Robert's Florida Boatyard
Day 1- Plans Arrived! Managed to get out the Stem and Sternpost from a leftover piece of a Western Red Cedar 4x4 I had left over from another project. Western Red Cedar dust is awful; makes you sneeze something terrible. When I was resawing the 4x4 to get the requisite 2" thickness before beveling, I managed to flip the over the piece of wood wrong way on my table saw for the second through cut. This caused me to end up with two beautiful pieces of wood less than 2" thick. Went ahead and beveled them per plan. Looks like all I lost was a bit of gluing surface anyway.
Day 2- Let the purchasing begin! After a visit to Home Depot, I decided that I just couldn't bring myself to use wood that bad on my boat. Phil B. and Payson always talk about their use of "house lumber" as the basis for the instant boats. Well, in Florida most houses are built of concrete block. After a few phone calls I found a local lumberyard, Cox Lumber, that seemed to be OK. It took me back to my childhood to actually buy lumber like this. They had good looking #1 fir 2x4s and 1x4s; I ended up with 2 18' 2x4s for gunwale stock, 1 16' 2x4 for chine logs and 2 16' 1x4s for stock to build a "bird's mouth" hollow mast as described in WoodenBoat #149. Total cost was a cool $159.00 with tax. Hey, this was supposed to be a cheap boat, right?
Day 3- After a brief hiatus (during which I ordered mucho little stuff from Jamestown Distributors and Harbor Freight), I began looking around at epoxy. I can get West System locally at West Marine, but HOLY COW! at the cost. Found Fiber Glass Coatings Inc., a local supplier with their own epoxy formulations. Several folks on the egroups Bolger list had good experiences to share, and hey they're local. Cost was about 1/2 of the West System products. I ended up with 8 yds. Of 60 in., 6 oz. Fiberglass cloth, 1.5 gallons of 2:1 Epoxy and Hardener, misc. materials like cups, 36 grit sandpaper etc. for $120.00 including tax. Not bad. I also purchased a 2 pint kit of their prethickened 1:1 Superbond epoxy adhesive. Why go through the hassle of mixing your own? Anyway, at the price, I figured I could give it a try. Very helpful people and a really neat store.
Day 4- On the same weekend, I journeyed to Home Depot for the plywood purchase. Cox lumber was significantly more expensive on their plywood. The reason must be that their plywood comes from a better mill. I had decided that if I was going to use Exterior grade plywood, I might as well go with B/C pine. Fir is lighter, but I wasn't that concerned about weight as this boat is too big to carry on anything but a trailer. Also, the C side of the fir was absolutely horrible looking. As a southerner, I don't think I've ever bought anything other than yellow pine plywood. I bought 3 sheets of 1/4 in at $12.00 per sheet and two sheets of 1/2 in at $19.00 per sheet. While the plans show you can make the whole boat out of 4 sheets of 1/4, I wanted a substantial bottom for 200 lb+ physique.
Day 5- Managed to scam enough time to get out the sides on my table saw. The sheet diagrams show the sides as 16in high and you get 3 cuts per piece of plywood. Uh, Phil, where do the saw kerfs come into play? I managed to get all the pieces close to the same width, nothing that a judicious hand plane or belt sander can't even out. Each side is made up of three pieces, an afterside, forward side and middle side. Making sure out is out and in is in when lining everything up was like a rubics cube. Layed out all the lines per the plan and cut out plywood buttstraps. Decided after much pondering to make the buttstraps just like Payson does, with Weldwood Glue and copper tacks (7/8). What a disaster. Payson builds with Fir plywood, which is softer than Yellow Pine. Those stupid soft copper tacks kept rolling up on me. After I finished the job and rolled over the pieces, I found that only about half the driven tacks made it through both the sides and the buttstraps. Some went through the buttstrap but must have rolled up before penetrating the outer ply of the the sides. After flowing in some PL Polyurethane glue at some spots that didn't make contact, and clamping, the sides look OK. I'll plan to add a layer of glass and epoxy to the outside. On top of everything else, the wax paper I stuck under the straps stuck to the plywood. Will have to sand off the little stuck pieces.
Day 6- I should probably say "night 6"; Managed to sand off all the stuck wax paper. This hollowed the outsides so I decided to do my first epoxy related work. I very carefully mixed 2 oz resin to 1 oz hardener. The epoxy flowed on and set up just right, so maybe I can work with the stuff. Since this was sort of experimental, I only did one side tonight.
Day 7- Finished off the three temporary molds that the sides are fastened around. Pretty easy except I managed to attach the 1 1/2 x 3/4 beveled strips to the forward mold facing the wrong way. Of course the glue had set. Since these are temporary molds, I sent them back trough the table saw and beveled the pieces the correct way. Its not pretty, but it should work. Since one side had epoxy only on the outside seam, I decided to do the other with a strip of glass cloth (not tape). I carefully wet out the glass, then placed wax paper and a paverblock on top to feather and smooth the joint. I picked up the block after about five hours. Anyone reading carefully noted that I did not put a smooth piece of plywood down before adding the paverblock, which was rough finished. Yep, I got some interesting designs in the cured epoxy/glass. On top of this the wax paper stuck to one of the joints. That's it for the wax paper, I've banished it from the workbench. I'll have to go to Home Depot and get some polyethylene. While the epoxy was mixed up, I coated the stem and sternposts with epoxy; the redwood looks beatutiful with a coat of epoxy, wish I had some of this wood for the gunwales. On an up note the glass/epoxy joint cured perfect and really makes a strong bond. Laying on lots of epoxy and then feathering with the paverblock saves time over the 2 step method of laying down epoxy to saturate the wood, then laying the glass, then saturating with epoxy. Finally, I scrubbed all the epoxied areas down with Mr. Clean (30/70 mix with water) and a stiff bristle brush to remove the amine blush and. Everything is set to make a boat shape. Like most first-time builders, I want to do this now; in reality, I should have everything else (mast, rudder, tiller, daggerboard etc.) made as the sides wrapped around the molds are going to take up mucho room. At the same time, I WANT TO SEE MY BOAT! This is a right brain vs left brain issue of the highest order.
Day 8,9,10- During the week I did all sorts of little jobs. Washed Amine blush from various epoxied places, sanded some epoxy. BTW, the Palm sander with 36 grit wasn't as good as my new DeWalt Random Orbit sander with 60 grit when sanding down epoxy. If fact this thing may be more powerful than my consumer grade B&D Belt sander.
I spend most of Saturday morning trying out my "square scarf" idea to form the 16'x4' 1/2 inch ply piece that will become my bottom. To attach the two together I used my Router with an edge guide and a big straight cutting head bit. I routed 1/2 the material thickness on the end of each piece in a 4.5 inch area and slathered with unthickened epoxy, then added pre-mixed epoxy adhesive (from fiberglass coatings Inc.), put it on the floor and weighted the joint with every heavy thing I could find. It worked pretty well. When I picked up the piece the next morning, nothing broke and it seems plenty sturdy. The hardest part was all the router work. The bit I was using was a cheap Chinese one from a set I got from Harbor Freight tools. It was dulling quickly in the plywood. And boy, does this ever make sawdust!
Sunday was the big day. I wrapped the sides around the molds and OK, IT’S A BOAT! This did prove harder than anticipated. The yellow pine plywood is quite strong. This could have been made easier by an extra set of hands, but it all got done. Had one "hard" spot in the hull that responded to a small shim at the chine edge. The best way to make this work by yourself seems to be: 1) attached the stem/sternpost to one side with sheetrock screws 2) Bend in both sides and make sure they lie fair, then attach the other with drywall screws 3) back off the drywall screws enough that you can slip the tongue depressor covered with adhesive in the gap. Once a side has enough adhesive, tighten the sheetrock screws again and do the other 4) nailing plenty of ring shank nails and remove the drywall screws. I did the sternpost this way and it worked great. The Stem was not so great as I tried to hold the slickened parts together and nail at the same time.
Day 11- During the week I set up my table saw in the driveway and, with the help of an outfeed roller and some fingerboards top and bottom, got out all the LONG cuts for the chines and laminated gunwales. This was pretty funny looking but woked great (there is a picture of the setup on my construction photos page). Boy, the douglas fir 2x4s (1 16', two 18') were great pieces of wood. Beautiful grain and smell, much better than the pine you usually build stuff with around here. Hopefully, I'll get the chines epoxied in place on Saturday and the bottom on Sunday.
Day 12, 13- The last weekend in October saw a flurry of activity. I bent the chine logs around, glued with epoxy and nailed from the back side with 1” #14 bronze ring nails, using a sledge hammer as a backer. The cheap Chinese C-clamps from Harbor freight worked great. Hard to beat 12 clamps for $15 even if several are of the 1” variety. Since Windsprint doesn’t come with an expansion of the bottom, I used a string from stem to sternpost and, after clamping one of the temporary molds to the sawhorse, got everything aligned by moving the sawhorse around with taps of the sledge.
After the epoxy set up overnight, I placed my 16’ long ½” plywood bottom over the boat full sized. After getting this set, I used one of those U-shaped scraps of plywood to scribe the approximate outline of the chines on the bottom. With that done, I mixed a big batch of the pre-thickened epoxy glue and slathered it on the chines. The plywood was held up for this process (first one end, then the other) with a 2X4. After the glue was on, fastened the bottom using the #14 1 ¼” Bronze ring nails.
Day 14, 15- During the week, I used my circular saw to trim within 4” of the scribed outline of the chines. I then used the router with a laminate trimming bit to trim almost flush to the chines. I say almost because the Windsprint chines are at the same 15 degree angle as the sides, so the bottom was trimmed to 90 degrees and a bit proud.
Day 16- Actually not a day or night, but a succession of 1 hour evenings. Weekends during November seemed to be taken up with other chores. First, I tried to plane the bottom flush and correctly angled to the chines with my block plane. No go with the ½” plywood. Then I tried the Random Orbit Sander. Progress occurred, but at a glacial pace. Now to the B&D belt sander (a fairly low grade tool); again progress happened, but it was oh so slow. I took a few nights off to ponder, in the meantime managed to saw out the blanks for the laminated (2 panels of ¼” plywood) daggerboard and got it glued up with Weldwood. After some thought about my oversized bottom edge, I took my angle grinder that I’d set up with a 36 grit disc for sanding down epoxy blobs to the chines. Now this was progress! Also quite scary as a slip would leave a pretty big gouge. Even with this high powered tool, the edge grain of the ½” ply was incredible in hardness. Didn’t quite finish, as I had to go in and “hold the baby” while my wife did some chores of her own. Other nights I mixed up small batches of epoxy to pre-fill knots etc. in the bottom. I left the “C” side out as it would be covered with epoxy and glass. The pre-thickened epoxy sanding putty from FGCI was used to fill holes
Day 17, 18, 19- After our trip to Cabbage Key for Turkey Day got washed out by Baby Samantha’s incipient illness, I had a few days to tackle some bigger issues relating to Windsprint. First, getting this thing in and out of the garage was getting to be a hassle. Not so much the weight, but the unwieldyness of the whole thing. Also, I had to use my wife, meaning getting it out for sanding sessions of an hour was a real pain. So, I bought some casters and 2X4s at our new Lowes and proceeded to build a ladder frame with wheels and supports. Worked pretty good (pics of the cart will be up shortly). With this out of the way, I continued grinding away at the chines. The angle grinder also did a pretty good job of getting the bottom edge radiused over for the glass/epoxy sheathing. Glad I got used to this tool. Very handy for a variety of jobs.
The day after, I looked around and said “well, there’s no use putting off the bottom glassing any longer”. This was one of the steps that was quite scary. I’ve never done much glass work like this, most limiting myself to simple repairs. I gained some experience putting a layer of glass over each outside joint in the sides to hide the line, but this required small pieces and little epoxy. I prepared by trying to remember all the posts from the eGroups Bolgerlist about glassing. I had my tyvek suit, lots of latex gloves, a paint mixer, squeegee spreader, thowaway brushes and last, a coffee can full of white vinegar for clean up. I got the 60” wide glass layed out on the bottom, brushing everything down flat with a dry brush. Although the Payson pictures always show glassing first, then excess trimming, I went ahead and trimmed the glass to overhang the chines by about 1”. I mixed up my first batch of epoxy at about a quart and a half, poured it in the center and started working it out with the squeegee. It was amazing how much epoxy it took to fill the weave and allow for the wicking of the plywood underneath. The process of filling the weave all over and especially the chine edges took over an hour for this first coat. Successive mixed batches were smaller. All in all, I spent a continuous three hours walking around the hull holding the mixed epoxy and squeegee or brush. I didn’t anticipate the amount of drips on the floor and what not. The job looks pretty good. I still have areas like the edge grain of the bottom where the plywood sucked the resin out of the weave as well as a few places that didn’t get enough epoxy to completely hide the weave. This will require a deblushing wash and sanding, but overall I’m really happy with the results.