Clipper's Vera Cruise Build

Clipper's Vera Cruise Build

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.

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  1. Nice build Carl, the past experience in aircraft repair explains your precision. One thing I would like to add is David Pascoe has a really neat article on bilge pumps (he is a retired marine surveyor). David's comments on pump placement and facing the open float to the transom may influence your final layout. But you are on track with multiple pumps. Most people have 1 and they will fail.

    1. Thanks. The build has been fun. I have read David Pascoe's article. It is very informative. The pumps and switches in the aft end of the boat do not have a final location yet, however I will take his article into account. The forward switches are going to be oriented so that they err on the side of caution and start floating sooner rather than later. I'll probably try doing some experiments before actually placing them.


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