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Locked out.

So, my dad refuses to get in his rather old, rather dirty truck wearing his boat building clothes.  He fears it will get his car dirty.  At the beginning of each day, he changes clothes in the parking area in front of the shop.  At the end of the day, he changes back.  It’s important to make sure your doors aren’t locked when you put your clothes inside the car – with your keys in your pocket – and close the door.  Otherwise you might end up sitting in your underwear in the bed of your truck, talking to AAA on your son’s phone.

But I digress…

We’ve been making good headway of late, though sadly I haven’t done a very good job of taking pictures.  The teak coverboards are almost fully fabricated at this point.  Just a bit more futzing about and they’ll be ready for varnish.  Very, very exciting.  Here’s a photo from a week or so ago.  They’re much more evolved at this point.


We’ve also laid up the roof of the pilot house.  Or at least we’ve partly laid it up.  We built a form for the curve and bagged 1″ balsa to the bottom sheet of 1808 glass.  We need to route channels for the wiring through the top and install some hard points, and then we’ll put the top glass on.  Here are a few photos of all the “furniture” in the boat with the top on.

Oh, and I couldn’t find a bow eye I thought looked good, so I machined one.  It’s not perfect – there are some lumps and bumps I wish weren’t there – but it’s a lot better than what I could buy.


That’s it for now.  Starting to feel like the home stretch.




One step forward…

Hello, intrepid followers of the ordeal!

In our last installment, we learned of a number of trials and tribulations that have impeded progress.  Since then, the chase covers have been reconstructed and plied with 4 coats of varnish and 6 coats (and counting) of AwlBrite.  Still need a few more coats before they go on, but we’re getting close to unbottlenecking this thing.

I realize that I never showed a photo of how these things are fabbed.  While they’re being finished as single pieces – one for each side – it’s important that they can be taken apart later if need be.  (Picture a rotted out fuel hose 15 years down the road.)

I’ve built them in halves and held them together with interference-fit stainless pins.  The varnish and a little tape on the back of the seam is plenty to hold them together, and if I ever need to split them down the road I can just slit the finish with a knife and pry the removable half away.  Here’s a photo of one of the units disassembled.

And here they are as of now:

Note the leaning post next to them?  That’s one of the things I’ve been spending time on while waiting to get un-blocked on the chase covers.  It’s been sanded smooth, the pinholes are filled, and a couple of coats of AwlGrip 545 epoxy primer have been applied.  Just needs to be sanded to about 320 grit and given its final coat of glossy white.

Also while waiting around we decided to get started on the console.  Because the weather can be pretty crappy here in NorCal, I’m compromising the aesthetics a bit and installing a doghouse style console with glass windows and a hard top.  This will let me stay a bit better protected, and also install a windshield wiper.  We first wheeled her outside and tested this mockup to see what we thought:

It was a little big, so we took some notes and made a few modifications and then started construction.

I should probably point out that moving the boat is fraught with peril.  We’d been lucky so far but, sadly, when wheeling her out this time we made a bit of a mistake:

Fortunately this is in a spot that’s easy to fix.  But it’s supremely frustrating.

Anyway, the final version of the console was always intended to have a curved face, so we started by creating a form and building that.  This process should be familiar to those of you who’ve followed past progress.  We just scaled it up a bunch.

Then we cut our panels for the sides and upper front, and bonded it all together:

Some notes here…  The windows will not be framed as you’d find in so many boats this size.  The glass will be bonded to the frame directly using a special adhesive made for this purpose.  In essence, they all go in just like the windshield in your car.  To do this requires a pretty deep rebate so that the glass will be flush with the sides of the house.  The glass is 1/4″ thick and the adhesive needs a 3/8″ bead thickness so it can expand and contract properly.  That’s 5/8″ total.  The walls of the house were cut from 3/4″ ply which leaves only a 1/8″ thick strip for the windows to bond to.  Not enough.  1/2″ ply strips were bonded to the ply around the windows in these areas to provide enough structure.  All the areas visible above the console surface will ultimately be faired out to this thickness making the walls appear to be 1.25″ thick, though it really adds very little weight since it’s a small total area.

We’re presently installing the console surfaces on the inside, after which I can (a) take measurements to start fabricating the teak helm pod, and (b) sand, glass and fair the wheelhouse.  While I didn’t intend to do things in this order, it’s good we’re getting a head start on the house.  It’s going to take a while to do and it’s good “gap filler” work when stuff is drying on the boat.

I ordered a whole bunch of the parts that remained to be sourced last night.  Plotter, radome, sounder unit, stereo, speakers, VHF, antenna, steering wheel, nav lights, battery charger, and probably a few other items.  My bank account hates me, but at this point there’s actually little left to buy: White paint for the interior, windows, windshield wiper, teak decking, and some of the electrical items (switches, breakers, batteries, etc).

Starting to feel like there’s light at the end of the tunnel!


Plodding along…

It took forever, but I finally finished applying finish to the teak cladding assemblies.  The varnish I applied in my apartment went on as expected.  The 3-part poly was the foulest smelling nastiness I’ve ever worked with.  And it took many more coats than expected to get the grain filled.  I think they’ve got 14 coats on them at this point.  But they’re beautiful, and THEY’RE INSTALLED.

That happened on Monday.  It was the only thing that went well on Monday.

After bonding in the covers I went to install the fuel lines so I could bond the station 5 chases over the top.  It was then that I realized that the hole I’d drilled for the hoses was too small.  This was the same hole I used to size the chase.  By applying the transitive property, you likely now understand that the chase was undersized as well.  The chase it took two weeks to apply finish to.  CRAAAAAAAAAP!  This is likely to cost a lot of time.

Anyway, the chases came apart and had the finish removed and are now being rebuilt to accommodate the actual size of the lines that run through them.  Grumble.

After that little debacle, I decided to work on the fuel system.  I’m doing things a bit differently than Timm intended so I needed to move some fittings around.  When I unscrewed them I discovered they’d been installed so tightly that the threads had stripped off the fittings and remained behind.  CRAAAAAAAAAAP!  Fortunately, RDS Aluminum is being very nice about this and is sending me new ones for free.  But it costs time.

On a brighter note, I’ve started working on finishing out the hatch gutters and have installed drain tubes.  That went entirely according to plan.  As-designed the gutters have a square profile.  This is tough to keep clean, so I filled them with some thickened epoxy and then took a top-bearing ball-nose bit and radiused the bottoms.  I’m very happy with how this is working out.


Today we started fabbing a mockup of the console to test the size/look of the thing.  We’ll put that in tomorrow to see how it looks.



Brightwork! And more futzing about in the transom area…

By far the most exciting development of the past days is that the teak covers for the plywood frames are assembled and sanded, and as of this evening have a few coats of varnish on them.


I did two fast coats thinned to 50% with brushing reducer, and then one coat of full strength varnish.  The thinned coats (a) dry a bit faster so you can overcoat more quickly, and (b) absorb a bit more deeply to penetrate and seal the wood.  At this point we’re just going for grain fill so the name of the game is to get as much material applied as fast as you can without it alligatoring when it dries and/or running too badly.  It’ll all get sanded (a lot) soon anyway, so it doesn’t have to be amazingly smooth or well applied.  We’re just filling grain.

I’ve decided to go with AwlGrip’s “Ultimate Brightwork System.”  This consists of a lighter than normal application of spar varnish using AwlGrip’s AwlBright, followed by a whole lotta AwlClear clear polyurethane.  On other projects I’ve always used Epiphanes spar varnish, but I’ve heard good things about the AwlGrip system so I’m giving it a try.

Other progress includes the installation of fiberglass bushings to better protect the wood of the transom from the stresses of the motor bolts.  As I think I said before, I was originally planning to just put some sealant around the holes and call it a day, but at Timm’s recommendation I’m getting fancier.  I ordered some 1″ fiberglass rod from McMaster and cut four pieces of the approximate length required to pass through the transom fully.  These went into the lathe and got center drilled.  While I was at it, I added a few randomly located “gouges” to them so there was something meaty for the epoxy to bind to when they were bonded to the transom.


Then I had to drill out the existing 1/2″ holes to the new, 1″ diameter.  I was worried about relying on a standard 1″ drill bit to self-center on the 1/2″ hole, so I quickly fabbed up an aluminum drill bushing that was 1/4″ ID by 1/2″ OD.  This went in the existing holes, and guided the 1″ hole saw in my now-proven method of using a 1/4″ piece of stainless rod as a guide in place of the normal 1/4″ hole-saw pilot bit.

Using this approach allowed me to get the 1″ holes quite concentric relative to the original ones, as the photo of the plug (below) shows.


This might help to visualize the strategy a bit better:

Once the holes were drilled, it was pretty straightforward to bond in the bushings:

Theoretically, once this is all cured I should have no worries at all about water getting into the transom around the motor bolts.

Now that this is done, I can put the bottom in the motorwell and start finishing it out.  And there’s more varnish to apply.  And…  Well, there’s still lots to do.



Sanding, sanding, sanding.

Sorry for another unacceptable hiatus in updating our progress.  And… sadly… I don’t have any photos to share this time.  Basically we’ve been sanding for the past week.  Once the planking is finished, you need to smooth things off enough that you can apply fiberglass.  This means using a thickened epoxy mixture to fill all the staple divots and other dings and serious low spots, and then using a sander to knock down the high spots.  The goal at this stage isn’t to get it perfect, it’s just to get it close enough to glass.

The two critical items are these:

1. Sand down the high spots s0 that you don’t need to add unnecessary filler after applying the fiberglass.

2. Make sure everything is smooth enough that the glass will go on without bubbles, bridges, etc.

To knock down the high spots I bit the bullet and bought another new tool.  A Hutchins Hustler linear air sander:

These things are expensive, but they’re great.  Seriously cuts down on the time and suffering associated with fairing a hull.

I’m pretty sure that as of this evening, we’re good to go on both counts.  We bought 24 yards of 1808 glass this afternoon and unless something goes awry we’ll be glassing the sides tomorrow morning, and hopefully the bottom on Friday.

After that the serious fairing begins.  We’ll fill all the low spots and sand until our arms have fallen off to get it as fair and smooth as we possibly can before priming and painting.  Exciting stuff.  With a little luck we’ll have the hull done by the end of the month and be on to the interior in September.