Clipper's Vera Cruise Build

Clipper's Vera Cruise Build

Friday, August 15, 2014

Bottom Fairing

Last week I finally got the side fairing forward of frame 6 to a point where I can work with it when fitting the skins later this year. The bottom fairing is the next step in the fairing process. Forward of frame 5 this is going to be trickier like it was when doing the side fairing. I don't expect it to be quite as difficult however because I spent some time getting familiar with what needed to be done when I was working the side fairing in this area.

The first part of bottom fairing was mentioned in the previous post. That was where I used my Japanese saw to cut the notches in the keel to parallel the frames. It was obvious to me from the beginning that in the area of the keel just aft of the stem (aft of frame 5), the material removed from the keel was going to be considerable. I was concerned that this could be a potential failure point in the future so I decided to add additional material on the inner surface of the keel between frames 5 and 4.

I cut a board of the same thickness and width as the keel and fitted it into position. When I was satisfied with the fit, I epoxied it into place and used clamps to hold it there until the epoxy cured. The epoxy was used on the mating surfaces as well as the ends. When I flip the boat over next year, I intend to add some bronze screws through this added material at the ends into the floor timbers on frames 4 and 5 as additional reinforcement.

After cleaning up the excess glue in this area, I used a 5/16 inch square strip of wood as a batten to draw the fairing limits on the sides of the keel. I lined the batten up at the bottoms of the notches at each frame and clamped it into position. On the forward most sections (two of them), the keel has a slight curvature. I tried to get the batten to match this curve as well as blend into the expected fairing lines further aft. I then used a fine point sharpie marker and drew lines. The aft sections were straight so no curvature was needed.

These lines represent how far down the sides of the keel I need to fair. I have also drawn a line down the center of the keel to represent the fairing limit on the very bottom of the keel (the top of the keel in the photo). You can make out the line on the side of the keel in the photo below.

I also had to fair the keel notch at the transom end. This was the same as the notches cut at the frames except that the notch at the transom is parallel to the transom angles.You can see that not much material needs to be removed in the aft section of the boat.

Before attempting to fair the keel, I decided I wanted to try a different approach than using the angle grinder I used on the sides. I bought a 9" block plane to give that a whirl. I've never used a plane before so I spent a bit of time getting the hang of it on a scrap piece of wood. When I felt confident enough, I started fairing the chine bottom surfaces. Remember that the boat is upside down so when I mention the bottom or lower surface, I am actually talking about higher up on the structure.

The chines had previously had notches cut at each frame a few months ago. I had also sanded back a portion of the bottom chine surfaces to get them out of the way when test fitting the plywood sides. Now it was necessary to complete the bottom surfaces by removing the remaining material between the notches so that the chine had a nice smooth mounting surface along it's entire length.

I only faired the chines aft of frame four for now. This is because the chine transitions into a curve and a different angle forward of frame four and I need to study this part more before fairing there. I'll get to that in the next week or two.

After fairing these surfaces I went back over them with a file to insure they were flat and then smoothed them out with a sanding block and 50 grit paper. I'm pretty happy with the results of this effort. I was able to complete the entire lower surface on both sides of the boat (aft of frame 4) in just a few hours.

The planing created quite a bit of wood shavings. I was going to simply throw these away, but my wife, ever the artist spotted them and saw something she could use them for, so I gathered up a garbage bag full and set them aside for her. The picture below shows just a sampling, but there was quite a bit more. Even without the shavings I set aside for her, I have filled two garbage bags so far.

The next step was to return to the keel and fair that down to the fairing limit lines previously drawn. I started on that a few days ago, doing one section each evening (until the mosquitoes drove me out of the garage). Like the chines, I've stayed with the aft most sections (aft of frame 4) for the moment. I've completed the starboard side and started on the port side. The amount of material to be removed is gradually less the further aft you go.

 In the last photo, you can see the keel has been faired on both sides of the center line between the transom and frame 1. Unfortunately, while doing the port side, I managed to chip off a piece of the transom plywood which will have to be repaired. I saved the broken off piece and will glue it back on later. Fortunately, the plywood is only a sub surface and will be covered with Mahogany planking after I finish installing the plywood skins.

I have three more sections on the port side keel to fair and then I will be starting on all the forward fairing remaining on the bottom surfaces. This includes fairing the remaining forward portion of the stem. This will be covered next time.

I have enough money to purchase the plywood skins but am waiting on this because I lack the room to store it adequately. I want to wait until I am ready for it so that I can use it up quickly. I am going to have to continuously move it around from one side of the boat to the other as I fit the skins.

I have a goal to finish the fairing by the end of September. It might be possible to get done sooner ( I would like to) so we'll see. But so far I have continually missed my estimates, so I am being more conservative in them now.

One final note. I've reached the two year mark in my boat building journey. It's been interesting to go back and look at the photos and the progress over the last two years. I had originally hoped to build this in three years, but I can see now that that idea was hopelessly optimistic. I am not going to venture any guesses on a completion date for now. The building of the hull has been challenging and required more work than I thought. But it has been a very rewarding two years and I am most certainly glad I chose this hobby. I look forward the coming year in which I am pretty certain I will complete the hull and flip the boat.

From what I've been told by other builders, the real fun, and the real work, begins after the flip. We'll see. I am anxious to get to that point and find out. Take care.

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