Clipper's Vera Cruise Build

Clipper's Vera Cruise Build

Sunday, January 29, 2017

More Hatch Work And Designing The Front Bulkhead

This is the part of boat building that I really enjoy. Giving myself the opportunity to express creativity and making the boat more personal to me. This week I got the hatch ring fiberglassed on the exterior surface. The interior will be finished later after I have cut the ring to it's final height and have it installed. The fiberglass on the exterior strengthens the ring and gives me a good surface to smooth out the small area that will be exposed to view.

Next up was to get the deck structure made that would surround the hatch ring. Most of the ring will be between the deck and the inner cabin ceiling. It's sandwiched between two 3" wide boards running lengthwise and another crossing side to side behind the ring.

This structure will be epoxied together, but not installed until later after I have finished with the forward cabin, but before I attach the fore deck. The hatch ring will not be installed until after the deck is in place. This way I can place it up in there, trace around it and then cut the circle out with the plan to make the circle fit close to the ring.

I also did more work on the bow compartment. One thing that needed doing was trimming the bulkhead to fit better after all the other parts were placed into position That was relatively straightforward, requiring a bit of back and forth between the boat and the sander.

One of the remaining big jobs for the bow compartment is finishing up the bulkhead. This has to have an opening to allow access to the bow storage area, the opening needs a hatch, and it has some lights that need installing. But most importantly, it needs to look good, because it will be very visible later on.

So I started doing some new mocking up. I wasn't happy with the original hatch idea which you can see in one of the previous pictures(white paper on the bulkhead). It just didn't look right.

I knew that I still wanted a slatted hatch, but decided to make it rectangular instead. I considered different ways of mounting the hatch and decided to make it flush with the bulkhead itself. I would surround it with some trim. So I spent some time designing up what that will ultimately look like. It will need to be braced on the backside.

Some time back I ordered two lights I intended to use for the berthing compartment. The intention was to mount them on this bulkhead.  In order to mount them, I wanted them raised up off the bulkhead, mounted on a piece of wood with finished edges.

So here is what it looked like after mocking up.

I felt like this was rather plain looking and pondered ideas on how to improve it. It occurred to me that a crown above the hatch might look good so I experimented with several shapes in paper until I came up with one I felt looked okay.

But my artistic abilities are rather limited and it still didn't seem right. So I enlisted the aid of my artistic son. The first thing he said was ditch the crown I had drawn. Ouch! "The lights are Art Deco" he said. "The crown should match that." He sketched out some ideas and then we made a mock up and replaced my original crown idea.

It's not easy to see the design in this photo, but it has a definite Art Deco look to it. The top and sides have circular scallops and the center has a bold trapezoidal shape with additional trapezoids outboard. In the center, is the leaping dolphin I plan on including.

I must say that this new design was much better and I was pleased with the way it looked. In these pictures, there is some representational trim molding that looks sort of like rope. I put this in there to see how it would look, and it will be part of the final design. This will be surrounding the hatch door and replacing the rectangular pieces that are sill in place on the sides and bottom.

I had one remaining concern after this session. How was it going to look in the boat? Would it look to busy? Would it be too crowded? I taped up all the mock up parts and then placed the bulkhead in the boat. Next I wired the two lights into position so I could get an idea of the finished look. Here is the result.

It looked good to me and satisfied  my need for a dressier bulkhead. I realize that this is a mock up and readers will probably have trouble visualizing this the way I have it in my mind. But the idea is to make the hatch approximately 1 inch thick, with fixed slats. The hatch opening will be the same size as the door and the door will sit flush with the bulkhead. The trim will wrap around all four sides and sit proud of the bulkhead. The crown will be made from various species of wood and layered to get a more three dimensional look. There will be some color in the crown, that matches the colors for the boat. And the dolphin will either be made from wood and inlaid, or possibly cast from metal. The bulkhead will be white with the trim and hatch done in wood. The panels under the lights will have finished edges of some type.

So that's it for this week. Next weekend, I will be visiting my friend Skip to mill the deck hatch. I am excited to see that in it's final shape. And during this week, I will be starting on making the parts for the bulkhead. Until next time, take care.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Deck Hatch Work Continues

After the previous attempts to make the deck hatch ring, I started rethinking the whole process and what I was after. The first thing I realized was that the ring needed to do more than simply set on the deck. It actually needed to tie into the underlying deck structure. This meant that it needed to be taller. After my two earlier attempts at forming the wood around the form, I knew that the steaming or laminating approach wasn't going to work with a taller ring. I'll cover what I decided to do in a moment.

The new idea for the deck ring is illustrated in the following drawing. The ring extends through the deck into the underlying structure. An inner surface on the underlying structure hides everything. When you look up through the hatch opening, all you see is the inside of the ring. The ring extends up through the deck and the hatch cover rests on the ring. The hatch will be hinged to the deck and will have a support rod. There will be a latch to keep the hatch closed.

So how was I going to make this ring? A fellow builder on the Glen L Builder's Forum mentioned a technique he used for an opening ring on a kayak where individual strips were glued edge to edge in a circular shape. At first this seemed like too much work, but after giving it some additional thought, I realized it was the way to go.

First order of business though, was to make a bigger circular building form. From the earlier attempts at the ring, I knew that it was going to need to be a bit larger in diameter. This was because my shoulders were too wide to fit through the smaller ring I originally made. And given the new construction approach, it would need to be taller. However, I was beginning to be concerned about the overall size of this and how it would fit on the deck. So I did a quick mock up to see  what it would look like.

The mock up is made from poster paper. It's flat on the edges only because the paper wasn't big enough for the diameter. It's shown in the approximate position that the hatch will eventually be in. My main concern was that it needed to fit in the space between the frames and still leave enough room for the cabin windows which angle down into the deck forward of frame 5 (aft of the hatch). It looks like I will have approximately 6 to 8 inches of space aft of the hatch before the cabin windows rise up out of the deck.

The following pictures illustrate the building form and the idea for the strips. Once all the strips are glued together around the form, I will remove the form, smooth out the interior surface using some fairing compound and then either paint it or cover it with a wood grain veneer. The exterior will never be seen but will be sandwiched between some structural members under the deck.

I spent several days gluing these strips  together around the form. It took time because I wanted to make sure they didn't move while the epoxy cured, so I didn't put on more than 6 at a time. It took 41 strips to go completely around the form.

During the same time, I also spent time making the parts for the deck hatch. Since it was going to be circular in shape, I needed a circular piece of wood to mill it out of. I mentioned previously that I was going to use an octagon shape to accomplish this. I cut the pieces out and added angles on each end. These cuts needed to be a specific degree of angle in order for the parts to come together into a proper circular shape. It was hard getting this accomplished on my table saw, but eventually I did manage it with a bit of tweaking with the sander. Each piece also had a slot cut in to the end for a spline to strengthen the joint. The slot was also accomplished on the band saw using a dado type approach to cut it.

Then one by one, the pieces were epoxied together, while trying to maintain a flat piece. The part was cleaned up and then sanded. I will be taking this to a friends house where he has a table router . There we will mill the final shape of the hatch. I'll be covering that in a separate post.

In other work, I started on the center deck batten. This extends from the front of the boat to frame 5. It must be tapered to lie flat on the breasthook (triangular bow piece). Later it will be faired on the topside along with the remainder of the topside structure so that the fore deck plywood can lie flat on the structure. Here it's simply lying on position. I won't be installing it until later after the bow compartment is completed as it would get in the way. It's rounded on the edges for the interior side.

The bow compartment got some work as well. I cut holes and bought vents for the lower storage compartment. And did some final fitting. When all is ready, these will be installed. Since the entire compartment is going to be epoxied into place, the vents give the area behind the panels a chance to ventilate and hopefully prevent the forming of mold.

The anchor well above the compartment was always going to have some means for any water, from the anchor or rope, to exit. Originally this was going to be a drain into the bilge, but a friend convinced me that simple drains out the side of the compartment would be better. These needed to be at the level of the anchor well floor. I was quite nervous to cut these drain slots as they had to be in the right position and look okay on the outside. Also, just the thought of cutting holes into the hull, made me nervous. 

They were cut out by making a small template, drilling a couple of small pilot holes, drilling out the final holes using  a 3/4" hole saw, and then connecting the holes to form a slot. One was made on each side of the hull near the aft end of the anchor well. 

The end result was satisfactory and in the right place. It was a bit hard to get to the starboard side to cut this out because of the lack of space in my garage, but I managed. These slots will eventually be sealed with fiberglass and epoxy.

So that's it for now.  The plan for whats next is to mill the hatch, make the deck structure for the deck ring, and start working on the bulkhead for the anchor well compartment. There will be a need to figure out wiring runs for all of the electrical components in this area as well. Until next time, take care.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Bow Compartment Continued and First Attempts At A Deck Hatch

First off, Happy New Year everyone. Let's hope that this year will be good to all of us.

Time off for the holidays has given me a chance to work on several different boat related projects. I continued working on the bow compartment. I started thinking about what I want the bulkhead that closes off that compartment to look like, and I started working on a design for a deck hatch.

First off, the bow compartment. After the last posting, there was work still needed to provide mounting points for the inner walls. These would be cleats similar to those used for the anchor well floor. 

However, adding the cleats made it necessary to do some additional trimming on the inner wall panels in order to get them to fit correctly. I also ordered some of the parts needed for the compartment. This included vents, a new bow eye, berthing compartment lights, and an LED light strip. 

One of the sets of vents arrived yesterday and I modified the lower compartment floor panel to hold these. Since this floor panel will be epoxied into position, I wanted to provide some means of ventilating the area below it.

Next I needed to determine what the bulkhead, that closes off the bow compartment, looks like. This was important for several reasons. First off, I need to have a hatch in the bulkhead to access the storage compartment. Secondly, I want to see if there are any additional provisions needed for electrical wiring. And thirdly, I wanted to see what that section of the boat is going to look like so that I can make sure it is a pleasant area to be in.

The hatch for the bulkhead needs to also allow ventilation for the compartment. I am planning on making a slatted hatch with the slats overlapping each other. The hatch opening is restricted on how big it can be both from the anchor well above and the need to provide clearance for foam cushions in the berthing compartment. It also needs to be able to open and allow sufficient access to the compartment. One thing I do not want is a center post in the middle of the hatch opening, something that would be necessary if the hatch consisted of two side opening doors. Finally, there are two lamps being mounted to the bulkhead which need to clear the hatch door when it opens.

So I mocked up this hatch in thick poster paper to try and get some idea what it might look like. The picture below doesn't show this very well, but I will make a second mock up from thicker material before committing to real wood. The lamps will mount in the area above the hatch. Since this is the aft side of the anchor well, provisions for the electrical wiring for the lamps will have to be made. I feel like the hatch should probably open upwards, but at this point I am still not satisfied with the design and will be tweaking it as soon as I receive the lamps.

One of the next projects to work on after the bow compartment is completion of the overhead deck battens. This includes an opening for a deck hatch which will have to be boxed into the framework.

The original plans call for a rectangular hatch, however I always felt like this wasn't all that aesthetically pleasing. I want to try designing a circular hatch. Something like this, but made from wood.

The wood structure of the hatch would have to be thicker, but I believe I can make something that will look quite nice on the deck of the boat.

For my boat, the hatch consists of two parts. The hatch cover, which I discuss more in a minute, and a deck lip. The deck lip rises up from the deck, one inch and keeps water from the deck spilling into the interior of the boat. It also serves as a supporting surface for the hatch cover.

A rectangular deck lip would be easy to make, but a circular one presents challenges. I had two ideas about how to tackle this. But first I needed to make a pattern for the deck opening and hatch cover.  This was accomplished by drawing an 18 inch circle on poster paper and then drawing in the details of the deck lip and hatch cover.

The deck lip would be on the exterior of the 18 inch circle (inner circle in the drawing). My thought was that I could make this from 1/4 inch mahogany, steam bent around a circular form. I created this form from 3/4" plywood and added clamping slots around the perimeter. In the photo you can also see the strip of mahogany I planned to use for the deck lip.

Unfortunately this approach didn't work too well. The material was too stiff, even after steaming for an hour. But here are the steps I took.

As some of the later pictures show, there are flats spots in the curve, which were not acceptable for my purposes. So the next idea I tried was creating thin strips of mahogany and laminating them to build up the thickness.

This second attempt also failed as I could not create thin enough strips using the tools that I have. The last photo shows both attempts. With the first attempt I was also concerned about making the glue joint strong enough. The second attempt's failing are obvious.

I have one more idea how to tackle this, but I will explain my approach for the hatch cover first.

This cover is going to be made by epoxying 8 pieces of lumber together into an octagon shape, using 1 inch thick mahogany. The edges will be joined with slats of 1/4" material for strength.  Here is a pattern for the octagon shapes.

From this octagon, I will mill out the hatch cover using a router. I believe this approach will make a perfectly round circular hatch and should give me a pleasing shape as well. 

And that brings me back to the deck lip. I can use this same octagon technique to make the deck lip ring, although it will waste quite a bit of wood to do so.

There is one other issue which I need to address. The 18 inch opening does not appear to be large enough for my shoulders to get through. It fits the rest of me fine. So I may need to increase the diameter a bit.

So that is where things are at for now. The bow compartment is waiting on several parts to be delivered before I can move forward. The deck hatch is going to need more thinking and design work.

Still, overall, I am pleased with the progress and look forward to completing the work on the bow compartment.

Take care.