Saturday, May 17, 2008

End pours

I decided to do the optional step of end pours. This is simply pouring a fairly large amount of thickened epoxy into the very tip of the bow and stern hull. On some smaller kayaks, end pours are accomplished by hoisting the hull vertically on end and pouring the epoxy into the hull, then letting gravity keep it in the tip. However, in a hull the size of a Mill Creek 16.5, it is easier to use the dam method. I cut some corrugated cardboard to a shape that would fit snugly in the end of the bow and stern. I covered the cardboard with clear plastic packing tape, and also used the tape to seal the edges against the hull wall. At this point I could pour epoxy that had been thickened with wood flour --but was still pourable--into the chamber created by the dam. I ended up doing a pour at both ends in two stages, to reduce the amount of heat generated by the curing epoxy. It was an unusually cool evening, and yet the heat of the chemical reaction could be felt through the wood and fiberglass of the hull wall. These end pours will add weight to the hull, but also will add strength and impact resistance. Total Hours 30.75.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Interior epoxy

Last night was spent doing some prep work for the upcoming deck installation this weekend. That is a definite planned event, since it is one of the few times I will have a helper available...and I anticipate that an extra pair of hands will be useful while installing the deck. So in anticipation of that, I did some work that should have been done earlier, at least as called for in the construction manual. This included some sanding of fillets and rough fiberglass tape edges, as well as rounding off the edges of the hanging knees. After that, I could begin epoxy coating the interior. To be honest, I am not putting a lot of effort into nice finishes in the bow and stern compartment, as these won't be seen much after the deck is installed. However, I am trying to keep the cockpit space as neat as I can, even though it will be painted. So the first of several coats of epoxy was rolled on and allowed to cure. This must be completed by this upcoming weekend so as to be ready for the deck. My original schedule to also construct seats and hatch covers will be deferred, but I hope to also do some of that this week. Total hours 29.75.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Brackets and Cleats

Over the past couple of days, I have been adding coats of epoxy to the hull exterior to fill the weave of the glass cloth. Between the last two, I sanded the surface with 100-grit paper to knock the peaks off the texture that was printing through the epoxy. With a nice, smooth surface produced, I then flipped the hull. The next step was to install some fittings, including seat cleats and brackets for the foot brace rails. The forward set of brackets are normally through-bolted, with a bolt head visible on the hull exterior. Instead, I used some special fittings with a bolt and perforated plate which were glassed onto the hull interior. The position for the forward foot brace rails was measured and marked. The substitute bolts require the plastic rails be drilled out slightly to enlarge the existing mounting holes. These bolt brackets were then glassed on the surface of the hull with a combination of silica thickened epoxy and unthickened epoxy to wet the glass tape that had been cut in 3" x 3" squares with a hole cut in the center. Once the glass was wetted, I taped the bolt to hold it in place. The instructions call for rolling the hull on its side and allowing gravity to hold the mount in place until the epoxy cures. This would have been easier and neater.

The aft pair of foot braces will be screwed into riser blocks so as to clear the hanging knee in that location. These blocks were simply epoxied into position and held in place with tape while the epoxy cured.

Finally, simple 3/4" x 3/4" pieces of lumber were epoxied into place on the hull floor to serve as seat cleats, or guide rails for the seat assemblies. Care must be taken to use the correct pieces of wood: for each seat there are four pieces of lumber- three are longer than the fourth. Two of the long pieces are used as the seat guides, while the third is used as a structural part of the lower seat. The fourth, shorter piece is used as a structural part of the seat back. The guides were measured and aligned, then epoxied into place with silica thickened epoxy and weighted until cured. Total hours 28.25.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Fill the weave

Another coat of epoxy was rolled on the hull exterior in order to "fill the weave". This is merely the procedure to build up a layer of epoxy just sufficient to cover the texture of the fiberglass cloth and produce a smooth surface for later varnish or paint. The coat last night was very thin; I can see already another will be required.

Also, I have worked out a rough timeline to finish the Mill Creek 16.5 construction. The goal is to have major construction finished by the end of this month. That will allow about two weeks for finishing, varnishing and painting. So by the middle of June, we should be ready for water. The ultimate goal is to paddle around the harbor in Mystic CT during The WoodenBoat Show 2008. Total hours 24.50.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Hull Glass

After some prep work, including filling stitch holes and chine gaps with thickened epoxy, and a final overall sanding of the hull, the fiberglass could now be applied. A large bundle of 6 oz fiberglass cloth is supplied for this purpose. It is unfolded and draped over the hull, and the excess trimmed off to where only a small overhang remains beyond the edge of the sheerclamp. The loose weave of the cloth allows it to be arranged without wrinkles fairly easily. Then, in a technique detailed here, batches of unthickened epoxy were mixed and poured onto the flat surface of the hull. Using a rubber spatula, the epoxy is gently spread so as to wet down the cloth. The idea is to get the cloth just wet enough that it turns from white to clear, but so that some of the cloth texture remains after the epoxy is cured. This allows the cloth to adhere to the wood of the hull, providing strength, durability, and waterproof-ness. Adding excess epoxy also adds weight, and runs the risk of "floating" the cloth out of close contact with the wood, reducing strength. It is a slow and painstaking task, but after a couple of hours, the hull was glass coated. Then, after a couple hours, when the epoxy was semi-cured, I trimmed the excess cloth from the bow, stern, and sheerline. Additional cloth tape will be applied to the bow and stern, and additional thin layers of epoxy will fill the weave of the cloth, leaving a smooth surface. Total hours 23.45.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Program note

No post today as minor sanding and prep work continues on the hull. The plan is for a glassing of the entire hull exterior tomorrow. Further, a plan is in place to complete major construction of the Mill Creek 16.5 by the end of this month (more on that later). That will leave about two weeks for finishing/painting/varnishing. And then, the tentative plan is to take the boat to The Wooden Boat Show in Mystic CT, June 27-29. High Hopes!

N.B.: Some of you may be curious as to where to find the Passagemaker Dinghy Forum for builders and fans of this CLC design. The forum has recently been moved to a new home, and can be found here. Interested in learning more about this nifty little sailing dinghy? Check out CLC's Passagemaker page, and my first blog.