Thursday, January 8, 2015

Winter Stuff, WIndow Shopping and Sticker Shock


It' January.... It's kind of frickin cold.  It was -15 F this AM but its usually not THAT cold.  The boat was shrink wrapped for the winter and some lumber  tarps were hung off the sides to help keep run off from dribbling down the side of the project all Winter and Spring.

Though there is plenty to do, I am taking a little time during the winter to collect my thoughts,  think about interior design, systems and getting priorities straight for the next construction season.  I hired Chip F. to help me get things jump started last Summer and Chip didn't disappoint.  We got a lot done and there's a boat load of stuff to do in 2015 too.

My goals for this year are to get two layers of 1/2" ply on the hull over the planking, 3 layers of 1/2" ply on the deck, coat the hull and deck and move the project to Yarmouth this Summer to put the pilot house on.  I can't put the pilot house on in Falmouth because the project won't fit under the utility wires between here and the water with the pilot house on.  Any other significant interior bulkheads will need to be addressed now too as once the deck goes on getting big anything into the ship is problematic.

I have started sketching the interior lay out for Pile of Wood and find that I have lots of great ideas on paper but when I get the plans down to the interior (2nd picture) I find I have to scratch out about 30% of what I draw to get it to actually fit the stuff that looked so good when I drew it up at the house.

I also have had to do a lot of window shopping for systems as the physical implications for the interior build out are driven by what I put in the boat from water tanks to anchor lockers.  This has led to a lot of New Year's anxiety as I slowly tally the "tab" for all this stuff.  On the one hand its kind of exciting and fun.  It also is very sobering and has had me really rethink my strategy around what "I need".

On the one hand, this will be my home and I don't want to feel like I am camping each and every day.  I want my beer cold, a real stove and a few other modest trappings of civilized life.  But I don't need a lot and finding that balance around what's really important and what isn't is definitely part of this journey.

I almost pooped my pants when I realized that a good windlass and anchoring stuff could run me well over $10K.  That's just stuff to anchor.  Yikes.  I'm both excited and mortified.  Its all good, but this window shopping stuff has my heart skipping a few beats now and then.

Though there is still so much to do, its really important to have this natural break in the cycle to get focused and set yourself up for good decisions that will be the underpinnings for next year's construction.  I found I needed this break to think things through, and I am!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014


There is one last detail before we get to the planking.  Anywhere  there is a keel joint that intersects the Rabbet, the notch that receives the boat planking in the keel, there needs to be a "stop water" which does just that.  It stops any water that might get into the Rabbet from  outside  from traveling along the junction of the keel piece into the inside of the boat.  Here the junction is the intersection of the knee which backs the Stem (front piece of the ship) and the top of the keel.  Stop waters are typically soft wood dowels pounded into the hole you drill at the junction of the keel pieces and the rabbet.

At the bow of the ship the planking requires a bit of twist to hit the Chine, the Rabbet and lay flat on the stringers.  Here we have steamed the bottom planking (5/4 SYP) and are imparting the necessary twist into the planks by clamping them with some wedges.

As mentioned previously, unlike the upper planking, the bottom planking is both thicker (5/4 vs 1X) and is vertical vs horizontal (Maryland style bottom planking).  The planks are attached with deck screws, galvanized screws and galvanized ring nails.  Although probably overkill, I also used 3M 5200 to bed the entire Rabbet and to the Chine for the first dozen planks or so forward.  The remainder of the Chine was bedded with just tar aft.
clamping and screwing
5200 and galvanized screws into Rabbet
Tar bedding at frame and stringer

Fully planked
horizontal planking fore and aft


Above the Chine the boat is planked length wise, horizontally.  Below the Chine the boat is planked "Maryland style" with the planks running vertically from Chine to Rabbet.  To support the span from Chine to Rabbet, Stringers are installed by notching the frames and nailing/glueing support pieces- Stringers, to which the vertical planking will be attached.  

The Stringers are comprised of two layers of 1X4 SYP glued and screwed to the notched frames.  The first pic shows the first layer in place and the second pic shows the full 2 layers of SYP comprising the stringer. Where the bottom of the hull is at its fullest there are 4 rows of stringers between Chine and Rabbet.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Before we plank....

 So the frames are standing, the engine and fuel tanks are in, the Transom and stem are up, there are still a few things that need to happen before we start planking (and remember, there will be two layers of plywood that goes over the planking later on).

First, before the cross bracing can come off the standing frames, we need a little more infrastructure to the framework of the ship.  Where the sharp angle or Chine of the hull turns up, there needs to be some solid wood built into that angle that gets notched into the frames.  In the photo to the left you can see the Chine which we have laminated out of SYP and Doug Fir (3 layers of 1X stock).  The laminated chine was easier to fit to the curves and mitigated issues around butt joints (because planks don't come in 44 foot lengths ;-0 ).  Later, the planking will be fastened to the frames, chine and stringers (on the bottom part of the hull).

Next we needed to make and install Deck Beams to the frames.  The Deck Beams become the frame work for the deck which is also the cabin ceiling depending....
The Deck Beams were cut from whole pieces of 3 X 8 Douglas fir with a 3.5 inch crown.  Many builders laminate the deck beams on a form but I chose to cut mine out of whole timbers.  They were sanded and then oiled with Tung oil.  You can see the curve (or crown) which sheds water that hits the deck and the difference in finish between a coated and uncoated beam from photo above. 

After a final fairing of the frames, the last step before planking is to put in the Stringers on the bottom (next blog topic).

Thursday, September 18, 2014

A Nice Ass

Who doesn't admire a nice rump.  Well, its true for ships too.  Here we are putting up the transom of "pile of wood".  The transom actually tips backwards about 15 degrees and with planking added would be very heavy and awkward to lift into place.  We start by making the framework much like the other frames. The "horn timber" or center piece of the transom is through bolted to a big Angelique knee that is bolted to the very back of the keel.  Even without any ply attached, the framework probably weighs several hundred pounds.  After it has been bolted in place we add on two layers of overlapping plywood and coat with a material that creates a waterproof membrane (the blue stuff) and then attach 2X8 doug fir planking for the nice planked look and attach with more goop and big galvanized screws. The screw holes are filled with wooden bungs that are cut flush and sanded.  In the end, the transom will be painted to keep the "bright work" maintenance manageable.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Dropping in the Tanks

The fuel tank logistics were interesting.  The first thing I did was to make my tankage as two large tanks rather than four tanks which were suggested in the design.  I needed to move the engine room bulkhead forward one station to accommodate the larger tanks but I think it was a good swap of space to have a larger engine room and drop down to two tanks from four.  They are 420 gallons apiece and constructed of 1/4 inch aluminum with baffles and inspection ports for a total tankage of about 840 gallons of fuel.  Though I try to do as much business here in Maine, the best deal I found was a welder in NJ who had also done the tanks for my friend Joe who is building the 44 foot Duck.  To make the deal sweeter, Joe's brother in law has a place here in Maine and brought the tanks up from NJ.  With a little finessing of some lifting chain we were able to get the tanks out of the truck  with the neybah's Kabota, but dropping them in would require a visit from a big boy toy.  Empty,  the tanks weigh in at 750 lbs each.  Full they will weigh close to 3000 lbs each so having them snug and secure is a top priority.  I designed a wood cradle that is tied into the boat frames.  The tanks are mounted on neoprene strips to keep water from getting trapped between the wood and the tanks.  I had contemplated a day of dragging these bad boys up ramps with come alongs and such but ultimately wrote a modest check and had a crane company place them on the cradles in a little more than an hour with no scuffs, crushed fingers or other potentially disfiguring mishaps.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Raising the Frames

 As mentioned in a prior post, the frames were constructed over several winters in the cellar.  When the time finally came this summer, they were dragged down to the building site and laid out on the full sized framing table we constructed next to the keel.  The two frame halves were "mated" and cross pawls were added to stabilize the frame shape as the were attached to their respective floor timbers.  We started at the engine room where the engine had already been mounted and in anticipation of the fuel tanks which had just been ordered from an aluminum fabricator in NJ.

In addition to raising the frames here, this was also the right time to put in the fore and aft engine room bulk heads.  The bulk heads were to layers of screwed and glued 1/2 in MDO.  The aft bulkhead was left off until the tanks were installed to facilitate their placement (next post).  After the glue kicked screws were removed leaving us with a 1 inch final thickness laminated plywood bulk head.    Then the remaining frames were put in place you can see the floor timbers primed for the forthcoming frames and then finally almost all frames standing.  Frames were bolted to the the floor timbers with four 1/2 inch bolts (2 per side) and then strapping was screwed to the outside of the frames to stabilize them until the chine was attached.