Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Panic or Frustration

Not really “Panic”, but more like frustration. As a Fire Chief, Registered Nurse and Paramedic for years I have seen my share of panic. Last night had its moments of highs and lows. Gary and I started off with all smiles, reminiscing on how good the boat looked. We began working on planking the bottom of boat near the bow. We measured the area and yes we double and triple checked before we made the cut. The plan was to get both sides out of one sheet of mahogany plywood ($69 sheet). Well, things did not go as planned. The piece was too small. That’s where panic came in and then we said it’s just a piece of wood and not a finger. We tried everything we could to make it fit and finally just gave in to our mistake. We knew why the piece would not fit after we scratched our head. We measured from a straight line but a straight line is not really a straight line when it runs down the keel – stem – to the tip of the bow. When you bend a straight line it becomes a curved line and there’s our problem.

I still had enough wood from the remainder of the sheet to cut another side so we pressed forward. After laying the new oversized cut piece into position I had a difficult time trying to figure out how to bend this and get a “sweet curve” without snapping it in half.

I sent a panic email to another good friend and Zip builder Chris Atwood to confirm that I was installing it correctly. Chris got right back to me and we were both on the same page. You have got to love cell phones and reassuring friends.

Here is how I installed this piece. It may not be the right way but it worked well for me. No hot towels or steam was needed and the piece went right into position. All three sides of this piece needed to be custom cut and fit. After rough cutting the pie shaped piece I fitted the edge along the Chine. Back cutting the edge with a slight bevel as we went along. Then we started the bend. Using wood blocks as washers to give more surface area we stated at the bow point and worked our way along the chine line and the stem toward the rear of the boat. Then we struck a line across the boat to fit the joint between the panels. Next, I marked and cut a straight line along the stem. I did leave about a 1/8” overhang on the stem that will be planned off after the epoxy dries.

After six hours of determination I was very happy again with nice job we did. All is good.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Planking and Epoxy

It is amazing how much you can get done when you have a three-day weekend. This week was President’s Day and I had Monday off for the holiday so I put my time to good use. My good friend Terry Kohler and my brother Gary came over to lend a hand. When it came time to epoxy and screw the sides and bottom on I had my hands full and they were a big help, always one step ahead of me.

Gary Gauthier and Terry Kohler, they work for food...yeah

I learned that you really don’t want to leave a lot wood over hanging because it just causes you more work later when you need to trim it off. Another lesson learned is that I wish that I had made my “jig” a little taller. If the boat frame was mounted just a little higher it would be easier to get under the boat if you wanted to mark something or just look things over. It would also be just a little easier on your back, not having to bend over so much.

I was very happy to see how well things fit. All that fairing is paying off. The seams along the joints fit great and things are going well. A few straps helped the clamps pull everything into position for the final fit. Pre-bending the plywood with hot towels really gave the wood shape so we did not need to put a lot of pressure on side pieces.

I am using famowood wood filler to cover the screws and MAS epoxy with wood filler to seal the joints.
Next…. will be to finish sand everything smooth and epoxy an end cap ¼” plywood on the transom. The only end grain that will show will be covered with a stainless steel transom band.

I will also need to finish planking the bottom (front), fill the screws with filler and seal the joints with epoxy. I am not sure when this will happen because I am leaving for vacation this week and will be gone all next week. My wife, Lynn and I are off to our vacation home in Longview, Texas located on Lake Cherokee.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Fairing & Plywood Side Planking

I know it has been a while since my last post but I did have two excuses. My first excuse is that fairing is hard to see and fairing is very boring read about and my second is that I lost my camera. The following photos I took with my cell phone and the light makes them look brown. Fairing is just smoothing or planning off wood on the chines and sheers so that the plywood planking will lay flat on the surface of the longitudinal members. It is a long slow process and you really cannot see anything happening in photos. I wished that I had taken a couple of pictures with all the wood chips on the floor; you really do remove a lot of wood. I just needed to take my time and keep checking my progress with a straight edge. Fairing is an important part of building because if you don't get it right your boat will not have smooth sides and bottom. I was sure glad when it was completed but I was pleased to see how it all turned out.

Once all the fairing was done it was time to move on to the side plywood planking. The idea is to attach the 1/4" mahogany plywood to boat framework with #8 3/4" silicone bronze screws. I purchased 4'X 8" sheets and they needed to be cut in half making two 2' X 8' pieces for each side of the boat. The problem is that the plywood needs to wrap around the framework and curve was too sharp without once again adding some steam so the wood would bend without breaking. The other issue was the length was about 16' so I need to fiberglass them together make one long plywood piece for each side that was wider than the 24” width that I had. I was trying to get the most out of a sheet of plywood because they are $129 each; I off set them so I would have the correct width along the length of the boat. I used a piece of plywood as a backer board and fiber glassed a butt joint to achieve the length that I needed.

I found that pre fitting the plywood with clamps and using towels soaked in hot water made bending a breeze. When it came time to do the final assembly, the wood went right into position.

The one thing that I did just prior to gluing and screwing with epoxy was to the test fit with clamps and marking all the screw holes with an “EVEN RIVET FAN SPACING TOOL”. This is a fan spacer that has 20 fingers / opens to 38” @ 2”. I happened to have this tool when I built my airplane and I used it for layout and marking of equal spacing for screw hole patterns. It worked out great for spacing the screws in a straight line every 3". You can get one of these for $45 at

My brother Gary came over once again and helped me install this 16' piece. A good friend, Terry Kohler also stopped by to see my progress so I put him to work helping us clamp things into position while we drilled and screwed the plywood sheet into place for the final time. Be careful, if you stop by to look you may become a boat builder.