Monday, 24 August 2015

Shelves and cooking

Week 3

Finished both cockpit seat shelves and coated with epoxy.

Focus switched to lockers and cooking arrangements. The forward 1/3 of the starboard seat lifts to provide cooking "arrangements". Previously I suspect there was a recess under the seat revealing the stove and one cooked with it in situ. It must have been a paraffin stove, but clearly not the same dimensions or design as mine, because you wouldn't be able to us the pressure pump... the locker front frame being in the way. Also my stove is too tall and won't clear the closed lid.

My plan was to put a drawer in the 1st locker to store the stove, placing on a temporary table which is located over the original opening. This table however would then be too big to be stowed when not in use, so it needs to fold; it could then join the stove in the drawer - everything being in one place.

I also have a folding oven, maybe that could join them.

This week therefore was taken up with making the table and drawer.

A template was made of the ideal shape and size.

The table was a good excuse to use up some of the offcuts from the planking stock left over a couple of years ago. Several bits were cobbled together, run through the thicknesser and then the router table to machine tongues and grooves. The laminates were glued overnight and cleaned / flattened the following day. The table was cut to the template, then sliced in two ready for the hinges.

I had some counter hinges left over from the sole boards I made for the forepeak sole - great for locking in the open position but a complete bastard to fit. The sockets need a lot of fiddling and intricate excavation to accommodate all the moving parts of the hinge - took about 4 bloody hours for 2 hinges (not helped by zero memory of the same process 5 years ago therefore effectively learning the approach all over again...). However, a splash of CPES and 24hrs revealed a decent effort that seems to work well.

On with the drawer. The cockpit being more exposed and the under seat position also being vulnerable due to the hinged top, I decided to use Oak. Measuring the opening in the locker front, went for an 18" drawer depth with a slightly odd front - the locker fronts taper in height as you move aft. The width taken between the two side cheeks that the old locker fronts butted against (the opening checked to make sure the stove fits through).

Having some poor Oak baulks rejected for sap content, I cut up, re-sawed and thicknessed to 3/8" for the fronts and sides. Again re-learning the dovetailing process, made up the drawer.

It's a funny thing, measuring.

1. I forgot the clearance for the top of the drawer. Not a major issue, just knock down the joints and shave 3/16" off the top of all sides.

2. Less satisfactory was the realisation I had omitted to consider the effect of a) lateral clearance and b) drawer side thickness on the finished drawer's internal dimensions. 

The bloody stove won't fit. 

It's less than 1/8" too narrow. Table fits though.........

The awful realisation is that the side cheeks alluded to above need to come out; a process that requires the removal of both starboard seats, the forward seat bearer, unscrewing, trimming and replacing both cheek pieces before reassembling the whole lot again. Then constructing another bloody drawer.......


On the plus side, the drawer fits on the port side and will serve as the battery compartment for the bilge pump.

Also managed to finish the false vertical panel frames in the aft bulkhead:

These were made from fragments of original hull planking.

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Moving Up.

Week 2.

With the 9th coat on the hull, the varnish will be left a few weeks to cure and harden before any further coats are applied.

Moving upwards to the cabin sides, the first coats of varnish were applied. 

I have struggled for some time finding the best brush for vanishing. I have used standard 2" natural bristle brushes, oval varnish brushes (Badger hair and disgustingly expensive), cheap artificial bristles, expensive artificial bristles, but they all have fallen down on the job one way or another. The proper varnish brush was good for holding varnish, but I find the bristles too hard and in this warm weather, leave ridge and furrow marks. However, eventually it seems I have found a synthetic (sadly) brush that fits the bill - Harris Precision Tip. Just the right stiffness near the ferrule and enough give in the tip, with fine ends to reduce, if not eliminate bristle marks.

The new method of attaching cant rails at the cabin side / deck junction will be chemical only and no mechanical assistance (no screws). This means the fore and aft cants can no longer be made from flat stock and forced round the the curvature of the deck - I don't want to put the bond under any undue strain. Therefore new ones need to be made that are cut already curved to conform to the deck camber. This means making a spile board with thin strips cut from some offcuts and a hot-melt glue gun. 

This is brilliant for this kind of work - reversible and quick. a couple were made (one forward and one aft). Good news is I have Iroko stock for the aft one - not so unfortunately for the longer forward one, so a visit to Tim Collin for a piece of Iroko - just as well as I need a small slab of Teak for a replacement locker / drawer front in the cockpit (after I repaired the locker front months ago and reinstated the original configuration of the locker openings).

Also, I picked some Oak boards from a local farmer who had laid them up several years ago from tress felled on the estate. A nice half  dozen planks with curved grain. One of these will be converted into slatted shelves behind the seats in the cockpit. These lie under the side decks and aren't readily visible, but act as really useful storage areas for boom crutches, ropes etc. They also need to conform to the contours of both the hull and the outboard edge of the seat, so another spline board was made and and marked up on the Oak stock. These boards are 1 1/8" thick, so the plan is to cut the slats out and then resaw to produce a pair of identical slats just under 1/2" thick (finished). There is some variation in the boat / seat shape for both sides, but this can be accommodated in the 1/4" gaps between the slats; besides as mentioned, these are not in open view so what the eye can't see.......

Monday, 10 August 2015

8 and counting...

August, Week 1

My 5 weeks off progresses well. Last evening completed the 8th coat of varnish to the hull. This is the first coat that has filled virtually all the grain. Conditions are not ideal. The very hot weather means that I cannot start applying 'til late evening - this makes it very difficult to see the "curtains" and starved patches. Add to this that I am having to thin the varnish rather more than liked, to maintain a "wet front" long enough to prevent drag - another reason why the "curtains" are more of a pain.

Even so, delaying 'til cooler conditions still means the brush strokes are still not fully flowing out out, despite the addition of "Owatrol" oil.

I might be tempted delay the final "concourse" coat until the Autumn...

Anyway, this is what 8 coats looks like:-

...and about 4 coats to the transom:-

In between sanding and varnishing, work continues on preparation of the cabin side, with the completion of the splines to repair the split in the cockpit:-

Seriously irritated by the orientation of the middle plug - orientated according to the saw lines thinking it was the grain...... Still perhaps most of that will be hidden behind the awning clamps.

Also the colouration of the dark patches etc.. had an interesting twist. Trying to bleach with oxalic acid was not successful. However, whilst neutralising with Bicarbonate of Soda - along side the expected fizzing - the run-off seemed to be deeply coloured. The longer left on, the deeper the colour change, until the whole cabin side took on a distinctly Mahogany hue. Most odd. Even when rinsed off with water the transformation more or less remained. Reviewing the problem darkened areas, these too blended rather better than before. 

When fully dried, a sealing coat of shellac was brushed over and all seems well!

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

Toe Rails

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.