Sunday, April 12, 2015

Point Comfort 23- Part 2

The strong back was next, and for this four by twenty four foot structure, we used fir 2 x 8’s. We picked out the best construction grade stock we could find, and jointed one edge of each, then ripped them to a common width.

Jointing an edge of the 2x8's.

Deciding which piece goes where, based on straightness and flatness.

We set up and screwed together the strong back, again squaring the assembly carefully. We then braced the strong back to the trestles with plenty of diagonal bracing so the whole business is rigid, then cut notches in the center of all cross pieces, through which we stretched a taut center string line. this will be used to line up the molds.

Cutting the center line notches. Bracing can be seen here.

Stretch it tight!
We chose particle board for the molds (I hate MDF dust), and I had one team laying out stations from the full-size patterns, and another team cutting the molds with our home-made track saw. This is a chine hull, so all the cuts are straight lines.

Howie and Javier lay out the molds from full size patterns.

Pat Daniels runs the home made track saw.

Hans has taken over here. There were a lot of cuts!

John and Severn are setting up the cross ties.
The layout team was careful to mark the vertical center-line and waterline on both sides of each mold. Even with plenty of help, the molds were an all day project. The next day, we set all the molds up, using a laser to get the waterlines all in the right place, and a four foot level to get them plumb.

Midship mold goes in first.

I don't know what that old man is saying.
I always set up the midship mold first, spending the time to get it right and braced securely. We screwed 2 x 2’s across the strong back on the stations, then shimmed the molds to the laser and screwed them to the cross spalls.

The mold center line aligns with the string line on the strongback, and a laser is set to the comm DWL height.

The molds are braced securely!

Pat, Jim, and Hans.

Each subsequent mold was braced back to the midship mold, and held the correct distance apart, 36” in this case. When the molds were set up, we couldn't resist springing a batten around the sheer and chine, to get a sense of the hull shape.

That’s where we are now. We have to cut out the stem, and fabricate the transom next, before setting up the permanent longitudinals. Stay tuned!

Saturday, March 28, 2015

New Boat Project- The Point Comfort 23

The new molds! Thanks to Howie for this photo.

We could have chosen most anything as our inaugural project, but we’ve been talking about a bigger, better looking, more seaworthy boat to replace the thirteen foot Boston Whaler that we use as our race committee, sail instruction, and general yard boat. We need to be able to function safely in conditions that push the limits of the little whaler. That boat loves to gulp seawater over the bow. We looked at a lot of designs, including the nineteen foot semi dory from John Gardner, Carolina Skiff types, the Bateau Boats FS17, the Handy Billy 21, and finally the Point Comfort 23 from Doug Hylan. One important aspect of this building project will be to teach woodworking and boat building skills, and the use of hand and power tools to a group of interested people, some of whom have never seen a significant boat materialize from the ground up. We could have chosen a boat design that offered a CNC kit, but honestly, there’s not much to learn from a bunch of puzzle joints and fifteen gallons of epoxy. The Handy Billy was extremely appealing as an antidote to the kit boat route, but we felt like she wouldn’t offer us enough initial stability, good sea boat that she is. We need a stable platform and lowish topsides from which to work. I had looked before at the Point Comfort 18, but pretty as she is, she’s not enough boat for us. Then Doug Hylan introduced the 23, and we had found our project.

 It’s a simple, rugged, quite pretty outboard derivation of a classic Chesapeake deadrise skiff. She’s got the straight stem and deep, narrow forefoot of the type, but designed for plywood construction over more or less typical longitudinals. The hull is heavily built from 3/4” meranti ply. The forefoot is cold molded from two layers of 3/8” ply with vertical seams staggered. Besides the chine timbers, clamps, and keelson, there is very little internal framing, other than floors, bulkheads, and deck beams. The heavy skin makes this possible. This boat has twice the displacement of the 18, and maybe four times the dry weight. She’s substantially built, to be sure.

A  meeting was held to choose the boat design for our new project.
We held a meeting at the club before Christmas, open to anyone interested in the project. I was gratified to fill the room with interested folks. I’ll admit to putting a little spin on the presentation, having already decided that I liked the PC23, but the idea was taken up with real enthusiasm. Doug Hylan has designed and built quite a few mid-size to large power boats, and I trust his eye and his design skills. I took the idea to our board of directors, with a preliminary budget, and was given the green light to proceed! Which is a good thing, because I had already bought the plans.

Our group met again to review the construction process.
The first task in this project was to build a suitable strong back, which can be interesting on a very out of level dirt floor. I wanted to devise a system that would be rugged, but that would not be in the way when not actually building a boat, and which could be set up and adapted for any other boat. We went to concrete footings again, laying out three pairs of footings, about nine feet apart, put carefully in line and squared to each other. We dug holes and built 12” square forms which we lined up with a laser and strings, then poured the concrete.

Laying out footings for the strong back.

The forms were laid out with a laser and string lines...

And the concrete was poured.

After curing, we drilled out the concrete for threaded inserts (again with the laser for set up) which we epoxied in. This was done in sub-freezing temperatures, so we warmed the inserts in a pan on the wood stove, and set up light bulbs on the concrete, which kept everything warm overnight for a good epoxy cure.

Threaded insert with bolt.

Threaded inserts were epoxied into the concrete.

Locally applied heat cured the epoxy.
Next we bolted in some 4 x 4 clips like we used on the bench legs, again checking the alignment with a laser.

4x4 clips are aligned with the laser...

... and bolted down.
We then switched the laser to give us a horizontal benchmark, measuring the relative heights of each location, then cutting six legs to support 4 x 4 trestles, all at the same height. I like to take care at each step to insure a level and square set up, because it makes the final shimming of molds much easier. The trestle legs are all marked for their individual locations. We can remove them, and their clips, and just put the bolts in for an unobtrusive set up when not in use. For a smaller boat, we might use only two of the trestles.

Chris drills clearance holes in the trestle legs for the bolt heads.

The trestles were all custom cut to a common level benchmark.

And here they are. A level base to build our strong back on.
 Next time, we'll look at the strong back and molds. Thanks for looking in.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

The Sebago Canoe Club Boat Shop

My first boat- 1986

I’m gratified to have been a part of Sebago for these past twenty plus years. I’ve been a vocal proponent of a real boatbuilding program here for most of that time, and I’m happy to report that we are finally ready to move forward. The boat shop is largely done, though there will always be changes and improvements, but as of now we are fully functional. Many people have made significant contributions to the facility, both in the planning and in the construction, and I want to thank everyone involved, and a special thanks is due the Sebago Board of Directors for granting permission and allocating the funds to bring this about. Phil Giller was responsible for getting the roof put on, and that was a huge first step, for without that we’d still be working under a leaky tarp. And without John Wright’s vigilance we would never have gotten the tool room cleaned out and properly “exorcised”. Here's some pics of the new shop, several years in the making!

The roof goes up spanning two containers.
Phil Giller was instrumental in getting this roof for us!
Watch those wires!

We put in a stove.

And a workbench.


And we're operational! Sara and Laura restoring THE NAVY.
On tuesday evening, November the 18th from 7 to 9 pm, I will present a Power Point lecture on the building of traditional small craft. We’ll take a look at many boats that might be worthwhile projects to tackle in our new shop, and then specifically at what we’d like to do first. Here’s a quick preview of what’s coming up.






And much more!
Come on down, we'll have a fire in the stove.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Cricket Gets Some Much Needed Attention

Cricket was forlorn! She didn't sail at all last year, with all the energy going into the launch and rigging of Mouse. Not to mention being capsized the previous year (a first) and sailing with a split mast and mangled gooseneck. So I decided this year to do the repairs, get her rigged, and back in the water.

The mast and gooseneck were damaged at the dock when a gusting wind shift caught her aback suddenly, twisting the gooseneck, and pulling out screws, splitting the mast in the process. At the time, I jury rigged a repair (hose clamps) and sailed the rest of the year, but it bothered me having to look at the damage. With Mouse pretty much complete, I set out to do right by Cricket.

A good scrub out.

Cricket's paint job is 7 years old now, and still looks great.

I really like having a fixed gooseneck, but there were always problems with it. I put a round tenon on the mast when I built it, but the vang over-rotated the mast when tensioned and the boom fitting would gouge the side of the mast. So I put a key on the mast which engages a slot in the partner preventing rotation. I did this three times in fact, before I got one that wouldn't break. I put in a hardwood key first, which split off the first time I stepped the mast. Next was an aluminum key, which the epoxy would not grab onto reliably. It failed as well. A plywood key was the trick. Glue held, and ply didn't split. It suffers from abuse while stepping the mast, but has held for several years now. Anyway, the fixed gooseneck was the real source of all the difficulty, so I decided to replace it with a traditional boom jaw.

Pattern for jaws.

I made a pattern and cut the jaws out of some ash I had around, making sure to leave space for leathering the jaws. The boom is round, so to fit the jaws to the sides of the spar, I hollowed them out with a gouge and some 80 grit paper on an appropriately sized sanding drum (2" diameter). I cut the old Dwyer boom fitting off with a hacksaw and sanded off the paint in preparation for bonding the jaws. I used just two stainless screws on each jaw to lock them in place, and mixed up a thick batch of epoxy, using the squeeze-out to form a small fillet all the way around.

The hollowed out bearing surface.
I clamped a scrap across the jaws to keep them in plane.

At the same time I was making the new jaws, I began repairing the mast. I removed the old gooseneck plate and screws, then ground all the paint away to examine the splits. I could have let in some wood dutchmen, but the splits weren't too bad, so I ended up laying on some strips of biaxial glass cloth in epoxy. The mast has always been painted so this will look fine.

A couple of layers of biaxial glass cloth and epoxy went on the slits.
When the jaws were cured up, I did some shaping on all the corners, paying particular attention to the boom end where it bears up against the mast. I then drilled holes through the jaws for a pair of rope strops to attach the halyard, downhaul, and reefing block. The beauty of this traditional approach is (besides looking good) that it requires very little hardware. Just some bits of rope and a shackle or two.

Shaping the jaws.

I did some painting on the spars in the boat shop.

I set the rig up on the boat to check everything. A little fiddling got the old reefing lines working, but I had to change my halyard lead at the deck. The old lead came to a block on deck, just to the port side of the mast, but this location interfered with the new boom jaws, so I ended up moving the block to a position forward of the mast. I still have to put a fairlead back on the deck on the port side, to line the halyard up with its beehole through the forward coaming and thence to its cleat. The fairlead will keep the halyard from chafing the side of the mast.

Setting up the rig.
When I was satisfied that the new plan would work, I got out the leather to line the jaws. I keep threatening to buy a whole hide, but I always seem to be able to scrounge up nice big scraps from Kika down the hall, so I'll save my money for now. Leathering a curving surface is a little fussy, and my techniques I'm sure are not the best, but some knife work and canoe tacks does an okay job. The leathers will stay put, I think. I pre-drilled for the tacks to keep the wood from splitting, a fairly necessary precaution. After the first split, I learned my lesson.

The leather was cut to fit around the jaws. Note beeholes.

The finished leathers.

I got Cricket all put back together- floorboards, floatation, dock lines, and ground tackle, then launched her yesterday and went sailing. Cricket was very happy to be back sailing! One little fussy thing is happening. My downhaul seems to inhibit easy rotation of the boom. So I may end up cutting off the key that prevents the mast from rotating. That way, the mast and boom can all move together. I don't know if the vang will still be a problem. I have to sail it more and think on it a little more.

Nice to be back!

Heading out at low tide, looking for the sand bar.

Next time, we'll welcome aboard new Goat Island Skiff sailor Pat Daniels, and have a look at Mik Storer's deservedly popular design. But I need to go for a sail on it first!