Friday, October 31, 2014

Love Me Tender, Volume VI

Ah, the highs and lows of stitch and glue boatbuilding.  You are lured in by the siren song of building a beautiful wooden boat quickly and easily.  You taste the ecstasy of having a boat appear before your eyes in a matter of hours.  And then, when the stitching is done, reality sets in.  The bulk of the project looms before you, and it consists of messing with epoxy mudpies and sanding.  Lots of sanding. 

After stitching together the Eastport Nesting Pram, the next step was, naturally to glue it together.  Gluing comes in two phases. First, small thickened epoxy "tack welds" are applied along the seams.  The purpose of these is to hold the boat together so that you can remove the stitches.  After the stitches are out, the seams are completely filled with thickened epoxy and big, structural, epoxy fillets are applied at transoms, bulkheads, and wherever else they may be called for.

The Eastport Pram is what Chesapeake Light Craft calls a "lapstitch" boat...not to be confused with a glued lapstrake boat, mind you.  That's something else entirely.  In CLC's parlance, a lapstitch boat is a boat built with stitch and glue construction that has the looks of a lapstrake boat.  Part of what makes this whole system work is that when the boat is stitched together, there are fairly large v-shaped gaps behind the laps.  In the gluing phase, these gaps behind the laps all get filled with thickened epoxy, creating the appearance of tightly fit laps and structurally joining the planks, giving the boat its strength.

Under the shroud are newly glued seams.  With cooler weather,
it helps to "tent" the project and heat the tent to
all the epoxy to set.

Interior fiberglass

After all of that thickened epoxy, comes fiberglass inside and out on the bottom of the boat, and more epoxy to fill the weave and seal the unglazed parts of the hull.

I remember on my first kayaks that the epoxy work, and especially the fiberglassing were big deals, major milestones.  After building Solitude III, the magnitude of these tasks is somewhat diminished.  Creating epoxy fillets has become old hat, and wetting out fiberglass has become an exhibition of well-practiced skill.  Indeed, I now feel the same sense of artisanship in wetting out fiberglass that I have previously felt welding a block plane.  It comes with a satisfaction that partly compensates for the fact that you still are just working with gooey, sticky mudpies, and that all you have to loak forward to is endless sanding.

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