Clipper's Vera Cruise Build

Clipper's Vera Cruise Build

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Working On The Bow Compartment

In the last posting, I indicated that I had started on the forward deck beams. The idea is that I want to complete the topside fairing so that I can fir the top deck. But there are several things that need to be accomplished, and in the proper order before I can get to the fairing. Some of those steps also need to be broken up into smaller tasks and shuffled with tasks in other areas. Confused?

Well consider this. There are three deck battens that need to be in place before fairing. The two outer battens are fairly straightforward, out of the way, and could be installed early on. In fact that is what I did. But the center batten ties into a structure for the forward hatch. The entire assembly needs to be installed at the same time. However, if I were to install the center batten, then I could not finish the forward bow compartment because I would not be able to get the bulkhead panel or anchor floor panel in.

The outer deck beams were a nice warm up to get me back into building mode. They simply required cutting several slots into frames 5 and 6 at specific points on the frame. I used the same technique to do this as I did when working on the longitudinals on the hull  two years ago, namely, I cut several slots in each area using a pull saw, then broke out the small pieces and filed the area smooth. I had to be somewhat careful on frame 6 because the cuts are made in the same area as the wood inlays. All of that was accomplished and the parts were epoxied into position.

Then it was necessary for me to switch gears and start work on the bow compartment. Now the bow compartment is going to consist of two sections. The upper anchor well, accessible from the top deck through a hatch (not the hatch tied into the center batten - which is a bit further aft), and a lower storage compartment which will be accessible from a hatch in the vertical bulkhead panel in frame 6. 

There are many considerations, several components, and systems that will be in this area. The bow navigation light (and it's wiring) will be on the top deck at the forward end. The lower storage compartment will have an LED light strip attached to the underside of the anchor well floor. There will be two berthing compartment lamps attached to the bulkhead later. The anchor rope will need to be attached to the stem in the anchor well compartment. The anchor well itself will require two oval holes in the hull sides for drainage. The bow eye attachment will be in the lower compartment and needs to be accessible so it can be installed later. All of the electrical wiring will need to be isolated from the anchor well and somehow be routed down one side of the boat back to the electrical panel. and of course, all of this needs to be aesthetically pleasing when completed.

Given all of that, the first thing that was needed was to lower the anchor well floor from it's previous position. This came about after a discussion with a friend who has one of these and he suggested that mine needed to be deeper than I had it. I lowered it three inches. You can see that in the following photos.

This was tricky because I didn't want it to steal too much of the lower compartment space. Furthermore, the anchor well floor would interfere with the bow eye attachment point on the stem if it were any lower than I lowered it to.

Once I had the floor panel resized to fit, I started working on the support cleats for the floor panel. There would be six of these epoxied to the hull sides and two more on the vertical bulkhead (to be added later). In order for the floor to be supported properly, the tops of the cleats had to be parallel to the floor. Since the hull sides are angled, I had to measure this angle and include it in the cleat design.

 The correct location for these was established by measuring down 7/16 inch from a line previously drawn on the hull sides along the top edge of the anchor well floor. This would allow for the thickness of the floor. They were spaced evenly in the bow compartment and epoxied into position.

Next up was working on the lower compartment interior paneling. I had planned on adding interior paneling to block off the hull structure and to provide a mounting surface for insulation on the backside (for sound mostly). 

This is a fairly odd shaped area, so patterns were required. These were made from poster board but left a bit short and then placed into position, along with the anchor well floor.

Then, using small scraps of poster board as witness sticks, I hot glued the scraps in position with the tips just touching the bottom side of the anchor well floor to get the final height of the patterns.

The two patterns were taken out and transferred to plywood. These were then cut out and fitted into the spaces with a bit of minor work required to get the final fit.

At this point, I must remake the lower compartment's floor piece so that it extends all the way forward under the interior paneling. I have already marked the position of the anchor well floor in relation to frame 6 and then transferred this to the vertical bulkhead panel. This is so that I can determine the best size and shape for the access hatch in that bulkhead. It also will allow me to better place the mounts for the two berthing compartment lamps. Also needed is a full understanding of how the wiring is going to run so that I can build in any wire runs needed. All of that will come once I have had some additional time to evaluate the compartment as it currently stands.

So that's it for now. This has been a fun experience and I feel like I am beginning to make some progress. Take care and have a Happy Holidays.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Electrical Design And Some Wood Work

November and early December presented me with many opportunities to not work on the boat. Suffice to say, it was a long 45 days. I won't get into the details but there was little time for boat work.

But not all was lost. I did do quite a bit of electrical design work and I have started back on working the hull again this week.

I've struggled over the years trying to put together various drawings of the electrical system. I've read countless books on the subject and perused every web page I could find. I feel I have a fairly good overall understanding of the system, but I could never quite seem to get it down to an actual design.

About six months ago I ran into some new information that allowed me to make a more serious attempt at the design of the battery circuit. I actually felt pretty good about the drawing. But it lacked wire gauges and fuses. It also was missing several key components.

Well, fortunately for me, Glen L Marine, the designer of my boat, has started offering electrical system designs for a variety of boat types. They are provided to Glen L through an arrangement with Bayside Marine Design.

The designs are quite thorough and include additional information useful for putting together the actual system. I purchased a copy of the design for a 23 cabin cruiser with DC and AC power. Using that design, I drew up my own diagrams tailored to the specifics of my boat.

They are going to be part of a complete maintenance manual that I am putting together to go with the boat. The intent here is to have a reference describing the boat and it's internal systems so that in the future when I have forgotten everything I've done, I can go back and use this book as an aid.

In addition to the above, I was finally able to find time to actually work on the hull. I've completed the internal epoxy filleting of the frames to skin joints (except for some minor areas).

The deck battens will all be slotted into frames 5 and 6. In addition, the center batten will actually be part of hatch opening structure which I'll be doing next. I've decided to get this structural work done first so that I can finish the fairing of the topsides up forward.

Not much to show for 45 days, but I have some time off over the holidays, so hopefully I can get more done.

One last thing. Last month over the Thanksgiving weekend, I had the pleasure of helping another builder launch his wooden runabout for the first time. The design is a Glen L Monaco. My friend, Skip, put a considerable amount of effort and love into this build and it shows.

One of the highlights of the day was riding and driving the boat. I cannot remember the actual cubic inches of the engine, but it is around 460 if I recall correctly. Needless to say it is quite powerful. The following video gives some idea of what I mean. Look for the relevant part around the 1 minute mark in the video. Enjoy and take care.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Cabin Profile Templating

These days, I am splitting my boat building time between several tasks to avoid burn out. One day, I'll do some interior filleting with epoxy, another day (or many), I will spend fairing the top structure in preparation for the top decking. And for the last week or two I've been working on getting the cabin side profiles transferred from the plans to a full size template.

In my last post, I showed some preliminary drawings of side profiles. In those I was attempting to see how the two different side profiles (original and my extended height version) would look. However, I was not satisfied with either of them and kept trying. Eventually I sketched out a design that I did like. On that sketch, I drew the scale 6 inch squares needed to transfer the design to the full size templates.

The process involves looking at the scale drawing and seeing where the cabin lines cross the scale squares. Then on the full size sheet (on which the 6 inch squares were already drawn), placing a point in the same approximate position on the same square. The squares on the drawings and on the full size template were numbered horizontally and vertically to aid in this process.

Well, transferring the drawing to a full size template is not as easy as it might sound because it is harder to see shapes and curves when they are up close and very large. Determining where the reference points cross any given square is a bit subject when converting it to full size. An inch down from a horizontal line on the full size square looks like 3/32 inch when the square is scaled down. However, these points do serve as useful references for sketching. Once the points are located on the drawing, then sketching and connecting the dots (sometimes) will yield the enlarged shape.

Here are two pictures after the first attempt. The blue tape helps to visualize the lines better.

 There are several things wrong with this initial transfer. The top of the cabin is too flat and the forward angle not raked back enough. Also, the shapes of the windows are not quite right, especially the forward and aft ones. The curve on the aft window should be more rounded and further down from the centerline of the window. And the forward window needs to be angled down more at the front. And the top of the cabin needs to be more raked down at the front to give a sleeker appearance. But this drawing served as a useful reference to work on correcting these deficiencies.

By placing tape in locations that needed improvement, I was eventually able to get a more pleasing shape. I used the tape as a guide for a sharpie pen and then used white paint to hide the incorrect lines. I also drew out the aft section of the cabin profile on a second sheet of poster board. By the way, these are drawn on 4 by 8 foot sheets of 1/4" poster board that I was lucky enough to acquire several years ago.

Then the shapes were cut out and placed into position on the boat. The idea here is to use these templates to work out any shape and size deficiencies, then transfer the designs to plywood templates. The plywood templates will then be placed on the boat to work out actual fit and installation concerns as well as determining how other parts will connect to them. Once that's done, I will be creating the actual cabin sides out of mahogany boards. However, that will be sometime in the future.

I have to say that I am quite pleased with the appearance so far. The templates are a bit rough in the curves, especially on the top, but when I transfer these to the plywood, I will use a wood batten to get a nice flowing curve to draw the profile with. In the last two pictures, you can see how the cabin sides junction up to the transom. The transom will flow up at an angle and into the aft deck.

Another thing to notice is the seam between the two templates. That is the approximate position of the aft end of the cabin (and where the helm station will be). In this area, I am going to be adding a laminated arch to allow the back of the cabin to remain open. So the plywood templates will be important in determining the final size and shape of that arch.

Finally, the lower edge of the templates are long at the moment. They will be trimmed to the lower edge of the carlings which the final pieces will be attached to.

I'll be going back to fairing the top structure. I have the port side done and the starboard side about 30 percent done. In this last picture, you can see how the side decking will eventually look in relation to the cabin sides.

Once the fairing is done, I am going to start working on mocking up the interior. Can't wait to get started on that. That's it for now. take care.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Fairing The Top For Decking

Since the last posting, I have mostly been working on fairing the side deck structure, however the pace has been pretty slow. The floor plan drawings I worked on are complete enough that I will need to mock up the interior of the boat before starting on actual construction.

However, I wanted to have the cabin sides in place as a reference for placing interior components. In order to do that, several steps must be accomplished first. Fairing the carlings and side deck structure was the first requirement. This meant shaving down the excess planking on the sides, and fairing the sheer to a straight line from the transom to approximately frame 4. The carling would also need to be faired down at the fore and aft ends to match up to the frames.

I started off by rough cutting and rough sanding the side planking to a point just above the sheer. Using the tops of the frames as a guide, I cut notches at a couple of locations. Then using a long piece of wood molding as a batten, I struck a line from the transom to frame 4. On the transom, the line had to be from a down angle. It would go through the bottom of the notches I cut at the frames.

I quickly realized that this approach was going to require too much material being cut off the sheer at the aft end. The culprit was the down angle on the transom. I remember when I made these, that I laid them out from measurements rather than using the patterns that were supplied with the plans. However, my layout resulted in too much of an angle. You can see that in the previous picture.

This was unfortunate as I had already trimmed the transom veneer planking as well. In order to correct this, I was going to need to lessen the angle. I added material on the transom that would later allow cutting the angle to a shallower degree. This was subsequently trimmed flush with the top of the transom. I wanted to get both sides plugged first before measuring a new angle, in order to keep it looking symmetrical when viewed from the aft end.

I determined a new angle which was approximately 5/8" shallower at the outside edge. The batten was re-positioned and a new line was struck. The new line required far less removal of material from the sheer. 

Then a line was drawn from approximately 12 inches forward of frame 1 (at the top of the carling) to a point lining up with the top of the transom.

This excess material was cut off with a jig saw and then planed down to the line. The sheer was planned as well. In order to get the future decking to lie flat on the structure, it was necessary to plane the sheer at an angle with the inner edge higher than t he outer edge. This is because the side decking angles downward too far.

This description of events makes it seem like this happened quite quickly, but in fact, all of this occurred over a period of three weeks while I tried various ideas, agonized over potential solutions, and slowly faired the hull. This process, mimicked the slow period I went through when I was fairing the bottom hull two years ago. 

However, eventually I reach a point where most of the port side was faired correctly. There are two spots that still need a bit more work and I will get to them soon.

To take a break from this, I decided to start the attempt of laying out the side cabin walls. Long term readers of this blog will remember that I wanted to raise the cabin height and spent quite some time redrawing the concept art to get the look I was after.

But to get that concept from paper to actual cabin sides is more tricky. The plans have an overlay of 6 inch squares in a grid. These are scaled down for the drawing. The idea is that when laying out the actual cabin sides, I will first need to recreate the 6 inch squares grid.

But before doing that, I wanted to get my raised cabin side ideas transferred to the actual plans. What I did was lay tracing paper over the plans and trace the hull  and cabin profile as well as the scaled grid of squares. The using my concept drawing, I sketched the increased cabin height and enlarged windows onto the tracing paper.I traced the original cabin profile in red and the enlarged design in blue , both on the same paper.

Then using two separate pieces of tracing paper, I retraced each design separately (the original and the re-designed). The idea here is that I want to compare these two drawings and evaluate the shapes. I plan on tweaking them as needed in order to get the shape I am after. 

When I am satisfied with the final shape, then I will recreate the 6 inch squares on larger pieces of poster boards and recreate the shape on those. These poster board drawings will be cut out and used for two purposes.

First, they will be temporarily mounted in the hull to make sure they look good on the actual boat. I will also determine if my garage door is tall enough to get the bot out with the cabin in place. Having the cabins templates in the boat will also help with mocking up the interior design.

When I am ready to make the actual cabin sides, the templates will be used to lay them out.

At the moment, the drawings are not quite right and I will be spending more time reshaping them to get the correct look. In the previous photo, the drawing on the left is the original design and the one on the right is the enlarged cabin design. Like nearly every aspect of this build, there will be a lot of going back and forth trying to get things right.

It's been slow going and I expect it will continue to be that way for some time. So until next time, take care.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Cabin Design Iterations

For personal reasons, I am temporarily on hold with my boat build. I expect to be able to resume in approximately a week. However, that has not prevented me from spending time going over the next phase of the build.

For some weeks now, I was sort of drifting, waffling around trying to figure out what to do next. I had been trying to do the more mundane aspects of the build (sanding and epoxy filleting the seams) but one can only do this sort of work for a short period of time before something new needs to be done to change the pace.

The carlings I recently installed were one such diversion. The anchor well I started on was another. However, I was quickly realizing that the time had come to start seriously thinking of how I was going to fit out the interior of the boat since so much of the build depends upon that.

Several years ago, I started having misgivings about the interior of the cabin on my design. I felt that it was going to be cramped and I wasn't really sure it would meet my needs. Since I was working on the hull at the time, the need to figure it out wasn't pressing and I reasoned that I could pretty much do what I wanted with the interior when the time came. But what to do?

Initially, I had redesigned the profile of the boat to get more cabin height. I have a blog post from a few years back covering that. And I made some partial attempts at coming up with an interior that was more open. I believe I have a blog article on that as well.

What I came to realize more recently is that what I wanted was for my boat to be an extended day cruiser rather than a camper. This came about after several opportunities to ride on other's boats as well as an honest reassessment of what I would actually be doing with the boat once it was finished.

An extended day cruiser implies being able to move around on the boat as the day goes by. The closed cabin design on my boat meant either spending time in the cabin (lots of heat here in Texas) or time in the aft cockpit, which is approximately 5 feet in length. The cabin aft bulkhead prevented any direct communication with the cabin, unless the door was left open.

I came across some open designs on the Internet that looked to be a better choice for day cruising. These designs were open from the aft end of the boat to the forward end. I determined that my design might be suitable for this if I could eliminate the aft cabin bulkhead.

An email to Glen L determined that this would indeed be possible with the appropriate structural changes. I'll cover that in detail in the future. But suffice to say, with the possibility of an open cabin, I started looking at the cabin design in an entirely different light.

During my downtime this week, I have been experimenting with different floor plans on my computer. Trying different layouts to see what works and what does not. At first I thought I might like to go with a sedan style helm. With this approach, the helm is moved into the cabin near the front of the boat, like an automobile. This leaves everything aft open for playing around with.

However, there was one disadvantage with that approach. It basically eliminated the use of the berthing compartment on my boat. and it took up valuable real estate in the cabin. The cabin already needs to have a head (bathroom) and the addition of the helm just took up too much of the remaining space.

If the helm wasn't in the cabin, then it would have to remain outside. This seemed to imply that the cabin aft bulkhead would have to remain in place. Then I had an epiphany, why not leave the bulkhead off and have the helm be like a small island just outside the cabin.

This freed up the interior, and left the entire deck open from front to back. It allows the driver to communicate with the people in the cabin as well as those in the aft cockpit. And the helm is out of the way as long as it is off to one side.

So using this, I started trying different layouts on the interior. So far I have an interior that incorporates a boxed head (convertible to full height when opened), an extended bench seat, a small counter with sink and built in ice chest, and several movable seats. I am still experimenting with this as some aspects of it are still not quite right.

The images below are works in progress and do not necessarily represent the final design. For example, I believe the long settee design will  probably change. Also the transition from the berthing area to the settee is not right. And the shape of the counter will probably change. I am also not quite sure what to do about the berthing area space as it is pretty small.

The dual bench drawing mainly suffers from something in the aesthetics area, although I cannot put my finger on it yet.

As a point of reference, the green lines present the boat's shape. The chevron lines in the berthing area are the front cabin windows. The original cabin bulkhead location are indicated on the drawings as a reference. Remember that it would be completely open. The numbered lines are frame locations and are approximately 36 inches apart.

The point of all of this is to get a plan that I can use as a guide to move forward. I intend on mocking up the interior using poster board and cardboard once I get the drawing to an acceptable point. The mock ups will help to determine what will work and what wont. Once that is figured out, then I will start determining locations of the various systems and smaller fittings. Only then will I begin moving forward with actual construction.

Of course, there are plenty of other things that need to be done and these will be fit in from time to time. But I now feel like I have a means forward and the sense of waffling and drifting is much reduced.

One final set of comments. Readers will no doubt notice that there is no provision for a galley. This is not an oversight. I feel that the galley is unnecessary for my intended use. If a table is needed, it can perhaps be worked into the open area in the cabin, but that will be determined during the mock up stage. I feel that the best part of this design is that it makes the boat feel more open and allows people to move around during the day. The openness will contribute to keeping the cabin area cooler as well.

So that's it for now. I'll continue working on the design and post additional updates when appropriate. Take care.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Carlings And Other Tasks

The boat build has been at one of those points where there is a lot of drudge work to do and little in the way of visible progress, however progress is being made. Because of the lack of visible results, I have been reluctant to post anything new to the blog. But it's been long enough, so I decided to go with what I do have done.

The installation of the carlings has been the primary structural work being done and I'll cover that in a moment. On other days, I have been working on the bottom skin seam filleting with epoxy. I am doing this one bottom section at a time. Each section's work consists of the port or starboard area between the frames as illustrated in the next photo.

The pattern of work is the same in each case. Tape off the seams, use a tapered tongue depressor to smooth thickened epoxy into the seams, remove the tape, and then smooth out the fillet with the tongue depressor by going over them lightly one more time. There are also various holes and screw heads in the wood from when the hull was being constructed. These are being filled with thickened epoxy as well.

The end result is a seam that aids in keeping any water from getting between the wood joints. This is an example of a typical seam.

After each section is cured, I go back over and smooth sand any epoxy applied over holes or screw heads. At a point in the future, after I have installed the floor (sole) support structure, I will be applying three coats of unthickened epoxy to all these areas. Then they will be painted with a white bilge paint.

As mentioned in the previous posting, the carlings serve a couple of purposes. They provide a surface to mount the cabin sides on to. They tie the frames together and along with the sheer, form the support for the narrow walkways outside the cabin. And, they add additional strength to the boat by tying the transom into the structure at the top. Here is the starboard carling just after installing and before being cleaned up.

The carlings are connected at each end by the use of blocking or cleats. That is illustrated here.

The forward cleat is pretty straightforward, but the aft blocking was a bit trickier to make. The area to fill was rather large and I had to think about how I was going to fasten the blocking to the structure. I ended up using two pieces of 1.25 inch thick pieces. I epoxied each piece in separately using two screws each time. In the previous photo it looks like there are two screws, but the piece behind it is also connected with two screws, offset from the outer piece. Of course, epoxy was also used in this construction.

And the results of the installation, two carlings, both of which will need additional fairing to match the contour of the boat fore and aft.

In the last photo, you can see the outer skin sticking up quite a way. This was purposely left long when I installed the skin last year as it will be far easier to clean it up now than it would have been when the hull was upside down. When all the skin is trimmed and the carlings and frames have been faired, this narrow section will be the walkways on the side of the boat outside of the cabin.

I still have five sections on the bottom to epoxy fillet. Because of the discomfort of working on my knees, and the heat, I am averaging one section every two days during the week. So, I expect that it will continue to be a challenge to find things to show progress on for a while longer.

That's it for now. Take care.