Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Its warm and cozy working in here at the drawing board

But the workshop is ok too, at least in the afternoons when things have warmed up a little.

With the winter weather having arrived in spades its nice to be inside working on the  drawing board, and I’ve a lot of work to do there so perhaps the inclement weather is a good thing.
But now and again its good to be able to stand up, straighten the back and go up to the workshop to spend a little time with tools in hand.

This morning I cut the panels that will become the bottom of Long Steps, planed the scarf slopes and glued the three pieces together.  Long Steps being as long as she is the panel is a bit more than two sheets of ply long, so two  8/1 scarfs are required.  It took me all of about 20 minutes to do this, and I mention that because I know a lot of people are a bit apprehensive about making scarf joints but when you have done one or two you’ll find that its easy stuff.

In this case I marked across the ends of the sheets at 72 mm back from the edge, that’s 8 x the thickness of the 9mm plywood, stacked the two pieces up and secured them with a clamp on one end  of a cross piece set back enough to be clear of the work area, then put a couple of long screws through the other end.

Mask and ear protection on, out came the power plane, the one with the tungsten knives in it, and half a dozen careful swipes removed the bulk of the material.
Then with a dead sharp hand plane the slope was completed, cut back to the line, straight from the top to the tip of the slope, the glue lines showing where any bumps or hollows needed to be trimmed out, and that’s it.

Next, the panels have been placed upon some lumber, all the same thickness, to support it straight and level, some kitchen wrap placed across the support boards under the join so everything doesn’t get glued together in one big lump, and a string line established to line up the pre marked center line of the three pieces.

Glue mixed up, both sides of the joints primed with a thin mix, then some more microfibers mixed in to thicken it to about peanut butter consistency, and the joints “buttered up”.

Lined up, each piece put into place and eased together until the lines across match and the stringline lines up with the marks, more kitchen wrap, a piece of nice straight lumber set across the joint and some weight applied.

Thats a big panel, 800 wide, nearly 5 1/2 metres long. its brought home that this is a bigger project than any I've done for a while.
I had to change the engine batteries in my ship a couple of months ago, and thought that I'd just go and trade them in at the scrap yard. These big batteries are worth about $15 each, but they make darn good weights for jobs like this so they'll be around for a little while anyway.
Theres Dennys little dog Indy, he thinks he's my helper, my own dog is down on board the ship curled up by the heater.  Sensible dog.

Done, leave for 24 hours and its as good as a single piece.
There will be a little sanding done to level out any glue squeeze out, I prefer to slightly over fill these joints as the end grain of the plywood tends to soak some up, plus I do rely on the gap filling abilities of the epoxy glue rather than my ability to produce perfect joints.

My next job will be marking out the panel from the offsets I’ve picked up on the plan, and as with some of the other parts of the boat this gives me a chance to correct any “offs”  in the “offsets”.

But that comes up on Sunday, and by the time the next blog posting here comes up I hope to be building the building jig.

And, caught up somewhat with the  new design that I’m drawing.

In the meantime, I'm watching the birdlife, at this time of year we get quite a few coming in to nest and  breed.  My first winter here saw one pair of Royal Spoonbills nest here, this is my third winter on board and there are now three pairs. A good sign that the breed is doing well. They arrived about 6 weeks ago, and its lovely to see these graceful birds just outside my windows.








Friday, July 8, 2016

Wintertime, a good time to work on Long Steps.

Wintertime.  No blues though.
Well, only a few.

Its been a wet week, high winds, thunderstorms and torrential rain.  Even my little dog hates going out in this, so apart from the usual engineering jobs, two this week, its been a time for at home and inside.
Its too cold to draw, I can work ok but the ink wont dry in this very cold high humidity weather, so one of the jobs to do very soon is to move the drawing board and all the odds and ends that go with it back onto the ship.  I wont do that when its raining, too much of the equipment is sensitive to the wet, so with luck that might happen tomorrow.
So I’ve done my company paperwork for the quarter, tidied up in the shop, cooked and frozen enough meals for a couple of weeks, and got into action building “Long Steps”

I’m working on several bulkheads, B#2 has a curved doubler across the front face to support the foredeck and foredeck king plank, ( that’s the one down the middle) rather than use solid wood for this I’ve made it  up from several pieces of scrap 9mm plywood, two layers with the joins staggered.  Being glued to the front face of B#2 its not going anywhere, its really just there for the foredeck.
So B#2 is almost done, there are a couple of 20x20 pieces that will support the cabin side to bulkhead join and then I can start coating it.

B#3 is next,  that’s the one at the forward end of the cockpit floor, up under the “veranda” in the cuddy. I’ve just cut out the hatch doors and am busy making up the edge pieces for the hatches. 
I want to try the PT Watercraft style hatches where surgical rubber tube sealing ring is set into a groove and the hatch door dogged down on it.  This requires pretty precise work, and a very stiff edge to the opening so I’ve used 9mm plywood here as well, that makes an edge 18mm thick, nearly 3/4in.  We’ll see how it goes, the opening is the right size to take a big So Pac Marine hatch, and if mine doesn’t work out I can run the jigsaw around and drop those plastic ones in.

Before I cut the hatch openings. These are wide enough for me to get a shoulder in so I can reach right to the back of the locker forward of this bulkhead. Like so many of the parts of the boat this one is important in that it keeps the water out.

And here with The hatch openings cut out.  The edge doublers come 20mm in from the edge of the opening that you see here, and I've made the lower edge of the opening at a height where should I swamp the boat, the hatch opening will be above the water in the cockpit.  Same goes for when the boat is on its side, the outer edge will be above the static water level. 
Welsfords first law of seamanship, "Keep the water out" starts back on the drawing board and is a factor in every stage of the build, and of course that also applies when she's sailing.




I’m also working on B#4.  Having several jobs on the go at once means that if one is waiting for the glue to set I have others to carry on with.
B#4 is the one at the after end of the cuddy, and the forward ends of the seats and of course the “off centercase. Its also the forward end of the ballast tank,  busy piece of work!
So I’ve put the seat supports on, the web across the bottom which supports the cockpit floor, the doublers on the edges of the opening and the laminated beam across the top that supports the after edge of the cuddy roof.
I was asked the other day why I bother putting doublers on the exposed edges of  the plywood where it overhangs,  easy,  not only is it stronger and better looking, but if you get thumped up against the edge of a piece if 6mm plywood it hurts, really hurts.  If that plywood is doubled up thicker its possible to put a nice rounded edge on it which will hurt somewhat less.
I’m a bit allergic to pain, try to avoid it where possible so a little bit of work at this stage is worth the effort.

Lots of clamps, that green thing on the bench behind is my Ryobi cordless nail gun, a huge timesaver for work like this but those pieces being held by clamps are too thin for the only length stainless steel nail I can get here so its spring clamps for those.


Here "tis with more bits on, these are the seat supports, angled slightly for comfort.  Note that the offcenterboard case forward end log goes on the starboard side so there is no doubler there for the seat front.

Tomorrow I’ll be marking out B#5, that will about use up the second sheet of 9mm plywood.  So far I’ve got through  ½ sheet of 6mm and have really only scraps of 9mm left from 2 sheets.  I’ve not done a bill of materials yet but it looks like 5 sheets each of 6mm and 9mm, that’s not counting the (off)centerboard and rudder blade, which may end up being made from fiberglassed plywood.  Lets see how I go when I get that far along.

Its been a nice day out there, not so cold that the epoxy wont cure, and pleasantly light in my little shop by the river.  More tomorrow, I’m looking forward to it.

Meanwhile, this evening  I’ve had my dinner and am sitting in my armchair with a hot cup of tea,  dog curled up by my feet, the river rocking the ship a little and I’m listening to  this extraordinary guitar music as I write and browse.

There are some nice little video clips on YouTube, little windows on summertime.
Sometimes its nice to sit and watch others enjoying the warm and sparkling waters.  Thanks guys for posting those, they're a delight to watch when the weather is as it is here in the Southern winter.


This blog is worth  watching, there is quite a lot of information in there on cruising in open boats. Good reading!

Here is a thought for the day. 

“Houses are but badly built boats so firmly aground that you cannot think of moving them. They are definitely inferior things, belonging to the vegetable not the animal world, rooted and stationary, incapable of gay transition.
The desire to build a house is the tired wish of a man content thenceforward with a single anchorage. The desire to build a boat is the desire of youth, unwilling yet to accept the idea of a final resting place…. When it comes, the desire to build a boat is one of those that cannot be resisted. It begins as a little cloud on a serene horizon. It ends by covering the whole sky, so that you can think of nothing else. You must build to regain your freedom.”

Arthur Ransome.


Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Progress on Long Steps and some other things.

Life has ambushed me a bit, so my work on things boating have had to fit in between other things of late.  But progress is happening,  I’ve another frame for Long Steps about done, that’s four.  That last one is the one at the after edge of the cuddly, it has a laminated beam over the top and being a bit short on  “treewood” ( as opposed to “plywood” ) I sliced up some scrap 6mm plywood to make four lamells, ( what you make laminated items out of) and laid out the curve, applied the glue and clamped it all up.


A day and a half later, and this at midwinter with no heating, the epoxy was all hard, and it was time to take the curved beam off the floor jig.
Springback!  Generally four lamells is enough to stop a laminated curve from springing back more than a mm or two, but this one straightened by about 20mm each end.  Plywood seems to behave a little differently from solid wood.
That springback was much too much, so that one will be used for the forward end of the after deck, it will be a little different to the plan but that’s ok, if you’re going to build Long Steps yourself, read the instructions where it tells you how much to increase the bend in the jig before you glue the beam up.


Another little difference,  I’ve used 6mm plywood for two of the frames where I’ve specified 9mm, this is to save a little weight, I’m being particularly careful in this respect so am looking to shave a few grams wherever possible.


But this means that there is a little extra work to do here and there,  the slots where the stringers go through  need to be doubled so I can fasten through the stringer and into the edge of the plywood.  Its hard to get a screw to hold into the edge of 6mm plywood so those little round doublers have been cut from scrap, and glued on, the slots will be cut a little later.



Frame 4, that’s the one that forms the forward end of the side seat boxes and supports the offcenterboard case, its also the forward end of the ballast tank, supports the cockpit floor as well as the “cuddly” sides and the after edge of the cabin top, it’s a busy piece of plywood!.  So there is still quite a bit to do to it in the way of seat supports, the piece that will support the cockpit floor, the edge pieces for the cabin sides and side decks and the piece that will connect it to the central spine that comes back from the stem through the other three frames to its forward face.



I’m also working on some of the background stuff, the organisational and logistics for Howard Rice’s venture south in his customised SCAMP.  We’re actively working on fundraising for the video that will be made, this is not a cheap venture and while we’ve had a wonderful donation there is still a long way to go.
Have a read here,  http://below40south.com
Please do consider putting a few bucks in or buying some of the merchandise, Howard himself is funding the actual voyage but it’s the video that needs your help.  While we’re doing well, it’s a big commitment, and you’ll see in the funraising section of the website above that we’re making progress.  There is enough now to make sure that its going to happen so any dollars you put in wont just vanish.  This is going to be the small boat adventure of a lifetime, and we want to make sure that we can all share it.
So please, a little each from a lot of people will do it.

Here in the South it was the shortest day of the year yesterday, the warmest on record throughout New Zealand.  Shorts and tee shirt weather for much of the day which was nice, but it’s a sobering thought that the lovely gate sales orchard just down the road no longer grows my favorite variety of peaches, for several years now , the winters are no longer cold enough here to set the fruit.

But the passing of the winter solstice does mean that the long hot days of summer are not so far away.  You people in the north, enjoy them while you can, it will be our turn in a few months.







Friday, June 10, 2016

Progress on Long Steps and a few other bits of news.



Progress on Long Steps.

Stem, frames one and two are done,  frame three is close.  Number three is the one on the forward side of  the cuddy that has the big hatches in  so it wont be completed until I have those hatches done.
I’m looking for a source of surgical tubing so I can make PT Watercraft style hatches, Russell doesn’t make the big SCAMP ones any more so I’ll make my own. There is a high degree of accuracy required to make these, plus design and engineering to make them stiff enough to work at that size but I think I can do that.
If though anyone wants smaller ones, hatches that are truly watertight unlike the plastic ones which seem to leak no matter how expensive they are, here’s the link to the right page of PT Watercrafts website.


They’re good guys to deal with!  Five star service and quality.

 This is B#3 being glued up, I had to replace the engine batteries in the ship recently, and at least until I take them to the scrap merchant they'll make good weights for clamping things together while the glue sets up.


B#1,  B#2 and B#3, I make each of these in two pieces, that is much more economical in plywood.


Stem, not quite complete, there is a little tidying up to do yet. I try and get every piece that will go into the boat as finished as possible while its easy to get at. Rounding off all the corners, scraping out any excess epoxy, filling screw holes and sanding it all smooth.  Much easier than trying to do it while standing on your head in a completed hull!
I've mentioned this little guy before, 10.8 volt Makita cordless circular saw.  Its great for long straight cuts in plywood, will cut gentle curves and is much better for some plywood cutout work than the jigsaw.  it will run about three lengths of a plywood sheet on a charge, but I have three batteries and its only a few seconds to change them.  I prefer its light weight over the heavier 18 volt ones. Its going to get a lot of work in the next few months.


My “Essential skills for the beginner boatbuilder” courses are over for the year,  we had a good time, I’ve made new friends, learned as well as taught, and will be running those again next year, probably March / April depending upon what life throws at me. 
Watch this space!

Also a “Watch this space” happening is the planned voyage by Howard Rice in his Customised SCAMP down through the channels and islands of southern Chile toward Cape Horn, that’s a major undertaking and I have the privelege of being involved, not only in the voyage but also in the making of a feature length video of the event.
We’ve already got some background material filmed, there will be more, and Howard has four GoPro cameras on the boat and will effectively be making a video diary during his several month long voyage.
This is a stunning place, amazing scenery, interesting history and extreme weather.
I’ll be in Chile later this year to help with the preparation of the boat and the filming up to the point of sailing off.
We’re fundraising for the production end of the video making, so far its all self funded, but its going to be expensive so we’re soliciting donations as well as selling merchandise to produce what we think will be an extraordinary movie.
Your help will be much appreciated.


Heres Howards blog with a whole lot of information on the SCAMP, his, choices of boats, his own SCAMP, and the voyage. This is a good read!  Get your coffee or tea, you’ll be reading and watching videos for a while!


Its Saturday today, 7 20 am, the sun is up, but I’m not.
I bake scones for the meeting of our Writers group, I’m starting to write fiction for fun, putting daydreams on ( virtual) paper so I’d better get off my butt and get on with the day. Thanks for reading.