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.

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