Sunday, February 21, 2010

sheer clamps or how to rip a 2" by 2" profile corner to corner

That was fun...
I already had purchased the 3 meter long 2" by 2", knew I had to cut it from corner to corner, but had no idea how to do it. Hey guys remember I am a total beginner, not a pro !
So I started with my jig saw. Worked fine for the first foot and then my cutting line started going mad. Looked good from above but from below, I really had a twisted cut. I guess the blade was cutting kind of bent and would have broken if I had insisted. So I stopped.
Built a small wooden jig to try to cut straighter. Didn't work.
So I grabbed my circular saw set for maximum depth and went for it....After a few little adjustments, such as how to affix the long piece of wood on my small (but wonderful)working bench, it worked pretty good !

The results were pleasant and I ended up with two pretty equal halves . I now have to scarf them together and epoxy them to the hull. I will do this before putting the frames in, as it was recommended by many.

Just for fun, I also tried them on the hull and they follow the hull curve very nicely.That surprised me cause I expected them to be much stiffer and hard to bend. Of course towards the stern of the boat the sides are inclined outwards in such a way that the flat surface of the sheer clamp ends up pointing upwards. This will definitely need to be trimmed or planed later on but it will still leave me a decent size surface for glueing the deck. If my math is not too rusty, if you take a square of 2"x2", the diagonal will be 1,4 x2 = 2.8. Divide that by 2 and you get 1.4 inch after ripping your profile from corner to corner and trimming it down.
Another technique would be to do what Ben did (
, that is inverting the sheer toward the end to always get the flatest and longest surface without much trimming.
Overall I am making steady progresses and the boat looks better everyday. This is definitely on of the coolest challenge I have ever faced !
First time builders who might be reading me, one word of advice : stop reading and go for it !

The Gucci way of fileting...

Before I went on with epoxing the hull, I made sure that it was symmetrical. I used all methods available, such as the one described in the manual but also the Beckwith String Method (thanks George for reminding me this one), and a little laser Gizmo from Bosch. If you check the picture below, you will see a red line across the lenght of the boat. That is the lazer gizmo. Cannot beat it for accuracy. That is a straight line all the way the stem no matter what.

I read a lot about which sequences others builders follow for fileting: leave the zip ties in, take them out, filet first and then tape or filet and tape all together,....and the list of options go on.
I asked Ben about his method and then shared my thoughts with Tim who ended up suggesting me a very time taking but great alternative. Let's call it the Micro filets. It is based on the facts that:
-you should not leave your zip ties while fileting
-you get a cleaner results if you filet and tape all together.

So basically what I did was laydown an initial small radius filet in between all of the zip ties.

That was a lot of work ! And of course I did it all from outside the hull,not a foot on. I just worked from the outside bent over the boat sides, extendind my arms to reach what needed to be fileted.
Ben dude, if you are reading me, yes I guess anyone can do it but it sure would have helped me to have really long arms or measure way more that 6.1' !!!
If the shine seams were hard to reach , the middle seam was a real challenge ! In fact for the midle seam I used one of those aluminium magical stairs that you can fold in a zillion positions, placed it across of the boat hull and laminated the seam from above. A killer, but it worked fine.
So after I had the micro filet cured overnight, the plan was to remove all zip ties , laydown another larger radius filet on top of the micro one, and then finally taped the whole thing.
Unfortunately, before my back gave up on me for working so long in such akwards positions, I could only manage to do that for the transom.
By noon today I was walking like an old man, bent forward, unable to straighten up, so instead of finishing fileting and taping the hull I ended up going to the hospital to get a shot and some well deserved imediate relief...aaaahhhhhhh !....And the best thing is that the transom looks great.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

hull symmetry

So, although the stitching process went really smoothly, İ was a little concerned with my hull symmetry. İt was very wobbly and definitely not squared.....

Last night İ decided to give it a closer look and define the method İ would use for epoxing the stem. İ started pulling those side panels tight and worked them slowly with the help of 2 nylon straps İ usually carry around in my car for surfboards and stuff. Those straps really helped me a great deal. İ also used the 2 leftover pieces that İ had after cutting the stem piece. Since they were perfect offsets, they fit nicely on both sides of the hull giving me a straight support for using my larger clamps.
İ also used the copper wire I had, and wich İ did not really used before, instead of the zip ties. İn this application the copper wire works great since its function is more to avoid the stem piece to slide aft than to really join it to the side panels (that is done by the clamp). Two wires, on at the top and one at the bottom was all that was necessary.

Pretty quickly the panels were joined and the stem piece was where it should be...İ was a happy camper and the whole thing suddely looked much better and definitely much stiffer than before.

So İ decided to check out symmetry. As described in the manual, İ ran a string from bow to stern and then some strings accross the width of the hull at about 1/4 , 1/2 and 3/4 of the boat length. To my surprise the hull was pretty symmetrical but not perfect : i had about the whole starboard side shifted about 1/2 inch. İ looked at the whole thing for 5 mns to decide what to do next. Then, with the use of a really high tech piece of equipment (a broom !) İ gently pressed at about f89 against the side panel wich was off. With a very limited force applied, the whole hull became perfectly symmetrical in a matter of second. İ measured again and all string segments were within their expected measurements, that is less than 1/8 inch off ! How about that ! Than İ checked if the boat was leveled, after İ was sure it was symmetrical, and could be happier to see that the little bubble was perfectly in the center of my level.

Than İ went to bed, dreamed about my future boat and slept like an angel....! Epoxing the stem
is my goal for the next days.

Monday, February 15, 2010

time to assemble hull and sides

So İ started with the bottom which layed nicely on the cradle. İ started stiching with copper wire but ended up switching pretty rapidly to zip ties. İ found plastic zip ties to be much easier to work with and İ used 5mm wide ones which have great strentgh and do not need a much bigger hole to fit in than the 12' copper wire. My only concern is that, no matter what İ did, İ could not get the hull panel to really join after frame 53.5 The tips came together nicely but İ still had an open strip of about 1/4 of an inch starting after frame 53,5. Will see what İ do about that. However, even with this gap, the hull still conformed the the underneath hull support, so İ guess İ am not too far out.

Here is a picture of the hull before stiching, pre loaded with all copper wire. (the only copper wire İ found around here was 2.5 mm and with a blue plastic sleeve)

Then came time for the side panels....That was some heavy work. Literally ! The side panels are heavy and difficult to carry around in a tight space especially with no one around to help. So İ used the kind of strips you use to fasten your surfboard on your car rack to support the panel while İ started stiching. İ also use a little trick wich İ took from one of the builders blogs (sorry, can't remember who) and screwed little pieces of leftover plywood on the outer bottom edge of the hull and on the inner bottom edge of the panel İ wanted to stich. Only 4 small pieces across the whole lenght of the boat, across the hull and across the side panel

Those little blocks on the hull made sure that the side panels did not slide in and were kept on the edge of the bottom hull.

The ones on the side panels made sure that the panel did not drop down, as it was happening constently before.

After about 20 minutes fighting with this heavy panel, İ started drilling holes across the bottom hull, evenly spaced at about 6 inches and roughly at about 1/2 inch from the edges. Then İ drilled the first 3 matching holes on the side panel, layed down and started stiching. The first stiches were pretty difficult and heavy, but by frame 53.5 they became much easier as the hull started to acquire its natural form. From mid boat to transom, it was a piece of cake. The panels layup perfectly and İ manage to finish with a pretty clean edge-to-edge sewing (bottom edge with panel edge) without the help of the cutted pvc section which İ was ready to use.
Here are 2 pictures of the stiching from inside the hull, and from beneath. Note how the bottom hull ended up stiffening and raising from the cradle suports. Will definitely solve that before fileting.

İ was in a groove after stiching the first panel, so İ went straight to the other panel which went even smoothier. After a couple of hours, İ had a hull !
The picture below show the hull stiched together but still supported with a long red tape. İ could not resist the tempation and through in a few frames just to give it a more "boaty" look ! This building process is wonderful !

As a note, what really surprised me is how the side panels , once stiched, assumed pretty much by themselves the correct position and angle... No need to support them. As a matter of fact İ supported them on the sides after stiching since İ was afraid that if İ did not, everything might fall apart. Well to my surprise, once İ gently released the supports, the panels opened up nicely and stopped. The width at transom was exactly the width of frame 214 ! How about that...!

Then İ just stiched frame 214. No issue, just a tiny fairing on one starboard side. İ guess that is a consequence of not getting the kit from Tim ! But here in Turkey, it woud have been impossible + cutting is actually a lot of fun too !

Next steps for me :
-place stern wich is already cut
-close hull, check alignement and symetry of all panels...
-fillet and tape to finish hull ! By the way, İ will go the Gucci way for filleting the hull.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

the cradle

After, joining and cutting all panels I set aside the cutting table and decided to put the cradle where it belongs, that is on the floor of my garage. So here are a few pictures of my cradle. It is probably over engineered but it is steady, square and leveled.
I also cutted supports to match the exact shape of the hull at all frames. Those were made with simple plywood leftovers but were built in such a way that they actually lay on the craddle itself to better support the weight of the hull. Should enough. Only support 214 had to be rebuilt with a stronger material since it was a little wobbly. All supports alignement was checked with a string pulled acroos the lentgh of the cradle. İt looks good.
The dolly however was built to support the boat from frame 214 to 53,5 and İ believed this ended up being not sufficient, so İ ended up building individual supports for frame 18 and 000. As you can see below. İf İ had to do it again, İ would go for a full size dolly from frame 214 to 000

İ also initially added cheap insulation tubes, splitted in half on all supports. They look really good but İ ended up taking them out so İ could better check if the hull was actually conforming to the shape of the supports at the different frame points.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Looks better than a pile of plywood

Well, it certainly does ! It is far off from a boat but it is much better looking now than two weeks ago. I could not stop contemplating my work...I am at this point certain that I will manage to finish off this project no matter what. It is really only a matter of time and since I am not competing agaisnt anyone, I will just tak the time needed to finish my speedy boat !
Next steps :
-placing and levelling the already built jig
-start sewing hull and later panels.

butt panelling hull and side panels

So I chose to add a strip of plywood (12 cm wide) on my hull and side panels butt joins. Looks good and seems stronger. The hull went without any problem, as did the first starboard side panel.
Then came the other panel, the port side....Since I have not enough space on my garage, recently renamed 'atelier', I had to lay the port panels on top of the already butted starboard panel. So far so good. But what I didn't think about (dumb ass !) was that since I was using a strip of plywood I could not butt end both side panels on the same side..... :( Well, as I said I am a first time builder and first time builders do screw up and therefore end up with 2 perfectly identical starboard panels ...!
When it hit me that I had just screwed up big time, the resin was hard as concrete. So I just at there and look at my two identicals starboard panels speechless...Action was needed and I only had two options : get brand new plywood panels and recut everything, or try to fix the problem. I went for the second alternative and used the old hand tools : hammer and chisel. To my own surprise, after about 20 mns of carefull work, most of the plywood joint was gone. (left)
Another 20 minutes of lound sanding with my powerfull Bosch orbital sander and my plywood panels were as smooth as before ! (below)
Just turn the whole thing to its other side, cut new plywoods joints, mixed fresh resin, and had a new corrected larboard panel by the end of the afternoon !
First scary mistake but I am happy the way it came out. Will need really minor faring when time comes to paint the hull.
My advice : think twice before cutting and at least three times before epoxing !

frames are all good !

I am keeping a steady pace since I am fascinated by the idea of actually making my own boat. Although I have a really hard time working at it on weekdays I try to manage a few things everynight and then dedicate as many hours as my wife and daughters will tolerate on weekends. Too much noise and dust to really convince them to join me, so I am working by myself in my garage which I now call my 'atelier' !
Frames are all finished up and they look pretty good. I am happy ! By the way, I started cutting with the circular saw and although the cut itself is much cleaner and faster, I ended up switching to a jig saw which I am more familiar with. Almost all panels and frames were cut with a jig saw. A piece of advise : no need to buy an expensive circular saw if you already have a jig saw. Just use a small metal blade instead of the wood blade. You 'll get a much cleaner and precise cut although your cutting speed will be reduced. Just let the saw do the cutting and concentrate on following the painted edges. You will be surprised at how straight long lines actuallly come out !

the templates

So I ordered the Tyvex templates from Tim and I guess that was a great decision for a first time builder since allow one to skeep all the loafting time. However, you still need to use them correctly correctly since some of them are tricky to lay down perfectly flat and free of wrinkles. I have tried all methods of double face tape, pins, paint spray, no paint spray....until I found what I believe is the best solution : sprayable restickable glue ! Spray the edges of your template all around and you end up with a giant post-it that you can glue over and over. Works great !

Larger templates are easy to use while smaller ones are harder. The transom, for instance, gave me the hardest time. Since it is thin,long, and has lots of angles, pulling too much on one side will give you sigificant distortion on the other side. So a simple advice : work diagonals and be patient until it is laying perfectly flat and make sure the borders are tighly glued (using whatever method) onto the plywood. This will give you perfect straight lines after spraying.

Monday, February 1, 2010

let the games begin.......

Well, here goes my first post. İ ll try to be as dedicated as possible to keep it updated although İ will definitely not add anything to the great blogs that already exists. There is so much information available. Everything a first time builder will ever need is all there.
I am starting my own blog for 2 main reasons:
1-to keep a personal record of my own building so İ can have something to show to my future grandkids.
2- to eventually help out future first time builders since this is exactly what İ am right now !
The idea of building a wodden boat has been hunting me for many years. My dream is to eventually build something large enough to go cruising around the planet. But before getting to that point I wanted to start with something small yet challenging. When I came accross the i550, I knew this was the perfect project for me. What a wonderful boat ! Can t wait to sail my own...
İ will keep you posted...