Friday, April 29, 2016

Self-adhesive automotive trim as a rub rail

It's almost three years to the day now, since I started writing this blog. My, how much has changed since then.

At this point, most of the remaining work on the Utility is cosmetic. The major exception to that is the issue of a bilge pump. Or, if I dare to drill a hole through a perfectly good transom, a drain tube. We'll worry about that later.

I've got the edges of the deck trimmed and sanded. The fiberglass tape down the centerline of the deck has been sanded down considerably. The deck is waiting on another layer of epoxy, which I ordered today. It should be here in about a week.

In the meantime, tonight I attached the rub rail on the starboard side.

For the rub rail, I decided to use a self-adhesive automotive trim. I got the idea from another boatbuilder who built a splendid Glen-L Malahini. You can read his blog post by clicking here. He seemed to have good luck with this trim, and it seemed easy to use, so I decided to use the same thing.

The trim is 1" wide, self-adhesive with chrome finish. It is Protekto-Trim style 33-313, which I bought from R&E Paint Supply.

Here's how the trim works: you peel away short sections of the red backing tape, and press the trim into position. It couldn't be simpler. A blue protective tape covers the chrome finish. Once the trim is on, you simply pull the blue tape away.

Here's the rub rail attached to the starboard side. I used a mechanical pencil as a guide to position the rub rail slightly below the corner where the side planking meets the gunwale.

Unfortunately, before I fully appreciated the need to work in very short sections, I'd let some curves develop as I applied the moulding. The adhesive is very strong. You have to work in very short sections, and be careful not to let the adhesive make contact before you're ready.

Here, I'm removing the blue protective tape from the chrome. I did leave the blue tape on up forward, however, until I finish epoxy work on the deck. I still need to epoxy-coat the trimmed edges of the deck for moisture protection.

Lastly, here is a photo of a fitting goof I made at the deck beam. As you can see, the fitting leaves much to be desired. I'm sharing this, just in the hopes that it might somehow help you avoid the same mistake. 

When I had built the deck framing months ago, I used plywood strips to test the fairing of the deck framing and sheers. Everything seemed to be okay. A simple look underneath the framing when I had the deck simply clamped into position last week would have easily alerted me to this gap.

Fortunately the deck seems quite strong, now that it is attached.. It is supported along the sheers, the strongback (under the centerline of the deck), the forward frame, and the breasthook. So, this gap doesn't really present a structural weakness per se.... it's just not as strong as it could be.

I ordered a couple of empty caulking gun tubes along with my epoxy order today. I'll probably use those to inject enough thickened epoxy into this gap in order to improve the fitting somewhat.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Deck Attached

Well, I wanted a boat with a wooden deck, and now I have one. 

Finally, I've got the deck attached. It took all the epoxy I had left, but fortunately that was enough. 

I thickened the epoxy with #2 silica into a very thick paste, and applied it liberally to the deck framing and sheers. As the saying goes, "You never have enough clamps," and I certainly found this to be true once again. I had to get creative with the clamping.

Other than that, it was a pretty straightforward process. The deck is glued on with epoxy only — no screws. 

These are my two blocks of flotation foam, coated in 2 layers of epoxy and paint. These went in first.

Once the deck panel was on, I used every clamp I had available to bend it to the contours of the framing.

I had to get creative with the clamps. Several of them were daisy-chained together so they'd reach. When I ran out of bar clamps, I had to employ a couple of concrete blocks.

This view shows the forward panel that holds the flotation foam in place.

Clamps removed, and everything seems solid.

Much sanding and finishing remains to be done.

The curves on the ends of the deck panels were meant to cover the gussets on top of frame #2.

Shaping the transom side frame members for the Zip.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Completing the butt joint on the deck.

Underside of the deck, coated with 2 layers of epoxy.

In Glen L. Witt's book, Boatbuilding with Plywood, in the chapter on Plywood Planking... there is a full-page sidebar titled "Making Long Length Plywood Panels The Easy Way."

What it describes is a variation of a butt joint, used to join two panels of plywood. Instead of using a plywood butt block to overlap the joint, (held in place with thickened epoxy and screws), this variation simply uses a strip of fiberglass tape, wetted out with epoxy, to straddle the joint and hold the panels together.

The weakness of this joint is on the side without the fiberglass tape. In other words, the fiberglass tape can become nothing but a hinge if the panels are flexed in that direction. However, the book describes the joint as being adequately strong if flexed the other way.

(You can also add a second piece of fiberglass tape on the other side, to make the joint stronger. This is often referred to as a "Payson Joint," named after Harold "Dynamite" Payson.)

The simplified version described in Boatbuilding with Plywood is what I had in mind for the centerline seam on my deck. 

At first, I had planned to simply cut a strip of scrap fiberglass cloth to do the job. However, I didn't want to deal with all the frayed ends, which can create a real mess. So, I got a roll of 4 inch fiberglass tape. The edges are woven on fiberglass tape, making for a neater edge. The downside is that the woven edge is thicker than the rest of the cloth, and will need to be sanded away once the epoxy cures. Of course, the frayed ends would have to be sanded away, too.

Sanding. You can't escape it. This is boatbuilding, after all.

8 oz fiberglass tape (top) and 6 oz fiberglass cloth (bottom). Note the neater edges on the tape. The frayed edges on the cloth make a real mess.

Tape rolled out on the centerline seam.

Waiting for the epoxy to be rolled on.

I wetted the tape out with System Three Silvertip epoxy, and rolled it on with a thin foam NAP roller. I coated the whole deck, and meticulously squeegied it.

While waiting for the epoxy to cure, I attached the forward bulkhead panel.

After the epoxy cured
The fiberglass tape holds the seam together nicely as the panels are bent to conform to the crown.

Soon, I will be sanding down the edges to help blend the fiberglass into the finish. I may wait to do that until after the deck is attached.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Trailer wired. Deck stained. Boyhood daydreams.

Minn Kota Endura C2 electric trolling motor
When I was thirteen years old, I was really into fishing.

That summer, I was on a long road trip to Kansas City, Missouri. To pass the time while riding in the car, I'd brought along a fistful of fishing magazines. I poured over every page.... looking at photos of all the trophy fish I planned to catch one day, and of course, taking in all the boating advertisements — daydreaming about my ultimate fishing boat & all the stuff it would be decked out with.

That was how I learned about Minn Kota trolling motors.

These days, though my interest in boats has intensified considerably, I'm much less interested in fishing than I was then. However, over the years, every time I've run across the Minn Kota brand or trolling motors in general, it has reminded me of those thirteen year old daydreams... and about how I was going to one day deck out my fishing boat with a Minn Kota trolling motor.

Last week, I finally bought one.

These days, it's my daughter who is much more interested in fishing. Last week, I took her and her brother camping while they were on spring break. We planned to go to a state park with a sizable lake that prohibits gas motors. The park has plenty of aluminum jon boats available to rent. However, they do not provide any propulsion. Visitors to the park are encouraged to bring their own trolling motor and battery, or they can row the boats with the provided paddles.

Now... I've paddled a 14' jon boat loaded with two bored kids into a headwind on that lake before.

I'd prefer not to do it again.

So, I bought the cheapest trolling motor rig I could find, and away we went to the lake. The Endura C2 wasn't terribly expensive, and now I'll have it for our next camping trip.... as well as an alternate motor for Perseverance.

The Endura C2's 30 lbs of thrust was plenty sufficient to move 3 people in a 14' jon boat around on calm water. I believe it will work just as well, or better, as an alternate motor for the Utility.

Trailer rewiring completed.

I installed the Optronics submersible trailer wiring kit from Cabela's on the trailer. Installation was simple and straightforward, though the instructions were lacking somewhat for those of us who are unaccustomed to wiring. I used waterproof butt connectors and heat shrink tubing on the tail light connections, rather than the supplied wire nuts.

For the amber lights on the side, I used the supplied quick-connect splicing connectors... once I finally figured out what they were. They were not referenced, at all, in the instructions.

Finally, after enough internet searching, I figured out what this this is: a very easy-to-use quick-connector for splicing wires. The instructions didn't reference it at all. And NO, not all of us automatically know what this stuff is.

Deck stained.

I rolled a thin coat of epoxy over the deck, and squeegied it meticulously. The next step for the deck will be to add a strip of fiberglass cloth down the center, so that the seam will hold together when I attach the deck to the framing. The plywood will need to bend slightly to match the crown of the deck framing, and I want to reinforce the seam beforehand.

I used the leftover epoxy to encapsulate the mahogany tabs on the chines. 

...and one more thing:

Yes, I AM still working on the Zip, although at a much slower pace. I've drawn out the transom on a piece of Meranti plywood. I'm planning to construct the transom a little differently than how it's outlined in the plans.... but more on that later.

Zip transom drawn, waiting to be cut.

Current Status of Zip Parts
Stem & Breasthook AssemblyMost surfaces have 1 coat of epoxy
Frame 5-1/2Forward face has 2 layers of epoxy. Other surfaces have 1 layer.
Frame 4Side members cut, but have not been planed or notched for sheer.
Transom KneeCoated with 3 layers of epoxy
TransomSide frame members cut 1/4" oversized on outer side. Have not been planed. Transom drawn onto 1/4" BS1088 Meranti plywood.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Progress on the forward panel

The panel that will hold the flotation foam up forward will be removable. This way, no part of the hull will be sealed off or inaccessible for any future maintenance or repair issues that may arise.

First coat of epoxy for encapsulation.

First coat of paint.

Awaiting installation of the tabs.

The panel is cut from 1/4" Douglas Fir marine-grade plywood. For this particular application, exterior grade plywood would have sufficed... but as it was, I had enough of a scrap piece to fabricate the panel. So, why spend more money on a lesser material?

I encapsulated the panel with two coats of epoxy, for protection from moisture. I then painted it with two coats of System Three WR-LPU Whidbey White (left over from the hull paint job). 

The next step was to install tabs on the chines. The tabs will serve as attachment points for the bottom corners of the panel. I cut the tabs from scrap pieces of mahogany.

In order to prevent the possibility of epoxying the tabs to the panel, I removed the panel and wrapped the chine notches with waxed paper, taping the paper into place. I then clamped the panel back into position, with the thought that I'd clamp the tabs to the panel to hold them in position while the epoxy bonded them to the chines.

That didn't work. The location was simply too awkward to get the clamps into position adequately. 

So instead, I added a lot of silica to the epoxy mixture, to make it extremely thick. After coating the contact surface of the tabs with this very thick epoxy, I simply pressed them into position, and hoped they'd just stay there. 

It worked perfectly.

Epoxying the tabs into position.

Fortunately, the thickness of the epoxy mixture held the tabs in position while the epoxy cured.

Panel removed so I could remove the waxed paper.

VoilĂ . Attachment points for the bottom corners of the panel. This way I won't have to drive screws into the chines.