Sunday, September 24, 2017

The new prop. Hmmm.... we're getting there.

Bear with me as I wax sentimental for a moment.

The photo may be nothing remarkable, but it's a view I worked and waited a long, long time to have:

Idling past the floating cabins at Hales Bar Marina in my Glen-L Utility.

Yes, I know I've had my boat in the water for two years now. Still, the value of keeping this kind of thing in perspective helps a person appreciate where they've come from in more ways than one. Six years ago, I took my very first ride in a handmade boat... a Glen-L Zip, at the fifth annual Glen-L Boatbuilder's Gathering. My dream of building a boat of my own was born.

This was the view when I took my very first ride in a hand-made boat 6 years ago... taxiing past a variety of docked hand-made boats and floating cabins in the shadow of the old Hales Bar Dam.

Last year, at the 10th annual gathering, I was giving rides in my own fully-completed boat, humble though it may be. I was giving rides to other people who were working toward their dream of building their own boat.

Last weekend was the 11th annual gathering, and last year's dreamers were now giving me rides in their boats. What a great experience.

Hey... if you're dreaming about building your own boat, quit procrastinating, and just do it. Get started, and no matter how long it takes, (or how little)... don't give up. Inboard, outboard, sailboat, rowboat, canoe, whatever.... you can do it. If I can build a boat, anybody can. Trust me. Quit procrastinating, and just do it.

Moving on....

G11 was a beekeeper's dream. Bees, bees, bees everywhere. In your face, investigating your coffee, following you halfway across the river. Everywhere.

Aside from that, there were some amazing, beautiful boats there. There was a group of great people who built them... people who have become friends, and who are becoming new ones.

But, I'm sure you're just dying to know how my new propeller worked. 

Well... not bad, but still not enough to accomplish the desired goal of planing with two adults aboard. 

Let me say that, if you're going to build a Glen-L Utility, and you're going to use a 4-stroke motor... get a 9.9hp. "Eight is great," or perhaps I should say "Eight is Enough" if you'll be the only person in the boat. Two people? Get the 9.9.

With just me in the boat, I found that the 6" pitch prop got the boat on plane at lower rpms than the 7" pitch. I did not attach a Tiny Tach to the motor this time. However, when I finally dared to run the motor at full-throttle, it did not seem to over-rev. Not a rocket. But, stable, safe.. and on-plane.

With myself and either of my kids aboard, the 6" pitch just didn't do the trick. Tohatsu makes a couple of 5" pitch props for this motor, so next I will try one of those... probably the 4-blade. We'll see what happens.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

New prop

At the G10 boatbuilders gathering last year, I got to learn a little about prop pitch from a more experienced boater. 

We came to the conclusion that a propeller with a lower pitch might help my boat perform better with two adults aboard. The lower pitch should allow higher rpms and more thrust, hopefully getting the boat to plane with a heavier load.

Last spring, during maintenance on the motor, I more-or-less deduced that the "F7" marking on the prop probably indicated the 7" pitch original prop that comes as standard equipment on Tohatsu-Nissan 8hp motors.

So, not long ago, I ordered a 3-blade, 6" pitch propeller from Tohatsu. Today, after a trip to the lake, I put it on the motor. It fit like a charm. Next weekend, weather permitting, I should be able to test it at G11.

Original prop, with its glossy black finish

"F7" marking on the original prop

New-in-the-box Tohatsu 6" prop

The new prop has a matte finish, and flattened tips on the blades

Unlike the original prop, this one is clearly marked with diameter and pitch

New prop attached to the motor. The matte finish contrasts with the glossy finish of the motor.

Monday, September 4, 2017

On the road again...

Replacing the axle turned out to be incredibly easy.

I ordered a Karavan axle that had specs very similar to my old axle. The old one was round, mounted underneath the leaf springs, and was 56 inches long end-to-end with 42-inch spring centers. The new axle is 1 inch longer, with 42-1/4" spring centers.

Luckily for me, it was an easy drop-in fit.

New axle, mounted on top of the leaf springs.

New wheels attached.

The new axle came with 5-bolt hubs attached. Academy Sports was great about letting me return the 4-bolt hub kit and wheel I'd bought, and exchange them for a pair of 5-hole wheels / tires and a couple sets of lug nuts. The whole thing went on very easily. 

I mounted the new axle on top of the leaf springs, since this is how I'd seen it done in numerous YouTube videos. It was also the easiest way, being a one-man operation. I used new mounting hardware for the axle, tightened everything up, lowered the trailer, and tightened the lug nuts some more. Done.

A little repair to the hull

The last time I was at the lake, I got the boat askew as it floated back onto the trailer. The bow came alongside the front roller of the trailer, and the cotter pin at the end of the roller axle scratched through the paint in the hull. The damage was minimal, but still noticeable, leaving a scar at the bow, just under the chine. Thankfully, it didn't seem to go through the layers of epoxy and fiberglass, though a little wood was visible.

To repair it, I simply sanded the area around the blemish, applied two coats of primer, and 3 coats of paint. 

Now, barring any unforeseen problems, trailer is roadworthy and the boat is ready for G11.

Primer, applied over the sanded blemish.

The first coat of paint, drying.

With the first coat of paint dry, the primer underneath was still visible.

Third coat of paint.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Routine trailer repair keeps getting more expensive

As I was cleaning the grease off of the first spindle, I began to get the feeling that something was not quite right. Now, I'm no expert on trailers... but it would seem to me that a spindle should be round.

First hub off the axle
Cleaning grease off the spindle
This one wasn't. It had a substantial gouge cut into the underside surface. Actually, it had a couple.

I briefly considered just attaching the new hub and wheel anyway, and hoping for the best. I'd already bought them, after all.

Damaged spindle

Additional damage to the axle
However, I decided not to. I spent too much time building this boat to risk it. So, after some online searching, I finally found an axle that would fit the dimensions of my old trailer. I ordered it yesterday, along with new mounting hardware. There goes another $185. Better safe than sorry, I suppose. 

I'll also have to see about returning the hub and wheel I bought, and exchanging them for new wheels. These have a 4-hole pattern, and the new axle comes with pre-attached 5-bolt hubs. Hopefully I can get all this wrapped up in time for the G11 boatbuilders gathering in 3 weeks.

In other news, I got the first encapsulation layer of epoxy on the newly-widened stem for the Zip. I had enough epoxy left over that I also encapsulated the aft face of Frame #2.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

The Tedious Tale of Zip Frame #2 — part seven


Structurally speaking, at least, Frame #2 is now complete.

All that remained to be done was to glue and screw the remaining pieces together, add bungs to the 2 countersunk holes, and grind off the tip of the screw that protrudes all the way through the starboard side.

Bung, cut and sanded on the port side.

The tip of the protruding screw on the starboard side sanded away easily.

I also filled in a couple of remaining gaps between the floor member and one of the lower shims I installed a while back.

I also wanted to encapsulate the aft surface of the deck beam, to get an idea for how the mahogany would look when finished. For this reason, I split my mixture of epoxy into two separate cups... one to thicken with wood dust, and the other "clean" for the encapsulating coat.

Once I had it all put together, I found I had way too much thickened epoxy left over, and nowhere near enough clean epoxy to finish the job. Most of the clean epoxy was immediately absorbed by the foam roller I was using.

Yet, I had already started, and I couldn't stand the idea of leaving it partially undone. So, not to waste the remaining thickened epoxy... I used it to encapsulate. Naturally, that created quite a mess. The mahogany wood dust had also colored the epoxy, making it double as a sort of stain. Still, I smeared it on, and meticulously scraped away the thickened mess with a putty knife. All things considered, I think the result looks pretty good. The mahogany wood dust gives the epoxy a deep, "smoky," appearance.

The epoxy "stained" and encapsulated aft surface of the deck beam.

Contrast between the deck beam and the meranti plywood gusset.

The epoxy "stained" and encapsulated aft surface of the deck beam.

So, from the time I started on this frame back in December, it has indeed been a "Tedious Tale." I'm happy to be done with this part, and ready to move on to the next.

Monday, August 14, 2017

The Tedious Tale of Zip Frame #2 — part six

I had been hoping to draw The Tedious Tale of Zip Frame #2 to a close this last weekend.

Almost. But, not quite.

After a seemingly unending amount of sanding, I finally got the deck beam to a point where I was ready to attach it to the rest of the frame. So, I drew, cut and sanded the pair of gussets, and laid out the parts on my construction drawing for fit & alignment.

The parts all laid out on my construction drawing.

The all-important centerline.

The all-important centerline

Making sure all the parts are arranged and aligned as accurately as possible.

With all that done, I marked one of the plywood gussets for the first set of holes to be drilled. Then, for the sake of symmetry, I aligned the gussets and drilled them both on my drill press.

With the gussets aligned and clamped back onto the vertical members of the frame, I drilled through them once again, into the mahogany.

Once the gussets were attached, I flipped the whole thing over, and realigned the whole thing once again on the drawing. Then I drilled and screwed the deck beam onto the gussets.

The last part of the process was to drill for the longer 1-3/4" screws to go through both overlapping pieces of mahogany. There isn't a lot of room on that lap joint for driving screws, so I only had space for one per side. On the starboard side, I accidentally drilled all the way through the wood.

After drilling for the #8 screws, I countersunk the holes with a 3/8" bit. I have to be very careful with this drill bit. It's quite aggressive, and when it bites into the wood, it'll go through it like butter.

Once those two last screws were driven in, the whole frame was officially dry-fit. By this time, however, it was almost 10:00 pm. So, the epoxy will have to wait for another day.

Zip Frame #2, all successfully dry-fit.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Trailer Parked

My summer boating activities quickly ground to a halt with that grinding sound coming from the trailer. Sure enough, the bearings are shot. 

One of the tires is also a picture-perfect example of dry rot.

So for now, the trailer is up on cinderblocks with the wheels removed, waiting for me to install new bearings & tires.

Not that there aren't other things to do.

I've been sanding away on the deck beams for frames 2 and 4.

Sanding away on the deck beam for frame #2. Note the big freezer bag full of mahogany wood dust.

In addition to those beams, at some point I will also need secondary deck beams to form the aft sections of both cockpits. I had considered laminating a couple of big scrap pieces from my last mahogany board, so that I'd have a board wide enough for one of these additional beams.

Scraps clamped together for a (hopefully) even run across the planer.

It would probably work.

I clamped them together and ran them over my planer to make good mating surfaces. The result looks like it would work.... however, I've changed my mind. The seam would go right down the middle of the deck beam, potentially making weak points in the arcs at either end.

Think I'll just wait.
Hmmm. Yeah, maybe not.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

The Slow Saga of Zip Frame #4 — part seven

Finally, I bought a new 14' board of 4/4 African Mahogany to make the deck beams for frames 2 and 4. I cut the beam for frame 2 first, since it's less of a focal point than frame 4 (aka: the dashboard).

I wanted to take my time and make sure I got the dash right.

To start with, I simply traced the crown of the beam from the plans onto the remaining 7' rough-cut mahogany. The shape, as drawn on the full-size plans, would be too narrow to accommodate what I have planned for the dash layout.

On the centerline, I marked the span at 6" and 6-1/4". The dash beam needs to be tall enough to accommodate a 5 x 10" oval in the center, for the instrument panel. It also needs to be tall enough to accommodate the 5" diameter bezel for the steering wheel, at the point halfway between the centerline and the sheer.

Marking the 6" and 6-1/4" span on the centerline.
For the shape of the dash, I decided to simply trace the lower line from the deck beam of frame #2. I aligned the frame 2 deck beam onto the centerline drawn for the dash, with the bottom aligned with the 6" mark.

Aligning the #2 deck beam on the centerline for the dash.
Then I traced the lower line. However, when I measured the beam height at the location for the steering wheel bezel, it was too short. So, I moved the beam down to the 6-1/4" mark, and traced the line again.

Tracing the lower shape of the frame 2 deck beam.
This time, there was an adequate span for the steering wheel bezel.

Measuring the span for the steering wheel bezel.
Below is the layout that I have planned for the dash. I want a basic, minimalist instrument cluster mounted in an inlay at the center. The inlay will be a complimentary, contrasting wood... probably maple. The gauges will be a 4" tachometer in the middle, surrounded by a 2" depth gauge and 2" volt meter on the sides. Pull switches for the lights will be centered along the bottom, in-between the gauges. On the other side of the steering wheel will be a small panel switch for the bilge pump.

That's the plan for now, anyway.

The inspiration came from this inlaid dashboard on a Glen-L Malahini that I got to ride in at the 2012 Glen-L Boatbuilders Gathering. When I saw it, I knew that I wanted to do something similar.

What a view!

At the moment, my dash looks like this:

Saturday, July 22, 2017

The Tedious Tale of Zip Frame #2 — part five

It was a quiet Saturday morning in late July. My boy was asleep, enjoying the peace of his sister being away at a friend's house. It was, after all, one of the last weekends of summer, before starting a new year of school. 

The sunrise was slowly filling his room with a luminescent yellow glow. All was quiet and still.

It's a perfect set-up for the tranquility to be shattered by the sound of a lawnmower, or a neighbor's weed-eater, right?

Not exactly.

The tranquility was shattered when I started the saw. Its blade caught the dense grain of the heavy mahogany board, kicking the saw back and slamming the board down onto the slab of plywood it was clamped to. The plywood was clamped to a pair of sawhorses, several feet above the concrete floor. Concrete floor. Cinderblock walls...

The acoustics were perfect.

I pressed the saw back into the board with more determination, and the fight between me and the mahogany was on. The sound was like a booming symphony of drums at a rock concert... only less rhythmic. And for a sleeping teenage boy, far less pleasant.

What did I care? I had ear protection.

I was determined. After all, within this expensive chunk of wood lay the deck beam for frame #2, which hadn't been touched since February.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Grey Area

I almost titled this post "Fifty Coats of Grey," due to all the sanding and re-coating I've been doing. But, I decided not to. Maybe next time.

Work continues, slowly, on the Zip. I have been applying Aquagard 190 primer to the transom knee and frame #5-1/2.

Frame #5-1/2 with notches cut, poster board template, and my modified 2"-wide transom knee.

When I originally constructed frame #5-1/2, I had intentionally left the notches for the sheer and chines uncut. Some builders prefer to only notch the frames once they are all mounted on the construction form, and the longitudinals are sprung.

I decided that those people are better woodworkers than I am. I also decided that, since the Zip has been a popular boat to build ever since it was introduced 63 years ago, in 1954, that the notch locations shown on the plans are probably accurate enough. In all that time, there don't seem to be many well-documented complaints. Good enough for me.

I have already cut these notches in the other frames and the transom. To "retro-fit" them into frame 5-1/2, I drew a template from the plans onto a piece of poster board. Then I simply placed the template on the frame, marked, and cut.

The floor batten notches remain uncut on all frames, however. I still have not decided if I will use 3 per side, or only 2.

Tucked away on one of the plan sheets is this statement where Glen mentions the option of using 3 floor battens on each side of the keel.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Revisiting the stem

Work has slowed considerably on the Zip. There are a couple of reasons for that:

The first and best reason is that I finally have a completed boat to play with. Now that the weather is warmer, I'd simply rather spend my time out on the lake in the Utility than cooped up in the garage working on the Zip.

The other reason basically comes down to planning. Every little piece and component is interconnected on a boat. For example, the shape of the dash beam depends on the layout of the gauges and switches. The layout depends on what gauges and switches I want to use.

Then, comes the question of a motor. 

If I get a 40 or 50 horsepower motor for this boat, my budget will basically demand a used 2-stroke motor. Here's the problem with that: I'd prefer not to use an old 2-stroke motor. Call it my inner tree-hugger. I'd rather have a cleaner-operating Evinrude E-TEC or a 4-stroke motor. And, you guessed it... those are just too expensive.

If I get a new motor, then my budget basically limits me to 20 or 25 hp. So, it's a matter of compromising either emissions, or power. For a lot of people, that's a no-brainer. Prioritize power. I get that. I do. 

However, power and speed isn't all that important to me. On the other hand, I don't want to invest all this time and work to wind up with an under-performing boat, either. So, if I opt for a 20–25hp motor, that decision will affect the length of the boat. The shorter "version" of the Glen-L Zip is called the "Flying Saucer." It's designed at 12' 3" and has a maximum horsepower rating of 25. 

And so there you have it: progress has been stalled by having to make decisions (and/or purchases) regarding instrumentation and power. What to do in the meantime?

Why not work on the stem?

If you read much about either the Zip or the Flying Saucer, you'll find a lot of comments about the boats' tendency to be light in the bow. Most builders look for ways to shift some weight forward, in order to keep the bow down. A popular choice is to mount the fuel tank up front, and I'll probably do that.

But, I decided to also add some bulk to the stem. 

As-designed, the stem is 1-1/2" wide (2 laminations of 3/4" plywood). I added additional 1/4" pieces to the sides, increasing the width to 2 inches (which is also what I did with the transom knee). I had to leave a 1-1/2" channel for frame 5-1/2 to fit into, because I did not want to widen the notch in the frame.

Here, you can see the 2 additional layers of 1/4" plywood attached to sides of the stem, forward of frame #5-1/2.
This photo shows how frame #5-1/2 fits onto the stem.

Here, I have clamped a scrap piece of 1/4" plywood onto the side of the stem, aft of frame #5-1/2. This allowed me to simply trace the shape of the stem onto the new parts, making sure to leave enough of a "channel" for frame #5-1/2 to fit into, without widening its' notch (and weakening the frame unnecessarily).

As I worked on the stem, I noticed that the breasthook was not accurately perpendicular to the stem. So, I also added a tapered piece to the top of the breasthook to correct it. This should help when the frames are all on the building form, and it's time to mount the stem into place.

Something just didn't seem right about the breasthook. So, I put the whole assembly in my vice and made sure it was level laterally.

Then, I made sure the breasthook was level, linearly.

The moment of truth. Checking the breasthook laterally, it was clearly nowhere close to perpendicular to the stem.

I found that the breasthook "dropped" almost 5/8" from tip-to-tip.
To resolve the issue, I made a shim by laminating 3 pieces of 1/4" plywood together: One full-width piece, one half-width piece, and one quarter-width piece. I faired it with a belt sander and a finish sander.

The shim worked within reason, so I epoxied it into place.