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Progress Report:  2004 Archives

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Reports from February, 2004
2/1/04  2/8/04  2/15/04  2/22/04  2/29/04

Log for the Week Ending February 1, 2004

Even though, to the untrained eye, it could appear that I got very little done this week, in actuality I made great strides forward.  At the end of last week I thought I was ready to dive right in, but I discovered shortly thereafter that I had many things to think about, and many decisions to make before I could truly install anything in the bare hull.

Monday turned into an errand and ordering day, and office catch-up.  I ordered a substantial amount of Honduras mahogany for the boat--100 board feet, to be used for deck framing, sheer clamp, and interior/exterior trim and finish work as necessary.  Whether this is too much or too little remains to be seen, as my order was not based on any precise calculation.  But mahogany has myriad uses for all things boat-related, so it will not go to waste whatever the case.  I also ordered 8 sheets of marine Meranti plywood for the bulkheads.  I had hoped to get delivery by midweek, but unfortunately the deliveries to my area occur only on Fridays, so I was forced to wait until then.  Whether or not the lack of actual materials slowed me down or not remains an unanswered question, but as it turned out I had plenty to do before I needed the wood anyway.

With Monday essentially wasted, at least as far as accomplishing anything actually on the boat, I hoped Tuesday would bring more tangible results.  Again, I found myself stuck in my office trying to catch up on the usual stuff for most of the morning, but in the afternoon I got to work readying things for the bulkheads.  

level4.jpg (25660 bytes)My first order of business was to level the hull in both directions--longitudinal and athwartships.  Getting the boat as nearly level as practicable was crucial for at least the initial steps and installation of the first bulkhead; once one bulkhead is installed and known to be plumb and level, all other structural components can be measured off the known quantity, so if the hull should change position later it is less important.  I used a water level to level the hull; I didn't have one, so I made one, which turned into a silly waste of time that nearly 3 hours.  But in the end I succeeded.

Read more about leveling the hull by clicking here.


bhlayout5.jpg (51563 bytes)Next, I continued with some general layout and planning as a sort of continuation of my activities from the week before.  Consulting my very basic hull and framing plan, I took some scale measurements of the two main bulkheads--one in way of the mast step and eventual chainplate locations, the other forming the forward bulkhead demarking the end of the cockpit and the beginning of what will become the shelter cabin.  I measured down the centerline of my plan to get a straight-line measurement, and also drew in some angled lines from the stem to the intersection of hull and bulkhead on the plan, and took scale measurements from there.  I double checked my mast location with some stock Triton drawings that I had, since I'm not intending to change its basic location.  With these basic measurements at hand, I began layout of these two bulkheads on the actual hull, marking and installing a cross beam that would help with positioning the actual bulkheads.  This whole process ended up taking the rest of Tuesday afternoon.

Click here to read more about the initial bulkhead measuring and layout.


bhtemp4.jpg (41731 bytes)With the basic layout complete, it was time to work on templating the bulkheads.  But this is where things came to a screeching slowdown.  Wednesday was my birthday, and for a variety of reasons I couldn't get out to the shop to begin work until nearly noontime.  Sitting in the hull and pondering for what seemed and eternity, I made a number of critical decisions about the forward most bulkhead--the one in way of the mast step, and to which the chainplates will eventually be installed.  It took me the rest of the day to decide on a number of key issues surrounding this bulkhead, and to create a basic cardboard template that allowed me to better visualize what I was thinking.

See more about the thought process and initial template here.


tick1.jpg (36424 bytes)I spent all of Thursday attempting to turn my initial, rough template into a working pattern to use for cutting out the real bulkhead.  I tried a couple different templating methods with frustrating lack of acceptable success before finally returning to what I should have just done in the first place--templating using a tick strip.  But by the end of the day, I had a final tick-stripped template ready for each half of the chainplate bulkhead, and was ready for action when Friday's scheduled wood delivery arrived.

Click here to see a sidebar on the tick strip method. 


fwdbhtacked.jpg (50859 bytes)Friday, my wood arrived, and I wasted no time getting the seemingly huge amount of material stored around the shop, and then creating the chainplate bulkheads.  By the end of the day, I had both halves of the chainplate bulkhead cut and tacked in place.

Click here to read my detailed account of the final bulkhead fitting and installation.


midbhrough.jpg (34800 bytes)By the end of Saturday, I had the second (cabin/cockpit) bulkhead located and cut to fit.  This bulkhead is so large that it needs to be pieced together from several sheets of plywood, so what I chose to do was to laminate it from two layers of 3/8" Meranti, for the total thickness of 3/4".  Details on the fitting and construction will follow next week, but the photo shows a sneak preview of things to come.  Eventually, this bulkhead will run to the keel, and above the cross beam to a height suitable for forming the aft end of the shelter cabin.

Busy week!  Hope you enjoyed the progress--I sure did!


Log for the Week Ending February 8, 2004

midbh1.jpg (32912 bytes)Monday, I picked up where I left off on Saturday.  My goal for the day was to finish the fabrication of the second bulkhead, and to get the multiple pieces cut, shaped, and epoxied together so that they could cure overnight, allowing me to continue work on Tuesday.  Other commitments kept me from the shop until nearly noon, but in a very busy afternoon, I still managed to get the bulkhead cut and glued, down on the shop floor.  I turned the heat up to 70 in the shop overnight (I usually keep it at 60 night and day) to help ensure the epoxy would cure sufficiently to allow work to continue on the bulkhead the next day.

Tuesday morning, the laminated bulkhead was ready for use, and I spent some time sanding off the excess epoxy and doing some final shaping before lugging it into the boat with great effort.  By the end of the day, it was tacked in place.

Click here to see more information about building and installing the second bulkhead.


3rdbhinplace.jpg (37287 bytes)Wednesday, I began work on the final set of bulkheads--a small pair back aft, about six feet behind the mid bulkhead.  These particular bulkheads  will eventually form part of the support for the cockpit sole and sides, and the sidedecks aft.  I wanted to get them tacked in place, even though at the time I didn't know exactly where the cockpit sole or sidedeck was going to end up.  So I left the bulkhead oversized in all directions, for trimming later.  Shaping and installing these bulkheads was a cinch after the massive middle bulkhead, and I used the same tick strip method for templating, much as I did before.  

Click here to see the third set of bulkheads going in.


enginemockup.jpg (54051 bytes)By Wednesday afternoon, these last bulkheads were tacked in place, and I spent the rest of the afternoon building a very simple engine mockup of my leading diesel choice at the time--the Vetus (Mitsubishi base) 11.  Although I built a careful base template (which, assuming I go with this engine, will be used to position the engine beds properly), I slapped together the most basic of mockups using the overall dimensions of the engine, so that I can play around with some positioning options later.  I'll cover the template construction and engine decisions, choices, and details later on in the process.  The reason this is important now is that some near-future decisions on cockpit sole level and other factors are directly hinged upon the engine's size and eventual position.

epoxyfillet1.jpg (40930 bytes)On Thursday, I began by removing the beam and supports for the third bulkhead installation, and then spent a couple hours finishing off the foam fillets on all the bulkheads with thickened epoxy, to make the smoothest possible transition between the bulkheads, foam, and hull.  I did this in preparation for my planned tabbing installation on Friday, though I was waiting for some 12" fiberglass tape to arrive first.

Read more about the fillets here.


tabbing3.jpg (44949 bytes)On Friday and Saturday, in two separate laminating sessions of about 2 hours apiece, I installed the bulk of the tabbing on the new bulkheads.  A small amount of tabbing remains undone--the upper portions of each bulkhead, where they meet the hull, will eventually be incorporated with and glassed to the wooden sheer clamp (which supports the deck beams), so I left these areas untouched.  Also, the lowest portion of the large amidships bulkhead  required some additional work before being ready for tabbing, so I also left this undone for the moment.

Click here to read all about the fun you missed by not being here when I installed the tabbing.


What's coming up next week?  Well, I expect to sand all the new tabbing, lay out the deck crown and beam mold, mill lots of mahogany to the proper thickness and size, and begin work on the sheer clamp (deck beam support member) and deck beam lamination.  How far I get with all that will depend on many factors, so we'll see how it goes.

Log for the Week Ending February 15, 2004

Where do the weeks go?  Once more, the week flew by, with less visible progress than last week, but still with many significant steps towards the ultimate goal.   The bulkheads were one of those things that goes fast, and marks an immediate and satisfying amount of progress from a visual standpoint.  Other steps, like many of those taken this week, are not as satisfying or immediately apparent, but are every bit as time consuming and just as important to the overall process.

limbersa.jpg (53391 bytes)My first step on Monday afternoon (after another morning involved in other things, sadly) was to sand the newly installed tabbing to remove any sharp edges and to prepare the surface for whatever steps come next.  Before sanding, I scrubbed the cured tabbing with a Scotch-Brite pad and water, in case any Amine Blush had formed.  Better safe than sorry, and the washing is an easy step.  I sanded all the tabbing with my random orbit sander equipped with 40 grit discs, and only sanded as much as was necessary to remove the sharp corners and to scuff the entire surface.  Amazingly, this ate up most of the afternoon, but I had enough time to begin work on the lower portion of the mid bulkhead and the limbers there.  I spent more time on Wednesday tabbing the lower portion of the bulkhead.

Click here to read more about the bilge and limbers.


Tuesday was spent substantially on some layout.  I was getting tired of having to climb in and out of the boat every time I went forward, because of the oversized mid bulkhead, so I decided to work on laying out the marks for the eventual cuts that would shape the bulkhead and form the basis for the aft end of the cabin trunk/shelter cabin (or whatever you want to call it).  I also laid out the shape of the main deck beams on this bulkhead, mostly to give me a true visual reference before committing to any particular shape; the visual references are critical for me to properly determine the final shape of things to come.  Part of my layout included locating the existing (or designed) waterline inside the hull, which becomes an important factor in determining cockpit height and other features.  Laying out the crowns of the shelter cabin overhead and deck beams was an interesting and fairly involved process when all was said and done.

See more about the layout process by clicking here.


planingspoil.jpg (43795 bytes)Wednesday afternoon, I spent a couple dusty hours planing out several mahogany boards.  My supplier only sells lumber in the rough state, so this is a necessary evil.  I planed about 50-60 board feet of mahogany down to a thickness of 3/4", creating copious piles of shavings and dust everywhere.  I wore a cartridge respirator, hearing protection, heavy gloves (since the rough boards are very rough and splintery), and eye protection.  The rough stock varied in thickness, but much of it was nearly 1-1/8".  Still, to smooth even one side required several passes, with several more needed to complete the dimensioning.  This is never my favorite job, but there should be more than enough dimensioned lumber to get me going on the sheer clamp and some of the deck beams.  Unfortunately, I discovered that after cutting enough pieces for the sheer clamp, I had fewer suitable pieces left over for deck beam construction than I thought, so later I'll have to do another massive planing session--and sooner than I originally thought.  It took almost as long to clean up the shop as it did to plane the boards in the first place!  Once all the boards were planed to the proper thickness, I still had to spend a couple hours the next day straightening one edge and then dimensioning the boards to the finished size I needed on the table saw--3" in width.

Even though installing the sheer clamp (or you could call it a shelf in my application, since it is designed to be a ledge on which the deck beams rest below the sheerline) was my next step, I had many questions to answer first.  Chief among them was determining the thickness of the deck beams that I planned to use.  After consulting numerous sources, I determined that beams laminated of three layers of 3/4" stock (for a depth of 2-1/4"), and about 2" wide, would be an appropriate size for my construction.  Any king beams or other, more significant deck structural members would be increased in size according to the situation of the case, as needed.  With the size determination out of the way, I decided to create not only a mockup beam, but also a form on which to laminate the beams I would need for the project.  With a form ready to go, I could begin laminating a beam or possibly two a day, depending on the cure time for the glue.  The design of the boat calls for very few full-width beams, as it happens, but all the beams will have to be built off the single mold to ensure that the deck crown/angle remains consistent and fair.

Click here for more about the deck beam design and construction.


mcmaster.jpg (30460 bytes)Thursday, I was surprised to open my mailbox and find, of all things, a coveted print catalog from McMaster-Carr!  Wow!  What a crowning achievement.  These things are impossible to get, even if requested.  I didn't even ask for it; it just came.  Way cool.  This 3600 page, 4" thick catalog will make browsing their dizzying array of industrial supplies, tools, shop supplies, and the like much easier.  I have arrived!  Hear me roar.  Yes, I'm a geek.

I managed to put my catalog-induced excitement aside and get back to work on Friday.  Before quitting on Thursday evening, I had managed to glue up one deck beam, using three pieces of 3/4" stock 2" wide bent around my form and glued with resorcinol.  First thing, I unclamped the beam and was pleased to find virtually no springback.  This first beam is critical because it becomes the beam mold that I will use for all future deckbeam-related layout.  With the beam mold at hand, I determined the location of the forwardmost set of deck beams, those located forward of the eventual cabin, and also marked the location for the sheer clamp.

Click here for more detail about locating the sheer clamp.


Saturday brought another mammoth planing session, during which I planed down my remaining mahogany stock, excepting two very wide boards and a very thick one that I am saving for some undetermined future use.  When I had all the boards planed to 3/4" thickness, I used my circular saw and a long straightedge (made from a sheet of plywood, with a straight factory edge, which I keep for this reason) to straighten one rough edge, then trimmed a number of the boards to create strips just over 2" in width, for use in deck beam lamination.  I milled enough pieces for the six full-width beams forward of the cabin trunk, and left the remaining 3 or 4 boards uncut for the moment.  Then I glued up one more deck beam with the last of my glue.  I'll have to get some more glue locally tomorrow so that I can continue getting beams glued up, as I should be ready to install the first set sometime in the coming week--I think.  Soon, in any event.

Log for the Week Ending February 22, 2004

Monday morning, I began by gluing up another deck beam--what is becoming a daily ritual.  A beam a day; at this rate, I'll have all the beams for the foredeck done and ready to start fitting later in the week.

fwdclamps4.jpg (42192 bytes)During the rest of Monday, I permanently installed the forwardmost sections of the sheer clamp on both sides of the bow.  Last week, I measured and located the rough positions of the clamps, and now it was time to install them permanently.  After successfully installing the two bow sections of the clamp on Monday, I continued with the remaining clamp sections during Wednesday and Thursday, completing the job.

Click here to read about installing the sheer clamp.


foredeckbeams2.jpg (39841 bytes)All the while, I continued gluing up deck beams for the foredeck area, one per day.  I glued my last one on Thursday, so Friday morning I began by cleaning up the six beams, running them through my planer to remove glue spillout and to straighten any minor unevenness between the laminations.  I discovered that somehow I had cut all the strips to only 1-7/8" in width, rather than 2-1/8" (see last week's log), so I was careful not to reduce their thickness much further when planing them smooth.  I must have thought I was moving the table saw fence to the right and instead moved it to the left when I cut the strips earlier.  Fortunately, the beams are still plenty wide, but it was still an irritating mistake on my part.  With the first six beams planed smooth, I began fitting them for final installation.  I thought I would get further with this job on Friday, but it ended up taking much more time than I thought to work out the first beam (mostly from my inexperience, but also because of some complex cuts).  Still, by the end of Friday I had fitted three of the six beams, with the first one taking several hours to get right, and the second two going much more quickly and more smoothly.  I expect to have no trouble fitting the last three full-length beams the next time I get out there.

Read more about the deck beams here.


midbhcut5.jpg (47385 bytes)Thursday afternoon, after I completed the sheer clamp, I turned to the bulkheads once more, and trimmed them to their proper and final (more or less) sizes.  This made a marked difference to the appearance of the boat, and provided a strong psychological boost as well.

Click here to see the result.


Log for the Week Ending February 29, 2004 (Leap Year)

I had other business that kept me away from the shop until Thursday afternoon; in fact, by then it had been six days since I had last done any work of consequence on the boat.  I began by picking up with the deck beams where I left off last Friday, but as I looked at the next beam in the line I puzzled over how to make the cuts again, since I had just been getting the hang of it last week and it still didn't come naturally.  Consequently, I made an error on the first one I cut, and ended up cutting it too short on each end.  All the other cuts were correct, but I had marked the end cut wrong.  Rats!  I knew better, and the cuts hadn't felt right, but I just couldn't put my finger on what was wrong until the damage was done.


foredeckbeams2.jpg (45201 bytes)The incorrect cut did highlight what my error was, and I breezed through the next three beams without further incident, completing the rough fitting of the foredeck beams.  To replace the short beam, I laminated a new section at the end of the day, so that it would be ready on Friday morning.

I noticed that last week's log incorrectly stated that I fitted three beams before the update; what I actually did was fit the first two, and marked out the third beam, though I didn't cut it.  As I wrote the log I had convinced myself that I had done the third one, but in fact this is the one that I messed up as described in the above paragraph.


Friday, I cut and fit the last of the forward full-length deck beams, and turned my attention to cutting enough stock to begin laminating the two dozen or so shorter beams that I will need for framing out the remainder of the deck.  Then, I spent a long time pondering the next steps, including the carlin installation.  Locating and installing the carlins promises to be one of the more challenging jobs, particularly given the curved profile I hope to achieve on the forward side of the cabin trunk.  Of course I'll get into more detail on this, and other, problems as I delve more deeply into the actual work.  I consulted my boatbuilding books and began to work out a version of installation combining the techniques described in each book, since my situation was different than any "textbook" version.


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