Clipper's Vera Cruise Build

Clipper's Vera Cruise Build

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Cabin Floor Supports Part 3 And Going Vertical

This stage of the build is falling into that pattern where it seems like there is a lot of work being done but it doesn't have a lot to show for it. I work on this boat almost everyday. Since I still work full time and have other responsibilities, this usually means 30 to 60 minutes per day. So by it's nature, this means that it will take time to get things accomplished. When coupled with the need to setup things in my garage every time I need to work and adding in waiting times for epoxy to cure, it can sometimes feel like the pace is slowing to a crawl.

However, progress continues to be made. The floor supports for the cabin were completed. I used a different approach to making the second set. They are a simpler design which provide the same level of stiffness and were much easier to install. Basically they are a piece of mahogany bonded to a similar sized 1/2" piece of plywood and then fitted into slots on the floor timbers. This avoids the complicated center support I used on the forward floor supports. Eh! Live and learn.

You can see the slots in this photo.

In the previous compartment, before installing the floor supports, I elected to paint the bilge white before doing the installation. As I was doing this second compartment while off from work, I wanted to maximize the amount of progress I made and avoid long unproductive waits for the paint to dry. So I elected to wait to apply the bilge paint until a later date and focus instead on getting the floor supports installed. 

Also in this compartment, there will be two sets of bilge pump and switch combos. In order to attach these to the hull skin, it is necessary to provide a small mounting pad to screw the parts to, rather than screwing directly into the skin and risk opening a hole into the hull. These pads also allow me to mount the parts perpendicular to the hull rather than at an angle. There will be a pump and a float switch on each side of the keel. As I only have one set at the moment, I cannot show both at the same time. However, I will be purchasing these fairly soon.

 The important point of this installation is that there is good access to these pieces as they will eventually need replacing.  They also have to fit under the floor, so I spent some time researching and thinking about this before doing the work and buying the equipment.

The floor supports and mounting pads were installed and then a temporary floor placed into position. The plan for this floor was originally to provide a center access panel running it's full length. The panel was going to be the same width as the center floor supports. But as I got to thinking about it more, I realized that access to the bilge was still going to be somewhat difficult. I eventually decided to increase the width of the access panel to the outer supports and make most of the floor easily removable. Only the sections under the seat boxes would be permanent. I'll cover this more in detail when I actually get to doing it.

Here are some photos of the support  installations and the temporary floor .

Next up, I could finally start moving in a vertical direction. Working on the boat is satisfying, but working down near the bottom of the boat is uncomfortable and I am glad to start moving up for a change of pace. 

As I am deviating quite a bit from the original plans interior, there is a lot of thinking time needed, combined with trial and error fitting and custom part manufacturing. I spent quite a bit of time drawing up sketches of how the parts fit together (or at least how I thought they would fit together). When I started actual construction of course, most of this turned out to be inadequate planning and I had to do additional thinking and trial and error fitting.

Because all the parts attach to each other, it is necessary to build somewhat in the order that they will be assembled to get spacing  and size requirements correct. For this portion of the project, that meant starting with the seat support structure and vertical facing for the forward V berth compartment. These are going to be plywood facings, covered in a mahogany veneer. The support is simply a horizontal cleat to support the forward end of the seat box. The support mounts to the facings, so the facings had to be made first. Here they are in progress. I still have to make the veneers for them.

Next up was making the structure for the starboard seat box. This needs a vertical support at it's aft end and two horizontal supports. The seat box is at the same height as the V berth as it forms the aft portion of the berth. The previously mentioned cleat on the facing and another cleat mounted to frame 4 provide the mounting points for those supports. The vertical support needed a gusset to attach its lower end to the frame.

 Spacing of these parts had to take into account the next set of structure and a partition. The partition is necessary because I realized that the person sleeping on this side was going to have their head right next to the head box and I wanted to provide some separation between the two. I wanted this partition to be tall enough to provide adequate separation, but not so tall as to make the cabin seem cramped or block view to and from the person sitting on the seat box. It mounts to frame 4.

The partition is plywood and will also be veneered with mahogany. Additionally, it will have a mahogany cap on it's edge for a better appearance. You can see the mahogany strip setting vertical in the previous photo. It will need to be steamed and wrapped around the curve of the partition. I'll do this after veneering both sides.

The veneers take the form of seven 1/8 inch slats per partition side and each needs to be fitted after the other is installed. This is similar to the approach I used several years ago for the transom veneer. So making these slats gave me an opportunity to finally use a power planer I bought a few months ago. Installing them, however slowed progress to a snail pace. The process after installing the first veneer was to clean it up, fit the next veneer and then install that next veneer. Only one of these clean up/fitting/installation sessions could be accomplished per day due to having to wait for epoxy to cure and because of my other responsibilities. This is why it was slow going.

I used cinder blocks and a piece of scrap plywood to provide the necessary downward force to bond the veneers to the partition. Plastic wrap between the veneer and the scrap plywood kept the parts from being bonded together.

And the final result after doing one side. It's not installed yet as there is more work to be done.

I need to make more mahogany slats and finish the veneering process. Also install the end cap. The partition installation will require spacers (still to be made), and of course there is the next structure parts for the head box.

Trying to explain all of the thoughts and effort involved in this would make for pretty boring reading so I won't go into any more detail about that. Suffice to say, that this process will continue until I have a full structure for the starboard side. Then additional veneered facings will be needed to box it all in. 

And the seat box will need the additional parts needed for the flip up extension I have in mind. I'll cover that more in the future.

Before I can move forward, it is necessary to make more veneers. These are going to be made from a 2 inch thick piece of mahogany. My first attempt at cutting this ended up not working, so I am going to try a different approach. Hopefully, I won't turn an expensive piece of wood into firewood.

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

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Cabin Floor Supports Part 2

I am focusing on getting the cabin floor installed now, as I want very much to get started on the seats and other cabin fittings. The cabin floor is approximately 31 inches wide and 6 feet in length. It will be a 12mm (1/2 inch) of Okoume marine plywood and needs adequate support in order to not be springy. So, most of the work for this posting is for those floor supports.

However, before covering that, I will show the remaining work that I did on the forward V berth. This involved two tasks, getting the lower floor unit prepared for installation and getting the upper platform prepared for fasteners. 

The lower floor assembly is a removable piece so it requires screws to install. But before I could do that, I had to finish painting the part. 

Installation is only temporary for the photo shoot since I will be making quite a mess in this area for some time and it will be easier to clean it up without this part in the way.

Next, I wanted to get the upper platform mounting holes drilled and threaded inserts installed. I won't be mounting this platform for awhile longer as it ties into the cabin cabinetry and I want to leave it loose for fitting purposes. But I got the holes drilled and the inserts added to the platform support structure.

The next step in the cabin is to get the floor supports installed. There are several tasks to accomplish for this. There are the floor timbers on frames 3, 4, and 5 which need additional work. There are fore and aft horizontal supports in the sections between the frames which needed to be made and installed, and there is encapsulation and painting of these sections.

When I first started on these floor supports, I wanted to insure that they were very stiff and came up with a design which had a center span support on the inboard supports that straddled the battens below it. However this approach, while it works, was fiddly and hard to get installed. Here are the parts in preparation. 

Before these could be installed, I had to add some trapezoidal shaped fillers on frame 5. I also needed to widen and install the floor timbers on frames 3 and 4. I needed to install a forward floor support cleat on the frame 5 floor timber. And I started encapsulation and painting of the area between frames 4 and 5.

Then, installation of the forward supports began. As I mentioned, it was somewhat fiddly and difficult to get them installed. Because of the heat in the garage, I installed them in phases so I wouldn't have to rush because of the epoxy setting up. It also made it easier to get each one set up with installation jigs so that they were in the correct location. However, getting the drill into position to drill the holes and then install the screws was fairly stressful and uncomfortable. It doesn't help when the screw heads strip and they have to be removed.

Because the floor timber on frame 3 has thicker plywood members, I decided to try a different method of installing the aft floor supports. First, I was going to dispense with the center span supports that straddle the battens. That design works, but as mentioned was a lot of trouble. With the new approach, I had to compensate for the missing center span supports by bonding a 18mm piece of plywood to the inboard supports to make them stiffer. The outboard supports will be under less stress, so they got 12mm plywood bonded to them. All of them are quite stiff. To mount them, instead of using cleats (which were hard to fit and install), I cut slots into the floor timbers. This was done using a multi tool after marking the locations.

The slots were cut out and the parts placed into position. The whole process only took me two days compared to nearly two weeks for the first supports. Once I get the bilge pump pads installed and the entire area encapsulated and painted, I will do the final installation on the second set of floor supports.  

The floor extends just past the outboard supports when it is made and fitted. This gives approximately 25 inches of side to side floor space after the cabin seat boxes are made and installed. 

As I am off from work this week, I will continue working on this area with the goal of getting the area basically completed other than final installation of the floor. That will have to wait until I complete the cabin fittings because there will need to be some electrical wiring run in underneath (for the bilge pumps).

All in all, I feel pretty good about the progress made. It does get rather daunting at times when I think of what still needs to be done, but every day, I get closer to that goal of putting her in the water.  Take care.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Five Years! Where has The Time Gone?

I spent some time debating whether I wanted to create this post. My concern was that someone would see this and get discouraged at the amount of time needed to get to the point I am at in the build. Five years is a long time and I am at least two more years from usability (if not more). 

Everyone always asks me, "When is it going to be finished?" or "Do you have a time line for completion?" When I started, I was sure I could finish it in three years. Surely that would be plenty of time to build a boat I thought.  

Of course, what I didn't think about, was that there is a lot more to this than I originally realized. A boat this size is bigger than the average boat in most households. Smaller boats could be built in three years. And there are plenty of fine examples of those boats out there. In fact, there are many examples of larger boats like mine that have been completed in three years.

The fact is, and we've all heard this, life gets in the way. There are many things in my life that need attention and have to take priority over building the boat. Another factor, weather and climate. In my area, there are many very hot days and working on the boat on those days is limited by my ability to take the heat.

But there are several advantages to the time needed to complete this project. Let's start with money. Boating can be an expensive hobby. Purchasing boats can set the average household back 25 to 80 thousand (or more) for a new boat. Used boats can be had for less, thankfully, so the hobby isn't out of reach for many people. But a boat like mine, new, could easily cost north of 100 thousand if purchased from a dealer. So the first advantage is cost. I will have nowhere near 100K in my boat when completed. I estimate it will be around 25 to 30K when I finally get her in the water. So I get a very nice boat for considerably less.

Secondly, I can spread this cost out over the years of the build without taking on any debt. This not only saves me any interest on a loan, but I can spend the money when I have it and can budget for it without worrying about having to make a payment every month.

Another real big advantage for me is that I can break this job into 30  minute chunks of activity. I always have something I can do when I have 30 minutes available. And most days, I can usually spare 30 minutes. Weekends and some evenings, I can spare more, and I can get more done. And although this approach does require patience, it does allow me to do better work and it does allow me to get things done. My patience levels have also benefited from this.

One additional benefit which I cannot leave out, is the satisfaction and confidence in myself that have come with working on this boat. This is priceless and there is no way other than some project like this that I could ever get the feeling I get from working on her.

There are other advantages, which I won't go into since this was really intended to be a recap of the last 5 years activities. So without further ado:

2012 - After 6 months of thinking about it, I purchased the plans for my boat and some initial lumber and got started.

2013 - This is the year that things really started to get going. It was all about getting the frames built, mounting them on the building form, and staring to get longitudinal pieces into position.

2014 - This was the year when I completed installing pieces to define the boat's shape and then shaped those pieces to accept the plywood planking that was started near the end of the year. It took me about 5 months to shape the exterior (called fairing).

2015 - The excitement was building. With the addition of each new piece of plywood planking, the boat hull took on more and more character and I could see that I was making progress. After completing the planking, I had work to do on dressing up the transom, and then I began the process of applying fiberglass cloth to the exterior.

2016 - All my friends knew that I was getting closer to the point of turning the hull over. But I still needed to add a few external parts and then get the initial coat of paint on the bottom. There was also a need to get a structure built to support the boat. Then the flip occurred. It was stressful getting to that point, but the actual event was anti climatic and only took about an hour. After that the remainder of the year was spent cleaning up the excess epoxy in the interior and sealing seams.

2017 - I finally get to really start on the interior of the boat. This is the part that I have really been dreaming about for years. It's where I can express creativity and make the boat my own. It is the year I decided to deviate from the plans and make the cabin shorter in length and laid out differently. And I got to see a little bit of what the boat is going to look like when completed. I hope to make significant progress on the cabin fittings by years end.

And this year, as I have previously mentioned, I decided to refocus on functionality and get the boat to a point of usability. It will still be a few years before this happens. But by doing this, I can enjoy the boat on the water sooner. And I will have many years of adding all the little details that will make her really special to me.

Finally, I want to add this. Big projects like this can be intimidating. Many people are afraid to start because they think they will not be able to do some part of the work, or they get overwhelmed by the amount of work needed. But if you have patience, and the time to devote to something like this, and are willing to work it consistently as often as possible, it will happen in front of your eyes. You will have feelings of satisfaction that cannot be matched by many other tasks. And in time, you will have something unique.

I hope that many people will read this and be encouraged to try something like this for themselves. I like to think that if more of us had a hobby like this, and fewer spent time watching the news or reality TV, then we would have fewer problems in general. Take care.