Too Hot for Boat Building

April 18th, 2016

2016-04-18 18.05.28 (Medium)Lake Oswego has been having a heat wave; we had a high of 82°F yesterday, 80°F today and an expected 85°F tomorrow.  For most of the boat build the temperature in the boat shop has been in the 50’s.  At those temperatures I use a fast hardener designed to cure between 40°F and 60°F.  As the temperature started to climb I switched to a slow hardener designed to cure at 60°F and above.  Yesterday I used all of my extra slow hardener designed to cure above 70°F.  I have very little need for the extra slow hardener since I don’t do much boat building during the summer so I had just enough to primed the inside of the hull.  I was able to finish fiber-glassing the inside of the hull by saturating the fiberglass cloth using the slow hardener.

So far on the build I have used about 3 gallons of epoxy and hardener; I expect to use at most 1 more gallon.  I have gone through 22 yards of 6oz, 50 inch wide fiberglass cloth and I should use a another yard to a yard and a half.  For peel ply I have gone through 16 yard and I might go through 1 more but I have 4 spare yards just in case.  I purchased different epoxy fillers per the designers recommendation and I will have enough left over for two more boats.  It is better to have a little left over than to run out and waste time and money getting a little more to finish the job; actually the time cost from running out exceeds any savings by buying just what is needed.

The thwarts, bridge deck and anchor deck don’t have any anti-skid coating so I am thinking of using Dynel fabric which has a texture similar to coarse cotton duck.   By not filling the weave all the way I will be left with a very abrasive resistant non-skid surface.

Turnover Day

April 11th, 2016

upside_rightIn the last two weeks I have almost finished sanding and priming the outside of the hull and the boat was turned over.  Turnover day is always a milestone in boat building; it marks the day the boat goes from a project to a real boat.  I modified the plans so the hull would be 13′ 10″ long.  I measured the hull and it came out to be 14′ 1″; oh well that’s bodybuilding.  Now it is time for sanding, taping, sanding, glassing, sanding, filling, sanding and priming the inside of the hull which means I am still 2 months away from launch.

The Candlefish 13 has a bridge deck in the center of the boat which is great for storage but can be in the way.  I decided that I am going to move the bridge deck forward by about 6 inches to make more room just behind it.  Lots of fun work ahead and it is now a real boat.

Two Down, Six to Go

March 27th, 2016

2016-03-27 14.29.41 (Medium)I though that I had put the final coat of Quik Fair on the boat but I did not.  I have been sanding and I found I need to fill the transom more and one spot on the starboard bow.  I estimate that I have 8 hours of sanding before I can prime the hull and I have done 2.  I have finished the first pass on the starboard side and started the first pass on the port.  I also need to sand the chimes and keel which I am saving for last.  With a little luck I will start priming the hull later this week and this next weekend I will start attaching the exterior trim pieces.  I have scarfed the outwales and I need to trim them to length, put a round over on one edge, cut a bevel on the other and then steam so that I can fit it to the hull.  The bilge runners and splash rail mainly just need to be cut to length.  I still need to scarf the keel and cut it to length.  I am going to cut kerfs in the keel so that it can take the bend of the bow.

System Three Quik Fair — First Impressions

March 23rd, 2016

Quik_Fair_A_and_B (Medium)I am trying to have the bottom of the boat painted by the middle of April but I don’t think I will make it.  Boat building is a journey not a destination and I have been learning how to use System Three Quik Fair, a two-part epoxy fairing putty.  Quik Fair comes in two tubs, A which is tan and B which is white.  They are mixed at 100 parts of A to 44 part of B by weight. The A and B are somewhere between mayonnaise and peanut butter but stickier.

Rule Number 1.  Don’t get any A or B in the wrong tub. 

I took some old spoons and marked then A and B and I only have one tub open at a time.  I measure out 100 grams of A on to the plywood palette and then put the A spoon in a tin of vinegar.  I then measure out 44 grams on B, making sure that I don’t get any A on the B spoon.  The B spoon goes in to the vinegar which should neutralize the epoxy until I get a chance to clean the spoons.  I then mix the A and B well using tongue depressors with one end cut off.  My 6 x 6 inch palettes are too small; I should have made them 8 x 8 inches.

quik_fair_on_hull (Medium)I put two batches of 144 gram of Quik Fair on about 1/4 of the hull and I ended up sanding most of it off.  I also found that I had high spots that took a lot of sanding and low spots that didn’t have any Quik Fair.

Rule Number 2.  Put a thin skim coat hull to help find the high and low spots when sanding.

I  made a longboard which is not that long; 4 x 10 1/2 inches which is a little smaller than a 1/2 sheet of sand paper.  I spray a thin coat of adhesive on to the sand paper and wait a minute so it gets tacky and that allows me to peel of the sand paper when it is used up.  I sand in an X pattern; down the hull at 45 degrees to the left and then back the other direction at 45 degrees to the right. I found that if I was not creating dust or I could not feel the sand paper cutting I was wasting my time.

Rule Number 3.  Use good sand paper and replace often.

Some of my sand paper would clog up in a minute and I spent more time changing the paper than sanding.  I found that 80 grit 3M SandBlasterPro “Only at Lowe’s” sand paper worked the best with a good balance of being aggressive without making deep scratches.  I could sand an entire panel with 2 half sheets if I brushed the sanding dust off the sand paper regularly.  On the high spot I went through the Quik Fair into the epoxy and on the low spots there was either no Quik Fair or the Quik Fair was rough.  Any place that I sanded the Quik Fair was almost glass smooth and any place I missed for rough or shiny.

Rule Number 4.  Make sure the Quik Fair has cured before sanding.

System Three says that Quik Fair will cure in 3 hours at 70°F; my garage is at 55°F and the Quik fair was not cured at 3 hours, 6 hours and still soft at 12 hours.  I could tell the Quik Fair was not cured because the sand paper would get clogged in a few strokes.  Once cured Quik Fair was easy to sand as long as I did not put too much on.

Rule Number 5.  The last step to applying Quik Fair is to smooth out the ridges.

I found that as I apply the Quik Fair with the squeegee I would always have some ridges on the hull.  I would try to smooth them out but sometimes I would make a mess and have to re-apply the Quik Fair.  Sam Devlin talked about using a cloth wetted with denatured alcohol to smooth out the epoxy fillets which got me thinking that might work for the ridges.  When I have put the entire batch of quick fair on the hull I would thoroughly clean my squeegee with a paper towel dipped in denatured alcohol.  I would then go over the ridges with the clean and slightly wet squeegee.   I would clean the squeegee often.  I found that I could knock down most the the ridges without messing up the fairing.


Bits and Pieces

March 14th, 2016

scarfing_jig (Medium)I started to make the gunwale, splash rails, bilge rails and keel out of Philippine mahogany.  The boards are 10 feet long so to get them the length needed, which is 15 feet, I need to scarf the planks and to do that I built a scarfing jig.  The clamps hold the work piece against a guide and to avoid cutting the clamps with the saw which would ruin my day, the clamps and the blade I put a screw in the jig so I could not push the clamps into the blade.  The scarf is about 10:1 which means that for 1 inch of width the scarf is 10 inches long.  I started to build another jig to hold the work pieces while I glue them.

I also cut the blanks for the frames out of Alaska Yellow Cedar which is very rot and insect resistant.  AYC is about 3/5’s the weight of white Oak, another popular boat building wood, and has similar characteristics.  The one downside to AYC is that it is not very hard and easily dented but the workable makes up for it.

Lessons Learned

March 12th, 2016

hull_wetted_out (Medium)I pulled the peel ply off this morning and started to scrape the high spots.  Since the epoxy was not completely cured, the scraping was fairly easy.  I had about 6 to 8 spots were the fiberglass lifted away from the hull; most of them were at the gunwale.  There were other spots that the peel ply was not toughing the epoxy/fiberglass so I got a low spot at showed the fiberglass weave.  I decided that I needed to scrape the lifted fiberglass off and cover bare spots with epoxy.  One thing lead to another and I ended up putting a seal coat on the whole boat.

The boat looks good so I will add the Quik Fair fairing compound once the epoxy starts to cure.  I am still hoping to prime the hull by next weekend.

Fiberglassed The Bottom

March 11th, 2016

2016-03-11 13.51.06 (Medium)Today with help from Mark R. and Mark N., I was able to fiberglass the bottom of the boat.  The bottom received one layer of 6 oz. fiberglass cloth and each side also received one layer of 6 oz. fiberglass cloth.  Since the fiberglass cloth is 50 inches wide, the result is the keel has three layers of glass, the bottom up to about 6 inches passed the bottom chime has two layers and one layer from there to the sheer.  The transom also received one layer of glass and the transom looks so good I just might have to finish it bright; that means the transom will have varnish on it and you can see the wood.  After the fiberglass was set on the boat, the epoxy was poured on the horizontal surfaces, spread out with an epoxy spreader to work the epoxy into the weave of the fiberglass and then I pulled the excess to the dry fiberglass.  For the vertical surfaces the epoxy was either brushed on or rolled on.  Once the fiberglass cloth was saturated and smoothed out, peel ply was placed over the fiberglass and also smoothed out.  You can see from the photo what the boat looks like covered with peel ply.  One of the advantage of using peel ply is when you rub the hull with paper towels you can soak up excess epoxy which results in a finish that needs very little sanding.

Once the epoxy starts to cure I can pull the peel ply off and scrap the rough spots.  The epoxy will not have curred hard so the scrapping is fairly easy.  I will also touch up some of the rough areas with Quick Fair which as the name suggests is a fairing compound which should let me fair the boat out quickly.  With a little luck I will be putting the first coat of paint primer on in a week.

I had previously using denatured alcohol to clean up the uncured epoxy but I have often read that boat builders were using white vinegar instead.  I tried it for the first time and I was impressed with how quickly and easily it cleaned up the scissor and roller frame.  I also tossed the epoxy spreaders in a can with some vinegar and it quickly cleaned them up.  It will definitely save me some time and money when I use vinegar to clean my tools.


Sanding Fair

March 6th, 2016

There are no pictures but I have been sanding the fairing compound that was put over the fiberglass tape to make the hull fair again.  I need to put a second coat of fairing compound on and then sand it off again.  For the first fairing I used West Systems 407 Low-Density Filler which is phenolic microballoons, perlite and amorphous silica.  I don’t know what  amorphous silica is but I suggest you don’t breath it.  For the second fairing I am going to use System Three Quick-Fair which includes chemical compounds that are trade secrets so we don’t know what it is.  I should be finished with the second fairing in a week or two and then I will prepare fiberglass cloth and peel ply for the glassing of the bottom.  May be by the end of March I will turn the board over and start on the inside of the hull.

Making Fair

February 21st, 2016

The next step in building the Candlefish 13 is to fair the hull.  fairing_1 (Medium)So we need a definition of what fair is: A fair curve  — A smooth curve in the body of a ship.  Boat are about curves and not straight lines.  Looking at the hull in three dimensions the curves need to flow smoothly.  One part of making the boat fair is how it was designed; the second is fairing the chimes so there are no discontinuities.  To aid in this the chimes and keel have been coated with lightweight fairing compound mixed with epoxy.  The upper chimes were previously taped so the fairing smooths out the the transition from plywood to the fiberglass.

Green epoxy is very nasty stuff so I will have to wait several days for the epoxy to cure before I can sand the hull.  To speed it up I may put the space heater under the hull.  There are tools that are used to fair the hull, namely long boards.  These are flexible and not-so-flexible boards that are about 18 long by 2-3/4 wide.  Sandpaper is attached to the board and the the hull is sanded first with the non-flexible one on all the mostly flat surfaces and then with the flexible on on the curves like at the bow.  When I am all done sanding I will wet the hull to see area that I missed and start over again adding more fairing compound, letting it cure and then sand it off again until the hull is fair or I give up.

Upper Chimes Taped

February 16th, 2016

I taped the upper chime yesterday and it looks very good even though the epoxy is still curing.  I used masking tape to mark off where I would apply epoxy and to limit runs.  Upper Chime TapedMy friend Darryl helped me make and roll the 4 inch wide fiberglass tape from the 50 inch wide roll of 6 oz. fiberglass cloth.  We also made 6 inch wide peel ply tape.  The first step was to prime 2 inches above and below the chime (the chime is where two strakes meet).  I also filled some small holes that I had missed earlier.  Then starting from the bow I unrolled the 4 inch fiberglass tape and pressed it into the neat epoxy in the primed area.  There was a little bit of fussing to the bow overlap correct and a minor crisis when I ended up short one fiberglass tape.  I changed out my latex gloves and cut another 4 inch tape so I could keep going.  Next, using an epoxy paint roller, I wetted out the fiberglass cloth with neat epoxy.  I was forced to use a 7 inch roller frame since I could not find my 2 or 3 inch frames.  A trip to Home Depot is in my future; a 3 inch frame would have been the perfect size for this job.   Once all the fiberglass cloth was wetted out I removed the masking tape and applied the 6 inch wide peel ply tape over the fiberglass cloth.  Starting from the bow and stern so I could meet in the middle I applied the peel ply and worked out any bubbles with a paper towel.  There is one section where the fiberglass cloth looks like it is epoxy starved so I will look into that before I cover the bottom with fiberglass cloth.