Sunday, 3 October 2021

Hull Exterior | Bottom & Side Panel Fibreglass

It was time to apply fibreglass cloth to the bottom and sides of the hull.

This is a really big deal because it means that the hull is nearing completion!

First I laid a sheet of 'glass over the port bottom panel and keel. Here it is seen from the front.

And here it is seen from the rear, with tools and cloth at hand.

I have left a substantial overlap onto the side panel and the other side of the keel.

Here it has been wetted out with clear resin, using a foam roller. The cat has dropped by to make sure I'm doing things properly.

This is the starboard bottom panel, in place and wetted out.

The 'glass cloth was wrapped around the keel nose block, like this.

That should add some strength for when it inevitably hits something!

Next came the port side panel, dry fitted like this.

It was necessary to hold the panel in place with tape to stop it falling off the boat. I removed the tape when I wetted out the panel, working from stern to bow.

Here is the starboard side panel, similarly hung.

Here is the starboard side panel, wetted out.

Note that there is no overlap onto the transom. I plan to finish it bright so the overlaps will be from the transom onto the side and bottom panels. 

And finally here are both sides seen from the front.

You can see that both side panels are a bit too short at the bow. I must have measured incorrectly, which is annoying but not serious. I will make an overlapping patch when I 'glass the transom.

That's it for now! Next job is to make drainage holes in the footwell in readiness for fibreglass.

Hull Exterior | Fairing & Sanding

When the keel fillets were complete I used Hempel two part fairing compound to smooth out any remaining blemishes on the outside surface of the hull.

This is a front view of the port side of the hull.

The blue patches are fairing compound for use above and below the waterline. It is really easy to use and sand.

Similarly here is the rear view of the same side.

You can see I have further faired the keel fillets for smoothness.

And lastly this is the starboard side after sanding.

The hull is now ready for fibreglass. How exciting!

Keel | Sanding & Fairing Fillets

When both fillets were fully cured I prepared them for fibreglass.

This is the port fillet at the stern. You can see numerous small surface imperfections which will need to be filled and faired.

The next step was to sand the fillets and apply fairing using fillet mix.

This is the port fillet after sanding and with fairing applied.

 And this is the port fillet after final sanding.

Both fillets were now ready for fibreglass, and I was happy to have the worst remaining task behind me!

Keel | Port Fillet Recovery

The first attempt to make a fillet on the port side of the keel was a failure.

The rear half of the fillet started to cure before I could shape it, so it had to be left to harden.

When it was fully cured I ground off the lumps and bumps and smoothed the surface with a carbide burr and taped it up to create a new fillet 1 1/2" wide at the seam.

It looked like this.

Then I reapplied the fillet, removed the tape and cleaned up the excess mixture, and applied a strip of Peel Ply before shaping the fillet with a 3" nylon roller.

This is what it looked like.

When fully cured I removed the Peel Ply, and the fillet now looked like this.

That will be ready for fibreglass when sanded and faired.

We're getting there!

Bow Eye | Marking Up, Support Pad and Test Fit

PocketShip has a sturdy bow eye near the waterline which holds the bobstay for the bowsprit and is also used to haul the boat onto its trailer with a winch.

So it has to be very, very strong.

I have been thinking for a long while that it would be best to test fit the bow eye now rather  than after the hull has been painted, because I am bound to make a mess in doing so.

The bow eye supplied in the hardware pack is actually a U bolt with two metal plates to hold it securely in place on the outside and the inside of the stem.

Except PocketShip does not have a stem. She has a fillet joining the sides together, so I would need to create a support pad on the outside of the bow to support the U bolt and its metal plate where they pass through the fillet.

First I marked in the location of the bow eye by scaling up measurements from the drawings.

I reckoned it should be 2' 4" from the top of the stem. Like this.

Then I glued 2 pieces of scrap ply either side of the bow at this location, to form some solid material from which I could fashion a support pad. Like this.

Next I trimmed the two pieces of ply with the block plane to provide a flat surface for the support pad, like this.

I marked up the location of the bolt holes and the metal plate, as here.

Then I drilled a 3mm hole in the centre of each bolt hole, as accurately as I could.

I poked a piece of wire through each hole to check that they emerged in the centre of the fillet inside the boat.

They did.

I also used the wires to the check that the holes were perpendicular to the support pad.

They were very slightly out so I made small corrections when drilling out the 8mm holes for the U bolt.

Then we had a test fit for the U bolt. It looked good.

I then strengthened and faired the support pad with fillet mixture.

Here it is, roughly applied.

And here it is, faired.

Lastly, a final test fit for the U bolt. Like this.

That looks like it will do the job.

I will do something similar inside the bow when I fit the bow eye.

Looking good!

Keel | Port Fillet Disaster!

Flush with success and confidence from making the starboard fillet I set to work on the other side the following day.

It did not go well.

On the first fillet I shaped it roughly as I went, but on this side I decided to apply the fillet mixture in one pass and shape it afterwards.

Big mistake.

Working from stern to bow, by the time I got to the nose of the keel the resin in the rear half of the fillet was already curing and was too hard to shape.

So I applied Peel Ply to the front half and shaped it with a roller before that started to go off too.

I was now confronted with a sorry sight, as here.

There was nothing more to be done so I removed the blue tape and hacked away as much of the hardening epoxy as I could and left the whole thing to cure.

It was disappointing but entirely my mistake, and I knew I could reshape and finish the rest of the fillet just as I had done many times before.

Onwards and upwards!

Keel | Making The Starboard Fillet

Satisfied that Peel Ply was the way to go for making fillets, I taped the keel up. The tape is about 1 1/2" from the seam, to give a nice wide and fat fillet.

I applied and roughly shaped the fillet, removed the blue tape, and cleaned up any excess resin.

Next I covered the fillet with a strip of Peel Ply. 

I then wetted out the strip with clear resin and shaped it with a 3" nylon roller.

It looked like this.

Close up you can see that the fillet is holding its shape and is nicely smooth, as here.

That's a huge improvement on previous filleting activities!

This is the cured fillet, with the Peel Ply removed.

It just needs to be sanded and faired and it will be ready for fibreglass.

We're getting there!

Peel Ply | Test Fillet & Revelation!

Readers of posts early in the build will know how much I enjoy the process of making a decent fillet, which is not at all.

My usual approach is to make the fillet as best I can with a shaped filleting tool, and let it cure to an inevitably rough and spikey finish which is as hard as concrete.

I then dress this to a reasonable profile with a carbide burr before fairing it with more fillet mixture. Lastly this is sanded to a smooth finish, with a sander and by hand.

This is effective but is tedious and very time consuming, and I have always wondered if there is a quicker and better way of making nice, smooth fillets.

I recently watched some instructional videos on the internet on how to use epoxy resin and fibreglass, and discovered something called Peel Ply.

As the name suggests, this is a sheet material which is applied over epoxy resin. When cured you simply peel it off, leaving a flat textured surface ready for the next process.

I decided to try it out, so I made a big fat test fillet on some scrap ply and covered it with a strip of Peel Ply.

I then wetted out the strip with some clear resin and shaped it into a nicely contoured fillet with a hard nylon roller.

This is what it looked like.

When the fillet was fully cured I peeled the strip off the surface. Here it is partly peeled back.

You can immediately see that the fillet has held its shape and requires  minimal finishing.

Here is the final fillet.

I should of course have removed the blue tape and cleaned it up before applying the Peel Ply, but it's only a test and lesson learned.

I will use Peel Ply to make the remaining fillets on the boat. If I had discovered it earlier I could have saved very many hours shaping fillets, but hey ... as my son tells me when I become discouraged by boatbuilding setbacks: "Don't forget, dad. It's a journey!"

Hull Exterior | Filling Gaps

It was time to fill any holes or gaps on the outside of the hull, ready for fibreglass.

After sanding I thought the exterior seams looked surprisingly good.

This is the joint between the keelson and the bottom panels forward of the keel.

And this is the joint between the bottom panels, keelson and keel.

Not too bad!

This is the starboard hull with gaps filled, seen from astern.

And here it is seen from the bow.

It is turning out to be a really nice looking boat.

Rub Rails | Sanding Flat

Now the hull was upside down it was time to flatten the underside of the laminated rub rails. Not only was there a lot of squeezed out glue to clean up, but the underside is also cambered so some careful shaping is required to make sure the rails stay fair.

I used the Rotex 90 sander in geared rotary mode to rough out the shape, and then in random orbital mode to fair everything nicely.

This is one rail partly sanded.

Here both rails have been finished. The starboard rail has some fillet mixture applied to fill small gaps.

Here is one of the rub rail scarf joints after sanding. I'm pretty pleased with how they turned out.

Now for the hull itself ...

Flipping The Boat | Levelling The Hull

When constructing the dollies to support the upturned hull I made sure they were of the correct height for the hull to be level, but of course had zero expectation that it would be level at first attempt.

I was right. A level laid along the keel showed it sloped downwards front to back, like this.

Likewise the level laid across the keel showed it also sloped from side to side. As here.

Not surprising, really.

So I purchased a small bottle jack to lift the hull for levelling. It was very good value for money, which is not something which can be said about most boatbuilding materials.

Here it is in action.

 Note the wedge on top of the dolly to raise that side to make the hull level.

That didn't take long.