After securing all the panels to the bulkheads and transom, I was ready to work the bow/stem into position.
By securing the panels to the front bulkhead, I could easily move the bow panels into position against the stem and check alignment.
By hanging a plumb bob to the top of the stem, I was able to check the verticality of the stem.
I made 3 cuts to steepen up the angle of the stem for proper alignment to the front edge of the panels. I was able to bring the panels flush with the stem with very little pressure. Surprisingly, the panels fit remarkably well. I mean within 1/8″ which really amazed me.
I then added two large fillets to the inside of the stem and laid 4″ glass tape over the wet fillets.
The inside fillet allows for good purchase to the stem and bow panels. I’ll trim the glass flush with the top of the stem once cured.
At this point, I must say how impressed I am with Kilburn’s plans. These panels fit almost perfectly. The above photo shows the panels uncut, fitting nearly flush to the stem. The stem didn’t need to move backward or forward.
The lines of this boat are gorgeous and the proportions are much better looking that what I could decipher from photos or even the plans. Remember, discredited this boat in my head for a couple of years before deciding to build it. Wow, was I wrong. I love everything about this boat. To this point, It is exactly what I hoped it would be and even more.
Once all the panels look fair and delightsome, I locked things into place.
After the epoxy has set up for several hours, I’ll come back and trim off the ends of the fiberglass tape and cut around the washers. These are rather large fillets and it took time to lay in enough material to create a large smooth radius.
Steps I followed:
- I used a brush to wet all edges with unthickened epoxy.
- I rolled a 3″ strip of unthickened epoxy along all joining areas.
- I then applied thickened epoxy to all joining areas. This was accomplished in several steps. Many areas took three applications (all while the epoxy is still wet) to ensure a sufficiently large fillet. If you try to add it all in one step, the fillet has a tendency to sag.
- I worked the fillets by using a squeegee cut in a radius. I made several different sizes, but really only used one large size.
- I then cleaned up all the jet stream trails (epoxy squeeze out).
- I cut 4″ glass tape into proper lengths.
- Using a squeegee, I wet out the glass strips on the bench over wax paper.
- I then laid the strips onto the wet fillets, using my gloved fingers to smooth the tape and remove any air bubbles in the glass tape.
Wait until you have an uninterrupted amount of time for these steps. Once the fillet is wet, you want to have sufficient time to work the fillet and apply the glass tape. It took me about 4 hours to accomplish these steps. Now, I can wait for things to set up a bit before I trim the glass ends. I’ll then roll on another layer of epoxy to fill the weave of the glass.
After moving slowly forward by epoxying all the panels, suddenly I have some major progress to report.
This all went relatively smooth. I did, however, follow a different sequence than the plans suggested. By installing one panel at a time, I couldn’t see where I was going vertically. After thinking about the process, I decided to go a different direction. I elected to epoxy all the panels together into one long panel and then install this long panel onto the boat. This system worked very well for me, but it did necessitate an additional helper to lift and support the panel. I solicited the help of the alpha male ‘ham n egger’, my father. We enjoy working together and it made the process fun and exciting. Surprisingly, we had both panels installed in about 2 hours.
- I moved the front bulkhead aft about 2″. This kept the vertical bulkhead cutouts center along the side panel doublers. I will however, need to make a couple of small wedge filler pieces to bring the lower bulkhead sides back into their proper shape. (I’ll document this step in a later post).
- I shimmed the aft temporary bulkhead outward 1/2″ at the top and 5/8″ at the bottom. This created a beautiful curve.
- By loosening the screws holding the aft most panel to the transom, you can accomplish a much more natural shape to this panel. Here’s the issue: The rear transom is cut at 90 degrees to it’s face. Yet the panel needs to be sloping into the transom gradually. By loosening those screw, you effectively allow the rear panel to angle into the transom, producing a much more natural curve. The slight gap produced by loosening the panel can easily be filled with epoxy.
- I cut the aft temp bulkhead panel support arms down about 3/4″ of an inch. Why? 1-I added a 1/2″ subfloor, and 2-I added a full 3/4″ shim underneath the hull. This effectively raised this temp bulkhead higher than needed. Hence, the aft temp bulkhead support arms didn’t allow proper alignment to the transom and cabin bulkhead and needed to be cut down a bit.
- The front stem (as shown in the first photo of this post) is not yet in it’s proper position. I will epoxy the side panels to the front bulkhead first and then turn my attention to the front stem. I want to secure the side panels before I make adjustments to the stem.
I must admit, I was a little scared of this step. It’s all fun and games until you actually expect things to align and come together. In this step the truth reveals itself, for good or for bad. If you have made a mistake, it will be crystal clear during these steps. For this reason, I felt nervous about going vertical. 24 hours later, I feel much more relaxed. By damn, it worked. And, with my dad’s help, it was amazingly simple to accomplish. As I sit here today, I’m ready to epoxy the panels. It’s hard to believe how quickly you can go from panels lying around the shop floor to a shapely boat with sex appeal. I’m amazed how quickly and simply I got over this hurdle.
If your panels are cut identically and all glued together in a straight line, you will have insured success for this critical step.