Clipper's Vera Cruise Build

Clipper's Vera Cruise Build

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Water Passage Clean Up

Like all boats, mine has an area that will eventually be a bilge. The bilge, being the lowest point in the hull, is where any water that gets into the hull will eventually collect. As such, it needs to get to a common point so that it can be drained from the boat. That common point is at the aft end in the center by the keel.

There are two 1 inch holes that will eventually have drain plugs installed and which will be used to drain water from the hull. But the water has to get to these points first. How it does that is through a series of holes and passages that allow the water to move from a higher point to a lower point.

Where the battens pass through the frames, there are limber holes cut. These are on the outboard side of the battens and the center keel. Every frame in the boat has these. When the boat is drained, the aft end of the boat will be lowered so that gravity will move the water aft. In order for the water to get past each frame, these limber holes were originally added. You can see a typical example of this in the following picture.

The water runs along the edge of the battens. However, on my boat, because I used butt joints to join the bottom planking, there are backing plates which cover the joints between two skins. How the water would travel and the backing plates can be seen in the next photo. The backing plates are just in front of the fan. Notice that they fill the space between the battens.

Because they fill this space, they are a barrier to water flowing aft. What needed to be done was to remove a small strip from the edge of each backing plate where it interfered with water flow. I elected to remove approximately 3/8" as this provided sufficient passageway for the water and didn't expose too much of the skin join that the backing plates are meant to cover.

Since the backing plates are epoxied into position, I needed some means to easily remove the strip I was cutting off. I elected to use a router with a 3/8" router bit. In order to do that, I needed to have a guide strip to run the router against and a strip to lay on each backing plate to bring the level up to the same height as the adjacent batten. In the photo, the triangular scrap of plywood is over the backing plate which needs to be trimmed. In the second photo you can see how the backing plate is up against the batten side and would prevent water passage.

The router allowed me to quickly cut these strips off the backing plates except for the backing plates right next to the keel. Those had to be trimmed using a multi-tool to cut the backing plate and a chisel to remove the wood. This is because of the angle between the skin and the keel was not parallel to the backing plates. Fortunately, there were only four places where this had to be accomplished.

Here you can see the end result after routering.

Once the water gets to the back of the boat, it needs to travel to the centerline alongside each side of the keel. This is accomplished by limber passages cut on the underside of the battens near the transom. These passages allow water to get past each batten to get to the center.

You can see that in the next photo.

The problem with the limber passages, and the limber holes in the frames, is that when the skins were epoxied into position, there was some epoxy which squeezed out and partially filled these holes and passages. This epoxy needed to be removed so that water can flow and so that the holes and passages can be properly encapsulated with thin epoxy to protect against water damage.

The limber holes in the frames were relatively easy to clean, requiring a bit of chipping with a hammer and chisel to remove the bigger chunks of epoxy, and then sanding to smooth them out.

The limber passages in the battens were more difficult and I had to use a variety of means to clean them out. Here are the tools of the trade for these tasks.

The 90 degree die grinder has the spiral sanders that was used to clean out the limber holes in the frames. The 90 degree drill and the rat tail file were used to clean out the limber passages in the battens. The drill was mainly used to get at chunks of epoxy that the file could not get at. The mirror allowed to inspect the passages and determine where work was still needed.

The rat tail file was modified by heating the tail end over a flame and then bending it 90 degrees. Then a 3/4" dowel rod was stuck on the end to serve as a handle.

It took considerable effort to clean out these passages. In fact, one of them was so plugged that it took me over an hour of constantly working the file in the passage before I was able to freely move it.

I will need to go back and encapsulate these passages with thinned epoxy so that they do not have any exposed wood. This will be challenging, probably requiring the use of Q tips or something similar to paint inside the passages.

All of this has now been accomplished (other than the encapsulation) and I have started working on the next phase of interior preparation. I'll cover that and other things in the next blog article. Until next time, take care.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Removing Excess Epoxy

This has been a fairly dreary week in boat building. There was a considerable amount of excess epoxy in the bottom of the hull from the build . This epoxy was mostly from squeeze out when the planking was applied although some of it was runs from encapsulation done on the keel a couple of years ago.

Here you can see the excess epoxy and the keel bolts that are too long.

I've been asked several times why I am cleaning this up if its going to be covered by flooring anyway. It's quite simple really. This area represents the bilge of the boat and as such, it will be a collection point for any water that manages to get in the boat. Furthermore, it will be a collection point for dust, dead leaves, and anything else that manages to get past the floor boards.

Because of this, I had planned all along to encapsulate the entire inner hull with epoxy (at least three coats), followed by a coat (or more) of white bilge paint. What I am after is an easily cleanable surface that will protect the underlying wood. What I don't want is nooks and crannies for water and dirt to accumulate in. So in addition to encapsulation (and in fact before that task), I will be filleting all of the joints between planks and structure with thickened epoxy.

There are a few other tasks that need to be accomplished before encapsulation. There are limber holes in all the frames to allow water to travel down and aft to a drain point. These are located on the low side of each compartment alongside the battens and the keel. These limber holes are also somewhat filled with excess epoxy (not too much thankfully) which will need to be removed.

The backing plates behind the planking joints are sized in such a manner that they fill the space between the battens, however, that means that in the limber passages, they will block the flow of water. So I intend on removing a small slice from each backing plate along those edges to allow water to pass. Both of these tasks will need to be accomplished before encapsulation as well.

However, the big elephant in the room is the removal of the excess epoxy from the inner hull. This has to be dealt with first and that is what I have been doing for approximately 10 days. It's a dirty, uncomfortable task requiring me to spend much time on my knees, bent over, and sanding.

Fortunately I have an air compressor and a 90 degree die grinder that makes this go quicker. However, at first it didn't work so well because the grinder would continually stall out as I sanded due to insufficient air pressure from the compressor. I thought this was because the compressor tank might have been too small, (it's not).

But one day I tried adjusting the pressure up a bit. I had this cheap plastic adjustment valve, that came with the compressor, that would only allow me to adjust the pressure up to 100 psi. Any higher than that and the pressure would exceed the ability of the valve knob to stay in place and it would pop and pressure would drop. Anyway, I managed to coax an extra 5 psi out of it one day, and noticed an improvement in grinder performance.

I decided to remove the regulator and connect the hose directly to the tank. This allowed the full pressure of 140 psi to be available, which made all the difference in the world. I will still need to install a regulator,  but I am going to try and locate a higher quality metal valve.

Anyway, after that rather long winded dissertation, I was able to improve my sanding productivity. I still have a few compartments left to do, but the end is in sight now.

Here is the hull as of this afternoon.

So as I mentioned in the last blog article, photogenic pictures would be a bit lacking.  A I move on to the other tasks, there will be a bit more, however, they won't set the world on fire!!

Take care.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Post Flip Clean Up

After last weekend's boat flip, I started immediately on removing the building form structure as I was anxious to see the boat without this excess lumber in the way. You can see all of this structure in the following photos. It includes the building form and the rollover structure.

However, there were a few other tasks that needed to be dealt with before I could complete all of the removal.

Before I could do anything, I needed to remove the rollover structure. This turned out to be a bit of a challenge as I had no way to get to the bolts attaching it to the cradle. even if I had managed to get them out, the cradle would have been unsupported on the corners during that time. I didn't want to take any chances with this so I simply sawed through the plywood on the rollover structure where it was connected to the cradle, leaving a small piece of plywood still attached.

Secondly, I wanted to add additional supports under the transom and under the bow since both of these extend quite a bit from the cradle supporting the boat. Before I could add these supports, I needed to level the boat fore and aft and side to side (athwartship).

The building form longitudinal lumber that the frames originally sat on would serve as a convenient place to place a level to get the boat setting right in all directions. In order to get to those longitudinals, I needed to remove some of the build form legs near the aft end.

 There was a considerable amount of hardware that had to be removed. Combined with the heat in the garage and a broken battery charger for my battery powered drill, and it ended up taking several days to get to this point. It also left me with a large amount of lumber that I needed to find somewhere to store. The lumber ended up being stored mostly in front of the boat with a few pieces stored in ceiling racks I have in my garage.

Leveling the boat was fairly straightforward. I had figured that I would need to jack up the cradle after the boat was flipped so I had intentionally placed the side members higher up to allow room for my floor jack to fit under them. The entire cradle assembly was jacked up and placed on small lumber blocks with additional blocks added on the aft end and starboard side to get the boat level.

Once the boat was level, I made the supports for the transom end and bow and placed them into position. They are simply pieces of 2 by 4 lumber lag bolted together and the supporting surface covered with carpet I had left over from the cradle construction.

These additional supports are more for piece of mind as they take the strain off the keel while the boat is supported by the cradle in the middle section. They also prevent the boat from rocking fore and aft as I move around inside the hull.

Once all of that was done, I removed the remaining building form structure leaving an empty hull.

Finally I started into removing the excess epoxy in the bottom of the boat. This is going to take quite some time as I am sanding it rather than chipping it out. When I have removed all of it, I will epoxy fillet all the seams between the skin and the boat structure and then encapsulate the entire inside of the boat. As I said, I expect that to take quite a bit of time, so there won't be a lot of photogenic things to record for a while.

So that's where I am at as of today. Take care.

Saturday, July 2, 2016


Well, it's done. The boat is now really a boat and it looks like a boat. More importantly, no one got hurt while turning the boat over and the boat wasn't damaged. Actually it went very smoothly. Other than being extraordinarily hot outside, it was a very pleasant experience.

I had at least 15 people there many of who were wearing a team shirt I bought for the event. A good friend brought a keg of home brew beer and we had queso and chips as well as other drinks.

This is a culmination of nearly 4 years of building, far longer than I originally thought it would take, but immensely satisfying nonetheless.

So to recap what has transpired since the last posting, here it goes.

There was a three week waiting period while the paint cured fully. Near the end of the three week period, I started putting the rollover structure and cradle back into position.

Then the boat needed to be jacked up and the casters assemblies added to the build form. This wasn't easy as there was no good place to place my normal floor jack. Instead I had to resort to a scissors jack from my wife's car. This was used to jack up one side. The caster assemblies were installed and then the other side was jacked up and completed. During the process I heard a few creaks and groans but other than looking scary, it went well enough.

I then finished the installation of the rollover structure by connecting it to the build form underneath the boat. Installation was completed by adding ratchet straps to hold the cradle on the boat.

I took this next shot primarily because it seemed like a cool shot and I knew I would never see it this way again. This is the bow of the boat as seen from underneath, after it has been raised on the casters.

Then today, at 10 AM, I had numerous friends from work, a fellow boat builder, a few neighbors, and my family to participate in the actual flipping event. There were many, many photos taken, far too many for all to be included here. They can be viewed in the photos galleries section at the top of the side bar using the "Flipping The Boat" link.

However, here are enough to give the flavor of the flip.

Once we got it on it's side, I removed the casters from the build form and transferred them to the cradle on the other side.

Then a group shot.

Finally the remainder of the flip.

And roll it back into the garage.

And finally here it is in the garage. I'll be posting another blog entry  soon with more in the garage pictures as I start to remove all the build form structure.

Now that the boat is flipped it seems even more real than when I finished planking last summer. One thing that did not happen was the feeling of being overwhelmed by the yawning interior of the open hull. I had heard from other builders that this feeling came over them when they looked at the hull and realized what is still to come. For some reason, I didn't feel that. Perhaps it's because I know what I have still to do for the next several months.

Anyway, it was a delightful experience and I am glad and thankful that so many were willing to participate in it. Now on to the next phase. Take care.