Sunday, October 14, 2012

Runs, drips, and errors...lots of them!!!

This will be a short post. (Keep the applause down, thank you.)

The weather has made a major change here in Seattle, and summer is over. The rain has begun, the temperature has dropped, and the sense of desperation in the Duck Punt build has become tangible. Once the temperature drops below the 50s, the chance of the epoxy fully curing decreases significantly. Well, I still had a lot to do, so I put in some time in the last decent weather window I had, and started sheathing the bottom in fiberglass. 
I had vacillated back and forth throughout the build, trying to decide whether I was going to sheath the bottom, or just leave it raw plywood and paint it. My reasons for leaving it raw were threefold. One being cost; I knew I would have to buy additional epoxy resin and fiberglass cloth, and I wasn't sure I would want to spend the additional money. Well, I needed to buy more epoxy to finish the build so I certainly had enough to do the bottom, and the glass cloth is not that expensive, so that was a fairly minor point. Two being weight; I really want to keep the Punt car-toppable, and adding glass and resin was going to increase the weight of the boat a fair amount. Unfortunately, by using the heavier Hydratek plywood, and generally "overbuilding" as I have gone along, the boat has turned out to be MUCH heavier than I was expecting. I don't know if it would have been car-toppable anyway, but the adding of glass and resin to the bottom was not significant enough to be a factor. And three being time; I am just damn tired of building a boat, and I want to get my ass out there and use it! (Dylan Winter built one of these in 7 days?!) I knew that sheathing the bottom was going to add a couple of weeks to the overall project, and with winter approaching I was worried that I wouldn't have time to finish before the weather prevented me from doing so. This is the disadvantage of building outside when any smart boat builder has their own shop. That being said, I am reminded of what a friend told me when I was lamenting having to build my boat outside. He said, "The vikings didn't have heated shops with lights and coffee makers, they built their boats on the beach!" So...let's get back to work! Sheathing it is!

First, I layed the cloth out and smoothed it over the bottom of the boat, taking out any wrinkles and making sure it was nice and flat and under a little tension so it wouldn't bunch up as I wet it out with the epoxy. Then I trimmed the sides a little long knowing I was going to be grinding and fairing it smooth later. I used a little blue tape to keep it from moving as I was working with it.

The first coat of epoxy wets out the glass and adheres it to the plywood. It's interesting how the glass becomes translucent when wet. The epoxy is applied with a flat plastic scraper which keeps the resin from being too thick and makes it a consistent saturation into the fiberglass cloth.

The second application of resin fills the weave of the fiberglass cloth and gives a smoother surface. The remaining applications of resin provide enough thickness so that you can sand the surface smooth without sanding into the glass fibers of the cloth. I applied two more coats of resin until the surface was built up enough for my satisfaction. Of course, what happens when you apply a liquid to a horizontal surface? It runs, and sags, and drips, and pools, and makes a general mess. That belt sander is going to get a hell of a workout! Below is the bottom with the fourth coat applied.

Another view...

OK, I admit it, that post wasn't as short as I promised. I hope you are still with me! Now, I will let the bottom coat of epoxy cure for all of this week and hope that by next weekend it will be fully cured so I can flip the boat back over and tackle that sheer. I have a feeling I will be using this thing as a toboggan before I get to use it as a boat.  *sigh* 

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Time to step up... making the mast step.

 I will jump right in because it has been a few weeks and I need to get cracking or this thing won't be done before winter!

The mast step is in fact the next step, as it were. This is the reinforced block that the bottom of the mast sits in to hold it in place, and prevent it from punching through the bottom of the boat (which is considered a bad thing.) I used 3 thicknesses of plywood to build the step, as you can see below. The centerline is marked out and the upper and lower dimensions are marked out to give it a bit of taper. 

Then I use the belt sander to grind it down to the lines. After that I cut through two of the layers of ply to make the cup the mast will sit in.

It is easier to see what I am talking about in this pic. This is just a test fit.

Then back to the belt sander to round over the edges.

And finally the stack of ply is epoxied together. Dowels epoxied in will replace the screws. Final fitting will involve checking the mast height at the thwart and adding epoxy into the bottom of the step to make a strong, hard surface for the mast to actually sit on that will not wear out from the mast pivoting on it.

As you remember if you saw the last post, I had just made the thole pin planks (or oarlocks as I see some people call them who sail duck punts) and they needed to be installed. This was a messy, clampy, rushed process so I will just show you the results! 

Gunwales! I had been agonizing about how to procure some hardwood for gunwales in the correct dimension since I had no power tools that could accomplish the job from rough lumber. I found some oak door trim at the local box store so I grabbed it because the idea of trying to mill lumber at this point was unthinkable. Still, it needed to be scarfed up to be long enough but that was not a problem with my now impressive scarfing skills! This job was made a lot easier by the addition of a belt sander to my tool list.

Once the gunwales were scarfed up it was time to attach them. It turns out they are much stiffer than my battens and as a result they revealed some issues in my sheer line. This became an opportunity to exercise the most important skill I have learned in this entire boat building process. The skill of letting go. In a situation where something has happened and there is nothing you can do about it, you have two options- Stop, or Go. Boats are never perfect anyway, so...  Let's keep going!
It took every clamp I had and could borrow but I attached the gunwales. 

A tricky bit is figuring out how to clamp onto a slippery triangle. The answer is attach another triangle! Sandpaper keeps it from sliding and scrap wood provides a surface to clamp to. It is a good thing I keep most of my scraps!

The first gunwale is on and the second one is clamped up and the glue is curing.

While I had the epoxy out I decided to install the mast thwart support arch. This was another area I made a mistake on waaaay back but I figured out a way to make it work. That thwart is now solid as a rock!

Another view...

And both gunwales are now on!

We are getting pretty darn close to finishing this thing, or so it seems. But then I am foolish enough to look at the "to do" list and it just never seems to get any shorter. Still to come is epoxy and fiber-glassing the bottom of the boat, flushing up the stern and the bow, planing the sheer to its final shape, and then sanding, and sanding, and sanding, and sanding, and sanding, and sanding, and sanding, and sanding, and sanding...and then painting, and etc. *sigh*