Category Archives: Framing

Decks and such.

Since last we touched base there has been more odd job activity, as well as some big steps.

There’s been some ongoing varnishing, though at this point I’m basically waiting for the AwlSpar coats to dry enough that they can be overcoated with the AwlBrite.  AwlSpar I was willing to do in my apartment.  AwlBrite, notsomuch.  About half the contents of AwlBrite start with “hexa.”  For whatever reason (someone please explain to me if you know!) it seems like chemicals that start with hexa are really frigging bad for you.  Hexavalent Chromium?  Yeah, I saw Erin Brockovich.  The list goes on, but I won’t bore you.  Anyway, even though I’ve got things all masked off so that basically I don’t smell anything outside my kitchen – where I make food – I’m not going to bring that crap into my house.  This is a problem in that it needs to cure in temperatures well above what our current SF winter is providing, but I’ll figure something out.

One thing that you, dear reader, have not yet seen is the veneer I built for the face of the step up to the forward casting platform area.  I decided to add a bit of flare here and represent the day shape for a boat engaged in fishing in teak inlay in the middle of the step.  For those who haven’t sat through a USCG certified captain’s license exam, day shapes are visual signals hung on boats during the day to signify certain things.  At night you use lights.  Here’s the day shape for a vessel engaged in fishing:


Here’s the fascia for the step.  See it hiding in there?:

Okay, actually, nearly everything I just said is a flat out lie.  That is, in fact, the day shape for a commercial fishing vessel engaged in fishing, but the truth is that the two remaining pieces of veneer I had weren’t wide enough to cover the step with the seam dead center, so I pieced some scraps together to make that inlay and make the whole thing a few inches wider.  It only occurred to me later that it kinda looked like the day shape.  But I like the other explanation better.

When not at home huffing varnish, I’ve gotten some big stuff done.  On Tuesday I bagged the balsa to the inside of the motorwell to thicken the walls.


This was a rather time consuming process, principally because I decided to use up the scraps of balsa I had left over from doing the hullsides and this quickly turned into a game of balsa-tetris trying to get the entire surface covered.  I make a point of trying to be efficient in my use of material.  I might have gone too far this time, but it worked in the end.

Today, I had my dad back on the job so we did what was definitely a 2-person job:  shaping and bonding the forward decks.  Here they are, all “clamped” in place.  I was out of bronze and stainless screws and didn’t want to go to the store, so we scrounged around the shop and found everything we could that was heavy to compress the decks into the epoxy.  The casters of the dolly she’s sitting on were less than thrilled, but they’re holding in there.


I also spent some time trying to shape the drain openings to the motorwell.  I’m close, but there’s still some fine tuning to do.


And in a similar vein, I got out the holesaw and drilled the routing holes in the aft starboard frames so I can get the steering and electrical lines to the motor.  While I was at it I drilled smaller holes in every frame for whatever random routing ultimately needs to happen down the road, and then had a bit of a brainstorm about under-gunnel courtesy lights and realized that if I notched the tops of the frames, rather than just drilling holes, I could run an uninterrupted length of LED ribbon down each side.  This would be much faster to do, and would have fewer connections that could go bad.  Here’s what those look like:

It’s been an expensive few days.  I ordered a bunch of parts for the fuel system, all the steering components, and bought teak for the cockpit gunnels and inwales.  Wanna see how much teak you get for $1000?  This stuff is $35/BF.  Crazy.  But there really isn’t anything else that comes close.


Motorwell drains and deck framing

All of the metal on this boat is polished 316 stainless steel.  All of it.  No aluminum.  No bronze.  No brass.  Nada.  Zip.  Zero.  316 stainless steel.  This is fact 1 in this story.

Fact 2 is that the transom is painted already, and thus any transom penetration (of which there are many) needs some kind of trim around it to hide the rough edge of the cut hole.

With those two facts as background, consider that the motorwell needs to have a pair of drains so that water that collects in it has a place to go.  Then consider that I spent a LOT of time googling around and found not one example of a polished stainless motorwell drain fitting (or really anything that could be pressed into service in that capacity.)

Taken together, all this means it’s time to dust off the metalworking equipment.  I took some 1/8″ 316 flat bar and fashioned rough “washers” with 1″ holes drilled in the centers and rough circles cut out around the holes to form a 3/8″ wide washer surface.  I then cajoled my buddy Joel – a spectacular welder – to fuse these washers to a pair of 1″ OD 316 tubes.  These then went to the Hardinge to get machined to a reasonable shape.


As machined they were pretty good – no chatter in that low hour sweetheart of a lathe – but they had more of a “brushed” appearance than a “polished” one.



So I chucked them up again and scotchbrited them on the lathe to get the welding color off and generally smooth them out, and then mounted a sisal wheel in my grinder and compounded them until they were reasonably shiny.


I’ve now permanently installed the plumbing thruhulls in the transom.  The motorwell drains will sit above and slightly inboard of them.  The holes are drilled, but I won’t install them permanently until the interior is painted.  On the inside, the holes will not be trimmed out, but will just be painted openings.  The tubes will be cut off so they go about half way into the transom and just held in place with 4200.  Here’s a shot of how the transom will look.  Less the motor, of course.  I’m pretty happy with it.


We also installed the forward deck beams today.  Definitely makes the interior feel smaller!


Tomorrow I’ll spend some more time on the interior fairing process and generally putter about with details.  There are a lot of details to attend to at this point.  Good times!



Bandsaw beats finger

So, if you were contemplating a real world test to confirm your suspicion, I can spare you the trouble. Shoving one’s finger into a bandsaw yields a single result. And it isn’t damage to the bandsaw. Sigh…


Beyond inflicting damage to my extremities, we’ve been plugging away at interior minutiae.

The balsa filled sections are glassed and faired. Or mostly faired. It’s proving more challenging than expected to get them “right” and I keep putting more compound on them and sanding it off to an unsatisfactory result. And then repeating. But it’s more or less done. In addition – and I’m just going to rattle off a litany of things we’ve done and then add a bunch of photos – we’ve drilled the motor mount holes in the transom, drilled the thruhull holes in the transom, glassed the interior transom, glassed, faired and installed the motorwell, installed the “fillets” to the lateral sides of the motorwell-transom junctions that serve as chases for fuel and oil hose, glassed the forward bulkhead, installed the deck beam system for the aft areas, and glassed the deck. We’ve also started work on the teak cladding for the frames.

Next up, we’ll finish the cladding and get started on varnishing them “off the boat”. While that’s happening, we’ll prime the interior so it’s ready to paint once the cladding goes in. After varnishing the teak we’ll install and fillet it in, and then mask off the varnished surfaces so the paint comes straight to the varnish.

We’ll also get going on the forward deck support structure and cut the anchor locker door in the forward bulkhead.  Oh, and we can now install the thruhulls in the transom and finalize the plumbing, after which we can install the motorwell bottom.  Still slogging away, but now that the interior hull is fair it should start to go a bit faster. We’ll see!














Hull details

We’re working inside the hull, now.  Some of it is straightforward and laborious.  Some requires lots of mulling and tinkering, but very little actual effort.  It’s a nice balance.  But it’s taking too long.

The first thing we had to do was sand the rough bits of epoxy and such off the inside.  Not too bad.  Then we had to fillet the stringers and frames to the hull.  This needs to be done for all the frames and stringers – above and below the deck – but we decided to start by just doing the below decks areas under the theory that it’ll be easier to fillet the upper parts once the deck is in and we’re not tripping on framing trying to move around.

This took a day and a half or so to do, and it takes a startling amount of epoxy and filler.  Some of the fillets are best made quite large to distribute the load, and the majority of them need to be done carefully so they’re smooth when you come back to tape over them with glass.  Invariably, they’re not perfectly smooth, however, and so there was a day of sanding and “tuning” that had to be done after the fillets went in before we could do the taping.

The tape had to completely line all of the seams of the compartments framed by the stringers and hull, which required just under 100 yards of tape and over 4 gallons of resin.  Timm specified 1808 tape which is (a) hard to find, and (b) sucks up a huge amount of resin.  I think it’s probably overkill, but I’d rather overbuild than underbuild when it comes to things that affect structural integrity of the hull.  1708 tape can be had anywhere, but 1808 I had to order from an eBay seller.  Timm was pretty adamant that I should use the 0-90 1808 over the 45-45 1708…

I wasn’t very good about taking photos as I went along, but here are some good shots.


In this one, you can see the filleting around the chine logs and keel, and you can see the tape in that foremost compartment.  The tape in the main compartment is covered with fairing compound.  I decided to fair smooth all the man-accessible compartments since invariably I’ll be crawling around in them someday and I don’t want to get fiberglass splinters.

Here you can more fully see the taping of the frames and stringers.

As this was all going on, I was contemplating the question of scupper drains for the deck.  Timm’s design is for a self bailing hull with scupper slots cut in the transom at deck level.  The problem is that this is very close to the waterline.  After some reading on the web which suggested that scuppers are one of the leading causes of small boat sinking, and also some discussion with Timm, I decided to abandon the self bailing feature and configure things so water that comes aboard gets pumped out.

This doesn’t mean I want it to end up in the bilge.  I’m going to work pretty hard to keep the bilge of this boat dry by putting hatch seals in the deck and such, so I decided to create a sump under the motorwell just forward of the transom, and set two scupper drains in the aft corners of the deck that drain to the sump.  The sump will have a float switch inside it – accessible via an inspection port so it can be replaced when it fails – and will be connected to a macerator pump that will purge the sump when it fills.  This is all very complicated to implement, but it’s actually a pretty simple system and should work well.

To make the drains for the corners of the deck, I cast glass over a pair of quart mixing cups to create 4″ diameter fiberglass cups.



These will sit about here:

Because these compartments will be filled with foam, the plumbing connecting the cups to the sump will not be serviceable. It needs to last forever. I ordered some 1″ ID pultruded fiberglass pipe from McMaster-Carr so I can create a completely fiberglassed system with no joints.

Just before we ran the cut files for the deck, I added 4″ cutouts for these cups. The interesting trick will be to get the cups and pipe all epoxied together in just the right position so the cups line up just under the holes in the deck. That’s a “to be done” project.

Here’s the sump box in progress. You can see the lower hole which will get a bulkhead hose fitting to connect to the pump. The upper hole with the bolt circle around it is for the SeaBuilt 6″ stainless steel inspection port. The switch will be mounted to the back side of the port cover, and the wires will route through the cover using IP68 rated cable glands. That way, when the cover is removed all the wiring and the switch comes with it so it’s easy to service.


You can see looking at this that I’ve made it as complicated as I possibly can ;-)  The interior framing is intended to minimize the amount of water that can collect below the level of the pump’s pickup, so there will be as little standing water left as possible when the switch shuts off.  If it’s not clear, this gets mounted in the corner formed by the inboard port stringer and the transom, which provide the other two “walls” of the sump.  Once it’s all together and I confirm it’s watertight, I’ll glass a lid onto it.

I ordered a bunch of Molex MX150 connectors. These are rated to 20A and are IP68 rated. This will make it easy to connect and disconnect pumps and other parts without tools, and the connections will be watertight.  The crimper pliers appear to be unique to the MX150 pins, so I had to order those too.  $120.  Awesome.

The mechanical space – the aft most storage area just in front of the motorwell – will have all the pumps, throughhulls and other mechanical bits. This includes:

  • Macerator pump for deck sump
  • 1500GPH Bilge pump
  • Livewell pump
  • Washdown pump
  • Fuel filter
  • Oil reservoir
  • Sonar transducer

The livewell pump and washdown pump share a single 3/4″ throughull with a seacock.  The only other hull penetration below the waterline is the transducer.  I’m opting not to install a drain plug.  The pumps should be sufficient, and we don’t get freezing weather around here so it’s not critical that the hull be completely, totally devoid of water.

This is a lot of stuff to screw to the wall of the mechanical space and my experience in the past has been that because these items fail from time to time and need to be replaced, the screws tend to loosen and the wood behind them gets damp. I decided to order some brass E-Z Lok threaded inserts.  I’ll drill holes in the appropriate locations, screw them in once to create the threads, then take them out and soak the holes with epoxy which will cure before I put them back in with a dab of 4200 sealant.  That’ll make them more removable later.  Once these are in place the pumps and other machinery will thread into them with machine screws instead of wood screws.  The machine screws can go in and out as often as needed without damaging the wood. I was a little hesitant about using the brass inserts since I’ll probably use stainless screws and, especially in salt water environments, you need to worry about galvanic corrosion. Brass and stainless are pretty compatible though, and I can always use brass machine screws if I want to be really safe.

Other developments include the installation of the first half of the frame/stringer doublers which create a greater bonding surface for the deck.  You can see those, as well as the to-be-sealed and installed tank supports in this photo:

For most of these doublers I’m using scrap 3/4″ plywood, but the areas around the fuel tank are supposed to be solid wood because the access hatch over the tank is held down with screws not epoxy, and screws don’t hold well in the edge grain of plywood. Unfortunately there was a foul-up with the cut files and so a void that was supposed to make room for a special piece of solid wood for this purpose was omitted. I have to decide how to handle that situation, still.

I’m also continuing to work on the CNC-cut storage units for the leaning post.  Here’s the first of them.  It’s nearly done, but there’s still work to do. There’s always work to do…


Okay, so from here we need to get the plumbing glassed in for the deck drains, glass in and seal the sump, do the final epoxy sealing of the insides of the hull.  Install the last of the doublers, and foam the floatation compartments.  Then I’ll paint the storage/mechanical spaces with white-tinted epoxy, install the machinery, and move onto the decking.  Yee haw…



The last plank

Oh joy.  Oh rapture.  The planking is done.  This took a lot longer than I’d expected and was a lot more difficult that I thought it would be, but we saw it through.

Here’s the place the last plank goes.  The pink stuff is epoxy with a thickening powder in it:

And here I am gleefully applying the plank:

And better yet, here is the last frigging staple that will need to be removed from the planking, just prior to its removal.  Pulling staples sucks.  My dad and I have the blisters to prove it.:

Honestly, after the planking was done I was a bit lost for what to do next.  It’s been over a month of a wash-rinse-repeat process of cutting planks to length, spiling them to fit, applying adhesive and stapling them home.  It requires little thought and lots of persistence.  Now we have to think again.

While my brain got to working again, I whiled away the time by catching up on my additions to my father’s graffiti:

There’s one more that decorum demands not be shared in this forum.

Anyway, after noodling a bit, I decided to re-examine the voids that I’d initially thought I’d need to flip the boat over to repair.  Once the planks were trimmed to length and I climbed under with a bright light, I realized the situation wasn’t as bad as I’d thought.  So we’re going to fix them from underneath.  I’m happy about this plan since flipping the boat comes with significant risk, and going from one turn to three wasn’t an appealing prospect.

Anyway, in order to work under the boat we need to lift it up a bit to gain access.  For that we need cribs.  No… Not the MTV kind.  The timber kind.  So it was off to Home Despot to pick up a dozen and a half 10′ 2x4s and a box of nails.  An hour later, we’d built a pair of very stable, 2.5′ square cribs that would support the strongback about 18″ off the ground.  Then we used the gantry crane to hoist first the front of the boat, and then the stern, onto dollies so we could roll it back in the space a bit.

Then – again one end at a time – we hoisted the whole boat onto the cribs.  Et voila:

Next up: trimming the bottom edges of the side planking flush with the sheer clamps and sanding things flat enough to allow us to install a 3/4″ thick doubler on top of the clamp.  This gives us a solid cap for the planks, and a stout backing for the sheer guard / rub rail assembly.  It’s hard work sanding upside down.  Here’s my dad doing yeoman’s duty:

Once the prep was done, we scrounged through our pile of lumber to find odds and ends that could be milled down to create glue-lams for the aft doublers, and then glued them in place.  Here’s the port one all glued up.  You’re looking at it from inside the boat.:

These are made from odds and ends, so the pieces aren’t of consistent width.  Doesn’t matter, nobody’s going to see it.  Ever.

Once that was done, we did some sanding on the hull sides to get them smooth enough to begin applying fairing compound, and then applied a base coat of epoxy thickened with Low Density Fairing Filler on the starboard side:

This was a “runny” coat that I wanted to use in part to seal the wood so, and in part to flow into gaps between planks, etc.  It doesn’t completely fill the staple divots or the gaps, but it’s a start.  Going forward I plan to use a different product – Silver Tip Quick Fair – which is pre-thickened and cures to a sandable hardness in under four hours.  That means we should be able to do multiple coats per day, which should help a lot.

Tomorrow it’s off to MacBeath again for the first time in a long time.  I need to get one more 20′ Doug Fir 1×12 to mill into strips to build the doublers for the forward part of the boat.  That’s going to be an interesting process.  The aft ones were easy since you could clamp them to the sheer clamp.  In the forward parts of the boat this won’t be possible because of the flare angle of the bow.  We’re going to have to come up with a strategy for clamping…

Using our brains again.  Excellent!


Fairly Nervewracking

Now that the longitudinal members are done, the frame is pretty much complete.  But it’s not finished just yet.  The outside edges of each and every piece of framing have to be shaped so that the skeleton of the hull – the frame – is “fair.”  That’s boat-speak for “smooth.”  This is essential so that when you bend the skin planking over the frames you get nice smooth curves instead of something full of lumps and flat spots.  It’s also critical that you have wide contact points so that there’s a place on the frame to glue to.  If you only contacted the framing at the very edges, you’d have a very poor bond indeed.

Allow me to introduce you to a tool about which I’m somewhat ambivalent.  It’s exceptionally useful for the task, but it’s truly been my misery whip over the past days.  I present, the low angle block plane:


We used this, and sanders, draw knives, and other implements of destruction, to shave away huge amounts of the framing that we’d painstakingly assembled.  The next photo shows some shavings generated around the bow.  That’s the tip of a big iceberg.  I think we filled two garbage cans with little ribbons of douglas fir.
I don’t have a final-final image for you, though realistically it’s hard to capture the result of many hours of back breaking work in a picture.  It mostly looks the same as it did before.  But if you look below you’ll see that the sheer clamp is starting to be tapered to a knife-edge at it’s perimeter.  We’ve also shaved a ton of material away from the side stringers to get them fair.
This whole process is a bit nervewracking in that it’s easy to screw up, and hard to know when it’s “done.”  Unless you measure constantly you can easily remove more material than you wanted to.  This happened to me in a couple of places including at the very tip of the bow and near the break in the starboard sheer.  I had to glue some additional material in and then shave it all back down again.
You can always make it a little better, and knowing when to stop is clearly something you get a feel for after your 3rd boat.  I am on my first, so I’m nervous.  But I think we’re done, which means we’re ready to start planking.  Yee haw!