Thursday, March 25, 2010

Rudder design #4, daggerboard glassing

After many trips to the hardware store getting stainless steel carriage bolts and machine screws that were often the wrong size, I finally got my rudder box together in some sort of usable fashion.  As my intrepid readers may remember in three other previous posts (search in the month of March), I have been trying to figure something out in order to get my tiller to be detachable.  I went with the final option, illustrated in this post

The rudder box is glued up but not glued together.

As you can see, I am wearing my camo Converse sneakers.  Very cool.  The original tiller design calls for the tiller to be permanently attached to the top of the box, where my shortened tiller stock is now-- so originally that would be much longer, but permanent.  This way, I can remove the tiller and leave the rudder in the water, freeing up open space in the boat during quiet times.  I used a carriage bolt with a butterfly nut tensioned by a split washer.  Don't drop it, and carry a spare! 

The spacer is as of now temporary, but I could do one of three things.  I could lengthen the spacer to make it full-tiller length, giving the tiller laminate strength; I could shorten the spacer; I could make two evenly spaced spacers, I could leave it the way it is.  This is yet to be determined.  Here's a closeup for the interested:

I'm having some serious problems with my hardware for the rudder, unfortunately.  I wanted a pintle and gudgeon style assembly, but my 1.5" gudgeons are not fitting around my rudder box, even though it's 1.5" wide.  Something ain't right.  Also, I'd have to expand my tiller access hole in the transom to accommodate the up and down motion to get the rudder in and and out.  So I'm scraping the pintle/gudgeon idea and I'm going to go with the gudgeon/gudgeon idea, as the original plans stipulate.  Which means I have to find some sort of long pin to thread between all of them.  Boo to that. 

Also today I've been working on my blades.  My rudder got sanded down to the matte finish, and I carefully taped off vertical areas that would run, and applied one last thin coat of epoxy onto one side of the rudder.  Tomorrow, the other side.  I used a plastic spreader, and it went very well, very smooth, and I'm very happy with my luscious result:

You'll notice on the left hand side that the leading edge still isn't coated, this was taped off earlier.

Then, off to glassing my daggerboard!  Much like the same for the rudder, except I cut a bigger piece.  I had a lot of runs in my rudder, and I figured this time I would lay the board flat, spread epoxy with a squeegee, and then turn it over, do the other side, and then hang it up. 

So I went ahead and did one side horizontally:

 I thought I was being pretty smart. 

So then I turned it over and did the other side.  Something caught my attention and I looked underneath my board and...

... well I didn't take any pictures because needless to say the whole first side has very neatly peeled away from the board, thanks to Mr. Theory-of-Gravity.  Gravity is only a theory by the way, they should teach both sides in schools so kids know this, because there is lots of evidence that gravity does not exist, but "they" don't want to show you it.  I digress.  Today, gravity was obviously working quite well.  I finished the job at hand, and then hung it up, and re-spread the cloth down.  Fortunately not much damage done, but for my smartness, well, not so smart now.  Here it is all hung up to dry:

It's late, I'm still periodically coating the board to get the weave filled, and I'm tired.  I timed this one bad.

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Float Test

I couldn't take it anymore.  How would my ship, my Goat Island Skiff, my beauty, my instrument of adventure to wonderful and distant and nebulous ends sit on her lines?  Would she list, be bow heavy, stern heavy?  There were some things in the construction of her that didn't match the plans, some bevels, some shapes, some angles, and I was worried that in the water she would sit funny, maybe bow down a bit, instead of the beautiful plumb bow sitting upright!

My pond at my parent's-in-law iced out rapidly last week, which motivated me to tape the chines and slap some epoxy on the sides of the hull.  Yesterday, it rained hard.  Today, we woke up at 7, and there was no rain, but wind, and 32*F/O*C.  Snow flurries on the horizon to the west.  My lovely wife ready to rock.  It was time.

Wind was blowing about a Force 5 on the Beaufort scale, around 20kts or so.  With ice-out just a few days ago, the water temperature wasn't much higher than the air temperature.

It was now, or another nail-biting day.  It was time.  A kiss on the breasthook, a quick murmur to her... "Please sit straight on your lines..." and with a heave, and a ho, she was in the water.

Not a maiden voyage, not a christening, nothing but a quick test.  She will get all the formalities and Poseidon will get all his tributes when she is worthy.  Just a float test... but exciting all the same.

...and DAMN if she doesn't look straight!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Fiberglass Tape, epoxy encapsulation

Yesterday was a bomber of a day.  Total Goat Island Skiff immersion.  Well over 14 hours of spanking.

Basically, I want to float test this boat.  My pond, frozen with several feet of New Hampshire ice iced out overnight.  I woke up two mornings ago to find that the ice cap had literally disappeared, and the boat was not ready.  So the hustle began.

First, I planed to fit a 3/8" poplar dowel for the the bow.  I scratched up the epoxy on the bow, scratched up the dowel, and stuck it on.  This will be glassed over with fiberglass tape.

I held it on with painter's tape.

Then, off to the races.  Taping the chines with fiberglass tape (FT) is easy, and kind of rewarding.  First, I measured the tape to fit the chine, and cut it off.  Then I slopped on some unthickened epoxy along the chine, and placed the tape along it, dabbing it down to hold it in place.  This tape has a "selvage" edge to it, which according to the plans should be removed.  Basically, its a plastic string that holds the fabric together, but it's a real pain in the ass to sand down, or so I am told.  It came out really smooth on the fiberglass I used for the blades, but on this FT it just mocked me incessantly.  So I said "screw it!" and glued it down with the edge on the bottom.  In case I couldn't sand it down at least it would partly hidden.  After the tape is laid down in position, I slopped on epoxy to wet it out and get it to stick.  Work from the middle to the ends of the boat.  Some gentle tugging got it in a good straight line and evenly over the rounded chine (round with a few passes of a plane and hit it with the sander).

 I did this to both sides, and the bottom/transom joint.  I'm not sure if the side/transom joint needs to be done or not, and I can always do that later.  The bow will be glassed when the epoxy has cured on the dowel and I can fair it to the hull.

After that came the fun fun job of spreading the epoxy on the bottom and the sides.  I did the bottom first while I debated how to do the sides.

 I did not pre-coat my panels because A: I wanted to see my boat! and B: I wanted to ensure the most effective gluing surfaces and I did not feel like taping their positions off.

In retrospect, the bottom was very easy, the sides a little more work.  I would suggest that any builder at the very least, pre-coat the outside side of the sides for simplicities sake.  Pouring the epoxy onto the sides and spreading it around was a little more of a challenge on the vertical surface, but due diligence paid off for a pretty neat job.

Back to that selvage edge.  After the epoxy had cured a bit on the glass, I decided to grab my utility knife and see if I could cut it off!  I could, and it worked awesome.  Pulling it out first before glassing would have been preferred, but this was the next best thing.  Holding the blade close to the edge I was able to get a nice clean cut down the the length of the hull, and then all I had to do was pull it up.

Presto!  As you may notice you can still see the weave in the FT.  This weave took a lot more work to fill in than the glass on the blades.  On the suggestion of my compatriot in Sacramento, I threw on two coats of slightly thickened epoxy and it filled it in much better than the straight undiluted stuff.

Here's a before and after:

A long day, but worth it.  A float test is quickly looming in my future!


Thursday, March 18, 2010

Glassing the rudder, bottom skids, and an almost finished mast!

AHOY Mateys!!!

WELL, things are not so bad.  As my intrepid readers may remember I had a mini freak out over my poorly glassed rudder and daggerboard.  This was founded on the belief that it was going to take me forever and a day to get them smooth again.  Not so!  With encouragement from others I got right onto it once the epoxy had gone hard.  With a few deft swipes of my rasp, my random orbital sander, and my hand block, I got the rudder all smooth again in just a few minutes.  I also sized it up for glass.

Then, back down to the basement Boatcave for the actual glassing.  I ended up stringing the rudder to a ceiling beam with some string (obviously) and two nails on either end of the rudder.  Presto!  Since I'm draping the glass over the blade, it makes it easier and neater, and I can work at it at eye level instead of hunching over it, which is good for my sore back.  Unfortunately, it can swing around if not careful, so sometimes a hand is needed to steady it.

First, I wet the blade with epoxy and then draped it carefully over the leading edge, with the trailing edge facing down.  Wetting out the glass makes it go clear.  I let the first coat go tacky and then came back for subsequent coats to completely fill the weave.  The extra glass will get sliced off once it sets up a bit.  It look beautiful.  I did get some epoxy runs, but those will sand out (with substantial effort).  Hopefully I won't run into this with the daggerboard, but I have to find out how first.

Then, off to the hull to put down some bottom skids.  These are made of cherry.  The plans call for two, a little over 10 feet long that run down the hull parallel to each other.  I decided to add a third in the bow for added bottom protection.  The bow has a nice rocker to it, but I will be sailing the Maine coast, and I also like to run my boats up onto the beach like a maniacal pirate looking for booty, both monetary and female (I'm married, ladies, so it's symbolic only now, sorry!)  Mr. Storer would prefer not glassing the bottom to save weight, I agree, and I don't want the hassle.  A bow skid was easy, light, and it will be effective.

First, I measured, re-measured, measured again, and outlined the skids, then put down some tape to assist in epoxy clean-up

This was not effective, because I gave myself a little room between the theoretical skid and the tape, and it ended up being too much space.  At least they were good guidance!  My lovely wife aided in placing down the skids, because they would slip around and I was not interested in screwing them down (more holes to fill).  My patented "Forest of bricks" held them down.

Interestingly enough, the forest of bricks didn't get them down all the way.  The two parallel skids rose amidships a bit off the hull, I could actually get some light between the hull and skid.  Extra weight did little to help, and only deformed the hull.  Not acceptable!  I decided to let it go, squeezed in some epoxy and when it dries I'll throw down some mini-fillets to keep water from getting underneath.

I did not notice this during my dry run, so I don't know if it was the glue that bent them funny, or maybe I wasn't obsevant, or what, but I'm not going to freak out over this.


My mast was tapered up.  Notice I haven't added the base taper yet to fit into the mast step, but the wide staves have been taken down to match.  Here's an artsy fartsy photo:

WOW look at that sky!  Hmm Hmm New England goodness!  Don't see that in Seattle too much, lemme tell you, I am happy to be back east!

Here's the mast up against the garage:

So, the mast came out to be a tad wider than commanded in the plans, about 3mm or so... I may enlarge the partner just slightly to accommodate the mast, because I don't want to lose any strength in that area. 

Monday, March 15, 2010

Mast glued up, rudder and daggerboard glassing.

Ok, another frustrating boatbuilding day here in New Hampshire.

The mast got glued up today in a long session.  It takes a deceptively large amount of glue.

First, I laid down the mast ladder frame, with the two sides to be glued next to it.  I primed the wood to be glue with unthickened epoxy, and then made up the thick stuff.  Application of the glue went along the base plug, narrow staves, and ladder framework.  Afterwards, I picked up the ladder section and placed it upside down on the wide stave.  The other side of the ladder was then glued up and the wide stave dropped onto that, making a sandwich.  Mr. Storer recommends a clamp every foot.  I only have 9 clamps that can be used on the mast.  Mr. Storer advises his customers to use packing tape... use a clamp, wrap the mast with packing tape to hold the pressure, move on.  This method has been used by other Goat Island Skiff builders, successfully.  It kind of worked for me, but not to the degree I would have liked, the clamps hold more pressure.  Regardless, better than nothing, and with some careful maneuvering I was able to make sure that all gaps were closed up.

It took longer than I thought, and a lot more glue than I thought.  There were a few areas where I really had to force the staves into position, and this was a pain.  For some reason I don't have any real overlap in the lower half part of the mast or I could have used nails to hold it in place.  I used my muscles instead, and clamped them down, and hoped for the best.  In  a few locations there's an overlap on one side and an underlap on another... not much, about 1mm, but I see it, and it pisses me off.  I should be building to tighter tolerances by now.  I don't know if it's impatience to get this done with, or it's a level of meticulousness that drives me batty.

Off to check the bottom runners, shall we?

Oh look, gaps!

 In my quest to use less glue (I keep throwing out tons of squeezed out glue) I went with what I thought was a moderate amount of glue... but it obviously wasn't enough.  These are, surprisingly, my worst scarfs on this boat yet.  This is not the end of the world, I can force some glue in there, they are not necessarily under pressure (that would compromise the scarf) and they will fully glued onto the hull.  So this is not the end of the world.

This is:

My daggerboard.  What a mess.  I was so concentrated and focused on making sure I got it smooth around the end of the board, I didn't really care what happened along the edges of the glass.  I figured I could sand it smooth later.  Now, I'm realizing I really screwed myself up the wazoo.  This clean up job without going through the soft wood of the board is going to murder my day tomorrow.  UGH.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Rudder stock design #4, Mast gluing

In yet another installment of "I try to re-design the rudder stock" I have received yet another set of plans from a Goat Island Skiff builder in New York.  He has graciously supplied me with these two schematics of his own design, as a solution to removing the tiller from the rudder assembly without having to take the rudder off the transom.  It is self-explanatory:

I really like this design, it is better than mine for two reasons:  1. It maintains Mr. Storer's rudder stock design and hopefully solves the structural issue that he was concerned about, 2. There is less time fiddling over the transom pulling very critical pins over water of yet-to-be-determined depth, if you get my drift.  I can remove the tiller from the safety of the cabin.  Unfortunately, I will still have a stub of tiller sticking into my domain, but I think, for now, this is the idea I'm going to go with.  The great thing about the rudder stock is that it is simple and easy to construct, I can always make another.

In other news, the mast was glued in its first step today.  In the previous post, I shaped the narrow staves.  This was a workout, but I worked carefully, and I'm happy with the result.  Then, off to make the spacers for the ladder frame.  I used a piece of fir that was lounging around the garage, some stud material.  I used some good parts, and cut them to fit.  The base plug meant a trip to Lowes.  This is the first wood part of the boat that was not bought at either of my two local lumber stores.  Sorry guys.  Anyway, an 8' piece of 4x4 cedar.  I thought about using fir, for a few bucks less, but I went with the rot-resistant cedar.  It's an important piece, it's light, and it should be good.  The other spacers I'll goo up with epoxy and make them plastic.

Well, that was interesting how the photo's lined up, but I like it!  Notice the base plug.  After a quick mock-up my lovely wife and I took one of the uncut stave stock pieces and brought it into the basement, where I can get an even floor workspace and a slightly higher temperature, better for quicker gluing.  We made sure that we could get the wood in and out of the basement two different ways, so I don't build the mast and then get it out.  I am positive I can get the mast out of the basement.

Layed out ready for the dry fit:

Sweet, I did it again, but I don't know how.  The mast is quite straight, but I decided to use one of the wide uncut staves as a backbone for gluing, that way I could ensure that the mast is straight with no wobbles.  It also gives me a good even workspace for gluing too.  I covered one stave with packing tape, and glued away:  Notice too, the hardwood runners that will be glued to the bottom of the hull, they are long ones and needed to be scarfed.

It went well.  The bricks are slightly nudging the mast into a straight position.  You'll also notice that you don't see much of the wide stave underneath this glue-up, that's because the tolerances are super tight.  I overcut my narrow staves by 1mm and it pretty much ate up all the space on the wide stave.  I briefly considered re-planing the staves, re-working the spacers, and then gluing, but my lovely wife stopped me with some business graduate degree mumbo-jumbo stuff and talked me out of it.  I might have to plane a little extra off the base to get it to fit in the mast step, and I can (with difficulty) enlarge the mast step as well if need be.

Tomorrow, gluing the wide staves and completing the box.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Rudder design #3, and shaping the mast.

A little more thought into the rudder today.  Since Mr. Storer is concerned about the tiller splitting from the forces, he would like to see a thru-bolt through the tiller, into the spacer block.  So I thought, how about a removable thru-bolt that could be tightened with a butterfly nut, or something like that?  The adjusted illustration is below:

In other much more exciting news... I started shaping the mast!

This is awesome, because I'd love to see my mast.  Hmmm Hmmm mast.  Powerhouse piece of lumber that gets me from A to B for free.

I am building the Hollow Square Mast option, of three that come with the boat (Solid Round, Birdsmouth are the other two).

First off, I must loft the dimensions of the narrow staves onto my lumber.  One piece of lumber has a slight curve in it.  I didn't think too much of it, and sawed 1cm off the edge of the lumber.  Big mistake!  The curve was more than I anticipated, and I didn't think I had the room to actually loft a narrow stave!  I was seriously pissed, pounded my broom on the floor, and let out of primordial yell.  A screwed piece of lumber means 25 bucks in the hole, a trip to the lumberyard, hoping to find a piece long enough, travel up north to the planer, using the planer, then back home.  It's a process!

Mr. Storer has a fabulous option in his plans for curved pieces of lumber however, "The String Down the Middle" method.  So, I marke the middle of each end and attached a string between them, and got this:

As you can probably tell, the string is way near the edge, too close to loft the mast using this as the backbone.  I had to adjust the string to get me the most amount of wood:

Then, I lofted it on, hoping for the best... and it worked!  I was just able to get it on with a little left over.  It made for a strange visual illusion, with straight lines cutting every-so-slightly diagonally across the grain, but it worked well, and for that, I was happy.  As you can see, the top of the mast is very close to the edge:

With the mast material propped up between two table extenders and my clamp table (50lb bag o' seed keeps it from moving) I planned the staves down to the lines.


I then matched them up and got it as close as possible.  Since we're making a box here, it's very important to keep things square, equal to each other, and the same size.  This is a precision operation.  Once the staves are glued in their ladder format, the wider boards can be glued right on, and then trimmed, making life a little easier on that front, at least.  Sweet.  Mast.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Rudder stock design, rudder #2, daggerboard shaping


Informative day today as I peddled my rudder stock idea over at Mr. Storer's forum.

There was enough persuasion action going to keep me going with the plans in term of a backless rudder stock with a daggerboard rudder.  However, I really want to be able to ditch the tiller and leave the rudder installed on the transom.

I came up with this idea:

In this plan, the rudder stock stays exactly as the plans stipulate, except I add on 15mm at the top.  This provides an area to attach a cleat (blue).  Then there's another below it (blue) and the tiller-- which is two pieced-- cradles the rudder stock.  Bolts run through the cleats into the spacer, and the tiller which slides between the cleats is held in place with a pin.

Storer warns that the torsional forces on the tiller could tear it apart, I'm hoping that between the three cleats bolted through the spacer, and a bolt higher up on the tiller (not shown) to keep it together, I should be ok.  Time will tell.  I am almost positive this is the model I'm going with, unless I get overwhelming evidence otherwise.

In other news, I finished rough shaping the rudder and daggerboard. 


Designing new rudder stock #1

I'm trying to build a swing-up rudder stock design for my Goat Island Skiff, similar to the one I have on my Laser, except wood, and fitted for the GIS rudder.  The original plans call for a daggerboard style rudder stock where the rudder is removed vertically through the box, and the tiller is permanently attached to the box.  See here.  I am not a big fan of this design, though I appreciate it's simplicity.

Here is why:

1.  I do not want a permanently attached tiller to the rudder stock.  I would like to be able to remove the tiller, and leave the rudder in the water, or at least raised but still attached to the transom.

2.  I do not like the bungee cord design to the hold the rudder in place

3. I want to use pintles and gudgeons, which would be difficult with a permanently attached tiller and dropping the assembly into place.

Here is a quick mock-up of a slightly enlarged rudder box per the plans, with a rudimentary rounded rudder top for swingability.

The stock has been extended 3 cm aft, and 1 cm down.  I am limited by the size of the transom and the location of the hole to accept the tiller in the transom.  The tiller would run between the two side of the stock across the top of the rudder and be fastened with a pin.  The spacer in the front of the box would be the same called for in the plans.  The exterior of the stock would have the two re-enforced areas per the plans, running across the top and bottom, and in addition a third re-enforced area to support the axle.  I will probably also trim the leading and trailing edges of the top section of the rudder in the box area to get a good climb out of the water as well as keep it from dragging along the beach.