Clipper's Vera Cruise Build

Clipper's Vera Cruise Build

Sunday, August 24, 2014

More Fairing At The Bow

The bow of my boat has been the most challenging area of the build so far. There are a number of reasons. First, it's a continuously changing angle around the curve of the stem. Secondly, because the chine in this area was too far inboard, it was difficult to get the fairing correct so that the two skins that meet in this area will be even. So I am going to cover what I've done so far, and what I've learned.

In the area forward of frame 6, the side and bottom skins meet at the chine and must form a continuous surface. Ideally, they should present a flat surface across the seam, but a slight convex surface would be okay. What I don't want is a concave area because this would then have to be filled with filler before fiber glassing the skins latter. Sort of like doing body work on a car. The dent needs to be as slight as possible so that a  minimal amount of filler is needed to smooth things out.

The "too low" chines meant that shims had to be added to the chines outer surface in  order that this flat surface can be accomplished. That was done and I feel that that surface is now far enough out. In order to test this however, it was necessary for the fairing on the stem to be accomplished as well. What made this difficult was that the angle of the fairing on the stem is dependent upon the outer surface of the chine. So what I had to do was try to get the chine as close to where I wanted it to be first, then fair the stem, and finally test the fit of the two skins in this area. This has taken several weeks.

To fair the stem, I wanted to have notches cut every six inches. Each of these notches would have a slightly different angle downwards towards the chine. The idea here is that a straightedge, laid into the notch, would lie flat on the chine. In order to cut these notches at the correct angle, I used the same alignment tool I've used elsewhere. I added a length of straight lumber to it, parallel to the bottom edge, essentially an extension of the bottom edge.

In order to get the correct angles, it is necessary to measure around the curvature of the stem and the chines. Using a flexible steel ruler, I made marks every six inches. I also added a center line to the stem. The alignment tool is placed in position with one end on the 6 inch marks where it crosses the center line on the stem. The other end of the tool is lined up with the six  inch marks on the chines. The next two photos show this.



The tool was clamped to the chine so it wouldn't move and then I used the tool as a guide for my Japanese pull saw to cut slits. These slits would be cut until the blade reached the center line of the stem and was also parallel and just up to the chine surface.


A series of slits were made approximately 1/8" apart for about an inch. Then using a chisel and hammer, I chiseled out the slits and filed the notch smooth. The notch should be parallel to the chine surface.




At every six inch mark moving aft along the stem, this process was repeated until I reached frame 6. I did not continue past that point for reasons I'll get to in a minute. These additional notches are at slightly different angles and are all parallel to the chine. They represent where the fairing needs to be taken to when removing the remaining material.


At first, I thought that this process could be continued around the remainder of the stem as I moved aft past frame 6. But on my boat, the skin forward of frame 6 is flat, but the skins form a curved surface aft of frame 6. A straight line used to cut notches would have made the notch angles too sharp as the straight line from the notch to the stem would have cut through the curve of the skins.

However, before I realized this, I went to the trouble of determining how I was going to use that previous method to cut the notches. Although I am not planning on using this method in this area, I feel that this technique might be useful to get the approximate angles needed.

In this area, the chine is no longer parallel to the notches. A notch would have to be cut into the chine  in addition to the notch cut into the stem. I laid the alignment tool in position as before, aligning it to the six marks and the stem center line. The long tail of the tool extends away from the chine at an angle.



Using some basic geometry, I determined how far the angle was from the center line of the chine. This distance was marked on the upper surface of the chine in the six inch mark area. If the notch were cut, this line would be the extent of the cut (along with the center line on the chine).




As I mentioned however, I believe these notch angles would be incorrect. At this point, I am not yet sure how I am going to determine what angles these notches should be cut at. when I have figured that out, I will post something in my next article.

The remainder of this posting will cover the additional work I accomplished forward of frame 6. After having cut the notches on the stem every six inches, it should have been a simple matter of removing the material between the notches, blending the slanted forward edge into each notch. I proceeded to remove one section between the first set of notches.

At this point, I wanted to verify that the two skins would indeed lie flat across the center line of the chine. For the most part, the angles on the stem are correct. I've had to do a bit of tweaking but I felt confident enough to begin removing more of the stem material. After each section was removed, I had more mating surface available to test the fit of the bottom skin, so I would check it each time before moving on to the next removal.


Eventually I reached frame 6 and stopped there. All of this was accomplished on the starboard side. I still have to do the port side. Aft of frame 6 will have to wait until I can figure out the notch angles and how to make them. Here is what it looks like so far.




In the previous photo, you can see that frame six has been partially removed at the very end. This is the remaining work I accomplished in this session. Like the frames further aft, limbers must be cut into the frames to allow water to drain aft. That is why this small area was removed. It still needs to be cleaned up and the edges rounded. I'll accomplish that later when I have completed fairing.

In this last photo you can see the limber cut. You can also just make out another notch in the stem. This notch was cut parallel to frame 6.


I'm beginning to feel that fairing is getting closer to completion. For quite some time now, I have been kind of bummed out as I encountered and had to deal with the problems around the chine. But now, I am starting to get the more difficult parts of the fairing accomplished so I am feeling better about the progress.

I am hoping to compete fairing by the end of September. If I can, then I should be able to start fitting skins by the end of October. I figure that October will be occupied with quite a bit of clean up work and re-encapsulation.

Anyway, that's it for now. I'll bring more information when I have enough. UN til then, take care.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Thank You To Viewers

I'll be posting another blog entry soon, but I've noticed an uptick in the number of viewers lately, especially from areas outside of the United States.

I welcome all viewers to my blog and I hope that all of you can get something from this like I am. It's a very satisfying hobby and I know not everyone can partake in it. Some do not have the financial means, some do not have the time, some do not have the space, and I am certain there are many other reasons.

So I hope, for all of you who cannot do this, that you can get something out of this that you can enjoy, even if only for a few minutes. And for those of you who are building, I hope that maybe something I am doing will make it easier for you to do some task you have. And for those of you who are wondering if you can do this, I have to say, look into it and try and break it down into manageable pieces.

The link to the Glen L Builder's forum on the right is a great place to start. You won't find a nicer group of people. And the best part of it is that most of them, like myself, started without any prior boat building experience. Many have built multiple boats since they started.

So once again, I would like to thank all the viewers of my blog and welcome you to continue reading. Feel free to leave comments. I don't get a lot of these but I try to answer the ones I do get.

Take care everyone.

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.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Bow Fairing Continues

I continue making slow but steady progress on the bow area of the boat. It's a continuous effort of testing the plywood, fairing either the chine, sheer, or stem in this area (a small amount), and then test fitting the plywood again. It sounds like I've been working a lot, but in truth, this area has been somewhat of a downer and I often find my heart isn't into working it for very long. Rather than push myself to get it done, I prefer to stop when I know I don't want to work any more on it. This way I prevent the possibility of rushing something and then having to go back and fix it.

However, I also realize that I need to make some progress and get on with the rest of the build. So I have also done some additional work on fairing the keels and I I have readied the stem to accept the bow eye.

In a nutshell, the bow area chine forward of frame 6 is slightly inboard on both sides. Since both the bottom and side skins attach to the chine, they need to form a continuous flow on the outside of the skin. In fact, in this area, the two skins should appear as one continuous skin from top to bottom and the joint between the two should be flush and form a continuous surface. The illustration below shows the cross section of the sheer and the chine. The red line represents the side skin. The bottom skin would be above this and attach to the chine.
The way the chine was mounted, the joint between the two skins is slightly concave. Fortunately it is only like this forward of frame 6, but it does mean that I had to find a way to bring the chine mounting surface further outboard, This is being accomplished with some shims. But this process is complicated because the angles on the stem have not been faired yet. The sheer angles also have to be accommodated.

Therefore, I have to do a lot of cross checking before adding or removing too much material. The starboard side has been completed and I am nearly done with the port side, so soon I can move on to more productive work. Needless to say, this area of the boat is difficult to do and compounded by the lack of space I have to work on it.

On the bow of the boat, I want to mount a bow eye for securing the boat to the trailer and for any possible towing that might be required. The bow eye is mounted using a 3/8" threaded shaft. It needs to be mounted on the bow centerline, therefore the hole needs to be drilled perpendicular to the stem and centered across the stem forward face



Since the forward face of the stem will eventually be faired to a sharp angle, I felt it was necessary to drill the hole before fairing the stem. After the fairing is completed and the skins are attached and fiber-glassed, I can go back through the hole from the inside of the stem. After the boat is painted I can then mount the bow eye.

To drill the hole I made a drilling jig that clamps over the stem .It has two horizontal pieces that the drill fits through to keep the drill bit straight when drilling.



After the hole was drilled, I wanted to make it a stronger fit as well as protect it from any future water intrusion. So using a 5/8" speed bore, I slowly drilled down through the existing 3/8" hole until I had made the entire hole a larger size. In retrospect, I should have just drilled the larger hole without drilling the 3/8" hole first. It would have been easier.

Then I filled the entire hole with thickened epoxy and let it set up overnight. The next day I drilled down through the center of the epoxy using the drilling jig. For now, that's all that will be done. I will fair this area and continue with mounting the skins. But the next photo shows what this will look like later when it's mounted.


The keel fairing is being tackled in a similar manner to the chine. First I am cutting notches at the frame points that are parallel to the angles of the frames. Then I will establish fairing limits and fair the areas between the notches. I'll cover more of this process in a later posting, but I can show you the notches since they have been completed.

I did these notches differently than I did the notches on the chines. Instead of sanding the notches, I cut slits parallel to the frame angles, ending them at a centerline drawn down the length of the keel.




I cut several slits until the blade edge was parallel to the frame angles. Then I chiseled out the slits and cleaned them up with a file.





At the stem/keel junction, the angle of the frames is quite sharp and much of the keel will be faired away in this area. For piece of mind, I will be adding additional keel material on the inner surface of the keel between frames 5 and 4. I'll cover this in the next post as well.

One final note. I now have enough funds to purchase all the plywood for planking and I will be ordering that soon. Since it is quite a bit of plywood and space is limited, I am delaying the purchase until I get closer to needing it. That promises to be another adventure since I plan on scarfing some of the panels together before fitting them to the boat. I am not sure where I am going to do this since I don't really have the room for it, but I will figure out something.

So that's it for this posting. As I mentioned, the work is going rather slowly. In all fairness, I have also been spending time getting ready for selling my home in about 18 months, so that has been taking time away from this as well.

Until next time, take care.