A Visual History
The Building of Aslan
|Making the Keel||Plywood/Sides||Lofting Deck||Front Bulkhead||Fixing Front Bulkhead!|
|Bow Gussets||Side Panels||Rubrails||Wheel||Stern Hatch|
|Cockpit Seats||Cabin Paint||Companionway||Shelves||Fairing Hull|
|Sanding Mistake!||Glassing the Hull||Epoxy Skim Coat||Painting Hull||Massive Mast Failure!|
|Topsides & Salvage||Trying Another Mast||Glassing the topsides||Splash Coamings||Starting to finish!|
|Adding Non-Skid||Portholes & Rudder||Tiller||Boom & Gaff||The Gooseneck|
|Cockpit Hatch Covers||Standing Rigging||Trailer Conversion||More Standing Rigging||Aslan Moves Outside|
|Aslan Fills with Water!||More Mast Work||Running Rigging||Hoisting the Main Sail||Hoisting the Jib|
|Finishing Details||Pre-Launch Prep||The Launch||Post Launch||Sailing Adventures|
|September 13, 1999
Plans came today, with the cover marked "Prepared for Builder/Skipper #732." Looks just like the stuff in the picture form the Stevenson website. Watched the videos, which really explained a lot. It does look like a bit of work, but also rewarding. I can't wait to get started (and my daughter expressed interest in helping, so that's a plus.)
The first "barrier" will be to hold down the costs. The internet conferences on boat building have people expressing the benefits of epoxy encapsulation, expensive sails, imported marine grade plywood, etc. I have to remember this project is to see if I like sailing, then I can go whole hog with my second boat. Initially, I thought I would name her "Boat, Small." But now I'm thinking maybe "First" is a good name. Later I can add "and Last" if I hate it! [See my name choice at the entry for October 31, 1999.]
The clear douglas fir I've found in 1 x 12" widths runs about $3.67 a foot. But I did find a lumber yard that will rip their 2 x 12's down to 3/4" wide. That would save quite a bit, putting the material out around .50 per lineal foot.
|September 14, 1999
Showed the video to my daughters and wife. My 22 year old thought it was cool, my 14 year old keeps laughing and calling it a "ghetto boat" (which could either be good or bad, you never know these days) and my wife kept rolling her eyes and saying things like "Ah, yeah. Hm um. Yeah." She doesn't sound too convinced. Oh well, someone has to take the pictures and video when we sail it for the first time.
|September 17, 1999
The weekend is approaching, and I verified what I thought I remembered a local lumberyard telling me: they can rip (actually, "resaw") their douglas fir 2x12 down to 1x12. There's a nominal charge for the resawing. That must be a huge saw! It will save quite a bit, assuming they have some No. 2 Douglas Fir 2x12 that are really No. 2 -- tight knots and little to no twist, cup, etc. Three 2x12x14 will give me quite a bit of lumber; enough to do the keel, stem, panel joiners and miscellaneous things. I hope to buy them tomorrow, along with the Weldwood plastic resin glue they have (if its not too expensive.)
|September 18, 1999
Bought the 2x12x14 Douglas Fir at Thompson Lumber in Oxnard, and had them resaw it into 1x12x14. Took a picture of the saw, wow! Like a band saw, but with a 6" wide blade that is about 36' long inside a massive housing. Total cost for 3 2x12x14 cut into 6 1x12x14 was $69. I also found the Weldwood urea-formaldahyde glue for $24.99. That's the same as the mail order price, so those independent full service lumber yards are not always more expensive. They really seemed interested when I said the lumber was for a boat. Got the lumber home about noon, and ate lunch, and got started lofting about 1 pm. Spent about 4 hours "work time" lofting and cutting. Finished up once I had enough parts cut out, and went to Home Depot for some non-corrosive screws. Jan and the kids were out shopping all day, and came home and cracked up. "We just knew there would be boat pieces everywhere!" At least the pieces of wood actually looked like the keel in the video!
September 19, 1999
|September 20, 1999
I decided that re-lofting the curve at the rear of the keel was the best course. Once I put a batten on it, I saw that I really only needed to trim off about 1/2" at the thickest part to make a nice smooth transition. Marked the cut, set the skill saw for the deepest cut, and trimmed it off. Looks great now. Used a router and two bits, a bearing guided bit (with the bearing on the bottom) and a straight bit with a brass template guide in the router base, to trim up the misalignment. That should minimize the upcoming "smoothing" operation with a belt sander. Kris insisted on hearing protection after I turned the router on the first time (smart.) Over the next few days, I'll trim up the keel, but will probably wait a while to continue with any of the plywood portions -- still waiting for a sale or a good source for inexpensive ACX plywood!
|September 25 - 26, 1999
Using re-sawn lumber for the keel left me with a couple of problems. The first is that the re-sawn lumber is "hairy," requiring a lot of sanding. The second is that the laminations of the keel seem to have some gaps where the boards don't fit as tight as I think they should (this is the part that is in the water, right?) So I looked at marine-grade filler material, and bought some "structural marine filler" at West Marine. It has long fiberglass fibers in it, and it was a pain to apply where I needed a thin layer, and its hard to sand off. It did fill the gaps, and looks rather substantial. And it is comforting to have it waterproof, of course. But what a job! The keel is 90% done, with just some final sanding to do. A belt sander would probably work better; my pool little finishing sander is really getting a workout.
I spent $11.99 on the quart of the material, plus $4.99 for a chrome "bow eye" to install on the stem. The bow eye is the first of the spontaneous expenses incurred, but it sure looks nice. Also bought a few sheets of emery cloth sandpaper for my shop (its great for final sharpening of chisels), but I don't consider that a "boat expense." Late Saturday, I spent $13 on a gallon of Bondo and an extra tube of cream hardener (I'll be using Bondo above the waterline since it will be glassed and/or painted over.) I did find a waterproof resin putty with SHORT fibers in it at the AutoZone store: I think I'll use this material for the "fillet" I plan to use along the sides of the keel once the bottom is put on, although even the longer fiber stuff would work OK there.
Jan and I looked at plywood at a few stores: Contractor's Warehouse (no ACX), Home Depot, Home Base and my local guys, Thompson Lumber. Home Depot and Home Base both carry ACX, at about $20 a sheet for the 1/2". They also have CDX, which just looks crummy to me. Thompson is a few dollars more for the ACX, but they also mentioned they have CCX which runs the same price as the ACX elsewhere. The first two letters indicate the surface finish of front and back side, with the last letter indicating exterior glue. The "A" face is the best face, without voids or putty filling, and "C" has voids that are putty filled. I'll probably end up buying from Home Depot or Home Base unless someone has a sale.
|October 2 and 3, 1999
Home Depot has a sale on 1/2" ACX plywood! Woo-hoo! Because I came back from a business trip to the east coast Friday, getting up early to pick through the piles wasn't a problem. So Jan and I made a 6:30 am run to the donut shop and Home Depot and picked up 3 sheets of 1/2" ACX plywood and 4 sheets of 3/8" BCX plywood. The 1/2" was only $11.78 a sheet (instead of $20) and the 3/8" BCX was $14.68. The donuts and coffee don't count as a "boat cost." So I saved quite a bit. I still have to buy the 1/4" plywood for the sides, and like the bottom which is in contact with the water, I'll get ACX for the sides as well (the 3/8" is used mostly for the deck, where I'm not as concerned about voids within the plywood.) I was able to find some fairly good surfaces on the plywood, and if looking at the edges is any indication, there aren't very many voids (none in the edges I can see, anyway.) But I'm glad I got there early; they only had about 35 sheets of the 1/2" in stock, and I picked through 12 sheets to find the three I thought acceptable -- good A side and the C side with tight knots, but no holes or gouges in the veneer. Now on to lofting and cutting the pieces out!
As of Sunday, noon, the bottom is done. One amazing thing about this boat is the number of screws you use. In fact, those that wonder why the boat has no ballast should consider the screws <G>. Because I might experiment with waterproofing the plywood rather than glassing it, I'm using stainless screws. And the Weekender uses 1400 1" screws, many of them below the waterline.. I bought 150 #6 x 1" for .09 each, and 30 #8 x 1" for .12 each to finish the bottom from West Marine. Went ahead and ordered an additional 1200 #6 x 1" Shark brand stainless wood screws from Contractor's Depot for $4.95 per 100 (or, .0495 each.) I prefer wood screws, and Contractor's Depot was the cheapest; the screws I bought this weekend were really sheetmetal screws; they work, but they aren't tapered as much, so they don't get quite as good a bite on the wood to draw it together.
|October 5, 1999
I had the bottom on the keel for a test fit, and everything looks fine. It will fit. So I pulled it off tonight, and pulled out two sheets of 3/8" BCX plywood to start lofting the deck panels. Kris and I marked and lofted the side deck panel on one sheet, and started the foredeck and aft deck layout when the new show "Angel" started (a spin off from "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," which my brother in law Guy Skinner works on -- he's the cameraman. Even has a quick screen credit at the end.) I had promised my sister that I would tape the show, since Guy was at the premier party and she does presentations on Tuesday nights. So work came to a standstill.
I'm busy with work the next couple of days, so it looks like the weekend before I'll get to play, er, work on the boat more.
|October 9 and 10, 1999
Finished lofting the deck panels and lofted the cabin bulkhead. Also read about boat licensing -- now I'm quite a bit away from having to license my pile of plywood, but I found the rules for California at the California DMV site (or, just grab the vessel handbook in PDF format and read it offline.) Will do some cutting tomorrow, but I'm still waiting for those stainless steel screws to start making the boat 3D.
On Saturday, 10/9, I finished lofting and cutting out the deck panels, bulkheads, transom and lazarrette front panel. I decided to go ahead and use a partial panel left from cutting out the deck panels for the front bulkhead; I was able to fit the dimensions on the panel by making a butcher paper mock up of it, then arranging it on the panel to see which was the most economical way to cut. One of the builders on the BBS indicated he remembered using one of the deck panel sheets for it, so it must be the right way. So most of the parts are now cut out, waiting for screws.
Did some research on the polymer (rubberized) water proofing paint which I was considering rather than fiberglass. The primer runs about $22 a gallon, and you get 80 - 100 square feet of coverage per gallon. This boat uses 11 sheets of plywood, and while there's a fair amount of waste, there's two sides to consider. So, even if you factor a 50% waste factor on the plywood, it would still have 352 square feet to cover. That's a little over 4 gallons, or $88, for the primer alone. The plans call for 2 gallons of vinyl ester resin, which can be had for $30 a gallon. So I'll be using resin.
Also discovered Wal Mart as a source for cheap boating supplies. They have the Minn Kota Endura electric trolling motors for under $100, deep cycle trolling batteries with 105 amp hours (good for about 3 hours of the trolling motor's propulsion in ideal conditions) for $55, and 5" and 7" fenders (soft plastic tubes that prevent you from banging your boat when you dock) for $5 and $7. While West Marine has great prices on some of this stuff, for this boat, I'll go with the cheapest that can get me by at first. So when its time to outfit her, Wal Mart will be on the list of sources (and here all I thought they had was junk!)
|October 13, 1999
The screws came in from Contractor's Depot on Monday, 10/11. Took a mid-week vacation day and did some work on the boat. Put the deck together, put stringers on it, put the bottom on the keel and did a test fit of the "skeleton parts." Slight problem: according to the plans, if you place the front bulkhead at 24" back from the keel/stem joint, it should fit between the side panels and be canted back towards the stern 3 degrees: this is an important measurement because it fixes the angle of the mast. But, even though my deck is the correct length, the bottom is just 3/4" short (I thought the slot in the stem would take care of this), the front bulkhead is much too wide when placed there. If I position an inch or so farther back, it seems to work out better. That's what I'll do, but I asked if anyone else ran into this on the bulletin board. Kristy found her protractor, so at least we can check the angle now (I had been using my table saw's miter guage.)
Installing the transom is a pain; everyone says its the hardest part. You are flexing the bottom's 1/2" plywood UP and simultaneously trying to push the 3/8" transom IN and DOWN. I put a bucket under the bottom, as suggested in the plans, smeared everything with glue, but still needed Jan to drive the screws in while I held it all in place. There are a few gaps at the corners, but otherwise it looks OK. I'll fill the gaps with marine grade putty . . . I don't mind Bondo for the cosmetic stuff, like covering screw heads, but I'm a bit concerned about using it below water level where water could get on the wrong side of the plywood! It will probably be OK once its glassed, but still . . .
I may get to do more on Sunday; I have other things to do that have taken far too long, and Saturday is blocked out for those. I should be able to get the bulkheads in place, the deck on, the lazarrette in and be ready for the 1/4" ply the following week!
|October 15, 1999
Well, the 14th and 15th saw a little bit of actual work on the boat, and a lot of checking and measuring to see where my careful construction is off by about 4 inches (for the front bulkhead to sit correctly.) Some fellow builders helped quite a bit by confirming a couple of details: the panel joiner for the deck pieces is cut to accommodate the mast, and the angle of the mast should be at that 3 degrees regardless of where that puts the front bulkhead. I think a combination of factors caused this error. One, I think I may have the angle of the stern block raked too far back (although I like the way it looks.) Two, the bottom is 3/4" short, so that builds up on top of the stern block angle. And I may be off slightly on the deck panels too. So an inch here, an inch there, and you're off by 4 inches on one measurement. BUT, the measurements of things like the cockpit length and cabin length look right on. So I'm not sure it really matters, even though I was very concerned about it.
Glued the stringers on the bottom and front of the transom, and under the deck to attach the bulkheads and lazzarette (which should happen on Sunday.) I do have to buy some more of the Weldwood urea-formaldahyde glue before I can continue though; I'm almost out. More on the 17th, I hope!
|October 17, 1999
On the 16th, I picked up another 4 1/2# of the Weldwood Plastic Resin Glue for $23.40 at Thompson Lumber (they are giving me a 10% "boat builder's discount" now.) Visited Minney's Yacht Surplus down in Costa Mesa, 95 miles away, and picked up 2 oarlocks for $1 each and 4 galvanized, heavy, real chainplates for $4 each (I had other things to do down there, and "just stopped by." I'll be back -- with plenty of cash -- when I have to buy the rigging hardware!) On Sunday, the 17th, I glued the deck down onto the stem and transom, and glued the bulkheads in place. Found out that my stringer for the lazzarette is in the wrong place due to the same errors that had me re-position the front bulkhead (see October 15), so I had to chip it out and re-do it. I deviated from the plans, which said to put the stringer on the back of the lazzarette . . . the 10 x 10 panel joiner that ties the two stern deck pieces together interferes, and the compound angle is a hard thing to get. So I used scrap blocks and the bottom stringer to position the lazzarette correctly, then cut the deck panels to match. Then, I used the curve of the deck panels to mark some 1x stock, cut those out, kerfed them to help them bend to the upward cant of the deck, and attached them to the underside of the deck panels. Smeared glue on everything and screwed it all together. The boat is certainly coming along nicely now, with quite a lot of stiffening with just the bulkheads, transom and lazzarette attached. I can see how it becomes a "monocoque structure" when you get everything put together. Picked up some pictures too, but only the first three that show the 2 x 12's being resawn into 1x12s, and the finished keel. They are here: Construction Pictures. I'll have more later.
|October 23, 1999
Today, I put on the bow gussets and mast box. The bow gussets have confused a lot of people; there is a compound angle cut that you make at the bottom, and I took a fairly long time to cut the starboard side (I started by trimming the bottom to shape, then the top.) On the port side, I changed and cut the top angle first, then the bottom was easier to do. I took a lot of pictures, so if they turn out tomorrow, I'll post them. For the mast box, I decided to move it forward 2" since my dimensional mistake mentioned above put the mast right up against where the front of the cabin goes. I used 3 pieces of 2x4 fitted sideways (top, middle and bottom) and put the usual mast box assembly against them. 2 1/2" stainless screws went through the front bulkhead and 2x4 pieces (which were a rough cut, full 2" thick) and into but not through the 1/2" plywood aft panel of the mast box. I also used beefier blocks on the top, and the standard 1/2" ply block on the bottom. Mistake of the day: my mast box, while vertical, is about 1/4" off the center-line. So I think my mast will end up 1/4" off the center line too. I think it probably won't matter, as 1/4" may be hard to see in the final assembly. Maybe I'll make a "dog-leg mast" <G>. Oh well.
|October 31, 1999
Little work on the boat itself. I figured out I was stalling, kind of anticipating an ordeal when I faired the side stringers for the side panels since I don't have a belt sander any more (and I hate to spend $200 on a tool I won't use that much.) On Thursday night, I finally started with a Surform shaper, and in about an hour I had the starboard side almost done. This weekend, I had to work on Saturday, and we have a landscaping project going on too, so I just glued on the stringers for the transom and bulkheads for the starboard side, and then faired them with the Surform. I did get some more pics up on the website, and started the "Hints and Tips" section too. I'll finish up the starboard side this week, and then turn the boat around and get to work on the port side. Maybe next weekend we'll get the sides on!
We decided on a name too. We all love CS Lewis, although I'm more familiar with his apologetics rather than his fiction (I've read the science fiction stories but not the Chronicles of Narnia, his children's books, the most famous of which is "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.") We tossed around "Dawn Treader," the boat in the Chronicles of Narnia, "Narnia," and a few others. But I decided I like the Lion's name in the series as a name that is both unusual and seems to fit a Weekender: Aslan. Short, simple and meaningful to us.
|November 2, 1999
I was concerned about cutting the side panels, and then finding out that my slight dimensional error would make the piece unusable. So, after fairing the starboard side and filling some areas with Bondo, I cut out a butcher paper side panel, and fit it to the boat. Looks good, so this weekend is a "go" for the starboard side at least!
|November 5, 1999
After making a trip to Home Depot for 1/4" ACX plywood on Wednesday night, I decided to at least cut out the panels for the starboard side tonight after work. With the help of Leah, I not only cut out the panels, but also have the bow side panel on the starboard side "glued and screwed" to the boat! Starting to look like a boat now. Tomorrow I'll finish the starboard side, flip her around, and start fairing the port side.
November 6, 1999
I won't get started on the port side this weekend. I want to slow down and get the rub rails attached as attractively as possible. They really add to the look of the boat, so I want to make sure they look nice. I glued up a scarf joint in the rub rails I ripped out of one of my expensive boards. Tommorrow it should be OK to bend them around the hull and attach them. Then, I'll trim off the excess plywood from the sides, fill in the gaps where necessary, and paint the inside of the forepeak, etc. By next weekend, I should be ready to attach the port side panels.
|November 11, 1999
Installation of the rub rails on the starboard side went well. Leah helped me bend and hold them in position while I screwed them into place. The scarf joints look OK with no signs of stress evident, even though they fall right within a pretty fair curve of the rails. I took pictures which I'll get developed and put up soon.
The starboard side looks like a boat now, especially after trimming off the side piece at the transom. I used a hole saw, then used a router with a laminate trimming bit to get the side panel cut down almost to size. Finished up with a japanese style pull saw (really fine teeth, and great control since it cuts on the pull stroke) and the Surform shaper. This weekend should see the port sides put on.
November 12, 1999
|November 20, 1999
Last weekend, I decided to move the mast box 1/2" to starboard to correct an error I made earlier. It took about 1 1/2 hours to redo, but I think it will be worth it; now the mast box is centered with the rest of the boat. The 1/2" might not have been noticable to anyone else, but I know it would have bothered me every time I looked at it. I also cut out and put on the port sides, and went ahead and cut out the hatch in the lazarette. Looking at the boat with the sides on, I decided it would just be easier to do it now.
Not much activity during the week, as work is real busy this time of
year. But today I did rip the remaining 14' phillipine mahogany board
into 1 5/8" strips for the rub rails and glued up the scarf joint in each.
I'm busy with work again tomorrow, so I won't be able to put them on this
week, but should be able to get them on next weekend. That will give
them a full week to dry, so I won't be so nervous putting them on!
Plus, next weekend is a long one, so I should get quite a bit done.
I realized a few weeks ago that I didn't know anything about sailing, so I've been reading up. But I know I'll have to find some patient sailor to help me avoid sinking Aslan when I first take her out.
After the VP I reported to left the company, I now report to the Director of Product Marketing. We started talking about sailing after he saw me reading Sail Magazine on one of our business trips. I admitted to him I was making a sailboat, a statement which I've found always incites some kind of response (usually something like "What? What would you want to do that for?") But Bill has sailed for quite a few years now, and being from New England, is used to hearing people make small sailboats. He used to sail around Cape Cod in a Laser, and always had fun. I emailed him the picture of a Weekender sailing and he thought it was a great looking boat. He's offered to give me sailing lessons at the inaugural voyage. Then he asked the if boat would have flotation and if I could swim. Hmmmm . . .
|November 27 and 28 1999
Thanksgiving weekend. Thanksgiving day and the Friday after were taken up with family things, not boat things, but that's something to be thankful for in and of itself. Thursday night, I did trim out some of the wheel's spacers using the same technique as indicated above for the wheel's spokes. To make them, I had to edge glue the mahogany stock that I had left over, but with the fine grain of phillipine mahogany, you have to look very closely to see a glue line. One segment decided to commit suicide by jamming itself into the router bit and exploding the end grain and flying out of my hands (I'm sure it was intentional, and not related in any way to the technique I was using.) So I still have one blank to shape into the semi-circle that forms the spacers between the spokes. On Saturday, the rub rails were put on the port side with assistance from Leah and Kris, the port side was caulked with 3M 5200 and the deck hatch hole was cut. The rub rails went much faster this time, as I had the design parameters already determined by the starboard side, so all I had to do was to make the port side look like the starboard side. Tomorrow, I may start work on the seats in the cockpit and rough in the steering mechanism supports (the plans call for having bolts that protrude the lower rubrail for re-tensioning the steering cables, but I'm going to adapt it so that the unsightly bolts aren't sticking out. This is probably the most talked about modification to the Weekender.) I may use the system invented and shown on Nelson's Nook (I've also added this site to the Weekender Links page.)
Sunday: Prior to putting in the seats, I had to decide on how to deal with the steering mechanism. I know I don't want the bolts protruding from the lower rub rail, so I installed blocking between the stern and the lazarette. In doing that, I realized that I either have to lose 50 pounds, or forget trying to work through that 9" wide hatch in the lazarette. It will be even harder when the seats are installed. So I decided to go with a design idea that I had early on: a stern hatch right smack in the middle of the rear deck to allow access to the steering mechanism. I now have a hatch "hole" cut out that is 12 1/2" wide and 7 1/2" from stern to lazartte, leaving a good 2 to 2 1/2" of deck on both sides.
I'll incorporate a hatch cover that is hinged on the taffrail (a raised rail that follows the curve of the stern and is attached to the tops of the rubrails, leaving 1 1/2" below it for water to exit.) I also have decided to use splash coaming around the entire cockpit, including across the top of the lazarette. The hatch cover will effectively tie these two design elements together.
This does raise a problem with the rigging, though. On the plans,
the main sheet (or, line controlling the main sail) runs from the boom
down to a block centered on the stern deck . . . right where my hatch is.
The work-around is an idea that Terry Crisp has on his website for adapting
the Weekender to use a tiller. A block goes in each corner of the
stern deck, and the main sheet runs from the starboard side block to the
boom, then down to the port side block and back up to the boom, forming
an inverted "V."
I completed installing the seat fronts, and have the port side ready for the seat top (almost!) Stringers run along under the seat top, so there's a lot of gluing and screwing to get to this point. The seat top also has a triangle that needs to be patched right at the stern (too many curves fooled me when measuring), but I'll wait until I'm installing it to take care of that. First, I'll use the port side to cut the starboard side seat top. Before I put the tops on permanently, I want to fill all the screw holes and paint everything. That means I'll need to let the 3M 5200 caulk cure (it takes 5 to 7 days) before I can paint and install the seat tops. And I also want to install some flotation foam behind the seat backs before I install them.
|November 30, 1999
I broke my rule about buying incredibly cheap tools and visited Harbor Freight Tools. I picked up an angle grinder for $19.99, plus a pack of 100 latex gloves for $4.99. The angle grinder made fast work of some protruding screws in the cabin.
I also cut out the remaining wheel spacer out of mahogany, and cut a 4 3/4" disc out of some 4/4 red oak, then sliced it in half. You can cut circles on a table saw, but you have to be patient; I took some pictures and will post them in the Hints section when I get them back. You basically start with a square piece of stock, drill a hole in the center of it, and position it on your table saw sled with one flat side resting against the blade, and tap the nail into the sled. Lower the blade so it will cut only about 1/8", turn the saw on and carefully turn the stock. Once you've made a complete turn, raise the blade another 1/8" and start over. Works great.
The 3M 5200 caulking is almost cured, so I'll be able to paint the interior sections this weekend.
|December 4, 1999
I painted the storage areas under the seats before installing the seat tops. I also bought some polystyrene foam ("styrofoam") to use behind the seat backs . . . two 2" thick 2' by 4' sheets cost me $15.50, but filled the area behind the seats. Aslan is wood, so she'll naturally float, but the weight of anything in her may cause a problem if she capsizes. So I'm installing the flotation foam high to assist in righting her; above the seats, and I'll have some up in the forepeak area as well. The polystyrene foam cuts easily enough with a fine tooth, metal cutting blade in a jig saw, although the blade doesn't quite cut all the way through. You have to snap the piece off. But it snaps clean. I'm not sure it would with a thicker piece of foam.
I used the seat tops to mark the curve of the hull along one side of the foam, and trimmed it off. After the sea tops were on, and the stringers for the seat back were installed, I placed the sheet of foam on the seat, pressed back against the hull, and pressed down to make an impression of the stringer. After cutting along this impression, I had a perfect fit for the foam. Using the first piece of foam as a pattern, I think marked and cut two more pieces. Stacked on top of each other, they fill the area well, with only a few small areas I could cram some foam pieces into. Then the seat back was cut, trimmed and installed. Then the process was repeated for the other side.
Trimming the edges of the plywood, rounding it, and then filling the cracks with putty took the rest of the time. I ran out of putty, so I'll have to get some more. And I'm almost out of that wonderful powdered Weldwood glue; I'm hoping it will hold out for the few things I have left to do. Anyway, I decided I'll go ahead and finish the cockpit before tackling the cabin, so I'll work on the boring job of sanding and filling (which seems like an endless cycle.) I may go so far as installing the splash coaming, rear hatch and taffrail before continuing on.
|December 12, 1999
I picked up more body filler (which I'm using only above the waterline; below the waterline I'm using more water resistant putties.) So, the cockpit is done . . . for now, anyway. I worked Saturday and didn't get much "boat time", but had a good day today finishing up the filling and sanding for the cockpit. I realized that I couldn't do the trim for the cockpit -- like the splash coaming -- until I knew how the sides attached. So I cut out the cabin sides, attached stringers under the deck, and put the cabin sides on. Before I put the rafters and roof on, I'll want to do the filling and sanding cycle inside the cabin, and paint it. While you can sit up inside the cabin, you can't stand, and I'm sure getting that first coat of paint on with the cabin finished would be a pain.
The little hatch in the lazarette looks off center now -- it isn't, but the seats are slightly off. So the optical illusion makes the small hatch appear wrong. Since I cut a hatch in the top of the rear deck, I think I'll square off the top and make this a small, square hatch with a semi-permanent cover that is screwed on. I doubt that I'll ever need to get in there while I'm sailing.
Climbing in and out of the cockpit made me thankful I put extra supports under the 1/4" plywood seats. Still, they creek when you stand on them. I'm thinking of reinforcing them some more, although that will be difficult with everything assembled. If I had it to do over again, I'd use 3/8" plywood at least. One of the builders has put reinforcement right on top of the seats: teak strips set in epoxy to simulate a slatted seat. I might try that with some of the left over phillipine mahogany. The only thing that is holding me back is that you really shouldn't varnish anything you're going to be stepping on, because it makes it pretty slippery when wet, and you never really want to use those "man overboard" procedures you practice. So you usually leave woods like teak, mahogany, etc. used for flooring and decking bare (or possibly with an oil finish.) And I'm not sure I want too much "bright work" that will be a maintenance issue later.
More constuction pictures are posted today. I also posted three pictures on how to cut a circle on a table saw on the Hints page.
|December 20, 1999
Over the weekend, 12/18 and 12/19, I didn't get too much "boat time." I worked 5 hours on Saturday, and cleaned up the garage Sunday. What a mess making a boat makes! I bought some paint for the inside of the cabin. I used about 1/2 gallon of Home Depot's Behr Exterior High Gloss Ultra White paint, and it looks pretty nice. I repainted under the seats and in the forepeak, since the former paint I had used was an off-white. What a pain trying to get under there to paint. I have a feeling I'll be glad I painted before putting on the roof.
Tonight, Monday 12/20, I finished making the parts for the wheel. I decided I wanted to use solid red oak for the lighter portions of the wheel, and some of the phillipine mahogany for the darker portions. I had cut out the spokes and spacers from the phillipine mahogany some time ago, and I posted the pictures of cutting the smaller center disk out of red oak on my table saw (click here to go to those pictures.) But for the larger ring of oak, I would have to use another method since the table saw cutting method could not make a ring with a hole in the center (the blade eats up too much stock OUTSIDE of the disc you are making.)
I edged glued some 4/4 red oak stock until I had a square large enough to make the disc, and marked the stock by drilling a hole in the center of the stock and using a string to mark the rough outline. Then I used a jig saw to cut outside this line (my old Craftsman jig saw was barely able to handle the 4/4 oak. I look forward to eventually ridding my shop of all the lousy Craftsman power tools.) Then, using a 1/2" straight bit in my router table, I trimmed the outer edge smooth and round. I positioned the rough-cut round on the router table and lined it up over the router bit, with the router bit recessed all the way below the table surface. By driving a nail into the router table, using the center hole drilled earlier, I was able to rotate the round to allow the router bit to trim off the edge. I made the mistake of having the bit a little too high, and butted up against the stock, and turned on the router. The round started spinning, and I stupidly reached up to stop it and burned my thumb before I caught myself (it didn't break the skin, but it could have injured me.) The round lifted up harmlessly, as the router bit was at only about 1/8" projection above the table, and I should have just let it spin and turned off the router. But a quick adjustment, and thanks that God protects fools, and I was on to trimming the round in no time.
For the inner cut, I removed the round from the router table and drilled an oversized 1/2" hole 1 - 1/8" in from the edge, and repositioned the round so the router bit lined up with this hole, and drove in the nail again. Wooden router tables are the best -- you could never do this with one of the fancy metal tables. I turned on the router and raised it about 3/16" and rotated the round. When you are doing this, there is a greater chance of burning the stock since the chips can get trapped in the groove you are creating. So you have to go slow, and take smaller "bites" each time. But soon I had a 4/4 ring of solid red oak. I set the fence on my table saw to saw this in half, and rotated it into the saw blade to make 2 discs. I will probably work on the wheel again tomorrow, and may have it finished by Christmas.
|January 2, 2000
New Year's weekend, and I have four days off. Had to run into the office on New Year's Eve to fix a phone glitch, but other than that, a relaxing (so far) weekend. Finished up the cabin sides, and put in the rafters and blocking for the roof panel. Right now, the rough cut roof panel is drying: I prepainted it and will install it tonight or tomorrow, and then trim it off. I have some pictures of the cabin with the rafters in place on the construction pics page.
The wheel is finished, with 5 coats of Helmsman Marine Spar finish. I choose a semi-gloss finish because I really don't want a gloss finish on the wheel. But it looks pretty good anyway. I have a series of 7 pictures on the construction pics page showing the construction steps.
Next weekend we start our vacation, and will be gone for a week. I hope to have the cabin top on by the end of this weekend, but really not much else between now and then.
|January 4, 2000
I can't believe I'm almost out of 1" stainless screws; I bought 1200 in bulk and another 150 from West Marine at the beginning. Wow, that's a lot of screws! But the cabin top is on. After installing the rough cut top, I used a router with a laminate trimming bit to trim off the top close to flush with the sides (because the router is angled on the roof, there is a small overhang left.) I used the belt sander and random orbit sander to waste the extra material back to a nice rounded edge between the sides and the top. It looks pretty good now. No pictures yet, and with our upcoming vacation, I suspect it will be a few weeks before I post any more.
I found another hardwood supplier, H&M Hardwoods in Camarillo. Very nice selection, more stock than Mayan, but prices are about the same. I'll probably use both of them in the future, as the pickings tend to get slim if you're using a wood they don't stock up on (like phillipine mahogany; I nearly exhausted Mayan's stock back on 11/06/99, and they haven't replenshed it.) H&M had some good looking stock, so I picked up another 4/4 board about 7 - 8" wide and 12 feet long (came out to 7 board feet.) I'll make the splash coaming and cockpit grate out of this.
I'm designing a hatch for the cabin that will incorporate a companion way door too; I think I can nest the door into the hatch and make it so you slide back the hatch, then pull out the companion way door and let it swing down. That will save some space. Usually you make bifold doors, which restrict the cockpit area, or a removeable one that then takes up cabin space when you take it out and stow it. I'll put the drawings I make for the hatch/door combo on the Hints page when I get it drawn up.
|February 16, 2000
Wow, has it really been a month and a half since I've done enough to update the web page? Work is really busy, and I've done a few business trips (including flying out of town the last two Saturdays . . . last Saturday on a red eye to New York . . . to save about $1200 on each trip. The first airline that eliminates the stupid Saturday night stay requirement gets all my business!)
Anyway, I haven't made much progress. I did add the half round molding to the inside of the sides where they project above the deck level ("toe rails"), and it does finish it off nicely.
I added the fir trim around the hatch cut outs; I cut a rabbett into the trim so that it covers the edge of the plywood, rather than placing the trim just on top of the plywood. I also used half lap joints at the corners, which are preferred on a boat to survive the vibration and pounding they take. That made for some compound cuts, which I always like to do . . . slow but satisfying. And since these are not finished "bright," but will be glassed and painted, my mistakes are filled with Bondo and sanded smooth.
A cost saving tip: the high quality douglas fir 2x lumber found
at the home centers works fine for these types of things. If you
look at the edge of the 2x, and choose one where the grain is relatively
straight (rather than looking like part of a circle), you can rip lengths
of it and have some pretty nice looking stock. One caution:
rip it and use it right away. Green lumber will twist and warp as
it dries out, but if pieces no thicker than 1" are assembled green, they'll
dry out fine without twisting.
|February 20, 2000
I posted some pictures today, showing some of the progress made including cutting the port holes in the cabin, and the nearly finished combination hatch / companion way door. To reach them, click on "Back to My Weekender Project" at the bottom of the page, and then click on "Construction Photos."
|March 10, 2000
I'm eager to turn her over and start finishing the hull in preparation for glassing. The last thing to do before that is building the "stupid little shelves" on the inside. Ordinarily, I would forgo these and just hang "monkey hammocks" for stashing items, but the shelves actually help stiffen the hull, so I'm afraid to leave them out. The plans call for making the shelves using store-bought "fiddle" (a 2" post and rail type of thing) to keep items from sliding off the shelf when the boat heels. I decided to go cheap and use a shelf with a simple bar mortised across the front. So I used some cheap pine and made two shelves, stained them with the "Red Mahogany" stain I've used elsewhere, and put two coats of marine spar varnish on them. They look fine. Jan helped me install them, by getting in the cabin and holding the shelf against the hull while I drove screws from the outside. Its the first time Jan has actually been INSIDE the boat. We tested it out for lying side by side, and decided we probably wouldn't spend a "weekend" in our "Weekender." This is a day-sailer, folks, unless we lose major weight!
|March 19, 2000
I turned Aslan over and started on the hull. I'm using some epoxy fairing putty from Fiberglass Coatings ($21 a gallon) and it looks like a gallon may do the whole thing. Kris helped me use the fairing putty to fill screw holes (there's a lot of screw holes) and lay a fillet of epoxy putty along the keel-to-bottom joint (which is intended to reduce turbulence when under way.) The epoxy putty takes 4 - 6 hours to cure enough to sand, so all I was able to do this weekend was the starboard side (and start on the port.)
I also added some pictures. I have a pic of the shelf mentioned in the post for 3/10/2000, and a few pics of making the mast. I'm using the "bird's mouth" method to make a round mast that will fit the style of the boat. There was an 18' douglas fir 2 x 10 in the garage when I moved here, and it will end up being the mast on Aslan. I made the lower portion of the mast, which is 41" long, this weekend. Once trimmed and sanded it looks pretty good. I will have to re-orient the mast box yet again, as the mast is not straight coming out of it. If I ever build another Weekender, the mast box will come much later in the process!
|April 8, 2000
Somehow, I misread the plans. the lower portion of the mast is 47" long, not 41". Dispair descends on me again, a black cloud settling gently. I sat in a lawn chair (my "moaning chair") and started at the plans, then at the mast lower portion. How did I do this? Oh well. I had enough material to cut 6" off the staves for the upper portion of the mast and form them into a mini-mast. I epoxied two 7" lengths of douglas fir 2 x 4 together, then cut it on the bandsaw to fit inside the mast. Using epoxy and mini plastic fibers, I slathered it up and tapped it into the lower portion, and then tapped the 6" mini-mast on it. This extension will be well within the mast box, so I think it will be plenty strong enough.
I ordered the fiberglass cloth and epoxy resin this week. I haven't added them to the Log of Costs yet, because I don't know the final total with shipping. The cloth I got, 50" wide 5.5 oz cloth, was from Hamilton Marine on sale for $2.99 a yard. Cheapest I had found previously was around $4, so this was quite a sale. I went ahead and ordered 40 yards, reserving 20 for a kayak I want to build once Aslan is finished. I decided to go with RAKA epoxy because the price was right, and Larry Steeves is a boat builder and very accessible. I got the 3 gallon kit, paying about $34 a gallon on it.
While I'm waiting for the cloth and resin, I'm putting the final fairing touches on the bottom of the hull. I have a couple of flat spots where the sides meet the bottom (when you look along that joint, it is "fair" from the stem to stern, except for a couple of areas on either side where the bottom panel joiner is -- I must have mis-cut this, since no one else has mentioned it.) I found that epoxy fairing compound slathered on the low spot, with a plastic bag placed on top of it, responds well to long strip of 1/4" ply screwed over the top. The ply bends in a fair curve, mashing the fairing compound into the proper shape. Once it firms up, the plywood is removed and the plastic just peels off nicely. Still has to be sanded with minor imperfections from the plastic wrinking filled with more compound and sanded again. But it does fair out the curves nicely. I think once covered with glass and resin it should be OK.
With work so busy over the past few months, and the great weather we're having, Jan and I have been "taking off" on Saturday mornings to be together some. Last week it was shopping and breakfast out around Ventura Harbor, and this week we hit a local Boater's Swapmeet at Channel Islands Harbor. Then we went to the boat show at the Ventura County Fairgrounds (Seaside Park.) Lots of expensive boats, but no sail boats. Still, if I had an extra $75,000, I'd be tempted!
|April 25, 2000
I found out I "over sanded" the port side, and had to use fairing compound to fill in the depressions in the softer portions of the wood grain on the plywood. But after doing that, I started on the glassing. I have several pictures on the Construction pages showing the process. Right now, I'm a bit sick for some reason, so I'm taking a hiatus from boat work, but the glassing is almost done anyway. Just a couple of additional coats rolled on, then curing, washing, sanding and painting, and then Aslan can be flipped back over to do the topsides.
|May 21, 2000
Glassing the hull is now completed, and I have a few pictures showing the process on the Construction pages. I decided on using RAKA epoxy, and it was really very easy to use. The metering pumps sold by RAKA are the way to go, along with quart size graduated mixing containers (sold both by RAKA and West Marine.) I mixed batches of 6 to 12 ounces each time, using equal amounts of the fast and slow hardeners. I've included a couple of "discoveries" on my Hints and Tips page. One I figured out late, and couldn't believe I didn't figure it out sooner: I've been using the very short nap foam roller covers (1/8") I could find only at West Marine or via mail order in both the 7" and 3" size, with the 3" size required for between the rub rails. I'd roll on a coat of epoxy using both rollers, and then toss them both. I finally figured out that I could cut the 7" cover prior to use, roll on that portion requiring the wider roller, then slip off and use the 3" wide portion cut earlier. A simple tip that could have saved me a few bucks. Another tip is one I haven't seen elsewhere, how to deal with really rough areas. I had a couple of areas between the rubrails where the glass bubbled, and one area I had to "patch" half way through glassing it because the cloth unraveled. I sat a while in the "moaning chair" looking at the mess, and then finally decided to attack it. A Surform rasp, sand paper, and fairing compound made from epoxy and glass beads fixed the areas.
Final prep before painting is being done now. Lots of sanding. B-O-R-I-N-G. I'm using 60 grit on my random orbital sander, followed by 100 grit aluminum oxide paper on my pad sander. The epoxy dust is really nasty, so I'm wearing my mask (a hepa-grade mask suitable for use with things like asbestos, but probably less than 100% effective because of the lousy seal between the mask and my beard.) After sanding, I find that there are still low spots, which are now highlighted by the dull surfaces which have been sanded. These aren't major depressions, and probably won't be noticed on the finished hull, but I wanted to start off with as smooth a surface as possible. I brush off the sanding dust and mix up a small amount of epoxy and, using a new plastic spreader, work it over the surface as a "skim coat", allowing it to fill the small depressions. Once it cures, a light sanding with the 100 grit aluminum oxide paper is all that is needed (aluminum oxide paper is the white sandpaper, which seems to cut the epoxy surface easier than the brown, sand-based sandpaper.) The port side is finished, and about 1/4 of the starboard side was done as of Friday night before I decided to take a break.
I cut the mast staves out quite a while ago, and since then have been researching the gaff rig that Aslan will be using (see my new pages, The Gaff Rig Pages, for info.) Its an older, more traditional design that has its adherents. I've collected some sources and contacted experts in rigging, and have found that the world of the gaff rig is like any other: you get conflicting advice from experts. The big question is whether to taper the mast or not. I finally decided to taper it at 1/2 the taper recommended for the square mast, as the dimensions seemed extreme for a round mast (going from 3.5" diameter to 2.25" at the top.) This is a mild taper then, from 3.5" to 3" at the top, which I hope will make the mast look like a traditional tree trunk mast without the excess weight. So I induced the taper on the staves, finding that using a power plane was much easier than using a router with a laminate trimming bit. Its glued together in the garage, and once the epoxy is set, will be rounded. I found it much more rewarding to make some wood shavings rather than epoxy dust for a while.
I have determined to finish the dreaded sanding this week, so I can paint the hull next weekend. Then I can flip Aslan over, and start on the topsides. I would really like to have her in the water this summer!
|May 25, 2000
Well, I have done two nights now of sanding and using my "epoxy skim coat" technique (see my Epoxy Tips under Hints, and the entry for 5/21, above.) The starboard side is now almost done. I finished the sanding for the sides, touched up the bottom, and put a skim coat on the surface. Tomorrow, I'll sand it down again lightly with the 100 grit aluminum oxide sandpaper, then start on the portion between the rub rails. That may take some time, because once the boat is back upright, the portion between the rub rails is a prominent, above the water-line portion of the boat. I want it to be smooth so it doesn't ruin the lines of the finished boat.
|June 3, 2000
Alas, life keeps interferring with boat work, but I am very close to being able to paint Aslan! The sanding is done, and I just have to wipe her off. I have gone the cheap route, after reading quite a bit of the historical dialog on paint for day sailers on Deja News. I'm using exterior, high gloss latex paint. About $20 a gallon, cheap, cheap, cheap. There are two test patches on Aslan right now, for the blue and tan paint, and I'll try an adhesion test in a day or so to make sure the paint cures properly on the epoxy.
The adhesion test is done by letting the paint cure, then making parallel cuts 1/8" apart in the surface with a razor blade, then a series of cuts at 90 degrees to those, so a cross-hatch series of cuts in the paint results. Tape is burnished down over the cuts, then ripped off quickly. If the paint comes off, it hasn't adhered to the epoxy.
June 4, 2000
I did find out that you shouldn't put PVC tape on Phillipine mahogany and leave it on too long . . . it rips little splinters of wood out unless you remove it very carefully. So there's more sanding to do on the rubrails once I get the sides painted. They will be finished with a combination of red mahogany stain, boiled linseed oil and polyurethane (the boiled linseed oil and polyurethane is blended together to make an oil-like finish that cures with a slightly tougher surface than just oil, but not as "plastic looking" and impermeable as pure polyurethane.)
I'm thinking that I'll start the finishing painting Monday, and do three or four coats over the week. Then let it cure for a week or two to a really hard surface, and flip Aslan over.
|June 10, 2000
Three coats of blue paint on the hull, and three coats of tan paint between the rub rails are on the boat now. Unfortunately, my work with the mast created enough dust to affect the final coat of the paint between the rubrails, so I suspect I'll have to sand it and do another coat there. But it looks pretty nice. I have pictures of the painting on the Construction Pictures page.
Also added a couple of pics of the mast progress. After gluing up the staves of the mast, I noticed a slight bow in it. So I tried the old water-softener salt bag trick (actually, its a new trick I just tried. Didn't work. That's why its not REALLY an old trick. Weighting down a bird's mouth mast will not take out a slight bow.) I think the slight bow will work though, if I position it so the mast is bending slightly backwards. It may even come out during the rounding process, which I started today. Shaved off the biggest corners with the power plane, then used a low angle block plane to make the mast mostly round. I'll continue with this process until it is fully round.
I took a break for lunch, and then came back to the shop. Smells like some cat has found the wood shavings and decided to make them a litter box. So I look around. Don't see any suspicious lumps, but to be honest, the power plane throws shavings half way across the garage so it could be anywhere. I walk around and look more carfully. Still can't find it. OK, if my sense of sight can't find the "present," then I'll sniff it out. My sense of smell is working fine. Sniff, sniff. Pretty strong here, but I still don't see it. I walk over to the other side of the shop, sniff, sniff, and find it just as bad there. I crouch down, wow! is it ever strong down here! Still can't see it. I look under the boat. Under the bench. And everytime I crouch down, it seems stronger. Hey, maybe its like propane, and cat poop fumes are heavier than air. I give up, and take film to Wal Mart for one-hour developing. Some woman in line in front of me not only smells like cat poop, she sure is acting weird. Man, the clientele in these discount stores! I drop off the film, and I've got to tell you, the clerks in Wal Mart are a bit ruder than usual. I drive towards home and man, oh man, the cat got in the car! I can't believe it. Well, I have got to find the cat poop in the car. I couldn't stand driving around with that smell. When I get home and get out it finally dawns on me ... the cat poop is on my shoe. My shoes are being sanitized as I type this.
Pictures of the painting and the start of making the mast round are on the Construction Pictures page.
|June 29, 2000
The mast is not salvageable. I'm afraid it is a class one, full scale failure, with a bend in it that is simply unworkable. It looks as if I supported it on the ends only, and allowed the middle to sag. Stretching a string from end to end, there is a 1" sag. Sigh. Last weekend, while on a business trip to the east coast, I took advantage of the need to stay a Saturday night to visit the Wooden Boat Show at the Mystic Seaport in CT. Richard Duke, one of the partners at Mountain Marine, the company featured in the Wooden Boat Magazine article about the bird's mouth method of making hollow round masts, was there and I had a chance to talk to him about it. There is a critical part of the process while assembling the staves, and he feels I probably made a mistake here rather than when supporting it. If you don't interlock each stave fully in the "bird's mouth," it can cause the mast to twist or bow, as mine has done. I'm out only my time, since the wood was "found." But now I do have to buy some douglas fir, spruce or yellow pine for the mast. More time spent in the "moaning chair."
The paint is cured on Aslan's hull, and I should be able to turn her back over this long holiday weekend. Perhaps working on the topsides again after this long spell of hull sanding, mast failures and competing projects will re-invigorate the building process.
|July 1, 2000
The start of a long weekend, and I don't have to work (at my real job) as I originally thought I might. Optimism rears its head again, as I think I can salvage at least part of the Massive Mast Failure for the bowsprit and lower portion of the mast. My brother Mark is down on vacation, and I think we'll flip Aslan back over today so I can start working on her topsides this weekend. It will be nice to get back into "progressive" boat work after the sanding of the hull. For the topsides, where most of the flat areas will have crushed walnut shells as anti-skid in the epoxy, there won't be much sanding. And there's some woodworking to do, which I always enjoy.
|July 2 and 3, 2000
Aslan is now flipped over and ready for topsides work! I gathered a work crew of my brother and two neighbors, and the four of us were more than a match for the boat. It looks much heavier than it is! I think two could have done it easily. Now I'm starting the fillet along the cabin trunk, and smoothing out other areas in preparation for glassing of the cockpit and other topsides areas. My camera failed to rewind the film, and I had to open it to un-jam it, so none of the pictures I've taken of the boat over the last few days came out.
On July 3, I decided to glass the deck area first, rather than the cockpit. After sanding the fillets along the cabin sides, and cleaning up the area, I set out cutting the fiberglass and smoothing it out on the deck areas. I prefer to use the dry method, where the glass cloth is smoothed out on the surface, and then the epoxy is poured on and spread around with a plastic spreader. Since you want just enough epoxy to wet out the glass and stick it to the surface, the plastic spreader works great. To fully wet out the entire deck, from the foredeck all the way back to the stern deck, took about 34 ounces of epoxy. I mixed up three 12 ounce batches, and towards the end of the third batch, it started getting warm in the mixing container. With epoxy, that's a "danger sign" since it means the epoxy could "go off" and into rapid cure stage. I poured it out on the unfinished deck areas, and that slowed the reaction down since the heat could dissipate faster. That allowed me to finish spreading it out, but it was a bit messier than when I pour a few ounces out and spread it, then repeat. Anyway, I ended up with about an ounce or two that I picked back up with the spreader, so I'm estimating it at 34 ounces instead of 36. I may need to buy more epoxy before I'm done! I'll put on another coat, and then see if it looks ready for the non-skid coating.
I also installed inner port rings. I have three round ports on each side of Aslan, mainly for looks, and I'm not planning to take the time to make them opening ports. For the interior port rings, I'm using 1/4" plywood which will be painted to match the interior. For the outside, I may stick with the glassed and painted plywood port rings to avoid having too much bright work to sand and varnish every six months. The rub rails, companion way hatch cover and hatches are all bright, and I think that's quite enough.
On the 4th, I had more boat time since my oldest daughter was ill and we couldn't attend the usual family activities. Kris and I put another coat of epoxy on the deck areas, and I fitted the glass to the cabin top. The first "wetting out" coat of epoxy went on it, and I will need more epoxy. I'll go ahead and order 3 gallons again, since I have the cockpit to do also.
The Massive Mast Failure (tm) has been salvaged. I cut 48" off the larger diameter end, and it is straight and non-bowed, so I'll use it for the lower portion of the mast. I cut 6' off the other end, and it did have a bow in it. But it was only about 1/4", which I was able to plane off without any problem. This piece will work for the bowsprit, once it is trimmed down to its 5' length. I'm looking for pictures of bowsprits right now to see how they finish off the ends. In the Weekender plans, they use solid stock, and they round down the end of the solid stock 7" back from the tip, cutting the diameter down by 1/2" total, then they paint that white. I may be able to do something like that, but I was looking for other treatments in case that won't work (the wall thickness of the staves is 9/16", less what I've trimmed for it to be straight, so I may not have enough wall left to use the end treatment in the plans.)
|July 8, 2000
I ordered another 3 gallons of epoxy from RAKA. I worked on the rough cut port holes filling the edges and coating the faces with a liberal amount of Bondo, and then sanding them smooth. Then, the first coat of white paint went on. It looks like it will work fine.
Today, I bought wood to make the mast and spars. I bought 2 pretty nice looking 2 x 6 x 12'. Looking at the end grain, I choose boards with grain running as straight across the 6" portion as I could. People tend to buy boards where the grain on the face looks nice, but for my purposes here, I was more concerned about the grain orientation of the long edges, since that is the grain that will be seen when the mast is completed. One ripped into 10 strips, 2 of which were not usable due to knots. That left me with the 8 staves needed to make the mast.
I decided to use thinner wall sections on the mast, as per the Wooden Boat Magazine article, which said the side walls of a douglas fir mast could use a factor of .15 total finished diameter (instead of .20 as needed for spruce.) At the bottom, the new mast will be 3 1/2", tapering to 2 1/2" at the top. I used side walls of 7/16", which is quite a bit thinner than my previous try. The width of each stave is calculated by taking the finished diameter and multiplying by .40, which for the widest part of the mast was 1.3" or 1-5/16". That tapered down to .9 of an inch, or 15/16". So first I set my rip fence to cut 7/16" wide slices of the 2 x 6. Then I ripped each one of these to 1-5/16" wide. I set the table saw blade at 45 degrees, adjusted the blade height, and cut the "bird's mouth" groove in one edge of each stave.
Setting the taper on the first stave is the hardest part. Kris helped during this process. We measured in from one "bird's mouth" edge 15/16", and made a mark. This is the "thin" end. Then, we used a measuring tape stretched from the corner opposite the "bird's mouth" edge at the "thick" end of the stave, and held it in place on the mark on the "thin" end, and marked along the tape. This is such a slight taper over 12' that I had to use something true and straight. Several trys with another stave showed that the wood is just too flexible to used for the accuracy required. The metal measuring tape worked great. I used my power plane to taper this "mother" stave almost to the line, finishing up with a low angle block plane. Then it was time to taper the rest.
I set the table saw blade back at 90 degrees, and placed the tapered stave with the "bird's mouth" edge against the rip fence and the "thin" toward the blade. Then, the next stave to be tapered was placed next to it, with the "bird's mouth" edge against the tapered stave. I moved both staves as if they were taped together, and adjusted the rip fence so that the blade would rub, but not cut, the outside edge of the stave to taper, turned on the saw, and ran them through. As the original tapered stave got wider, it pushed the new stave farther over to the blade, cutting a complementary taper in it as well. Using the first, hand-tapered stave as a sort of "tapering jig" in this way, I quickly cut tapers in each remaining stave.
Kris and I donned our latex gloves again to glue up the staves. Its much harder with the thinner staves, as they tend to wobble a bit more. But we slathered on about 6 ounces of epoxy mixed with wood flour into the "bird's mouth" edges, then assembled them, using hose clamps to keep them together. It doesn't look like there is any kind of bow in the mast this time, as Kris and I made sure each stave interlocked well with the other. Tomorrow, I'll start the finishing process on the mast if it cures as well as it looks tonight.
|July 12, 2000
The mast is working out nicely. I have added construction pics to my mast page to track the progress of my new mast attempt. Rounding it isn't really hard, but it does take some patience with a plane and belt sander. I keep thinking how nice it would be to put it in a lathe and make it nice and perfectly round.
The second order of epoxy did come today, so I can get back to glassing the topsides. Added some pictures of the glassing process so far at this page, and added some pics to the Hints and Tips page as well.
|July 21, 2000
Had a business trip over the weekend, so I didn't have much "boat time" last week. Got up at 3 am on Sunday to get ready and head out to the airport for the morning flight. Ended up spending another 4 hours at O'Hare Airport in Chicago waiting for a late connection. I think I spend more time waiting for late connections (especially in Chicago!) than I do flying some days.
Anyway, I did get the cabin top glassed earlier in the week, then the trunk sides, and tonight finally finished putting glass on the cockpit. I'll have to roll on several coats of epoxy still on the cockpit to fill in the weave of the glass, but I'm almost done (just one more coat!) on the cabin and deck areas. With any luck, I'll be able to roll on the 3 - 5 coats this weekend.
That finishes up the parts of Aslan that will recieve fiberglass cloth. All of the exterior portions that will regularly get water contact ... the hull, deck, cabin sides and top, and cockpit ... have a layer of 5.5 ounce cloth. Once I get the final 3 - 5 coats of epoxy on the cockpit and another coat on the cabin portion, I'll be ready to move on to making the hatches, outside port rings, bowsprit and rudder/steering mechanism. So the end is in sight, but I'm hesitant to estimate a finish date (work keeps interfering with real life!) And the finishing of the boat is where I'll probably enjoy it the most. I'll post more progress reports this weekend, I'm sure.
|July 25, 2000
The weekend came and went, without an update. Busy, busy, busy. The cockpit is glassed, and it waits for a sanding and final "skim coat" smoothing treatment. I'm working on the splash coamings now, made up from laminated 1x phillipine mahogany. The splash coamings start with a compound curve at the cabin to deck joint, angled 20 degrees outboard while they also flare out to match the curve of the deck around the cockpit. The 6 laminated pieces follow an "S" curve down to the deck level within 10" of the cabin bulkhead, to terminate in a single "mini-coaming" that will wrap around the cockpit. After roughing out the starboard lamination, I duplicated it by taking each layer and tracing its outline on poster board, cutting out the outline, flipping it over and using it to mark the corresponding layer for the port side. After cutting out the pieces with my band saw table set at 20 degrees, I fastened the second layer to the first layer and used a belt and random orbital sander with 60 grit paper to rough sand them to shape. Then I added the third layer to the second, and repeated the smoothing operation. This allowed the belt sander to get at most of the surfaces, with just a few of the extreme internal curves left for hand sanding. Now, I need to finish-shape the coaming assemblies so they are the same thickness, and appear symetrical when on the boat. I have pictures to be developed, and will include them later.
July 27, 2000
|August 5, 2000
The splash coaming is done, complete with the "mini coaming" around the cockpit. I used the same red mahogany stain (which isn't really red) mixed with equal parts boiled linseed oil and mineral spirits to stain and seal the phillipine mahogany. It looks OK now, and should look good when it recieves the 5 to 7 coats of marine spar varnish (which will be done when I put up the sandpaper for good!) The final "skim coats" of epoxy on the cockpit surfaces have been done, everything has been sanded, and I'm ready to apply the non-skid layer next. I want to finish the hatch covers first, but I may take some more time with them.
I've decided that the rear deck of my Weekender, with the large hatch I've added, will look better without a taffrail. It would get just a bit busy back there, especially since I'm rigging a bridle for the main sheet (I rattle these terms off like I know them, but I'm no expert. As you get into this project, you learn just enough to get past the next task.) I had originally planned on using an eyebolt on the port side of the rear deck and tying off the main sheet there (the main sheet is the line that controls the boom of the main sail.) Then, the sheet would go through a block on the underside of the boom and down to a block on the starboard side of the rear deck, then back up to a block on the boom just in front of the one just mentioned. Then, the main sheet is led a foot or so along the bottom of the boom to another block, and drops in the center of the cockpit. The "helmsman" then controls the sheet from that location. The advantage of such an arrangement is that the multiple purchase gives you much easier control, but the corresponding disadvantage is that you end up with more line in the cockpit. So instead, I'll rig a bridle, tied off to eyebolts on the port and starboard corners of the rear deck, with a block that slides along the bridle. The main sheet will start on the boom, reeve through the block on the bridle, back up to a block on the boom and then forward to the final block to drop into the cockpit.
I also experimented with that iron-on oak veneer edging designed for plywood to make mast hoops. By wrapping it around a form (quart size paint can) and applying heat from an iron, I formed some pretty nice mast hoops from "laminated oak." The first step is to cut a piece of the edging long enough to go around the form, and iron it to "glue side" of the edging to form the inside of the mast hoop. This prevents the edging from sticking to your paint can, which causes cursing, pouring out of expensive varnish, and severe deformation of said paint can requiring a new form to be acquired. Don't ask me how I know. Anyway, I found that 8 layers -- including that first layer inside -- made a pretty nice mast hoop. I tried more layers, going up to 11 on one experiment, but I think 8 is about right. I don't know if the adhesive used on the edging is really waterproof, so I'll epoxy them to make them waterproof, and varnish them to protect the epoxy from UV degradation. A 50' roll of the stuff is about $10 at Home Depot, so I think I'll be able to make all my mast hoops for $20 to $30 (have to allow for experimentation you know.)
|August 16, 2000
I found some nice padeyes for the bridle at Minney's Yacht Surplus, along with a few blocks and other miscellaneous things. Over the past few weeks, I haven't had too much boat time. My parents are planning a move, so my family has been busy cleaning out a shop, basement (in California!) and helping pack, and work has been busy. But I have been able to get the grab rails installed on top of the cabin, finish-sand the cockpit coaming with boiled linseed oil and 250 grit wet/dry sandpaper (makes it very smooth), and work a bit on the combination hatch/companionway door. So the trim and finish items, which don't really take all that much time, are coming along slowly. Life keeps interfering! I'd like to finish by the end of September, and launch the boat! But we'll see.
|August 26, 2000
I had a good "boat day" today. I roughed out the stern hatch out of oak, and the forepeak hatch out of douglas fir (it gets fiberglassed!) I started the painting of the vertical surfaces around the cabin top and in the cockpit. I added several pictures to the Building the Cabin Hatch / Companion Way Door Combination page to show how I made the internal door support that also acts as a stop for the hatch, and one picture to the Making the Splash Coamings page showing the stained splash coaming. On the Construction Pictures page, I added two pics: the first one showing the topside painting, and the first of several planned showing how I'm making the mast hoops out of oak edge-veneer. Perhaps tomorrow I'll be able to start on the non-skid areas of the deck.
|September 4, 2000
Labor day weekend provided some time to get boat stuff done. I finished the varnishing of the brightwork installed so far, including the hand rails and stern hatch cover. I made the forepeak hatch cover, and glassed it, during the week. Installing it allowed me to mask off areas to apply the non-skid material. I'm using crushed walnut shells, sometimes known by the brand name Agrashell. It works well (details are in pics on the Construction Page.) Leah and her boyfriend Dennis helped apply the crushed shells, and Kris helped by vacuuming up the excess this morning. We had to patch a few areas, but did that, and then painted the deck. Looks nice (pics are on the construction page.) I also spent a couple of hours cleaning up the rub rails, where epoxy had migrated under the masking while I was glassing the hull sides. I found using the random orbital sander, along with a block of wood with 80 grit sandpaper on it helped get the major stuff off. Then an Xacto knife along the joint between the rub rail and hull helped isolate the "overflow" from the hull. Sometimes it would chip off cleanly then. If not, I used a single edge razor blade, held at 90 degrees to the rub rail like a furniture scraper. By moving it back and forth rapidly, I could scrape off quite a bit of the excess epoxy (its amazing how well this works; at first, it doesn't seem like it would work at all, but you can feel the razor blade get warm between your fingers, and you see finely curled strips of the excess epoxy and wood curl up along the razor blade.) I stained the starboard rubrails tonight, and Aslan looks pretty good now.
|September 29, 2000
A very busy month, but not much of it spent on the boat! There are quite a few little details to finishing out the boat, and competing issues -- work, my parents move, a vacation out of town -- prevented me from finishing them all. The topsides are painted, I finished the combination companionway hatch and door assembly and its on top of the boat, and I'm working on the portholes now. I hope to get started again this weekend and get the ports done, and start on the rudder assembly, bowsprit and mast. I would love to launch by late October, and be able to attend the "sail in" at Tomales Bay where the Weekender's creators and some other builders will be.
|October 7, 2000
I had tried using solid stock, resawn to 1/4" thick, to make porthole rings. After making them, and sanding, vanishing and cutting out clear plastic to go behind them, I was ready to install. But, another minor catastrophe happened when I realized the 1/4" phillipine mahogany wasn't pliable enough to bend to the cabin's curves. I ended up using scrap 1/4" teak plywood I salvaged from my dad's shop, and stained them with the red mahogany stain (which would give a purist a heart attack, but I wanted to keep just two types of wood on the boat.) I also used it for the cockpit seat hatches. The ports are on now, and look pretty good.
Today, I started on the rudder box and rudder, and have the sides of the rudder box cut out. I think I'll coat them with several coats of epoxy inside, and glass the outside. The rudder is just pine right now; I may make a white oak or douglas fir rudder later on, but I didn't have any 12" wide stock handy. I can easily change this later on, so I'm pressing ahead with the pine.
A few hours this weekend is all I get ... work beckons again this Sunday. Launch date will probably be after Thanksgiving at this rate. Oh well!
|October 22, 2000
I tried several variations of the wheel steering, which has ropes tied around a steering shaft that the wheel is attached to, and I wasn't happy with any of them. There's just too much that can go wrong with it, with the hidden ropes, for me to be comfortable with it. I checked with several of the builders, and some of them have gone to tiller steering. So I adapted the rudder box to accept a tiller, and I've re-glassed and epoxied it. I also had a problem with the stock design for the rudder box attachment to the stern. In the plans, eyebolts are used extending out of the stern that are matched to eyebolts attached to the rudder box. Then a rod is placed through them with lock nuts on top and bottom. I used 5/16" stainless eyebolts, and the 3/8" brass threaded rod I found is much too thin. In the plans, they specify using black poly tubing on the threaded rod to prevent clanging while underway. I measured out the actual ID of the eyebolts, and headed to Home Depot last Sunday night with Kris in tow. As I was looking at pipe, she pulled out a 1/2" PVC 12" long nipple and said "Hey dad, this looks about right." The ID is slightly larger than the 3/8" brass rod, and by sanding down the ends, I can fit it into the eyebolts.
The revised rudder box got its last coat of epoxy tonight, coating the plywood ends again (5th coat) and potting the eyebolt heads that protrude into the rudder box. The rudder got its first coat of primer and paint today, after getting 4 coats of epoxy over the bare pine (decided not to waste fiberglass cloth on this since I'll make a better rudder later.)
I also ripped out and cut 8 staves for the lower half of the mast, made the "bird's mouth" cut on one edge, and glued them up today. It went amazingly fast, which is funny because this has been one of those things I've delayed with a kind of dread because of the problems with the longer section of mast. Working with 4' staves is a lot easier than 12' staves!
So I have the cockpit storage locker doors to put on, the rudder box to paint and attach, reconfigure the way the stern hatch opens now that I'll have a tiller swinging over it, install the lower mast portion and I'm ready for the final step.
If I can sell/give away the power boat that is on my boat trailer I bought (see Boat for Sale for details), I'll put Aslan on the trailer and in the side yard in preparation for rigging. If I can't sell the power boat -- a Powercat Boat -- I'll have to build a stand for it to free up the trailer space!
|November 19, 2000
I have new construction pictures of the tiller; I decided to borrow a page from some of my fellow builders and make a swing up tiller to allow full access to the stern hatch cover. I also made the gaff and boom out of salvaged douglas fir lumber ... from an old patio cover. The wood is probably 20 to 30 years old, and "construction common" grade, which is comparable to select or vertical grain now. There were old nail holes, which have given the wood the appearance of "worm holes", and I decided to leave these in place rather than drilling them out and filling them. I like the look, actually. The "Bird's Mouth" method allows you to select and use this kind of lumber, and I like the thought of re-using wood when I can. I also salvaged some scraps of hardwood from my dad's shop when my parents moved, and found a nice 8/4 stock (that's 2" thick lumber for you non-woodworkers). I thought at first it might be ash, but on closer inspection, I don't think it is. It ages to a nice warm yellow tone, and I suspect it might be butternut. But in any case, it is a nice hardwood, and it became gaff jaws (pics of the unfinished jaws are on the construction pics pages.)
My association with Amazon.com has paid off. When people buy after clicking a link from this site, Amazon.com pays a small commission. I said "small," but hey, it helps. It was enough over the past year to "finance" a new digital camera I found on eBay for $56 (feverish bidding at the end found me bidding against myself ... luckily eBay protects fools like me from doing that. Still, the rush of the buy was something that could be addicting.) Anyway, when the new digital camera gets here, I'll be able to post pictures more often.
|December 9, 2000
After struggling with how to build the gooseneck for the boom to attach to the mast, I finally figured out how to thread an eyebolt through the mast and attach it inside (the gooseneck attachs too far down the mast to be able to secure a nut inside.) At first I thought I'd epoxy a nut on a 1 x hardwood support held inside the mast, and thread the eyebolts into it. But West Marine had stainless T nuts, so I bought four of them, put two on the mast, two on a hardwood support for inside the mast, and threaded the eyebolts through both sets of T nuts. Worked like a charm. I have a few pics on the construction pics page (you can reach that page by clicking on the navigation bar "Pics" link.) So a little bit of progress this weekend.
December 10, 2000
|December 16, 2000
I sold the boat that came on the trailer I bought for $50 on ebay, and drove out to Moreno Valley to meet the buyer (who drove in from Phoenix.) He drove 300+ miles, and I went 120, all for a $50 boat. I just couldn't stand the thought of it going to a landfill, especially after corresponding with the son of the boat builder, and finding out the rich history of the Powercat line. Too bad I'm not interested in restoring it myself, but I have this other boat ...
I spent Saturday driving out and delivering the Powercat, and today I did a little preliminary work on the trailer (mainly trying to find parts for it!) I put the chainplates on the starboard side, which required yet another trip to West Marine. While there, I took advantage of their 10% off sale this weekend to buy some of the standing rigging supplies (stainless wire, etc.)
|December 22, 2000
I added a page detailing my standing rigging work. So far, I just have the chainplates on the starboard side, and some finishing details on the top of the mast to prepare for the rigging. With the holidays, and work so busy, there's not much getting done, so I just steal away for a few minutes and get little things done.
|December 27, 2000
A wonderful Christmas weekend, but alas, not much boat work over the four days off. The final coat of spar varnish on the port rub rails, and some preliminary work on converting the Powercat trailer to hold Aslan is about all I've been able to squeeze in. New Year's weekend, which is a 3 day weekend for me this year, will probably see more activity. Before I move Aslan outside for the final details, I want to finish up the things that are best done while inside, like the final touch-up of paint on the hull. But I'm rapidly running out of those kind of things, and I should be able to proceed with the "final details" very soon now.
|December 28, 2000
The chainplates are on the port side now, and after the 3M 5200 bedding compound sets up some, I'll fill in the holes in the rub rails around the chain plates with epoxy mixed with maple wood flour (which is the color of the mahogany.) I added some pics on how I made sure the chain plates on the port side were at the same position as the ones on the starboard side, and a handy tool to make sure I had them at the right angle to provide a fair lead for the standing rigging.
|December 31, 2000
I cleaned up around the chainplates, adding epoxy and wood flour filler to fill the gaps between rubrail and chainplates, and touched up the varnish where I scuffed it. I added a "keel rail" assembly to the trailer so I can get Aslan on it, perhaps next weekend (links to pictures of this trailer modification are on the Construction Pictures page.) So not much done, really, but the final details are getting worked on. I also spent some time eating lunch with my wife at Ventura Harbor near us, watching the sailboats. I took my crummy digital camera down and snapped a few shots. You can see one of the shots by clicking on this link Why I Love California On December 31. You'll have to use your browser's "back" button to come back here though.
|January 4, 2001
I've been preparing Aslan for trailer life. I want to paint the interior again, and so have been trying to smooth out some of the interior plywood with filler and sanding. As with any large project, I find myself wishing I had done some things differently in the beginning ... like filling and sanding the plywood smooth before the boat was put together. I think of all the time I spent on some aspects that don't really matter now (the complicated companionway hatch, the time I spent obsessing about the mast, etc.) I'd be sailing instead of painting if I had forged ahead, but then, you can't beat yourself up too much about these things. It is, after all, the ultimate learning experience.
I put the stern and amidships cleats on, and cleaned up the deck and cockpit (Shop Vac time, since there was a ton of dust on her.) I have some touch up painting to do, which I'll do in the garage before putting her on the trailer. But hopefully, she'll go outside this weekend, and I can get started in ernest on the standing rigging and finishing her off.
|January 14, 2001
The cabin is painted again on the inside, and I found a small piece of commercial grade carpet with very low nap to use inside. It looks nice, and won't hold a lot of water if I capsize her. I also built the companion-way storage box that holds tools and other miscellaneous stuff, but more importantly, serves as another seat. I had been putting this off, but decided to do it before she goes outside on the trailer. The top is a nice piece of phillipine mahogany which received one of three (or four!) coats of varnish today. I also finished making the mast hoops from laminated oak; I added a page to the Construction Pictures page describing how I did it.
My schedule for moving Aslan out onto her trailer keeps slipping. But actually, I'm glad I didn't have her outside, as we had the biggest rainstorm of the year over the last week, with 3" of rain in one day. I am running out of the the "little jobs," and will need to get her outside soon. I think I'll get a poly tarp large enough to cover her when I move her outside.
|January 23, 2001
I made the bowsprit over the weekend, and its receiving the 5 or 6 coats of marine varnish I'm putting on all the brightwork. I also updated the Log of Costs with the most recent purchases, including $27 I spent for the smallest 8/4 piece of red oak I could find for making the bits (the cross pieces that hold the back of the bowsprit to the deck, and also serve as a mooring bit for throwing a dock line around.) I only used 1/5th of the hardwood for the bits, so the rest (charged to Aslan) is now in the hardwood pile awaiting another project. I also added a tumbler to the gaff jaws. The American term is really "chip", but I prefer the English term for this pivoting piece that spreads the stresses out over a larger area than the jaws alone. Pictures of all this are on the Standing Rigging construction pictures page (click here to go there directly, then use the "Back" button on your browser to come back here.) Also on this page is an inexpensive car cover I found at Costco that covers Aslan well, will breathe and prevent mildew (unlike poly tarps) and won't transfer the tarp color to the boat. I'll probably have a custom cover made later, but for now, this will allow me to put Aslan outside for the final rigging details.
We decided we should buy dacron sails. Jan thought that another DIY project, this time with 20' long pieces of tarp to be laid out, cut, and taped together on the yard, was a little over the top. And to be honest, after so much home-made for this boat, I'm a bit relieved. Polytarp and the plastic sheeting with reinforced scrim that Ulta Sail sells do work fine, and the Ulta Sail looks great (almost like an expensive mylar sail) but the dacron sail will last years, and its shipping right away. It is the single most expensive item, at $500 including shipping, but hey, we've done well on costs so far (did I say that?)
|January 30, 2001
I received the sails, and they look really nice. I'm finishing up the mast hoops, and hope to put Aslan on her trailer this weekend (haven't I said that before?)
Getting home from my business trip, I found out that I violated a copyright provision with my posting of my essay about my father, "The Question." I have been asked to remove it immediately from the website by the editor of their magazine. As there was no compensation for the article, or for the other dozen or so things I wrote for them, I thought this was taking things a bit too seriously for what is supposed to be a fun endeavor. I advised them I will not renew my membership, and I will also remove all references to them on these pages over the next few days. You can still reach them by going to the Stevenson Projects site for the links there. For me, the "legal demand" was a slap in the face, and a better way to handle it would be to have me pay them for its use or something like that (I already had given attribution and had links to their organization all over the website.) Its always up to the individual, of course, but I could not in all honesty recommend membership in their organization now. I founded another site, a Yahoo club, some time ago for a less formal gathering place, and will now devote my time to it. You can go to it by clicking this link Stevenson Proj Pocket Yachts. I am also setting up an MSN community, which has a better BBS format, at Weekender Boatbuilding. Please feel free to stop in and say "hi" at either of these, or both!, if you have specific questions about the boats (I've said all I'm going to say about the "Great Copyright Controversy.")
|January 31, 2001
After a few emails, they have agreed to allow me to post the article provided I give proper attribution to the magazine. That's fair, and I'll reconstruct the page and get it up over the next few days. They really are an OK group of guys, but I think this was handled badly. I was waffling about re-newing my dues anyway, as I'm usually not a joiner. So I'll miss the comraderie, but not the rules and other BS that comes with an official organization.
|February 4, 2001
"The Question" is now back on-line with the proper copyright notices.
Getting Aslan ready for living on her trailer has been my major goal, and there were some things I wanted to get done just because they were easier to do in the garage. The bowsprit is now on, the bits secured to the keel, and the eye for the jib clubfoot and forestay are in place. So without much fanfare, it was time to put Aslan outside on her trailer.
Today, my brother and brother-in-law were coming up for a little barbeque we were holding in honor of my mother's 75th birthday last weekend (I was out of town on business last weekend, so couldn't see her then.) But I found out they weren't coming until later in the afternoon, and Leah's boyfriend Dennis was here, so what the heck? How much could go wrong getting a little sailboat onto a trailer? I had visions of getting half through and having it dump on its side, crash into the van, crush some members of the family, etc.
In reality, it wasn't bad at all. After some pushing and pulling, we decided to use the trailer's winch to steady the bow, push carpet under the keel, and pull-lift her onto the trailer. When the bottom of the stem was soundly on the trailer, we lifted up the stern and put a furniture dolly under it, then guided her on using the winch and the pull-lift technique. We combined it with the walk-around-the-boat-twice-and-consider-the-next-move-technique that we men always think instills a lot of confidence in our women. From the reaction of my wife, who quickly moved the van DOWN THE STREET, I'm not sure the technique has the intended effect.
But in the end, it worked, although we had to do more pull-lift and walk-around than I'd like to launching a boat. It would not have been even that difficult if we were on level ground, but the trailer was sitting facing downhill, so the back of it was higher than normal (and much higher than if it were being backed down a ramp.) We took some pics, but they need to be developed tomorrow, and I'll post them then.
|February 5, 2001
The pictures of Aslan turned out pretty good, so I scanned them in at a slightly higher resolution. The links to them are on the Construction Pictures page. She looks pretty good in the sunlight, even if she is precariously perched on her trailer ...
|February 11, 2001
Work continues on the trailer. The roller bunks that were on it don't reach Aslan's bottom, so I went to West Marine ("Look, here he comes again!") I found bunk supports that, with a 2 x 4 on top, would work, so I bought four of them (the trailer costs are not included in my Log of Costs ... I suspect that buying a new trailer might be just as economical as my foray into used trailers, and I promise to have a page on the total trailer cost AND new alternatives when I'm done..) After taking the old roller bunks off, I put these on, put the 2x4 on them, and they really stabilized the boat. I can get up on her decks and walk around now. I still need to put carpet on them, but for now they are doing their duty in their undressed state.
Rain came this weekend, and Saturday morning I found Aslan is water tight. At least, the 2 inches of water in her cockpit wasn't leaking out anywhere! Off to West Marine for one of those handy little manual pumps ($14, but not in the Log of Costs again since it isn't a "boat building" item.) It made short work of getting the water out, at least down to the point of being able to use a towel to get the remaining 1/8" out. The car cover sheds rainwater, but without the mast in place, it was drooped over the cockpit. Anywhere water will pool, it will also drip through. So a 2 x 3 is now strapped in place and the cockpit remains dry even though the rain continues.
After agonizing over the mast hinge, and trying several solutions that didn't fit my hollow bird's mouth mast, I ended up testing a solution that borrows from traditional mast tabernacles and something I saw on Steve Woolverton's Weekender, Stoodnt Budgit. Steve's website seems to be down, but he had a marconi-rigged Weekender with an aluminum mast. To fold such a rig, he used steel straps up the sides, with an angled cut (back to front) that allowed the mast to settle in when raised. I have my test of the concept on the Construction Pictures pages. After the test, which is shown in the pictures, I ran into two problems with the actual mast. One, my mast bottom and top are different constructions, and I will need to trim down the bottom portion (easy to solve.) Two, and more serious, my upper mast portion is made with the minimum "scantlings" (or proportions) so that the wall thickness at the bottom is but .20 of the width of each stave, instead of .25. So the bottom third of the mast is almost fragile, and my new mast tabernacle will produce some stresses I'm concerned about (not to mention the stresses of the gaff riding up and down.)
I cut the 30 degree angles in both, and assembled 1 x 8" "mending straps" with stainless bolts through the mast. This worked well, but I found it hard to locate the bolts where the mast would make full contact between upper and lower portions when raised. The solution was to elongate the holes for the top bolt (which hinges the upper portion of the mast) and allow some "wiggle room" to allow my imperfect construction to settle in like it should. Satisfied that will work, I turned my attention to inserting a 1/2" thick douglas fir "stiffener" inside the mast, up 8 of the 12 feet of the upper portion (the last 4 feet is much smaller than the bottom, and very strong due to the wall thickness being more appropriate for that diameter.) Measuring the inside and outside diameter of the mast at the bottom, I was able to get the total wall thickness. I then measured the diameter at 8' up, and deducted the total wall thickness. I tapered a piece of douglas fir to these dimensions, first drawing the angles on the board then cutting it out with the band saw. A few passes with the power plane were needed to allow the stiffener to slide up into the mast, and sastified that the fit was right, it was slathered with epoxy made into a paste with wood flour and inserted. It is positioned fore-and-aft, so that its sides are glued to the front and back of the mast, where most of the stresses will be. An additional stiffener was added, glued to the first stiffener and the port side of the mast. This puts a "T" shaped bracing structure inside the mast, which should make it stong enough. For the future, I'll stick to stave thicknesses of .25 of the stave width to avoid having to fool with internal bracing (although, it is still probably lighter than one with thicker walls, and certainly still lighter than a solid mast.) If the weather holds, the mast should be ready for placement next weekend, with rigging to soon follow.
West Marine had 25% off all their lines, so I bought all the line for Aslan's sheets and halyards ("sheets" control the sails during sailing, and "halyards" raise and lower them.) The peak halyard is run back to the cockpit in the plans, so I bought the specified length (plus a couple feet for "insurance") and got 60' of 1/4" blue fleck Sta-Set Yacht Braid. For the throat halyard, the plans specify 25', so I allowed another 10' to run the line back to the cockpit, and bought 35' of the red fleck 1/4" Sta-Set Yacht Braid. The Peak and Throat Halyard raise and trim the gaff, which is attached to the head, or top, of the sail. The Jib Halyard and Jib Sheet, at 38' and 32', include the10 feet added to the plan lengths, and 1/4" Sta-Set Yacht Braid was again used, in green fleck for the halyard and solid green for the sheet. Finally, for the main sheet, which controls the main sail and the boom, I sized the line up to 3/8" for easier feel in the hands, and bought the specified 37 feet. At 25% off, it makes the line comparable to the mail order prices when you consider shipping costs, and I can buy it locally. The total cost was $96.98 (listed in the Log of Costs.)
However, It looks like they applied the discount only to three of the five items, so I'll head back there tomorrow and see if I'm correct. They may owe me a credit.
|February 24, 2001
The 1 x 8 straps did not work for the mast tabernacle. I found that throughbolting, with the elongated holes to allow the mast to settle in, made a loose assembly that I didn't trust. After trying several options to have internal supports shore up the mast, I decided to go back to the concept piece. I found that using screws into a block on the inside of the mast solved the problem ... the holes in the straps did not have to line up exactly, and I didn't need the elongated holes. So the test straps were screwed onto the mast sections while it was in its unfolded configuration. Then it hinged nicely. I'm using phillipine mahogany to cover the straps for a decorative effect, as the straps themselves don't fit in with a wood mast. There are new pictures today showing this on my Mast Tabernacle construction pics page.
|February 25, 2001
Added some pics of the stained and varnished phillipine mahogany straps over the mast hinge straps to the Mast Tabernacle page. It rained again this weekend, so other than the work on the mast, and adding a support in the boom where the bolts go through, not much real boat work was done. I need good weather to rig Aslan, so I hope to get some sunny weekends soon. Jan, Kristine and I did drive out and check two local lakes, Lake Piru (PIE-ROO) and Lake Casitas (KA-SEAT-US). Lake Piru is located just east of Fillmore, and from the maps, has quite a few coves and inlets reserved for "non-power boats over 8' in length" (I think Aslan qualifies!) Lake Casitas is near Ojai, and is larger than Piru, and looks like it would be a lot of fun to sail in. That gives us some local options other than the two harbors nearby and the Pacific ocean (but only when its calm in this kind of boat! And never too far from shore.)
|March 5, 2001
Rain, rain, and more rain! Not much to do on the boat when every day off I have has nothing but rain! Maybe I will poke a hole in the garage roof, up through my daughter's bedroom, so I can rig the mast inside. Hmmmm ...
|March 17, 2001
Wow, finally a weekender without rain or other commitments. Wasn't I supposed to be sailing by now?
The mast is on, but not the "mast partners" (shims in the mast box to make it straight.) The running rigging was completed with 1/8" 7 x 19 stainless wire ... I decided that it was worth the extra money to be able to use stainless and get it locally. Still, the stuff is expensive at .64 a foot. There are some pics of the standing rigging, including a fix for turnbuckles that prevents them from binding when I raise the mast, on the construction pictures Mast Tabernacle Design and Standing Rigging page.
I started on the running rigging also ... the blocks and halyards, sheets, etc. The hollow bird's mouth mast presents some unique problems. It is thin and light, and strong when stress is applied around the circumfrence. But you can crush it by applying pressure on just two points, such as when you put an eyebolt through it. I did put an insert in the mast to strengthen it. And my running rigging is being installed with either irons around the mast, or soft eyes to lash the blocks to the mast, to distribute the stresses around the circumfrence of the mast.
For the irons, I found that the large chain link fence post rings fit the top of my mast. So two of them are used, the lower one for attaching the standing rigging ... the forestay and shrouds ... and the upper one for the running rigging. Cheap, quick and easy.
I asked about lashing blocks on both Brion Toss's website Spar Talk, and the Wooden Boat Forums (both links are on my Weekender Links Page.) Lashing on blocks is a great idea, everyone agrees, and there are several ways to do it. Brion Toss did comment that the peak halyard blocks tend to wear through lashings quickly, so I've configured the top iron strap to receive the two peak halyard blocks. But the jib halyard block, and the throat halyard block, borrow from traditional rigging by using soft eyes looped around the iron or a wooden "thumb". Details on are on the construction pictures page for Running Rigging.
With any luck, I'll start bending on the sails this weekend. That should be exciting. But at least I'm making progress again, and it looks like I'll have several weekends to finish Aslan up.
|March 25, 2001
Well, a weekend late, but the mainsail is attached to the gaff and boom with shackles, its head and foot laced on using marline hitches and tied off using an anchor bend. I have several pictures of the sail being hoisted on the Running Rigging page, added a page of pics showing how to tie marline hitches (The Marline Hitch) and updated the Log of Costs. If you link there from this page, you'll have to use your browser's "BACK" button to come back to this page.
I'll start on the jib rigging soon too. I have some miscellaneous things to do, like fix the mess in the cockpit from the very realistic looking fake brass hinges used on the hatch doors, repainting between the rubrails, making and putting the trailboards on, and registering Aslan with the state. And I have to decide if I want to spend $800 on a 2 hp Honda outboard (California only lets you buy 4 strokes now, and they are expensive.) Or maybe spend $600 on an electric set up (a 50# thrust trolling motor, batteries, wire, charger, etc.) Or oars. I'll probably go with the Honda and plan to use it on our next boat too.
|March 31, 2001
In the plans, the jib is laced to the forestay shackle, and you stuff it in the forward hatch when lowering the mast. I don't really like that idea. The jib is small enough to easily handle, and mine came with jib hanks that "quick connect" to the forestay, so I laced a bronze snap hook to the two lower corners of the sail, and one to the jib halyard, so I can quickly snap it on. I'll keep it in a sail bag when not in use. The jib halyard block at the top of the mast was positioned too far above the hardware holding the forestay, so I re-did the tarred marline strop that the block is on to position it further down. The jib clubfoot was ready to go on, and after some trial and error, I got it in position.
I bought some more running rigging blocks today too. For the halyards, I bought some inexpensive blocks from Hamilton Marine back in October. They are nice blocks, but use a sleeve instead of bearings. For halyards, that's fine. For the main sheet and jib sheet, I bought Harkin bullet and big bullet blocks today, which run on ball bearings. They are nice, but it added another $135 to the cost of the boat. Ouch. I have used most of the hardware I purchased from Minney's Yacht Surplus back in August of 2000, and today was very glad I picked up some vertical stands for blocks for $3 each back then (the comparable thing for Harkin blocks is $22.) I installed most of the main sheet and jib sheet hardware today, and posted some pics. I'll get more tomorrow (ran out of light!)
|April 15, 2001
Once more, life conspires to keep me away from finishing Aslan (I'm convinced its a conspiracy!) My company has cut back, and giving me a small car allowance instead of a company car, so I am faced with what amounts to a pay cut (well, a cut in benefits that causes me to spend more money.) So I had to shop for a car, which I did find and which I like very much, but its an expense I wasn't really expecting. So I'm slowly finishing up details that won't cost much to complete until we assess how much the new car payment, insurance, gas, etc., less the small car allowance is really going to hit us. Anyone looking for an experienced Manager of Customer Services (I manage two departments with 20 people total, and specialize in customer service "turn-arounds," having produced two successful turn-arounds in the past 4 years.) OK, enough for the shameless plug ....
I did the trailboards, and I'm working on a small grate for the top of the bowsprit to make it easier to attach the forestay. I was given an outboard (thanks Wayne!) and will work on it this week to see if it starts up and mixes water around in a bucket. I need to figure out how to swing an outboard mount onto her stern, lengthen the throat halyard, drive in the mast partners, put on a mast boot, finish up the painting between the rub rails, put the registration numbers on, and I'm ready for launch. I have a pic of the outboard, my new tow vehicle and the trailboards on the Finishing Details page.
|April 29, 2001
Last weekend we had some family commitments, so I just got a little boat time in, just enough to paint between the rub rails. But this weekend I got quite a bit done. I purchased some vinyl numbers, and put the registration numbers and sticker on the bow as required. I ran both the throat and peak halyard back to the cockpit, which required buying another length of 1/4" Stay-Set line (45' of this stuff costs $22!) I also drove in mast wedges at the mast partners to secure the mast in position, and made a cheapie mast boot for it ($10 or so ... using an Ace bandage and rope whipping compound.) I received the manual and gasket I needed for the outboard, replaced the lower gear oil, and tried it out in a garbage can. Runs fine, and starts on the second or third pull. Not bad at all. To top off the week, I won an auction at eBay for a sliding outboard mount ($25, plus another $20 in shipping, so less than half what the new ones cost.) I should get it in the next week or so.
I have some fit-and-finish clean up to do, need to put carpet on the trailer bunks, and find someone to teach me to sail! I should be ready to go within 2 to 3 weeks.
|May 5, 2001
Really finishing up with the details now. I put Aslan's name and hailing port on the transom (found a great price from Letters Unlimited Inc. for my boat lettering ... only $15.07 including shipping and handling.) Touched up the blue paint below the rub rail, and put the final block on the boom for the mainsheet rigging. I bought the indoor/outdoor carpet to finish covering the trailer's bunks, and will do that tomorrow. I just have to get the outboard motor mount and install it, and get the required plate for the Hull Identification Number that California requires. I could launch now, without the motor, but think I will wait to have it complete before venturing forth.
|May 13, 2001
The bunks on the trailer are carpeted now, bolts tightened and other minor details are taken care of. The motor mount I won on eBay won't work, so necessity, being the mother of invention, is forcing me to make a fixed outboard mount out of some clear vertical grain douglas fir (some pics are on the finishing details page.) It still is in a rough form, but I'll sand it tomorrow and put the first coat of spar varnish on it, and subsequent coats as soon as possible, to try and mount it on Wednesday or Thursday. That's the final piece required before launch. My brother-in-law is available this weekend, and he's actually been in a sailboat before, so I may launch this Sunday.
Not everything is finished, but most of the details are taken care of. The boat's ready, but am I? What if I rig her up, release the straps, back her down the launch ramp and she keeps going down? What if she floats, but lists at a 30 degree angle? I may have to print up a list of handy excuses so I don't actually have to say them ... I can just despondently say "Number 14."
I'll update this page by Wednesday or Thursday if it looks like this Sunday is a "go." I'd like to launch before Memorial Day Weekend, when the harbor gets crowded.
|May 20, 2001
One year, eight months and one day after I started cutting out the keel, I finally launched Aslan. We had quite a launching party, with a fellow Weekender builder, a neighbor, and family attending ... 10 people in all. My worries were unfounded, as Aslan sat perfectly in the water waiting for me to step aboard. Made a couple of trips down the channel and back to the ramp. Our launch, scheduled for 10 AM, actually got away from the dock at 11. The two trips in the light air took 2 hours, and we decided to call it a day and head home for burgers and dogs. I put some pics and more details on The Launch page. Next weekend, Jan and I will take Kristine out, since she had a prior commitment with her band. And we'll probably let Leah and Dennis sail the boat if they want to. Once I get a comfort level with sailing her, and really do a shake down on the rigging, etc., we'll start forging out to other cruising grounds.
There's another roll of pictures to be developed by my brother in law, and I won't see them for a week. They show Aslan with both main and jib flying. So there will still be some updates to the page as new pics of our launch come in.
|June 3, 2001
What is it they say about the best laid plans of mice and men? Some of the things I thought would work, failed. And I will want to change other things that, while they work, are less than ideal. So I've started a "Post Launch Modifications" page to track these changes. Today I added my changes to the mast hoops I made; using edge banding laminated several times did not work, so I reverted to the plastic mast hoops in the plans. And they work great. In order to prevent some poor soul from repeating my folly, I updated the construction page for laminated most hoops. The "Post Launch Modifications" page will provide links to these changes for those of you visiting here often, while new builders first discovering the pages will see how well the idea turned out while they are surfing. I felt that was better than grouping all of them on the same page, or keeping them "hidden" from regular readers.
We've sailed several times since launch, every weekend, and I feel I'm getting more and more used to the boat. I've done some things I can only reflect on as STOOPID, such as letting the rudder fly up and thinking the outboard will steer the boat to the dock (we drifted aimlessly INTO the end of the dock, where some nice Hobie Cat sailers helped us and suppressed their smiles. Mostly.) But I've learned how to come about in light winds, and I can tack out the channel if there's not a lot of traffic. I've taken her outside the breakwater twice, but only just barely, and the second time I wasn't too comfortable with the 2 - 3 foot swells ... I'm too inexperienced to take people out there, even with seas that small. So I'll take it easy and when a really flat day comes along, I'll venture out there. But otherwise its in close for me.
|June 9, 2001
I decided to put up a few of the sailing shots to encourage others still building. It really is fun, although every time I go out there's "more to learn." Today, Kris and I stole away in the afternoon to take a quick sail, and motoring down the channel to the open sailing area the outboard died. It will now start and run a few seconds, and then die. It doesn't sputter, just dies. Did that, oh, 20 times or so. We ended up paddling back to the dock and pulled her out and came home. I guess I will work on the outboard tomorrow instead of sail. Sigh.
But you can see some of our sailing pics by clicking on Sailing Adventures. I'll continue to update the site with modifications as they come along, and I might continue to post sailing pics too.