their hands when we turn the hull over.

The other edges were cleaned up however. I also spent some time cleaning up the joints on the frames where the sheer and the chines are attached. I will eventually be sealing all these joints with a small amount of epoxy, mainly as a safeguard against an water intrusion through possible tiny openings in the existing joints.

I had to pre-bend the first lamination of the starboard sheer and then lengthen the part using a scarf joint. That was accomplished Thursday and Friday. Yesterday, I started attaching the starboard sheer first lamination. Like the port side part, I am going to glue it to each frame and the stem first, one joint at a time, until I get to frame 4. This allows me to make small adjustments in the fit at these difficult joints.

The breasthook joint was done first. It was held together with a couple of screws and a single clamp since my clamping jig turned out to be a bad idea,

Since it's raining cats and dogs today, I cannot scarf join the second lamination. So I will continue working the smaller jobs such as continuing to fill other chine and sheer joints at the frames. There's also some encapsulated areas that have a few epoxy runs so I will be smoothing these out.

The job of fairing the hull structure so that the planking can be applied is rapidly approaching. To refresh the reader's memory, fairing is the task of preparing the hull for planking by smoothing down all the parts of the structure that prevent the skin from being laid down flat against the gluing surfaces.

An example of this is the forward edge of the stem, which is still square in cross section, but needs to be triangular. Other examples are the forward edges of frames 4, 5, and 6 which will need to be removed and blended into a nice curve following the body lines.

And of course, the chine, keel,  and sheer edges will have to be blended into smooth lines following the frame contours. This process is fairly intimidating and I will probably spend quite a while doing it. The end result will be that the plywood skins will have smooth mating surfaces for all the attachment points.

Anyway, before applying the skins, I want to finish off a variety of small tasks besides fairing, including the seam filling mentioned above. I'll probably wait until all the fairing is completed before touching up any encapsulation that is sanded away during this cleanup.

Finally, I thought I would show a couple of shots of the boat from a different perspective, namely from inside the structure. What readers never see, but which happens somewhat often , is me sitting inside the structure imagining myself in the boat. This sort of dream building helps to keep me motivated.

What's interesting to me when I do this is the distance from the helm position on the boat and the bow. I can picture a time in the future when I will be operating the boat and looking over the long forward section. Anyway, if reader's don't see see this in the following photo's it's quite understandable, but for me, being so intimately involved in the construction, well, it's quite easy to visualize. The first photo was taken with me seated approximately where the helm station will be located (fore and aft). You can see that the bow is quite a distance from this point.

The second shot shows a view looking aft from frame 5. This is approximately where the extent of the sleeping berth will be, and again, you can see that the aft end of the boat is a good distance off. Of course, distortion makes this look further away, but, the boat is fairly long and I am sure it will be an impressive site when sitting in the water or on a trailer. Can't hardly wait!

So that's the extent of the work done this week. The pace may slow for a while because I have to spend quite a bit of money on the plywood skins as well as buy a few additional tools for fairing. Also, the fairing process itself is fairly mundane from a viewer's perspective, but I will try to find something interesting to post about.

Until next time, take care.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Sheer Work Continues

Getting the sheers on the boat should have been easier than adding the chines. After all, the wood is thinner and more flexible. Steaming was easier because less mass needed to be heated. Curves created through steaming held their shape better than that of the chines.

But instead, the sheer presented their own challenges. Let it be understood that I am not complaining here. Rather, I am remarking on the necessity of adapting and working through problems and difficulties as they occur.

This particular process started off well. I had steamed a second piece of lumber and bent it. It fit pretty good around the breasthook, and when I added the extra length via a scarf joint, I was able to easily bring the far end around to the boat.

The first challenge I noticed was that the angle of the breasthook sides and the notches made it difficult to line up the sheer between the breasthook and frames 6 and 5. But by clamping the wood to the breasthook, I determined that I could work in stages and get the wood to line up. Therefore I decided to glue the first lamination to the breasthook only, and then over the next several days, glue the lamination to single frame points. This would allow me to take advantage of the rigidity of the already glued on sections and adjust the loose end as I went.

I accomplished this first glue up and then proudly displayed the photo for all to see. Pride hit number 1; a friend on the Glen L builder's forum pointed out that the sheer appeared to be too far forward. If I were to have continued and glued the second lamination on at this point, it would have extended out past the breasthook.

In other words I had missed that I needed to have the sheer set back enough so that when the front of the stem was faired at an angle, the line from the faired stem would flow into the sheer. The way I had it mounted would have required me to remove nearly all the second lamination at the front of the boat. Of course this was unacceptable.

Examining the problem for awhile, I realized that the breasthook itself was mounted too far forward on the stem. This looked like a disaster of major proportions and I was quite upset about this for an evening. But later after examining it some more and with the suggestions from the friend on the forum, I elected to cut the forward side of the breasthook back the necessary amount (about 5/8 inch).

First I had to cut the glued on sheer away from the breasthook. The Bosch multi-tool I recently purchased was perfect for doing this as well as cutting the breasthook back. After accomplishing this I hit the forward face of the breasthook with a belt sander to smooth it out. I could now reattach the sheers to the breasthook and they would be set back the correct amount.

Of course, the breasthook is now smaller and I intend to reinforce it on the back edge after the sheers are all in place. I will be laminating a solid piece of mahogany to the back edge of the breasthook between the sheers. This should effectively restore any strength lost when I trimmed the forward edge.

So I re-attached the sheer to the breasthook and over the next three days, attached first frame 6, then frame 5, and then the remaining frames to the aft end of the boat. I adjusted the sheer each day as I attached it to another frame. The following photos show a bit of this process.

In the first photo, you can see the sheer attached to the breasthook. I tried my clamping jig but it broke as soon as I applied pressure with the clamps. So I ended up using wood screws to hold the sheer in place while the epoxy cured.

In the second and third photos, I am using the straps and the clamp to impart a slight twist to the sheer in order to get it to line up with the notch in frame 6. Between frames 5 and 6, the only difficulty was having to pull up on the sheer and holding it there while the epoxy in the notch of frame 5 cured. The straps helped here as well.

The remaining connections were straightforward and accomplished on the third night.

What remained to do was to re-steam the second lamination for the port side (because the original steamed wood had somewhat straightened out). I also extended it with a scarf joint. I wanted to insure that the scarf joint of the first lamination was not in the same place as the scarf joint on the outer lamination. So I made the joint on the second lamination further towards the bow.

Unfortunately, I thought I could trim the aft end of the second lamination before placing it on top of the first lamination. I simply placed it in the notches on the starboard side and made a cut beyond the end of the transom figuring that there would be more than enough excess.

Pride hit number 2:  What I failed to consider was that the second lamination had to travel a longer curve because it was on the outside. So when I clamped it into position over the first lamination, I came up short of the transom by a good 6 inches. I ended up splicing in a second shorter piece (again using a scarf joint) so that the part was long enough.

Now the weather in the Austin area is rather warm and we are already hitting 90 degree days . I knew that if I tried to glue up the second lamination at the end of a warm day, that I was going to have problems with the epoxy curing on the forward parts of the sheer before I had completed attaching the aft portions.

So I elected to get up early this morning (3:30 AM) and accomplish the glue up before going to work. I had repaired my broken clamping jig and had everything ready to go this morning. However, the jig broke again and I was forced to use wood screws to hold the front of the sheer in place.

 Now the sheer is supposed to get wood screws so adding them now is not a problem, But having to contend with the broken clamping jig slowed me down and I was already worried about getting everything done before the epoxy began to cure.

But the rest of the process went smoothly. I would apply thickened epoxy to approximately 6 feet of sheer at a time, and then clamp it into position. Then I moved on to the next section until I reached the end of the boat.

I initially only applied clamps in strategic locations to hold everything together until I was done applying epoxy. Then I went back and added clamps every 6 inches. There were approximately 60 clamps in position when I was completed.

Afterwards, using a couple of tongue depressor sticks, I scraped off most of the glue that had squeezed out. By this time, the epoxy at the forward end was already setting up and was somewhat difficult to scrape off. Nonetheless, all of this was accomplished by 5:45 Am and I was able to get to work on time.

This evening I removed the clamps and the sheer is ready for sanding and general clean up. Over the next several days, I will be repeating the process on the starboard side (hopefully avoiding any more mistakes).

I am starting to get close to the point of initial fairing for the side planking. I won't go into that now other than to say that it is another of those steps that I am dreading, especially at the bow where the stem curves downward.

I wanted to apologize for the lack of photos in this posting, but there isn't much to the process of attaching the sheers.

At any rate, I now have one side completed except for some clean up and you can really see the shape of the hull. This is easily viewable in person , but unfortunately, not so easy to show using photos because I cannot get far enough back from the boat to get the entire hull in the shot.

So until next time, take care.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Chines Completed, Continuing On Sheers

The last two weeks have been mostly about fitting longitudinal pieces, namely the remaining work on the port side chine and more work on the port side sheer (first lamination).

The chine didn't disappoint me. It was every bit as difficult to get into position as the first one was. The difficulty was compounded by the lack of space on the port side of the boat. But after working it for several days, I got it glued into  position.

Everything appeared to be going well with the fit. I had made the stem / chine angle cut as shown in the next photo and did last minute test fitting. It looked ready to go. I had trimmed the back end of the chine to the length needed to fit into the transom. Again, everything appeared ready to go.

The chine was glued into position struggling with every notch. Like the first chine, I glued it in stages so that I could avoid rushing. This worked out well and allowed me to make adjustments as I went. But when I got to the front of the chine and started clamping it down (after applying the epoxy), I could see that that the chine was going to be a bit off compared to the other side. The difference isn't great and I can correct the difference when I get to fairing later on, but I wasn't happy about it.

Although not as perfect as I had hoped it would be, I can work with the problem and correct it. But needless to say, I am glad to be done with the chines. I was sure that the sheers would be a breeze.

I still had to cut notches on the port side of the boat for the sheers. Just as a point of reference, the port side is currently the side against the wall. The notches are close to the floor and have to be cut upwards when using the saw. Fitting myself in the space, trying to get the notches cut correctly and sawing upside down made for a purple cloud or two that day. However, perseverance paid off and I eventually got them all cut.

The next step was to steam a second piece of sheer lumber so I could pre-bend it. I already had one bent, but the bend on that was not as tight. I decided I would use that piece for the outer lamination. The reader may remember that the sheers are made from two laminations. The outer lamination will not be required to be as tight as the inner lamination.

Compared to the thick lumber used for the chine, the sheer lumber was much easier to steam and bend and that was accomplished in short order. Like the chines and keels, the sheers require a scarf joint so they can be made longer. I had decided earlier in the build to pre-bend the sheers and then add the extra length. This gave me some leeway for fitting the part in the garage while doing the bending sine I didn't have to contend with the extra length.

Because of the curve in the part, I was able to add the extra length in the garage rather than having to perform this action outside. But as you can see in the pictures, it just barely fit. I used a 1 to 12 ratio on the scarf joint similar to the chine.

In case this process is unfamiliar to the reader, I will briefly go over it. A scarf joint gains its strength by having a large surface area for the joined surfaces. The length of the diagonal cut is the larger of the ratio numbers times the thickness of the wood being joined. My sheers are 5/8 inches thick or 0.625 inches. With a 1:12 ratio, that means that the diagonal should be 12 times 0.6.25 or 7.5 inches.

Using Google, I found an angle calculator that would give me the angles needed for the cut. This worked out to slightly less than 5 degrees. So I cut two pieces of scrap lumber at 5 degrees to make a place for the router to slide on as I cut the joint. These pieces were screwed down to a board on both sides of the sheer and everything was clamped down.

Then it's a simple matter of running the router up and down the angled pieces, gradually increasing the depth of the cut until a sharp edge is made on the end of the lumber. The second pieces is done similarly so that you have matching angles to glue together.

When gluing the parts together, you have to insure that the parts stay straight with each other and don't slide apart. I insured they wouldn't slide by clamping both pieces down first. The I gradually applied clamping pressure making sure to keep the two pieces aligned with each other.

Once the scarf joint had cured and the glued lines cleaned up, I got back to installing the first port side sheer lamination. The added length made the part harder to work with and highlighted some minor discrepancies with the sheer notches. These were corrected. But then I found that trying to get this long part into position was very difficult. I knew from past experience that trying to rush this and do it all at once would lead to mistakes and frustration.

So I elected to glue the front piece only. This is the part that is attached to the breasthook. Once this epoxy is cured, I will glue the sheer to the remaining notches.In order to get the sheer to clamp to the breasthook I had to come up with some sort of clamping jig because of the angle of the breasthook.

My first attempt at this was unsatisfactory but would be sufficient for steaming and preliminary attachment. The final clamping jig I made is a mirror image of the breasthook.

It has legs to hold it at the correct height so I don't have to fight with it when trying to clamp the springy sheer into place. It also has a small notch cut into the clamping surface so that can initially clamp the part (using my first unsatisfactory clamping arrangement).

The process went like this. Clean and glue up the mating surfaces, Place a cinder block under the far end of the sheer to get it somewhere near the correct height. Use the initial clamp to get the part into position.  Get the part aligned correctly and use one wood screw to hold the part in place. Then use the clamping jig and three clamps to clamp the part into final position for curing. I removed the initial clamp because it was in the way for one of the other clamps.

Once this epoxy cures, I will then finish gluing to the other notches.That is where I am at as of today. I will need to extend the second lamination using a scarf joint and then glue that lamination to the first part. That will have to be done all at once and require a bunch of clamps. I knew from my experience with the keel that I did not have enough clamps so I went out yesterday and bought 18 more.

I will cover that process next time I post. Take care.

Update late in the day 5/11/2014: After doing this work, it was brought to my attention that the sheer appeared to be too far forward. Actually the breasthook was too far forward. There would have been insufficient material on the stem to fair correctly into the sheer.

After beating myself up for awhile and agonizing over two possible solutions, I elected to take the plunge and correct the problem. One solution would have added additional material on the front of the stem and required that to be blended into the breasthook and sheer. In the area I had to work, this would have been very difficult to accomplish.

The other solution was to trim material off the forward edge of the breasthook and re-glue the sheer. Of course this require removing the already glued on sheer. Fortunately, I have a very useful tool, a Bosch multi-tool that made this fairly easy to do and caused very little damage to the parts. After a bit of clean up and trimming of the forward breasthook edge, I glued the sheer back into position and it is now correctly set back.. I will have to trim the opposite side of the breasthook as well.

An unfortunate mistake, but at least it was found now and not later when it would have been much harder to correct.