Monday 14 December 2020

Rub Rails | Starboard First Laminate & Sixth Cock Up

When the completed port rub rail had fully cured I removed the temporary screws and trimmed the overhang at the bow to allow the starboard rail to be installed. As here.

I decided to proceed with the installation of the first laminate of the starboard rail without another test installation.

This was partly because it had already been done once, but mainly because I didn't want to place unnecessary strain on the pilot holes in the hull for the temporary screws.

In hindsight I am not sure if this was a good or a bad decision, because things certainly did go wrong.

As usual I started by applying glue to the laminate and fixing it in place amidships and then worked aft to the stern. It looked like this.

So far, so good.

I then started to screw down the laminate at the forward end, working towards the bow.

Exactly as I did in the test fit, which went without drama. Not this time, however.

The forwardmost eighteen inches really did not want to lie down next to the hull, and after fighting back for a couple of minutes it simply snapped with a dull crack.

There was no angry outburst. The air did not turn blue. There was merely a loud metaphorical splash as my heart sank, taking my spirit with it.

I had no choice about what to do. Most of the laminate was securely in place, and there was no way I was going to attempt to remove it to make a new one.

So I cut away the broken piece just before the fracture, leaving a butt end while I decided what to do. Here is what it looked like.

And this is the fracture itself.


It seemed like the only thing to do was to scarf the broken piece onto the boat, so I retired for the night to allow the laminate to cure.

The next day I cleaned up the piece which had broken off and cut a nice scarf on the end. Luckily it was long enough to still have a decent overhang at the bow, for leverage when fitting.

Cutting a scarf in situ on the boat might be tricky, but I cleaned up the hull and marked up the joint.

Then I fitted a rip cut blade to the Japanese saw and carefully removed most of the waste. Like this.

That went well. Then I finished the scarf with the block plane to obtain a good fit.

This is the finished scarf on the laminate.

I drilled plenty of holes for temporary screws, most of which would be driven into the lower breasthook with plenty of grip.

I made a test fit which did not provide too much trouble, and glued the refinished piece in place.

Here is the completed installation.

That looks OK.

All is well that ends well, and definitely time for a Gin and Tonic to end the day.

Thursday 10 December 2020

Companionway Sill | Reinstallation

I had glued the companionway sill in place several days before, but the epoxy resin was still soft and sticky and had obviously not cured.

Reasoning that if it had not cured by now it never would, I removed the clamps. This is what it looked like.

Yuk. The front and port side pieces came away, although the starboard side piece was fine.

I glued the latter with a second batch of resin, so there was obviously something wrong with the first one. I must have made it incorrectly, but have no idea what I did wrong.

I briefly considered classifying this as a Cock Up, but it's no big deal really and so a Silly Error it is.

Such are the vagaries of epoxy resin ...

This epoxy is solvent free and cleans up easily with hot soapy water, so plenty of elbow grease and a scraper restored the cabin roof to bare deck.

When it was dry I refitted the pieces of sill, as here.

This cured overnight so no repeat of whatever I did wrong!

Rub Rails | Port Third Laminate Installation

When the remade third laminate had well and truly cured I moved it from the house into the workshop and cleaned up the scarf joint with the new length of Sapele, and made the 1/8" bevel along the bottom of the new wood.

I marked it up for temporary screws every 12 inches, but only drilled every other one in case I could get away with using fewer screws and have fewer holes to plug.

Then I test fitted it most carefully.

Last time it fell off the rail and being tethered at each end it twisted and snapped into three pieces, so this time I took great care not to allow that to happen again.

I used several ratchet clamps to hold the laminate in place against the rail. As in this pic.

The clamps worked really well, with the laminate still loose enough for adjustment but unable to fall away from the rail.

I fitted the temporary screws and it was immediately evident that more were needed, so I drilled in situ for all the screws at 12" intervals and refastened the laminate. No more gaps, so all was well for gluing it in place.

I used a couple of scrap wedges to hold the laminate away from the rail for gluing, and a piece of stiff wire to keep it aligned with the screw holes, like this.

Plenty of glue was applied to the rail and the laminate screwed tightly into place, as here looking aft with the ratchet clamps removed.

That went well with no drama, so now I need to leave it for a few days to cure properly before I cut off the overhang at the bow to allow installation of the starboard rub rail.

We're getting there!

Companionway Hood | Making The Front Face

As mentioned in a previous post I needed to cut curved and bevelled edges on the front face of the companionway hood to fit the curve of the decking, using a jig saw.

The angle for the bevel is 66 degrees, meaning that I needed to cut the bottom edge at 24 degrees. I set the jig saw accordingly - here it is.

I then made a careful test cut on a piece of scrap MDF, to get the feel of cutting a curve at an angle.

It went surprisingly well. Here I am checking the angle with the protractor.

Exactly 66 degrees!

So now to tackle the real thing.

The manual is disturbingly vague about the dimensions for the face, telling us to cut it from timber measuring 'about' 3/4" x 7" x 29". It also says to make the face 'about' 4 1/2" high.

Furthermore it states that the width of the hood is 30 5/8", which it can't be if you cut the face to be 29" wide since the two side pieces are fashioned from 3/4" stock!

It doesn't inspire much confidence, but we will persevere.

I marked up the front face using the full size pattern provided.

Again I wondered at the time if the curve would be correct for the angled front face, given that the same pattern is used to mark up the other curved parts which are perpendicular to the decking.

Surely the curve for the face should be slightly deeper and longer? But the manual says to use the pattern, so that's what I did. Like this.

Maybe the difference is so small that it is not material?

So I carefully cut the bottom edge of the front face and made a test fit on the cabin roof. Guess what? The bevel was perfect, but the curve was too shallow!

So I then scribed the correct curve from the cabin roof onto the piece of Ash and carefully cut it with a saw rasp, checking with the protractor as I went to make sure that the bevel stayed true. As here.

That didn't take too long.

To ensure that the front face was fitted at the correct angle I made a support with a piece of scrap MDF and a clamp, like this.

I scribed in a parallel arc 4 1/2" above the bottom edge, as prescribed by the manual, and carefully cut it with the jig saw.

Here we are cleaning up the top edge with the block plane.

So far so good, and I now had a front face for the hood.

But I had lost some confidence in the annoyingly vague and inaccurate build instructions, and was anticipating further issues.

We will see what happens!

Friday 4 December 2020

Companionway Hood | Making The Sides

While the remade laminate for the port rub rail was curing inside the nice warm house, I made the side pieces for the companionway hood.

Having marked up the sides using the pattern provided I then clamped them down on the bench and cut them out with the jig saw.

Here is one side, freshly cut.

Next the top and bottom edges were planed straight and true with the jack plane. Here we are truing up the top edge.

The difficult end grain at the forward end was trimmed in the vice with the block plane, as here.

The other end was rounded over with a Shinto saw rasp. Like this.

And lastly the curved shoulder was shaped with wood rasps. This old rasp is particularly vicious and very effective!

The sides were then set aside to await assembly.

Rub Rails | Remaking The Third Port Laminate

The new Sapele arrived really quickly for the repairs to the shattered third laminate of the port rub rail.

I purchased a 2.5m length to completely replace the same length of rail that had snapped in two places.

I cut the broken rail at the old scarf to make a new joint just a few millimetres further along. This way I could keep the new scarf aligned with the existing scarfs on the other two laminates, and still have only two scarfs on the finished laminate.

That ought to look good.

I then cut a scarf on the new Sapele and took the pieces into the house to be glued together.

Here is the new scarf being test fitted.

It fitted together nicely.

Next it was glued up and left to cure. Here is a view of the full length.

I will leave this for several days to make sure it is strong enough to survive being fitted to the rail.


Cabin Roof Butt Strap | Removing Excess

As stated in a previous post I made the butt strap (which joins the two halves of the cabin roof together) too long.

It should stop 2 1/2" short of the forward cabin wall, to give the companionway front face some clear deck to land on. For some reason I continued it all the way to the cabin wall.

No matter. Some careful work with a chisel would remove it.

So I cut through the strap with a tenon saw, taking care not to cut into the deck.

Then I chiselled and pared the excess strap away, leaving clear deck.

This is what it looked like afterwards.

That's better!

Companionway Sill & Starboard Toe Rail | Installation

While thinking about how to cut the front face of the companionway hood, I went ahead and installed the sill and the remaining toe rail.

Here is the sill glued in place.

I had to go out and buy more ratchet clamps to hold the side pieces in place, because of their bevelled top and bottom edges. More clamps!

And here is the permanently fitted starboard toe rail.

Progress is quite good considering that all work on rub rails has ceased until more Sapele arrives.

Companionway Hood | Marking Up

While making the companionway sill I also started work on the hood.

The timber provided for the whole companionway structure is beautiful, clear Ash and will be very strong as well as handsome.

Here I am marking out the two side pieces, using the pattern provided.

And here I am marking out the front face of the hood with the full size pattern.

The front face is angled backwards at 66 degrees, and of course requires a curved bottom edge to fit the transverse curve of the cabin roof.

So some very careful cutting is necessary.

As usual the build manual exhorts us to use our non-existent band saw with tilting table, and as usual some imaginative use of whatever tools we possess is required!

The jig saw seemed to be the only viable solution to cutting the curves, but I soon found that my Festool does not have a tilting sole. Huh?!

No doubt Festool would sell me one for a large sum, but I'm only going to do this once so it would be a waste of money.

Luckily my son has a jig saw which satisfies the requirements. It is a nice cordless DeWalt.

I immediately liberated it from his garage (thanks Nick!) and made a few test cuts on scrap MDF.

It worked well and produced a clean, accurate cut at pretty well exactly 66 degrees, so that was the way ahead.

I was reluctant to cut wood until I had thoroughly thought through what to do, and for now I simply labelled the piece with how the bevel should be cut on the front face, like this.

I was still not sure if this was the best way to make the cuts, so left it alone for a day or so to think.

Companionway Sill | Making & Test Fit

With all work on the rub rails suspended until I could remake the third port laminate I decided to start work on the companionway.

This looked like a large and interesting project in itself, and was not dependent on anything else so could be carried out in parallel to the rub rails.

This is unusual with PocketShip. Most things are on a critical path, so it would be good to take advantage of the situation.

The first step is making the companionway sill, which surrounds the top opening of the hatchway

It consists of just three pieces of Ash - the front and two sides.

The front piece is shaped to fit the transverse curve of the cabin roof, and is marked out with a pattern.

Just one full size pattern is provided - for the front face of the companionway hood - but the curve is the same on all the other transverse components of the companionway so this pattern is all we need.

Here I am marking up the forward piece of the sill, using the pattern.

The piece of Ash provided for this part is only just wide enough to make it the correct height. Ideally it could be an inch wider to be sure of not making a mistake and wasting the wood.

Anyway, I cut it out and trimmed it to size with the block plane. It was fine.

Next came the side pieces. They require a bevel of 78 degrees for them to sit vertically on the cabin roof.

I had issues measuring angles for bevels earlier in the build and realised that I needed some sort of small protractor - especially for the companionway.

So I was delighted when I recently found this little steel protractor at the DIY store.

It is fitted with a pivoting and locking rule so it is excellent for marking and measuring  angles, such as for small bevels.

The bevels were marked on the top and bottom of each side piece and planed to shape in the vice.

Next I made a test fit of the sill, as in this pic.

Looking good! The butt strap which joins the two halves of the cabin roof stops half an inch short of the companionway, which accommodates the front of the sill perfectly.

However, as I was fitting the sill I realised that the same was not true of the front end of the butt strap which ran all the way to the forward cabin wall.

The front face of the companionway hood lands there, and the strap was surely in the way?

Sure enough, a rapid consultation of the build manual showed that the strap should stop 2 1/2" short of the front.

I'm not sure how I overlooked this because it is crystal clear in the instructions!

So I marked where the strap should end (below) and prepared to cut away the excess very soon!

Rub Rails | Port Third Laminate & Fifth Cock Up

Emboldened by the successful installation of the first two laminates on the port side, I marked up both port and starboard third laminates and drilled the port piece for temporary screws.

As before I offered the third layer up to the port rail, holding it in place with a loop of string over the overhangs at each end.

It bent quite easily into place and I was just about to clamp the ends when ... BANG!

In the blink of an eye the third layer shattered and fell to the floor in three pieces.

Here are the pieces on the bench.

I think what happened was that the laminate slipped off the top of the rail on the boat but because it was tethered at both ends by the loops of string it effectively twisted itself and snapped.

It fractured in two places - each where a hole for a temporary screw had been drilled, making it a weak spot.

Here is what the break looked like.

That's pretty terminal damage.

Needless to say I was not very happy about this outcome.

I thought for a short while about scarfing the pieces together again, to make a new length.

But that would mean that the third laminate would contain four scarf joints and would at best look a bit odd.

As if it were made from bits of scrap timber, which of course it would be!

It would be easier and less work to simply obtain a new length of Sapele and remake the rail.

So that's what I decided to do.

It was Friday evening, of course, meaning that I would not be able to order the timber until Monday and it would be mid week at the earliest before it would arrive.

Time to move on to something else!

Cleaning Up The Patches!

While waiting for the rub rail to cure I decided it was time to tidy up the fibreglass patches which I applied some time back, which were making the boat look scruffy.

So out came the sander and in short order the patches were feather-edged and disappeared, restoring PocketShip's clean good looks.

Here are the forward cabin wall and the Dorade boxes.

And here are the cockpit and the rear cabin wall.

That's better!

Port Toe Rail | Installation

While the second port rub rail laminate was curing, and while the epoxy was flowing, I installed the port toe rail.

It was a simple task. Here is the view from the front.

And here from the rear.

I haven't yet decided how much to trim off at the forward end of the toe rails, on the top of the Dorade boxes.

The manual says they should be 48" long, but mine are several inches longer than that.

I will see what they look like when I test fit the Dorade vents in the coming weeks.

Rub Rails | Test Fit & Installation of Port Second Laminate

While the first laminate on the port side was curing I prepared the second layer for installation. This required the second and final scarf joint to be cleaned up, after curing inside the house.

This was quickly achieved with a Shinto rasp and the block plane, as here.

The finished scarf looked quite nice. Maybe not quite as tight as I would have liked, but certainly good enough. Like this.

We must remember. It's a boat. Not a piano.

The next task was to mark up the laminate for its temporary screws.

I did this by offering up the laminate to the boat and putting a piece of tape where the screws are required, being careful to avoid the holes which would be left by the temporary screws in the first laminate.

I then copied the mark up to its starboard counterpart, so I didn't have to do it twice for the other side of the boat.

Like this.

Time to remove the temporary screws from the port laminate.

I now always use the heat gun to release screws from any epoxy that may have welded them in place, having snapped the head off several earlier in the build. As here.

Broken screws are a real pain to extract, which is why I now also use a screwdriver rather than a drill driver to do this. The torque from a drill driver will snap a screw without warning, whereas with a screwdriver you can feel how stiff it is. Thirty seconds at 250 degrees C is enough to free the screws.

Next came the test fit for the second laminate. This is it, seen at the bow.

 And here is the rear half, in place.

The fit was excellent, with no gaps.

The overhangs at the bow and stern are great for clamping the ends tightly in place.

So I got ready to glue it up.

Part of the drama when installing the first laminate was caused by 'losing' the pilot holes for the temporary screws in the epoxy, so I used bits of wire to avoid that happening again. Like this.

I used a loop of string at each end to hold the piece loosely in place while I applied the glue and tightened the screws, as in this pic.

As with the first laminate I worked from the centre outwards to the stern and bow, in that order.

It went well. Here is the second port laminate glued in place.

Looking good!