Sunday, August 31, 2014

Pronounced Fill-it

While building this boat I have had to acquire new skills.  How to fillet a joint is one skill I think I am finally beginning to master.  Ok I don't want to go overboard (pun intended) but I have become significantly better at the technique.

To fillet the joints at the plywood, I mix epoxy with wood flour and a bit of the silica powder for a bit of added strength.  This mixture is dumped into a zip lock freezer bag and with the corner cut and is dispensed like a pastry bag.  It is like decorating a cake wearing gas mask.  

I started at the stern area because everything will be covered up by the cockpit and will not very often see the light of day.  The results were not horrible but will require a significant amout of sanding.  The better the fillet the less sanding it requires.  I am all for less sanding.

Every "pastry bag" of mix and application get better and better, until now instead of dreading another round of filleting,  I actually enjoy it.

For future builders out there the key to my mistakes were too dry of a mixture and not applying enough mixture to the joint.  Before mixing the next batch, be prepared.  Have tools clean and sized for the joint you are doing...i.e. have the proper radius and handle length on your spreader. It may take several tools depending on the number of different angles you plan to fillet.  I found my standup belt sander (1954 model Delta 6X48) works great for not only making the tools but also cleaning the tools too. 

This is the bow area.
These are some of my early fillets.  The bow is really tough because you are pretty much working in a hole.  I have to stand on a chair and bend over and reach down.  I am 6' 2" and my arms are not even close to being long enough to get down to work all these fillets.  This is an area that will be sealed and never seen again, but I sill need good smooth fillets so that the fiberglass covering them will lay flat and be strong.

Last fillet today.
This is the last fillet I did.  I like the way it came out.  It will be visible inside the companionway, it needed to be good.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

The Manual Says...

The manual says use 18 gauge wire for stitching the panels together.  I could only find 16 gauge.  For those of you not into gauges, 16 is thicker than 18.  It seemed easy enough to bend and in many cases the thicker wire really worked out better.  Sometimes not.  Having both gauges on hand would be optimal.

This week's work has been a workout.  Climbing under the hull and twisting wires,  getting up and  down over and over has made joining Gold's Gym unnecessary .  I have found the sorest part of my body is my hands from the wire twisting but everything hurts.

First blood on the PocketShip.

Another 16 gauge hole before I gloved up.
Found a pair of thick leather gloves to protect the hands...I only need to be cut twice by 16 gauge wire.

While this week will not be as dramatic of a transformation as last week with the stitching together of the hull pieces, I did get a lot done tis week.  The all the bulkheads and transom were stitched in, tacked glued and fillets have started.

In the picture below you may be able to see the lock on the table saw fence.  It sticks straight out when not locked down.  I walked into it.  My leg now officially is much more sore than my hands...

Looking more like a boat!

PocketShip builders and builders to be may notice that the large hole in bulkhead #2 is on the left instead of the right.  I did this for two reasons.  The electrical gear mounts over the smaller hole.  I wanted the panel on the right side.  It seemed more convenient to me.  Also the plywood veneer looked much better on the side facing the companionway.  I intend to keep the finish "bright" meaning leaving the natural wood finish instead of paint.

Another deviation from the manual was a suggestion from the guys on the pocketship forum. The cleats are left off the bulkheads that hold up the sole (floor) until after all the glassing and sanding is done.  It makes sanding much easier and the cleats can be perfectly aligned in place when installing the floorboards.

Now for confession time.   The transom had one side better than the other.  I cut the bevel on the wrong side and it now fits bad side out.  There are some pretty good scars on the bad side that I will have to figure out a way to hide.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Visible Progress!!

A friend of mine was building an airplane in his garage a few years back.   His son brought his friend over to see the construction.  The plane was very early in the build.  The kid's friend was not impressed and said, "it does not look much like a plane to me"...ouch.

Well with the progress I have made over the last couple of days will allow me to bring people into my shop and without even telling them what I am doing, they will be able tell that I am building a boat.  This is a huge milestone!  It also has forced me into rearranging my shop for at least third time in the last month.  This little boat has a much bigger footprint than I really expected...time to move the tablesaw, again.  I do have the room, but my organizational skills are a bit lacking so I am still stepping over stuff.

This is the view of the Pocketship as a visitor enters the Pocketship Yard.

I did a lot of reading of Pocketship blogs in anticipation of receiving my receiving my kit.  There are a bunch of not only great builders out there, but great builders that are tremendous writers.  The most informative blogs are the ones written by guys who don't mind admitting their mistakes or where they had difficulties.  There have been a few places in the build that I have dreaded after reading blog horror stories.  One of these in particular has been the closing of the gap between the bilge panel and the upper panel towards the bow and the bending of the plywood at the bow of the bilge panels.
I have to admit it really was not bad in my case due to all the warnings and solutions that the blogs have given me.  I also picked up a trick on wood bending from a woodworker friend.  He insisted that it is heat that bends the wood more so than moister.  He show me a piece of solid oak he bend with nothing more than a heat gun he was using for a chair back.

Here is how I attacked the bilge panels:

Stitch the two panels to this point.  This is where the tension starts to really kick in.  I used my heat gun to heat the plywood on the outside (underneath in this position).  Keeping the gun moving over a two or three foot area from the bow point(s) back.  It does not take long and to be careful of scorching I kept the gun moving.  After a couple of minutes I was able to squeeze the the bow tips together with my fingers and stitch them together.

After that came the dreaded side panels.  The problem that seems to be most blogged about is the gap that is hard to close towards the bow.

This gap!

Before I got to this point I was prepared for battle.  You can see in the above picture I have a couple of blocks screwed on the opposite sides of the gap and a clamp squashing the bejeebers out of it.  I pre made all the blocks and alignment tools in advance, set up a chair, laid out all the stews and tools I needed and got after it.

Batched out the blocks.
I had all the blocks predrilled and ready for action.

The hole in the thicker block is large enough for the screw to "spin".  the thinner block is
 used to back up the screw on the inside of the hull.

The net result is that it really was not that hard.  It is a lot of work,  but work that is not frustrating.

Pulled together without much fuss.

 And here she is!  As almost every blog I read when the builder gets to this point says, "looking like a boat!"
iPhones have pretty good cameras!

The next worrisome step that I anticipate from the blog warnings is the climbing in and out of the hull  before the epoxy "welds" are in to work on the bulkheads.  We will see how that goes tomorrow.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Cooking Lead...

It was like a cross between an episode of "Breaking Bad" and "King of the Hill".  Fired up the fish fryer today with a brand new bottle of propane (Hank would be proud) and dress liked the guys from "Breaking Bad" to do the lead smelting for the keel and centerboard ballast.  Fumes from lead smelting are nasty and I don't want to catch cancer so I dressed like Jesse and Walt.  All went well and finished before I lost my shade from the garage.

The heat was intense!  The outside temperature was 104 degrees.  It felt hot enough to melt the lead without the aid of propane and fire. According to the internet (and it must be right it is on the internet) the melting temperature of lead is 621 degrees American that's 327.5 degrees Celsius, so a little aid from the gas was needed to melt the lead, but not much.  The cast iron handle on the skillet was really hot even with welding gloves, oh and heavy too.  I stuck with melting small quantities of lead at a time due to the weight, giving me better ability to control the pour.  If I had it to do over I would have found a cast iron kettle with more capacity than my skillet and a nice spout for pouring.

I was done before noon!  It does take a lot of preparation for this step in the build process.  Finding the lead is one of the hardest parts with the EPA regulations.  I bit the bullet (pun intended) and bought a large portion of the lead in the form of lead shot sold at the gun stores to the reloader guys.  It is expensive but clean.  Safety glasses, respirator, fire ire extinguisher, fish fryer, cinder blocks, clamps, propane....the list goes on.

Lead in place and cooled. Shavings at the left in the picture are from the over pour.

I poured a little too much lead the the forward section.  A sharp chisel removes the lead very effectively.  I read on the internet (so it must be true) that for luck you must put a coin in the keel and later a coin under the mast.  So I did before glueing the cap on.

Abe is going for a ride!

Friday, August 15, 2014

Work Suspended!

Got picked for a jury.  Spent two days in the federal court house this week.  The guy was innocent and we ruled that way.  We had an great bunch of people on the jury.  I was proud to serve with them. Poor dude was really getting hassled by the Feds.

Back to boat building!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Clamp on...Clamp off!

At 99 cents a piece for clamps, it is nice to know there are a few bargains left in the world.  I exchanged a picture of Mr. Jackson make me a proud owner of 20 more.

Clamp collection at work.

Getting ready for my lead pour tomorrow I broke down today and bought four bags of lead shot.  Turns out lead shot is a great tool for clamping pressure.  The bags of shot are underneath the cinder blocks that I will also use for the lead pour.  I figured I would do the center board glue up now because it needs lead too along with the keel.

Keel ready for the lead pour.

Unfortunately the lead pour may have to be put on hold for how knows how long...jury duty again!  Second time in 4 months.  I'd rather be smelting lead wearing a respirator, long pants, long sleeves, boots, and eye protection and all in 97 degree heat, but that is just me.  but my civic duty calls...again.

**A note to builders who may have stumbled across this blog, when glueing the centerboard I found a flat workbench is really valuable.  I used a piece of 1 1/2 pine cut into short sections to raise the centerboard off the bench to give the clamps clearance.  I carefully jointed the pine strips so that their dimensions where exactly the same (length and width wise) so not to cause any twist of warpage of the centerboard during the glue up.  The glue is curing as I type so if it didn't work you won't be reading this because it will be edited.

Let the Epoxy Flow!

 It is hard to count laminating the wood for the tiller (or as I like to call it, my "yacht club") as the real start to the Pocketship.

Today was the first day of actual boat building since the kit came in.  Laid out the blocking of the centerboard trunk and glassed the sides of the trunk that will be facing each other.  I made sure that I glassed the inside faces on both sheets of plywood and not the same side on both pieces.  Too early to make mistakes like that.

I have read on blogs about centerboard problems and they sound like something I really don't want to contend with.  One of the potential problems can be a wood seal problem and water penetrating the wood at the centerboard or the trunk.  Either intrusion might lock up the centerboard.  To prevent this I have been very careful to get the glass to lay down on the wood surface tightly and "fill the weave" in the additional coats so that when the parts are sanded I don't get down to the cloth weave. We will see how it went in about a year.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

It's Here!!

My ship has come in at last!

In what has probably been the longest wait since waiting for Christmas day when I was eleven, my Pocketship came in.

Loaded Tundra had no problems.

I went down to the truck headquarters, or whatever they call the place, and had them load up my truck there.  It was the right decision instead of having them come to my house.  For one, the truck would have never gotten down the driveway and two, they had a forklift on the premises.  The Tundra squatted a bit with the 1,000 pound shipping weight of the kit but seemed to drive a bit smoother.  Smoother but slower.

I didn't have any help unloading the truck when I got home so I opened and unloaded the cargo piece by piece.  It really worked out well because I was able to inventory everything as I unloaded.

First impression of the kit was a little disappointment.  I looked at the first CNCed sheet of plywood that was on top.  The wood looked kind of cheap and was not in the best of shape.  It was thin and flimsy.  I looked closer at the sheet and noticed the shape of a tiller, I felt a great deal of relief.  This was a sheet of patterns.  When I got down to the high dollar plywood boat pieces it was obvious this was quality stuff!  The CNC cut plywood is amazing.  I think my kit is one the first cut on the new machine that CLC just bought.  This is a fascinating link to an article on their business and history of cutting out kits-  17 Years of CNC Machines-A Look Back

A little worried at first...

In my kit, I opted for milled timber.  I did this not because I don't have the know how or tools to mill my own lumber but because in my area quality lumber is hard to come by.  I got the milled stuff because sometimes rough lumber does not always yield what you need due to imperfections in the wood not visible from the unmilled stock.  If CLC mills it they will find the bad spots and discard the stuff that won't work.   My plan worked perfectly.  The milled lumber is beautiful, square and close to length and straight grain in every board.  I can't get this quality or even all these species of wood locally.  This option cost a few extra $$ but has saved me hours lumberyard scrounging and a trip or two to San Antonio or Houston.
Milled lumber!  Every timber labeled.  Smells really good too.
Time to get organized and start on the centerboard trunk.