Friday, 11 April 2014

Back on yer heads...

April, week 1.

Making templates this week for the plywood deck, hopefully as per the plan conceived in October. Using reel of 4' wide paper. The local print works discards the last 10 yd or so of an old reel at change-over; fortunately it's the same width as a sheet of ply....

Laying over the deck and creasing over edges, it's quite easy to form a template which are then cut out to lay over the sheets of ply.

A slight deviation from the plan for the side decks; originally I planned 8' lengths, but by mistake / accident / subconscious inspiration, did 4' lengths. This means less is lost accommodating the curve of the cabin side over a 4' length than an 8' length:

Both side decks come out of one sheet - which is nice.

All other templates fit exactly as planned (barely disguised smugness...)

Earlier during the week, after 6 months pondering, made the decision to go plastic. The ply needs to be epoxied to the sub-deck and fixed. It was a toss up between screws or nylon brads. Screws are simple, but require removal and subsequent hole repair. In addition you need to be absolutely sure there are no voids left in this filling process to avoid future  rot possibilities.

Nylon brads are fire-and-forget; they don't rust, sod up planes or other edged tools and don't need to be removed - but they need a special pneumatic nail gun (which I don't have) and cost an arm and a leg. 

I now walk with a limp.

Awaiting delivery of newer compressor to use gun now...

Saturday, 22 March 2014

Plodding along

Week 3

During the week managed to grab the odd hour to file and fit the remaining two chainplates and polish them.

When I took the old chainplates to be recast (bit of a waste of time as I only got £12 knocked off the price...) I forgot one. Rather glad I did in the end because it makes an interesting comparison:

The old one (nearest) appears quite a bit thinner - though it was measured with a sliding vernier and the new ones were only a fraction thicker to round up to the nearest 1/16". 

There is a fraction more height to the last "lift" to bring the eye a little higher above the deck. This is in part due to the deck planking being a little thicker than the original and part because I felt the old ones looked too stumpy:

The new ones will have the lower union of the eye to the shaft 5/8" above the deck - the originals were barely 3/8". Being a bit thicker, they are also less likely to be bent outwards, away from the planking, meaning the upper fixing hole seen in the old chainplate, shouldn't  be needed - less holes = more strength.

Saturday, 15 March 2014

Still slow

March, week 2

Collected the castings during the last week and played about with the first chainplate. As expected there had been some longitudinal shrinkage, resulting in the upper notch falling short of the bottom edge of the plank. The only way of sorting this is to file away some of the lower notch. Not much, about 2mm at most, but it can only be done by hand. All my hand files are too blunt or too thick, so had to buy a fist full of assorted files.

An arduous process of file / fit / file for about 3 hours....

Eventually it seemed OK. 

Cleaning the casting was another voyage of discovery. I have a belt sander and orbital finishing sanders in various guises, disc sanders and grinding wheels. The disc sander and grinder are far too aggressive. The orbital is too cumbersome, which leaves the belt sander and emery cloth.

Even the belt sander has its limitations, so bought a small air powered 3" rotary orbital sander, that should be with me in the next few days, in the meantime; belt sander and emery cloth.

After a few hours, onto the buffing wheel and voilĂ :

As can be seen, enthusiasm got the better of me, and the tiller fitting was done too. Rather pleased, all in all.

Three more to go....

Meanwhile, work still intrudes:-

Sunday, 2 March 2014


Week 4.

Still only managing to snatch the odd hour here or there. Currently making paper templates to use for the deck covering (6mm plywood).

Fiddly bits round the leading corners of the cabin trunk, where you have compound curves, the gap behind the tabernacle, combined with the rather modest sweep of the sheer, are tricky.

Still not decided on how to hold down the panels whilst epoxy cures. Clearly it's imperative there are  absolutely no voids between the deck planking and ply. I would like to try nylon brads, but need specialist kit (looking to see if maybe I can hire, borrow, beg or steal...); or maybe fall back on screws. The problem with the latter is that they will all need to be drawn after the epoxy is cured and all the resultant holes filled, which is a P.I.T.A.

Meanwhile the castings sent off 4 weeks ago are still not finished... and if I want them polished (which I do)  they need to go away and cost another £20 or so each - that'll be another £100 then.

Saturday, 22 February 2014

Refitting bunks

February, week 3

After a three week absence, managed to snatch a Saturday to shellac the internal planks above the bilge prior to refitting the recently varnished bunks.

The beauty of shellac is the drying time. Today was a mild early Spring day and managed to get 12 coats on before 16:30. The trick is to apply sparingly and with a large amount to be covered (such as the cabin planks) by the time you've finished the 2nd side you can start on side no.1. Leaving an extra 1/2 hour or so to harden a bit before doing the odd coats you can get a good build-up without getting an "orange peel" finish.

Three quarters of an hour to refit the bunks and the joy of an interior starts to take root....

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Faffing about

Week 4
Last post for a couple of weeks.
Finished off the chainplate patterns:

Made a pattern for the bronze tiller mount:

This will slot over the squared section of the rudder shaft, whilst the open socket end will receive one end of the bent wooden tiller I will be making.

Had a trip to the rudder fabricators to make sure he was OK with machining the slot (there is no point in casting the fitting with it cut, because the bronze will shrink on cooling bugger up the fit) and gave hefty £430 down payment for the rudder, which he has finished (damned fine it looks too) and then on to the foundry to drop off the patterns and £50 deposit. Also gave them 3 of the old chainplates - forgot one...- to recast in an effort to keep costs down. They reckon a fortnight to cast - serendipity!
Back on the boat and inside the cabin, the bilges were painted; hopefully it will be dry enough in a fortnight to walk on - extra driers were added to the paint to speed things up a bit. Red lead is fantastic stuff, but  it does take an age to dry and has an irritating tendency to skin over; giving the impression it's dry, then breaking open under sheer stress smearing everything orange...

Sunday, 26 January 2014


Week 3.

Still fiddling with varnish etc., so in keeping with the start / stop nature of things, I carried on with the making of chainplate patterns (which was started in July '13).

The chainplates are external and fit over the planking. Originally they would have been hot-dipped galvanised iron, however in the 80's these were replaced with bronze after the partial replanking exercise. This is probably due to the boatyard deviating from the original plank dimensions, thus the old chainplates didn't fit properly...

When I replanked I tried, as closely as possible, to emulate the original plank dimensions, so now the replacement chainplates don't fit......

The replacements bridged the plank lands (leaving triangular voids):

The new ones will fit every part of the plank, so that the bottom edge of  the plank will also resist the upward pull of the shrouds, not just the through-bolts.

This means some pretty precise patterns to be made for the casting process. Each stage has to be built up one piece at a time to make sure all the angles are correct...

...until the eye can be made and attached. Then the chambfers are cut, smoothed off to reveal the final patterns:
There are four of these needed, each subtly different from the other. As a finishing touch, they will be covered with a thin coat of car body filler an sanded smooth so the final casting will need as little finishing a possible.
A similar process will be needed for the tiller fitting.

Sunday, 19 January 2014

Rudder preparation

Week 2.

Not a fat lot to show for the week. The bunk frames were removed and prepared for varnish. In this weather curing is unbearably slow with two days between coats before I can even show show it a sheet of "wet and dry"... I plan to only give it 6 coats bearing in mind it is out of the weather inside the cabin. The silly little battens that are screwed to the underside of the deck are the worst - these need to be painted with the white paint used on the decks and that takes even longer to dry.

Not wishing to twiddle my  thumbs; I set to making the template of the inner space under the aft deck, where the rudder tube will go.

It is important the fabricators know the length of the tube (through the hog, the space to the underside of the deck plus all the reinforcement elements associated with the deck) as well as the angle the hog makes with the vertical tube, because there will be a flange at the base of the tube to let into the bottom face of the hog (as per the old one below).

Then a template of "Pirate's" original rudder was made (this is because "Corsair's" rudder fell off in the 80's and an ill-fitting replacement was shoved on).
I assume - in the absence of anything else - that this was the original rudder shape common to all three sisters:-

Both templates delivered to the fabricators in  Hoveton for a new stainless rudder blade, tube and shaft and bronze bearings top and bottom. Whilst discussing dimensions of shafts, thread sizes etc., talk turned to the tiller. I want to put on a bent wood tiller, but that will need a hard wearing element where it fits over the flattened faces of the shaft; the upshot is I will make  patten for a bronze casting that will drop onto the shaft and have an integral decorative socket to slide the tiller into. More CAD work.
On the way home, popped in to Tim Collin Hardwoods to discus Iroko for the rubbing strakes and toe rails and picked a baulk 2" x 10" x 14' - £120 inc VAT.
Back at the barn - preparation of the hull planking in the cabin. When varnishing the bunk frames is done, they will be fixed into the boat, so it makes sense to paint the bilges with red lead whilst clear - otherwise I can see there will be orange paint from arseholes to breakfast time... The laborious task of scraping the planks clean ready for the first coat of red lead thinned with preservative and a few drops of driers takes a knee-punishing day.
This is my last chance to see the beautiful oak hull planking before 2/3 is covered in orange paint, sob....


Monday, 6 January 2014

Cross berth

January, week 1

Over the Christmas period, still managed to do some stuff, notably refit  the bunks, but now without the cooker locker and sink locker, both of which were either side just in front of the bulkhead.


Now the side bunks start either side just in front of the bulkheads and the cooker is back to under the starboard seat in the well (where it started out in 1906....).

This reversal to the original internal layout allows the reinstatement of  the cross berth. Structurally  a very important item as it adds more strength amidships, where a lot of strain lies.

The first thing was to make the port and starboard locker fronts to the side bunks level. These rest on the new floors and there was some adjustment with a plane needed to achieve this. The width of the companion way was decided upon - narrowing from 24" to 21"; the bottom edges were blocked and fixed to the floors.

Next the time consuming establishment of levels to determine the position of the riser that will support the outboard ends of the cross berth rails. Pads were made to sit on the 4 timbers that will lie with the cross berth and thus dissipate any load to prevent breaking them.

With the risers fitted, the aft rail was cut and then the structural elements what will form the locker front for the cross berth. It was decided to use Yellow Cedar again (same as forward bulkhead panels) again to reduce weight.. These were mortice and tenon joints glued with epoxy (a beading detail round the locker front opening was added - this is an original detail that is repeated throughout the boat and her sisters).

Once levels were again confirmed, the forward batten was fitted to the forward bulkhead and the bunk slat rail added.

Finally the side brackets needed to be made. These could have been Yellow Cedar also, or - as in "Pirate", pine. As the only suitable pine I had was Douglas Fir, and that is a bit pink, I resolved to use some nice offcuts of quarter sawn Oak.

Templates made to reflect the hull planking and some experimentation with curve shapes for the inner edge were relatively quick to make - sourcing adequate Oak not so....

Eventually the Oak was cut and fitted, the hardest part being the cutting of the beading around the tight curve.

However, by Monday mid morning, all in

................ ready to be taken out again and varnished.