Thursday, December 29, 2011

The end is near

Here be the hatch lid rims, being assembled and glued up in place. When they have kicked I will rabbet in the plywood lids, finish them with nonskid texture and paint, then hinge and latch them on. That and the self-bailing tube for the footwell are all that remains in this mad project.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

How do you post an aroma?

I love it when I get to plane Port Orford cedar. The whole shop fills with the most amazing odor, full of memories of decades of living aboard a Briggs boat in Grand Canyon in the 70s and 80s. When I was so much younger, more flexible and resilient, and things didn't hurt so much. An memories of coastal Oregon, talking to Buzz Holmstrom's brother and going to the mill. Rolf said, "You are going to love working with this wood. It's like butter." I gave a handful of P.O. cedar shavings to the daughter of a dory boatman friend of mine a while back. She smelled them, smiled, and said "Home."

Here, smell this:

All of that to make a bunch of little sticks for the hatch lid frames.

Meanwhile we laid up our eight experimental dory bottoms. Some of those thick fabrics like Core Mat and Biaxial Glass are really thirsty. Dan was looking under the table to see if the fabric was leaking resin out the bottom. Nope. Just really thirsty. Tomorrow we wreck 'em.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Bits and pieces

While Betty Boop's paint gets ever harder and drier I am making a mess of wee parts that go on her decks and hatches. First is the full-width front splashguard--the piece on the original boat that pooled rainwater and debris from the high front deck, causing the majority of the deck and gunwale rot. This is not going to happen again. I am sealing the bejeezus out of the deck and splashguard. But more importantly, the owners of the newly rejuvenated Boop will be contractually bound to keep her indoors in the winters. Dammit. Or I will repossess her and kick the perpetrator in the shins.

And some cute little setback rests for the passengers. These, Gary Ladd tells me, were an addition of Larry, the second owner. But I think they'll be nice.

With some leftover white oak from the Edith project this spring I am making a passenger handle for the front seat, and a couple smaller ones for the rear deck. Gary, who boated with the boat as both Betty Boop and Great Thumb, said it was always awkward to get aboard the boat as she departed, and something to hold on to would be really convenient. Plus it will be a good place to secure the stern line. And if you want to ride on the back deck (yeeeehaw!) these will be most handy. And a couple of boatman seat guards to keep the throw cushion and boatman butt in place.

These next things are raised oarlock stands, which came with Larry's tenure as owner. He raised both the seat and the oarlocks to a height that seems to make good sense, so with fingers crossed, I have replicated both. A weathered original blue one is in the foreground.

Another dividend from the Edith project is a pair of brass 5/8" oarlock inserts that I was shipped (and charged $42 for!) by mistake. I figured I'd use them someday, and not even a year has passed and here they go. Cast silicone brass. Pretty jazzy.

Meanwhile we are already gearing up for the next project--beefing up the bottoms of the first two Fretwater dories, on which I errantly skimped a little too much on fiberglass. They have been punctured a few times in what should have been insignificant insults. So here are eight floor layups that match our original floor. Tomorrow we'll lay up different series of materials--biaxial glass, core mat, xynole, and regular glass, all with our new favorite resilient resin. 

The next day we get to smash 'em! May the best floor win.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Baby blue christmas

Saturday: caulking, scraping, sanding, then painting the white parts of the decks, walls, and gunwales. Then off to the Humphrey Summit Christmas Eve party to work on my Christmas hangover. Which was more or less a success. 

I checked my socks this morning and Santa has a foul sense of humor. What a jerk. Off to the shop at the crack of noon to lay up the splashboard for the bow. Then I masked the boat out for the baby blue interior. Not the color scheme I would have come up with on my own, but somehow, in some weird, funky retro way, it looks right. I guess if you look at enough old Sierra Club river books with the old 1960s dories, you come to appreciate boats looking like this. Which I have and do.

 A christmas offering burns at the shrine of the virgin of Guata Boopie. Feliz Navidad.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Mister Sandman

I've been coming up from the shop a bit too late and exhausted to put up the blog for a few days. Time to catch up. On Wednesday Alan Motter came up and told me the sad news that he won't be adopting Betty. Sigh. But in penance he helped me screw the decks on. 

Then Gary Ladd stopped in. Gary has had the unique perspective of running with this boat as the Betty Boop, in 1970 and '71; helping remodel her in the winter of '74-'75, then accompanying her on several eventful trips as the Great Thumb from 1975 on through the early '80s. Gary was glad to see her salvaged and had a million insights and stories about the boat, her features, and history.

I spent most of Thursday alone with the Boop, trimming down her decks where they overhung, sanding, caulking, and so on. By Thursday evening she was nearly ready to receive her nonskid texture.

Roy came by this morning and we masked out the areas where the nonskid would go. Amy came by just in time to document this bizarre process.

I rolled on the epoxy as thin as I could push it while still getting uniform coverage.

 Roy followed dribbling fine sandblasting sand.

Then I followed him, pulling tape and vacuuming loose sand.

And there you have it. We have turned the boat into fine-grit sandpaper. A couple coats of paint will bring it down to a tough, durable surface that is easy and safe to run around on when wet. Which it will be.

And tonight, the undercoating. 

Eager as I am to see the deck turn sky blue, I am going to delay gratification and do the white circumferal stripe tomorrow, and save the blue for either Christmas Eve or for my Christmas present. Meanwhile,

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Haul the decks

Well, I met my goals for the day, almost. I got all the remaining deck pieces cut, fit, marked for screws, drilled, countersunk, undercoated, and epoxy saturated, and the boat interior re-coated and ready to cover up. The part I missed was getting it done before midnight. Oh well. This shot is the left rear deck being clamped in place to mark.

Where the front and rear deck covers meet on the gunwale, they overlap by an barely a half-inch on one edge, but a good inch-and-a-half on the other. A half inch isn't that good for a scarf joint, but an inch-and-a-half is. So I took what I could get and made a weird, twisted scarf. In the shot below, the diminishing lines are not perspective. That's a twisted bevel.

And they went together just fine. That babyshit paint stain in the bow footwell has got to go though.

All deck boards cut, fit, and in place.

Then removed again for undercoating. While that was drying by the wood stove I dealt with the dirty diaper stain and recoated the interior.

And sometime after midnight the deck boards got flipped right-side-up and saturated with epoxy. 

Tomorrow should be fun. If I can wake up.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Not sure how real people do it

So I get up at 7:30 ready to jam on Betty Boop. But a few things have to happen first. At 6 p.m. I finally get to the shop. Life is a very time consuming thing.

Regardless, I started the decking. I got the front three pieces cut and ready to install once they get their coats of toxic sealers. In the first shot you may notice where we accidentally started painting the front footwell with hatch interior paint. Oops. Here I am marking the second side of the front hatch decking.

Which leaves a piece like this. Does anybody need one of these?

Figuring out how to do these three pieces has been roaming through my mind at odd hours for a week or two. The subconscious is an amazing thing. Once I started in on this tonight, it was almost as if I had a plan or knew what I was doing.

My friend Bruce said he thought this sort of crowned decking was called a "turtle deck." Anyone else ever heard that? I like it, so am calling it that regardless.

The Betty Boop had her gunwales covered, so I am replicating that. I think it may be annoying when you want to side-tie the boat, or tie it on your trailer, so I am burying some mahogany plugs between the gunwales at the front and rear of the cockpit. These each have a pre-dilled 7/8-inch hole which I will continue up through the gunwale cap so the boat can actually be tied up. Or down. Okay, it's not "authentic" but hey, it's my boat at the moment and I want it to be usable and well taken care of. Sorry.

And so forth. With the hardest three deck boards I am optimistic about the remaining nine tomorrow. Down to the shop early again. Hah!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Details, details

Ah... painting that fine, sweet curve of Betty's boop. Mmmm.

And the way she so delicately balances on the stern eye.

Amy puts the second coat on the letters. If you mix fresh-fallen snow with Jameson whisky, it makes quite a nice slushie.

Every picture I take of this boat has a different color orange. Or red. Or whatever it is.

Alan from down the street, a prospective new owner (as if anyone could own Betty Boop) came by to visit her. He's been Boop-Oop-a-Dooped. Poor guy. I mentioned that since I took the rot away, more people are falling in love with her. Before, they just told me I was nuts. Alan, who first saw her in her most wretched state, looked at me and said, "I loved her even when she was rotten."

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Some jewelry

Jess and I painted Betty Boop's guts their original mustard color this morning, but she was upside-down hanging from the ceiling at the time (Betty, not Jessica), so no pictures yet. Then we dropped her down onto her sawhorses and Amy Lippman came by to work on the lettering. Dang, Betty is looking cuter every day.

They say it is bad luck to write anything cute on the bottom of a boat, but this just had to happen. Besides, superstition is bad luck.

But even high-hide white didn't quite cover on the first round, so we'll have to hit it once again tomorrow. Meanwhile I colored in between the lines on the transom. What a cutie. Some of that needs a second coat as well before she gets her black outline art. 

Friday, December 16, 2011

Still stinky

We tried to get Betty Boop's interior sanded, undercoated, and painted today, but the undercoater had other ideas. And really bad odors. Stinky, stinky stuff. I hate it when reality gets in the way of my ridiculous optimism. Oh well. Sat around and told stories instead. Meanwhile, Betty is cooking in the shop.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Superfund site

A fine way to become conscious this morning: sipping espresso in my big chair, watching the birds going berserk outside, I finally noticed this little guy sitting in the tree over my mini-wetland. A Northern Pygmy Owl. Isn't he adorable? The damned Acorn Woodpecker gang finally harassed him too much to hang around anymore. You can see one of the kamikaze divers in the second picture.

I spent the remainder of the morning and some of the afternoon reconditioning and reaffixing the aluminum bumper on the outside chines. As usual, out of seventy-six screws, the last three took about half the time, three broken drill bits, two bleeding fingers, and some creative and deeply felt swearing. 

Then I rolled her over and impregnated the raw and traumatized wood of the interior with penetrating epoxy. I tried the ESP-155 for two-thirds of the boat, and Resin Research 2090 for the forward third. Perhaps I will see some difference. If I can ever uncross my eyes. Jeez, that stuff has got some fume action going on. Time to go up to the house.

Betty Boop is now hanging in the position shown, as I have a big patch inside one of the hatches kicking for the night. I think it is the damage from this:

This was a mighty wreck in July, 1983 when the river was running 80,000 cfs. Larry and gang were running the right side of Badger when this happened. Larry's leg was injured and he had to evacuate, but the boat stayed behind. A couple weeks later the water had dropped and Tim Cooper took this picture:

Poor, sad little boat. Tim said she was pretty full of sand. In the end, Gary Ladd told me, "It was pulled out by a very small helicopter after about 3 weeks on a nearly disasterous afternoon. Both the helicopter and the net that it used were too small."

Anyhow, I am doing a reinforcing patch on some traumatized wood right about where the boat looks to have hit that front, right rock. So many stories in such a small boat.