Thursday, December 27, 2007

Happy Birthday to you...

...Happy Birthday to you / Happy Birthday, dear Shilling / Happy Birthday to you! (Courtney wanted pictures of cake and candles, but Tara said no.)

Yes, Boxing Day (December 26th for those of you who don't have Boxing Day) was our Shilling's first birthday, in the sense that we started work on December 26th, 2006. Like most one-year-olds, the Shilling still doesn't talk much, doesn't get around all that easily, and isn't allowed to drive yet.

We're almost done planking (man, I'm getting tired of saying that), as you can see from the portside shot. We're still looking almost sane, as you can see from the picture of both of us. That's probably about all we can ask for at this point. (And more coffee - we can ask for more coffee. It's very morning out.)

Monday, December 17, 2007

Interior pix

As we put on the last few planks, we're also beginning to clean up the exterior of the hull. Ron (being rather more compact and flexible than, say, Courtney) volunteered to go inside and hammer out some badly placed nails, so we have some shots of the interior.

Looks fairly well-sealed for this stage, though of course once we clean up the squeeze-out and glass the interior it will be REALLY tight!

And speaking of tight, how about this sight of Ron contorting himself around frame #2 and the CP case? We're very lucky he's decided to put in some "sweat equity"!

Monday, December 3, 2007

Sometimes we're clever. Of course, it's usually too late by then.

We're almost done planking, so it's kind of silly that we came up with a major improvement to the process now. We post this for what it's worth to anyone crazy enough to be contemplating building their own boat. :-D

See, when we glue the planks onto the frames, some of the glue squeezes out and runs down the frame edges. When the glue is dry, we use a chisel to remove it. But wouldn't it be good if the squeeze-out ran down onto something we could remove easily? Some kind of sticky paper we could use to, you know, "mask" the bits where we don't want glue?

Something like this newfangled stuff called "masking tape", perhaps? (DUHHHHHHHHHHHH!)

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Limber holes!

Planking continues, and since we're about to start covering up the points where the frames meet the hog, we had to think about limber holes.

What are limber holes, you ask? Well, see, the frames divide the interior of the boat into compartments. The lowest point on the bottom should be between frames 4 & 5, or so it appears - in other words, if water gets into the boat, it's going to want to settle down in the bilges between frames 4 & 5. So that's where we'll have the bilge pump intake.

Of course, we only want ONE bilge pump intake (or maybe one on each side of the CP case, I have to think about this)... so we want water to be able to get down to the lowest point. That means we have holes (well and truly protected with epoxy so they don't let water into the plywood) in the frames, right where they meet the hog, so bilge water can drain down to the pump. Limber holes.

We've cut some oversize holes and sealed them with epoxy, but we're not done. The plan is to wax some short (5-6") lengths of 3/4" OD flexible tubing, coat them with paste wax for easy removal, and epoxy them in place when we fillet (i.e. reinforce and seal with filler and epoxy and maybe glass) all around the edges of the frames. The waxed tubing slides out afterward (we've tested this), leaving nice, smooth, waterproof 3/4" limber holes.

Or that's the theory!

Monday, November 12, 2007

More planking

A couple of crappy phone camera pix of planking progress to date. As you can see, we've crossed the sheer stringer at the bow as well as the transom now. Planks will be getting shorter quickly now as we have to cover 3-4" less at each end with each plank on the topsides (i.e. at the bottom of the picture.

We put in a few tapered planks as we worked toward the keel, and as you can see, those planks are already much shorter than the topside planks. It's getting harder to force the curve on the topsides, so we might put in a tapered plank or two to make it easier there, too.

Not long now 'til we fit the whisky plank!

Friday, November 2, 2007

There's always something...

...that gets in the way of working on the boat. This time it's a cedar shortage in the shop, combined with deer season (as subsistence hunters, Courtney's folks have to get out there and fill the freezer!). Next scheduled work day is Sunday, when we'll rip up a bunch of 14' cedar boards and get back to planking. And post pictures, of course!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Interesting sub-milestone

The next BIG milestone is when we finish planking (the eagerly anticipated "whisky plank"). We hit an interesting point in the planking today, though: we fit the two longest planks on the hull. Because of the way the hull curves, the plank that crosses the top of the transom (in other words, since the hull is upside down, the plank at the lowest point on the transom in the pictures) is the longest one on the boat.

It worked out well; we scarfed up just enough really long planks to finish that bit. From here on, the planks will get shorter quickly, because of the small angle at which they cross the sheer.

Um, that's all for now.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

As promised - pix of more planking

The planking, it continues. Took the weekend off and went to Toronto to see Ron Hawkins and Mick Thomas, and to visit Courtney's brother & fambly. It was a pretty good time, you damn betcha.

As you can see, we're getting on with the planking; it helps that we can go away and Buster keeps working! Looking something like a boat at this point.

That's about it really, just wanted to post some pictures of the planking progress to date. The next exciting and fiddly bits will come when we plank over the hog, which is currently obscured by planks waiting to be applied. But we're getting closer to the whisky plank, and the Dalmore Black Pearl is ready and waiting!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Planking continues

...but we have no pix for you. Haven't done any work since last weekend, either, because Courtney and Tara were in Toronto for some Ron Hawkins/Mick Thomas gigs. Before that, Wednesday's planking session was canceled 'cause Buster had to take Dooley the Dog (the Wavey Creek springer) all the way to Saskatoon for emergency eye surgery. Sadly, Dooley lost her eye, but we don't expect that to slow her down any!

Oh, and further to the polyurethane glue we've been using, I wanted to highlight this comment from Ron: "You can add that the drippy bits chisel off real easy-like; it actually does come out of a wool garment, and offa the arm hair even after setting up." Yep, we like it.

This week, MOAR planking, with pix!

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Planking pictures!

Here are some pictures of planking progress to date. Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled plankers. We've got about ten planks on each side now, so we're making good progress.
If you look at the close-up shot below, you'll see how the glue we're using (polyurethane, AKA "Gorilla Glue") foams up and fills the cracks between the planks. We like it better than epoxy, 'cause it's easier to work with, and it's waterproof (well, so is epoxy), and it doesn't smell bad, and it sands pretty easily, and it makes a nice strong bond. Highly recommended if you're used to planking with epoxy!

The plank scarfing jig

As our devoted readers will know, planking involves some kinda long pieces of cedar. Around 18 feet long. Since available cedar boards were, well, less than that, we had to scarf strips together. Sometimes two scarfs per strip, even. The first picture shows some short strips waiting to be scarfed. That's a LOT of scarfs, so a handy jig is a good thing. tells us that a jig, in this sense, is "a plate, box, or open frame for holding work and for guiding a machine tool to the work, used esp. for locating and spacing drilled holes; fixture." We're after something that helps us line up, clamp, and glue multiple scarfs.

Turns out an open U-shaped box lined with polyethylene is just perfect. Add strips of poly between each scarfed pair of planks, and it's slicker than a really really slick thing!

Once the scarfs are glued and stacked and tapped in from each end (not too hard, just enough to press the angled ends together firmly without undue overlap), we clamp the jig. We clamp the sides together, then insert a block to spread the force and clamp from the top as well.

It's a modest little production improvement, but it lets us scarf seven planks at once. No scarfing bottleneck in this operation!

Oh, and for those of you what are still waiting for the Plank Scarfing Jig, Courtney hasn't written it yet. Too busy playing actual shows to have some quality time with a mandolin!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

We've started planking!

Minor emergencies (like Tim's emergency appendectomy, not to mention a wedding Courtney had to play and kind of forgot about) notwithstanding, we were actually able to start planking tonight. No pictures yet, they're coming soon. PLANKING, WOOHOO! That is all.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Summer and distraction

Well, it's been a busy summer. Lots of stuff happening with the band, and various people involved with the Shilling (most notably Tara and Buster) have been out of town. Tara visited the UK for several weeks, and actually got to spend some time with Phil Swift at Willow Bay Boats - how cool is that! No Shillings like ours on site at the time, but she did get to have a look at an open Shilling and check out the Willow Bay shop.

Buster was out on Island Eagle for a few weeks, and life is always busy, so we're just getting back into boat-building mode... well, Shilling-building mode, anyway. I (Courtney) trekked out to Wavey Creek for some Shilling work today, but got distracted: my nephew Tim has a new boat!

Buster and Tim whacked together a little hydroplane - it may not have a Tara-grade finish, but it goes well enough. Tim took it out for the first time, with Buster manning the oars of Mud Cat and me snapping photos. Check it out:

It's pretty fast, but I don't think I'll take it for a spin; it's got almost no freeboard with Tim in the cockpit, and I probably outweigh him by 150 pounds!

Good fun, though. Shilling construction resumes this week.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Ready for planking

Regular readers will probably notice that we've added a line drawing of the Shilling to the right-hand column. Here's a link to a full-size scan of the line drawing. She's pretty!

Not much to report on the progress front, at least not with pictures. Courtney and Buster finished beveling the frames and apron, and also tested the plank scarfing jig (I'll post a MIDI later, heh!), so we're basically ready for planking. Things are on hold while Courtney's parents are out of town, though... and then Tara's away in the UK for a while... and there's the Folk Festival... and lots of gigs... and maybe a trip to spend some time on Island Eagle...

Basically, what I'm saying is, progress is going to be slow for the next while. We hope to start planking in a couple of weeks or so. Talk to you then!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

The stringers are on!

Yes, all four stringers are on. Courtney and Tara once again convinced Ron to help paint the fence, er, build the boat, and finished attaching the stringers this past weekend. Buster took this shot of them working away Monday morning.

It was good to have six hands for the job, too, for a couple of reasons. The first reason is that fitting the stringers works best if you have two people to hold a stringer in place and another to mark where the frame should be cut out.

The other reason... well, it's like this. There's this blade you can put on an angle grinder, and it has teeth rather like those on a chainsaw. Great for quickly roughing out, say, slots in the frames. Also good, as it turns out, for quickly roughing out slots in your thumb, if you get a bit careless with it. This left only five hands to work on the boat, or maybe 5.5 depending on how you're counting. Not the world's worst injury, and Courtney can still play guitar in his band, but it was enough to require a quick trip to the hospital.

Anyway, enough mit der sad stories - don't the stringers look great? You can't really tell from the pictures how neatly they're recessed into the frames and the transom and the apron, but it's a reasonably neat job, with the cracks all filled in with thickened epoxy. You can see Tara and Ron filling cracks in the last couple of photos.

We still have to pull the screws we used to hold the stringers in place, and then we have to bevel the frames and do a bit of trim around the hog, but the next big job is planking... and that is exciting!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Got the other sheer stringer on

...last night. Took all evening. Fiddly stuff. The deck-shelf stringers should be easier. Must stop telegraphese. (Only you can stop telegraphese. You can make a difference. Send money now!)

Good heavens, the avifauna at Wavey Creek! Hummingbirds, finches, doves, a zillion species of sparrow (well, it seems that way, anyway), blackbirds, cowbirds, woodpeckers, wood ducks and mergansers, to name but a few. No orioles this year or last, though, after a few years with dozens of them. Makes you wonder what's going on with their habitat, down south a ways.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Tempus fidgets.

Sometimes it's hard to find the time to update this blog. For the benefit of our regular readers, we haven't forgotten about you, and we are working on the boat; we'll have proper pictures when we hit the next milestone.

In the past week or so we:
  • attached the transom;
  • beveled the reinforced portion of every starboard frame;
  • beveled most of the apron; and
  • dry-fit and attached the starboard sheer stringer.
It's fiddly business, but now that we know how to approach it, the port sheer stringer should go much more quickly. The deck shelf stringers should be even faster, because they're recessed into the frames and held top-and-bottom... so they can't fall off.

Don't ask. ;-)

Pictures when we have all the stringers on!

Saturday, April 28, 2007

We have backbone.

Yowzah, do we have backbone. This thing is going to be solid like Russian tractor, minus about three wheels.

We had threatened pictures, and here they are. Regular readers will recall that when last we left our heroes, they had put the last three frames in place, but hadn't taken pictures. The first picture shows the aft frames (6 through 8) in place.

Last night, Courtney and Buster epoxied and screwed the hog into place. Everything lined up very carefully, by Wavey Creek standards anyway. Admire the lovely hog in the first two photos. Look at the second photo in particular - see how straight? Ooooooh. Aaaaaah.

But wait, you say. What's that thing sticking up forward from the hog, you say? The thing with all the clamps on it? Well might you ask. It's the apron, epoxied and clamped and happy to be where it belongs. You can get a better view in the next picture.

Isn't that awesome? Note how nicely frame 1 lines up with the centre-line. That took a bit of doing. The joint between the apron and the hog was a bit fiddly too, but it came out OK. A bit of fairing, maybe some bolts through the joint just to be extra safe (we'll see though, Buster thinks that will actually weaken it), and Bob's your uncle. Well, actually, Bob's Courtney's uncle. Hi, Bob!

One more picture, this one taken from a ladder (this is what happens when Courtney gets a camera in his hands, folks) on the starboard side. The skeleton of our boat is almost complete - doesn't it look like a little whale? We like to think so.

The transom is next; if you look closely you can see the transom knee in the first picture, just roughly clamped in place. Have to consult with Buster before tackling the transom, though, so that's it for this weekend. Cheers!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

So I changed my mind. It's allowed.

Courtney here - I realise that just a couple of days ago I was thinking the hog would be next. I went out to Wavey Creek after work last night, though, and decided to put up the rest of the frames first. I am pleased to report that the frames we cleated together on Sunday are trimmed and sanded, and all frames are now in place and level. We also cut and beveled frames 2, 6, 7, and 8 to make space for the hog.

I was going to take a picture, but I'm going to wait until we attach the hog (which really IS the next job) and maybe the apron. THEN you'll see some boaty goodness, just you wait and see. It's gonna have a hot tub, and a mini-bar, and a pony...

Monday, April 23, 2007

That's the way it's supposed to be!

Wow, did we have a good boat-building day yesterday. We made some final adjustments to both sides of frame 3, and attached and adjusted frames 4 and 5. Then we made plywood cleats to hold the port and starboard pieces of frames 6 and 7 together, put the frame halves and cleats together with screws, and took them apart again.

Then it was epoxy time - we filleted frames 4 and 5, then epoxied the cleats and frame halves (6 & 7) and screwed them back together. We observed an interesting phenomenon for the first time - Courtney was holding a container with two "shots" of epoxy in it, and because the heat didn't dissipate quickly enough, the whole container set in a few minutes and had to be chucked out. This, kids, is why we don't hold epoxy containers by the base, we hold them by the tops.

So now the boat is back to looking more like the photo (stolen from below, 'cause we were too lazy to take more pictures), with all frames attached back to #5. Next I think we'll attach the hog, which will give us some fore-and-aft control of frames 6, 7, 8, and the transom. Look for increasingly boaty goodness in the next few posts!

Thursday, April 19, 2007

No pix today...

...but if you want to imagine what the boat looks like right now, just remove frames 4 and 5 from the "3-D" shots in the last post. That's not as dire as it sounds; allow me (Courtney) to explain.

When we took the last photos, everything was "pretty close" to lined up, and it was temporarily clamped in place. There were a couple of problems, though:
  • frames 3 & 4, which are in two halves and butt up against the CP case, were not precisely in place;
  • the joint between frame 2 and the CP case wasn't plumb; and
  • the tripod with the laser level was bumped by the shop door and knocked out of alignment.
Not the end of the world; I was planning on taking everything apart anyway. The problem, which Dad and I arg^H^H^Hdiscussed at length Tuesday night, was that you need the CP case straight to check the level of the frames... and with the laser level you have to do that one frame at a time in numbered order (3, 4, 5)... and frame 5 is the one that straightens out the CP case. Spot the circle?

By last night, I kinda figured that our parts were precise enough that we could attach them and they'd be pretty close, but first we had to reset the laser level, re-level frame 1 (which still isn't attached to anything except the construction frame), and fix the joint between frame 2 and the CP case. This latter task involved backing out the screws, shimming the joint, packing it with epoxy/wood flour filler, tightening the screws again, and filleting both sides of the joint with fibreglass and epoxy.

THEN we could try attaching both sides of frame 3 with itty bitty brackets and screws, twisting the CP case into the right alignment, and checking the level. Vindication - everything lined up just fine, so we filleted the joints of frame 3 (forward sides only, the aft sides still had brackets on them). We'll do the same thing for both sides of frame 4 once it's lined up properly, filleting the aft sides of the frame 3 joints and the forward sides of the frame 4 joints, then move on to frame 5... which by now we have good reason to believe will pull the whole structure into pretty fine alignment.

But sometimes it feels like nothing is ever easy. This whole boat-building thing is a good lesson in patience, cleverness, and foresight.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Assembly du jour

This is exciting! Tara, Courtney, and Ron went out to Wavey Creek on Easter Monday and sealed the patched and sanded frames. Ron, Courtney, and Courtney's dad Buster also braved the dodgy ice of Wavey Creek to put up a wood duck nesting box on the far side of the creek from the boatyard, er, house.

Courtney went out after work tonight (April 10th) and he and Buster actually started putting frames etc. together. We weren't sure this method was going to work, and it seemed a bit questionable at times, but everything came together amazingly.

See, we had this reasonably sturdy and square (well, I said "reasonably", didn't I) construction frame. To that we fixed 2x2 posts to hold the frames themselves. We tried snapping a chalked centre-line down the construction frame, but a stretched Piece! Of! String! (any other Jonathan Lethem fans out there?) did the job much better. Hold a plumb bob on the centre-lines marked on each frame, line 'em up to the string, and your frames are centred and plumb. But what about levels?

Heh. Well, let me tell you about what might be the best-spent $50 of the whole boat-building adventure: a tripod and a cheapy-do (but tripod-mountable) laser level. Yes, tripods... with frickin' lasers on their heads. (Any other John Christopher fans out there?)

It was brilliant. It was shiny. It was, well, red and coherent. (Not like Courtney, who is well-read and incoherent.) Best of all, it could be set to the correct reference waterline (identified on the plans as waterline 3, if this blog lasts long enough for someone to play along at home)... and used to line every frame up to the same level. It made a hairy job slightly less hairy, I'll say that. The second picture shows the tripod and level; the third shows the laser line as used to line up frame 5 ("The Big One").

Note the CP case sticking out of frame 5. We butted it up against frame 2, propped up the aft end, roughly fit the two sides (each) of frames 3 and 4 to the CP case, wondered how the hell it was all going to line up properly, and swore a fair bit. But then frame 5 ("The Big One" - there's a special sound effect, you know) saved the day. It's all one piece, you see, and once we'd made a nice snug cutout for the CP case, and centred it, and leveled it, and corrected the twist in the CP case (to Wavey Creek tolerances)... suddenly everything lined up!

I tell you, it was one of the best moments of my life. This thing might actually work after all. Enjoy this side view of the CP case and frames. We stopped after frame 5, but the last three should go together reasonably quickly. They're just clamped for now, pending the application of the hog and the apron and the transom and the stringers... but at long last, we have something shaped like a boat!

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Tired. Happy, but tired.

Saturday night, March 31st, Courtney's band Venus Murphy played three sets at a local pub. The show was a smashing success, splendid time guaranteed, but it was pretty tired out by the time we were done. This probably explains why Courtney and Tara didn't get up to Wavey Creek to work on the boat until, well, some time after noon the next day.

So we didn't get a ton of work done. The things we did accomplish are pretty exciting, though. At left you can see the centre-plate case, finally assembled. We're getting very close to actually putting the various pieces together.

To the right is one of the frames (this one is number five), sitting on top of the freezer for some final patching before we assemble everything. We'll be putting in some good long boatbuilding days over the Easter long weekend, and final patching and smoothing of the frames is probably the first job we'll try to get through.

Then we'll start attaching the frames to the construction frame, which is pictured on the left. At that point, the boat really starts taking shape, so there will be lots of pictures. The shop door is in the background (you can probably see the CP case back there, too); the bow end of the construction frame is in the foreground.

Finishing the construction frame felt like a really major step, even though we didn't actually do that much work on Sunday (Courtney sez "Tell that to my knees", 'cause he was kneeling on concrete to screw the construction frame together...). We can't wait to start putting the "big picture" together!

Monday, March 26, 2007

A quick update

...we'll add the pictures later. Sealing almost complete, cleaned up the shop in preparation for the construction frame and assembly and planking and stuff - but we won't be able to do any more work until next weekend (mumble fritz band mumble mumble thinking...).

Speaking of which, if you're in Winnipeg, come on out to Dylan O'Connor's on Portage, Saturday March 31st, and see Venus Murphy. It's gonna rawk. More after the weekend!

Sunday, March 11, 2007

It's looking like spring!

Well, unlocking, anyway. Out to Wavey Creek yesterday for some tech support and boatbuilding - Courtney was put to work on his folks' new Vista machine (yoinks!) while Tara sanded down the sealed frames. We cleaned up the stringers with router and sandpaper (tried some little rounding planes from Lee Valley, too, but they didn't work all that well for this application). The picture on the left is of the sanded frames stacked up against the freezer, with a cedar plank in front of them.

Then it was time for the excitement - can you feel the excitement? - of cutting hull planking. We brought three big 1" cedar boards in from the garage and cut them into ½" strips. The smell of freshly cut Western Red Cedar is wonderful! Here's Tara standing next to one of the boards.

Now, we need a fair bit of planking to cover the hull - something like 13 square metres - and it looks like these planks won't be enough. More challenging, though, is the fact that these planks are only about half the length of the longest cedar strips we'll need.

Which means a whole bunch of scarf joints. Which means coming up with some kind of jig to make it easier. We played around with various possibilities and we think we can slide a narrow triangle against the tablesaw fence for cutting the scarfs. For gluing, we haven't played with this yet, but we can probably build some sort of box (two parallel sides) into which we slide the pieces to be scarfed. We'll figure it out and post pictures later.

Pretty cool to be cutting planking, though! That construction frame might be together by the end of the week. Or not; Courtney's band has been really busy. But the boat is moving forward.

Friday, March 2, 2007

Still here...

Not many posts lately because:
  1. Courtney's band is very busy rehearsing for the new lineup's debut performances.
  2. The current boat workload is all about sealing. Because sealing involves an hour or two of work every day, it's not really worth driving for an hour each way when you can con your father into doing it. ;-)
The sealing is almost done, though, and we'll be moving to the next stage (construction frame, construct the skeleton, and PLANKING!), oh, next week probably. We'll post some pictures of the sealed frames etc. - they look pretty good.

So, sorry there hasn't been much to see, but keep watching this space - things are about to get a LOT more interesting. Cheers!

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Oops, forgot to take pix (again)

Out to Wavey Creek on Wednesday evening... the drive was terrible, 50 km/h from the edge of the city all the way to Highway 67 because the right lane was basically covered in ice. Assorted vehicles in the ditch provided cogent reminders that the intent of the journey is to arrive, not to get there quickly!

Anyway, we mixed up a test batch of S1 sealer and started sealing the CP case interior and frames. Very different from the glueing epoxy we'd been using to date - this stuff is very viscous, spreads and penetrates well. We mixed up a total of something like 400-450 ml and it covered all but one frame and half of another.

The S1 stuff lasts 48 hours in a sealed container, too, so you can mix up a fairly big batch at one time. There's a 12 to 24 hour window for additional applications without sanding, so Dad is probably going to keep plugging away until we can get back out there on the weekend. Hmm, the sealing might be done by the time we get there. ("You're doing a fine job, just keep going like that!")

On a completely boat-free topic, I (Courtney) am right chuffed because my recent regimen of drops and syringes has resulted in finally being able to hear out of my left ear (it's been quite a few weeks since I could say that). Should make band practice easier, not to mention just plain listening to people. Cheers!

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Yeah, it's been busy

Wow, it's been a while. Not much boat action last weekend; Courtney was out at Wavey Creek but was busy with budgets ("work" work, not boat work). All of this week Courtney's been busy with his band, so the only real boat work in the last couple of weeks was this past Sunday.

We went out to Wavey Creek and finished (with file, sanders, and finally Tara's great hand sanding) the stringers and frame reinforcements. We're now ready to put three coats of sealer on all the "skeleton" pieces before we put everything together. It will probably take a few weeks, but I think we're still on schedule to have the hull complete and moved outside by (late) spring.

No pix today, nothing really exciting to show. Just... slow progress. We'll put up some pix of frames etc. once they're sealed, though. Cheers!

Monday, February 5, 2007

Progress, now with pictures

Not much work left to do on Sunday, so we had a lazy day in front of the fire. That's nice when it's very cold, and Winnipeg has been VERY cold lately. I think we might have hit -40° last night.

Anyway, we finished epoxying the bulwark reinforcements (earflaps) to the frames - the first picture shows an assortment of frames (they're propped up all over the shop) clamped and curing.

We also finished shaping the transom knee - this supports the angle between the keel (well, the hog, but it's all part of the keel structure) and the transom. It's another very "boaty" piece of wood, lovely curves as you can see. The long straight edge is about 10.5", and it's nearly 2" thick, so it should be very strong.

Finally, we re-scarfed the stringer that broke the day before. There's a bit more shaping to do with the stringers, and we need to clean up the laminated stem, but basically we're ready to start sealing. The frames, hog, CP case, apron, transom, and stringers will get three coats of epoxy sealer (on the surfaces we're finished working, anyway).

Then we'll cut cedar strips for hull planking, assemble the construction frame, and put the pieces together. That's when it starts looking like a boat - we're very excited to have that huge step this close!

P.S. Can you tell I took these pictures with my camera, not my phone? Vast improvement. - C.

Saturday, February 3, 2007

No pix today

...but we've been busy. Courtney is house-sitting for his parents (they're fishing in the Bahamas, must be nice when it's like -100° outside here in Manisnowba!), so we headed up to Wavey Creek with friend Ron in tow. Ron did a masterful cleanup job on the shop, and we made a transom knee (pix tomorrow), PLUS we finished shaping the earflaps.

Not only that, but we epoxied half of the earflaps onto the frames. Good thing we had epoxy going, because somebody broke a deckshelf stringer (OK, it's hard to turn a 20' piece of wood end for end in a room that's only about 18' wide...) and it had to be scarfed again.

Really, pix tomorrow. But first, curry!

Monday, January 29, 2007


Braved the cold to head out to Wavey Creek yesterday. It wasn't a long building session because one of Courtney's headlights was out, but we did some fun stuff. We sliced up some doug fir and laminated the stem, using the apron as a form; this design calls for the planking to be attached to the apron, after which the stem is applied to the outside of the bow.

We also used the bandsaw to cut out all the "earflaps" out of scraps of our precious marine plywood, and shaped most of them with the disk sander. We mentioned earlier that the plywood frames have "ears" that stick up to support the bulwarks; these ears are reinforced on either side, making for a 1.5" support (plenty strong, arrr). Courtney calls them earflaps 'cause, you know, they cover the ears. Here's Tara holding up a couple of them, with more on the bench beside her.

And that was it for another day. Oh, in case you were wondering, the transom glued just fine with all that weight on it. Next, the transom knee!

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Frames, apron, and... transom!

This past Sunday, we worked on the frames - cut some holes for hatches, finished shaping and cleaning up the edges, and marked reference lines for construction. We also got the apron ready for laminating.

Yesterday I (Courtney) picked up Dad at the airport (he'd been representing Kasba Lake Lodge at a big fishing show in Atlanta) and we drove out to Wavey Creek. We laminated the plywood cheeks onto the apron, and also laminated two sheets of ply together for the transom. The apron is the first picture (lots of clamps)... but how do you clamp sheets of plywood?

You can use a press, if you have one. You can also use a vacuum bag, which is surprisingly effective (well, if you think about it, with even a semi-decent vacuum pump you'll get at least 10 pounds of pressure per square inch), but we couldn't be arsed to come up with something that would work. So we, ah, just piled a bunch of heavy stuff on the the two well-epoxied plys of the transom. Sections of rail (they make handy anvils), some cast-iron weights from a body-building set that's older than I am, lead dive-belt weights, containers of water, a heavy grinder motor, we even put a big bag of cat litter on there!

Which seems kind of fitting, as I expect this glue job to be the cat's ass. Heh. (Sometimes I'm funny. I know this isn't one of those times, but sometimes I am...)

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Driving and thinking and learning

Courtney here - driving around lately, I've been thinking about how good it is to live in a part of the world with such an abundance of natural beauty. Last night when I drove out to Wavey Creek to work on the boat, there was a very strong south wind blowing and the ground-drift (I'm talking snow, for those of you in warmer climes!) was spectacular. Its eerie, snakelike, shifting strands of windblown snow, which at times completely obscured the highway lane markers, reminded me in shape and form of some spectacular aurora, albeit on fast-forward. It was pretty cool in every sense of the word.

And this morning, driving to work, I was struck once again (it happens a lot in the winter around here) by the magnificent, understated, almost hallucinatory clarity of the prairie sky in winter. The wash of orange and gold at sunrise, the subtle gradations of purple and pink and grey on an early evening horizon... I don't think there's any way to capture these visions, though William Kurelek's watercolours come close.

Learned a bit about the power of moisture in wood, too. Most of the boards we bought (see earlier posts) for building were kiln-dried and stored inside, so they were dimensionally stable. The cheap cedar packing for the centre-plate case was not. Dad didn't think it would be a problem (famous last words!).

When we took the clamps off the CP-case sides, though, the top framing opposite the packing was bent and cracked. The cedar - a relatively small piece - had dried and bent the plywood, which in turn bent and cracked the mahogany framing. No huge deal to fix; we chiseled off the broken part, cleaned up the old epoxy, fit a new piece of framing... and clamped the sucker down onto the table-saw top to keep it flat. Of course, the packing board had to give, and it cracked down the centre, but that's no big deal; it's not structural, and it's going to be completely saturated with epoxy anyway. But at least the CP-case will be straight!

We also cut the "apron" out of a jeezly big plank of douglas fir. The apron is a kind of proto-stem that sits behind the externally visible stem; it's formed from two pieces and will be faced with marine plywood cheeks before being bevelled to fit the hull planking. It's a very "boaty" piece and gave me a bit of a thrill of accomplishment when we put it together. It was hard to clamp, though: we ended up holding both pieces in place with nails (a workbench made of old boxcar bottoms is a forgiving thing!) and using a wedge to drive the two pieces together. You can see the clamped joint in this photo - note the wedge at the far right.

And that's about it for now!

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

It's cold.

Real cold. Like, wind-chill below -40° cold. That didn't stop us heading out to work on the boat on Sunday, though, and Courtney will be heading back out tonight.

We scarfed up the last sheer stringer, and trimmed and glued the top framing for the CP case - that involved lots of clamps, see the picture? It's just for Nightfall, courtesy of my new Blackberry Pearl. We cut marine plywood scraps into blanks for reinforcing the projections on the frames - I call them "ears" - that support the topsides. We tidied up the frames and apron cheeks some more, that's going well.

We also finished shaping the hog, which was a bit of a pain due to a serious jog in the board... it's the right shape, and straight (now), and shouldn't present any structural problems, but it's (ahem) an inch narrower than spec. We won't talk about whose fault that was, other than to say that Tara was not involved. ;-)

We're making slow but steady progress, and will soon be ready to put the construction frame together and start assembling all these pieces into the boat's "skeleton"... and then we start planking. I see you shiver with antici--

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Cracks and cases

More work a couple of days ago (well, only a little) and today. Discovered nasty cracks in some of the framing for the centre-plate case, so we injected glue and clamped the pieces (it's going to be painted anyhow, so minor glue seams don't matter all that much). Kind of a pity, though, as if we hadn't had to do that, we might have finished framing the CP case sides. No pix today, but we did prepare the rest of the framing, screw and epoxy the bottom framing to the CP case sides, and scarf up the first sheer stringer.

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Actual construction!!!

I (Courtney) drove out to Clandeboye today after work to get in some construction. Dad and I worked on scarfing the deck-shelf stringers together (well, one of them, anyway - at two scarf joints per stringer, we can't do more than one stringer at a time). The scarfing was interesting - it's hard to imagine people scarfing together many sheets of plywood, but apparently it's a standard boat construction technique.

We also worked on the hog, which I would have called a "keelson". Didn't do too much, but we did cut out the slot to fit the centre-plate case. The hog is sort of the backbone of the boat, working together with the frames and centre-plate case and stringers to form a rigid structure on which the planking is laid.

Most exciting of all, we did some actual construction - we started putting the centre-plate case together! First we cut the cedar packing to fit (this holds the sides of the case apart at the fore and aft ends of the case). Then we epoxied the packing onto one side of the case - you can see it epoxied, clamped, and drying in the last photo. And the first bits of our boat go together!