Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Week 4 - Sail kit, Centerboard carving, Painting begins

Week 4 began with the arrival of the sail kit that had been ordered from Sailrite the week prior.  Time to get the sewing machine tuned up and ready to go.  Sailrite was very helpful in working through my sail options.  I went with 4oz white dacron, full batons, and two reef points.  The kit comes with everything needed to put the sail together including instructions.  The sail panels are already cut to shape including broadseaming, seams, reef points, and baton locations are all marked out.  Assembly involves seam sticking one panel to another on a hard surface, then sewing the panels together.  Then reinforcement patches and reef points are seam stuck and sewed.  I'm using a Pfaff  model 6091 sewing machine that was aquired some years back to do canvas work and tent modifications.  It has a walking foot that really helps with thicker material.  On the sail, it is having no problem going through 5 layers of 4oz dacron in the reinforcement patches.
The family room has become a temporary sail loft.  The plywood panel is a scrap piece of 5mm door skin.  I taped the edges to prevent snagging the sail cloth.  A hard surface is needed to keep tension on the sail while seam sticking the panels together to prevent wrinkles in the seams.
Above is the clew reinforcement patch being fitted.
Here are reef patches after being sewed on.  Notice that I've only sewn together panels needed to get the reinforcement patches sewn on.  This helps minimize the amount of material that has to be rolled up to get through the sewing machine.

Back to the boat.  It was time to fill the screw holes from attaching the bottom panels and start filleting the framing.

I've turned the boat back over installed the bottom skids.
Just in case you were wondering if a respirator or dusk mask is needed while sanding epoxy covered surfaces.  Check out the next two pictures.
 This picture was taken about 5 minutes after a sanding session.  The dust was picked up by the flash.
Here is the same scene, taken seconds later but with no flash.  It may not be seen, but the dust is still in the air.  Stay safe and use a respirator or at least a dust mask.  No one needs to inhale this stuff.

Next, the boat was taken outside for a complete sanding of the outside surfaces in preparation of painting with primer.

Let the painting begin!
The green tape is covering the gunwales and some other items I don't want painted.
After two coats of primer, I took some time to work on fairing the stem.  Mike Storer suggests gluing on a thin triangular piece to fair in where the side panels come together at the bow.  I decided to just fair it with thickened epoxy and reinforce with fiberglass tape.
With the boat outside, it was time to turn my attention to finishing the centerboard and rudder foils.
After spending a lot of time trying to plane the centerboard blank flat, I did the best I could and then started carving the foil into shape using the jig made last week.
The router follows the jig outer surface which exactly offsets the NACA foil shape by 30mm.  Carving the shape involves several hours of laying on the garage floor while running the router to carve three inches at a time. 
Here is the router on the jig in carving position.  This method produces impressive piles of saw dust.  After spending a couple days trying to plane the centerboard flat, and spending another day carving on it, it became apparent that the centerboard was too warped to work out.  Going back to week 3, I laminated the centerboard and the rudder blanks while they were supported on top of some saw horses.  Apparently, when weights were applied to keep the lamination flat while curing, they actually laminated in a slight curve in the centerboard blank.  I should have done the lamination on the floor.  The curve was slight, but enough to prevent me from carving the shape with the jig correctly.  The same warpage affected the rudder blank.  At this point, I was mad at myself.  A simple oversight cost me about three days of work.
At the end of week 4, I'm about a week behind schedule.  I decided to take the next week off from work to try to catch up in time for the wooden boat festival in Port Townsend, WA.  Stay tuned for a full week of straight boat building.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Week 3 - Bottoms up, Gunwales and Foil blanks

Week 3 started with ripping lengths of cedar, douglas fir, and sapele for parts I would need to get the bottom on the boat, and parts I would need soon thereafter.

I hadn't anticipated starting on the gunwales until week 4, but upon closer review of the instructions, the gunwales should be in place before the bottom is bonded on to help ensure the side panels remain fair while the bottom panels are bonded to the sides.  So I ripped lengths of douglas fir for the gunwales, built a scarfing jig for use with the table saw, and tried a new process for bonding the scarf joints.
In the picture above is the scarfing jig that I put together from scrap parts.  This worked better than how I scarfed the chine logs (roughed out with a circular saw and finished with a bench plane).
Here is the improved process for gluing up the gunwale scarfs.  With the chine scarfs, I just used weights to apply pressure on the joint.  For the gunwale scarfs, I used packing tape covered scrap pieces to support the bottom of the gunwale staves, then drove drywall screws through the gunwale scarf joint and into the scrap blocks underneath.  I used alignment marks while dryfitting to make sure everything stayed aligned in the final glue-up. 

While the gunwale scarf joints were curing, I took some time to rip staves of cedar to glue up for the centerboard and rudder foil blanks.  I also needed hardwood staves for the leading and trailing edges of the foils, so my gorgeous board of sapele had to be cut up.
Here is the board, chalked up for the parts to be made from it.

And what's left after cutting up the sapele.

Here are the rudder and centerboard foil blanks cut to size and dryfitted.  The sapele staves are on the outside, with cedar in the interior.  I also snuck in a stave of douglas fir near the middle for some additional stiffness.
Above is the rudder foil blank being lamenated.  The staves are aligned on a piece of OSB with some straight edges attached.  After applying the epoxy to the staves, the pipe clamps were just snugged up, the weights were applied and then the clamps were tightened up.  Notice the glue-up is set up on some saw horses and not on the floor.  This becomes important later, but I will hold that thought for the proper time.
Here is the centerboard after the epoxy had cured, it still needs to be cleaned up and planed flat before carving into a foil shape.
Speaking of the foil shape, I differed a bit from the plans again and used a pattern that I found on the jwbuilders yahoo group that is dedicated to John Welsford small boat designs.  I am a big fan of John's designs, and have plans for his patherfinder cruising dinghy.  But I decided to build the Goat first because it will do most of what I expect the pathfinder to do, cost half as much, and could be built in less than a third of the time.  But I digress.
Above is the foil template I used which calculates a foil outline based on a NACA shape using the basic dimensions provided.  It also provides an offset dimension that can be used to create a jig to carve the foil using a router.  The plywood pieces below the template are the beginning parts of the jig.
While the foil laminations and gunwales were curing, I also bonded the bottom panels together using plywood butt blocks.
With the the bottom panels bonded together, I turned my attention to dry attaching the gunwale staves to the boat side panels, turning the boat bottom-side up and beveled the chines and frames to accept the bottom.

Next, the bottom was dryfitted and screwed into place.
And once again, after dryfitting, everything was taken apart, epoxy added back to the joints, and everything screwed back down.
Here is the bottom after bonding, screws removed, and all the edges trimmed flush with the sides.  After filling all the screw holes and fairing and rounding off the edges, it was time to apply fiberglass to the bottom.
Bottom with dry cloth laid out.
And after wetting out with epoxy.
After filling the fiberglass weave, more fairing and sanding, the boat was turned right-side up again.
Wha-la!  we have a boat....sort of.

Assessment at the end of week 3:  I had originally planned to complete the gunwales, knees and foils by the end of week 3.  I've dryfitted the gunwales to the boat, but have yet to build the in-wales, in-wale spacers and knees.  I've laminated up the centerboard and rudder foil blanks, but have not carved them to shape, faired and fiber-glassed them yet.  So I'm about four days behind my original schedule.  I have to think about taking some additional vacation to hold schedule.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Week 2 - Framing the frames, Chines & Assembly

Week 2 started with adding the brace framing to the bulkhead panels.  Much care and careful reading of the instructions were necessary to make sure I put the sticks on the correct side of the panel.  The instructions describe the procedure with some drawing references in one section, and the detailed diagrams with dimensions are in another section.  So there was plenty of flipping back and forth trying to confirm what was what.  The panel assembly set the stage for most of the build.
     1. Measure carefully and cut parts to size
     2. Dry fit and screw pieces together with dry wall screws and packing-tape covered pads of scrap plywood
     3. Take it apart, add thickened epoxy
     4. Re-assemble the part and wait for the epoxy to cure

 Here is frame 3 all glued up.  Notice the plywood pads that protect the panel surface from the screw heads.  The packing tape keeps the pads from becoming unintended permanent structure.  I followed other builders advise and pre-finished the plywood panels to some extent before adding the framing structure.  The panels are a lot easier to sand when they are flat, without all the nooks and crannies created by the added framing.
Here is frame 4 in the foreground, with frame 2, I think, behind it.  Like I said up above, the hardest part is figuring out which side of the panel the side bracing, seat cleats, or bottom cleats are supposed to be on.  Some panels, like those above, have parts that are added on later, after major assembly.

Here is a picture of the framing of the transom panel.  Unlike the rest of the panels, I followed Mike Storers advice and used weights and clamps on this glue-up instead of the screws and plywood pads.  Not putting screws through the transom plywood preserves the option of finishing the transom naturally without any unsightly blemishes from filled screw holes.  Will I finish the transom bright?  That is the plan for now.  At least until my wood butchery skills force me to paint it instead.

Along with the framing panels, I also was working on prepping the bottom panels.  Diverging from the plans, I made the bottom panels from 9MM plywood instead of 6MM.  To me, it was worth the additional weight to have the peace of mind of a little more material between me and the briny deep.  This boat is not going to be a museum piece and may see some hard use.  For that reason, I also decided to diverge from the plans a bit and glassed the inside of the bottom panels with 4oz fiberglass cloth to provide added protection from dropped items and moving about the boat.

Here is one of the bottom panels after being glassed and wetted out with epoxy.  Notice the centerline and framing positions are marked with a sharpie.  After wetting out, the glass cloth goes clear and the sharpie is clearly visible.  This was great for assembly.  Just be sure that you don't intend to finish these panels naturally, otherwise everyone will get to see your assembly markings.  Might make for interesting discussion when the wind deserts you, but I'm just going to paint over these panels.

Next, I scarfed together the Chine stringers from clear vertical grain douglas fir.  The plans call for cedar.  I decided on douglas fir for some additional strength.  The scarf joint was set up as 10:1.  I rough cut the scarfs with a circular saw and finished them with my grandfather's No. 7 Bailey bench plane.  And just like that, I turned four 10 foot lengths of douglas fir into two 19 foot lengths.  After gluing the side panels together with butt-block joints, I dryfitted then glued the chine stringers to the side panels.

Here is a picture of the dry fitting of the chine stringer to a side panel.

The stem piece was laminated up from a couple pieces of douglas fir.  The stem on the Goat Island Skiff is triangular and tapers from one end to the other.  As a side note, working on a triangular piece is a pain in the butt.  There is really no conventional way to hold the piece secure to final shape it.
With the stem completed, it was time to mate up the stem to the side panels and turn this thing into something that resembles a boat.  One beautiful aspect of the GIS design is that there is no mould or strongback structure that you have to build to support the structure during the build.  Just build the parts and screw them together with some glue in the joint.  Let it cure, then pull out the screws.  I'm oversimplifying, but you get the idea.  Without a strongback structure, we come to a more critical operation in the boat construction.  Attaching the stem between the side panels should be done carefully.  There is very little surface area and the the parts set up the alignment down the whole length of the boat.  My advice, use at least two people, take your time, and use plenty of screws.
Here is the stem after dry fitting to the side panels.

After dry fitting the stem, I added frame three.

Next was the transom.  With the transom, it took three people.  One was mostly moral support, if you consider laughing at our feeble attempts as moral support.  In the end, we used a couple tie-down straps, some wood blocking and a lot of patience to pull in the ends and carefully align the transom and screw it all together.
Wha-la!  This is starting to look like a boat.  Here is what things look like after dry fitting including frames 4 near the transom and frame 2 near the bow.  What's next?  You guessed it, take it all apart, butter up the joins with thickened epoxy and try to put it all back together again.  Only now there is time pressure and everything is slippery.  But no problem, right, you've done it all before....once!
Here is the boat after the glue-up.  Time to take a moment to enjoy the fruits of thy labour.  That is my son Joe (the main helper, not the moral support one) giving his best impression of rowing the new boat.  I think he is too far forward and needs to move to the other side of Frame 3.  But Dads tend to be over critical.  A couple of things to note in the picture, the white notebook in the foreground is the plans and instructions that I downloaded and printed from Mike Storer.  That's 78 pages of instructions and 10 pages of construction diagrams.  Also if you look closely at frame 3, just in front of Joe, there are a couple of clamps on either side of the centerline.  My brilliant idea was to remove a section of the frame 3 seat cleat to make room for the centerboard case.  It would have to happen eventually.  What I failed to notice is that without the full length of that cleat, frame 3 is under enough tension to pull the ends into a bowed shape.  To straighten out the frame, I clamped another piece of wood across the gap.  There the clamps will remain until it is time to fit in the centerboard case.  Another lesson learned about thinking ahead.

So that brings us to the centerboard case.
Here is the dry fit of most of the centerboard case framing.  I will wait until I have the final dimensions of my dagger board before finishing the assembly.  The side clearance of the dagger board foil within the case is pretty critical.

That is about it for week 2 of the build.  At this point, I think I'm behind schedule by a day or two.  I had planned to have the bottom panels on by now.  Maybe I can catch up by next weekend.  Stay tuned!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Week 1 - Materials, Cutting Panels

Week 1 started with downloading Goat Island Skiff plans from Mike Storer's website, reviewing them and printing the plans and putting them in a binder.

I contacted Edinsaw woods in Port Townsend, WA about supplies.  After some discussions with Sam at Edinsaw, and faxing over the materials list from the plans, on day 1 of the build I headed out early in the morning for Port Townsend.  After meeting Sam and discussing hardwood options, we settled on a very fine board of 5/4 Sapele.  Sam had Okoume plywood already picked, boxed and wrapped for me.  The warehouse guys quickly had the sapele wrapped and loaded on my roof rack with the plywood in short order.
For plywood, I ordered 4 sheets of 6MM okoume and 2 sheets of 9MM okoume.  I decided to differ from the plans and use 9MM for the bottom panels, centerboard case, and a few other bits.
After the trip home and unloading the Edinsaw supplies, I headed to Renton for a visit to The Lumber Market and picked a load of cedar and clear vertical douglas fir.  Back home and unloaded, it was time to turn all this great material into boat parts.

With the plans, ruler, some panel nails and a batten, I quickly had the ply marked out for the side and bottom panels.
                                                                  marking out bottom panel

Here are the bottom panels after cutting out with a jig saw and trimming to size with a block plane

Then the same was done for the side panels and frames

Next, I marked out centerlines and framing outlines on the frame panels, sanded them a bit and coated them with a couple coats of epoxy.

I'm using Quick Silver epoxy by System Three.  They are a local company to the Seattle area.  I picked up the epoxy right at their home office in Auburn, WA.  The epoxy is great stuff.  It has hardly any odor, no waxy blush to clean up between coats, and mixes very easily.  It will actually have a silverish haze while mixing, and when it goes clear again, you know it's mixed.
Here is my epoxy station set up on a stool.  mixing cups and mixing sticks are in the box.  I use an electronic mail scale to measure the epoxy by weight.  With the cups I use, epoxy batches are measured out to anything from 15 to 150 grams.  The scale is covered with plastic wrap to keep it from getting all gooey.
 That's about it for week 1.  Still on target to complete the goat in time for the boat festival.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

In the beginning

This blog is intended to document the trials and tribulations of an amateur boat builder as I attempt to build a Mike Storer designed Goat Island Skiff from start to finish in just five weeks.

                                                        Goat Island Skiff: Picture from

This crazy idea was hatched after much careful research over a period of time and a chance reading of an account by Mike Storer of two gents in Australia who put a basic Goat Island Skiff hull and rigging together in just 10 days.  Of coarse there were two of them, they had professional facilities to work from, the designer himself to ask questions of.  But they had never done anything like that before.  And at least on of them, I wouldn't consider the "handy" type.  At least not to begin with.
So I, with much bravado, the handy guy that I am, should have no problem completing the same achievement by myself in 24 or so dedicated working days spread over 5 weeks.

The Challenge:
       Complete a Goat Island Skiff from start to finish in 5 weeks in time to attend the Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival on Sept. 9th-11th in Port Townsend, Washington
The Plan:
      Take vacation on Mondays and Fridays for 4 straight weeks, dedicate that time to boat building.   Also slip in a few hours each remaining work day to complete the boat on time.
      August 5th-8th - Pick up supplies, cut out plywood panels to shape
      August 12th-15th - Assemble sides and bottom
      August 19th-22nd - Gunwales, knees & foils
      August 26th-29th - Tank tops, spars & paint
      Sept 2nd-5th (Holiday weekend) - Sail, trailer, float tests
      Sept 9th-11th - Go to the show!