Clipper's Vera Cruise Build

Clipper's Vera Cruise Build

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Making A Stem Cap

As mentioned previously, I was going to work on adding a stem cap to better protect the front end of the boat.. The plywood skins overlap at the stem leaving a sharp forward edge which is actually the edge of the outer overlapping plywood sheet. I knew that this would be vulnerable unless protected in some fashion.

The original intention (several years ago) was to make a stainless steel plate for the bow (commonly called a cutwater). However, after a while, I came to feel that this wouldn't look right with the paint scheme I have in mind.

When I started considering alternatives, I was looking at a stainless steel half round strip that would have been attached to a flattened area at the forward edge using stainless screws. In fact, this is the approach called out in the building instructions, except that the plans call for a brass strip.

This approach is okay, and I have seen several nice boats using stainless strips on the front. For the longest time, this was the approach I figured I would go with.

Recently, I revisited my build thread on the Glen L Builder's Forum and noticed that I had asked a question regarding this several years ago. The responses at the time lead me to believe that I could use wood for the cap instead. I had simply forgotten about this exchange of ideas.

I decided this was the approach I would use. I had some oak left over from the skeg that would work perfectly if I could cut it into strips. Oak is a hard wood that should stand up well to minor bumps. If it is damages at some future point, it will be easily repairable.

The wooden stem cap allows me to carry the paint scheme all the way around the bow leading edge without interruption, which is the look I would like to have.

I felt that the best way to install the stem cap was to sand a flat area on the leading edge of the stem from the point where the skeg starts to the very top of the bow skin (closest to the floor currently).

The oak strips could then be laminated, one at a time to around the curve of the bow to the desired thickness. But they would need to be cut out of the oak first. With a little luck , I was able to cut four 1/8 inch thick strips approximately 5/8 inch wide using my table saw. I didn't actually need that many, but I wanted extra just in case.

Laminating them on was relatively easy, using epoxy and holding into place with plywood washers, staples, and a bit of tape. Two strips were sufficient and the work was done over two nights.

After curing, I needed to rough sand the oak back to the shape of the forward edge. I didn't want to hand sand all of this, especially since the oak is fairly tough. A thin sheet of aluminum, taped in place served as a guard while I hit the oak with an angle grinder. I didn't attempt to go to the final shape. Instead I just took the wood down until it was within 1/16".

After that, I went over the oak with a belt sander, except for the very front of the boat, where I had to hand sand because of clearance issues with the back wall of the garage. At this point, the stem cap looked just like the plywood did before I started sanding it flat.

The next step was applying fairing compound to both side to fill in any imperfections from the glue up and from sanding.

Finally, the fairing compound was sanded smooth and the leading edge of the stem cap was rounded over in preparation for fiberglassing. The rounding over radius is not very much, just enough to allow the fiberglass to wrap around the leading edge when I get to applying it.

This last task was just completed about an hour ago and in reality, I am going to go back over the whole cap with hand sanding to give it a final smoothing.

At this point in the build, I am nearly ready to start fiberglassing. I am waiting for the carriage bolts for the skeg so I can drill those mounting holes. I will be staining the transom as well.

I still need to order fiberglass, epoxy resin, and application supplies. I will also need to clean the entire boat hull. I'll cover the fiberglassing in another post, but the basic plan is to apply fiberglass tape strips to the skin joints and stem leading edge, smooth these out, and then apply fiberglass cloth over the entire hull in stages.

So that's it for now. Until next time, take care.

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