Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Boat On The Trailer

I already had this old 4'X8' utility trailer and decided it could be my boat trailer. I built a wood rack out of 2"X4"s to set the boat on. Boat designer and author Jim Michalak mentions that he wonders why more home builders don't trailer the boat upside down as it would mean less hull distortion and stress. I like it upside down because if the tarp blows off during a storm the boat won't fill up with water.

Launching... I will slide the boat off the trailer from the side, flip it over, set it on wheels, and roll it to the shore like a beach cat or kayak. They say this boat is car toppable but I think I prefer the trailer method. Many of the launch sites around here are very shallow and a boat on wheels launch will work nicely. This trailer wasn't getting enough use anyway. :)

Here you can see that much of the boat is on the rear of the trailer. It does balance too light on the trailer tongue but some weight on the front of the trailer takes care of it. I'm only going short distances but once the bugs are worked out I know the trailer is good to go long distances if desired. This trailer has seen a couple thousand highway miles for sure. I like that I've got some room under the boat for storage.

Here's a pic of the boat with my brand new 10X20 tarp. Covers pretty well. The boat is gonna be sitting for a while. I'm going out of state for work and could be gone for up to five months. The sail and mast will most likely have to wait till I get back. But I'm happy to have gotten this far and like what I have so far.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Priming and Painting

Well not much to say. Primed and painted the boat. Here's a shot showing the boat in primer. I put two coats on. It seemed a little thin even though it was good primer/sealer.

Here's a shot showing the boat with three coats of exterior latex. The color is called windjammer. I don't know if it's me or what but I remember paint being thicker, thus the three coats.

Next I turned it over and gave the bottom two coats of primer.

Showing the bottom in blue.

I hung up the leeboard, rudder parts, and tiller parts so I could paint all surfaces at the same time. I let them hang dry. Everything is one color for now. I may spice it up with another color later.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Mast partner and step

Arrh maties. I had to take a break from building for a while. I moved and had other stuff going on. What's a pirate's favorite restaurant? Arrrbees.

Here's the mast partner installed with the front brace. I'm going to omit the back brace for now as it's strong enough as it is and I want to think about how I want to use the space with regards to flotation and storage. The partner sits on two cleats attached to the hull sides. If you've got this far on the boat, the partner is easy imho.

Here's the mast step installed below the partner. It's attached to the hull by epoxy and screws. I used 2 pieces of 1/2" ply glued together to make a single 1" inch thick piece 12"X6" in size. I'm using a thicker step because I'm going to attempt to build and use a Chinese junk sail rig which weighs more than the sunfish sail rig that is recommended for this boat. For now I'm not cutting the hole for the mast as I'm still figuring out the mast size. It shouldn't be a problem to do it later.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Rudder and Tiller

Here's a pic of the rudder. Two pieces of half inch plywood with a bolt joining them together. This arrangement gives a pivot so the rudder can pivot up if it hits a submerged object or when you want to beach the boat. I used a door hinge to mount the rudder to the transom instead of the traditional gudgeons and pintles. I already had the hinge laying around and the idea of this boat is to be inexpensive to build so it seemed like a match to me. I'm into the idea of shabby sheik and don't mind adapting it to a sailboat :)

Here's a view of the other side of the rudder. The hinge is mounted on top of a .5" thick piece of plywood which acts as a spacer and allows the rudder to swing fully in both directions with out binding on the transom. On the inside of the transom I have a large backing plate of .5" plywood to better support the hinge and rudder. I took out the hinge's pin and replaced it with a quarter inch galvanized bolt. The idea being that I can quickly remove the bolt and remove the rudder for trailering. I still need to shape and trim the rudder and will post a pic of that latter.

Here you see my tiller and extension. It's 8 foot long which is longer than the plans call for. I had an 8 foot 1X3 so I just used the full length thinking I can shorten it latter if needed. I think I may like having a little extra reach forward. I haven't tried it yet but I think I might be able to reach the mast while still holding the tiller. Could be a good thing. We'll see.


This is the leeboard spacer/mount that is attached to the outside of the hull. It's 4" by about 1.5" by .75". I wasn't quite sure what size the plans were giving me but decided the plans must be showing a full sized drawing which measured 4"X 1". I ended up with 1.5" cause the scrap I used was already that size and bigger is better :) When in the down or submerged position, the leeboard rests on the surface of the gunwale, spacer, and the chine. Having the spacer in between the wale and chine means that when you tighten the bolt the leeboard won't pull snug up against the side of the hull and prevents putting an unwanted bow in the leeboard. The spacer also gives friction to help hold the leeboard in position. So far that seems to work fine.

This is a pic showing the backing plate inside the hull directly behind the leeboard spacer shown above. Dimensions are 4" X 4" X .5". The backing plate helps to reinforce the side of the hull which is only .25" thick.

Here's a pic of the leeboard mounted to the hull in the up position. I added that little square of .25" thick plywood at the bolt hole just for the heck of it. I leaned the boat up on it's side so I could move the leeboard into the down or submerged position and it felt pretty solid there resting on the wale, chine, and spacer. Yes the .5" plywood does seem somewhat floppy for a leeboard but I'll go with it and can replace it later with a stiffer solid piece of wood if needed. The leeboard still needs it's leading and trailing edges shaped and I'll post a pic when that's done.

Thursday, April 16, 2009


So I had to take a step backwards before going forward again. The chines, wales, and bottom had been dry/trial fitted. So I dissembled them, (step backwards) and reassembled with epoxy, (step forward).

But first, I had to fair the invisible fiberglass butt joints. Here's a tip for you future builders. When setting up the fiberglass butt joints, be sure you get the 4 ml thick plastic that goes on the outside of the joint during the layup process. If you use thinner plastic as I did, you'll end up with unwanted texture in you butt joint from the wrinkles in the thin plastic. Even though my joint was compressed during the layup, there were still wrinkles in the thin plastic, argh. The 4ml is thick enough so that it will lay smooth and flat w/o wrinkles and give the glass joint a nice smooth finish.

So I had unwanted texture and thus some extra fairing to do. I mixed up some fairing compound from epoxy and thickening solids that I purchased with the epoxy. The solids were inexpensive, about 5 bucks for a quart I think. I spread the fairing compound on and around the glass joints, let it dry, spread on more fairing compound and sanded it down until I got the joints looking pretty flat. Ha, easier said than done. Seems to me this fairing thing takes some practice. I guess I did ok for the first time. I can always go back and fair further. Most importantly, the fairing gives a smoother surface for a better seal at the chines and sides, and at the chines and bottom. Yeaaaah, lets keep the water out.

The fairing compound is the purple colored stuff you see. It was fun to work with. Kind of like playing with putty in a way. If the fiberglass joint was smooth, this is all I'd have to do, fair in the edges as you see in this pic.

Here the entire joint is getting fully covered and the unwanted texture is magically disappearing.

This pic is further along in the fairing process. It's actually pretty smooth here and more fair than it perhaps looks in the pic.

This pic shows the bottom attached with epoxy, screws, and clamps. Funny, those PVC clamps have a pretty stiff grip. You can't beat the price. :)

This is a shot of the joint on the hull bottom looking pretty fair now.

Yup, have to fair all the screw holes.

I had some saw marks and unevenness on the side where chine and bottom meet. Figured I might as well fair it some long as I'm at it. Oops, pic is closer than I had intended.

While the boat was upside down I thought this would be a good time to lay a bead along the bottom of the gunwale and the side of the boat. Just another bit of fairing. This part was easy. I smoothed the bead with a popsicle stick. It blends in so well you have to know it's there to see it.

In this pic everything has been assembled with epoxy and basically faired. Making progress and moving forward. :)

Friday, March 13, 2009

Shoe and runners are attached to the bottom

Today I finished attaching the shoe and runners to the bottom of the hull. The bottom is quarter inch plywood per the plans and I was glad to see that the shoe and runners do add a lot of support and stiffness to the bottom panel. I'd definitely recommend going this route.

The wood for the runners came from my first attempt at cutting chine logs. They are not square. They have the 15 degree angle the chine logs require. I figured it doesn't matter if one side of the runner is angled. I placed them so both the angled sides are pointing towards the shoe.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

The bottom is on

Here I've got the boat sitting on the two plywood sheets that will become the bottom of the hull. Just scoping it out for now. The two sheets will be joined by a fiberglass butt joint the same way the side panels were.

Here the two bottom sheets are being joined together. The epoxy needs 24 hours to fully cure. Since the plywood has curled up as most plywood will do, I've covered the joint with a couple boards and lots of weight to flatten things out. Yes, those are sand bags. The joint did come out fine.

Here I've drawn a line down the bottom to check the frame alignment. Things look good except the front frame and bow are off about a half inch.

The plans say to push the boat into shape or alignment with the center line. I can do that but the boat does not hold the alignment. It springs back.

So I decided to wedge the boat so it will stay in shape while I trace it's outline onto the bottom sheets. If you look on the right you'll see a darker piece of plywood that is actually pushing on the side of the front frame and positioning it on center.On the left I've got another brace on the center frame which helps hold the boat in place. It's hard to see the brace but it's there in the dark shadow.

Here I have moved the boat to a dry covered location as I had some rain. I decided I wasn't comfortable tracing the hull outline and cutting it and then attaching it to the chines as the plans say. Seemed like there could be room for a mistake and I didn't know if the bottom once attached would hold the front frame in alignment.

So I turned the boat upside down, wedged it into shape, and attached the bottom without cutting it. I figured if anything went wrong, I'd still have my full uncut bottom and could probably recover from whatever problem came up. Turned out that attaching the bottom did hold the frame in alignment and it doesn't seem very torqued or like there will be any problem.

Yes, the boat now boat now has a bottom! Here you see the bottom sheet attached and cut to the hull's shape. This the dry fit so I left the screws sitting high and will sink and fair them later. I cut the bottom by hand with a pull saw. Took me a while to get the hang of the pull saw. In a few spots I had trouble keeping the saw blade snug up against the chine so there is a little trimming to do. But I'm happy with it. It's on and it's all good.

Here's a pic of the boat turned right side up. Looking good.

Chines done

Here the chines are installed. Pretty easy like the gunwales were. I did have be more careful with my aim with the drill because the chines are much narrower.

A shot of me using a board across the frame and the chines to make sure they line up even.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Gunwales dry fit

Here's a pic of the gunwale. This is the dry fit. This was easy. Lined it up, clamped it on, and put in the screws. Yes, I attached one to each side of the boat, smirk. Yeehaw.

Transom detail and trouble

This pic is of the transom meeting the side panel. The right of the pic is the transom. The left of the pic is the side panel. The boat is upside down right now so what looks like the top of the transom is actually the bottom of the transom with a 20.5 degree bevel.

But, something isn't correct. If I angle the transom back so it lines up with the side panel's vertical angle, then the 20.5 degree bevel on the bottom is way off. If I line up the bottom transom bevel to the side panel, then the transom doesn't match the side panel's vertical angle. Kinda of hard to explain, I hope the pics helps make it clear.

So I can either angle the transom back and redo the transom bottom bevel or just trim off the side panel. I'm going with trim off the side panel. When I look at the Bolger original and Featherwind drawings, I see the transom is raked slightly back 5 to 8 degrees. When I line up my transom bottom bevel that's what I get - a raked back angle of about 5 degrees. So I figure I'm ok with trimming the side panel.

I read in another blog that someone else had a problem with the transom. Could just be the place where mistakes happen. Could be a mistake on the plans? My advice would be to not cut the side panel transom angle until you have the side panels on the frames. Just skip that cut for the time being. But do mark it well and dark. That way you'll have more freedom as to where you place your transom and if there is a mistake in the plans you've got it covered. I think my situation may have cost me a few inches off the length of the boat. Well darn it. Stuff happens I guess. But I'm super happy it's an easy fix. Like I said I'll just trim the panels.

Here's a pic of the transom all trimmed and happy after I got a little farther along in the build. I used the flush cut pull saw to trim the side panels . Gotta say that saw is cool. Cut off the excess side panels perfectly flush. Really nice.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Dry fit frames, transom, and stem to sides

Here's the pics of the assembly of frames, stem, and transom being attached to the side panels. First frame goes about in the middle.

Next frame attaches between the first frame and the the stern.

The next frame attaches between the first frame and the bow.

Next I've attached the stem in the bow, and the transom in the stern. Now the boat is right side up and you can tell it's a boat. A happy moment for sure.
This is all a dry fit. I like the dry fit idea. Nice to be able to work out any little problems and line things up without glue or epoxy messes.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Frames & Transom Beveled & Glued

Here's a pic of my completed frames and transom. Letting them set till the epoxy has cured. The limber holes, and bevels on the sides and bottom, have been cut. I used epoxy thickened with talc for glue. Weird thing about my frames or maybe it's the plans... the width of the bottom of the frame is exact to the plans... the length of the sides of the frame is exact to the plans... the angles are exactly 15 degrees as measured with my protractor... but the width at the top of the frames differs from the plans by about 1 inch. I noticed this inaccuracy when I was dry assembling the frames and decided to ignore it. I think my frames are good.

I built the taller version of transom just to be safe. Not sure if I should cut the top of it straight or curved like a dory. we'll see before too long. I forgot that the transom framing is smaller than the other frames so my transom frame is also from 1x3's. No biggy, just a little extra wood there.

I cut the bevels on a table saw. I used a protractor to get the table saw blade set at the correct angle cause the angle set on the saw is a degree or so off. I bought the protractor for 5 bucks at a tool store near my house. Was worth it and has come in handy. You can run it down the length of your bevel to check it. Can use it to check/measure angles on the plans. Can check your table saw angle like I did.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Stem cut from a 2X4

Here is the stem cut from a 2X4. I'll probably trim down the X4 part of the board to a X2. The stem length is 28" which will give me some extra stem above the gunwales to attach a line to or to decorate. I think it would be fun to decorate the stem with a figurehead. We'll see, something interesting may turn up.
I set the saw for 26 degrees and made 2 cuts to give me the needed 52 degrees. The plans said it would also be fine to make one 52 degree cut and have one side of the stem longer than the other. True but I had to have it look symmetrical, ha.

Chines cut with a table saw

Here's a pic of my chine ends, the bevel came out well. The cut is even down the entire length. Much better than the first try. I decided to cut the chines on a table saw even though I had read in in a wood working forum that ripping a 16' piece of wood on a table saw is not a good practice. I put the table saw on the driveway and set up boxes and boards that would support the the 16' feet of floppy lumber while it fed into and came out of the table saw. I rehearsed the feed through the turned off saw a few times and adjusted the support track to give a nice smooth entrance and exit to the saw. The support system is what really made it work and allowed me to make the cut easily. I wish I took a picture of that, looked kinda funny 32' feet of crap out in the driveway with a table saw in the middle.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Ripping Guide

Here is my version of the ripping guide that the plans suggest making and using. I have already ripped the gunwales using a 20"X8' width of plywood clamped to the 2X8 as a fence. That worked ok. The gunwales look to be usable and I expect that I can smooth out the rough spots with sandpaper and all will be well.

I wanted a better, smoother, more accurate cut for the chines so I made the ripping attachment. I didn't want to take the time to make it but after seeing the cuts I had so far, I decided I wanted to see if I could do better with the guide. Turns out it was worth making it. I did get a much better cut. Wish I had just done that right off the bat.

Now to take that ripped piece and turn it into two chines by ripping it again with a 15 degree bevel. I liked using the guide so well, I think I'll modify it for cutting the beveled chines.