Boat design, home building, and cruising in a nutshell

23 Sep 2016 00:00:00

One down, one to go

build_log hugh_v28

Well boat fans, the replacement for frame D is drying as we speak. Looks much better and more appropriate than the original frame. I plan on getting the plywood inserts cut soon and epoxying them in shortly.

Since we already had one major screw up, I decided (with the behest of Bruce) that now was the time to triple check the other frames. Thus when my wife got home, we measured the tops and bottoms of all the frames to compare them to what they should be on the plans. We also eyeballed the chine and sheer clamp real well to see how they lined up. Everything looked really good and was for the most part spot on with the exception of Frame D. Its “bottom” measurement (top right now) was way too wide. It was therefore decided that we have another frame to rebuild.

However I am still not all that bummed about it. Since I have never done this before, I figure 2 out of 9 isn’t all that bad. So when I get home tonight I will redo Frame D and cut out the plywood inserts for both it and F.

Unfortunately it will be a light work to nonexistent boat work weekend since I have a bar b que to go to on Saturday. It’s in St. Louis and far away from the farm so we will be forced to stay the night. Not all that bad though, there will be good company, food and beer. What more could a guy want! Besides frames that actually worked right the first time lol!

21 Sep 2016 00:00:00

First major goof

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What an up and down day. On a positive note, the keel lamination is coming along quite nicely with the last piece of the horizontal keel epoxied today. The fit of the first two pieces seems overall pretty good; I am therefore encouraged with this major part of the build.

As I was letting that section of the keel dry, I decided to get to work cutting the holes in the frames for the keel section. With my sonic crafter tool this worked rather well, even after cutting through a screw.

Once the holes were cut, I decided, just for grins put up an already laminated piece of the keel to see how it would fit. This is when I realized I had a problem. Frame F was way high on its crook (something I had been worried about but decided to let it ride until I was sure). It actually made a see saw action with the keel on both sides of the frame. Further inspection also brought to light the fact that the side of the frame rather far inboard. To the point that the sheer clamp would have to bend in and back out to attach to the frame. In an effort to get a second opinion and set of eyes, I asked my wife to come out and look at it with me as I explained the dilemma. She concurred with my assessment and we both decided it would probably be best to go ahead and rebuild frame F.

Since this is my first major goof up, I figured I was probably due. After all I have never done this before and sometimes I don’t even know what right is or looks like. However I have learned that sometimes you just need to follow your gut and your eye. If it looks right it often is right and vice versa. However I am not overly bummed or concerned as I think we can have this rectified in short order.

keel lamination

one frame off

keel lamination

20 Sep 2016 00:00:00

A piece from Papaw

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Pretty uneventful day concerning my build. I went ahead and got the second part of the keel ready to laminate, checking it for a good fit and alignment with the first laminated keel. Mixing up a batch of epoxy I went ahead and applied it and clamped it much like the first part of the keel yesterday. Since that took all of no time and I couldn’t see wasting time not working on the boat, I tended to the frames. Some of them were a little long in areas or the bevel was slightly off, to say nothing of cutting the ventilation holes in the aft frames. I therefore set about doing those things and completed them before deciding to call it quits for the day. All that should be needed concerning the frames is to cut the joints for the keel, chine log and sheer clamp.

On a more personnel note: My parents have been keeping track of my build via this blog and are extremely impressed with my progress (nice to know it doesn’t take much lol). So much so that my dad called to talk about how cool it was and asking a bunch of questions. We talked for a good while about boats and he was reminded of his father’s (my grandfather obviously) boat which was built much in the same way. Since I never met my grandfather as he died before I was born, I very much appreciate it when dad talks about him. Anyways my grandfather’s boat was ultimately destroyed, but he and dad kept all of the hardware such as bolts and fittings. They are all made of brass, to include some hand built window locks he made. Dad told me that he would just love it if I used stuff from his father’s boat in my boat. Totally took me a bit by surprise, and I now feel a huge sense of importance concerning this build due to the added since of lineage. Not that this is a bad thing and to be honest I am quite honored. It will be more then cool to talk to my kids during this build about my dad and his dad and our collective history on the water. Holding a piece from Papaw’s (our family’s nickname for grandfather) boat and implementing it in mine will be an unending source of pride for me. I hope I can instill that in my kids as well!

Laminated Keel

18 Sep 2016 00:00:00

Aligning frames

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After a rip roaring late night of fun, I dragged my slightly slower self to the shop with a hot cup of coffee. Upon seeing the vast majority of the frames on the strongback, I decided that today’s priority would be to get the spacing between them correct and aligned.

Grabbing my tape measure, drill, screws and square I set about determining spacing. Frame A was simply squared off and screwed down as this was my reference point. The rest entailed determining the spacing offset from the plans and measuring from frame to frame (1x to 1x) as exactly as one could. Since the frames can give a little, I was not going to chase a 16th or 32nd. Once I had the port side measured I sank a screw into the sled attaching it directly to the strongback. I measured the starboard side and did the much in the same manner, checking for square as necessary. After both screws were sunk in, I rechecked both sides to ensure the measurement was maintained. Surprisingly that was done in a relatively quick manner.

I went inside for a minute to get some water and decided to ask my wife if she would help me with getting the measurements for the transom. She obliged and told me she would bring them out shortly.

Now it was off to align the frames. This required the ever so precise tools of my eye and a rubber mallet. I simply looked down the crook of the frames at the V where the keel will go and aligned the frame to the one in front of it. So this had me gazing down the center of the boat while whacking the legs to one side or another to move the frame port or starboard. Worked extremely well and soon the frames were aligned fairly precisely. The crow’s feet of the frame were secured with clamps; I was debating on using screws but determined I may yet need to move the frames side to side some more.

Shortly after the alignment was complete, Savannah appeared with the measurements I needed for the transom. I love having a human calculator for a wife! I took the measurements and began mounting the transom. Since it is a split transom, the pieces are held together with scrap 1x material and a cross member 2x4. It took a little bit as it was just me but I soon mounted the transom and had it standing on the strongback. As for the angel, I put another cross member higher on the legs and got two scrap pieces of 2x4. These scrap pieces were placed on the top cross member and butted up against the inboard sides of the transom. I used a long bar clamp and my tape measure to figure out how far from Frame J the bottom of the transom will be. Pulling the transom inward I clamped it fast once I had reached the requisite measurement. I then sank screws trough the 2x4 into the transom to hold it at that angel. As you might guess I repeated the same thing on the other side.

By the end of the day, all the frames were aligned and made fast to the strongback. It looks AWESOME! She really is starting to take shape.

17 Sep 2016 00:00:00

All frames standing

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Savannah had to go out of town on a day trip for personnel matters. It was therefore up to me to watch the kids and work on the boat with Tony.

Once the crew and I had been assembled at the house, Tony and I went to the shop and the kids watched cartoons. Seemed like a relatively good division of labor to me for the time being (although Tony kept wanting to watch cartoons too…).

Work started in the shop on Frame C by attaching the 2x4 cross member on top of the frame and getting the legs and crow’s feet emplaced on the sled for Frame C. Once that was done, the “fun” part of trying to hang the frame at exactly the right height began. This consisted of Tony holding the frame while I used a tape measure, bar clamps, level and my drill to attach the cross member on the frame to the legs. Talk about a juggling act; Frame C took a minute to figure out and Frame D was not much better. It was either on Frame D or E that I made a bit of a goof in my measurements. I read the height from the baseline of the frame at 1’ 1 1/2”. When we got that beastie into place and screwed down I noticed that the frame was much shorter than the precursor frames. Thus Tony and I double checked the measurements on every other measurement of every other frame until I realized I had read the measurement for the short frame wrong. It was in actuality 3’ 11 ½” which definitely accounted for its diminutive stature. In quick order we had it re-measured and at the right height. We also realized that one of the frames was backwards and needed to have its port and starboard side swapped. This was relatively easy to accomplish thanks to the crow’s feet design, just lifted it off the sled and turned it 180 degrees and reset it on the sled.

Around lunch time I figured it would be a prudent to feed the kids, Tony had said he was hungry also. For lunch I oven’d up a pizza for the kids and buffalo tenders for us. Soon after that was consumed time had come for Annaliese to go down for a nap, which she did not do much protesting about. Paylah wanted to come outside with Tony and me to help work on the boat, so I figured why not. Once we were sure little bit was asleep, we ventured back to the shop.

I put Paylah to work holding the tape measure so that it would free up my hands to manipulate the frame, clamps and drill. This worked rather well and the rest of the frames went up pretty quickly, stopping only for the regular water break and to check on Annaliese. Thus by the time Savannah had returned, all the frames were stood up on the strongback. Now they weren’t aligned or anything, but they were no longer just lying around the shop. Unfortunately I was not able to get the transom piece up on their legs because I did not know the height, nor exactly how I was going to give it the angle required. The transom is actually at a 7 degree angle where the bottom inclines toward the bow. Since we had already put in a good long day’s work and dinner as well as the typical Saturday festivities was upon us, I decided to wait until tomorrow to tackle the transom.

Tape Measure

16 Sep 2016 00:00:00

Good work weekend

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Driving home with clouds and stormy weather; I figured another good run was probably out of the question. Thus I decided to clean up around the house and prep for dinner as my wife was busy substitute teaching and would be home later. After my exercise in housekeeping; it was time to go to the shop.

I had asked Tony earlier in the week if he would help me this Saturday on the boat, to which he had agreed (with Miranda’s consent no doubt). I planned to stand the frames up on the strongback this weekend and figured I could use another pair of good steady hands. Thus we would use my sled and crow’s feet idea which required me to make the crow’s feet for all the frames. Today being Friday and therefore Saturday being tomorrow; it behooved me to ensure all crow’s feet and stands were ready to go.

The crow’s feet consisted of a “leg” which was a precut stud cut in half. The “foot” part of them was comprised of a top that was 3 9/16” to fit over the top of the 2x4 sled. As well as the 4” front part of the foot that would cover the other side of the sled opposite the leg. I had to make enough to have two per frame. This was accomplished however in relatively short order.

Soon after completing the building of my crow’s feet, Savannah arrived back home with the girls. I decided it would be a good idea to call it for the night and go aide her for the evening by making dinner and wrangling kids.

14 Sep 2016 00:00:00

An awful rough run

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I figured that since I had spent a lot of time in the shop lately when I got home; I should perhaps also make sure I’m living up to other commitments. Most notably my Army Guard commitments concerning my PT test in October. I therefore went for a two mile run after I came home from work. Would much rather be in the shop, but hey life is full of obligations that carry serious consequences.

So when I was done about killing myself on my dirt road (was an awful rough run), I decided to go directly to the shop to epoxy the transom. Yet when I got to the shop and began dry fitting the pieces of the first part of the transom (they are actually two separate pieces), I noticed that it did not fit as well as I had remembered. The Inboard side of Transom 1 was a little short and the plywood insert had a bulge that made fitting the frame pieces flush impossible. I therefore decided to measure and cut a piece of 1x4 from my scrap to make up for the distance the inboard piece was short. I nailed it together with intentions of epoxying it to make it permanent. As for the plywood insert; I got out my trusty rabbit plane and did some edge planning. I checked constantly for a good snug fit and planned when and where necessary, eventually achieving my goal. Now the time for epoxy had come and with the aid of my handy dandy pumps I mixed up a batch. Epoxying it was somewhat difficult because the insert while being snug also liked to fall out or bulge to one side or the other. After slopping on a good amount of epoxy and fastening screws to the inboard side of the frame to hold the plywood, another round of thick epoxy was in order. Mixing up another much thicker batch this time I applied it liberally to the inside of the frame meeting the plywood. However the only clamps that would work are my only two big bar clamps, thus I would have to wait until tomorrow for Transom 2.


Once again like any other Tuesday, I came home to watch my wife leave for school. Thus it was an evening with Mr. Mom and the girls. Not that I couldn’t get at least a little work done like epoxying Frame J.

As per usual I set up my epoxy station with plastic over my drawing board and the various implements of “destruction” such as my drill, screws, clamps etc. However when I went to epoxy the frame together I discovered that emplacing and clamping all the plywood pieces together inside the frame was a bit of a bear. I would clamp one area only to have it wiggle out of alignment in another. The lockers were particularly troubling as they seemed to not want to stay true inside the frame as I clamped them tight. So after a few minutes of clamping, whacking (with a mallet) and cussing, the frame was epoxied and drying. However with my lovely assistant gone, I could not move the frame to the drying area, so I decided to just let it dry in place. After all, I am out of clamps, time and patience to attempt to epoxy the transom lol!

This was also the first use of my new epoxy and hardener pumps, and boy do they make life easier. My epoxy is accurately measured and thickened accordingly; the stuff I used on Frame J was thick and dried well (after checking it often). The thick epoxy however does not like to pump as well as the hardener does, but it’s still more controlled and accurate then my eyeball mixing before.

Also set up the trial run of my new frame sleds using Frame A and B on my strongback. It seems like it would work rather well but the kids were getting hungry and I needed to go make dinner.

Frame sleds

Frame sleds

Frame J

12 Sep 2016 00:00:00

Joists vs sleds

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Had a bit of an emergency come up on my way to work that required my immediate and full attention. Yet when that was concluded (satisfactorily I might add), I did some research to determine what the best way to emplace frames on a strongback would be.

My research determined that having the frames on temporary supports that could move along the strongback as well as have the frames move side to side is superb. I therefore changed my approach from a joist method to “sled” system. Where the 2x4 supports would actually go completely across the strongback to its outer edges and have shorter 2x4’s cut and placed on its ends. Therefore the 2x4 support base could move forward and backward without falling off the strongback along its entire length. Concurrently the support that goes up to hold the frame from the base should be similar in that they have 2x4 pieces that go around the top (reminds me of a bird’s foot holding onto a branch) of the 2x4 base board and allow the frame to move sideways. Thus the only crucially difficult part will be getting the frame height correct. All other axis’s are capable of easy manipulation.

No doubt difficulties still abound. Like if it is better to screw the sleds down when all the measurements are good only, or use a batten to ensure they stay good before I screw them. Also my strongback has joists and angle supports within it to keep it stiff and sturdy. Yet they also make for potential obstacles to my sleds. Nonetheless, I believe I am on the right track.

11 Sep 2016 00:00:00

Frames on strongback

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With drill wrapping up fairly early; I decided to head home and see if I could get anything done in the shop.

After a quick change I headed out to determine if I could begin setting up some of the frames on the strongback. While I did not anticipate this task to be necessarily easy; I certainly did not expect it to become such a pain. Simply figuring out how to attach the frames so that they would line up easily with one another at the correct height and the correct distance was like trying to juggle two running chainsaws. I had originally designed the 2x4 supports to come up from the strong back to be affixed like floor joists. Thus they would span the 2x8’s on the inside and I would screw them in place from the outside like if I was building a deck. Since I have done this a lot (joists), I figured this would be the best and least problematic way to do it.

Yet while Frame A worked ok with this approach; it was the first frame and as such needed to not align to anything. However, when I attempted to get Frame B up and in place; the difficulties became a bit more apparent. Hanging it like a joist means that moving it forward and back requires a smack with a mallet on the 2x. While this can certainly be done to some degree of accuracy, having a frame attached and floating above makes things exceedingly more difficult. For starters, you have to align the frames, not the supports. So often I found that the mallet and joist approach was relatively inaccurate and prone to not always lining up “true”. Second, the 2x joist is held in by pressure, so you have to walk it in or out relatively uniformly. Otherwise you will end up with a fallen joist and frame on your back. Lastly, this process took a long time to simply erect one frame, all the while prone to such difficulties. Simply put my wife and I came to the conclusion that there had to be a better way.

My wife, who I recruited shortly after the onset of difficulties as well as myself decided that perhaps we should call it for the day. It was getting late and dinner had to be made as well as getting ready for school/work the next day. Further, it was an incredibly early day for me and I was getting foggy brained (i.e. the onset of stupid); thus it was decided (by both of us) to come back at it fresh.

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