Friday, June 29, 2007

95 Degrees in the Shade

Summer is here in Mississippi and it's hot. I put in a good nine hours today, just breaking past the 200 hour mark in the total build time. Most of the time today was spent sanding. This is not the most exciting part of boatbuilding but it has to get done. I'm still working on fairing the exterior of the port hull, endlessly filling and sanding, and filling and sanding some more to get smooth transitions between the panels so that when the hull is painted it will look consistant and well-shaped. As I work on areas like the stem and the fillet between the bottom edge of the upper stringer and the hull, I'm also working on more reinforcing cloth on the keel. Shown below is the second layer of glass cloth on the keel. This is an 8-inch wide strip that overlaps the previous 6-inch wide laminate. The first photo shows it as it is draped on dry, with the blue masking tape in place to aid in cutting a straight line after it is partially cured.

In the photo below the same cloth is now fully wetted out with epoxy and ready to be trimmed just inside the tape line. The leading edge of the skeg is getting extra cloth, as will the stempost.

In the photo below the tape has now been removed and a second layer of epoxy applied. I'm still working on the stem but hope to get a layer of cloth on it tomorrow. In the background you can see my other project on the workbench. This is the first lower hullside assembly for the starboard hull. The buttblocks are held on with temporary screws going right into the bench with plastic sheeting in between to keep from glueing the panel to it. The clamps are holding the stringer that goes on the upper edge of the hullside. This assembly was cured when I quit for the day, and the panels for the other hullside are laid out on the bench waiting for assembly in the morning.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Preparing to Build the Connecting Beams

After the trip to New Orleans on Monday to pick up more Joubert plywood, I reorganized my garage shop at my girlfriend's house so that I can begin building the three main connecting beams that hold the hulls together. These beams are a fairly big project with all the parts and details involved, so I didn't want to have them taking up space in the shed where I'm building the hulls and I needed projects to work on in both places since I divide my time about equally between them. The plan at this point is to build the beams here, all the way through the priming stage, then move them down to where the hulls are. After they are out of the way in the garage, I'll build the cockpit here as well.

I've got enough plywood now to complete the project, except for the cabin tops and the cockpit and seat boxes. It was pouring down rain most of the day Monday while we were in New Orleans, and though I had the wood tarped, I decided not to risk it all getting wet, and needing a bit more will be another excuse to go to New Orleans for a day sometime in the coming weeks.

Today I finished laying out and cutting all the beam webs and floor parts that are made of plywood, and went by my local lumber yard to pick up some clear grained Doug fir for the many stringers these beams require. I ripped all these to the proper dimension, and what you see on the ply table is the result. It looks like a lot of material for three beams, and it is. As I said, these beams contain a lot of parts and the construction of them is no small project. I'll begin by joining the halves of the web and floors together in my next work session in the garage. Tomorrow it's back to the shed where I hope to continue work on the fairing of the hull exterior and get some more glass on the keel, skeg, and stem post as I work toward sheathing the entire hull.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Shaping Hull Exterior and Glassing Keel

The new Rigid 6-inch random orbital sander has been getting a workout and has proved its worth over the past couple days. I turned the hull upside down and set it up on the new, extra-low sawhorses I built for the purpose and began the tasks of shaping the hull exterior. This involves fairing all the hard edges of the keel, skeg and stempost and filling and fairing the joints where the hullsides meet the keel and the topside joint where it overlaps the lower hullside. Getting a smooth, rounded keel was relatively easy after the epoxy filling the joints cured. I went ahead and laminated the first keel strip of glass over this - a 6-inch wide strip of 6-ounce cloth cut on the bias so that it will conform to the keel better. This will be followed by a wider strip of perhaps 10 inches, and then the cloth sheathing the hullside will also overlap the keel, making a total of 4 layers of 6-ounce cloth in the vulnerable area.

To lay the keel strip, I first taped off the perimeter of area I wanted the first strip to cover, then placed the overlapping cloth strips over the keel, letting them hang past the tape line. The cloth is then wetted out with epoxy, and the excess resin removed with a squeegee.

After the epoxy sets up enough so that the cloth does not easily pull away, but not so much that removing the tape is difficult, I cut the cloth with a razor knife just inside the edge of the tape line and pull the tape and excess cloth away. A second epoxy coat is applied immediately after that while the first coat is still tacky. Then it's left alone until full cure, when I will come back and sand it with 80 grit until it is smooth enough to lay on the next, wider layer of cloth.

The leading edge of the skeg needs to be rounded over to reduce turbulance and resistance as it moves through the water at speed. Here it's been partially shaped, but still needs more thickened epoxy at the hullside joints before it is completely faired and ready to glass.

Here's a front view of the upside down hull on the low sawhorses. I can't find any noticeable problems with the fairness of the hull panels. This hull really went together well and is going to look great. I just hope I can build another one just as well to match!

Another view at the bow. Filling and fairing all the details around the stempost and upper stringer is tedious and time consuming. I've still got a ways to go on this, but at this point all the main fillets are made and temporary screw holes in the hull panels filled. I'll be away from the hull a few days but when I return to the shed I hope to finish the exterior fairing and get the sheathing done.

Today I cleared out space in the other half of my workshed so that I can begin making parts for the second hull. I went ahead and scarfed the stringers for the lower hullsides this afternoon. The panels are all cut, epoxy coated and ready for assembly, as are the bulkheads and the stem and sternpost. I plan to assemble the lower hull panels and wire them together, but not set them up for installing the bulkheads until after I assemble the topside panels and glue up the mast. The reason for this is that I have a 26-foot long workbench in this half of the shed and I want to complete all these long parts before tearing it down and making space to set up and build the second hull. The fully assembled hull panels can be conveniently hung from the outer wall of the shed while the mast building process is going on.

Tomorrow I'm going to New Orleans to pick up some more Joubert BS 1088 Okoume plywood. This trip will be to get what I need to build the crossbeams, as well as the bunks for the second hull, and some of the 6mm for the decks and cabin sides of the first hull. I'm taking my stepdaughter with me on this trip and after picking up plywood at Riverside Lumber, we plan to go to the French Quarter for the afternoon and especially to the Cafe Du Monde for some cafe au lait and beignets.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

More Hull Preparations for Sheathing

Although I turned the hull over for the first time last week, I forgot that I had to go back and make and install the reinforcing doubler plates that go on the inside of the upper topsides in the places where the crossbeams land and the shrouds attach. Since I'm laminating parts like this with temporary screws, it wouldn't do to glass the outside of the hull first, so this weekend I turned it back upright and installed these panels. Thanks to the fact that the hull is now suspended in rope slings, turning it to any angle in a 360 degree circle is easy to do singlehanded. I can't imagine building this boat without suspending it this way, but I had never seen this idea mentioned in boatbuilding books or articles until I saw it on Thomas Nielsen's Tiki 26 blog. Although the old jib sheets I'm using for slings are plenty strong, flat webbing is better so I ordered some 1" heavy duty straps with cam buckles from NRS and they just arrived yesterday, so when I get back to the shed later in the week I will swap out the slings.

I've spent much of the past week making lists of the supplies and materials I will need to finish this project, and shopping online for sources, organizing the time frames for when I'll need certain items, and spending some of the money I got from the sale of the Tiki 21. Keeping everything organized and staying stocked with materials and consumables on a project this size is a project in itself. I'm also researching options like making my own sails from Sailrite kits and looking at gear that will be needed later in the outfitting of the finished boat.

These are the shroud doubler plates that reinforce the hull panel where the shrouds attach to cleats on the outside of the sheer stringer. One minor departure from the plans here that I will take is to through bolt stainless steel chainplates to the topsides here rather than loop the shroud lanyards under a wooden cleat. I used this method on my Tiki 21 and it is also standard in the plans for the Tiki 30. The shrouds remain the same, but the lanyards pass through a shackle attached to the upper end of the chainplate, rather than under the cleat. This is a more secure system when raising and lowering the mast, since the lanyards can slip off the wooden cleat.

These doubler plates are in the mast crossbeam location. The middle one is the butt block used to join the topside panels together. The other two were added when I realized that the plans show a 12-inch block here to reinforce the hull in this area. It could have been made as one block, but once this is all faired and coated you won't be able to tell that it is actually three.

Here the hull is rotated to one side to make it easier to fill the many screw holes made in the assembly and the installation of things like the diagonal stiffeners. These holes must first be filled with unthickened epoxy, then faired with a thicker, filleting mix. It's a fairly slow process, but at least it's started.

Two things I needed to prep the outside of the hull for fiberglass sheathing: a set of sturdy, low sawhorses so I can reach the bottom of the keel when it's upside down, and a larger random orbital sander than the 5-inch one that is so handy inside the hulls. I built these horses out of 2x6s and made them only 14" high, which is just right for upside down work since I don't yet have my cabin bulkheads attached. The sander is a Rigid 6-inch unit from Home Depot. I was looking for a Porter Cable but found this one and thought I would give it a try since it is variable speed and has good reviews. I'll report back on it soon after I start fairing the hull.

I also ordered plenty of sand paper: 600 discs in 5 and 6-inch sizes, and in 60, 80 and 120 grit. Klingspor is a one stop shopping place for all kinds of sandpaper and other abrasive products.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Turning the First Hull

One of the first things I did when I got back to the boat shed was finish the topside panel to bulkhead fillets on the first hull, and having this completed, I couldn't resist turning the hull upside down to see how it looked. Even though there is more work to be done inside before I can glass the outside, such as adding topside doublers at the beam and shoud locations, I wanted to begin shaping the outside and filling and fairing the joints. Once upside down, I was pleased to see that the hull panels looked good, with no hard spots or waves, just smooth, fair curves.

I need to build some lower sawhorses. Set up like this, I can barely reach the keel at the deepest midship section.

I spent most of Monday filling the joints between the stems, skegs and keels where they meet the hull panels, and filleting the joint at the bottom edge of the topside panels. Shaping and fairing all this is going to take awhile. After starting the sanding, I went shopping today for a bigger random orbital sander. This is going to be a big sanding job.

New Wheels

When I got back to Mississippi from Oklahoma, the first thing I did was stop in my local Harbor Freight Tools store to buy new wheels to make the dollies I will need to move my Tiki 26 hulls and aid in launching the finished boat. I had made new dollies like this for the Tiki 21, but they went with the boat when I sold it, so replacing them is a job I will need to do soon.

You can't beat Harbor Freight for deals on stuff like this. I got these 13" pneumatic tire wheels for just $9.95 each, (each dolly will require two). These worked really well on the Tiki 21 and should be fine for the Tiki 26 as well. The have a ball bearing hub sized for a half inch axle. I will build the cradles out of 3/4" plywood and use 1/2" steel rod for the axles. Photos of this project will be posted as I get around to it.

Other great deals at Harbor Freight are on such consumables as nitrile gloves (100 count box for $7.95) and 2" chip brushes for epoxy work (36 count box for $7.95). They have posted sales on most items from time to time and you can get a lot of this stuff much cheaper than at other hardware or building supply stores.

Back from Oklahoma

I spent most of three days on the road delivering Element, my Tiki 21 to the new owner, who met me at Calumet, Oklahoma, the approximate halfway point between Biloxi and his home in Ft. Collins, Colorado. I left late Thursday afternoon, driving all night to avoid pulling the trailer through heavy daytime traffic in cities along the way like Dallas and Oklahoma City.

The trip went smoothly, with no problems with the trailer and I arrived at the meeting place, which was little more than a bend in the road, at about 6:30 in the morning. The new owner, Bill Cotton, arrived shortly after and we transfered the trailer to his truck and drove off in opposite directions. Although I will miss sailing for awhile until I get Element II in the water, I was not sad to see Element go because selling her has provided the means to complete the Tiki 26, which I know is the right design for my needs. I was fortunate to find a buyer knowledgeable about multihulls and eager to try a trailerable Wharram design, so it made sense to go ahead and sell while I had the chance rather than wait until later in the Tiki 26 build and run the risk of not finding a buyer when I would need the cash the most.

After completing the boat delivery, I was anticipating doing some camping and possibly hiking in some part of Oklahoma, but having stayed awake all night I was running on caffeine and decided to keep driving that day, working my way to the southeastern part of the state on backroads. I managed to keep going all day, until about 4:00 in the afternoon, when I reached a state park at a lake and pulled in to camp at the tent site and get some much needed rest. It seemed fine when I got there, a scenic lake in the midst of rugged, rocky hills, but the tent camping area was unfortunately located just above the boat launching area. I turned in before dark and managed to get a couple hours sleep before all the commotion started. In disbelief, I listened as trucks came and went, people yelled and played loud music, and launched and retrieved boats. This began around 11:00 that night and was still going on at 3:30 in the morning, when I gave up on getting any sleep and broke camp and hit the road again. This experience and the last road trip I did before this one reminded me again why I like sailing so much. Just by the simple act of leaving the mainland, you leave behind the overwhelming majority of the population, and especially the ones that act like that. I used to really enjoy road trips, but mostly out West where one can drive far enough down a forest service or BLM road to get away from almost everyone. It's just getting harder and harder to do so these days in most places. That's why for me it's either backpack into the wilderness, paddle a kayak or canoe, or sail away to remote coastlines and islands. I can't wait to get back on the water in Element II.

Tiki 21 Element on the plains of Oklahoma enroute to meet her new owner.

My not so tranquil tent camping site at a state park in southeastern Oklahoma

Monday, June 04, 2007

Topside Panels Installed

In between all the sailing trips on the Tiki 21 and getting it hauled out onto the trailer, I've managed to complete both topside panels and got them installed Saturday. The following photos show the sequence of making them up and the finished result.

The plans call for a 3/4 by 1 and 3/4 stringer on the top outside edge of the topside panels. This stringer becomes the sheer clamp that the decks are nailed and glued down to later. One potential problem that has plagued many Tiki 21 and 26 owners is rot in this stringer. This is because if it is installed with right angle to the hull side on the bottom edge, rain water and dew will hang on the edge, which is also impossible to glass over adequately because of this angle. In an attempt to prevent this, I decided to cut the bottom edge of the stringer to an angle of 30 degrees. This is enough to allow the fiberglass cloth to make the transition from the hullside on the bottom edge, and the glass cloth on the deck will overlap the outside surface, joining the hull cloth and leaving no part of this stringer without an adequate sheathing. To cut this angle I first cut square edged pieces 2 1/4 by 3/4, then joined them with scarf joints, and set the table saw to cut the 30 degree angle, leaving 1 5/8 on the flat outer surface, so the outward appearance of the sheer will remain basically unchanged. Then angle will hardly be noticed on the finished boat because of the flare of the hullsides.

One complete topside panel with stringer installed and the other stringer joined and cut to the 30 degree angle.

Working on a Tiki 26 is so much easier when you can freely manipulate the hulls around and turn them to convenient angles. I borrowed Thomas Nielsen's idea of suspending the hull in slings, which makes it easy enough for one man to turn the hull. Installing the long, flexible topside panel is a whole lot easier if the hull is laying on its side so that gravity is working with you. At this point with bunks, floors, and bulkheads filleted in place, the hull is a rigid structure and there is no danger of distortion in turning it like this.

The port side topside panel installed. Temporary screws are used to hold it in place along the bottom edge until the epoxy sets.

The hull with both topside panels installed. These panels make a huge difference in the appearance of the boat, and the hull feels much bigger now. At this point, after finishing the fillets between the topside panels and the upper sides of the bulkheads, I can flip the hull all the way over and begin working on the bottom, shaping the keel and skeg and filling and fairing in preparation for fiberglass sheathing.

Tiki 21 Sold

As I mentioned in my last post, someone recently expressed interest in purchasing my Tiki 21, Element, so I've been busy getting in some last sailing trips before he came to look at it and go for a demo sail this past Wednesday. The wind has been strong and steady for the last few weeks on the Gulf coast, so after my 4-day trip to the barrier islands conditions remained great for taking my girlfriend and her daughter daysailing, and for the demo sail for the new owner. The deal was done after this sail, and Friday I went back to the coast with my trailer and hauled the boat out from a beach near the marina with the help of my monohull sailing friend, Artie.

In the photo below, as you can see, Element is parked on the trailer in front of my Tiki 26 building shed. Although I would like to be able to continue sailing from time to time while building Element II, it's not really practical and by selling the boat I will save on slip rentals and not have to worry about hurricane season this year, which officially started on June 1st, the day we hauled the boat out. Like Segundo Vez, my Hitia 17 I sold last November, Element is going to Colorado, where she will be safe from hurricanes but a long way from the sea. As Thomas Nielsen said, I could be the exclusive supplier of Wharram cats to Colorado! Later this week, I'm meeting the new owner at the halfway point, near Oklahoma City, to hand over the boat to him. After that trip is done I'll be getting back to work on the Tiki 26, ordering supplies and making progress in the long days of summer ahead.

Element ready for the road trip west.

The port hull of Element II, with Element in the background. A long road of hard work lies ahead before the Tiki 26 will be ready to load on a trailer and move to the Gulf.