Building the Console

With a few days off work, I set my attention toward building the console.  I followed the plans almost exactly…but I did narrow the console by 7/8″ to keep the helm less obtrusive.  It sticks into the cockpit a fair amount, but I did what I could to keep it tight.

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You need to cut a 3,1/4″ hole for the steering bracket to fit through.  This will make more sense once I assemble the helm.  

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I selected mahogany for the retaining skirt that runs around the top of the console.  After mocking it up, it looked heavy to me, so  I drilled out a few holes to help soften the look.  

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I also added skirting to the outboard side of the console to keep items from falling into the lake.

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The holes might actually turn out to be function by allowing me to run a lanyard through them to secure a hand held radio or GPS unit.  

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Once cured, I’ll apply another coat of epoxy to the entire unit prior to installation.  

Summary:

Our temperature has been around 0 degrees Fahrenheit for several days now.  Without shop heat, I’d be shut down for several months.  I’m grateful for a shop heater and time at home to continue moving this project forward.  Small daily movement is what it takes to get it done.  

 

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Blue Tape Removed

Pulling the blue tape off an area you’ve painted is such a satisfying experience.

Take a look:

There’re a few places in the cabin where the white paint snuck under the tape, but only a few which I’ll touch up later.  I love the look of the Dark Navy and Hatteras Off White against the bright work.  Things are coming together nicely.  I’m very pleased with these results.

Now let’s all go enjoy our family and friends over this beautiful Christmas Season.

Cabin Paint, Ya Baby!

Well, after yesterday’s debacles, this morning went swimmingly well.  I wanted to get another coat of Hatteras Off White paint applied to the cabin top and inside cabin stripe.  If you remember, last time I tried this (with the paint slightly green) it ended up crazing and looked terrible.  I sanded this mess all off, applied one coat of paint, and waited for it to properly cure before attempting the second coat.

I’m happy to report, the second coat went on beautifully.

Take a look:

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Look Ma, no crazing!!!

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Notice the bicycle refection off the cabin top near the back.  I love bicycles.

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I also added a white stripe to the interior cabin.  

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Looking aft.  Things are starting to come together for Northern Cross.

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I’m almost ready to begin focusing on the cockpit.  But, first I want to get the cabin finished up.  I’ll be adding bunk retention lines to hold up the lids for hands free loading.  I also want to fix a place for the lap trays to store and add final touches to the thunder plank system.  This is the fun of building and creating your own boat.  You get to organize and accessorize till the cows come home– and I love it.

As you can tell, I’m feeling much better than yesterday.  Let’s all move forward in our lives and not get discouraged.  

Motor, Windows, Paint and Pissyness

Sometimes when you work on your boat everything seems to go wrong.  Sometimes it’s as if all odds seem stacked against you and progress is hampered by every conceivable obstacle wood, paint and metal can throw at you.  Today was one of those days.

And yet, I did make progress.  But, it was hard earned and felt like short tacking all day into a cold, biting 30 knot headwind.

Take a look:

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First off we bought the wrong length bolts, even though we measured twice and thought we could buy once.  Isn’t that how the saying goes?  It should say, “measure as many times as you damn well please, cut once, then redo it as many times as it takes until you finally get it right”.  After waiting overnight for the epoxy to dry inside the bolt holes,  we exchanged bolt lengths a third time…remember the transom has different thicknesses depending where you drill.

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The upside is Bennett got some experience bolting an outboard motor onto a wooden boat.

 

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Next up came the windows.  The wooden frames look great, so this should be easy.  Right?

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After carefully aligning the frames for proper drilling, I drilled the first few holes and inserted bolts to keep things straight.  So far, so good.

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Between the last photo and this photo, I lost a touch of religion, but I recon I can make that up through clean living…but, if that’s true, I’ll need to start living clean.  Problem was, once my fingers touched the silicone, it seemed to go everywhere, and I mean everywhere.  Then, the  window shifted, preventing the frame from sucking up tight to the side panel, this after all the bolts were inserted and tightened down–angered, I pull everything off to clear the problem, now washers and bolts scatter like mice across the floor– silicon now spreading, oozing, welling up from the center of the earth, slathering the wood panel, the lens, the tools, behind my ears, you name it.  After what seems like a hundred paper towels and a gallon of alcohol, I got the mess cleaned up.  I thought this was going to be easy.  Oh no, nothing easy today.

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For extra style points, I used slot headed screws instead of the phillips variety.  Phillips head screws were manufactured for the automotive industry and are not as historic as slot headed screws.  This is a wooden boat built mostly by hand tools, so slot headed screws it will be.  And, yes of coarse, I aligned the slots so they all match in a horizontal orientation.  Heaven forbid you not align your screw head slots.

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On the inside, I used bolt caps to contain the screw threads for a more finished look.  My wife will like this touch.  Maybe it’ll incline her to feel more romantic once inside the cabin.  I apply strategy wherever possible.

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And, finally I taped off the cabin top in preparation for another coat of paint.

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I’ll apply a second coat after waiting several days for this coat to dry (keeping my fingers crossed)…remember what happened last time?

Summary:

Still good progress, but I sure had to earn every damn bit of it.  I love boat building, but be under no allusion, it’s a long slow process that’ll test your nerve, mettle and patience.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you.  

Trailer Design and Weight Distribution

After waiting for several months, my trailer was finally completed.  I agreed to accept the trailer without bunks, to minimize the manufacturing process and to ensure I got the bunk design I wanted- by doing it myself.  The trailer rides on a 1,500 lb. torsion axle- this should provide a very cushy ride.

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I considered many different bunk designs, but in the end, I settled on three 2′ x 6′.  One 14′ and  two 10′ in length.

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I rounded the corners of the board ends to better accept the carpet wrap.

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I pre drilled and reamed all the holes so the screws would suck completely down into the wood and not scrape the hull bottom.

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I then carpeted the bunks using my pneaumatic staple gun.

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Finally, I screwed the bunks to the trailer bed.  I believe these 3 bunks will support the hull evenly and sufficiently without adding a lot of tongue weight to the trailer.  Notice how I held the bunks aft of the trailer an additional 16″?  This will allow me to balance the load by shifting the boat fore and aft on the trailer.  It’s impossible to achieve proper tongue weight if you can’t shift the load.  

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My dad and I muscled the motor into place.  I’ll bolt it to the transom after sealing the holes with epoxy.

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And, here she is.  My Skiff America on the trailer.   Wow, she look good!

Summary:

 By shifting the boat fore and aft on the trailer, we were able to establish proper balance and load distribution.  The way she now sits, we have 150 lb. of tongue weight at the hitch.  I thinks this will be just about right.   If not, we can easily shift the load for optimum trailering.  

Varnishing Northern Cross

Since the paint gave me such a problem, I’ve decided to varnish instead, while I wait for the paint to fully cure.  I can’t believe I’ve come to that stage in building Northern Cross where varnish is the next step.  You know you’ve come a long way when you crack out the varnish.

Take a look:

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Now lest you think this varnish job is somehow better than your last varnish job, please don’t.  I could show you several varnish runs if it makes you feel any better.  Remember, I’m just a Ham n Egger.  I’m amazed at how hard it is to get a good finish.

 I truly believe one could take as long to finish a boat as build a boat if seeking for perfection.  Let’s not do that, OK?

I used a foam roller and a 2,1/2″ chip brush to reach where the roller wouldn’t go.  The second coat is the hardest cuz you can’t tell where you’ve been.  It’s all shiny, no I didn’t sand in between coats.  I worked real hard to get the epoxy finish well sanded, but then simply added 2 coats of varnish over the epoxy base.  The thickness is sufficient to my eye and I believe any additional coats would simply add bulk and wrinkles to the finish.  So, two coats it’ll be.

I’m re-reading Tom Pamperin’s “Jagular goes everywhere”.  Great reading while the varnish dries.  I really enjoy Tom’s perspective on life and sailing.  His straight forward approach to adventure and the ensuing problems are refreshing and encouraging.

Pick a boat…build a boat…and, go exploring!  Life is too short to spend it on the couch.   

Yet Another Issue

Lest you feel I was exaggerating with yesterday’s post, check this out:

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I decide to paint the cabin tops Hatteras Off White.  I have one coat of paint down and I’m now applying the second coat.

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Things appear reasonably normal…  Or do they?

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Within seconds of my second coat of paint, I’m greeted with this.  The paint pulls up into a crazing appearance.  I told you chemistry and me don’t get along.  You thought I was exaggerating, you thought I was jus saying that to gain undeserved sympathy.  Well, now do you believe me when I say I’m a magnet for disasters to appear?

I used no wax paper.  My paint roller was new.  My tipping brush was new.  My paint holder was new.  The only thing I can say is the paint was not completely dry.  My thinking was to add the second coat while the first coat was still green for better adhesion.  Guess that’s not the way to proceed.  My only option now is to wait until the paint completely cures and then sand it all off.  It’s not all as bad as the photo above, but half of it is.

Boat building is a continual learning process.  You would think I would understand how to apply paint, but I guess I don’t.

Culprit and the Cure

First off, I’m always amazed at how many things go wrong when I’m involved with a project.  It seems to me I’m a magnet for problems, especially when chemistry is involved.  It’s like the chemical Gods of the universe say, as they did with Tevye “what trick can I play today on my friend (Brent)?”

After varnishing my lap trays, bunk tops, cabin filler boards, window frames and the thunder plank, I notice an alarming result.  The finish was blotchy.  Not just a little blotchy.  And, that’s where the chemistry God’s went wrong.  A little blotchy and I would’ve never figured out the problem, writing it off as some minor quirk of bad luck.  No, majorly blotchy, like hell no this is not right blotchy.

So, as I lay in bed feeling dejected by my beautiful wooden pieces, wondering where I went wrong, I mentally walked back through the crime scene analyzing all the previous step I had taken while applying the finish.

And, I think I’ve found the culprit:

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That’s right, wax paper.  I’ve been using wax paper during my epoxy and finishing process for a long time now.  I would tear off a piece, pour the varnish or paint on the paper and then roll up the finish with a roller and apply.  Well, the varnish is oil based and hence contains lots of paint thinner.  And, thinner softens wax, and the roller picked up the wax and deposited it on my finish pieces, leaving me with a terrible looking finish.  It appears the epoxy doesn’t soften this stuff and works just fine.  But, varnish and paint is another story.  Don’t do it, It’ll cost you a lot of time and anguish.

I went back out this morning and after sanding aggressively, reapplied the varnish yet again.  This time directly from  a new paint tray.

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This is really good stuff, especially when you don’t mix it with wax.

Here’re the results:

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Summary:

There’s always something waiting to get you in boat building.  Don’t let the wax man into your shop.  Say No to wax paper.  I’ll never use wax paper again when finishing.  

Another Look at the Improvements.

Below, you can see the functionality of the night stands and how I intend to use them.

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The wool tote allows customization of the area.  Notice how the Yeti mug keeps the tote in place.  I also cut out the back corner of the stand to allow me to run a charging cord up the back into the tote to charge small digital devices off the battery (which sits directly below this area).  

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I held the stand off the companionway and rounded the corner to keep it trim and non intrusive.  

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Now I have a library (something every real boat should have) and an area to keep me organized.  

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Here you can see how the side step functions to provide foot support.  Being kept narrow, the support doesn’t intrude into the floor area and hence takes noting away from the original design and existing floorspace.

Summary:

In mounting the night stands, I screwed through the cockpit side of the bulkhead into the 3/8″ horizontal plywood of the stand.  You must pre-drill the plywood or the screw will split the plywood.  This worked beautifully to secure the stand while the epoxy cured, after which I removed the screws.  I then laid a small fillet all around the stand…it’s rock solid.  

I’m now ready to begin varnishing the cabin and bow areas of Northern Cross.  

Building a Foot Support

The sides of Skiff America where the captain and first mate sit are sloping inward dramatically.  In mocking up the chairs, I noticed how awkward this sloping side wall became.  There’s just no place to put your foot.  It reminded me of our Chevy Astro Van, which we have now sold, only the Skiff foot problem is even worse.  

In thinking through the issue, I came up with a simple solution.  I decided to build a foot support.

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Looking straight down on the foot support.  I kept the support narrow as not to intrude into the floor area.  It’s about 4 1/2″ wide and made from 1/2″ scrap plywood.

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Side view of the foot support.  I used cleats along both forward and aft edges for a secure, level installation.  I also built a brace which I placed under the center of the support.  This should now be strong enough to allow me to stand on the support.  I laid a nice fillet all around the support.

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The cushioned seat will be placed at the forward edge of the seat top.  This foot support will allow me to move my foot forward and aft, for a change of body position.  I placed one on both sides of the cockpit.

Summary:

They weren’t hard to build or install and I think they’ll go a long way toward improving seating comfort.