Tuesday, July 21, 2015

The Mad Rush

About halfway through the build I got a crazy idea that I could finish the project AND do the Texas 200.  There is a saying that the homebuilt aircraft guys have when you ask them when their projects will be finished, "80% and 80% more to go!"  When I was halfway I thought I was at the the 80% point.

To make the Texas 200 I went into overdrive to finish the boat in the six weeks leading up to the launch
.  Pretty much everything was put on hold including blog post to accomplish my goal.  One week before the Texas 200 I launched Candy-O.

It was a great day!  The winds were a bit light and a rainstorm was brewing out in the Corpus Christi Bay but it was incredible to hear the sounds of water slapping the hull.  Up to this point the only sound the boat made was that of a random orbital sander.  It sailed like a real boat, not just something put together in the garage.  It felt solid and even with my lack of recent sailing experience felt like what I think a sailboat should feel like.

One week later after only one outing I headed down to South Padre Island to begin my sail up the coast 200 miles for the Texas 200.

It's funny there are so many things that have forced me out of my comfort zone on this build.  One is paint finish.  It came out pretty good in some areas, others still need a bit of work.  Electronics was another of my weak areas.  This is where I exceeded my expectations.  The electronics came out great.  Everything works great and is wired properly.  Cabin lights, GPS with transducer, navigation lights, stereo with powered antenna, master switch, solar panel, USB ports for charging my phone, and a cigarette lighter port for other charging, and a fused switch panel, all worked perfect!  I learned about busbars and proper connections all through youtube videos.  It is amazing the power of the internet.  The rigging went smoothly too.  It is funny how everything makes sense when you have to put it together yourself.  The Texas 200 was just another thing out of my comfort zone I had to do.

For the longest time during the build, I wanted to go with a bright finish on the upper panels.  For weeks I carefully and painstakingly took care of the plywood wood veneer on the upper portions above the rub rails.  Well it just didn't look like what I wanted so on went the Hateris white paint.  The paint scheme pretty much resembles the prototype with the dark blue boot stripe and the white on top.  A lot of pocketships have used this color combination for good reason.  It looks good!  Not real original but it looks similar to the boat I fell in love with in the 2008 or so CLC catalogue.

I did half of the Texas 200 and decided to call it enough and tapped out.  There were some things that I needed to change or I should say add or tweak on Candy-O.  One of the most pressing changes is the need for seat cushions.  Eight hours of sitting on a hard wood/fiberglass cockpit deck in a pair of pants with one of those bathing suit liner things grinding into your skin like a cheese grater gets old.

Another tweak would be a problem I had with the wire supports that go to the top of the mast.  These tighten with turnbuckles that I purchased from West Marine.  When I first installed them they looked to be the perfect length but when I added the 3/4" block at the base of the tabernacle, to get the tension they bottomed out.  The tension was good but not great.  With the problems some of the other builders have had cracking their cabins, I was really concerned.  It is an easy fix at home.

Soloing the Texas 200 is a bit difficult when it comes to doing little things like changing the radio station, getting a drink, landing the boat, you know, important stuff.  The radio will have a remote that can be operated from the cockpit.  A small ice chest will accompany me within arms reach too.

An umbrella or some type of binimi will be considered too.  Man, it was hot!

Before I punted on the bright finish on the uppers.

Would have been easier if I had decided to paint earlier...much easier!

This is one of those extreme pucker times, but all went smoothly.

One of the last jobs!
Raising the main for the first time!

Electronics worked great!

Maiden voyage!

Another from the maiden voyage with Chris, the best J-29 skipper ever!

Made it to the Texas 200 in South Padre.

From the Texas 200.

Shot from Candy-O in the Land Cut- Texas 200.

Dinner on Candy-O while camping in the Land Cut. Yumm!

Nice shot of my Burka.  The sun was intense 

Shot of the fleet.  There were 91 or so in all.  Candy-O is the one on the far left with the dark sail.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Flippin' Party the Sequel !!

It was great to have the flippin' crew back in the Pocketshipyard for round two of the boat turn.  This time I had the pizza and beer ready for the crews arrival in the shop.  For future builders, be sure to have the proper libations for the first flip, that way it increases the chances the crew will come back next time.  It is always great to have people in my shop.  Ninety-nine percent of the time it is a solo endeavor except for the occasional mouse with an incredible ability to avoid glue traps.

There is a sense of urgency to get this beast done.  The Texas 200 is nearing and I need to get this boat dialed in before June 6.

Since my last post (the first flip) I epoxied and glass the entire hull, sanded, painted the hull, painted the hard to reach place inside with the boat was upside down, built the mast and spars, the tabernacle, decided on the name of the boat, built a boom gallow and did a bit of varnishing.  Yep, busy!

Really the only things left on the boat are things I am really not very proficient.  I have woodworking down, my fiberglassing techniques have improved to a point that I can put them in the strong column and sanding is a well practiced skill where I am pretty solid.  Painting, electrical, and rigging are three areas that I lack either experience or much skill.  Well, thats all that is left for the most part.

I read a great article on painting.  It pretty much said keep stacking on coats as good as you can and eventually you will get one you like and can stop...that's about four or five coats for me usually.  That works.  The hull paint came out close to acceptable.  The flipping' crew was complimentary of the paint job...well, they are really nice people.

I was not real happy with the paint on the hull, and figured I had nothing to lose, I took out some 1200 grit paper and wet sanded the Interlux bright side paint.  It leveled out nicely with the sanding but of course was now very dull.  Took out the buffer and polishing compound and went to town and bam!  The gloss was back.  I was happy enough with the test area that I hand sanded the entire  bootstripe area.  It is now acceptable enough.

The bottom I painted with Trilux 33.  It has some antifouling qualities.  If I had it to do over I would not have used this stuff.  The boat will live on a trailer and it is really difficult to get this paint smooth.
Flipped over!

It is nice to have the boat out of the inverted position.  It is like having an old friend back.

Transom glass.  Last big fiberglass job left!

Lasers are essential for getting the water line right.

I used a laser for taping the water line stripe.  The laser goes around corners and depending on the location and angle of the hull of the stripe width changes, but as viewed from the side looks like a consistent width.

The stripe changing width is most noticeable at the stern.

Initially I painted the stripe white and gold, but the gold paint had no gloss as advertised on the the can.  Oh well, I like the red better anyway.

The blue boot stripe is reminiscent of the Pocketship prototype.

From the first time I saw the Pocketship in the CLC catalog sometime around 2008 I really liked the dark blue boot stripe.  I followed the tradition as have many other Pocketship builders and also went with the blue.

Centerboard installation

The manual suggests no finish on the centerboard.  Just a 400 grit sanded finish.  Everything else has been right in the manual.  I am not going to deviate on this one.

One of the chores to do while the boat is inverted.

While upside-down the manual suggests to do some painting on some of the hard to reach and nearly impossible paces to paint inside the cabin.  This is underneath the cockpit seating area inside the cabin.  Originally I was going to leave the wood bright.  I just painted the whole thing white for three reasons, it was much easier, it will be easier to see by reflecting more light and it can't be seen without laying on your back and looking for it.

There are also a couple of additional trapezoidal pieces of plywood that I felt it needed a bit more strength and stiffness.  I am glad I did.  Now that the boat is turned over and have stood in the cockpit, it feels much more solid and secure.

Glue up of boom gallow. 

To stay busy while waiting to get my flipping crew together, I cut some strips and layer up my boom gallows.  It is the same method I used on the tiller what seems like now a long time ago.  I went a little thicker with the strips so the scale looked in proportion with the tiller.

Gallows modification.

One of the drawbacks of the boom gallows is having weight up high.  When I l did the lamination I left the last strip off so that I could drill holes to lighten things up.

Lots of holes should help the weight.

In the picture above you can see the dark strip on the right I used to cover the holes.

These two holes are for lashing the boom down.

I left room for a notch to hold the boom and a couple of hole for a tie down.

Hole production

With all the chips I swept up I figure I saved a lot of weight.  Not really sure how much, but it sure made a mess.

Tiller finish.

One of the task to stay busy was putting a finish on the tiller.  I like how it came out.  The boom gallows with hopefully look similar.

More finishing.

Thinned the varnish about 5% with mineral spirits and brushed it on.  It flows nice.

Cutting a scarf joint.

Having three or more tasks going on at once suits my brain pretty well.  I also built my spars.  In the picture above I am cutting a scarf joint.  I cheated a bit.  The hand plane was used to tune and get down to the final size.  Most of the hogging off of the wood was done with the 6X48 belt sander seen in the background of the picture.  I really throws the dust around.

No pictures of the spars yet.  Stay tuned I am really pushing hard to make the Texas 200 and still not compromise the quality of the boat.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

We Had a Flippin' Party!

One of the big milestones in building a Pocketship is when the boat is first flipped over to do the bottom work.  To do this requires friends.  Pocketships can become so consuming that friends could be a little hard to cultivate, but fortunately for me I still have a few.  Great friends that like boats in fact.  These are the captains and crew of Stoopid Monkey a J-29, and great boat flippers they are!

Lots of beer and Cheetos later the Pocketship was doing a great impression of "The Poseidon Adventure ".

Before the flip there was the rub rail project because with out the rub rails there would be nothing to grab onto for the flip.  Rub rails are pretty much a week long project.  Each rail consist of three pieces  and one has to be epoxied in place one at a time.   Before the next piece can be installed the epoxy must cure.  During the curing times I was able to work on a few other projects...rudder, center board, and the bow sprit.

The flippin' boat crew.

Hot rags!

I found the best way to bend the last section of rub rail towards the bow where the radius decreases requires a bit of persuasion in the form of hot rags.  I put the rags in the bottom of a bucket and poured boiling water on top of the rags.  They would not stay hot real long but long enough to easily make the bend.

One of the projects during the rub rail installation.

Built the rudder while the epoxy cured.  The tiller was the first thing I built.  It was done before the kit arrived.

Another "stay busy" project.

The center board has been close to being finished for quite some time.  It has been sitting in the corner with the two halves glued together but not shaped and no fiberglass.  It was a fun item to have to work on waiting on the rub rails.

Hole for bow sprit.
Cutting the hole in the bow for the bow sprit was a bit unnerving.  I prefer to sneak up on the fit...it is still a bit too tight.  I used a section of the cutoff from the bow sprit stock for fitting to get the size just right.

Cut off from the bowsprit being useful.

The shop sure looks different now.

Everything looked good on the bottom of the boat.  It had been a long time since I had seen the keel.

Bottom side of the rub rails.

Each strip of the rub rails gets progressively shorter.  On top each strip is situated flush with each other.  On the bottom it becomes stair stepped.  This is so the underside has a nice taper.  When the boat is upside down it is the best time to shape the underside of the rail.  I used a belt sander.   My belt sander is really loud and puts out a lot of dust. 

After the belt sanding.

Fairing compound to the rescue.

I found a slight dip on both sides right at the finger joints.  Jamestown Distributors fairing compound is an excellent product.  It can be used on wood or fiberglass.  I prefer to get it on the wood and cover it with fiberglass.  I also use it on my fillets.  It has a good working time but still can be sanded after a few hours.

Festool is nice!

Before I started this project I invested in some Festool product.  I know the stuff cost 3 times as much as anything else on the market but I have been extremely happy with their products.  Yes I am turning into a fanboy.

Takes a lot of glass.

After the wet out.

...and below...or is that above?

Extra protection.

The boat will be used in this year's Texas 200 (hopefully).  The 200 requires several nights of overnight camping and beaching of the boat.  I have four layers of fiberglass from the bow all the way to the front of the keel.  Hope it is enough to keep from grinding through to the wood from the abrasion of a sandy beach.

Finished off at the keel.

This is the last major part of fiberglass left on the project.  I think after all of the epoxy application I am finally getting pretty good at it...well good enough.


My paint comes in today.  A bit more touch up on the sanding and I'll start taping off for paint.  After the paint I'll have another "flippin' party"!

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Where Did February Go?

Ooops, I skipped February!  No updates last month but at least the month was short.  Here are my excuses...got sick (two weeks of no boat building), my daughter's basketball team went deep into the playoffs, snuck in a ski trip, general laziness, and when not dealing with all the aforementioned I have been working on the boat.

Before this weekend I was getting a little discouraged about making it to the Texas 200 with my new Pocketship.  It has been my goal to have this thing in the water at least 6 weeks before the start of the 200. It starts June 8, 2015.  I am typing this on March 4.  Holy smokes where does the time go?  The good news is the progress has rally taken off the last three days.  The companionway hatch woodwork has been done, the entire topside has been glassed and epoxy filled, sanding the topsides is about 50% done, work on the rudder has started, and the rub rails are halfway installed.  The boat should be ready to flip next week for the work on the underside of the hull.

One of the biggest obstacles to getting this beast done before the Texas 200 is all the electronics I have planed (and bought) to install.  Cool stuff like a stereo that will bluetooth to my phone, a depth finder, interior lights, exterior navigation lights, volt meter, master switch, Garmin GPS, well you get the idea a bunch of stuff.  Unfortunately electronics is not one of my fortes.  Then there are spars, a mast, boom gallows, find a trailer, rigging and a lot of painting.  Good thing is it is all fun!

I had a case of "cut it twice and still too short" in the building of the bow sprit.  Looking at the plans I thought the cross section dimensions were 2X3.  Turned out it was 2 1/2 X 3.  There are no really good sources in my town (that I have found) for sitka spruce.  The wood is great for boat builders, strong and light with long straight grain and no knots.  Works great for spars and masts. Turns out a trip to San Antonio for a girls basketball playoff game was also a location of a great wood store.  Told the guy what I wanted, and being the knowledgeable wood guy, he was asked if I was building a boat.

Building the hood for the companionway has been a nice departure from the "epoxy mud pies" and never ending sanding.  This woodworking is a bit different because like the entire boat, a 90 degree angle is rare.  This hood has compound angles on curved edges. It enough to make your head explode at times.  Somehow I got through it.  My high school geometry teacher Mr. Morrison would be proud.  We used to shorten his name to "Moe" because of his haircut looked like Moe from the three stooges, but I am getting a little off the subject.

Speaking of getting off the subject, this boat project is perfect for the attention deficit problems that I very frequently suffer from.  Lately I have been bouncing around with three or four projects going at once.  This is really necessary because as soon as I put epoxy on a part I really can't work on that part for the next few hours.  Currently I am working on the rudder, companionway cover, bow sprit, and rub rails. Works for me.

Another one of those acute or oblique angles...I can't remember which is which.

Router table makes a good workbench.  Every horizontal surface in the shop seems to be full.

Built that router table a long time ago and never used it much until now.  It gets a pretty good work out on this project.
Plug manufacturing for the hood screw holes.
Plugs inserted.

Had some left over bronze screws from the cabin sole floorboard.  I can find a lot of places to use the extras before this project is over.
Plugs flush cut.

Hood in place.
I did the sides in mahogany and plan to leave them with a bright (clear) finish.  I avoided screw holes in the tops by using clamps and glue during assembly. The plywood in the kit is oversized so alignment is easy.  Get it close and trim the overhang.

Found another horizontal surface in the shop not being used...the table saw another great workbench!
One of the roof supports.

I noticed a slight sag in the cabin roof when checking the fit of the companionway hood.  It was not much, maybe a 1/4".  I hated to epoxy and fiberglass with the sag.  Instead I added the temporary braces to straighten things out before glassing the top.

One of those measure 900 times, cut one moments.  These holes are for the storage hatches.

One of the things my dad did was never throw anything away.  Guess that happens when you grow up in the depression.  This asset/curse was handed down to me.  He didn't sell things very often either.  I am really grateful for this.  The 1940's Delta planer works like it did when it was new in his lumber yard he owned after getting back from WWII.  It sure is cheaper to buy rough lumber...
Dimensioning sitka spruce for attempt #2 on the bow sprit.
Quiet machine too!  I can have a conversation while it is in use.  Try that with one of those lunch box planers that are now in vogue.

It smells good too.
First strip of three pieces on the rub rail.
Second strip.

That pretty much catches up with the progress except for some rudder pictures.  Until next time!