Sunday, December 27, 2009

Happy Holidays!

The winter holiday season is a great time with lots of family and friends. Not so much boatwork I am afraid.

I managed to get away for a few minutes to oil the backsides of the cherry paneling.

I also managed a quick trip out to check on the boat. (She is just fine.) Last week I mentioned the difficulty in getting the 3/4 inch plywood sole to fit. Here is a picture looking into the forward starboard end of the main saloon cabin sole.

... and the approximate shaving necessary to get it all to fit.

A further complication is that I tabbed the plywood undersole with 14 oz. biaxial cloth which is strong and... rather thick. The plyboo cabin sole sits on this tabbing putting it about 1/8 of an inch above the plywood undersole. I had cut the access holes in the undersole deliberately undersized to support the hatch covers. In the original sole, the hatches were supported by nailed and glued fiddles which were coming loose. My idea of the plywood undersole with the undersized holes was an effort to improve the design. There is no question that the new design is much stronger. I just never factored in the thickness of the tabbing. I think I am going to simply rely on the wonderful gap filling properties of epoxy rather than figure out a way to have the entire plyboo sole sit flush on the undersole. I am not up for cutting a step that large in the plyboo. Next time I will come up with something better.

More relatives are arriving and I have to cut the posting short. Here's to hoping for a free weekend of boatwork soon!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Big planks into small planks

... and not much else I am afraid. Big snowstorm left me shoveling for most of the day Sunday.

Pictures from last week:

I started with some cherry that I took to a friend's shop.

The boards were cut into thinner strips - 2.5 inches - a dimension chosen for roughly the visual effect I was looking for but more importantly, maximizing the stock we had to work with.

The shiplaps and beading were cut with a combination of routers and tablesaws. It took some trial and error to figure out the best way. We spent more time on the project than we expected. A nice router table and $150 router bit would have made the the cut on the first pass. We didn't have that. It wasn't too bad though.

Yesterday, with the storm forecasted I spent some time tightening down the tarp which had settled in and loosened a slight amount in the past few weeks. We have had several days of 50+ mph gusts so I wasn't surprised. The staking system is working well and the structure isn't moving anywhere and looks good.

After that I went to work on the cabin sole bamboo plywood. It is taking a lot LOT longer than I expected to get the right shape for the sole. The problem is that the angle between the hull and sole varies widely from near vertical to over 60 degrees. Making it that much more tricky, the curves are not anywhere near fair and are instead 'lumpy and bumpy and wavy'- both the outer curves of the sole and the angle between the hull and sole are highly irregular. With the bamboo plywood sole 3/4 inch thick I am removing a lot of material through trial and error. I have about eight hours of hand planing into the project. I am real close now but I still have a bit more fussing to do. I would have a few pictures to show what I am talking about but I left my camera in the car and in the 20 degree temperatures the camera battery quickly went dead. Inside the boat with a small electric heater going its about 60 degrees - a benefit of an insulated hull. I will try and get some pictures next weekend.

In other news, I made a bid on Ebay as a lark for a bronze cowl vent.

These things usually command a lot of money but this time I got lucky and won the bidding for $66. Its a bit smaller than I thought but a very well made and hefty chunk of bronze. I quite like it. I am not sure where to put it though. I know I need something to draw in/out air from the anchor locker which has clear air flow to the bilge and aft cockpit area. I am not sure this particular cowl is the ticket. It seems too small but then again it is really a small boat so maybe it will work. I know that no ventilation makes the insides pretty moldy and stale and it could be a long expensive wait for something bigger.

and that's it.

The next posting will undoubtedly be after the holiday so Merry Christmas everyone!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Short and Sweet

It was a busy weekend of socializing and boat talk. I managed (with some help) to turn some larg-ish boards of cherry into smaller boards and sawdust. The camera is here and the computer is there so no pictures this week.

Boat work is on the schedule for next week so I expect to have something interesting then.

Happy Chanukah

Sunday, December 6, 2009

'tween the holidays

Miniscule progress. I felt better about the lack of progress when I remembered that it has been the same slow going between the holidays every year. There is just too many other demands on my time.

First on the list was shoveling out the driveway and walkway after the first snow of the season.

Things that did get done:

I scaled back some of my cherry tongue and groove paneling plans and was able to buy enough to get me started. The plan is to visit a friend and mill it up next weekend.

I also picked up a few fir 2x4's which make excellent interior framing. I had a need for some thin strips for non-Triton boat projects so I ripped strips off of two 2x4's making a pair of 2x2's. I plan on using these around the galley countertop and engine cover.

Other than turning as much wood into sawdust as usable product my homemade ripping guide worked quite well. The store bought guide didn't adjust in enough to make the 3/16 inch thick strips so I clamped on a longer strip of scrap wood and it held quite well and didn't move. It helped that I have a $120 Forrest saw blade on the saw. Expensive blades but they cut super smooth and easy.

We had some 50mph gusts this week which I found pushed the blunt aft end of the boat structure around a bit. I found six short metal fence stakes at $1.50 a piece that I think will do the trick. They are about 3 feet long overall with 2 feet buried in the ground.

Finally, I pulled the engine battery which completes the winterization for the season. So far the structure is holding up fine (other than a little wandering) and has withstood two storms with 50+ mph winds. The boat is completely dry and airy. My heater, radio and worklights are installed and hopefully I will find some space for some quality time with the boat in the near future.

em tasol wantoks.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Pause button

I might have to hit the pause button for a bit; or at least slow it down a bit (yeah I know, how much slower can I go?...)

I did some shopping for the cherry lumber I need for some interior work. Immediately after I found a couple of bills waiting for me in the PO Box. I am still recovering financially from the launch push last spring and while I could make the stretch I really can't find the justification for it. I think it is better to get caught up with the old bills before starting some new ones.

The good news is that my annual boat costs are down this year. So far I have only spent $7k on the boat (which includes the $1500 for storage and $1200 for the rented mooring). That is down from over $10k spent last year when the decks and hull were painted and teak toerail installed. Last year was also when I spent 8 months unemployed so as you can see my balance sheet has taken a bit of a beating in the past year or so. Things are a lot better but still not quite where I would like them to be. Financial prudence and the upcoming holidays has made me think I should postpone the next big materials purchase for another month or so.

That is okay because 1.) I could use a break. I work five days a week at my job and 2 days a week on the boat. That doesn't leave much time for the other parts of my life (like house erands, fixing the car, etc) which are backing up at the moment. I also haven't spent a weekend with the girlfriend in nearly six months so I am probably about due.

I need to bring things back into balance a bit and rest up for the next push. In the meantime I will continue with some smaller projects already in the pipeline.

This weekend I managed to spend a few hours fussing with the boat and fitting the cabin sole. The angle between the cabin undersole and the hull sides vary from completely vertical to something like a 60 degree angle. While I could cut the bamboo plywood sole small enough to fit and then fill the gap at the edges with thickened epoxy I have decided to break out my Stanley #4 block plane and shape the underside to fit snug against the hull. Does it matter much? Not really. I gain about an extra two inches of width in the bamboo at the fore and aft ends though which I think looks much better than painted epoxy. And I have the time...

The cherry lumber is for the vertical bulkheads which I want to cover with cherry tongue and groove paneling. It is easier to put in the tongue and groove before the settee paneling because the settee paneling will cover the ends of the tongue and groove and save me the effort of having to fit the edges in tightly (which will most likely be covered with some sort of trim board anyway).

I am toying with my electrical system design but I am sure the component costs will run well over a thousand dollars so I don't want to get too ambitious there. Next year's goals are to finish any required deck hardware and get the basic interior paneling in place and have a workable interior. That and tie up a bunch of loose ends that I never got around to after last season's launch. The electrical system can wait. I will be working all of next year and won't have time for cruising anyway. Besides, I have already proven I can cruise with no electrical system. Deck hardware I need. FM radio is optional. Looking at the bare plywood paneling is wearing me down which is why the interior basics are next on the list.

So, a long ramble explaining why there is nothing to read this week. Next week is a holiday weekend but I might get some time in on the boat. I will post anything that gets done.

Happy Turkey Day!

Sunday, November 15, 2009


2 inches of rain Saturday. I didn't get any boat work done.

I did get a call Friday night from one of my boat neighbors because the front of my tarp was coming loose. He and another friend secured the front with random bits of string and advised me to fix it ASAP. That sure made me feel good all Friday night and Saturday morning as I listened to the winds howl...

In the past, I have rolled up a piece of strapping in the front edge of the tarp and clamped it all with spring clamps. This has always worked well and makes it really quick to open up. It is not going to work this year though. The problem is that the front of the structure is much wider than in years past and there is a lot more frontage for the Northeast winds to push against.

In a torrential downpour I secured the front of the tarp by wrapping the ends around the front pole and securing them to the bows. I alternated among the first three bows so as not to load up any one too much.

Last year I pulled the ends of the ground frame in towards the bow and you can see that last year's cover was a lot narrower and more pointed. You can also kind of see the clamping system I had.

So, I guess that means I won't be going in and out of the structure from the front as much. Luckily the back opens up nicely.

Today, after the heavy rains quit, I was able to draw some antifreeze into the raw water system using my nifty 'T' valve and spare hose. It took less than a minute. I put the end of the hose in the bottle. I threw the valve. I cranked the engine. The engine ran for about five seconds. The bottle was empty. I had antifreeze coming out the exhaust at the counter. Simple. I don't think I am going to worry about an oil change or adding Marvel Mystery Oil this year. The engine only ran for an hour and it still has a lot of MMO from last year's winterizing.

You can see in the picture all of the shavings from the bamboo plywood sole that is going in. I didn't have a chance to finish that up today. Its becoming a high priority item now though.

I also cleaned up and brought home all the extra lumber. I probably have enough to make a little workbench under the bow...

Monday, November 9, 2009 aka Tarps Direct

I have used Tarps Online aka Tarps Direct several times in the past six years and have always been quite pleased with their heavy duty silver tarps. I am pretty rough on the tarps and I get 2-3 years service out of each one. I know others that have been using their products for over 5 years and still going strong. So, needing a new tarp, I fully expected the new tarp to continue to impress me with its quality and longevity.

I ordered another 'heavy duty' silver tarp. Only time will tell but its not looking good.

This is a typical grommet. I mean typical in that they all look this bad. I didn't have to shop around for a provocative photo.

and another view

Sometimes the tarp makers had problems getting the grommets on the tarp.

The tarp is advertised as 'heavy duty' with grommets spaced 18 inches apart. Does this look like 18 inch spacing?

Can't read the numbers? How about now?

The spacing is highly irregular so tying two ends together is impossible since the grommets at each end don't line up at all.

I didn't have to wait long for my first tear. It came out of the package with a few holes already in the material.

Where the seams are glued together I can see lots of daylight. The seams look weak overall too.

Definitely no local craftsmanship here. I hope they made a good profit using overseas sweat shops, paying their slave wage earners a dollar a day. I hope they made a good profit because it is the very LAST profit they will ever see from me. / Tarps Direct is dead to me. You have been warned.

If I didn't have a schedule to keep I would have sent this piece of junk back. With winter weather fast approaching I don't have time to sort this out. I will happily spend twice as much for a REAL quality tarp the next time.

Okay, I feel slightly better now ;-)

Wrapping it up

The structure was up last weekend and this weekend was all about closing in the ends.

There was some concern from the yard staff about clearance from the road and conflicts with the snow plowing operations so I moved back the front frame about two feet. That leaves slightly less room up front but still plenty to work with and it makes the front more pointy which is probably a good thing since the boat faces in the direction of the highest winds (Northeast).

I ran a section of last year's strapping straight down from the front of the ridgepole and added a few pieces to hold it in position and give the tarp something to press against (and reduce some of the flailing).

Unlike last year I left the stern pretty flat. There are boats behind me to block the winds so I think I will be okay. The extra room under the boat is nice. I added some crossmembers at the stern to support the tarp too. They are only anchored by single screws at the ends which keeps the whole structure flexible. I don't want to create hardpoints anywhere.

Then I re-used a small tarp from a boat cover a few years ago and covered the stern end.

And then, with some help from a fellow boatyard neighbor, I pulled my brand new 40' x 30' heavy duty silver tarp and anchored it to the bottom framework. I will have more to say about that tarp in another posting.

I will left the tarp settle for a week and then tighten things up. I need to work on sorting out how I will get in and out too. Minor details.

And that is that. The boat is covered. This is boatcover version IV so we will see how this one works out. There is plenty of room inside. Full headroom at the foredeck and headroom and a half over the cockpit. The sides are tight but that is a restriction from the boatyard rules so I didn't have a choice there. A straight sided structure is the only way to improve that.

I have lots of dry storage room under the boat as well. Maybe I will even build in a workbench...

Now its time to get back to real boatwork. Winterize, finish that cabin sole installation, and then everything else.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

The truth.

Okay, I stole this from another blog that I read, sadly, there is a lot of truth to it.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Framing up

I almost titled this posting 'Erection Day' but that somehow seemed innappropriate.

I erected the boat cover this weekend. The ends need to be finished off and the tarp pulled over but that can wait for a less windy weekend.

Saturday I connected all the frames together. Then the wind piped up so I decided to put my energies somewhere other than struggle with 16 foot bows in the howling winds.

Sunday was not much better but the urgency to get this job done meant that the wind wasn't quite as bad as the day before.

Not too much to say. I tied a strap on the bow and from the deck pulled it upright. Then I slipped it over the ground frame which in most cases was stiff enough to walk away from for a minute. I had scrap sections of strapping that I used to temporarily hold the bows into position. I just went down the line erecting the bows.

The ridgepole is in three sections. I dropped the middle one in first and secured it to the bows and then attached the two ends. I had some metal fittings from an earlier experiment so I decided to use them to anchor the ridgepole to the bows.

There is plenty of headroom in the middle on deck. I can't walk around but that isn't going to happen without vertical walls which are too pricey to consider right now. Its definitely an improvement over previous years.

I have some room at the ends of the boat. I didn't taper the ends of the cover much this time so I would have more storage room at the ends. Not much in the middle but again, I had to limit myself to 12 feet of width and this is about as good as it gets at a boayard.

With the bows up I had to re-adjust the whole structure a bit to center it over the boat. It really doesn't weigh much and it was easy to horse around into position. I added a couple of extra lengths of strapping diagonally along the inside to stiffen up the structure. I have a few more lengths which I might use next week but I am holding off for now to see how the ends are going to tie off. The ends need to be somewhat pointy to take the winds. Not so much from the stern but the bow points directly northeast which is rather open so a pointy end on the bow will really help.

Amidships the bows are a bit tight. There was more springback than I had anticipated. I will either have to stretch them apart a bit (next week) and/or add some chafe protection at the rubrails. The bows rest only lightly on the rubrails but I expect the structure to move around all winter and chafe will definitely occur if I don't do anything about it.

That was it for this week. I am looking forward to finishing up the cover next weekend and perhaps taking a short break from boatwork. Then again, I am anxious to finish the cabin sole installation and get to work on the interior so we will see...

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Not quite there...

Saturday rained buckets so no boat work for me. (I want a shop!) I find it slightly ironic that I need to protect the boat from the weather but I can't because of the weather...

Sunday found my morning taken up with helping a friend load (one of) his antique tractor(s). I want a tractor.

Then I found that I needed more galvanized hardware to bolt the structure together (so that it can be taken apart someday without destruction). Hopefully, I will have better luck with the galvanized hardware this time. Last year, after six months of being outside, I found the galvanized hardware corroded to the point where it would not screw apart and had to be destroyed to take the cover down and transported home. Crossing my fingers but I don't have much faith. New hardware = $50. I also picked up 3 2x4's to form a new ridge pole. Last year I made a ridge pole from strapping with spacer blocks in between just like the bows. That didn't work too well. The ridge was too flexy and there wasn't enough meat to anchor to the bows effectively. This year I will have 2x4's which should be stout enough to hoist my engine out should I find the desire.

Anyway, a late start to real work.

First off I laid out the ground frame that I used last year. It all bolted together just like it was before. I had to make some adjustments because the boat is blocked lower this year. Or rather, it hasn't settled like it had over the two year haulout.

The frame gives the bows something to attach to on the bottom and the crossmembers keep the whole shebang from flying away. The cover wants to fly like an airplane wing when the wind starts blowing and the crossbars mean either the boat has to fly or the crossmembers have to break before the structure flies away (It can happen, I have seen pictures). It took some time to get the frame square and positioned correctly. I am working near my maximum permitted dimensions at the boatyard and I am trying not to go over the line and ruin my welcome. Boat projects are always distrusted in boatyards. Too many of them get abandoned leaving the yard crew to dispose of the mess.

Last week I had laid out and cut two bow ends to fit together.

The top spacer 2x3 was left long so that there would be enough to remove later.

Then I glued and screwed a gusset onto one frame and drilled holes for bolts on the other frame. I need to be able to take the bow halves apart so I can truck them home over the cab of my pickup.

With a pair of bows ready to go I did a test fit.

This one fits well. It looks like the bows are a little too straight so I don't think the bows will naturally straddle the boat at its widest point. I am going to have to tweek the bows a bit in the middle. Oh well.

Then I realized that I had to spend some time with the ridgepole before I could nail down the bow spacing. The 12 foot 2x4's are linked with a short piece bolted on the side. I knew I was going to roughly space the bows 3 feet apart but I needed to fudge it a bit to clear the double wide ridgepole at the joints.

Sadly, I wasn't able to erect the structure. I could have put up maybe half the bows but decided it would be more stable and productive to wait until I could do them all in one day. Each bow becomes half of a matched set and I didn't want to have half of them built and then forget which goes where. Better to do it all at once. It always takes longer than I expect to clean up and get all my tools and materials put away back home anyway.

Next week should be no problem. Unless the weather continues to challenge me...

Sunday, October 18, 2009

More winter cover building

I finished up building the bows yesterday and spent some time figuring out how I am going to tie them to each other and to the ridge pole. I had hoped I could find some hardware to save me time and make disassembly in the spring easier but in the end, plywood gussets were the way to go.

Today, (Sunday) is rainy and cold so I made the gussets with scrap plywood. Some of the pieces were from my old settee bottoms. I like recycling stuff.

Ho hum. Not very interesting. Next week I am all set to erect the structure and if I have money in my bank account I will order a new tarp for the new structure.

Way too much work for a simple winter cover but another project of mine is finding a piece of land to call home. Should I be succesful this structure will probably find other uses there as well. I can only hope.

Barn raising next weekend!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Making a bow

Making several actually.

I started the weekend with some material shopping.

I am right about $200 in materials so far which is about right for me. I seem to spend $200-300 every season on structure upgrades and new tarps every other year.

Then I had to spend some time laying out the profile for the shelter I have in mind. The bows I made last year were bent into position as I went along and by sorting through them I found one that would make a good form for the new bows. This design is based on what I have seen of Stimson sheds but the profile is different because I don't have the width to height ratio of a real Stimson shed available to me. My bows are relatively straight near the bottom and have more curve towards the top.

Using an old bow as a form I took one 16 foot piece of strapping and glued and screwed short blocks made from the 2x3's.

Once the single strap was clamped into position I glued and screwed the second piece into place which locks the curve into the bow.

I built two bows and then checked them to make sure the boat would fit under them.

and then I made fourteen more. The first few were exciting but the routine got pretty dull pretty quickly. I had hoped to get more built this weekend but a lack of enthusiasm and a lack of glue ended my work before the last few bows were made.

At the moment I have enough bows to space them about 4 feet apart. I think next weekend I will make a few more so that I can space them at something like 3 feet. Then I have to figure out how I am going to tie them together. I need to find a way to lock them together solidly but make them easy to break apart and truck home every spring.

Today, as I was thinking about this structure idea and how it has developed over the past few years I realized that it all started when I had no deck hardware to attach to. The self-supporting idea sprang up after I removed the stanchions and had nothing to attach a frame to.

This was my first cover and it worked quite well.

Later, I needed to keep the tarp off the hull so I added three bows per side to hold the tarp out with two stands on deck to support the ridge pole.

What I could have done this year is spend an hour mounting the stanchion bases (which I already drilled and filled for the mounting screws) and then attached a frame to the stanchion tubes again like most normal boat owners.

Oh well, at least this way I will have a nice roomy structure to play under all winter. I think I am satisfying my need to build stuff. My boat cover is my substitute 'shop' until I can find one of those. I dream of finding a bit of land where I can build more 'stuff'