Sunday, September 26, 2010

The BB's rounded edge cockpit method

And that BB stands for "Ben'sBooger". Check it out at and scroll to "Happy cinco de Mayo".

All credits go to him since I just followed on his footsteps and did pretty much the same thing. I really thought about how to do it differently but could not come out with a better approach. Unless one decides to go for the wondefull "curvaceous sisters" of TFord boat ( , but that was too much for me. For instance, using zipties to attach the foam to the upper and side panels is probably the best method there is.

The few differences worth noting:

-I used Airex foam. It is a great product used in a lot of composite lamination such as in kiteboards. The stuff is rock hard and tough to grind.

-I shaped the curves with my hand file and nothing else. It worked perfectly on that high density Airex. The orbital planner, if not used carefully, tends to take all the curve out.

-I tabed fromn underneath the foam but my cockpit floor was not in yet so I had plenty of space to work.....Well, actually not that much mainly towards the transom, but nothing claustrophobic.

Opportunities for improvement (for my next i550 !)

1-I cut my strips straight. But of course they should have been curved to follow the top deck panel curve. I just got lucky that the foam took quite a lot of bending without much effort.

2-The first side came out almost perfect. I got cocky on the second side and thought I already knew what I was doing. The result is not too bad but definitly not as good as the first one. Patience is a virtue, and I keep on repeating this to myself. So no need to rush, take your time to shape that foam. It is fun.

Next steps to finish off the monoblock cockpit job :
-laminate a strip of fiber on top of foam. I feel like reinforcing this area before I flip the whole thing. Right now it is only holding by the underneath tabs, rather large ones I should add, but tabs nevertheless.
-unscrew panels, flip and laminate underside of foam . I will most likely use kevlar once more to give more rigidity to the foam part since long segments between frames will actually be unsupported.

-place floor, place sides back in, laminate whole cockpit as monoblock.

-flip once more to laminate the join cockpit floor to sides.
There are added steps to my process but it allows me to work in a quite comfortable manner. The end result should be strong and not necessarily heavier than a normal cockpit since the foam replaced some heavier wood.

Pictures = Halfway through on left and finished curve on right and below

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

İf Beavis and Butthead were fileting with the brown stuff...

Can't resist the temptation to think about what it would be like if Beavis and Butthead were building a boat and had to use West 405 brown stuff İ bought :)

-Hey Beavis, this sucks ! İ ran out of silica !

-Huhhh huhh ran out of what ? ......huhhh huhh huh..

-Silica you dumbass ! Cant filet without silica !

-Oh ! Hey Butthead........?

-Yeap ?

-Why dont you try fileting your own crap ! .huhhh...huhh.....huh .........That would be cool.............huhhh....huhh............huh. .......Filet your own loaf.!

-Heh, hem, yeah, that would be cool.....!

-Huhh...huhh......huh........Turd filet ............huhhh.......huhh.......huh.......that's funny...!

-Woa ! İt does work................Filet from hell ! ............That rocks....!

-Huhhh......huhh..........huh....yeah, silica sucks !

Those guys were my absolute favourite. Too bad they are gone.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Mast compression post

I have started working with the compression post but I am still not sure what the best solution might be. I was really surprised to check on Ron Bowman's blog to find out his mast got ripped off the boat. Don't know what happened to it but plenty of work ahead !

So I will keep playing around with different set ups but right now I am considering a 1mm alu sheet bent around the bottom of F 89 and, on top of it, an alu U channel to minimise friction between pole and bottom of frame and therefore avoid damage to the wood.

The pole itself comes from a broken hanglider that was laying around. That is recycling ! No energy gets lost and I am sure my glider will love reviving as part of a sailboat.

It is 2mm thick wall and is about 6 cm diameter. Strong ! It will be screwed to the frame and will be stepped on another one of my favorite oak blocks shaped to fit. I tried digging / routing a channel on the oak so that the pole actually fits a bit inside the wooden block instead of just sitting on top but the results were really uggly looking. I need to practice more or just forget about it.

Time will tell.

keel sleeve locked in

I closed the keel box and it looks allright but I cannot avoid to be worried about how straight the keel will be.... I will only know for sure once the boat is finished.....

I used solid oak at the bottom and 1" ply (4x 1/4") at the top to lock on the side panels. No real reason for those choices but I felt like making that keel box as solid as possible.

The whole structure feels really solid and bomb proof. Probably overdone. I should be more carefull about weight but since this is my first boat, I would rather make sure it does float and does not fall apart ! So I am focusing on strength for now.

So once this was done I finally finished the forward bunks. A little trimming and a lot of colloidal silica and the trick was done.

And since I ran out of silica, I tried laminating with Nutella. A friend of mine told me it works great so I gave it a shoot. Not too bad I should say, except for the terrible color. Nevermind cause all cabin interior will be painted in white anyhow.

Ps: the Nutella stuff is a joke :) Its West fileting blend and I cannot see anything good about it ! But that is the only stuff they had at the shop. I will wait until they receive more silica.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Plug is off the mold

I am stoked today !
I figured it was about time to try to remove the plugs from the molds and I was a little worried about it. My idea was to 'try' to remove the plugs without damaging them.
So I stopped at a hardware store and bought a couple of spatulas and grinding stones which I believed could be usefull to remove any excess plaster on the sides and free the plugs.

While looking at the rayons (I am like a kid in a candy store !) I saw this neat little tool which kind of looks like a cross between a hammer and a cutting knife. I had never seen one of these nor did I know what this thing was for. But it looked pretty perfect for the job, and it was not expensive. So I bought it.
I started scratching the excess plaster around the edge of the plug and in about two minutes and without any effort the plug came out !

And the mold looks awesome. It is really smooth. No gaps, no nothing, no fairing needed whatsoever. The plug it self does not have one single scratch. It just popped right out and can definitly be re-used many more times, if needed.

I guess laminating the plugs with a layer of fiberglass just to give the pink foam added rigidity AND wrapping them in one single thin layer of saran wrap before plunging them into the wet mortar, was a good idea.
One other thing I did which might have helped is I mixed the mortar / plaster (whatever it is) to a very smooth and pretty "wet" consistency.
It reminded me of the games I play with my daughters while at the beach, staying right on the beach shorebreak and letting our feet slowly sink into the sand everytime a wave passes by. I did the same while pushing the plug inside the mortar. I took my time and used little vibrating movements so the plug would kind of sink by itself. I hope you get the picture.
It worked out perfectly so I am very happy about it. I am also glad I found that little tool which you can see on the picture above. I now understand its main purpose is to remove ceramic tiles but it sure works perfectly for removing foam plugs from mortar molds !

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Aint going nowhere !

Did not quite finished my keel box but I sure as hell made sure the keel sleeve was as solid as possible. As a matter of fact, I even believe that the way the sleeve is overbuild and over glued to the hull, the box itself is almost unecessary.

What I did first was lay a nice filet of thick epox/ /microfiber in order to glue the sleeve as well as possible to the aft and fwd frames as well as to the hull floor. All gaps were closed.

I let it cured than applied a thick layer of epoxi /coloidal silica to make nice round edges, applied my usual strips of kevlar (cut out with metal cissors) and covered everything up with pretty large bands (50 cm wide +- 20 ") of fiberglass.

Overlapping all this fiber and using very large strips allowed me to make sure that all forces exerced on the keel sleeve will be properly distributed to the surrounding wooden panels.

The box itself will add even more rigidity and assure everything is watertight.

If I did not mess up with the keel alignment when epoxing the sleeve, I should be allright.

I also took my time and had great pleasure in shaping the 2 inches thick wooden blocks that will be placed at the bottom of the keel box. Whenever necessary, angles were rounded off to allow for the space taken by fillet I had laid to secure the sleeve. I also routed a channel at the bottom of those blocks to fit on top of the extra ply strip I used at the beginning of construction to butt my panels.
I went from this

to two of these

Wood sculpting rules ! I might really give it a try after my boat is finished....

Friday, September 10, 2010

It takes some guts........ cut a hole this big on the hull bottom ! But I guess the i550 really needs a keel ......

So I grabbed my Bosh Multimaster and went for it. The hole is obviously oversized to give me enough space to move the keel sleeve around until I find its exact location. It is tight in between frames because I already placed some reinforcements on the frames themselves, plus I followed the plans and left what was called for. I am glad I was carefull with the keel and the sleeve measurements... Had I not been care carefull, I think the keel would not have fit.

The keel needs to be straight afterall and I have no space whateosever in my garage to raise the boat and let the keel hang down. I will do what many did and work from above aligning the keel to the best of my ability. The idea is to stick the sleeve into the hole, then the keel into the sleeve, make sure everything is as straight as possible, epoxi the sleeve in place, remove the keel and finish off the keel box.

I started playing with that today and basically used 2 plumb bobs and a laser level that I got.

I placed one plumb on the side of the keel to check side to side balance. Than another one along the trailing edge to check for aft-fwd balance. That takes care of two important axes.

The last axis deals with where the leading edge (or trailing edge) are pointing and it is more difficult and delicate to get right. [imagine a vertical axis going down from top of keel to bottom of keel. The keels pivots around that axis and it is this alignment one must get right]

So to kind of help me out, I wrapped a string aroung the keel and pulled both ends toward the bow. It kind of make like a big arrow and what you need to look for is the symetry on both sides. It is most important to look if those strings are symetrical around the keel. If you see more space on one side than on the other than you know your keel is not pointing where it should, considering of course that your keel was properly build with two symetrical sides.

Here is a picture for you guys to understand what I am saying.

Ok, I now, not space engineering but it worked for me. And do not forget to use the best tool ever. Your eyes ! Actually as many eyes as possible for this matter. I called wife and daughter to the rescue and I only settled once we all agreed.

I did not epoxi anything today. Will wait for daylight tomorrow morning, check everything once more and go for it !

Thursday, September 9, 2010

At last, chain plates gussets are in

There are two steps of the building that are taking me forever to do. One are the chain plates gussets. The other is the keel box. They are both very important in the construction process and demand attention.

I hope to finish both until Sunday because I will be off work until then due to the celebration of the end of the Ramazan (a fast held from sunrise to sunset during one full month) here in Turkey.

So today I worked on the cp gussets. I actually started out a couple of weeks ago but stopped because I still had to figure out hundreds of details on the rig I intend to put on my boat. I got that figured all out thanks to Josh Shazza and Andrew TTB. I really owe them big time, they were incredibly patient with me and answered all of my questions with great care. You guys really rock !

So now I know for a fact my rig will be alu just like the Aussi boys and my chain plates will be at 22,5 degrees. Once I got that figured out, it was just a matter of getting the gussets at the right angle.

I had previously use strings to calculate the angle but this time I used the method than Ben has described me and it also worked a treat.

I first build a simple jig with two long segments at 90 degrees. I leveled it and fixed it in between frames 53,5 and 89. The long leg of the jig follows the boat center line.

I dropped a plumb from the top of 89 and drilled a hole on the jig so the plumb would come all the way down to the hull bottom. That plumb is exactly where the center of the compression mast will be. That set, I knew my jig was right on stop.

On the jig, I had previously drawn different angle lines just to have some references of what other angles might look like (45 degrees, 30 degrees) but of course what I was interested in was the 22,5degrees one.

I just streched a thin nylon rope from the jig to the sheer clamp to give the exact position of the gussets.

You can see on the picture below the gusset temporarily placed right underneath the string running at 22,5 degrees. I did the same on the other side and then measured everything from the bow to make sure it was symetrical.

Then I held the gusset in place with a scrap piece of ply that was lying flat between F 53,5 and 89 on the side. It is an easy way out to hold that heavy 1 inch thick gusset where it should be.

Then i used West 5mns epoxy with silica on a few spots to fix the gussets in place. This works wonders to fix difficult parts before you actually fillet or tape them.

Once that was dried, I removed the scrap ply from above and layed a thick filet of silica / epoxi putty, applied a layer of fiberglass, another of carbon and a final of fiberglass to finish it off.

As you can see on this picture, my gussets are not fixed at the f89 /hull sides junction because I am using a smaller angle of 22,5 degrees. A lot of builders are going with the C-tech rig option and therefore setting their gussets at 26 degrees which falls right at that 89 / hull side intersection.

Whatever you do, just make sure you set your gussets at an angle that will be coherent with your spreaders and the rest of your rig and that is exactly what took me a while to figure out.

Awesome !

Even the life of an amateur builder is not made just of wood and epoxi......U2 360 tour was in Istanbul on Monday.What an awesome show...! The claw is the most amazing stuff I have ever seen. Really worth seeing.

Enough said.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

That is one heavy mold !

I kept on working on my bulb plug but did not follow the plans....

I was supposed to sand the extra foam from the 20 sections to get my keel plug to the final shape.Instead, I decided to "fill" it with fairing putty.

I did that for 2 reasons:

First, to account for all the lead that will be removed to fit the keel inside of the plug. Second, because I would rather have a little bit too much weight on the bulb than not enough. I will still try to be within class limit but that is not one of my top priorities.

Anyways, I have no idea how much my bulb will end up weighting but I do not think I will be too far off.

The picture below is after the first layer of epoxy and fairing filler.

It looks terrible ans that is why I am posting it ! I love working with this fairing filler but this batch kind of started kicking off just too quickly ! So I rushed to apply the stuff as fast as I could. Ugly job but I knew it would be really easy to sand off.

I repeated the process and apply a second batch. It looked much better. Some of you might actually think I am crazy but I really enjoyed applying the fairing filler and sanding, shaping, sculpting and watch the bulb suddently comes alive.

Than I then joined the halves to make sure I had a symetrical bulb, applied a last batch to fill minor spot ..............

and sanded them both together .

The end result was pleasant so I separated both halfes ........

and laminated them just to give them more strength and a smoother surface .

Finally, I wrapped them in saran wrap and plunged them into the mortar / plaster / ciment I bought....I am not sure what it is cause everything is written in Turkish on the damn package... :). But it mixed good and looks good ! I will let it dry properly before I try removing the plug. I am curious to see what it will looks like.

As far as weight goes the mold is already a monster. The wood box I made was already pretty sturdy and heavy, about 5kgs each. I probably added about 23 kgs of plaster on each box so by now I have 2 28 kgs molds. Add 40 kgs of lead in each and you end up with 70kgs monster bulb molds !

I will definitly build a little trolley just like Kevin did to move his bulb halfes around.