Monday, June 30, 2014

Shimmin' O' The Chines

It sounds like it could be the title of an Irish folk ballad... "Shimmin' O' The Chines." As many ballads go, the actual work has so far been a mixture of hope and tragedy.

Well, perhaps "tragedy" might be a bit of an overstatement. But, what was that I said in the last post? "Two steps forward, one step back?"

In any case, I'd made the shims by cutting a 14-inch piece of mahogany in half with a hand saw. Then I planed each half down to approximately 3/16" with a planer/jointer. I epoxied these into position along the low point in the port chine.

When I was planing down the overhanging edge, however, I wasn't paying enough attention to the angle at which I was holding my larger hand plane. Before I knew it, I'd inadvertently gouged the side planking. There's not much I can do about that now, other than fill the gouge in with epoxy. I guess it's a good thing I wasn't planning on a bright finish for the sides.
Mahogany shims for filling in that low spot along the port chine.

The overhanging edge faired away quickly, but you've gotta watch the angle on those larger hand planes.

A close-up of the gouge in the plywood.

Monday, June 23, 2014

All the bottom planking is fitted. However...

All the bottom planking is finally fitted.
Two steps forward and one step back. Technically, that is still progress. That’s also the current situation with the Utility as I try to finish up the bottom planking.

In a nutshell, the panels are all fitted, but there is a little more fairing work to be done. Back in March, I mentioned in a post that there appeared to be a low spot on the port chine. With the planking on, I can see that this problem is compounded by a second one: there is also a high point on frame #1.

These two photos show the "hook," or low spot in the planking caused by a high point on frame #1 and a low spot in the chine.

So, what needs to be done now?

I’ll have to remove the panels, and sand down that high point on the frame. I’ll also have to add some more wood to the chine to build up the low area. Then the panels can go back on to re-check the fitting.

Aside from that issue, there has been other progress. I cut away part of the sole support on the transom to make room for a drain tube. I have not decided yet for certain if I will add a drain tube or not. However, if I do, part of the sole support would need to be removed. That is much more easily done before the bottom planking is attached permanently. I cut away a section 1-3/4" wide, next to the port transom knee. That should allow enough room to install a 1" drain tube. A coping saw and a couple of chisels handled the job nicely.

1-3/4" of the sole support on the transom cut away to make room for a drain tube.


Monday, June 16, 2014

Bottom port forward is dry-fit.

On Father's Day, I finally completed dry-fitting the bottom planking on the forward port side of the boat. I'm very happy about that.

Port bottom planking, dry-fit with screws and washers.
The fitting started off wonderfully at the aft end, where the planking joins along the centerline of the keel. By the time I finished at the bow, however, there were some spots where the fitting was not as good as I'd hoped. These spots can be filled with thickened epoxy, of course. Still, I wish the fitting had been better.

About midway along the keel, there is an open seam approximately 18 inches long, and about 5/32" at its widest point. There was also supposed to have been a transition joint just forward of the end of the keel. I did not pre-plan for this, and as a result, I kind of messed it up a little bit. 

5/32" gap along the centerline of the keel.

The missed transition joint.

In retrospect, I think both of these mistakes could have been avoided if I had overlapped the planking along the centerline of the keel, and trimmed the whole length to fit as I went.

There is another small gap between the bottom planking and the side planking at the stem. 

Another small gap up forward.
My plan is to use epoxy thickened with mahogany sawdust (ie: Wood Flour) when I glue this panel on. From what I've encountered so far, this mixture seems to absorb impact better than epoxy thickened with #2 silica (which seems more brittle). The thickened mixture will fill in these gaps, and I believe that in the end it will all be just fine.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Completion of starboard bottom.

June is upon us once again. I have now been working on my Glen-L Utility for just over two years. A good two years it’s been, too. The little boat and I have both come a long way, in many regards.

I’ve just completed planking the full length of the starboard bottom. It’s neat to think that a year ago, I was installing the sheers.

I should be able to start dry-fitting the forward port bottom this week. My goal is to have the boat fully-planked by the end of the month.

As always, time will tell...

This is what the boat looked like 1 year ago. The sheers had just been installed, and fairing had not yet begun.

Butt blocks for plywood butt joint
Initial fitting of the butt blocks.

Butt blocks dry-fit with screws.

Butt blocks for plywood butt joint
Butt blocks epoxied, screwed & clamped into place. Putty knife at the ready.

Epoxy squeeze-out like this will create a fitting nightmare if you let it cure this way.

That's what the putty knife is for. Scrape it away before it cures.

Aft section battens & butt blocks drilled & ready-to-go.

Aft panel drilled & ready-to-go.

Starboard bottom, fully planked.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Look at the bright side. It could’ve been worse.

The first bottom planking panel is on. 1 down, 3 to go. That is the good news, and that is the main point.

Getting there, however, didn’t go quite as smoothly as I’d hoped.

It was a Sunday night, and the pre-fitted panel was off of the boat. Before it got too late, I figured I’d go ahead and glue it down. After all, I would really like to get this boat in the water this year.

One small step was in the way: I still needed to finish encapsulating 3 limbers on frame #1. That takes a different type of epoxy than the stuff needed for gluing. No problem. I had 3 mixing containers.

Ominous foreshadowing #1: Not wanting to waste time, I’d only cleaned two of the three mixing cups.

The encapsulation part went fine. Just a few ounces of System 3 SilverTip. Quick and easy. On to mixing the GelMagic epoxy for gluing.

That went fine, too. That is, until I spread the last of it onto the final remaining inches of the boat frame, realizing as I did so that I had no epoxy left to spread onto the plywood.

Best practice is to coat both mating surfaces. Best practice is to use a clean mixing cup for each batch of epoxy. Now, I had one cup with still-curing SilverTip, one cup I didn’t bother to clean, and the last cup which I had just used.

Since the epoxy on the boat would start kicking off at any minute, I had to make a split-second decision: Either mix more GelMagic in one of the dirty cups, or hope what I’d put on the framework was enough on its own. With best practice being to coat both surfaces, I hurriedly scraped out the GelMagic cup as best I could & hoped there wouldn’t be a problem mixing more in it.

I quickly poured in about the same amount of resin. (That is, as “quickly” as one can “pour” GelMagic.)

I calculated the amount of hardener needed, quickly grabbed the bottle, opened it & upturned it....

...which is when I quickly found out I’d added the wrong hardener. GelMagic hardener is amber in color, and very viscous. This stuff was clear and flowed like water. It was the SilverTip hardener, not the GelMagic, and now I’d just wasted both.

I calmly murmured a string of socially-acceptable phrases, and pondered my next move.

I had more epoxy, but the last remaining mixing cup was full of junk. It still had hardened clumps of SilverTip thickened with mahogany sawdust clinging tenaciously to its inner walls. There was no time to clean it.

So, I made another rush decision & decided to use it. The clumps started breaking free as I mixed the batch of GelMagic. I picked them out as best I could as I spread the epoxy onto the plywood. That in itself added more time to an already urgent task.

It takes a long time to hand-drive 97 screws. It takes longer when you’re having to bend plywood against its will in the process. It took long enough, in fact, that by the time I drove the last screw into place the epoxy was so viscous I could barely manage scraping it with the putty knife. It was also late by this point. I was tired and exhausted.

I was so tired, in fact, that I forgot something very important. I forgot to reach underneath the planking and scrape away epoxy along the battens, where I will need to fit the butt blocks for joining the planking panels. Ugh...

Chipping away at THAT for the last 3 days has been fun, I assure you.

Oh well. The first bottom panel is on, and it is on solidly. That is the good news, and that is the main point.  

With the forward panel removed, this is how I marked the lines to cut butt blocks from a scrap of plywood.

The Utility's framework & the Zip's stem assembly.

First bottom panel epoxied on.

Fitting at the stem.

Transition joint.

My daughter's Hello Kitty mirror was a huge help in chipping away at that epoxy.