August 2007
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August 2007 Archives

August 24, 2007

Glue coming!

I took hookey from work and ran a few errands. Some were household related - got J. a new power supply for her computer. Others were a bit boatie.

Called Raka and ordered a gallon and a half of epoxy, plus fiberglass, epoxy pumps, and other paraphenalia.

Called South Jersey Lumbermans and checked prices on Okoune marine plywood. 4mm 3-ply Okoume is affordable and should be both plenty light and strong enough.

Looked at big box wood again, just to be sure.

There was nothing I really liked for wales wood. I think that I will get an eight-foot pine 1*12 to turn into oars. I need to find a lumberyard, because the best wales wood I have found are some 20-year-old mahogany boards I used to use for bookshelves.

I will have to rip wales, and I can't keep the bottom of my kerf straight!

Picked up:
small sticks to use for wales for the model
all manner of pale yellow, beige, and other buff-like paint chips to stare at.
a Stanley 4 1/2" block plane
a clamp vise to use to hold wood for planing.

This last was a brilliant idea, as I was otherwise planning to lug pieces someplace with a vise in order to do planing and finishing. Now I can just clamp the vise to the railing around the back deck, work away, and put the vise back on the tool shelves when I am done. It works too!

Finished fairing and rough sanding the sides, bottom, and bilges for the model. Now I have to cut frames and put the model together. Model should be finished by the first day of school, including gluing and decks.

On the big boat, I decided to use light pine to frame the transom and bulkheads. I went ahead and ripped that tonight. The pull saw is wonderfully fast, and if I rig a cutting guide I can even keep the top of my kerf straight. But the bottom wanders. Luckily the transom needs to be beveled into place, and I think I can plane my wandering saw cuts into a pretty good bevel.

But if I can't fix this technique problem, I won't be willing or happy to rip my own wales.

I also started cutting the stem out of a scrap 2*4 that I had been using to hold plywood off the ground for cutting. I will have to get another scrap, as this one was dry and had a nice run of heartwood in it. Rough cut one side of the triangle. Could not figure out how to cut the other side. So I turned the piece sideways, clamped it in the vise, put sacrificial bits of plywood just above the cut lines, and came at it sideways with the pull saw. I now have a board with triangular cuts in its side like the teeth of a very goofy comb. After I finish cutting the teeth I will pick up a wood chisel and knock them away. This should leave a rough cut that I will then be able to chisel, plane, and sand into shape.

Finally, did a little more reading on epoxy and marine plywood.

Epoxy on end seems is absolutely necessary to retard rot. I will be doing this.
According to Dave Chapelle, who actually tested this, Epoxy on plywood faces seems to do little to slow water intrusion or deter rot. Instead the glue on the plywood does most of the work. So coating plywood faces in epoxy does little by itself to protect wood.

However, anecdotal evidence suggests that plywood encapsulated boats do need less maintenance. It appears that the trick is that epoxy is a wicked-good primer for latex paint. An epoxy and latex boat has little more protection than a boat treated with traditional oil paint. But, because the paint job will hold up for many more years, it is a much lower maintenance boat than the traditionally painted, scraped, and repainted wooden boat.

I like low maintenance. I will certainly epoxy the outside of the boat. I may also do the inside.

And so to look for ripping fences and miter boxes for pull saws. If I can find some way to keep my cuts straight, I will be MUCH happier planning to rip up big boards.

Posted by
Red Ted
at 11:57 PM | TrackBack
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August 23, 2007

Walk, not saw

Not much boat work last night. I took my exercise hour and went for a long walk and think rather than playing with wood.

I then went home and measured the bottom for the model, but decided I was too tired to do any cutting.

Some more thoughts on materials below the fold.

I am using a few rules of thumb on materials.

If I have to justify using it, it may not be a good choice. Think again. (It might be the best choice, but think again first.)

Go cheap or go quality, but don't mix and max (Michalak interprets Bolger)

The boat should be built to suit its purpose.

The purpose of the boat is to be:

Easy launching / cartopping exercise boat.
That is safe.
That can carry boys.

The priorities here are weight first, then strength, but don't go for low weight at the cost of strength.

It also means that the boat is gonna get banged up - dropped while loading, hauled up on concrete, etc. I have to assume that any coating is going to get damaged.

So, marine plywood to slow the progress of rot once the boat gets scratched. Weight tells me to go with 3mm Okoune at about 13 lbs/sheet. (5mm Oukune and 3mm Meranti are both about 20 lbs/sheet) Strength tells me to take some of my saved weight and use it for grounding runners on the bottom of the boat. This will also help with bottom strength.

Plywood will probably come from South Jersey Lumbermans - speaking of which I need to call them and check prices.

Strength tells me that the grounding runners and rub rails need to be strong wood - oak or ash. I expect to rip these down from Lowes boards unless I find a better source.

Consistency in materials tells me to make my bulkhead frames out of the same material, not out of soft easy pine. Bother. Looks like I get another workout.

The skeg is going to be mounted outside the fiberglass. Ash if I can get it, pine otherwise.

I will need 4 sheets of ply for the boat, a 5th for the decking. The decks could probably be made with big box Luaun underlayment. My decision will hinge on the price of thin wood. I am resisting the idea of making decks and transom out of Meranti and leaving them bright. But they are small pieces, and it might make a big difference in looks.

Speaking of looks, I am going to do some bathtub tests on the models before I decide if I will want square or round access hatches to the decked areas. Round screw-in hatches are pretty watertight, and that is the way I am leaning. Overbuilding here, but see the line about justifications. If I get swamped, I want those hatches to stay ON!

The bathtub tests will let me decide if the hatches can go in the bulkheads or if they will have to go on the decks. Square hatches do look better on deck tops. Ah, the fun of agonizing over details.

Looking ahead at the construction, the one thing that is bothering me is planing the transom frames, wales, and skeg. I don't have a proper workbench. I may have blogged this before.

And back to work.

Posted by
Red Ted
at 10:23 AM | TrackBack
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August 22, 2007

Steam Power?

J. pointed out to me that a steam-powered double kayak was more of a novelty boat than anything.

I am not enough of an engineer for the pleasure of building one to outweigh the hassle of using it.

But it sure is cool to look at!

Posted by
Red Ted
at 08:29 PM | TrackBack
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Model sides roughed

Made two more rips for frames, one righty and one lefty.

Measured and cut out the sides for the model. They still need to be sanded and smoothed. The plywood was easy to cut, so I screwed two pieces together and made 4 sides. I will also double the bottom and bilges. This will give me the option of really messing something up when I assemble. Or, if all goes well, it will let me make an open and a decked model to lay next to each other and stare at.

I checked again, and Jim Michalak and many other instant boat builders use this light luaun plywood from the big box store. It appears to work well enough for boats that are dry-stored and kept 10 to 15 years.

I may boil up a chunk and re-think my decision about marine plywood.

J. reminded me that I could be dissertating instead. I am not sure about that - would I be writing or goofing off and pretending to write.

If I won't be writing, should I pull the plug and declare the academic stuff to be clutter?

Not ready to do that yet.

Which I think means I will try to find writing time around my crazy fall work schedule and my new boat obsessions.

Posted by
Red Ted
at 12:11 AM | TrackBack
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August 21, 2007

And So it Begins

And so it begins.

Last night I made some sawdust.

It was good sawdust.

I cut a 2' by 4' piece out of a big sheet of luan. That will be the cutting board for the small model.

I also started ripping the 1*6 that will become the cleats around the temporary frames. I cut one lefty and one righty, for balance. I don't know if I did much to raise my heartrate, but I can feel it a little in my shoulders this morning.

Finally, I marked out my guide lines on the sheet that will become the model boat and started thinking about marking, cutting, and assembly.

Things I learned last night::

The orange big box has better pine and molding pieces than the blue big box. But the blue big box sells "white" oak and has better plywood. If I go with hand-ripped oak wales they will come from the big blue box. If I use precut trim it will probably come from the big orange box store.

The Vaughn Bear pullsaw really does cut a lot faster than my old Stanley crosscut saw.

Drywall screws really do make excellent temporary clamps.

If I do not use a cutting fence (1*3 screwed to the plywood), I can not cut a straight line in plywood.

I have to pay very careful attention to my cut line if I am going to cut a straight line in a pine board. And if I don't want to bevel my cut I am going to need some sort of ripping fence here as well.

I am thinking about getting a couple of straight-edged 1*x planks, some bolts, and some wingnuts to make into a ripping brace.

Relax and let the saw do the cutting.

The big take home is
1, use a fence to guide the saw
2, let the saw do the cutting

I think I can manage that. At least for straight lines.

Posted by
Red Ted
at 11:38 AM | TrackBack
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August 20, 2007

Boat shopping and project plan

Well, I went to the big blue box on Saturday to get boat bits.

I came home with a pull saw, a t-square, and a piece of practice wood. I left the pretty little Stanley plane in the store for another trip. My rule on tools is gonna be "buy em when you need em."

I also made some plans for production process, carry rack, and exact materials.

Details after the fold

I had originally intended to get a sheet of 1/4 BC exterior to make the frames with, and to use that as practice.

It turns out that they don't carry BC exterior, and they don't trust the quality of the stuff when they get it in. I was worried about project weight anyway. I will spend the extra money and go with cheap 5-ply 5mm marine plywood - cheap being a relative term here. That should save weight.

In the short run, I picked up a sheet of 5mm luan for $11. I will use that to make a 1/4 scale model of the boat to test technique. It will also let me figure out exactly what I want to do with the seats and decking.

After looking at wood stock and re-reading the plans a little more, I realized that I will need to make my framing and wales by ripping long boards. Whoops.

After a day to get over the shock, I am sort of looking forward to it. Tonight I will grab a couple of slabs of cheap pine to use for the practice boat, and even to start ripping into frames for the final boat.

For the wales I am going to need long thin 16 foot pieces. I am not sure if it would be easier to somehow lug home and rip a 16 foot board, or if I am better off bringing home 8 footers and making a scarf joint. I have not yet picked a wood for the wales - the designer spec'd soft pine for ease of working. I will probably grab 8 foot boards of the most affordable clear stock. The wales are gonna get some hard wear from cartopping, so I am leaning toward getting a hard wood and then borrowing a neighbor's table saw for the cuts.

I have not decided what to use for the bulkheads around my flotation. They might be the same pine I use for the disposable frames, or they might be the same harder clearer wood that I use for the wales.

The stem is gonna be a 2*4, cut long and then planed to shape. Again, this is a cut that would be eased with a table saw.

I will be cutting oars from a large board, laminating the handles, and working from there. That is a lot of saw work - and I don't own a bandsaw. The plan there is to make my first set from clear 1*8 pine. If I see ash, I will use that instead. The recommendation is to start with one 16 foot board to make two oars, because that way you know the wood will be balanced in weight and strength.

The cartopping frame is going to be two pressure-treated 2*4s attached to the factory rack with countersunk u-bolts. The factory frame is rated for 150 lbs, so I should be fine with any boat I can lift. I will put blocks on the outside of the 2*4s to help in loading, strap the boat to the 2*4s, and run a bow line down to the front center underframe. That is the only underneath tie-down I found on the car.

I will test using a pair of ropes running back from the bow to the car rack as a way of preventing slip-forward. If those don't feel secure enough I will have to get a couple of tie-down eyes welded to the rear frame of the car. The bumpers are all very slick and plastic and not good for tying to.

Finally, I am visiting my folks over the weekend. I think I may be able to borrow some woodworking clamps from Dad's workbench. I really want the clamps on his workbench, but I have no place to put bench, or clamps, or even for indoor woodworking.

This is gonna be real backyard (and back deck, and front porch) boatbuilding.

Posted by
Red Ted
at 10:27 AM | TrackBack
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August 18, 2007

Planning the First Shopping Trip

Shopping run number 1

I am trying to limit the financial commitment. I don't want to start a project, run out of interest, and leave the house cluttered with parts and tools. Furthermore, after consulting with higher authority, the boat project is coming out of "Ted's entertainment budget" i.e. my allowance. This is a fixed percentage of my take-home salary. It covers clothing, computers, food away from home, games, and other obsessions.

So, buy parts as I need them, but in a cost-efficient manner.

For the Oracle I will need:
4 sheets of plywood
some small lumber
wales
some 2*4s
oarlocks, nose rings, cleats, etc.
fiberglass tape
fiberglass cloth
epoxy to fill
epoxy to glue
epoxy to seal
epoxy to fiberglass the bottom

The big fiberglass order will come from Raka. But not this week - that will wait until I am about ready to tape the chines.

The plywood can be BC exterior at about $18/sheet or it can be marine plywood at $40-65/sheet. The expensive stuff is lighter. Given that this is going to be a cartop-dolly launch-luggable boat, and that I am adding flotation boxes, I am leaning toward adding some $100+ to the project cost in order to save some 20-odd pounds.

The first shopping trip is for disposable frames. I will get one sheet of bc exterior, some light wood for the borders, and a 2*4 for the stem. What plywood I don't use on frames can become general boatbuilding scrap.

I will pick up a small tin of epoxy at West Marine and some temporary screws at the big blue box.

As for hand tools. I have a general purpose Stanley saw. It works well. I am being tempted by a narrow-kerf pull saw for about $20. I will need a block plane to finish shaping the stem. That purchase can wait for another trip.

And, of course, all receipts go into a folder in case it turns out that I misread the New Jersey regulations and will have to register the boat. (As I read them, row-only boats over 12 feet long don't need registration, but if I add a mast step or a motor plate then I would have to register the boat. Once I am complete I will check with the state to be sure.)

And now to my real work.

Posted by
Red Ted
at 10:33 AM | TrackBack
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August 10, 2007

Singing on the Potty

Why is it so funny that little boys like to sing while sitting on the potty?

I don't know. I just know that I am giggling at the echoes of Ttake Me Out to the Ballgame" as sung by a 3 1/2 year old who is sitting on the throne.

I just had to share that.

Posted by
Red Ted
at 08:14 PM | TrackBack
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August 06, 2007

Lady Marmalde

I am not sure if I just became an official geezer, or if I am simply going through a midlife crisis.

Perhaps it is a marmalade moment. I get seized by powerful cravings, and revel in them for a period of months, before sliding away. I had one involving marmalade, where I made multiple batches, ate the stuff compulsively, and become something of a marmalade expert. As part of my marmalade madness I did learn to make jam, which I continue to do. But I no longer have this powerful craving for jellied orange peels.

This marmalade moment involves boats.

The Perfect Storm

I like boats. I always have. Most boys do, as I recall.

My folks retired down to the Jersey shore. There is a sandbar near their house. We like to paddle kayaks out to the sandbar at low tide. When the dog was younger and had a more robust stomach, we would load her on the kayak and paddle her out to the sandbar to chase birds and eat dead shellfish. We stopped doing that after the dead shellfish began to bounce.

Now we take the boys to the sandbar from time to time. But at 3 and 5, they are getting a mite big to balance on your lap while kayaking.

Perhaps a rowboat would do it. For a while the folks had a little inflatable runabout that they used to explore the back bays. This was great for taking the dog to the sandbar. When she jumped out to chase ducks, we could even haul her back into the boat. But the engine was not reliable, the oarlocks snapped off the first time I tried to row the boat into a headwind (and there is always a wind at the shore), and eventually the boat sprung one too many leaks. No more inflatable.

I have been maundering about a fixed boat off and on for a few years. That is part of the legacy of the doomed inflatable.

Recently, I started running yet again, only to have my knees bug me once again. Very very frustrating.

We live two hundred yards from a lake made out of a dammed tidal creek. There is a launch ramp a mile away from us. On summer weekends there are always a passel of jonboats out chasing fish. We are thinking about moving, and the new house would likely be a few hundred yards from the Cooper River — a internationaly recognized rowing location complete with launch ramp, boat house, and sailing club.

The result was a perfect storm. I was between obsessions. I needed a source of exercise. We wanted some sort of boat that was in between a kayak and a 19-foot boston whaler. Perhaps a boat to take them sailing in? A Sunfish would be nice. I learned to sail in a Sunfish when I was a kid. But just plain sailing boats are boring.

We do have a minivan. Minvans are great for hauling stuff. They are also tall.

After a bit of thought, lady wife and I figured out that there were really two boats I wanted.

Boat A

Can be dollied down the muddy hill to the local lake, lakeside launched and recovered, and dollied back up the muddy hill.
Can be cartopped and taken to the shore or to a launch ramp.
If we move near the Cooper, could be bicycle dollied (or kept in boat house and bicycled to).

This all works out to a light boat - preferably 80# or so, certainly under 100#.

Primary use is exercise rowing on sheltered waters.

It will also go down the shore and be used for water well within its seakeeping abilities, whatever they happen to be. (No wind in morning/evening, strong breeze mixed with wakes from 30 foot canyon cruisers at prime time.)

Primary person is me - this is my boat.

The boys will want to go too. It might be rides to the sandbar. It might be something to do with two awake boys at 5:30 on a beach Sunday morning. It might just be me trying to get some exercise while babysitting. But boat A has to safely carry two young children.

This means good secondary stability, positive flotation, and self-recovery if swamped. (Right boat, boys into boat, dad into boat, bail boat.)

Boat A will also probably take a second adult out from time to time. It will take the dog out, because she loves to ride in boats. It is unlikely to be loaded with more than 400#.

12 feet to 14 feet long, 80 pounds, fixed seat rowing with flotation and safety gear.

It needs to be price-competitive with a bicycle or a gym membership.

Leading contenders for this are: Michalak's Oracle, Michalak's Roar2, Welsfords Seagull, Marten's Scilly Gig, Redmond's Whisp.

Seagull is prettiest, but too heavy. Whisp is lovely but requires more time and woodworking skills than I have. I found myself dreaming about an Oracle painted buff with burgundy trim. Sounds like a contender.

I ordered plans. I will decide if I can be trusted to complete the project, or if I need to find a boatbuilder. First step will be to build it in cardboard at 1/12 scale.

Boat B

If boat A was aimed at the local lakes, boat B is aimed at the Jersey shore.

Lets start with the water. It is a tidal salt marsh. There are mudflats and shallows - at anything other than pure high tide the Sunfish ran with its daggerboard partway up. There are also deep channels - the Intercoastal Waterway goes right through there. Did I mention the bridges? Any boat has to readily pass by bridges or be trapped on one little stretch of bay. The wind is tricky and eddies because of the houses and islands. The water is shallow. There are cruisers and cigarette boats and center console canyon boats zooming past at all times. There is almost always a current. There is often catspaws.

We live near a tricky inlet to the ocean. The Atlantic off the Jersey shore is usually pretty gentle. There are a couple of dozen 16' Hobie-cats that sail from the beach right next to the inlet. Sometimes they capsize.

For a couple of years in the 1980s I had a 17' O'Day daysailer down at the shore. It was a terrible boat for the water. Slow, unwieldy, trapped between the bridges, and bouncing its daggerboard over the sandbars for all but half an hour a day. I never got it out to the ocean. I sold it for a lot less than I paid.

Now lets look at the purposes for boat B.

1, exercise rowing for me
2, teach the boys how to sail
3, carry 2 adults, 2 kids and perhaps a dog.
4, get out on the water and mess about, especially in the back bays and (on gentle days) the ocean.
5, derived from 3 - must carry its own mast; must be able to step and drop mast and sails while out.

There is no way that a cartopper will do all this. So it has to be a trailer boat. If possible, it should be something that can be launched and recovered off a floating dock. There are a lot of 200 to 300 lb classic and neo-classic boats in the 14 to 17 foot range that could be boat B.

My eye loves Whitehall hulls. My worries about wakes and water push me toward a dory hull. There are also a lot of sharpie-derived boats like the Goat Island Skiff. John Welsford lives in boats like this.

Boat B will be trailered. So I need the cost of the trailer. In addition add about $900 to the cost of the boat because our minivan does not yet have a towing package.

Boat B is probably more boat than I am comfortable trying to build, more boat than I can afford to hire someone else to build. Time to scan the used boat ads.

When the entertainment budget recovers, I will subscribe to Messing About in Boats. Until then, I have all the Craigslists within driving distance bookmarked.

Conclusion:
If you look at the boats on the water, many of them have names like "Midlife Cruises."

If you look at the pictures of boatbuilders, many of them have grey hair.

I qualify on both counts.

The first boat to the water will probably be called "Lady Marmalade"

Posted by
Red Ted
at 11:20 PM | TrackBack
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