Clipper's Vera Cruise Build

Clipper's Vera Cruise Build

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Head Box Part Two And A Little Veneering

It's amazing to me how long it takes to get some of the interior work done. It is not particularly difficult work, but, doing this without plans requires much time spent pondering the relationships between parts and double checking of measurements. Items, that if drawn up as part of an overall plan, could be made in a more production like manner. However, there is also something quite relaxing and satisfying about the process of creating these interior pieces and watching the ideas I have in my head, come to life. 

I should state that when I say no plans, what I really mean is that I am deviating from the original plans and cannot use them for measurements. What I have been doing is making drawings and writing up lists of tasks to keep them in a specific order. The lists also allow me to evaluate these tasks as the situation changes. Evaluation sometimes entails moving tasks to a different place in the order of operations. Evaluation also helps me to remember tasks that have to be done and add new ones as I think of them.

A good example of this multi-faceted process involves making the head box.  The head box is actually fairly complicated, more so than a simple box with a lid. It will consist of two compartments, one for the bucket and one for storage. The top of the bucket compartment must be hinged to allow removal of the bucket. Access to both compartments from the front is also desirable and this will be accomplished with doors on the inboard side. 

On top of the hinged cover will rest the toilet seat, itself hinged. The top over the other compartment will contain a small storage bin for composting material, and a toilet paper dispenser. On the back of the head box on the bucket side, a ventilation fan and ducting is needed. And of course to hide all of this, a second hinged cover over the entire box is necessary.

It starts with the frame work, which will be tied into the floor structure and attached to frame 3 as well as the partition. 


Because the top over the bucket compartment is hinged separately, it must have something to rest on when closed. And his can tie into a divider between the two compartments. Since the bucket compartment requires a ventilation fan, a means of closing off the back of the head box is necessary. And the doors on the inboard side will also need a landing in the center.





The reader will no doubt have noticed that the back of the box is angled in on the forward end. This is necessary because the floor underneath is also angled this way to clear the hull sides.

Covering this framework will be various thicknesses of plywood, most of which will be veneered with cherry wood for appearance. 



Notice in these last photos the lumber running across the back on top of the head box. This is the hinge point for the hinged top that will cover the entire box. The lid under the toilet seat will be hinged to the framework under the plywood. The top of the box is made from mahogany and plywood which will also be veneered. And eventually, an electrical panel will be mounted in the wall behind the head box. 

I am not sure exactly how this is going to look, but the plan is to have some kind of compartment behind the wall with a door covering the actual electrical panel, fuses, and wiring. As a side note, there will be a large PVC tube hidden behind the carling (which runs the full length of the cabin area). This tube is where all the wiring will run from the fore and aft parts of the boat.


Of course, the seat box forward of the head needs to be completed and I have done some work on that as well. Mostly just epoxying pieces together. At this point, only the starboard side is being worked on.


Forward of the seat box, under the V berth, I will need to finish the panels that cover the lower V berth compartment. A portion of these will be visible in the cabin and needed to be veneered. Again, I used cherry wood for this. 




For all of the components, I plan on using cherry wood for corner pieces, and edges on the plywood. These edge and corner pieces will blend into the cherry wood veneers. The end result will hopefully look like the cabin is made from cherry. This cherry will eventually be stained giving a nice warm tone to the interior.

I have the cherry wood for the edging and the thicker veneers as well as a thin cherry veneer for the partition. The thicker veneers will be planed down from thicker lumber as soon as I can get to it. 



Finally we come to the partition separating the seat box from the head box. When my first attempt at this started curving from the veneering process, I elected to make a new one from a thicker piece of plywood and use a thinner veneer. The thin veneer in the previous photo will be used for that. 

This next image is a repeat of one shown a bit earlier, but it shows the partition to good effect for the remaining item I am going to speak about. That large surface on the partition above the head box is a great place for some artwork. 


I am going to attempt to do a wood inlay of a clipper ship in this area using various woods. I had originally wanted to use this design on one of the gussets on frame 6 but the design was too fiddly for that smaller area. But here on the partition, I believe I can make it work. In the image below you see two versions of the artwork, a wire frame drawing that will be used to cut out the wood and a color drawing for reference only. On the left of the drawings are the woods I plan to use. I will not be using any of the colored wood, only the natural wood colors. We'll see how it works out, but I am hopeful that I can pull this off.


So that's it for now. There is quite a bit of work still to be accomplished just on this section of the boat. many tasks, not mentioned,  have to do with routing hoses, wiring, painting, encapsulating, adding access panels, and numerous other items of work. All of this is in the plan list I wrote up.

Until next time, take care.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Head Box Work

I had hoped to have more to post about (don't I always feel that way).One thing I've definitely learned, is that this build is going to take some time. Tasks that are easy to think about will almost always take longer than I figured on to accomplish. Throw in life, shortage of funds, general tiredness, and any other number of "excuses" and the build progresses as it does.

This posting will cover the work I have been doing on the head. As readers no doubt remember, my plan is to use a composting toilet, hidden away in a box in the cabin. Since this is not a full size box, the height of the box is dependent upon the height of the toilet bucket. The width and depth of the box is dependent upon the space available and the desire to allow for certain other features of the construction. And finally, the head box is dependent upon the floor that it rests upon. So after three weeks, I have some progress made and the basic shape of the head box built.

So let's start with the partition between the head and the seat box. My original design for this was a 1/4" piece of plywood with 1/8" mahogany veneers on both sides. This was a tedious process of adding one veneer at a time, cleaning up the epoxy, and then adding another. Each veneer took a full day to accomplish because of epoxy curing times and subsequent clean up.

Then I had to find a way to make additional veneers because I had used up my initial batch. I had a 2 inch thick piece of mahogany that I tried to cut on a friends band saw and table saw. Both attempts failed because of user error and the machines struggled with the density of the wood.

I tackled this  in a different manner with my table saw, namely, cutting the thinner slices in shallower cuts and then progressively raising the blade. Because of the width of the wood, I had to flip the wood over and make the same cuts from the other side. Needless to say, instead of getting 7 or 8 pieces out of this lumber I managed 4. They were very roughly cut to varying thicknesses but planed down nicely to the pieces shown in the picture.


At this point I went back to the partition and realized that I had a problem with it becoming curved from the veneering process. Furthermore, I wasn't very happy with the appearance of the narrow veneer planks. I started thinking that perhaps I needed to step back and rethink the whole approach. This also got me to rethinking about the overall colors of the interior. 

I got my wife's help in coming up with a coherent plan for colors which involved lighter colored wood. We brainstormed about design ideas and I am happier with the path forward in this regard.

But to deal with the partition curve, I elected to scrap the part and make a new one from thicker ply. The plan is to veneer it with thinner veneers of the same type of lighter colored wood planned for the rest of the interior. As for the veneers I made previously, well they are back in the spare wood pile since I will not be using them as intended!

Next i wanted to get back to making the structure of the head box. But before doing that I needed to have some idea how the toilet was going to be constructed.  Instead of buying one of these (which are quite expensive), I found plans on the Internet to build my own. It essentially requires the use of two large plastic buckets from the home supply store. The material of these buckets can be plastic welded using a heat gun. Here are photos showing the process of making the basic bucket with built in urine diverter. I'll be adding the smaller remaining parts at a later date.











This gave me the bucket I needed for height measurements of the head box. This and the toilet seat allowed me to come up with the final dimensions necessary.

However, to be sure, I wanted to make the floor under the bucket first.This involved yet another diversion because it was affected by the desire to make the center of the cabin floor removable for bilge access. 

I had originally planned on a 15 inch wide panel running full length of the cabin floor. But after thinking about it some more, I decided that a wider panel, nearly the full width of the cabin would be preferable. Only a narrow strip running down each side of the cabin would be permanently mounted. This narrow strip would be tied into the floor going under the head box.


This last photo shows the end result, however getting to that point involved making various cleats to support the floor, cutting holes in the floor to allow the vertical head box supports to extend through to the structure underneath, and of course making the various support pieces. All of this tied into thinking the process through continually.

Here are some examples. The vertical supports had to be a certain height. This required setting the floor piece in place and the toilet on top.


The partition had to be temporarily mounted in it's final position. This required making spacers for the areas of the frame that it would be mounted to.





The head box eventually needs a privacy curtain which will be drawn across the cabin opening. This means there needs to be a space for a rod to hang the curtain. And some means of making this space look better. A white poster board mock up of a potential idea is shown in these next photos, although I will be doing additional design work on this later.




Next I had to make the support frame for the head box and get it glued together.




And finally, another shot of the end result.


There are a couple of additional bits of information that I will convey about the last photo. The center floor panel is still yet to be made, what you see in the photo is the temporary floor I made earlier this summer. Only the starboard side floor strip has been made so far. 

Secondly, the seam between the center floor and the side strips is not supported, so I am in the process of making floor support cross beams for these areas. That will be covered along with other progress in the next post.

So that's it for now. The next several days will involve encapsulating 12 cross beam floor supports and getting them mounted. After that, I am not sure yet, but I may start on the other side of the cabin.

Until next time, take care.

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.