Clipper's Vera Cruise Build

Clipper's Vera Cruise Build

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Moving From The Sides To The Bottom

One thing about Texas, if you get tired of the weather, just wait for awhile and it will change. After several weeks of cold temperatures and little progress on the boat, we got a warm spell. Temperatures went up to the high 60's and even into the 70's! Not bad for winter. This allowed me to finally finish the side skinning and get some of the bottom work done.

The first thing yesterday, I went to the lumber yard and picked up material for my bottom battens. The battens will need to be installed and some minor fairing accomplished on the bottom before I can continue with installing the bottom skins. I wanted to get the lumber for the battens so that I could work on them today.

After returning, I got started on the last side skin panel. I had already gotten everything prepared a few days earlier including last minute trimming of the skin. The installation went smoothly for the most part. There were two glitches but both were gotten around.

The first glitch, and potentially the most disastrous, was that while I was applying the epoxy to the structure, I had to stop and mix some more. I had already poured out measured amounts in the cups I used for mixing so all I had to do was add the hardener, mix, and then add the silica beads and mix again. I placed the resin on the scale and at that moment was distracted by a thought and forgot to pour in the hardener. I proceeded to pour in the silica and started mixing. About halfway through the mixing I realized I might have forgotten to add the hardener, but wasn't sure. I almost went ahead and used the mixture but at the last minute, not feeling sure enough, I put it aside and mixed up another batch (correctly this time). I set the bad batch aside to see what would happen with it. It never did harden up. Thankfully I didn't use it.

The other glitch was the long clamps I bought from Harbor Freight to clamp the skin down. When I had installed the second backing plate last week, one of the clamps has developed a twist in it (cheap materials). When I tried to use the clamp yesterday, it twisted really bad  making it very difficult to get good pressure on the skin. I had to use another clamp to keep it from twisting too far. Fortunately, I was able to get enough pressure on the skin and the glue up was successful.

Yesterday evening, I removed the temporary screws and plywood washers and installed the silicon bronze screws. I will be leaving the clamps in place for several days to insure the epoxy fully cures and everything stays in place.

With the side skins completed (except for some cleanup), I could begin working on the bottom. As mentioned, the battens need to be installed before the skin can be installed. But before the battens can be installed I needed to do two tasks.

The first task to be accomplished was cutting limber passages in the outboard side of each batten notch in the frames. The limber passage is simply a passageway for any water trapped inside the boat to travel aft to the transom. From there, additional limbers in the battens allow water to travel to the center of the boat were it can go out through the drain holes.

So this morning, I marked and rough cut the limber passages in the frames. Then using an air powered die grinder and a 3/4 inch drum sander, I cleaned up the cutout. This was done at every batten notch on the frames. The straight side of the notch is where the batten will mount and the curved portion is the limber passage.

The other task that needs to be accomplished before installing the battens is drilling the drain plug holes in the transom. I didn't get to that yet because I concentrated on getting the battens themselves cut to size.

The battens are three inches wide and run different lengths depending upon their position. The batten closest to the keel goes from the transom to a point past frame 5 (but not to frame 6). The next batten outboard goes about 16 inches past frame 4. The third batten outboard goes 2 feet past frame 3. The idea here is that theses will conform to the bottom skins and provide additional strength and stiffness to the skins. They also provide a mounting point for the skins (epoxy and screws).

You can see how the offset cuts will be in the next photo. Although the battens are only placed in position in this shot, this is approximately how they will look when finally installed.

This last shot shows how they will be at the aft end of the boat. You can't actually see any of the limber passages very well for any of the battens, but they will look similar to the limber passages that are on both sides of the keel (center), except that they will only be on the outboard side of the battens.

The battens were cut from long pieces of African Mahogany and then an angle was cut on one end to match the angle of the transom. Then they were cut to length. After I placed them in position I noticed that I will need to do some minor fitting before they are installed.

So I feel pretty good abut finally making some progress on the boat. The warm weather is supposed to continue for a couple more days so I should be able to get a few things done in the evenings after work.

At this point, the project is really beginning to look like a boat. I still sometimes have to pinch myself when I realize what I am doing. Two and half years ago, all of this was just a dream and it feels very satisfying to have gotten to this point. Yes, I wish I could have accomplished all of this faster, in fact I originally thought I could build the entire boat in three years. But I just keep spending time as often a I can and the boat is slowly coming together.

Anyway, that's it for now. Take care.

Update 1/19/2015: It came to my attention that people were having difficulty finding the link to add a comment. I changed the link at the end of every article so that it states "Post A Comment". Hopefully this will be easier to use than what was there before.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Center Skin Panel Work

I had hoped to get the center skin paneling completed by now, but cold temperatures and other activities are slowing me down. I have made some progress and will outline that here.

In an attempt to improve productivity I purchased a propane heater for my garage and it works well. But I found out that a 20 pound tank of propane will only last about 5 or 6 hours at the medium heat setting so I will only be using this on the colder days or when I need to do some epoxy work. Even the epoxy work will still need to wait for warmer weather because of the cure time required afterwards (can't continually run the propane burner to keep the garage warm while the epoxy cures).

As for the skinning, both sides have been worked on. The port side center skin was finished first. I found that I was going to need to get creative when clamping the center skin to the forward and aft skins in order to get the center skin to conform to the vertical curves on the other skins.

Readers will recall that when I had installed the backing plates at these butt joints, I had used a board and some clamps on the forward backing plate to get it to conform to the curve on the forward skin. This worked out okay, but I knew I was going to have to get some long throat clamps for the next set of backing plates.

I was able to get four of these from Harbor Freight for a reasonable price, but the quality of these clamps are so so. However, for my purposes, they would suffice.

Here they are used in clamping the starboard side backing plate.

The backing plates are installed with a combination of epoxy and short silicon bronze screws (screwed in from the inside). Once the epoxy cured for several days, I was able to remove the clamps and the backing plate was fine.

The starboard side center skin panel was fitted next and that is ready to go for installation as soon as weather permits.

The port side center panel was installed permanently and this is were I had to come up with creative methods of clamping. The clamped board forces the center skin panel down to the backing plate and makes it conform to the vertical curve of the forward and aft skins.

It was fairly cold that day but within acceptable limits for the epoxy. My normal process for these skins is to glue them down and use temporary steel screws with plywood washers. You can see that in the previous pictures. Then within a few hours (before the epoxy gets fully set), I replace the steel screws with silicon bronze screws. However, in this case, the epoxy took much longer to get to that point so I had to wait nearly 5 hours.

To insure that the skins stay the way I wanted them, I let this cure for several days before removing the clamps. At this point, the port side is completed except for sanding the excess glue down. Starboard side, as mentioned is ready to install. When that is installed, I will no longer have easy access to the inside of the hull. That means I have to crawl in from underneath at the aft end, or clamber over the top using a ladder.

Next up I will be purchasing additional lumber for the remaining bottom battens and doing the work to get them installed. That involves cutting them to size, cutting limber slots in each batten slot (to allow water passage aft), fitting the battens , and installing them with epoxy and wood screws. I go into that in more detail at a later date.

So that's it for now. I am hoping we get some warmer weather soon. Take care.