Clipper's Vera Cruise Build

Clipper's Vera Cruise Build

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Ah Sanding! It's Good For The Soul! Also, A Short Nav Light Discussion

Well I wish I had more to report on, but the last coat of epoxy on the hull was not as smooth as I had hoped. I elected to smooth sand the entire hull again, and then apply another coat of epoxy. The sanding took approximately 10 hours spread over 5 days and wore me out. But the hull was very smooth afterwards, and the new coat of epoxy looks good so far.

This should be the last coat before making and installing the spray rails. Speaking of these, I did purchase the oak to make them. They are a finished size of 1 inch by 1 1/2 inch by the length of the boat. However, getting them to conform to the curve of the hull would have been difficult at full thickness, so I bought 1/2 inch  by 1 1/2 inch stock and will laminate them to get the full 1 inch thickness. I'll cover that process in more detail when I get to it. The oak was not long enough so I am going to have to scarf join the pieces together to get the full length.

The only other thing I have been doing is researching bow navigation lights. This seems like such a simple hing, but the regulations regarding bow nav lights are very specific on brightness and viewing angle.

I had initially planned on going full LED for all lighting on the boat as an electric conservation approach. However, styling also plays a part in my decision making process. The selection of LED bow lights is fairly extensive, however, they all appear to be styled for modern boat designs, and except for a few possible candidates, would not be suitable for my boat.

There is one classically styled light from Perko and others that might look okay (not ideal but, okay), but these are all incandescent bulb types. Furthermore, the classically styled light is certified for replacement only which I suspect doesn't apply to my boat even though it is a 1956 design.

I looked into replacing the Perko light bulb with an equivalent LED lamp as there are numerous examples of replacement LED lights on the market. But there are problems with these as well.

From what I've been able to find out, voltage fluctuations tend to drastically shorten the life of these LED bulbs when used in this manner unless the owner goes to extensive lengths to prevent such fluctuations. Furthermore, changing the incandescent bulb for an LED will also nullify any certification of the light. The viewing angle can also change in some cases because the LED light may be at a different height than a bulb filament. LED lights require different structures to accommodate heat and glare issues.

After finding all of this out, I began to rethink the bow light and how it would be used. My plan is to use this boat normally during the day, with occasional overnight trips. But seldom, if ever, will I be moving the boat after it's dark.

Since the bow light only needs to be on while the boat is moving, and generally only after dark (fog being the exception), the amp advantage of LED bulbs over incandescent is mute. LED bulbs are brighter, but again, I don't anticipate using my boat at night very often.

Given the additional cost of LED lights (and bulbs), the lack of suitable styles, the possible short life  as well as certification issues replacing incandescent with LED, and the lack of any amp advantage, I have decided, that for the bow light, I am going to use incandescent bulbs.

However when it comes to the other navigation lights, I will most likely still go with LED lights. The anchor light will be mounted on a custom mast that I plan on making. Anchor lights do have to be on all night and if I am camping overnight, one would be needed. There is a definite advantage in electricity consumption with the LED in this scenario. Styling is not as much of a problem here as I have seen several lights which will look fine atop the mast. The stern light, I am not sure of yet as I have not researched these at all.

So that's it for now. I didn't take any additional pictures this time around as they would simply look like the ones posted last time. Hopefully I will have spray rail work to report on the next time I post.

Take care.  Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Thursday, December 10, 2015

And With That, Fiberglassing The Hull Is Done

After nearly two months (who would have figured?), I have completed the fiberglassing of the hull.

There has been a tremendous amount of sanding done so far, with more to come. I will be taking a break from that however because I will be starting on the spray rails and installing the skeg. Once those are in place, an overall sanding for the primer, then however many primer coats and sanding sessions are required to get a nice finish. We'll see.

Going to keep the text to a minimum today. Here are the last pictures.

So glad to see the end of that. The flip is getting closer every day.

Take care.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Photo Links

Just a quick note. There are some ongoing issues with sharing photos that are affecting the links I have on my blog for sharing the construction photos I have accumulated.

I believe the highlights link is working correctly now, but the complete photo gallery link will currently take you to Picasa rather than Google Photos. The interface at Picasa is older but it does allow you to see all the photos from the construction. It still has them divided into albums so that you can view specific sections of the build.

I will be exploring other options for photo sharing and when I have found a better solution, I will update the blog when I have a viable alternative.

Just a reminder that the photos in my collections are copyrighted by me and require permission if they are to be published in any form.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Glassin' And Sandin' - Continued

Yes, it continues. Applying fiberglass and resin and then sanding it smooth and then repeating the process.

However, I am getting close to finishing. I was hoping to finish before tomorrow's original planned posting of this blog article. But the weather has gone south for the next couple of days and I won't be able to complete the work until later this week (I hope!).

All of the hull has been fiberglassed and has three fill coats except the port side in the center and forward. That portion has a seal coat and the fiberglass is taped into position awaiting warmer weather.

So I will keep the rest of this to pictures only to avoid repetition.

And a shot from outside the garage.

After this last section is glassed, the entire boat will get one more fill coat and a final smooth sanding. Then I can start working on adding the spray rails and installing the skeg. The flip is getting closer and I am starting to think of how I am actually going to accomplish that.

Until next time, take care.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Glassin' And Sandin'

Well, the title says it all. For the last two weeks I have been putting down fiberglass in sections. The entire bottom of the hull is now glassed with just a few fill coats left on the port bottom middle section. The starboard side has glass on all the sections except the forward section. The port side has not been started yet.

Each section has been the same process. Wipe down the bare wood, apply a seal coat of epoxy. After it has cured enough, smooth sand it (and wipe down again) and drape a piece of fiberglass over the area. Apply more resin and repeat the wiping and sanding after cure. Then repeat the application of resin two more times with sanding and wiping after each application. After the third application, feather sand the overlap areas so that the next cloth will lie flat. Then repeat the entire process again on the new section.

I am going through a bunch of sanding discs and foam rollers. I was getting buried in dust and decided to purchase a hose extension for my shop vac. That has made a huge difference in the amount of clean up required. Although the picture doesn't show it very well, you can see the dust I was generating from all the sanding.

Here is an example of the feather sanding of an edge of the cloth. By feather sanding, I give a nice smooth ramp for the next cloth to overlap this cloth.

After all the sections are completed, they will each have had a seal coat, a layer of glass, and three fill coats. After the third fill coat has cured I have been going back over and sanding the area one more time. The intent is to then apply one final fill coat over the entire hull. This will fill in any remaining cloth weave that needs filling, will provide an extra layer of protection, and will in turn be smooth sanded and form the base for the primer and paint coming in a couple of months.

One thing I have definitely seen though, is that this resin cures very hard after several days. In a couple of sections, I had to wait a few days to sand for various reasons and when I went to sand those sections, it was like sanding steel plate and required many sanding discs to complete. This is good though because I can rely upon the fiberglass and resin to protect the underlying plywood.

So that's it for now. Not much to talk about, but the work is getting done. I am trying to accomplish the glassing before the temperatures drop below 50 degrees. So far it's been relatively mild here in Texas with daytime temps still above 60.

Take care.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Fiberglassing Continues

Shortly after posting the last blog entry, we had the remnants of a hurricane come through and dump a tremendous amount of rain in the area. The humidity levels shot through the roof and I decided to hold off doing any fiberglass work until after it passed on. That took four days. Then there were the usual life and work events that occasionally get in the way. All this is to say that I did not complete the fiberglassing in the two week time frame I had originally hoped for. In fact, even without the weather and other interruptions, two weeks was unrealistic.

But I did make progress. I've nearly completed the starboard bottom side and a third of the port side. I'll be finishing up the starboard bottom today and then in the next day or two start working on the starboard side panels. I had to delay finishing the bottom port panels because I miscalculated the amount of fiberglass I needed and had to order some more. The bottom fiberglass is 50 inches wide because I need at least 44 inches for the wide parts of the hull.  The 38 inch wide cloth I have for the sides won't do.

In the last blog entry I had started on the port forward bottom skin. That was completed first. Each section is taking three coats of epoxy to completely fill the weave of the cloth. All coats are being applied with the thin foam rollers which allow me to keep the coats nice and thin and avoids runs from too heavy of a build up. In addition, I am sanding between coats to keep things smooth so that final finishing will be easier. After three coats, the finish is nice and glossy.

As I am overlapping each section with the next section, I have to feather sand the overlap areas so that I do not end up with bumps. This revealed the need for additional coats of epoxy, so my plan is to finish the fiberglassing of the entire hull using three coats of epoxy. Then I will do a smooth sanding and apply a fourth coat over the entire hull. If necessary, I will apply a fifth coat. I am endeavoring to keep these coats as thin as possible so that I do not have excess epoxy in the final finish.

My original plan was to do the bottoms in three sections on each side. This was predicated on the assumption that I would not have enough pot life with the resin to do larger areas. All my previous experience with resin on this boat dictated that I do things in small batches because the resin would set up too quickly.

However, for the hull, I am using a different product, System Three Silver Tip. This product is wonderful and has many advantages over the other. First off, it's clear instead of having a yellow tint. It doesn't blush, it doesn't get as hot when curing, it  has a longer pot life, and it doesn't smell nearly as bad. It does cost more, but I feel that the lower stress levels and other advantages outweigh the additional cost.

Anyway, since I have longer times to work with the resin, I decided to do larger sections. The starboard side was the first to see that. I had already done a smaller section on the aft end.

I was able to do the entire remainder of the starboard bottom in one shot. With the application of three coats, and sanding between coats, it takes about three days to do a section. I can improve on this by doing another section on a efferent part of the boat, but have to wait if the sections have any overlap. This is why I did the port forward and the starboard aft sections first. But at three days per section, it takes longer to get the overall job done. So if I can eliminate sections by combining them, I can shorten the amount of time needed to complete fiberglassing. This also reduces the amount of waste in resin and application materials. It also reduces the number of overlaps I have to sand.

All of the sections covered so far have fiberglass cloth overlapping the keel, and chine seams. When I apply the fiberglass on the sides, I will overlap these seams again. This will give me two layers of glass in this high risk areas. This is more to protect them than to prevent leaks. Anybody who has ever sanded over a seam that joins two surfaces together at angles to each other, knows that it is easy to over sand the seams because of their prominent location. The same risk applies to the hull after it is in the water and potentially at risk of hitting something with these seams.

As long as I am careful about feather sanding the overlap areas, the final finish should be relatively easy to keep smooth. I prefer to keep the bumps and dips small now rather than try and fix them afterwards when they may be more pronounced with several layers of glass and resin.

So that is it for now. I will be completing the starboard bottom side fill coats today and then moving on to the starboard side glassing while I await the delivery of more bottom fiberglass cloth for the port side.

Until next time,

Take care.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Fiberglassing Begins

After many weeks of waiting, I am finally in fiberglassing mode. For the next week or two, I will be applying fiberglass to the hull bottom.

The process of glassing is multi step (at least the way that I am doing it). I am using what is called the "dry" method for fiberglass cloth application. What this means in a nutshell is that the glass is laid in position before the resin is applied. This is a bit of a misnomer, which I'll explain in a minute.

The advantage of using the dry method is that I can lay out the cloth, trim to shape (rough trim), and not have to deal with the cloth sticking to the wet resin while I try to position it. If there were other's available to help, I could have used the wet method, which basically means that the resin is applied first and then the cloth is laid into the still wet resin.

The dry method that I am using actually has a seal coat of epoxy resin applied first and allowed to cure for long enough to sand (if needed) but not to the point of fully curing. The reason for the seal coat is so that the fiberglass cloth won't be resin starved later if the underlying wood soaks up too much resin. By sealing it first, any "dry" spots can be corrected in the seal coat before it cures.

In order to insure the best bond between the wood and the fiberglass cloth, I am applying the layers within 16 -24 hours of the previous layer. This allows the layers to form a chemical rather than a mechanical bond.

After the resin is added to the cloth, I wait for an hour or two (depending on the cure rate) and then trim the excess fiberglass cloth with a straight razor blade. By waiting for awhile, I can avoid trying to deal with the cloth wanting to move as I cut it.

So to better illustrate the process, here are some photographs. The first two show the seal coat of epoxy resin. I am overlapping seams by 4 inches for additional strength in these areas.

After the resin has cured, but still within the 16 hour window mentioned earlier, I will smooth sand the resin. This is a light sanding mainly to knock off any bits of resin sticking up or any roughness. Then the glass is laid into position and taped so that it stays there. I try to smooth out the cloth as best I can.

Notice how the cloth overlaps the seams. All of the seams have been rounded over, which allows the cloth to lay down smoothly and conform to the hull. The overlap adds additional protection to the seam areas.

Now the fun begins. I am using System Three Silver Tip resin which is a great product. It is mixed up in sufficient quantity to wet out the cloth. The goal here is to wet it out, but not to over saturate it. Like paint, resin will run if it is applied too heavily. I am using thin foam rollers to smooth out the cloth after the initial resin is applied.

I use a squeegee to spread the resin out after pouring a quantity of it onto the cloth. Not too much at a time as it will get out of hand very quickly. Once I have it fairly well wetted out, I go back over it with the foam roller to try and even out the resin layer. The trick to making fiberglassing work is to apply several thin layers , allowing for some cure time between layers. This way the thickness doesn't grow too fast and cause runs.

The previous pictures of the port forward bottom skin, are actually the second area I glassed. The first area was the transom. I wanted to do this first for two reasons. First, I wanted some protection over the stain I had applied last week. Secondly, I wanted the bottom cloth to overlap the transom cloth on the bottom and sides of the hull.

Because the transom is being displayed with a stained finish, rather than being painted, I had to take extra precautions to insure that it still showed through nicely after glassing. The process is the same, seal coat, add cloth, wet out, and then subsequent wet out coats to fill in the weave. Between each layer, I am sanding the resin to insure it will be smooth when I am finished.

First the seal coat was applied. I made sure to tip the resin with a foam brush after rolling it on to minimize bubbles. The next morning, the entire surface was sanded with 100 grit paper and cleaned up. While sanding this initial coat, I had to take care not to sand through the resin and remove any of the stain.

Next the fiberglass cloth is taped in position. This is a lighter weight cloth than I am using elsewhere on the hull, so that it is clearer when coated with resin.

The cloth is wetted out with the epoxy resin. Since this is a vertical surface, I only used the thin foam roller to apply the resin. It was critical, for appearances sake, that I get the cloth to lay down nicely in all areas, including the transom cutout.

After a few hours, I trimmed the excess cloth off with a straight razor blade. The next morning, I lightly sanded the resin again, smoothing out the surface. With this sanding, I tried to avoid sanding down to the cloth layer.

Then another coat of epoxy is applied using the roller. Again, I tipped the resin with a foam brush. This layer is still insufficient to completely fill in the weave of the cloth, so I will be adding another layer tomorrow morning.

At a future date, the final layer of resin will be smooth sanded again and several layers of varnish will be applied as the final finish.

So that's the extent of the work so far. As mentioned earlier, I will be applying fiberglass for the next week or two, one section at a time.

One final note, however. As many readers are no doubt aware, I visited the  PlyWooden Boat Festival last year in Port Aransas, Texas last year. I thoroughly enjoyed my time there and was planning on attending again this year. Alas, with the expense of the resin and fiberglass cloth as well as some family medical expenses, it did not happen. The show is this weekend and I was not able to attend.

I hope that the show is as successful or more than last year's event and I look forward to hearing about it soon. Boat shows like these, showcasing wooden boat building, are a great way to promote the hobby of wooden boats and I want to continue to do this. I am going to try very hard to make next years event. I hope that all of you who did attend, enjoyed the event.

Take care everyone.