Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Beginning rope-work

So as I mentioned in an earlier post, I needed to take a little break from work on the hull and began fiddling with some of the other small parts. This past week, I decided to get moving on making the rig. I originally thought I would use yacht braid for the working lines and stainless wire for the standing lines. But the more I think about it, the more it seems like a traditional gaff rig should would probably look strange with anything other than traditional 3-strand.

Scrounging around online, I came up with a few bargain suppliers of rope and got myself three kinds: 1/4" amsteel for standing lines, and 1/4" and 3/8" vintage 3-strand for running lines. For the uninitiated, amsteel is a trade brand for high-modulus polyethylene rope (HMPE). The claim is that this rope is, diameter-for-diameter, stronger than steel, weighs less, is UV-stable, floats, and has very low stretch. Sounds perfect for standing rigging. The New England vintage 3-strand looks and feels like first-class manila rope, but has superior strength, lower stretch, and high durability when exposed to the elements. It has the added advantage of looking right on a traditionally rigged vessel.

Spools of line in hand, I return to the internet to find articles and you-tube videos about splicing different kinds of lines. Also, two books from Amazon are useful for the novice: Brion Toss' Rigger's Apprentice, and Barbara Merry's The Splicing Handbook.

Here are the fruits of my early labors:

Not the best picture in the world, but here's my bobstay. Two closed turnbuckles joined by a length of double eye-spliced amsteel with stainless thimbles. I think I might go back and re-do this with only one turnbuckle, although 2 gives me more adjustability...

Detail of the turnbuckle attachment to the bowsprit.
Here's the main-mast with side stays and the furled jib/forestay assembly. Side stays are am steel with a closed turnbuckle attached to the chainplates on the deck. At the hounds, I used a pair of stainless tangs. Again, thimbled eye-splices on both ends of the rope. You're probably wondering, what's going on with that deck coaming?? That's where I abandoned my hull work a couple of weeks ago. I'll get back to it soon...
Here's detail of the turnbuckle for the side stay.

Here's detail of the eye splice. I used waxed polyester twine to whip/serve the standing line. Probably overkill (like most of my work!) but it looks nice.
Here's my first attempt at an eye-splice (with thimble) on the vintage 3-strand. Everyone says 3-strand is the easiest rope to splice. I have found it to be the most difficult so far. The amsteel in the photos above is hollow 12-strand, and is by far much simpler to splice. For the rope geeks among you, I know -- I should have 4 turns of tucks at least. Here I only have 3. Cut me a break, it's my practice piece. :)
Last but not least, I knocked out a few more wooden cleats. These are smaller (4"), and I will use them on the boom as terminals for reefing and mainsail clew, as well as on the mizzen for the halyard, spotter, and sheet.

These have only been roughed out. Quarter shown for scale. I made these out of a piece of Lignum Vitae that I found. They'll be perfect for tying off 1/4" lines. By the way, I LOVE the smell of LV. It reminds me of lemon wood for some reason.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

First Attempt: Joel's "Lovely Wooden Blocks"

I needed to take a break from the hull as I contemplate exactly how to go about getting the coamings on and looking shipshape. In the meantime, encouraged by the relative ease in which I was able to knock up a few wooden cleats, I thought I might tackle a couple of blocks (ha! tackle blocks!).

This is one of the cleats that will be used on the side decks for mooring and fenders and such. I modified the basic design of the S&S cleat dimensions. These are 6" long and have a cut out between the two mounting posts. I made them out of some Brazilian cherry that I had laying around. 

All 4 of the side deck cleats. These are roughed out and not finished sanding or sealing yet. I also need to countersink a little deeper so that the head of the mounting bolt lays flat. 

So anyway, I had downloaded Joel Bergen's pdf on "Lovely Wooden Blocks", and figured, how hard can THIS be? Well, it turns out, not as easy as I originally thought. Making these blocks requires a pretty good level of precision in your woodworking...something I strive to achieve. I'm getting better but I have a long way to go.

I found a cheap source of 1/16" x 1/2" stainless steel straps and ordered up several of them in various lengths not knowing exactly how long I was going to need (I suppose I could have calculated it out, but it was late and I was tired and frankly chose the lazy route). I bought some nylon sheaves from our friends at Duckworks. I ripped and planed some walnut and maple and white oak I had lying around and set about making all the parts. So here's where things went wrong:

1) For some reason, for the life of me, I cannot rip a piece of wood on a table saw that is of uniform thickness from one end to another. When I eye-ball it, it looks to be 2" wide all the way across, but by the time I get down to detail work, there's ALWAYS some variation.

2) They say it's a poor craftsman who blames his tools for shoddy work. I literally have a poor Craftsman; router and table, that is. The thing must be 30+ years old. The router bit spins well enough (although it sounds like a jet engine in takeoff mode). The problem is I can't set the depth of cut with any precision. I dialed in 1/16" and measured it out, and it was 3/16". Even after setting it at the right height, it would shift down during cuts. When I would go back to make the cut deeper again, the fence would shift ever so slightly to ruin my first pass. I need to get me a nice bench table for my nice Bosch router for the next project.

3) I glued up the pieces, but found that my spacers were ever-so-slightly (I mean 1/64") off which knocked the glue-up out of alignment and subsequently the open area where the sheave goes is too narrow for the sheave and bearing.

4) Trying to fix all my errors pretty much destroyed the nice blank I had made.

5) I don't have a great way to accurately bend the stainless straps. They bend easy enough, but I need a metal workers vise or something and round nose vise grips or something.

Anyway...I had fun making this first one. I have lots of pieces made up for the next bunch of them, but I wanted to see what the obstacles were going to be. Having learned on this one, I think the next ones will be better.

I used walnut for the outer cheeks, maple for the center cheek, and white oak for the spacers. Not sure I'll do that again. I don't really care for the look.

You can see my bent straps aren't perfect. 

This gives an idea of the size of the double block for 3/8" line.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Light at the end of the tunnel

I'm coming up on almost 2 years working on this project. Granted, it's not been full time, but some days and weekends it has felt like it was full time. I estimate I have around 1500 hours into it. At any rate, Friday morning I received a shipment of my last few pieces of okume, and set about putting the decks in place.

I've been looking forward to this part of the build for some time. From what I could tell, it did not look particularly difficult, and that proved to be right. I used the large 4x8' pieces of cardboard to create templates for the various parts of the deck, cut those out with an exacto knife and used the template to trace the outline onto the sheets of 6mm ply. I made the edges a little proud of the line with the intention of trimming back once the glue had set.  All the cuts were made and glued up by Saturday evening, and this morning I attacked the boat with an edge router and my palm sander. I'm pretty pleased with the results.

What's left? I still have to make my boom and finish my bumkin. I need to install the coaming and cap rails. I need to carve out some wooden horn cleats. I need to do some sanding and finishing. I need to splice my lines and get the rigging ready, and bend on my sails. I figure maybe another 3 or 4 weeks depending on how much time I can dedicate during the week.

Anyway...some of the latest pictures from this weekend's work.

Slightly oversized. Used a jury-rigged marking gauge to lay out the line for the screws. Back filled with epoxy putty 
Nice to have different kinds of clamps. I really like the Irwin and DeWalt quick clamps. The large wooden clamps toward the bow were really handy for holding the deck down to the stringer as it approached the king-plank. In a later picture you can see I'm going with a rounded cockpit front. 

The mahogany lower rub-rail was helpful to temporarily clamp down the deck. There's quite a bit of curve at this part of the boat. Some slight compound curving as well toward the forward coaming area. 

By Friday night I had trimmed most of the remaining decks. 

Everything nicely cleaned up. 

I have yet to finish trimming the forward coaming edge. 

Nice view from the tip of the bowsprit. The anchor well is roughed in. I need to trim that a little better so that it matches the angle where the bowsprit tapers back to the anchor bitt/samson post. 

Starboard quarter view as the sun was setting today. 

The chain plates came through without any fuss. Used my trusty multi tool to cut a small slot. 

The hole for the main mast was cut with my palm router and a straight bit with a bottom bearing. I'll probably need to take a file to it to open it just a bit more, as I plan to leather that hole to avoid chafe on the mast. Down below, the hole going from the seat to the mast step is coated in the black rubber deck caulking. You can just see that in the next photo.

There she is from the port side. Looks like a right little ship with her new deck on. 

Parting shot after cleaning up the shop. You can see that I've varnished the transom and (mostly) attached the rudder. 

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Laid decks

Beside the fact that it was almost 90 degrees out and extremely high humidity this weekend, I figured it would be a good time to get my oak decks caulked. So I spent about half of the weekend masking and caulking.

I ordered up a box of TDS caulk (Teak Decking Systems). I wanted to go with sikaflex, but there are so many varieties and I couldn't tell which sku was the kind best suited to my application. So in the end I went with TDS based on some favorable online reviews. 

I had a lazy man's idea to just squirt the stuff into the cracks and then clean up with a spatula. Boy was that a disaster. After only one seam caulked I had made such a mess that I envisioned spending the next 12 months simply sanding off all the excess. 

So instead, I invested in 4 rolls of blu masking tape and spent five hours or so on Saturday taping each and every seam. Sunday morning I proceeded to squirt the black goo. Let me just say that stuff is an ungodly mess to work with. It sticks to every single little thing it comes in contact with. There's also a lot of waste in the application but I'm not sure how it could have been different.

If you've never used this material, pay close attention to the recommended application method. It will save you time and effort of redoing work later. What I mean specifically is that you can't simply take the excess squeeze out of a caulking run and slather it into the next crack. Doing this tends to trap air under the compound resulting in poorly adhered seams once the compound cures. I thought I would try to save material by pushing the excess in, and consequently spent a few hours cutting out poorly laid caulk seams and re-doing them. The correct process is to lay a thick bead into the gap and let it crown a little bit over the top edge. Then drag a spatula or putty knife across the top at an angle in order to push the compound completely into the bottom and sides of the gap. This will result in a LOT of waste material. But as I said above, I'm not sure how it could have been done differently. 

I ended up using 9 tubes of 10 oz each to fill all the seams. In the process of pulling up the masking tape, I discovered a few seams that I will do over again, so by the end of the project we could probably call it 10 tubes.

Some people said to pull up the masking tape while the compound is still setting up. I tried this with some good success the tape came up easily enough. I got tired though and went to bed before the job was finished. I woke up early this morning worried sick that the remaining masking tape would be attached forever to the deck, but it turned out to be almost as easy to pull up dry as when it was still tacky...albeit with fewer collateral black smudges. 

I used some furniture scrapers to clean up some of the overspill and to smooth the decks a bit. I'll come back with a sander to finish the job later this week when it's had some time to cure properly. Anyway...some pix follow. 

Next week: top decks and coamings. Almost done. :)

Masked seat tops. Rather than use a razor to cut through the gaps, I carefully laid 1" tape on either side of each plank. A 1 7/8" plank means the tape overlaps a little in the middle which is good for masking AND for removing the tape later. 

Here you can see tape partially removed after the caulk has been applied. 
I tried to follow Barrett Faneuf's method for "fancy cuts" It turned out ok. Once sanded, I think this will look really nice. This is the rear starboard quarter where it intersects the transom.
This shot gives you a preview of the pre-sanded pre-oiled finished product.  I used a set of cheap furniture scrapers to "shave" off some of the flashing. The scrapers also make short work of smoothing out the oak planks. Once I have the rest of the masking removed and scraped, I'll finish up with some fine-grit sand paper and then put an oiled finish on it. Can't wait to see how it looks!

Saturday, August 29, 2015

A photo update...

So as I said in my last posting, I've been spending tons of time out the shop trying to get this project finished before the cold weather sets in here in Wisconsin again. So I haven't spent any time posting or writing.

I have taken a few photos that will give you an indication of what I've been up to and where I'm currently at. This posting will bring you up to date through today, so here goes:

Inside is primed and seat tops are roughed in. Rudder cheeks are clamped on to see how they'll look. Bumpkin is snugged in. 

Tiller is fitted for looks. It's been epoxied but not yet sanded or varnished.  Here you can see the top of the (folded) mast. I will have to make some kind of gallows for my spars for when this boat actually starts to travel.

Shaping the gaff jaws
Gaff glued and screwed and 'poxied. Needs some sanding and finishing work.

Different view of the gaff jaws.

Made a hollow bumkin. Probably didn't need to be...but I had some spare lumber from the mainmast .
The new samson post. Much nicer size/shape. 

Laminating the mizzen
Once the seat tops were set in place, I found some 8/4 quarter sawn rough white oak for a couple hundred bucks and planed and ripped it into planking for a proper "yacht laid deck". Planks are 1 7/8" x 5/16". The edge covering boards are a bit wider 2 1/2" I think and abetted out so that they cover the edges of the ply sub-seats. 

I used Sika flexible contractors adhesive to put bed the planks and covering boards. It should allow the wood to move a bit, but seems to have pretty exceptional hold. 

3/16" spacers keep everything (pretty much) lined up. 

Chain plate for the mainmast shrouds. I put a hardwood backer inside the sheer plank and through bolted it with stainless 1/4" bolts. I still have to screw the top bolt, but I want to see how/if the top rub-rail will be affected. Probably will countersink the bolt and cover it from the outside. In any case, it should prove to be sturdy enough.
Decks are sanded and covered up as I begin the interior painting process.
Figured I should paint before I put the seam caulking in.

Kind of a dark photo, but you can see the paint scheme for my little "Puffin". Going with white bottom paint, black topsides, and a bright sheer strake with white interior trimmed with oiled decks and bright spars. 

Sitting on her trailer...

OK...so I'm finally getting around to posting this only about 4 months past the day I originally wrote it and saved it as a draft. I'm more caught up in actual building than writing about it. But time for a catch up.

Spring is finally here. But days alternate between 40 and 80 degrees and sunshine and rain from moment to moment. We're building a new home, and our current one is up for sale. So my wife is demanding that I keep the "shop" nice and clean so as not to offend prospective buyers. Seems like I spend as much time cleaning up as I do actually building, when I get to spend any time at all!

Anyway, here are a few shots of recent progress. I got several coats of epoxy on the outside of the hull and it's as sanded and smooth as it's going to get. We won't call it a museum quality finish, but 'twill serve. My son and a neighbor helped to lift her off her cradle and place her onto her trailer. I was tired of looking at her upside down. Nice to see her right side up again, and I figured it would be easier to attach the lower sheer strake rub rails from a higher position. Got the rub rails installed which was fun. Nice when planing and sanding and gluing all work out the way you want them to with no major fuss or "do overs".

Spanish Cedar lower rub-rail. Left over material from when I built my CLC Tandem Wherry. 

Rails are glued and screwed. The bungs turned out nice. You really have to look close to even see them.

Got the bow-u-bolt installed too. I was worried about not being able to drive a 12" drill bit straight through the false stem and inside stem without the bit wandering off course. Ended up being easy as pie. So that was encouraging.

There's the bow-eye. You can also see a dry-fitting of the bowsprit.  I have the heel snugged into my samson post. That post is temporary, though. It's way too big for the size of this boat. I'll make a new one about half the size.

I also got the king plank roughed in. I need finish shaping the main mast before I position and cut the mast partner hole in the king plank and trim it to size. But she fits pretty well into the bow of the boat and I managed a pretty clean job of mortising the holes in both the king plank and the samson post for the butt end of the bowsprit. Fun work chopping a mortise by hand. Makes you really feel like you're doing serious woodwork. :)

Mainmast, kingplank, samson post, and bowsprit. Should make for a pretty sturdy combination

Next step is to flip her back over and paint/finish the outside of the hull. Maybe this weekend?