Thursday, May 24, 2012

Happy Rails to You, Un-Tiller We Meet Again

I've heard that miners used to carry canaries with them into the mines to ascertain whether the air was safe to breathe.  If the canary didn't die, then the air was OK.  The idea of using a very sensitive indicator to test for imminent danger is a good one.

In boatbuilding, the danger is that you get wrapped up in it, choosing to dedicate time to the build rather than things like doing the laundry, cooking, keeping up on house maintenance, and spending quality time with your (circle all that apply) friends/family/girlfriend/wife/dog/bartender.  The net results is an imbalance in your life that will carry unfortunate consequences of one form or another.  Clearly this must be avoided.  And it can be, if you look for the warning signs, if you keep an eye on your canary. 

My "canary" is my violin instructor.  My ability to produce an acceptable sound on the fiddle is proportional to the amount of time I spend practicing in a week.  Practice time is the first thing that suffers when  boatbuilding activities start consuming too much of my time.  A painful sound generated during the violin lesson is a warning klaxon telling me to moderate on the time in the shop.  I've really been on a roll on the boat in the past few weeks, and there have been a couple times that I've heard the alarm.  So far, though, I've heeded the warning, kept my life in balance, and kept the canary alive.  I'm actually kinda proud of that. 

Anyway, most of the boat-related work of late has involved me being hooked up to a sander, slowly reducing the bright, shiny, epoxy-coated surfaces of my hull to a smooth, dull gray.  It has actually been going faster than I expected, but still, there is just a lot of area to cover.  I don't want to think about how many hours it has taken so far, or how many hours are ahead.

With all the sanding, my dust collector has been getting full. 

To break up the sanding monotony, I have been indulging in what PocketShip builder Sean called Procrastination Projects.  The first project was installing the rubrails.  The rubrails consist of three layers of 3/4" thick timber, milled to a trapezoidal shape that tapers from 1 1/4" to 3/4" in width.  These lay right along the sheer, and, for the sake of good looks, it is essential that they run nice and fair.   Ensuring that they're nice and fair involves temporarily installing the first layer and standing back from the boat and looking at it from different angles, making any adjustments required to remove any waviness.  Unfortunately, my garage is too small to fully enable the "stand back" part of that process. 

Installing the rubrails.
While trying to figure out how best to check the fairness of the rails without the use of an interphasing cloaking device, I suddenly remembered back to a random piece of knowledge I picked up back in grad school..a fair curve is defined as a curve that has a continuous second derivative.  Of course!  That made it so clear, so easy. 

In case it isn't already painfully obvious to you, let me explain the  mathrmatics of the procedure.  What I needed to do was grab a rubrail, install it with a couple of temporary screws, whip out a pencil and paper, sit down....and write the Romulans to seek if I could borrow an interphasing cloaking device. that was a dead end.  In the end, I settled for sighting down the rails at as many angles as I could and convincing myself that everything would be all right.  It sure looks OK now, but I guess the final determination will come when the boat leaves the shop!

The rails really add definition to the sheerline.   It transforms
the boat from a big kayak into a proper sailboat.  You can see the cowl vents on for a trial fit too.

 Installing the rubrails was the perfect diversion...I could only install one layer on one side of the boat at a time.  Installing a layer didn't eat a huge chunk of time, and after the epoxy was applied the the rail secured with temporary screws, I could devote the rest of my time to some sanding.  It really helped break the sanding up into more manageable chunks.

A rare photo of a tiller hangin' out, lookin' casual. 

Another side project to help procrastinate on sanding...the tiller.  I also bought a nice piece of ash last time I was at Martin Lumber.   From this, I fashioned my tiller.  I had considered building a laminated tiller, as is the current fashion.  They look nice, but just a little too trendy for me.  Solid ash just seem like a hearty, traditional, no-nonsense approach.

Procrastinating further, I took a trip to Fisheries Supply and picked up a couple of goodies, including the cowl vents for the dorade boxes and two Tempress hatches for access to the lazarette.  I've since cut the holes for the vents.  The holes for the hatches will come soon.
Test fit of the tabernacle
Enjoying the act of procrastination to its fullest, I've also mostly constructed the tabernacle for the mast.  One by one, all the pieces that will make up the finished boat are coming together. 
I just realized that basically the hull is ready to flip any time!  Of course, just because we CAN do a thing, it does not necessarily follow that we MUST do that thing.  There are a number of projects that I'd like to tick off the list before rolling the boat.  There is still a fair bit of sanding left to do in the cockpit.  And I have to install a tricky bit of trim on the transom skirt.  And I might start fiddling with the companionway hatch.    Still, I guess I need to think through the logistics of the flip and get my cadre of happy helpers together. 

P.S. Dave Curtis, there are three Star Trek references in this post.  Can you find them all?

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