Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Battens Cut and Fit

My battens have now been ripped and fit to the frames. I had to deepen the pre-cut notches to get the battens to lay flush with the frame contours. Per the "Boatbuilding with Plywood" book, battens should be installed after side planking, so I used some steel screws for temporary dry fit so they can be removed if in the way for subsequent work. They helped secure the frames in position so I'll leave them in place if possible.

The sides of the middle frame were unsupported and could easily be pushed out of plumb so I added a temporary cross beam and some angle braces from it to the form to stablize them. Now they can be worked on without moving around.

The next step is fitting the chines. You can see in the photo that I'm experimenting with a piece of pine to judge whether my notches are right. I'm letting my buddy Ted forge ahead with his Zip and of course he just tried steaming his chines and installing and broke one. I'm taking a vacation so the boat will be on hold for awhile. Maybe when I get back, Ted will tell me how to install a chine without making expensive mohogany firewood.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Aligning Frames and Laying the Keel

After the confirmation that this boat will make it out of the basement, I secured my frame pieces to the leveled form rails. After checking a hundred times if things were square to each other, I aligned the stem using a string and plumb bob method. I tried a laser but it was better at confirming the set-up than actually doing it.
I used steel carriage bolts for the dry run set up of the keel and transom knee. When I was satisfied with alignments I took the keel and transom knee apart and did the glue-up. When all was, glued, bolted and screwed in place I called it a day. The next day I sighted down the keel and saw hump between frame #1 (middle frame and frame #2 (front frame), which wasn't a real issue, but there was a dip between the transom and frame #1 which was a problem. The picture is sighting down the keel from the front and the flash didn't illuminate the keel after the middle frame. After sleeping on it, I decided to try and realign the transom a bit to straighten the keel forward of the transom.
I decided to shim frame #1 rearward about 1/16" and this gave me some room between the transom and form to re-align it. I pulled a 1/16" shim out to lower the transom, added one at the top of the form angle to the transom and this allowed clamping of the transom near the bottom of the form and I could dial out the dip in the keel with a twist of the clamps. So with the keel flat from transom forward to frame #1, I could move on.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Building Forms

The basement exercise room became the room of choice for building the boat....never got any use as an exercise room anyway. I didn't want to tear out the carpet, so the old ping-pong table that needed to disappear became the foundation for my form. I reinforced the underneath side of the ping-pong table with 2x4's and by rotating each half 90 degrees I got a platform 4.5'x10'. I surrounded it with 1/4" scrap plywood used for floor protection in a former life and I was ready to go. We won't talk about what it took to clear the room out of all the accumulated stuff.

I decided to add 8" to the height of the form going to 32" rather than the 24" called out on the plan. I thought my knees would appreciate it. To support the stem and breasthook, I got a little creative with an extention off the platform to get the height and length needed. With the old stereo speakers now mounted up on the walls and out of the way, I'm a-building and a-dancing.

You Sure it Will Make it out of the Basement?

Before totally committing to building a boat in the basement, one needs some kind of proof its not going to be Noah's ark waiting for the basement to flood to get some use. While the tape measure said it would make it out...I wasn't sure that I wasn't another idiot building a big project that was stuck in the basement. I have to make a slight turn at the top of the stairs to clear the kitchen cabinets, so its not a straight shot out of the top of the stairwell.
My first plan was to temporarily set up the frames, transom, stem and keel and then fashion some temporary plywood sheers and take the clamped together skeleton on a trial run. But my son Bill said maybe a tricked up 4x8 sheet of plywood would suffice. Not wanting to remove frames from my set-up form it sounded like a good idea. So some temporary plywood strips were used to simulate the shape of the shears, traced onto scrap plywood and cut to shape. These were screwed to the stem and breasthook assembly which was screwed/clamped to a 4x8. The stem and various bar clamps were used to simulate full beam width of the boat and depth of the boat. The trial run into the stairwell and out at the top went with no issues. I took some clearance measurements at the tight spots and I have some room for more length, beam, and depth....but not enough to change plans to a bigger boat and start all over!
The kitchen in the background was a major project of a few years back. My son and I built all the cabinets, doors, drawers, etc. Maybe it will be another blog someday.

Transom Build

The transom is built from 3/4" Okoume plywood. The layout lines were transferred to the plywood with carbon paper to show outer contours and added inside frame locations. For some of the curved areas, the added frames allowed using them as a template for final cut of the transom plywood with a router and trimming bit. I angled the motorboard just because I thought it looked better. I also raised the height of the transom at the motorboard to 16.5" from the plan's 15". The "Mustang" boat plans show different dimensions up to 17" depending on make of old outboards and I'm told that performance can be enhanced by tuning the height upwards and the transom can always be cut down if too high. Since I don't have a motor yet, I moved it up, but 17" didn't look good, so I settled on 16.5". The Okoume 3/4" plywood is very dense and heavy and after bending a couple of silicon bronze nails when trying to glue and nail the transom knee together, I increased the diameter of the pre-drilled holes. Bent nails were broke off and another hole drilled adjacent for another nail. Close inspection shows a couple of curious bronze spots in the transom knee....

The bottom of the transom has a shallow "V" cut at a 12 degree bevel. I used the method in the "Boatbuilding with Plywood" book by Glen L. Witt. I added an auxilliary fence suspended about 1/8" higher than the transom thickness off the table saw surface, and then screwed down a straight board to the transom along the line to be cut (one side of the "V" at a time). With the blade angled 12 degrees and the outside of the blade set just below the edge of the aux fence, the cut turned out super. I think the above mentioned book is a "must read" for a new boat builder like me as it answered many questions that I had and hopefully prevented me from making poor choices for materials, assembly and building techniques. I also enjoyed learning about something I knew little about and gave me the confidence to begin and avoid many mistakes that would have happened otherwise.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

The frames are built

During early November 2009, frame construction took place. Frame pictures show surfaces that have been encapsulated with clear epoxy and sanded to receive subsequent coats or gluing. While plans call for nailing of gussets, I used a couple of drywall screws at each gusset to prelocate parts so glue up would repeat the dry fit. One side was done at a time and let set over night. Then the frames were flipped, and reset into blocks and the second set of gussets were located and screwed, then disassembled, glued, screwed, and nailed. The flipping of the parts indicated the accuracy of the initial tracing of frame halves. In some cases, in minor tweaks of the assembly blocks were required. At final glue-up, silicone-bronze screws were used to replace any drywall screws used for pre-fit. Pre-drilling was required on the nails as the Okoume plywood is very dense and the mohogany frame pieces showed a slight split on the first gusset installation if nailed near an edge without pre-drilling.

Building the templates for the frames

I decided to make templates from the plans for most of the parts in the frames. Using the carbon paper, lines were traced onto material to make the templates. The actual frame pieces were then rough cut, stacked together with double backed tape, the templates double-back taped to the pieces and a trimming router bit with guide bearing used to cut multiple pieces at the same time. In the corners where 1/4" plywood gussets were used, 4 indenticle parts were made at the same time.

With African Mohogany purchased from Armstrong Millworks in Highland Michigan and Okoume plywood purchased at Public Lumber in Detroit, the frame build got started. The same layout board was used as an assembly jig. Blocks were screwed down to locate frame members so that epoxy gluing, screwing and or nailing could be done while maintaining alignments.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Plans Change

After talking with my co-worker, Ted Gauthier about building a boat, he said I should check out Glen-L Marine's plans. He also decided to build a boat and settled on the 14' Zip from Glen-L. He said he found the boat for me, the Glen-L Squirt a 10' runabout. I wanted to stick with a small boat since my plan was to build in my basement and the 11'6" Mustang would make it out of the stairwell based on my measurements. I thought 10' was too small, but it could be stretched 10% to 11'. The Squirt looked way cool, so I changed my mind and ordered plans on September 28, 2009 from Glen-L.
The image shown is a Glen-L Squirt stretched to 11' and built by Jeff Cobb of Baton Rouge, LA. He did a suberb job finishing out his boat and its inspirational to see such a fantastic looking boat.

The first step is transferring the lines from the drawing to a layout and assembly board. With a few yardsticks, flexible curves, french curves, circle templates, and large carbon paper purchased from Glen-L, I got the lines down on a 3/4" plywood board.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Boat Building Inspiration

Here's a picture of the homemade boat that inspired me to build my own. The plan for this boat is called "Mustang" from Science and Mechanics magazine from the early 1950's. To the left is another boat called the "Bluestreak" from the same magazine. I was given the opportunity to take these boats for a spin and had a blast taking these boats around the lake. They both have 15 hp OMC outboards and scoot along quite well.

My other inspiration for building a boat was having this Chrysler 9.9 that was my dad's. It is a 1969 and he bought it new back in the day. He put it on a 14' Sea Nymph aluminum boat which was purchased from Northwestern Boat Co. He loved the motor as it started easily and replaced a 7.5hp Scott on a 12' Clyde wooden boat. The Scott never started easily and he was in no mood to fish after working himself into a lather trying to start the thing. He sold the aluminum boat in his retirement years but did not want to part with the motor. Now as you can imagine, having an outboard motor with no boat is not very useful. So it seemed buiding a small boat would be a perfect match for this baby. So I got started with the boat build. However, so far it appears that a remote hook-up for throttle, shift and steering may not have been offered for this motor and might be difficult be to cobble up.

The next photo is from around 1961 during a vacation. I'm in the middle of the boat, my mom and sister Sue on the dock. My dad is at the tiller of his first outboard motor, a 5hp Johnson. I believe now from my recollection of this silver colored motor and comparing it to pictures of old Johnson's, that it is a 1942 or thereabouts. I recall that we rented the boat during our stay. There was a steep set of stairs leading down to the lake with a motorized platform that traveled up and down to bring people and luggage etc. up and down. Our cabin was half way down the hill. One of the pictures in the group had Ludington Lake written on the back, but I can't find it on a map. My dad later rued the day he sold the old Johnson. It always started easily, unlike the Low-profile Scott he bought to replace it.

This picture of a wooden runabout is from the same vacation. We got a ride on it and I remember loving the sound of the V8 exhaust burbling in the water and what a cool boat it was. It was used to deliver the mail to people living on the lake. After posting this picture, I clicked on it and could see that the flag on the front of the boat says "US Mail" my memory is correct.