Sunday, March 20, 2016

Gluing the deck panels together

The way the Utility deck is designed, and the way I've most often seen it built, is to have a center strip of wood that covers the seam between the port panel and the starboard panel.

That's not the way I wanted mine.

I wanted the deck surface to be completely continuous, interrupted only by whatever hardware I opt to install on it. (In my case, that will be one cleat in the center of the deck, and two chocks for the dock line.) I want it to look, as much as possible, like it is made from one continuous piece of plywood.

That is why I chose the most complementary grain patterns as I could. I also intentionally used the plywood panel's own straight edge as the centerline of the deck, so that the seam would be as straight and invisible as possible.

To attach them together, I simply used epoxy thickened with #2 silica from Glen-L to coat the inner surfaces of the seam. I placed the panels over waxed paper to avoid gluing them to my work surface. After coating the inner surfaces, I simply pressed the panels together and scraped away the epoxy squeeze out. To hold the panels in position, I used my Raptor compression stapler to drive their plastic staples, straddling the seam. 

After the epoxy cured, I simply snipped away the exposed parts of the staples. The rest will easily sand away to near-invisibility. I've used these staples on several parts of my boat, to hold plywood parts together while epoxy cures... most notably on the transom. These staples fulfill their role beautifully and are almost impossible to see in the finished brightwork.

Deck Panels epoxied together.

Plastic Raptor staples holding two deck panels in position while epoxy cures
Raptor staples, straddling the deck seam to hold the panels in position.

Here are my two blocks of flotation foam from the previous post.

If you MUST know.... Yes. I did staple the deck panels onto my 3/4" plywood work surface. Of course I did. Still, it was easy enough to remove. I just gently worked my fingers under the free ends of the panels so that I could lift the deck while putting minimal strain on the seam, and it easily popped right out.

Thank God for the waxed paper.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Pouring the flotation foam

Focusing back on the matter of flotation foam... I received my shipment of the stuff this afternoon. I'd ordered a 2qt set: 1 quart of resin, and 1 quart of activator. Naturally, I just had to pour it as soon as possible.

ALL of it.

I found a box that is approximately the size of the largest block of foam that I'd like to place under the deck. For ease of removal, I lined the box with a big garbage bag & used that as a primary mould.

The flotation foam is a two-part mixture, mixed in a 1:1 ratio of resin and activator. I measured and poured a 1/2 liter of each into a plastic garbage can & quickly mixed the two together with a stick. Then, I poured the mixture into my box mould.

I waited a few seconds for the foam to expand, knowing I had less than a minute of "workable" time with the stuff. It didn't seem to be expanding rapidly enough for my tastes, so I quickly started pouring a second batch.

As you might guess... yes, that was a mistake. Just as I began pouring the activator into my measuring cup, the original mixture had expanded to fill about 75% of the box mould, and was still going.

By that point, it was too late to turn back on the second batch. So, I mixed it as before, and left it in the plastic garbage can to expand. The result was kind of amusing... looking like a gigantic, ill-formed muffin.

Earlier in the week, my son & I installed a trailer wiring harness onto the car. It was a very simple, "plug-in" harness that I'd gotten for my birthday. Next step for the trailer is to install a new light kit that I bought at Cabela's. 

Soon, I hope to be towing the boat back to the lake.

The connector for my new trailer wiring harness.... ready & waiting for the trailer.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Cutting the deck panels.

I've waited a long, long time to do this.

It may sound cheesy.... but then again, maybe not. I'll tell you what kickstarted my interest in classic wood motorboats: Initially, it was the Venice boat chase scene in Indiana Jones & The Last Crusade. I was immediately taken by the beautiful wood decks on those boats (I believe they used triple-cockpit Hacker Crafts for the movie.) 

A classic venetian limousine, docked on a quiet Sunday afternoon in 1998 on Italy's Lago d'Orta. This particular boat was likely made by Cantiere de Pellegrini Elio in Venezia.

About 10 years later, I found myself in the lake district of northern Italy. My fascination with these boats was rekindled as I stepped aboard any of several handmade mahogany "limousines" driven by the motoscafisiti in the little town where I was staying.

In each case, it was the wooden deck that so easily captured my imagination.

And so, for as long as I've been building my little boat, I have anxiously awaited the day I'd start working on my own wood deck.

A few days ago, I drew and cut my first poster board template for the deck panel on the port side. When I flipped the template over to check the fit on the starboard side, I quickly realized that the sides were not perfectly symmetrical. So, I drew and cut a second template for the starboard side.

Starboard & port deck panel templates.

I'll be adding a slight curvature (based on the sheer curve) on the ends of each panel.

With the panel templates cut, the next step was to draw them onto my last remaining full sheet of Meranti. I tried to choose areas where the grain along the centerline would match relatively well. But first, I had to pull the boat out of the garage so I'd have enough room to move the 4' x 8' sheet of plywood around.

Perseverance sees the light of day for the first time since September.

Laying the templates out on the last full sheet of Meranti.

After the first few rough cuts, I placed the panels side-by-side & was pretty happy with the look of the grain.

Both panels cut.

The next step for the deck will be to epoxy the two panels together.