Saturday, 25 July 2015


Week 3

Slow work week for a change and took advantage by cracking on with the Port side. By midweek two coats to even up with the starboard side. Harvest kicked in then, so downed brushes 'til the dust settles.

There's a field of rape two fields away and that's the one they've started, the one behind us is wheat, so I'll have 2 -3 weeks (maybe 4) before they start that and the real dust starts.

Instead attention transferred to the tiller. I had kept a scrap of oak left over from the baulk used for the two floors under the mast step. Knocking up a rough template and wedging it in the bronze tiller socket I took half a dozen tacks round the barn and settled on a shape and length. Laid the template out on the offcut (with a nicely curved grain) and fitted with about 1/32" spare....

A couple of hours messing about with a band-saw and spoke shave produced a passable stick. Well sanded, pre-heated and slathered with un-thickened epoxy (for the teeny-weeny heart shake at the end...) it was ready to sand down in advance of the varnish by the next day.

Preparation of the cabin sides next. Hot air stripped the old stuff - being careful not to cook the new epoxy coated decks. Awful realisation that the earlier sanded patches to undertake repairs and remove crews over the last 4 years, has meant that these exposed bits are now several shades darker than the newly exposed stuff. 


Do I sand down to same colour (bad)? Do I try and bleach (unlikely to work)? Do I varnish and see hideous dark patches that I hope will fade in the sun (risky)?

Still don't know what to do; but I suspect a bit of all three........

Anyway, more urgent is the really badly "repaired" crack in the cockpit side. Filled with a dutchman OK but not Teak (Mahogany I think) and so really, really shrieks with surrounding colour.

Also I think Resorcinol might have been used as the glue and this has failed. Rot has therefore continued unabated behind which is un-good....

The dutchmen were winkled out with a scalpel - a task that took about 4 hours - and the area saturated with Cuprinol type bug killer. It will be several weeks for this to completely dry out now before the new Dutchmen are cut and glued in with G/Flex epoxy.

The plan is to strip the cabin and cockpit sides and varnish up to about 8 coats before I tackle the deck paint. I didn't want to strip the cabin side varnish and screw up the new deck paint.....

Monday, 13 July 2015

Home Straight?

July, week 2

Had a day to spare midweek and a good session at the weekend to complete the sanding of the starboard planking.

Before the real work was started, the screw holes for the rubbing strake were injected with CPES and capped with masking tape. They can't easily be over-drilled,  filled with thickened epoxy and re-drilled because they slope downwards. I am fearful there would be a void left at the end due to slump as the epoxy tried to drain out - this would be worse than not treating at all, as water would be bound to wick up  the screw threads via capillary action and sit in the void, merrily destroying the deck planking unseen. The CPES being very thin, should soak into the wood fibres and seal the hole that way - hopefully...

The deck / plank union was masked off and over coated with a couple of cots of CPES - again hopefully protecting this area of vulnerability.

A wipe down with white spirit, a tack cloth and then varnish time. A thinned coat of about 66% to 33% thinners and then it was the first chance to see what the hard work of 2012/13 planking would produce...

...not too shabby.

Onto the other side to score the boot top and start sanding.

The screw heads at the hood ends were filled with epoxy and colour matched wood flour; the difficulty being to judge to what extent the oak would darken in the next few years. Epoxy may seem odd material, but if these screws ever need to be removed it will be due to some significant surgery, and so the use of a hot air gun to soften the filler will be of little or no consequence.

Most of port side was sanded by Sunday evening, but there were three or four planks at the stem that had not been done at the close of play. I wasn't happy about leaving the bare planks I had finished in the drying heat of the coming week and so found myself sealing the sanded forward sections with varnish at 04:00 on Monday morning just before leaving for the airport to catch the flight to Bucharest. Madness.

Sunday, 21 June 2015

Almost comatose

June, week 3.

No time.

Since last update, spent what little time faffing and fitting.

The trailer on which the boat sits needed some modifications; it's a long story but in essence it was a modified trailer that I extended. However the extension meant that a) the stern prop was now some way away from the rear axle and therefore the beam flexed too easily, not supplying sufficient support I felt and b) the cross beam at the end of the extension fouled the rudder so I couldn't check the fit, shaft length etc.

Got the local agricultural fitters round and explained my plan to amputate the cross beam and then weld longitudinal diamond bracing down the length of the pair of extension beams from tip to rear axle. This would allow me to slide the rudder between the extensions and up the rudder tube as well as stiffening the rear part of the trailer.

I could now fit of the new rudder for the first time since I got it about six months ago.

All went well, All the old and new bits went together well, heights adjusted etc...

 Then check below and 1.5" too low.

This large gap can cause issues with snagging weed, submerged branches and more importantly the mainsheet.

So the shaft needed to be shortened. This is a pain because the tiller socket casting mates with the shaft as a keyed, conical fitting i.e. line up a slit in the tiller socket with a removable bronze key, drop onto the shaft & tighten down the crown nut. No wear, no lateral slack.

A good solution, except that it involves a lot of precision machining of the shaft. If the shaft needs altering it means effectively chop it of an make a new one. Thinking laterally I decided to weld 1.5" on the top edge of the rudder blade instead....

Moving forward to the stem; I decided some time ago that I wouldn't refit the bowsprit for the first couple of seasons. However I might choose to do so later on, so the gammon iron would need to stay (not the ghastly stainless one I bought with the boat, it but a nice bronze one an older owner gave me). 

However, since the jib, forestay and other bits of wire etc. would have been attached at the extremity of the bowsprit (on the cranse iron), these now need to be accommodated closer to the stem. The simplest solution was to adapt the gammon iron by attaching 3 eyes. This triggered analysis of what other metal work I needed and so a series of patterns made for castings. These included a removable outboard bracket, back and handle to the bilge pump - all in bronze.

The gammon iron was fitted with accompanying cheek pads in Iroko:

The bilge pump bits needed further specialist machining, but when fitted seemed to do the job well:

Moving inside, the forepeak was cleaned up and scraped so the upper inside planks could receive a dozen or so coats of shellac and the bilge a couple of coats of red lead.

Also finished off making the runners for all the cabin drawers:

Externally the rubbing strakes were marked up to determine where the chainplates were, so the rebates could be chopped. The screw holes all countersunk, inside edge sealed with penetrating epoxy and dry fitted to check all was OK:

Now it's looking a bit dangerous - seems varnishing the hull is just round the corner...

Sunday, 26 April 2015


Week 4

It looks like the epoxy plug idea is going to work. Made a mock-up of components to the correct dimensions and tried a couple of options: a) 6mm enlarged hole b)9.5mm enlarged hole.

Both were drilled 7/8" deep in the 1" deck simulation and filled with epoxy using a large syringe - so I could fill from the bottom up and avoid capturing air bubbles. Left to cure overnight they were drilled out to 5/8" with a taper drill for the screw pilot hole.

Meanwhile a piece of the toerail was countersunk to a depth of just under 1/8" and the rail plus bobbin screwed into both test sockets. The test piece was dis-assembled and then sectioned with the bandsaw to see the results:

The bottom is the 6mm socket. Here the screw just about breaches the socket sides, though the depth seems fine. This is not what I want, because there is a slight chance of water entering the wood fibres. In addition, the accuracy required to centralise the pilot hole exactly is going to be time consuming...

The 9.5mm socket accommodates the screw comfortably with plenty of lateral thickness spare.

The only slight issue is that there was quite a bit of absorption of the epoxy into the wood (good), this however leaves a surface depression (bad). This either means I have to make the epoxy thicker and overfill more than I did, or top up later...

Filled socket with pilot hole drilled awaiting bobbin & screw.

Sunday, 19 April 2015

Drawers down

Week 3

Should have a week and a half off before next job, so buckled down on Thursday and Friday to finish the drawers in the cabin.

To document the process, first mark out the pegs

I knocked up a little template for this, visible behind the piece on the bench - saves messing about with an over sized bevel gauge/

Cut out down the lines with dovetail saw

Remove waste with sharp chisel

repeat process for back of drawer until the pair are done. Lay out pieces and mark up corners

Choose a side and place to vice, lining up with a front or back so the top is flush. Mark out the dovetails from the pegs.

Cut down the lines. Using a fret saw remove the bulk of the waste

Repeat for the other end and remaining side. Mark out groove for the base and pass over table saw a couple of times. Cut appropriate size of ply for base, dry fit and prepare for glue up.

Bought deck paint, so will crack on with the epoxy sockets for the toe rails in the coming few days....

Monday, 13 April 2015

Spring Drawers On

Week 2

Work not as intensive as before, plus the Easter break allowed time to experiment with dovetails.Hawking around the timber store, came across some fairly manky Sycamore which had begun to be nibbled by the beetle.

Decided the sidings would be quite light, since the depth is only 5" or so. Cut and re-sawed the front/backs and sides then machined to 3/8".

Watched a couple of videos on various methods and set to. 1st drawer completed in a day, or just over. Wood is crap. Worm passages all through it. Soused the whole thing in preservative and later will seal with epoxy - when all said and done it's a drawer that will hardly ever be seen and it offends me too much I'll paint the bugger.

Weather warming up a bit and so decided whip round the deck / cabin joint with an epoxy fillet, just in case there were any air gaps or breaches in the glass overlap. Since not structural, used the fairing compound to bulk out, masked off and applied with tongue depressor. Turned out OK.

Also cleaned and sealed the two longest and the aft cant rails with epoxy. These will eventually be fixed over this fillet, bedded in with some vile ogg (yet to be decided upon...).

Second drawer attempted and completed in just under a day from bulk stock to dry fit. Timber much better as we move away from the end - hardly any beetle attack. Glued up overnight and cleaned next morning (today). Quite pleased for my 2nd only drawer.

Off to Poland for most of the week, but hopefully will get a couple of weeks off until the next country starts up.

Sunday, 5 April 2015

O & S

April, week 1

Right. That was a complete waste of time, then. The reinforcement strips on the underside of the hatch cover (despite being only 1/4" thick) still had enough spring in them to flatten the curve of frame and the beautiful snug replication of the deck curvature was lost. They were ground off and the cover spent a couple of weeks weighed down over the hatch to reinstate the shape, then another layer of glass epoxied on the underside as reinforcement instead - not sure whether to add a third layer yet...

The terminals of the toe rails were fashioned and dry fitted to locate screw holes. these are now done until I know I have an opportunity for a long-ish run at the job to sort out the oversized "epoxy wells" for the final attachment.

Other elements were treated with CPES (Clear Penetrating Epoxy Sealant) - these were things that will be bedded in to the deck somehow or somewhere, such as the cant rails around the cabin-deck junction and hatch surrounds. The assumption being that although every effort will be made to be sure the bedding compound will be waterproof, nothing is certain, so if there is any seepage hopefully the deck and the fittings will be protected.

Came up pretty well.

These will be rubbed down and an extra couple of coats of varnish added. They cannot be fitted until the deck has been painted, then the full 12 coats will applied to the exposed faces...

Moving inside and focussing on small jobs that can be fitted in after a day's work, I managed to find the locker covers for the well. Earlier I renovated the locker fronts and returned the starboard side to its original configuration (May '14). This means that one of the locker covers is too wide, another is too short - thought required for the short one.... However the swing catches were refitted and covers inserted. Not sure whether to convert some / one / all to drawers  - more thought.

In the cabin, the locker covers were also found; and here there already seems to be a collection of covers and drawers. I also recovered the bearers / runners to support the drawers or floors behind the locker front and under the bunks. Blimey, what loads were they expecting?? The riser was 1.5" x 3/4" as were the transverse bearers. You could have supported the whole bloody boat on them - given the aperture available to place anything in these lockers is about 4" x 18" it seems slightly over engineered... 

They were dumped. 

New runners were knocked up for the two drawers (nearest the bulkhead).

The remaining lockers only have loose covers i.e. the contents rest on a floor under the bunks, free to roll about anywhere they please as the boat heals. These too need to be converted to drawers. Rather than mess about too much, I will make plain drawers and screw on the existing locker covers. Its a bit of a cop out because they are far too heavy and I'm not over keen on their appearance, but I'm not wasting time on replacements at the moment. So this coming weekend sees an attempt to make my first dovetailed drawers.....

Sunday, 8 March 2015


March, week 1

An omnibus edition  of scraps of time stolen since last post.

The aft hatch has been virtually finished; glassed both inside and out. All that remains is a further coat of epoxy on the outside to fill the weave of the glass and then a dozen coats or so of varnish. The underside might get a couple of strips of iroko to reinforce (in case a lardy passenger decides to stand on it...).

Steps were taken to infill the the fillet left between the rounded deck edge and the rubbing strake.

During the glassing of the deck, the edge was rounded to allow the glass to follow the contours and maintain contact with the deck edge and  the hull planking. This now leaves a "v" shaped groove along the joint of the top edge of the rubbing strake. Clearly this will harbour water and cause rot, so needs to be filled. This is done with thickened epoxy, but first the rubbing strake needs to be removed, strips of polythene placed behind to prevent bonding of the strake to the hull and then screwed back up. 

Epoxy is forced into the gap and left to harden.

Later the rubbing strakes will be removed again and the excess sanded off.

The bobbins supporting the toe rail also need to be treated against rot. Although iroko, that is not enough in itself to prevent these rotting, so now the locations of the fixing holes has been identified, the toe rails are removed to treat the bobbins. A batch of CPES (Clear Penetrating Epoxy) is made up and each bobbin is saturated, with the CPES being absorbed by the vulnerable end grain and left to drain and harden on a rack. Later these will be dipped several times in varnish, ready for use.

Similarly the underside of the toerail was given a couple of coats of CPES.

Prior to toerail removal, the end blocks for the rails were roughly cut and glued to the underside of the rail extremities. It was easier to glue in situ, thus maintaining alignment and being able to clamp against the lands of the hull planking.The excess to be trimmed and shaped.

The fixing holes in the deck surface for the toerail now need to be over-bored.

Every opportunity to ward off rot is being taken with this rebuild. Deck fixings are notorious routes for the ingress of water and the birth of rot. On a compound deck such as this it spells disaster. Water can travel between layers of glass or bonded plywood and rot merrily for years until the evidence becomes visible; at which time the damage is almost always terminal, resulting in complete deck renewal. 

This is unfavourable. 

In an attempt to stave this off, I intend to bore out all deck fixings to at least twice the diameter of the screw being used and 1/4" deeper than the max. screw penetration. This hole will then be filled with thickened epoxy. When set, the epoxy plug will then be drilled and the screw driven home. When the moisture finds its way past the threads of the screw (as it inevitably will) it will meet with the impervious barrier of the epoxy plug and not migrate into the timber of the deck structure. This is all good theory, but in practice, a pain in the arse as there will be scores if not hundreds of screws driven into the deck.......................

Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Hatch two

Week 4

Sporadic progress through Christmas period.

Started the aft hatch surround a couple of days before. The plan is to keep the profile of the hatch pretty low, as the mainsheet anchor point is just a couple of inches forward f the leading edge. It will be all too easy for the mainsheet to snag on a corner and whip the bugger off during a gybe (as has been the case a couple of times in the past...).

So the height of the frame will be 3/4" max and will follow the curve of the deck - so no corners will be proud. As with the forepeak hatch, I have decided to use Iroko (from the same source). Due to the proximity of the rudder boss alluded to above, the encroachment over the deck also has to be low, so the overlap is only 1/2", with another 1/2" depth on the inside of the hole, making the thickness 1" in total...

The transverse (curved) pieces will be full length, the longitudinal ones will slot in between with a simple half lap at the ends. As before the assembly is screwed and glued in place with ample plastic sheet masking to permit removal when done.

All pretty good.

Now the hatch cover. The old cover could not be used because a) I reduced the size of the hatch by about half, b) the profile is now curved and c) it was a pile of crap.

This too was going to be light construction, The plan is to have it sit over the frame, so the clearance needs to small and the thickness of the edges also (rudder boss again...), But I wanted to reduce risk of sheets catching further, so the outer edge will be rounded (thus thicker to accommodate a curve). Therefore the front and back will be 1/2" thick and the outer edges 3/4". The top will be planked 1/4" Iroko let into the sides, again to lower the profile. The whole thing will be 1" deep...

Hatch cover frame after glue-up in situ.

All this means a fairly flimsy structure, prone to damage as people will inevitably stand on the bloody thing, so I will sandwich the top and underside with fibreglass (this will end up transparent and virtually invisible under the top coats of varnish), additionally there will be 3 strips of timber laminated transversely to the underside.

The plan was to book match the grain of the 1/4" planks of the top. Great care taken and all joints beautifully tight. Epoxy mixed, all clamped up and brought inside as temperature outside hovering around freezing for a few days.

 Big mistake. 

As the timber warmed, it dried and the sodding planks shrunk - so all my lovely close joints you can now drive a coach and four through.


Time to fill.

Also decide to fill the butchery to the cockpit sides with some dutchmen using Burmese Teak I bought specially for the purpose.