Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Eastern Epiphany Eve Epoxy

Now that's a lot of epoxy

Well, after a wait that seemed longer than it probably was, my epoxy package arrived on the eve of the day that the Eastern churches celebrate the Epiphany.  And since in the past (and in the present in some cultures), gifts were traditionally given on Epiphany instead of Christmas, that makes this epoxy kinda like a Christmas present.  OK, it's a stretch, but I'm happy and celebrating nonetheless.  The package arrived in seven boxes, which the UPS guy left strewn across my front porch.  All the epoxy came in 1 gallon containers.  From pictures, I had expected some 5 gallon containers, but have to admit that I'm happier with the easier-to-work-with 1 gallon containers.

 I celebrated the epoxy's arrival by, well, using it.  The assembly instructions start with building the centerboard trunk.  Step 1, fiberglass the inside surfaces of the centerboard trunk.  I laid out the centerboard halves on the workbench, careful to make sure that the inside sides were facing up.  I then rolled out some fiberglass, mixed and spread my epoxy, and put down a layer of peel ply.  This is my first time using peel ply without a vacuum bag.  Supposedly it will help reduce sanding dramatically.  We'll see how it turns out.
Ready to fiberglass

Fiberglassing the inside of the centerboard trunk

Let the curing begin.  Note my trusty cold-weather-epoxy-curing lamps in place and doing their thing.
 With that sorted, I had some spare time left over, so I turned my attention to the centerboard proper.  The manual suggests excavating a rabbet in the middle of the leading and trailing edges of the centerboard.  This rabbet is to be filled with thickened epoxy so that when the centerboard is shaped, the epoxy will form an "armored" edge that'll protect the board should you run it into rocks or run aground with the board down.  I didn't get so far as the fill the rabbet with the thickened epoxy, but I did manage to excavate it.  Filling will be left for another day.

Cutting the rabbet for the LE epoxy "armor" on the centerboard.   OK, actually I staged this picture.  I wouldn't take my hand of that thing with the saw running.   Forget about it.

The finished rabbet.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Waiting for Epoxy

Since the New Year, I've been at the point that I've  been far enough into the cutting out of parts that'd starting assembly has been a viable option.  Well, viable if I had the epoxy to do it.  Sadly though, there has been trouble on that front.

Back in early December, I ordered the PocketShip epoxy package from CLC...15 gallons of some of the best, high tech, no-blush goop out there, made by a company called MAS.  I've used MAS epoxy on a previous boat, and have preferred it to the other brands I've used.  Also included in the package are heaping helpings of two thickeners...colloidal silica (sand, essentially), and wood flour (fine sawdust, essentially).  I figured shipping could be a little slow around Christmas, so I wasn't too worried when it didn't show up right away.  But by 5 January, I was definitely getting a little antsy.  After some communication with CLC (who in turn communicated with MAS), I found out that initially the shipment had been delayed because the wood flour was out of stock.  CLC had asked them to just ship it separately, but for some reason they didn't.  Compounding this issue is the fact the MAS decided to up and move from New Jersey to Tennessee.  Anyway, CLC beat up those guys a bit and by last Monday got a promise to ship my goop the following day.  I am still a little nervous about this, because I was supposed to receive tracking information as soon as it shipped, but haven't received it it.   And, also, no epoxy has landed on my door yet.  So, the saga continues.

Being largely epoxy-less, I've been wrapping up the last few parts that needed to be cut out.  Aside from the keelson and sides, which require lengths of plywood to be scarfed together once the epoxy arrives, the only plywood parts that haven't been cut out are the seatbacks and the porthole rings, all of which I'm planning on waiting to cut out until much later in the build.

Cutting out the transom. 
My mind is occasionally boggled by the fundamental contradiction of PocketShip.   I've been aboard PocketShip #1 and know that it is a big boat.  I also know that it is a 15ft small boat.  This contradiction has been further highlighted while cutting out parts.  The bulkheads look 7/8 scale.  The foredeck is 50% larger than I imagined it.  The transom is only 2/3 the size it should be.  The aft cabin wall and cockpit decks are clearly off of a 36 gun frigate.  Eventually all these disparate parts will come together into the attractive, but equally contradictory finished product.

Cutting out the notorious bulkhead #7.  This is probably the most complicated piece in the boat.

Excavating the "ledge" in the CB.  The ledge gives the lead that will be poured into this hole something to hang on to.
Now, I would be lying if I said I didn't have any epoxy.  I have just a little bit left over from prior boats, along with some wood flour and colloidal silica.  Unable to bear putting off assembling something any longer, I decided to use some of these "precious reserves" and glue the centerboard halves together yesterday. There is a hole in the centerboard where lead will later be poured so that, once the boat is complete, the centerboard will sink into the water when you lower it.  Otherwise you'd slacken the pendant and the centerboard would just stay floating up in its case, not doing its job.   So, the first thing a did was cut the rabbet with creates a "ledge" in the area where lead will be poured.  This ledge give the lead something to hang on to. 

Oh, I forget to mention.  In an earlier post I mentioned that I have mis-cut one of the centerboard halves.  I resolved this dilemma but buying another piece of plywood and cutting out two new halves.  This probably wouldn't have been my approach were it not for the fact that I needed to buy that sheet of plywood anyway (the other half was used for a different mini-project).

The two centerboard halves, ready to be stuck together.

My first batch of epoxy for PocketShip.  It certainly won't be the last.
  I then mixed up my first batch of epoxy for PocketShip, and slathered it on the board.  Then I brought the two halves together, got the lined up, and ringed the edges with an excessive number of clamps.  I love having an excessive number of clamps, just for situations like this.  I then put some spacer boards under the centerboard so that I could lay it flat on the tabletop and pile on some weight to make sure that the inner surfaces stayed in good contact with each other.

Epoxy doesn't really cure well when it is cold, and this time of year it is cold out in the garage.  So, I played a couple of tricks.  One of the biggest things that affects epoxy cure time is the initial temperature of the epoxy.   So, about an hour before mixing up the epoxy, I put the containers for the resin and hardener into a bucket of hot water.  This raises the temperate of the goo a lot and helps make sure it set up.  I also used fast hardener.  The resin/hardener reaction is exothermic (which is good because the heat further encourages the reaction), and the fast hardener makes it, well, more exothermic.  Also, after the halves were clamped together, I took two 75W worklights, and shone them on the board overnight whilst the epoxy set.  These lights put out just enough heat to keep smallish epoxy jobs warm enough to cure.  For larger jobs, I use a ceramic heater, but that's a different post.

Spreading the epoxy onto the board.

Here we go!

Here are the two halves clamped together.  What epoxy has joined together, let no rock separate.

The two halves clamped together with a bunch of weights on top to ensure everything was in good contact.  Note the worklamps keeping everything warm.
  Today, my project was to move ahead with the rudder construction.  I got all of the blocking cut out for the rudder.  The rudder also tapers from 1 1/4" at the leading edge to 3/4" at the trailing edge.  So the block has to be tapered to accomplish this.  I got some of the tapering done today, though not quite all of it.

Test fit of the rudder blocking

Adding some taper to the rudder.
On the shopping front, I stopped by Fiberglass Mart (great name, no?) and picked up the fiberglass cloth and tape and peelply required for this boat. 

Up next, more waiting for epoxy.  I can still cut out the gaff and boom and do sanding and other prep work, so I'm not totally stuck until it arrives.  But it is starting to slow me down a little.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Sparring with the Bowsprit

I was looking for a break from cutting plywood, I decided to tackle cutting some timber.  It was a cold (as in sub-freezing...brrrrrrr....) day outside, but clear and sunny, so I decided  to set up shop outside for the day.   My first project of the day was to cut out the blocking for the centerboard trunk.

Cutting out the centerboard trunk blocking material.
 I didn't have the piece of wood on hand that was quite wide enough to allow me to make the horizontal piece of the blocking out of one piece (due to the fact that it curves up to meet the diagonal piece), so I cut out a little filler piece to take care of the trouble part.
Filler piece.

All the blocking for the centerboard trunk.
I ordered the Pocketship epoxy package from CLC, but it has yet to arrive.  This package contains the gallons of goop required to get through this project.  Until that arrives though, I'll have to put the rest of the centerboard trunk construction aside for now.

Have plenty of time left in the day, I moved on to something that I've been looking forward to for months, building the bowsprit.  I started with a beautiful piece of 4x4 (a.k.a. 3.5"x3.5") CVG fir. I first cut this piece down to the specified size (3"x2.5") for the bowsprit blank.  In doing so, I ended up slicing off a piece of fir that should be ideal for the gaff....bonus! 

This chunk of wood is destined to become a bowsprit.
I started off trying to copy the pattern for the bowsprit from the plans using the same method that I've used for the plywood parts.  But that was a little clunky.  I realized that the tapers are actually absurdly simple, so I took a couple of quick measurements off the plans, made a few pencil marks on my blank, and was off.  Per the manual, I elected to use my table saw to freehand the tapers.  In relatively short order I had rough cut the spar.  Between the belt sander and a plane, I got the bowsprit cleaned up, and then whipped out the router to chamfer the edges. 

Cutting out the bowsprit

The bowsprit, rough cut

The "completed" bowsprit

So, one spar down (less a ton of sanding, a couple of coats of epoxy, and many coats of varnish), much more work to go.  Hopefully my epoxy will arrive soon, so that I can really start putting this boat together.