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!

Monday, January 1, 2007

Happy New Year!

Headed back into Winnipeg today, so not too much doing on the boat (and no pictures), but there was SOME progress. We cut cedar packing for the centre-plate case, fore and aft of the centre-plate itself, and prepared a bunch of mahogany for various bits of CP-case framing. For those of you unfamiliar with a centre-plate, it's like a centre-board (think of that as a keel that can be raised and lowered), but it's a plate of galvanized steel rather than an actual board. Strong, and provides ballast down low which is also good.

We also prepared some mahogany stock for the sheer stringers. These long strips of wood, one on each side, are set into the tops of the frames and run end to end at what will be the very top of the hull (called the sheer line, hence the name). The sheer stringers form the inner gunwale and anchor the gunwales to the frames. Pictures will make this more clear, but we're a ways from that stage as yet!

About six inches below the sheer stingers are a set of deck shelf stringers, running roughly parallel and set into the frames like the sheer stringers are. These form, if you can believe it, a sort of narrow shelf on which--wait for it--the deck rests. We haven't prepared the deck shelf stringers yet, but we'll be getting to them once the CP-case and the hog* are finished.

And for the clever folks who wonder why the decks are lower than the tops of the frames, a simple answer: the frames have little ears (well, that's what Courtney calls them) that stick up above the deck line to hold the gunwales and bulwarks (the hull above the deck line, basically).

*And if you can guess what the hog is, you win a free pint.