Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The First Cut is the Deepest ( apologies to Sheryl Crow)

Day 1 of actual boat construction, also known as, "Oh, I love the smell of fresh sawdust in the morning".

Transfer some patterns to a sheet of plywood, cut them out with a circular saw, hand plane and sand the edges, and after six hours you have cockpit decking, footwell sides, and seatback tops. I followed the tip of cutting two sheets of plywood at the same time to get exact matching parts (they may be be the wrong size but at least they are identical).
Today was a bit of experimentation with transferring the patterns and drawing curves so I am hopeful the procedure will become a little faster. I don't think I have ever been so careful in measuring and cutting wood before, and plan on accuracy being foremost and not speed for the duration of this project.

I am hoping that if I leave the clamps sitting out maybe they will reproduce and make baby clamps. I am already starting to see that you can never have too many  clamps.

Monday, December 29, 2008

My Kingdom for a Horse... (Sawhorse that is)

I managed to buy a few more supplies today and cleaned up and reorganized the basement work area in preparation for doing a bit of construction before I leave for Australia on January 8th. Constructed  four sawhorses as I don't always want to be kneeling on the cool concrete floor while working.  I should now have enough storage space for all cutout parts except the large panels that need to be scarfed together.

The pool table (shown in the previous post) should be a good place to put the sheets of plywood on while I transfer the patterns. My goal for when I move out to the garage in the spring (hopefully April) is to have completed all the following in the basement: smaller parts cut out and milled; parts of the keel and companionway, the rudder, the tiller, mast, spars, boom, and gallows constructed.

I found what I think should turn out to be very nice floorboards for the cabin. The local lumber yard had Teak 100% Heartwood flooring available for a very reasonable price. The flooring is solid Costa Rican (sourced sustainably) Teak 3 1/4 " wide by 5/8" thick with a very durable finished surface. The plans call for 3" wide but when I rip off the tongue and groove with my Christmas gift table saw it will be exactly 3".  Teak Heartwood is very dense and has a high tensile strength so 5/8" should be fine even though the plans call for 3/4". 

I came across some really good tips for stitch and glue construction on the CLC Boat Builders Forum that I will probably use. The tips come courtesy of username tuatara in Australia. 

1/ I copied the patterns on to the timber using giant carbon paper (2' x 16'), available from www.boatdesigns.com . Much quicker than punching holes and playing join the dots. (I have no affiliation with boatdesigns.com - thats just where I found the paper)

2/ I joined entire plywood panels, using scarf joints, before marking out and cutting. Its awkward to manouvre such large panels, but it does mean the parts are cut out as single pieces, so theres no risk of misalignment from joining two cut parts ( I can't cut accurate puzzle joints with a jigsaw!)

3/ In making the scarf, I used doublesided tape to hold the edges of the panels - much better result.

4/ I did all my cutting using a jigsaw (sabersaw in US English :-), with the plywood supported on blocks of 2" styrofoam.  The jigsaw blade goes through styrofoam like it wasn't there, yet the foam provides a really solid support to work on.

5/ to save time marking and cutting, where duplicate parts were required I stacked two pieces of ply, pinned them together with small nails (important!) and cut both parts at once.  This also helps ensure symmetry. I left the parts pinned together for finishing with plane and sander.

Monday, December 22, 2008

The New Boat Plans are Here! The New Boat Plans are Here!

After patiently waiting for 2 months (well maybe not completely patiently) the Pocketship plans surprised me and arrived on an evening postal delivery. Delivery took 11 days. I have had parcels sent to my son in Australia take about the same amount of time, but of course it is the holiday season.

It appears that good things come to those who wait as I cannot imagine there being a more comprehensive set of boat building plans being available in the marketplace. Eleven pages of 2' by 3' scaled drawings, seven sheets of 3' by 16' full sized patterns, and a 288 page instruction manual with more than 800 photos and diagrams.

I have skimmed the manual and every step appears to have been carefully photographed and explained in language easily understood by a first time boat builder.  Every detail from pouring the lead ballast to building spars to attaching all the rigging and hardware is outlined concisely, knowledgeably, and with lots of expert boat building hints.

The whole package is most impressive and plans such as for the Bolger Micro are pathetically inferior in comparison (not even a  list of materials and only  7 or 8 pages of building instructions).

The photos show the manual and  scaled drawings, the full size patterns beside an 8 foot pool table for scale, and a sample page from the manual.

A quick read through the manual has given me a better idea of how big of a project this is actually going to be. Thankfully, not too overwhelming but I am still glad to have such excellent instructions. It looks like there is lots of stuff I can do in my basement workshop starting in February while the garage is too cold. I wish I could start sooner but will be away in January for my son's wedding in Australia.

Friday, November 21, 2008

All I Want for Christmas...

I am not neglecting this blog but since my Pocketship plans have still not arrived there is not much to blog about. I have purchased some new tools, a DeWalt orbital sander, a jigsaw, and power planer. Everything is ready to go so now it is just up to Santa to make an early delivery of the plans.

If the plans do not arrive soon Christmas will take precedence over boat building and in January we are away for a month to attend my son's wedding in Australia. I guess I should  resign myself to the fact that boat building will probably not begin in earnest until mid-February.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Is all of this really going to be a sailboat?

10 Sheets Okoume BS6566  6MM $459
5  Sheets Okoume BS6566  9MM
1 Sheet Okoume BS6566  3MM 
1 Sheet Tiama  18MM
50 yds Fiberglass Cloth
50 yds Fiberglass Tape
10 Gallons MAS Epoxy Resin
5 Gallons MAS Hardener

Building your own Sailboat

At this point it is hard to believe that this 650 pounds of material is going to turn into the sailboat shown in the photo.

As soon as the plans finally arrive I'll be able to start cutting out panels. Canadian Prairie winters are not really suited to working in an uninsulated garage so epoxying is probably on hold until spring. Hopefully I can slowly move the plywood to my basement workshop and 
have all the parts ready to epoxy and start assembling in March. I am still investigating how practical it is to heat the garage with portable heaters and see if it is possible to get started in the garage sooner.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Ordering the plans and building materials

Having decided on the CLC Pocketship I ordered the plans on October 23rd. After a week I still had not received confirmation of the shipping charges and was becoming a little concerned, especially since I had chalked out an outline of the boat in the garage to reassure myself that I had made the right choice by going with a slightly smaller boat length.  A followup email revealed that the Pocketship plans are so new that they are still in the final stages of being prepared for shipping and should ship shortly. 

Chesapeake Light Craft (CLC) sells a kit for the Pocketship that includes pre-cut hull panels etc., epoxy resin, and fiberglassing materials for $3350 US.  However, agreeing with my son that I couldn't really tell people I built my own sailboat if someone else cut out all the parts, I started looking locally for marine plywood. Good luck to you if you live in the middle of the continent and have access to reasonably priced marine supplies. The best plywood I could find locally was Marine Grade Fir which of course is not close to the Okoume supplied in the kit. Okoume and Meranti (1088 and 6566) have equal and more plies and have other properties more suitable to boatbuilding ( something else that I have now read more about than I could have ever imagined). All the wooden boatbuilding forums out there have a wealth of information useful to new boatbuilders---take advantage of them!

Through the forums I learned of Noah's Marine Supplies in Toronto. They have all types of Okoume and Meranti marine plywood and cheaper than the local Marine Fir.  I decided on Okoume 6566 since the only difference between it and 1088 is the uniformity of the veneer facing. But I am not  bright finishing any of the wood so this is not an issue.  Noah's prices on epoxy and fibeglass materials were also cheaper than sourcing them locally.

I was able to order all of the identical materials in the CLC kit for $2,799 Can; the CLC kit after converting to Canadian funds would have been over $4000.  There of course is a $200- $250 shipping charge but I am sure shipping from the States would be even higher. As a bonus since I am outside of Ontario I saved more than $200 in provincial sales tax.  

Next: Waiting for the plans and supplies to arrive

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Which sailboat to build...

There is no shortage of information about building your own sailboat on the Internet. Trust me, in the last 2 months I think I have seen more than I could have imagined. I knew a reasonable size for a first time builder would be between 14 and 20 feet. But which boat to select? First it was going to be a Stevenson Weekender, then a Bolger Micro, or maybe a Vagabond 18. I ordered Study plans for 3 Fisher-Selway plans, the Goshawk, Galway, and Ptarmigan 17.  I looked at the Hartley 16 and 18 and the Belhaven 19 and some others I have forgotten. But I kept coming back to the brand new CLC Pocketship design.  The final decision was made, as usual, on a lot of compromises. Designs over 17 feet would not be practical to fit in a single car garage during the construction phase. Some designs were for boats that were simply too heavy to work on unless I could manage to get 12-15 people to turn over a 700 kg hull. Some designs had a flat bottom which would be great for a day at the lake shown in the bottom picture but not so great for days like in the first photo.  On Lake Winnipeg ( the world's 11th largest lake) there are more choppy days than calm days so we needed a boat that would cut through the chop rather than bounce on top.  

The CLC Pocketship was small enough ( 14' 11") to work on easily in the garage, yet with a V-hull, ballasted keel and a weight of 800 lbs should be very seaworthy. It has a cockpit almost 7 feet long for our primary purpose of daysailing ( larger than some 19' and 20' plans I looked at) and a very sleepable but simple cabin. 

 PocketShip plans include a 116-foot long roll of full-sized patterns for all plywood parts in the hull (and many other parts besides), 11 pages of traditional scaled architectural drawings, dimensioned diagrams for sails and spars, and a spiral-bound instruction manual with each building step photographed and/or diagrammed---more than 450 photos.

These very complete plans means there is no "lofting"  for this first time boatbuilder.

Next: Ordering the plans and building materials

How I decided to build a sailboat...

Maybe I will test out the sailboat in the pool first!

I have never built a sailboat before, in fact I have never even sailed a boat. So, how did I decide to build a sailboat? As usual, it was my son who talked me into it. I have recently retired from 32 years  of teaching and of course the first question people keep asking is what are you going to do with all of your free time.  My answer of doing what you do on holidays and weekends except full time usually is not sufficient so I needed to find a project.  All of the household and cottage projects and renovations are complete or up to date so I needed to be creative. My son has been living in Australia for 4 years and is planning on purchasing a boat to live on.  He suggested I build a sailboat and then maybe with the experience I could build a larger one for him. It started partly as a joke but the more I thought about it the more intriguing the idea was. My wife has often suggested we look at sailing as another activity to enjoy at the cottage as we head into our retirement years. Thus the seed was sown and I dove into researching building your own sailboat.
I have never been afraid of any kind of home renovation project whether it was wiring the basement for a family room, decking most of the backyard , or the scariest of all, cutting holes in the roof for skylights or knocking out walls for patio doors.

Next Installment: Which boat to build