Wednesday, 27 March 2019

Fitting Bulkheads & Floors

With the transom in place and the hull reasonably rigid, I fitted the bulkheads and floors working forwards from the stern.

Bulkhead number 8 went in easily. Here it is wired in place.



I have switched to using galvanized steel garden wire for the stitches. Copper wire is no good where a strong stitch is required and I realised that the plastic covered wire I had used in the bow panels would be problematic if I had to use a heat gun to remove it from the epoxy welds and fillets. I resolved to replace it with steel wire as I progressed along the hull.

Next came bulkhead number 7. Here is it is wired in place.



This was slightly troublesome. It is not clear to me if this bulkhead is supposed to align with the build cradle or not, because here it did both!

In a previous post I stated that the cradle is not totally rigid or dimensionally accurate, so I stitched in the bulkhead where it is designed to fit and ignored its interaction with the cradle. For some stitches this meant drilling through the cradle. In the end it fitted nicely.

Then I fitted floors 6, 5 and 3. I also rewired floor 4 with steel wire rather than the copper I had originally used. It works much better. Here are the floors in place.



In order to keep the side and bottom panels aligned inside-edge to inside-edge in the run to bulkhead number 2, I fitted alignment blocks on each side, as here.



As it turned out they were not really necessary, but it reassured me to know that the panels were true.

Next came bulkhead number 2. I expected to have some trouble getting it to fit snugly against the bottom panels where they start to curve strongly, but in practice it went in quite easily. Here it is stitched in place.



There is a tiny sliver of daylight between the bulkhead and the bottom panel in the centre on each side, but nothing that a tack weld will not fill.

So far so good! Now for the bit that I was pretty sure was going to be tricky … bulkhead number 1 and closing the gap between the side and bottom panels at the bow.

First I test fitted the bulkhead and secured it temporarily in place with clamps, as here.



Then I tackled the gap between the panels, which looked like this. This is the port side.



Note that I have replaced the plastic coated wire with steel wire.

I thought the gap looked horrendous but the manual talks about how to close it and it is a regular feature in other builders' blogs, so I remained resolute and followed instructions.

I received some excellent advice from Tassie Pete and River Ron on the CLC PocketShip forum, so thanks to you both for your help. It's very reassuring when you know that someone else has encountered and solved the same problem.

First I made some adjustment tools to pull the edges of the panels into alignment, just as the build manual says to do. They worked well. Here they are deployed on the port bow.



Then as advised by my fellow builders I fixed a pair of blocks to the panels and used a clamp to close the gap, like this.



It was all turning out quite well.

I then repeated the process on the starboard side, which turned out like this.



The gap was now much reduced to the extent that epoxy tack welds will fill it, and I'm happy with that. Hooray!

Now it was time for bulkhead number 1. Here it is stitched in place.



You can just see a small block of wood that I fitted temporarily to pull the side and bottom panels together where they join at the bow. Here it is close up.



I now see that this is exactly where the bow eye will be fitted, and I think I will replace this piece of soft scrap with a piece of good hardwood to give the bow eye a strong seating. I will most likely do that when I do the fillets.

There is also a bit of daylight showing between the bulkhead and the bottom panels. I'm not sure it matters, but I will ask for advice on the PocketShip Forum before attempting to close it.

Also, having shed blood many times during this stitching exercise, I trimmed and taped all the steel wire stitches. They are lethal, and I don't want visitors bleeding all over my plywood ...

Lastly, as the build manual tells you, "Step back and admire the assembled hull".

This is the view from the bow.



And this is the view from the stern.



In the space of just a few days, PocketShip really has taken shape.

It's immensely satisfying. Time for a glass of something cold to celebrate!

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