Saturday, September 27, 2008

Fiberglassing the Foredecks

I've finished up the fiberglass sheathing of the foredecks and have started making parts for the forward hatch coamings. The fiberglass work was actually finished last week before the Boatsmith crew stopped by to visit, but I've since done some more fairing and filling work and have finished prepping the stern decks for their layer of 6-oz. glass cloth.

The first step in sheathing the decks was to get another layer around the sheer stringers, from the point where they join the topsides, wrapping all the way up to overlap the decks by about an inch and a half. This insures a good double layer of glass on the potential impact areas along the sheer and helps reinforce the deck to hull joint. To do this I taped off both sides of where I wanted to cut the glass strips and then laminated them on oversize, trimming to the tape with a razor knife after the epoxy cured enough so that the glass would not pull away.

The first two photos below show the wetted-out fiberglass overlapping the tape that defines the width of the finished strips:

After the edge sealing strips were cured and second coated with epoxy to fill the weave, the main decks were sheathed with the fiberglass overlapping the edge strips.

Again, masking tape was used to allow a neat edge to be cut at the overlap. After removing the tape and excess glass, the cloth was filled again with a second coat of epoxy thickened with phenolic microballoons and silica.

After the second coat of thickened epoxy had cured and was sanded, the decks looked like this. Final fairing will be done by adding more epoxy fairing mixture with a drywall knife and then sanding everything smooth. But before that is done, I will build the hatch coamings for the forward stowage compartments.

Boatsmith Crew visits the Element II Project

Thursday evening I had the opportunity to show Element II to my good friend David Halladay, and his entire Boatsmith crew. This unlikely visit out in the middle of nowhere in Mississippi happened because David and his crew were en route back to their home base in Jupiter, Florida, after completing a large teak deck project in the SanFrancisco area. Needless to say, they were worn-out from days on the road, so the visit was short, but the guys got to see the boat project I've been telling them about for so long, back before they built the first Boatsmith Tiki 30.

In fact, it was my project and this blog that finally pushed David over the edge back at the beginning of this year, inspiring him to build a Wharram cat as he had long wanted to do. The result was his fine Tiki 30, Abaco, documented on Pro-Built Tiki 30 and launched this year at the Mystic Wooden Boat Show. This all led to David's meeting with James Wharram and becoming the only licensed professional Wharram builder in the U.S.

Below: David Halladay, at right, with his well-trained crew of boatbuilders crowd into my tiny shed between the hulls of Element II. I should have flattened the tires on their truck so they couldn't leave. If only I could afford to pay these guys to help me finish up, I could be sailing before the middle of October!

David and the crew hung around about an hour and a half, inspecting my work and looking over the Tiki 26 design with interest. He's hoping to get started building another Wharram in Florida soon, and thinks the Tiki 26 could be a good seller, appealing to a lot of customers.

Likely the next time they see Element II it will be somewhere on the water in south Florida, as that will be one of my first destinations for my shake down cruises.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Decking the Sterns

The stern decks are now installed and I am in the process of fairing and filling them in preparation for fiberglass sheathing.

Before they could be permanently glued in place, I first completed the painting in the stern buoyancy compartments and the varnishing in the aft bunk sections. The inspection plates were installed in bulkhead No. 1 in each hull, as well as the thru-bolts that reinforce the aft beam lashing pads.

As in the bow buoyancy compartments, I painted the sealed stern compartments gloss white to make it easier to inspect the interiors with a flashlight. The natural finish in the aft bunk areas is actually a satin finish polyurethane with U.V. inhibitors. I think the satin finish will be nice in all the main cabin areas.

The decks were glued down using thickened epoxy on the deckbeams and along the sheer stringers. Temporary screws were used to hold them in place until the epoxy cured.

Once the epoxy was cured and all screws removed, I began the process of filling the screw holes and sealing the deck to hull joint with thickened epoxy. After this cured, I sanded the excess epoxy away and then used a small router with a 1/2-inch round-over bit to put a radius on the deck edges. This will make it easier to wrap the 6-oz. fiberglass sheathing over the sheer stringer to overlap the hull-side sheathing.

The decks were shaped and filled around the stern posts. After this initial filling is cured it will be sanded and more fairing compound applied to smooth it out.

Here are the stern decks where I left them at the end of the day today - mostly filled and faired, sanded, and coated with a first sealing coat of epoxy prior to fiberglassing.

I've also been doing some final fairing and sanding of the bow decks, getting them ready to fiberglass as well. This should begin tomorrow if all goes as planned.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Stern Decks and Starboard Cabin

The current priority in the construction is to get the stern sections of both hulls decked so that I can focus on finishing the cabin interiors. As with the forward decks, the compartments beneath them will be completely finished before the decks go on, so that once these sections are covered with decks they will be out of sight and out of mind. Completing entire sections like this is always a good feeling as I can then move on to other areas without having to think about this again.

Stringers of Doug fir were first cut to length and fitted in the deckbeam notches. These stringers all have radiused corners on the bottom edges where they will be exposed. They were held in place by temporary screws while I marked and cut the deck panels, which are made of 6mm plywood.

There are only three stringers supporting the deck in these stern sections, but their stiffness will be enhanced by large fillets bonding them to the underside of the deck panels. Combined with the sheathing of 6-oz. fiberglass on the top surfaces, this will make the decks plenty strong while keeping them lightweight.

Here you can see the assembled deck panels with the stringers glued and filleted in place.

Below are the completed stern decks ready for installation. All the parts have been sanded and second coated with epoxy. They will be installed later this week after I get the final coats of paint in the stern buoyancy compartments and varnish in the aft bunk areas.

The outer cabin side for the starboard hull has also been installed and filleted to the shelves and bulkheads.

There will not be as many built-in fixtures as in the port hull. In addition to the panels for the electrical switches and the VHF radio and other instruments, there will be a removable chart table that will span across the navigation station and a hinged seat back that will allow comfortable seating at the chart table. Companionway steps identical to the ones in the port hull will be built on the inboard side.