Friday 19 May 2023

Dorade Boxes | Paint On The Filler Pieces

The filler pieces for the incorrectly located ventilator holes were ready for paint, so the area around each piece was masked off and five coats of primer were applied.

When hard I wet sanded the primer to a P800 finish.

Lastly, I pulled the masking tape and wet sanded to feather the edges back to the original surface.

Here we are wet sanding, in the by now usual fashion.

This is the starboard Dorade box. The left half has been feather edged, and the right half still shows where it was masked off. 

When the primed areas were smooth and flush with the surrounding painted surface, I masked them off again and applied gloss.

This is the first coat on the port Dorade box.

I don't think the final finish will be invisible, but it will be very hard to find ...

Companionway Hood | Paint On The Interior

Waiting for replacement parts to arrive to allow fitting out to continue, I did some odd jobs to fill time.

One such activity was to paint the join between the companionway hood and the cabin roof, to cover the glue line.

I applied four coats of primer, as here looking at the starboard side.

Then the first coat of gloss was applied, starting to cover up the glue line quite nicely. This is a view of the port side.

I think it's starting to look nice in there.

Boom Gallows Support Poles | Test Installation

Happy that the tabernacle had been successfully installed I moved on to the boom gallows.

First I tried the poles in their sockets. Here they are.

So far so good. Straight and true and a perfect fit.

The poles are held in place by stanchion supports. Here is one fitted to the starboard deck and pole.

That fitted beautifully, but the one on the port side refused to go into place.

At first I assumed that it was either a poor casting or had been machined incorrectly, but after some time wrestling with it the penny finally dropped.

It was the wrong size. The poles are 1" diameter so require 1" stanchion supports. One of mine was actually 7/8", so it would never fit.

I contacted the kit vendor, and a replacement is on its way.

Time to move on to something else!

Tabernacle | Test Installation

While waiting for a new pivot rod for the rudder to arrive I decided to install the tabernacle.

This should not be a big deal because it had been carefully made to fit, although that was some time ago and things could have moved a little since then.

I reamed out the bolt holes to clean out any paint and made sure the bolts fitted nicely.

Then I stood the tabernacle in place on the foredeck and tried to fit the bolts through the front cabin wall and support pad.

The top two bolts slid easily into place, but the bottom two were ever so slightly out of whack. Not much, but enough to prevent the bolts sliding through.

So I inserted two lengths of threaded rod into the bottom two holes and screwed them through with a pair of pliers. Like this.

Next I unscrewed one of the rods and drilled right through the support pad, cabin wall and the tabernacle, to clean out the hole. A bolt then slid easily into place.

The same thing was then done to the remaining bolt hole and the nuts tightened up inside the cabin. Here they are.

They are dome nuts and look really nice.

At last. Something is actually finished.

Rudder | Getting Ready For Installation

After the bow eye the next fitting out task is the installation of the rudder.

This is rather a big deal because it involves drilling holes through the beautiful varnished sapele transom, so everything has to be right first time. There is no going back if the holes are in the wrong place.

I laid out the various parts for the rudder pivot mechanism and was immediately struck by the size of the stainless steel rod. At 10mm diameter it seemed a bit skinny for the eyes supplied for the pivot mechanism, and at 75cm it was definitely shorter than the one depicted in the manual.

Here I am measuring it up.

Yep, definitely too short!

I did a drawing nonetheless to see if it could work. This is it.

Nope. It wasn't going to look right or work properly, so I contacted the kit vendor who confirmed that it should actually be 12mm rod and 33" in length i.e., 85cm.

So, I stopped work on the rudder and awaited the arrival of a new rod.

Bow Eye | Installation

The time came to permanently install the bow eye. I had practised this during the test fit so wasn't too worried, although I did think it would be easy to make a horrible mess with the caulking compound.

The build manual tells us to use 3M 5200 sealant, which is a more or less permanent bond when it is cured.

I applied some caulk to the outer plate and the threads of the two legs and slid it into place. Then I coated the inner plate and carefully slid that into place with the two nuts, then tightened everything up with the daisy chained socket.

It merely remained to wipe away any squeezed-out caulk and sit back and admire the finished article.

Here it is.

Thats the first step of fitting out complete!

Sunday 7 May 2023

Bow Eye | Test Fit

It was time to test fit the bow eye assembly, with its new internal support pad.

First I glued the pad in place, using a temporary screw through the stem to hold it in position until cured.

The screw would almost certainly become embedded in the resin, and I would probably have to use the heat gun to heat it up and loosen the resin to get it out. It would be a real problem if the screw snapped, to put it mildly!

But ... using the heat gun directly on the stem would ruin the paintwork. So I made a removable spacer to hold the screw away from the stem, which when removed would allow me to heat the screw itself without damaging the paint.

This is what it looked like.

The spacer is in two halves held together with tape. Remove the tape and knock away the spacer to heat the screw head.

Here it is in place when installing the support pad.

It worked perfectly but the screw did not require heat - it came out easily!

Then I cut the legs of the bow eye to the right length, like this.

The bow eye was then fastened in place, seen here outside the stem.

The nuts were tightened using a daisy chained socket to reach down to the fitting, as shown in the build manual. Like this.

And here is the view inside the bow compartment.

I was concerned that this exercise might not go well, but it turned out OK.

Now I need to get some 3M 5200 adhesive sealant to fix the eye in permanently.

We're getting there!

Companionway Slide | Trimming To Fit

The build manual states that we should expect to do some trimming to get the companionway slide to fit properly, and it's quite right as usual.

My slide fits beautifully when closed, like this.

But it jams very slightly when pushed back inside the hood, as here.

You can see that I have marked it up to widen the slot slightly so it will slide easily into place.

Here I am cutting a sliver out of the slot with the Japanese saws.

That did the trick. It fits nicely now.

It's now back inside the house to await installation.

Tabernacle, Drop Boards & Rudder Plate | Completing The Paint Job

Like the transom frame, I only got so far when applying gloss to the tabernacle, drop boards and the underside of the rudder plate before stopping work in December.

So more gloss was applied until everything had received ten coats.

I used a roller to apply the paint and tipped it out with a foam brush, as in this pic.

The now usual finishing routine followed, wet sanding from P800 through to P2500 grits and finishing off with P5000 and P9000 polishing compound. As here, on the rudder plate.

Then they went back inside the house to await installation.

Transom Frame | Completing The Paint Job

I have shamelessly copied the colour scheme and layout of the protype PocketShip, because I think it looks so good.

This involves painting a 'frame' on the transom, continuing the blue and white paintwork from the sides and bottom of the hull onto the edges of the bright finished transom itself.

The blue side stripes and the white stripes across the bottom of the transom were finished last year but I discovered that the latter were blemished for some unknown reason and had to be redone.

By the time I stopped work in December the blue top stripe and white bottom stripes had received eight coats of primer.

So the first thing I did was to apply two more coats of primer, and when dry I wet sanded it to a P800 finish. Like this.

The hot air gun - on a low heat setting - is excellent for drying the sanded surface revealing any remaining brush marks.

Then ten coats of blue and white gloss were applied by brush and tipped out with a foam brush. Here are the completed stripes.

When nice and hard the stripes were then wet-sanded from P800 through to P2500 grits.

They were then finished with P5000 and P9000 polishing compound. As here.

Then came the moment I had been looking forward to for a long time - unveiling the whole transom! Here it is with all tape and masking removed.

It does look lovely, but it was an awful lot of work and I would tackle it differently if I did it again.

Which I most emphatically will not ...

Dorade Boxes | Eleventh Cock Up!

Encouraged by the success of the bow eye developments, I started to consider the deck layout for some fixtures and fittings.

The first thing I checked was the location of the various blocks and sheaves for sails and halyards on the cabin roof, and here I immediately discovered my eleventh and possibly most embarrassing cock up yet.

NB: for non-UK readers, a 'cock up' is a self-inflicted, major error that could and should have been foreseen and avoided. I haven't had one for quite a while - nearly two years, to be precise. So it was well overdue.

I first checked the location of the halyard sheaves and immediately saw that there was a nice round hole where they should be situated.

Like this.

The hole is where I thought the ventilator cowl should be located, in the top of the Dorade box. I remember spending ages deciding where to cut the holes, from an aesthetic point of view. I should have looked at the deck layout illustration instead.

What a bummer.

I didn't need to spend much time figuring out what to do. There was only one option - fill the holes, refinish the cabin top, and cut new holes in the correct place.

So a support plate was fastened under each hole, as here.

Tape and plastic film will stop any resin from sticking to the plate.

Then I marked out filler pieces on scrap ply, like this.

A test fit followed.

It seemed to work so I coated each piece with two coats of clear resin, as here.

Then I sanded them smooth and glued them in place with thickened epoxy. This is the starboard filler piece, held in place with a lump of lead.

When cured I applied some Hempel fairing compound to both pieces and when that was fully cured, I scraped and sanded them to a smooth surface. This is the port filler piece being dressed by the very effective Bahco scraper.

Here is the port filler, sanded flat and smooth.

Lastly, I made a fibreglass cloth patch for each side, like this.

And I then wetted them out, as here. A second coat filled the weave.

That will ensure that the cabin roof remains strong and secure.

When fully cured I will feather the patches flush with the roof and figure out how to refinish the surface, making the rework as invisible as possible.

Onwards and upwards ...

Bow Eye | Internal Support Pad

It was time to start thinking about installing fixtures and fittings, and I turned the page to Chapter 8 of the build manual: Fitting Out.

The first task is to install the bow eye. I had been thinking about this whilst on our travels in January and February and reminded myself that a support pad was required for the bow eye fitting on the inside of the stem.

I should have taken care of this before I installed the forward deck, while it was easy to access the interior of the bow compartment. Now it was all sealed up and watertight, and it would require contortionist abilities to install such a support pad via the inspection port in bulkhead 1.

The bow eye U bolt is secured by plates inside and outside the stem, so I needed to make a pad for the inside plate to bed down upon.

So, girding up my loins I found a piece of scrap Ash and started work. As here.

I cut a piece of Ash to the required width and drilled holes for the two 10mm legs of the U bolt, like this.

I determined the radius of the support pad where it meets the inside of the stem by using a variety of bottle tops, until I found one that matched nicely.

I used it to mark up the radius on the Ash block and shaped it with a rasp, like this.

Satisfied that the pad was the correct radius, I then cut it to the required length with the Japanese pull saw. As here.

It turned out well. Here is the support pad test fitted inside the bow compartment.

This is the finished pad with the bottle top used to determine its exact radius.

Finally here is the bow eye fitting loosely assembled with its support pad ready for installation.

We are definitely getting there!

Trailer | Measuring Up For PocketShip

One of the first things I did when restarting the build was to investigate what sort of trailer we will need to transport, launch and retrieve PocketShip.

The manual provides some guidance in the shape of a drawing on page 282, which is a useful starting point. It also recommends that we get an extended tongue so we can leave the bowsprit in situ while towing.

This is the drawing.

So I sent the drawing to SBS Trailers, who were highly recommended by the suppliers of the kit.

They asked for some dimensions which I provided and a quotation duly arrived.

However, I was concerned about the location of the winch and the height of the winch post, so I visited their factory in Wolverhampton to examine the options and talk to their specialist.

I am glad I did, because it immediately became apparent that a standard winch post would not be suitable for PocketShip.

The winch has to be horizontally in line with the bow eye in order to pull it safely and securely onto the trailer.

A standard winch post has the winch located at the top, which is fine for most boats which have their bow eye at the top of the stem. The winch pulls the boat onto the trailer until the stem meets the snubber, which is also located near the top of the winch post.

PocketShip is different, though. The bow eye serves two purposes. It braces the bowsprit with the bobstay, so it has to be located at the bottom of the stem. It is also used to retrieve the boat onto the trailer, so the winch cannot be at the top of the post. It has to be much lower in order to pull horizontally on the bow eye.

A custom winch post was required, and I was sent off to provide detailed measurements of the front of the boat.

I used a level to extend a line along the bottom of the keel out to the stem. Like this.

Then using a variety of methods, including a plumb bob and a laser level, I measured off all the key dimensions.

Here I am enjoying a Gin & Tonic after a taxing day scratching my head and remembering the principles of basic geometry.

This was the final output.

The specialist at SBS Trailers told me that the snubber should meet the stem about two thirds of the way up, so that's where I pencilled it in.

The winch post should be 60 degrees from the horizontal, so I pencilled that in too.

The broken line shows what the winch post should look like, theoretically.

I sent this off to SBS and they quickly recommended the next size up for the winch post, with a custom top member with the winch mounted underneath, in line with the bow eye.

So that's what we are going for.

It is inevitable that the bobstay must be uncoupled while towing, otherwise it will be in the way of the winch post. Which would not be good.

I did ask on the CLC PocketShip forum about winch post configuration, and some builders said that they had modified their trailers to have the snubber meet the stem below the bow eye, so they could keep the bobstay connected while towing.

It turns out that this is a really bad idea. With the snubber so low down on the stem the boat could potentially jump forwards out of the trailer in the event of a collision or sudden stop. That's why the guy at SBS Trailers told me that the snubber must be located up towards the top of the stem.

That means that the bobstay has to be disconnected whilst on the trailer. That's OK.

The SBS guy also confirmed my suspicion that the winch line is not a restraint. Its only function is to retrieve the boat, which must be separately secured to the trailer.

I was in New Zealand recently and saw quite a few boats being hauled out and towed with just the winch strap holding them in place. Also a really bad idea.

I've learned a lot about trailers in the last few weeks. Mine is now being built. Feels like a milestone event!