Friday 25 September 2020

Seatback Fillets

It was time to make the fillets for the seatbacks, where they meet the rear cabin wall, deck and transom.

Two factors would impact how this progressed.

First, these are the most visible fillets in the entire boat and if they are not just right everyone will see it immediately. No compromise on quality can be made here.

Second, making fillets is my least favourite activity on this build. Nothing about it could be described as enjoyable, as readers of previous posts will know. So I was reconciled to not having fun for a few days ...

As always I mixed up a good quantity of wood flour fillet mix, and applied a generous bead all around the seatbacks. I made a bespoke filleting tool to get a nice wide fillet on the deck.

As always it cured like roughcast concrete, spiky as a porcupine.

Here is the first fillet on the starboard side.

It looked absolutely horrible. But I knew it would and was ready to apply two or more layers to get a good finish.

So, as always I dressed the fillets with a carbide burr in a powerful corded drill, and sanded them by hand and with a sanding machine. See previous posts for more detail, if you're curious about this awful process.

This is what the starboard fillets looked like afterwards.

Still horrible but ready for a second layer to make the fillets of equal width and to improve the surface.

Here the starboard side is taped up ready for a second layer.

And here is it is with the second layer in place.

It looks quite a bit better, but after it was dressed and sanded it still clearly needed a third layer for final fairing. I expected this from previous experience, so no surprises here.

Once again I taped up the fillets for the third layer, and this is what the port seatback looked like after application.

Much better. I haven't sanded this yet but it looks like it will turn out nicely. Any minor blemishes or holes can be faired with phenolic glass balloon mix. The key is to make sure the fillets are of even width and really smooth to receive their fibreglass cloth cladding.

Onwards and upwards ...

Cabin Roof & Dorade Boxes | Getting Ready For Installation

In readiness for fitting the cabin roof I used a lot of blue tape to make cleaning up the squeezed out epoxy resin as easy as possible, and to make less mess.

First I taped up the sheerclamps, carlins and cleats in the cabin. Like this.

The inside of the Dorade boxes were similarly taped up, and protected with some plastic dust sheet material. As here in the port box.

There is piece of old cloth in the bottom, in case of drips.

Lastly the cabin roof itself was prepared with lots of blue tape, like this.

You can see that I painted the roof inside the Dorade boxes, because I thought it would be a lot easier than trying to do it later.

I found that using tape like this was an effective way of achieving clean joints when fitting the cockpit deck panels. In this instance it should be easier because I won't be laying on my back underneath the deck, with epoxy dripping into my hair!

Let's hope so ...

Seatback Tops | Making & Test Installation

The seatbacks were ready for their tops to be fitted.

The build manual calls them 'decks', which I think is a bit grandiose for a strip of plywood 3" wide, so I will stick with 'tops'!

The first task is to trim the panels to the correct length. The panel is held in the correct position with a couple of bits of stiff wire in pilot holes while the ends and the sides are marked in with a pencil. Like this.

The ends are then easily trimmed with a saw and a block plane, as here.

The location of the sheerclamp and the upper seatback stringer are then pencilled in and holes for the temporary screws are drilled.

The stringer is quite flimsy so I used 3.5 x 25mm screws, with plywood washers to prevent damage to the panels. The screws are at 6" intervals.

The panel is then put back in place and the locations of pilot holes for the screws are marked in and then drilled. 

The panel is then test fitted using all the temporary screws to check for a good fit, as seen here from the front of the boat.

And here is a view of the starboard panel from the stern.

Lastly I had to drill holes for the boom gallows stanchion poles. The holes were marked in with a pencil from inside the seatback lockers and the panels were transferred to the bench for drilling.

Here is the port panel with the hole marked in. It is exactly the same size as a two pence coin.

This is a large diameter hole and has to be drilled with a Forstner bit, so freehand drilling was a bad idea. I used the drill guide and my small cordless drill, set to low speed for maximum torque. Like this.

And here is the hole drilled out. A piece of scrap ply is underneath the panel to protect the bench and the drill bit, and to prevent tear-out in the panel.

Lastly I made one final test fit to check the alignment of the holes. Here is the port panel in place.

And here is the starboard seatback top.

All was well so the panels were set aside to await installation.

Seatback Panels | Trimming The Tops

When the seatback panels had fully cured I trimmed the excess material from the top edges. 

This took a while but was a straightforward exercise. I mainly used the block plane, with a chisel to trim the ends where there was no room for the plane.

Here is the starboard seatback in the process of being trimmed.

And this is the same seatback finished.

You can see that there is a narrow gap at the front of the seatback panel where it meets the rear cabin wall.

It looks like the panel is about 1cm too short, but I have no idea why! The cabin wall and the transom are in their correct positions, so I just put it down to yet another PocketShip eccentricity.

The port panel is exactly the same. It doesn't matter in the slightest - the panels land securely on the wide cleats that I fitted on the cabin wall, and the small gap will be filled by the fillets.

Finally, here is a view of the trimmed starboard seatback from the front of the boat.

It's nice to see the cockpit looking a bit more three dimensional!

Seatbacks | Installation

The interiors of the seatback lockers were painted and looking good, so it was time to install the seatbacks themselves.

This would finally add some hint of three dimensional finality to PocketShip!

It was very important to protect the paintwork inside the lockers from epoxy resin drips and runs. To this end I taped up the joins inside the lockers, like this.

In the port locker I taped plastic sheeting on the deck and sides to catch any drips, which you can see in the above pic.

I had previously decided that the bottom edge of the seatback panel did not need a full set of temporary screws to hold it in place. I would instead employ some lead bricks to push it snugly up against the lower seatback stringer.

Here is the port seatback permanently glued in place.

The astute reader will immediately notice that lead weights alone were not enough to press the seatback panel snugly up to the lower stringer. I ended up employing a rather Heath Robinson array of blocks and clamps as well as heavy weights to do the job.

Here is a close up of the lash up.

Will I ever learn? Seriously. Will I ever?

It all turned out absolutely fine but I immediately decided to use more temporary screws along the bottom edge of the starboard seatback panel.

Here is the starboard panel, taped up ready for installation.

And here is the starboard locker.

I have improved the protective layer in this locker, using some plastic dust sheeting to cover the paintwork.

Finally, here is the starboard seatback permanently installed.

The addition of temporary screws along the bottom edge of the seatback panel made the installation much easier and ensured a close joint without any drama.

Looking good!

Dorade Boxes & Seatback Lockers | Painting Interiors

I decided to paint the interior of the seat back lockers before the installation of the seatbacks themselves, because it would be almost impossible to do it afterwards. Test installation of the seatbacks proved this to be the case.

The same logic applied to the Dorade boxes. It would be very difficult to paint once the cabin roof had been permanently fitted.

I broke out the supply of marine undercoat and gloss, and set to work.

Here is the first undercoat inside the port Dorade box.

It's a bit patchy, and a couple more coats were required to achieve a uniform flat white base. It's nice paint though. It builds well and doesn't sag or run.

Undercoat was also applied inside the seatback lockers, and to the taped up seatbacks.

When satisfied that the base coat was good enough I applied two to three coats of gloss.

Here are the seatback panels with gloss applied .

This is the starboard locker, with gloss applied.

And here is the port locker.

They all look pretty nice, but I was slightly taken aback by the shade of white. I have always had it in my mind that it would be a very 'white' shade of white - like milk.

But this isn't. It's more of a creamy shade of white. MVLW (my very lovely wife) called it 'buttermilk', and pronounced it an excellent choice.

She should know - she has a highly developed sense of colour and shade, so I'm guessing all is well. We had the same issue with the bilge paint in the stern compartment - that was a buttermilk shade and MVLW liked that too, despite my reservations.

This is the paint.

It's really nice paint. It flows and covers well, doesn't run or sag, and it touch dries quickly to a good and hard gloss finish.

The name of the shade should have forewarned me - 'ivory white' is always going to have a hint of creaminess in it, isn't it? Yet this is the palest shade of white that Teamac make, so there must be a lot of off-white boats around. I'm sure it will be fine. I just wasn't expecting it.

The insides of the Dorade boxes received several coats of gloss too. Here is the port box.

You can see what a nice finish it provides.

And here is the starboard Dorade box.

We are getting perilously close to installing the cabin roof - how scary is that?!

Cabin Roof | Making & Test Installation

With the completion of the Dorade boxes it would soon be time to fit the cabin roof so I needed to assemble and finish it, ready for installation.

First I made the butt block to join the two roof panels together, and then I did a dry fit to find out how to support the components when glued up. Here is the test outside the workshop - there isn't enough room inside.

The sawhorses and a piece of ply provided a solid base to support the join, and the picnic tables and some blocks held the roof panels at the right height.

Next I moved the entire thing into the house to glue the panels together. As here.

Clamps held the panels in place and blocks of lead pressed the butt block into place to make a solid join.

That went well, and when cured I applied the requisite second and third clear coats of resin to the inside of the roof - both panels had already received one coat before assembly.

Here is the third coat.

Next, the assembled roof was taken outside and sanded to a matt grey P80 grit finish with the big 150mm Festool sander. Here it is.

This is a large area and you really do need a big sander to get it done effectively.

The next task was to mark up the roof to drill holes for the the temporary screws which would hold it in place at installation.

Here the roof is held down with just a few screws while the location of the sheerclamps, carlins and cleats was pencilled in from inside the cabin.

And here the roof has had all the holes for temporary screws marked up and drilled in readiness for a test fit. All screws are at 6" intervals, or closer.

I suspected that the Dorade boxes might need to be faired a bit more if the roof did not make a fair curve over them, so I did the first test installation on the cabin only. As here.

The temporary screws are 4x30mm, strong enough to pull the roof panels into place and fitted with plywood 'washers' to prevent damage to the roof surface.

I clamped the roof to the Dorade boxes to test the fit and all appeared to be fine, so I went ahead with a second test installation for the Dorade boxes only.  This is it.

That completes the cabin roof test installation. The next time we encounter the cabin roof will be its permanent fitting, which will be very exciting!

Dorade Box Inspection Ports | Fitting Gaskets

With the mooring cleat blocks installed it remained for me to fit the gaskets for the inspection ports to complete the internal structure of the Dorade boxes.

Here is the port gasket, glued and clamped in place.

And here is the starboard gasket.

A quick and easy job, for a change!

Dorade Boxes | Joints & Blocking

Next I needed to install some stout pieces of blocking on the inside face of each Dorade box, where mooring cleats would be fitted.

Before I did that I checked that the joints in each box were good and solid. They were.

Here is the corner joint at the front of the port Dorade box.

And here is the joint at the rear of the port box, where it meets the bulkhead.

They are solid with no voids, so all is well.

The pieces of blocking were held in place with a single temporary screw, to prevent them from slipping around during installation.

This is the blocking inside the port Dorade box, glued and clamped in place.

A pair of deep throated clamps proved ideal for this.

And this is the view from outside the port box.

You can see the temporary screw in the middle of the box.

Finally, here is the starboard blocking cleaned up after it had cured.

This is a very strong place to attach the mooring cleats in the forward deck well.

Dorade Box Inspection Ports | Cutting Holes

The time had come to cut holes for the inspection ports in the Dorade boxes.

As mentioned in a previous post, the 4" ports specified in the build instructions turned out to be too small. The bottom plates on the ventilator cowls are removable, allowing the Dorade boxes to be sealed off from the outside world when not in use.

However, the plates are larger than 4" in diameter which meant that I had to source a pair of 5" ports to be able to remove them from the boxes when they are in use.

The first task was to decide exactly where to make the holes. After some deliberation I decided to place the ports equidistant from the sides of the boxes. The hole is 14cm in diameter, meaning that it must be 8.5cm away from each box side.

Here is the diagram which I drew to work it out.

I decided that it would look and function best if the hole was 4cm from the roof cleat in the Dorade box.

This all meant that the centre of the cut-out would be 15.5cm from each side, and 11cm from the bottom of the cleat.

I measured everything up and marked in the centre of the hole on the port side in the cabin, and set my compass to a 7.5cm radius. Here it is.

I then scribed in the hole, as here.

I wanted to be sure that the port would be in the right place inside the Dorade box, so I drilled a 1mm hole through the bulkhead at the centre of the circle and scribed the aperture again inside the box. As here.

It looked good, so I carefully marked up the starboard aperture and cut both holes. I drilled a large entry hole near the edge of the aperture and used a Japanese keyhole saw to make the cut.

It always gives me an an uneasy feeling when I cut into the boat, because there is no going back if it's wrong!

But it went well. This is how they looked after cleaning up.

Finally I made a test fit of the inspection ports. Here is one on the port side of the cabin.

Looking good!