Boarding Ladder

Just a few shots showing the next step.  Namely, glueing the bottom tread to the lower step.  After rounding over all the parts, drilling line holes and chamfering the edges, I was for assembly.

Take a look:

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The lower tread being epoxied to the lower step.

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7/8″ thick and angled at a 45 degree, it creates a secure first step from the lake.

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I used 1″ screws from the backside to hold the step in place while the epoxy cures.

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Once cured, I’ll roll 2 coats over all the parts.

Summary:

I spoke with Kilburn today.  He gave me some good ideas for the motor cover.  I now have a lot clearer vision of what I want my motor cover to do and how to build it.  Life is good!

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Boarding Ladder

After stumbling around with the motor cover, I’ve decided to build the boarding ladder first and see if I get any inspiration regarding the motor cover.  I’m torn between several design issues with regard to the cover.  So, I’m shifting gears toward the ladder while pondering the motor cover.

Take a look:

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After roughing out the main parts, I reached for my dovetail saw to make the diagonal cuts needed for the bottom tread.

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It’s not hard or difficult, just take your time and mark the parts clearly that need to be removed.  I also drilled out the 3/8″ line hole while I still had good access.

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Mocking up how the tread will fit against the side pieces.  

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Side view of the bottom tread.

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All these pieces need to be cleaned up and rounded over, but you get the general idea.

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After rounding over all the rough edges, I glued the mahogany sides to the upper step.  

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Mahogany sides to the lower step.  

Summary:

Once cured, I’ll add the lower angled tread to the bottom step and epoxy all the parts at least twice.  This design appears to be simple, clean, even elegant.  I think Kilburn is a genius.  

Beginning Motor Cover

After hours of thinking about how to build a motor cover, tonight I got started.   Sometime thats the best way to understand how to proceed.

Things will make a lot more sense once I get a little further along, but so far, here’s what I have:

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First off, I needed to rasp away some material to make room for the steering rods (when the motor’s in the up position).

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The steering rods rotate with the motor so an elliptical shape was needed. 

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I then rounded the transom corners.  Here you see the motor leaning fully toward starboard with ample clearance.  

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The beginnings of the motor cover.  I’m building a flat area of about 3″ onto which I’ll lay the bimini, then the cover will slope aft (matching the transom angle).  

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I notched out the slosh well sides to accept the 3″ flat board.

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Like this…

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I then cut 2″ filler circles to plug the electrical access holes.  These weren’t needed because I ran the electrical wiring underneath the seats.   I want this area to be as quiet as possible, hence the plugs.

Now, off to watch the BYU basketball game with my kids.  More to come…

Battery Cable Hookup

After building a boat by hand, you’re not about to let someone else hook up you steering and battery cables, at least I wasn’t.

Here’s what I came up with:

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The battery is located per plans, under the port aft storage bunk.  I sized the battery to start the motor only as I’m not planning on using a CB radio or connecting interior lights.   I taped off the exposed portion of the terminal ends and used zip ties to keep things neat.  The battery is secured using 1″ webbing to stainless pad eyes.  I turned the battery aft so the cables wouldn’t get hung up in other gear.  They exit the bunk compartment through a 7/8″ hole.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAbove, you see the battery cables running aft under the leg support…

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Under the cockpit seating, then secured up out of the way using 3/8″ clips screwed into cleating.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI used zip ties to keep things neat.

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Electrical wires from both the throttle controller and battery come up into the motor well through one hole.  This hole also accomodates the gas line from the 6 gallon tank below.  Unlike the other cables, electrical cabling can be run out of sight.  This keeps the boat looking tidy.

You might wonder if the hole through the motor well increases the chance for water intrusion.  Say for example, a wave were to come over the transom.  If this becomes an issue, I’ll seal the hole with silicon.  But remember, the floor to the motor well slopes aft (towards the drain hole), so I really don’t think it’s a big deal.  I also plan to have a motor cover over this area to keep out rain water.

Now I need to install my navigation lights and connect to the battery.

Boat Musings

What is it about water and boats that’s so enchanting?  What is it about exploring and seeing new sights that attracts us?  What is it about the dream of a new adventure that’s so alluring?

Boats allow us adventure.  They afford us new experiences.  They take us places we could not otherwise go.  They slow down our busy life styles.  They allow us to see the natural world in a way we otherwise would not.

I’m really excited to take out my Skiff America and begin these adventures.  I want to see local lakes, regional lakes and even far away places in Northern Cross.

And, even before I’ve launched Northern Cross, I still dream of another boat to build.  Can it be that I’m addicted to boat building?  Possibly, but I think the real answer lies in a desire to augment Northern Cross with a small non motorized sailboat.  There’s something about sailboats that I find hard to shake.  There not as practical as Skiff America, and because of this,  I don’t think I’ll ever sell my Skiff America.  I have a large family and Northern Cross hits this target head on —bulls eyed.  Yet, the lure of a small motorless sailboat I could row or sail continues to tug at my heart.  Moving about as mariners did thousands of years ago, by wind or oar.  Plotting a course to circumnavigate a large mountain lake, expedition style, with compass and map, anchors, sails, wind and rain totally captivates me.

I sold my Scamp sailboat thinking this feeling would leave me once I built Skiff America…it hasn’t.  I have consulted my best friend, Jennifer (my wife) regarding these feelings.  Here’s her advise, and what Jennifer says, you can take to the bank:  Use Skiff America for 1-2 years before deciding to build any other type of boat.  See if the feeling persists or wains.  After 1-2 years of boating, I’ll know whether I’m just crazy or if I really do indeed want to build a second boat.

Until then, I plan to use my Skiff America, read, study and learn from others.  My second boat would be small, simple and yet robust and seaworthy.  It would be an expedition micro cruiser.  It would take two sailers to far away places and be designed to the hilt.  It would either be another Scamp (highly modified like Howard Rice’s) or Long Steps, both by the designer John Welsford.

Are any of you afflicted by similar dreams, thoughts and ambitions or am I the only one?  Please don’t leave me hanging!

 

Helm, Controller, Cables and Seats

After test mounting the helm, controller, cables and seats multiple times, today was the final show…and they all got mounted permanently.  What a great day!

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Here’re the pieces of the helm assembly.  

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The No Feedback Steering Mechanism mounted through the console.  You get to determine the positioning by rotating the mechanism to different hole patterns.  Through bolted to the console, it feels very secure.  

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And, here’s the helm.  Mounted in all its glory.  I plan to build a small cover cap to hide the center bolt.  With the helm mounted, I can install the steering cable. 

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The cover cap and mounting hardware look great.  

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Next up, the  controller.  It’s through bolted to the Shifter/Throttle Mount.  This creates a very solid feel to the controls.

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You can see the steering cable running up under the console and the other end of the steering cable with protective cap installed.  Also, note the bundle of plug ends coming out of the controller.  I’m not utilizing any of these, so I’ll tape them together and tuck neatly away.  

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Wanting to minimize the number of exposed visible cables, I ran the electrical cables under the seat.  

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Access hole for electrical cables.

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The electrical cables for both sides of the boat come together up into the motor well through a hole drilled near the top end.  The entire motor well will be covered by the motor cover.  Also, note the shifter, throttle and steering cables coming through the Starboard slosh well. 

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I held the captains seat off the gunwales a few inches to allow room for the cables.  This also increased seating comfort.

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I leaned the seats back 3/4″ by placing a shim under the front edge for increased comfort.

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I was worried about how the cables would look visually running aft.  I now think they look just fine.

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Parting shot.  

Summary:

Today seemed to pull together many loose ends.  It was a ton of fun seeing all these different components come together as planned.  I can now focus on the electrical cable that runs to the battery, designing the motor cover and building the boarding ladder.   I’m very glad I decided to build this boat.  

Cockpit Floor Complete

Second coat of paint applied and tape removed.

Check it out:

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I really like the bathtub floor concept.  I wrapped the paint up about 3″ all the way around.  It gives the floor a very sealed, finished and protected look.  

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I may still add a fleck to the floor to disguise dirt and shoe marks, but I’ll give it a few days and then decide.  I’m now officially ready to start hooking up the steering cable and other control cables.  This is the moment my dad (official motor head) has been waiting for.  I’ll get more excited once I feel the outboard apply thrust to the boat.

Cockpit Floor Paint

It’s finally time to paint the cockpit floor.  After sanding all the edges and rough spots, I taped off the top line and rolled on a coat of Rust-Oleum Gloss Grey enamel with anti skid aluminum added.  This should make for a tough, safe floor.

Take a look:

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After this cures, I’ll roll on another coat or two and then be ready to install cabling and steering mechanism.

Varnishing the Cockpit

After drilling a few holes to run the cabling and electrical wiring, I cleaned everything up, taped off the bottom line and rolled on a coat of varnish.  Up to this point, the cockpit had been epoxied, but not varnished.

Hard to see the difference in the photos, but I’m very pleased with the results.  

Check it out:

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Summary:

I’ll apply one more coat before bedtime and then one final coat tomorrow morning.  I’m then off to Yellowstone with my wife for a weekend of Nordic skiing and hot tubing.  Life is good!

Cockpit Seating and Ergonomics

You can build a boat…but can you make it comfortable?  This is the question I was wrestling with as I attempted to layout the cockpit benches, the seats, the helm console and the throttle/shifter controller.  The sequencing started long before today, when I actually test mounted the seats.

Here’s a look at the steps I took:

  1. First, I held the front edge of the bench back 22″ from the bulkhead (this is 2″ more than called for in the plans).
  2. I then made the helm console as narrow as possible, while still being able to mount the steering mechanism.  I shaved off 7/8″ be snuggling the steering mechanism tightly against the bulkhead.
  3. I then mocked up the throttle/shifter mount.  The governing measurement with the throttle/shifter controller is to allow a gloved hand on the throttle to miss the steering knob when motoring at full throttle.  This scenario dictated how closely the controller could be mounted to the steering wheel.  I marked its proper location with a pencil.
  4. Once these two mechanical devises have been factored into the equation, you can position the seats and determine their placement for proper leg extension (making sure your shin doesn’t hit the steering knob with you leg extended, resting on the foot rest).

I originally planned to have the seats swivel, but reality got in the way.  In order to swivel the seats, it would required me to mount them too far inboard (it takes a lot of room to swivel a seat). This inboard location would prevent me from using the gunwale as an arm rest.  Plus, it was determined that there’s little merit in the having seats that swivel, so I bolted them down tight.

Here’re the photos:

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Jennifer sat on the seat while positioning her feet on the footrest and bunk top (the bunk top makes an excellent place to rest your inside foot).  This is where she wanted her seat.

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My positioning looks to be further forward, but it’s not.  The camera angle disguises it’s location.  It’s also back a couple of inches from the front edge of the bench.  I held my seat further off the gunwale to make room for the the cabling and throttle/shifter controller.  

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We noticed the seats needed to be tilted aft for better comfort, especially once we dawned the PFD’s.  So, I built a 3/4″ shim from white oak and placed it under the forward bolts.  This made the seats significantly more comfortable.  

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So, there you have it.  Both seats test mounted in their proper location.  

Summary:

I’ll now mount the throttle/shifter controller and then make sure all the cabling works.  I feel like I’m breathing a little more life into my boat every day.