Thursday, November 19, 2015


Day eight of the build. Today is bottom day. Janek is using a real hand tool today, planing down the inner chines to accept the bottom.

Trying the bottom on for size. Last night's bizarre measuring and scarfing worked.

Quiz: if fourteen inches of railroad rail weighs fifty-seven pounds, what do the combined railroad rails of America weigh? And why haven't we wobbled off our axis yet? Well, maybe some of us have...

Holding down the bow.

We marked all the contacts and computed all the screw placements, so it's time to drill a few hundred holes in the floor and saw up a few hundred dollars' worth of Meranti marine plywood. Fingers crossed we got it right.

Miracles never cease. It came out right. We have screwed the back on exactly in place and are now putting the pookey (caulk) on the seams of the forward end of the bottom.

That worked. Next, unscrew the stern and pookey the rear seams.

Several years ago when I was planning to replicate Buzz Holmstrom's 1937 Julius F, I was talking to Buzz's younger brother Rolf, who had helped build the original boat. Rolf was able to provide a tremendous amount of insight into how Buzz built the boat and what sort of work and materials went into the process. As I was leaving he said, "Wait a minute." He walked into the back of the house, came back and handed me an old Yankee screwdriver. "You'll need this," he said. "This was Buzz's. He screwed the boat together with this." I've used Buzz's screwdriver to put in at least some of the screws in every boat I've built. since. Janek has taken every opportunity to use the magic.

And it's a wrap. Time for the perfunctory boat bottom dance.

Cricket is going on holiday starting tomorrow and  will miss a lot of the  remaining boat-build. I promised we'd roll the boat up before she left. We put the gunwales in the steam bender this evening,  cooked them for an hour, then clamped them on. Up she goes. Sweep out a landing.

 And up on her side. Holy mackerel, she'd a big one. The boat, not Cricket.

And tall.

And wide.

And beautimous.

Kinda like the model.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Closing in

This morning we reinvented a big scarfing clamp to make eight-foot joints. We are making aq five-foot by seventeen-foot sheet from whence to make the floor.

With that curing we put in the inner chines.

And then the long-awaited moment came of freeing her from the strongback.

Dang she's cute. Very Briggsy.

We killed enough time that we could  unclamp the widened pieces of floor and lengthen them for tomorrow's flooring project.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Big bent box

The scarf joints came out quite well. A bit of grinding and voila--a 21' side-panel.

Then we clamped it to the boat to mark where it hit the top and bottom of the frames.

Then back on the floor to batten out the cuts into a nice smooth curve.

And cut them, both sides at once. This better be right.

Wait a minute. That's not A nice smooth curve. It's several of them.

 Can't be right. It just can't be.

But it is. Back on the boat.

 Back to the bench to mark and drill all the holes, two sheets at a time.

Back on the boat, with icky sticky pookie and bronze screws.

Side one went on perfectly. Side two let us know that even though the boat was supposed to be symmetrical, the form was not perfect. A bit of laughter, a bit of despair, and we fixed it.

That's last year's mistletoe in the foreground . It doesn't work anymore.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Cutting boards longer

We started out the morning on the lofting table, expanding the transom and bow post and teasing out the elusive bevel cuts. 

We broke into my hoard of old Port Orford cedar planks to mill out the bow post. I still have a couple long, tight, clear 2x8s from some older trees that I acquired with the purchase of the Betty Boop some years back. Especially resinous stuff--the shop smells mighty sweet.

Janek and Zasha spent a while truing up the framework a bit more, and we affixed the transom and bow post. Then we scarf-cut the chines and threw them in the steam bender for an hour or so. Meanwhile, with the majority of lofting done and transferred into the reality of a boat, we disassembled the lofting table, stashed it back under the house, and relegated the lofting diagram to the meat locker (the cold back room) for future reference in creating the decking. By that time the chines were cooked enough to wrangle onto the frames. 

With the north bay free of the lofting table, we pulled out three sheets of plywood to scarf together for one side of the boat. My tried and true circular saw scarfing gizmo has decided it no longer cares to cut straight scarfs, so I free-handed the bevels with my trusty Harbor Freight power planer. Kinda scary, but it works pretty good, actually. Then we laid up the side panel on the floor and wedged them together into what we hope will be flawless scarf joints. Flawless. Well, pretty good, anyhow.

And by then enough time had passed that we could glue up the scarf joints on the bent chines. 

With wet epoxy everywhere it was time to quit and hunker down for tonight's snowstorm. Sounds more like sleet on the tin roof at the moment. Houses are such wonderful things.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Strong back, weak mind

On Thursday we assembled all ten frames. We build them directly on the lofting to insure accuracy. Cricket and Janek built them while I ran around in confused circles

Then we caulked and screwed in the bulkheads. A fine day's work.

Friday I went up to the South Rim of Grand Canyon on a field trip with the AzRA crew. Great fun. We got to tour the newly de-concessioned Desert View Tower. Magnificent. And back to the salt mines this morning. We started by building the strong back and screwing it to the floor.

Then we hung all ten frames on the strongback and began truing them up.

Janek and Zasha are having their way with a problematic frame #4.

We won.

We clocked out at about 5:30, because I didn't have it in me to figure out the bow post and transom cuts today. But at six we were still sitting there staring at it. That happens a lot around here. It's already looking like a boat.