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.