Clipper's Vera Cruise Build

Clipper's Vera Cruise Build

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Winnowing Down The Pre-Fiberglass Tasks

Before I can fiberglass the hull, there are some necessary tasks that have to be completed, and there are some tasks that I want to complete.

In the "have to" list are radiusing the chine edges, transom edges, and stem leading edge. Additionally, there is completing the skeg mounting surface and stem end cap mounting surface. The radiusing is so that the fiberglass cloth will flow over the edges and there will be no voids at the edge corners.

The chine edges will eventually get spray rails added and the gap between the rail and the rounded over edge will be filled. The bottom transom edge needs to be sharp for handling of the boat to be correct, so that will be built back up to a sharp edge using fiberglass and epoxy. I'll cover that process down the road when I get to it.

In the following photos, you can see a couple of the radiused edges. The transom side edges needed to be rounded over for the same reason as elsewhere, but these I wanted to round over and leave that way for appearance's sake.

The skeg and stem mounting surfaces both need to be flattened so that these components will lie flat on the surface. I haven't started on the stem end cap yet because I am still trying to decide on which approach I want to use. I will cover this process in the future as well.

However, the skeg is an interesting piece that I already had the lumber for (the 11 foot white oak piece I bought a few months ago). The skeg is mounted after the hull is fiberglassed because it may be necessary in the future to remove this in case of damage. If I were to fiberglass over it, that task would be much more difficult.

So the mounting surface on the hull, the centerline over the keel, needed to be flattened out wide enough for the skeg to set flat. This will be fiberglassed over and later the skeg will be mounted.

Before I could flatten this area out, I had to make sure where the exact center of the hull was as well as the length of the area to sand. In my previous full posting, I explained how I determined the start and end points of the skeg.

To determine the centerline of the hull, I purchased a laser level, something that I've wanted for some time, and a tool which will be useful later in construction and painting. Here is the laser level setting on the hull. It's a rotary type that projects a continuous line. I lined this line up with the centerline of the transom (measured) and the center of the stem up forward.

Using the line as a reference, I marked the centerline of the hull. Then I went back and measured an equal distance of half the thickness of the skeg on each side of the centerline. This was then sanded flat using a sanding disk and followed up with a block sander. It runs from 10 inches forward of frame 4 to approximately 20 inches forward of the transom (approximately 11 feet in length).

Before fiberglassing I will also need to drill the mounting holes for the skeg. The hardware for this is 1/4" silicon bronze carriage bolts of various lengths. These will be ordered soon.

In order to determine those lengths, the skeg itself needed to be made. It is basically a streamlined shape that tapers from 1/2 inch at the leading edge to 2 1/2 inches at the highest point. This highest point is approximately 9 inches from the aft end. From that point it curves back down to a 1/2" trailing edge. When completed, it looks like a small fin.

Oak is a very dense wood and I was thinking that I needed to cut the lumber to shape using my table saw. However, the taper from front to back was a very small angle, approximately 1 degree, and I was concerned about my ability to do that on the table saw without wrecking the part.

I drew the shape of the part on the side and tried to figure out some way to make a shallow angle fence. But this is an 11 foot long piece of wood and I couldn't come up with anything I felt confident in. In the end, I tried my trusty Bosch sabre saw and it was able to rough cut the lumber to shape.

From there I took it to the table top belt sander and sanded down the edges and curves until they reached the drawn on lines for the shape. It took about an hour of sanding but it turned out fine. The last bit of work to do was to radius the edge and shape the front to a more streamlined shape. The edges were rounded over using a round over bit in my router. The leading edge was shaped using a sanding block.

In this last photo, the skeg is sitting on the hull and has not been fastened down, so the leading edge is sticking up away from the hull. But I will be able to pull this down to match the hull curvature when the time comes to mount it.

In the "want to" list of tasks, there is the completion of the veneering and decoration of the transom. I've already covered how the the veneer was added. What remained was adding an end cap in the transom cutout. I've wanted to do this for well over two years because I knew that the end grain of the plywood making up the bulk of the transom would need protection as well as "prettying up".

In previous posts I also covered how I was experimenting with trying to bend the one remaining piece of veneer material I had, how that was too thick, and how a thinner sample piece badly cupped. I also covered the design of the forming jig I came up with to try and get around this. Just before the two week lapse in work, I visited a friend who had a thickness planer and we thinned down the remaining veneer lumber to approximately 1/8". Bending the part had to wait until I dealt with the personal issues I came up against.

The process of bending this lumber is straightforward. Steam the part, put it into position on the forming jig and then clamp the forming jig into position. Here is the forming jig ready to go.

In order to do this, I had to temporarily remove the 2 by 6 lumber on the building form that is supporting the back end of the boat. I used cinder blocks at the corners of the boat.

So the part was steamed and quickly put into position. The beauty of the steaming bag approach I learned last year, is evident here as I could leave it in position while forming the part.

Once this part had cooled and dried out, it had to be mounted in place. I used epoxy and staples in a similar fashion to the process I used for the veneer.

After removing the staples and cleaning up the part, it looks like this.

The edges of the end cap will be rounded over as well to give a more finished appearance. I wanted to get some idea of what the transom will look like once stained. I did up some samples with different stain colors.

I also wetted down the entire transom with water. This was actually done for the previous photos of the end cap as well.

The light area on the transom veneer, I hope to even out when staining the transom.

So that's it for now. Still a few more tasks and then an extended waiting period until the weather cools down and I have enough money to afford the fiberglass and epoxy. I am hoping to accomplish hull fiberglassing sometime in October.

In the meantime, I will be working on various other tasks, some, which no doubt will be very un-news worthy. But it is what it is. Until next time, take care.

Click Here To Comment:

  1. An 11' skeg? Wow, your skeg is as long as my whole boat! Your Vera Cruise is looking GREAT, Carl! Beautiful job on that transom end cap!

    1. Thanks Mike! Your comment about the skeg length really puts this whole thing into perspective! I guess I can see why my build is taking far longer than I thought it would! Cool thing is that I am getting closer to completing construction on the hull. Perhaps two weeks more and then only fiberglass, sanding, more sanding, paint, and more sanding!

    2. Actually I will have more construction after fiberglassing. The spray rails and skeg installation. But hey, I am getting closer to the flip!


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