Thursday, March 27, 2008

Turning the Starboard Hull

Today I turned the starboard hull upside down for the first time, in preparation for shaping and then fiberglassing and fairing the hull exterior.

These first two photos are from last week, the day after I installed the topside panels. Once the panels were glued on at the bottom edges and held in place with temporary screws, I used a series of Spanish windlasses and adjustable straps to pull the upper edges of the topsides, at the sheer, in tight against the upper bulkhead edges. With everything locked in place, fillets were then made at the topside to bulkhead joints, and the cavities at the stem and sternpost were filled with thickened epoxy.

Note the bar clamps along the sheer used as anchor points for attaching the windlass lines. This worked really well and avoided the need for drilling holes for eye screws as I did on the port hull.

This is where I am today, with the hull upside down on the sturdy low saw horses I built for the purpose. The hull has been sanded and precoated with epoxy. The next step before glassing will be to fill and fair all the joints at the keel, stem and sternpost, and topside lap joints.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Starboard Hull Gets Topside Panels

The topside panels went on the starboard hulls yesterday. Despite the lack of recent updates here, I've been making progress on lots of projects on the boat, such as interior shelves in the port hull and getting the fairings installed on the crossbeams. Perfect weather recently has made for ideal working conditions.

The topside panels were already prepared and ready to install months ago. Once the bunk panels were filleted into place in the starboard hull, it was safe to lift it out of the building cradles and lay it over on it's side for pulling the remaining wire stitches out of the keel. I then turned it on each side and did a dry fit of the topside panels before gluing them on. The panels were fit with temporary screws. Here is a sequence of photos showing the procedure that makes it feasible for one person working alone to do this. My friend Chris Carter stopped by yesterday to see the project so I asked him to take some photos of me positioning the second panel.

With the hull in rope slings, the long topside panel was placed on the hull so that the slings hold it in place. The joint areas of both mating surfaces were sanded and cleaned with alcohol to prepare them for epoxy. I measured down 1 inch along the upper edge of the lower panel. This is the overlap area for the topside panel. A few small blocks were screwed in along this line to serve as rests for the topside panel until screws could be placed.

By grabbing in the midships area, I could easily flip up and manipulate the long panel.

Moving it in position: note the small wooden blocks I'm trying to get the bottom edge over.

The bottom edge is on the blocks, now it can be lowered in place.

The panel is in position. Now it's a matter of carefully aligning it at the bow and putting in temporary screws along the bottom edge. After everything was dry-fit to my satisfaction, I removed the panels one at a time and put them back on with epoxy in the joints.

Here's the hull flipped back the other way, after both panels have been installed with epoxy.

A view of the keel showing both topside panel joints. Like the port hull, the topside panels aligned perfectly and went on without distortion. The next step is to make the fillet joints where all the upper bulkhead sides join the insides of the topside panels. Soon I'll be ready to turn the hull upside down for shaping, glass sheathing and fairing.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Starboard Hull Ready for Topsides

The starboard hull is now ready to be lifted out of the building cradles so I can turn it to either side for installing the topside panels. All the bunks are now in and filleted, and most of the filling and fairing work in the lower hull compartments is complete. I made another trip to New Orleans last Saturday and picked up more okoume marine ply for the cabin roofs, decks, and cockpit. I should have enough to finish the project now.

As you can see the starboard hull is close to the outside lattice wall of my building shed. Last night we had several severe squall lines pass through the area, complete with hail, isolated tornadoes, and nearly horizontal rain driven by 50-70mph winds. Nothing was damaged, but this morning I had to sponge several inches of water out of each of the lower compartments in the starboard hull. Apparently the wind was so strong it blew the rain sideways right through the lattice. Everything in the hull interior was well-sealed with epoxy, so no harm done.

Here's the sequence of final tasks completed before the bunks went in. First the floor area in the main companionway was sheathed in 6 oz. fiberglass cloth. I did this in both hulls as this is the one floor panel that will be walked on and subject to having things dropped on it. In the photo you can see the blue tape used to define the perimeter of the glass. Three coats of epoxy were eventually applied.

Everything below the bunks got another clear coat of sealing epoxy after a thorough sanding and fairing. This will be the final finish below bunks, as no sunlight will get to these areas and there is no need for U.V. inhibiting varnish as there will be above bunk level.

Here you can see the bunks are in and filleted. These fillets will be sanded and faired with additional passes of thickened epoxy, but for now the hull is locked in and is a rigid structure. I can remove the temporary braces shown here and lift the hull in slings for turning.

These braces were necessary while the bunk fillets were curing, but they were hastily screwed and clamped in position and proved to be quite dangerous. I got a nasty gash just over my right eye when I bumped my head on a support post in the shed, which in turn bounced me face first into the end of one of these 1 x 2 pieces of Doug fir. I shouldn't have left the long ends sticking out like that, but I wanted to reuse them later, so I didn't cut them off. Now my right eye has been swollen for two days and I look like I've been in a bar fight!

Over on the starboard hull, I'm working on the details that have to be completed before the fore and aft decks can be installed. Much of this involves finishing up the fairing in the buoyancy compartments, and prepping the large bow compartment for paint. I decided to paint this storage hold white inside, as it is not connected to the cabin interior and will only be seen from the deck. The white interior will make it easier to find stuff inside, as well as to keep clean. I'm also going to install a small shelf at the interior stringer level in this compartment to divide the storage area somewhat and provide a place for smaller lighter items in the upper part.

In the photo below you can see the doublers I'm gluing to the inside of the sheer on the inboard sides beneath the decks. This will provide more solid wood to receive the screws that will be used to fasten the trampoline lashing rails to the inboard edges of the decks.

Other details below decks are the shelves I'm adding in the area over the bunks and just forward of the front cabin bulkhead. This is the foot area of the bunk and there is plenty of room for two narrow shelves at the level of the lower hull to topside panel joint. Adding shelves here will serve to reinforce this joint as well, as they will be filleted into position.

These shelves are narrow enough to be out of the way, but wide enough for things like flashlights or even books stood up with a bungee cord retainer across them. I made a small fiddle rail of teak for each shelf and glued it on with the industrial Superglue I've mentioned before.

The shelves with teak fiddles are coated with epoxy. A small fillet at the fiddle rail joint completes the assembly, and the shelves, made of 6mm ply, weigh next to nothing.

I'm off to Jackson again later today, where the rest of the week I'll be working on finishing up the Backwoods Drifter I'm building and hopefully getting the front fairings installed on my crossbeams.