Thursday, January 31, 2013

Bottoms up

Indeed. Time to tilt a malted beverage. The bottom is on. This morning started with the dance of the epoxy cobras on a successful bottom scarf.

The next part, which I had been dreading, went amazingly smoothly. Getting the bottom fair and level. Perhaps due to the ridiculous amount of prep I had put into getting this far, the bottom edges were pretty much ready to rock.

In test clamping the bottom on, one of my very clever clamp set-ups exploded. The board I was clamping just about knocked me out, but not quite. A little blood and a fair warning. 

Persistance usually wins. The bottom is epoxied on. Tomorrow, perhaps, Rojo will roll and get set up for her interior glassing. Or maybe I will sleep in. Hard sayin.'

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

To hull with it

For close to a week I have been dancing back and forth between lofting and reality, neither of which seem to want to make the boat quite right. Lofting makes lovely lines, but reality insists that they be changed again for the plywood to actually do that. Finally, today, after about three returns to the drawing board with the ribcage, we got what we wanted. So we created side one, traced it onto another panel to make the reciprocal and identical side two, then fastened side one onto the strongback--then took a break. Progress at last.

This evening I cut out the second side, set up my one-man-band side clips and man handled it onto the boat. Astonishingly, it fit just perfectly. We may have a symmetrical boat. How odd.

And back to the scarfing table for one last squashification, making two sheets of half-inch plywood into one big long floor. Here are a couple examples of previous scarfs. The first is mighty well squashed.

This other one may have had a wee bit of extra epoxy in it.

 Turning plywood that has been scarf-cut but in the way for the last several days, into a floor.

 And the lights go lower for the evening reflective session. It is starting to look like a boat.

My social life these days:

Buddha taking on a bit of sawdust.

Sometimes way too loud is not nearly loud enough.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Back to the drawing board

The heavy pig iron sure squashes a nice scarf joint. The side panel scarfs are now done and I've dragged one of the finished sides over onto the strongback. Now it's just a matter of clamping it on, right?

Not so fast, sailor. Now it is time to see if all your beautiful massaged and lofted lines are actually something that a sheet of plywood will agree to. So I clamp the entire uncut sheet into place and, ummm... hmm. Turns out is isn't. The angles where the straight part of the boat begin to turn into the bow and stern need to be reduced a bit. Either that or add a foot to the height of the transom, which might look a little odd. Or have the oarlocks under water.

So I adjust the angles on a few of the mold stations and by and by, with the use of about forty clamps, the plywood succumbs to my will. So now I will take the adjusted stations back to the lofting table, transfer the new points, re-fair the lines, make the forms symmetrical to the new lines and... I think... I'll be ready to assemble the boat. And I will have a full set of accurate lines on the lofting boards with which, should I ever decide to build another of these boats, will save me a whole lot of time and effort.

Friday, January 25, 2013

A tantrum and some heavy lifting

Okay, okay, so I threw a tantrum. A swearing, thing-throwing tantrum. Damn it, I fail to understand why plunge routers have springs so powerful in them that they are nearly impossible to adjust with any precision. In trying to adjust the bit to a precise one-half inch beyond the jig, after about five tries including clamps and some rarely used extra-special profanity, the router lunged off the bench, onto the floor, and broke off one of its adjusting handles. This was after a trip to the store to by more bits, as my last one had just broken off mid-scarf. So I threw the jig at the router. The jig broke into about twenty pieces. I didn't feel any better. And I had to build a new, improved jig. In a last act of vengeance, I took the steel-cutting blade to the router and cut out all the goddam springs. It is a lot easier to adjust now.

After that, the second scarf cut did come out quite nicely, if I do say so myself. Six sheets of quarter-inch ply. I am not going to post the first scarf set, which shows graphically where router began creeping out of adjustment and the tantrum happened.

(The $175 Ridgid micro-adjusting, half-inch-collet router at the Home Depot looks like a pretty good bargain now. No more broken quarter-inch bits, no more rage at my inability to get a clean adjustment. It is in my future. I am worth it.)

The first of five scarf joints is curing on the table, rain is pouring down, and the Jameson bottle is complaining of abuse.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Chine line re-ducks

Or is that redux?

As I was getting ready to cut the bowpost I finally saw the major goof in my lofting lines – the side view of the chine line ended in a different place than the top view. Which is impossible. Since I have no space warp in my boatshop (it is on my wish list), the ducks and I had to revise a line and re-cut the two forward rib stations. All better now.

Then on to the bow post, cut from a mighty timber of Port Orford Cedar. Wonderful wood. This beautiful, clear chunk came from Gold Beach, Oregon, when I went up to fetch the Betty Boop a couple years ago. It's been waiting patiently in the shop for a purpose.

Last Christmas Scott, whose boat the Rio Rojo is to become, gave me an ancient Marples block plane with a Sheffield steel blade. A very cool tool. Tonight I got it working, sharpened it, and used it to put the taper in the bowpost bevel. The shop is now redolent with the sweet smell of Port Orford Cedar. Yum.

The battens agree that fixing the chine line was a very good idea. 

Time to scarf together some sides and bottom.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Part one

Lots of bracing work today, which is not as exciting as it may sound. Not very bracing, that is. Adding torque, seeking plumb. With all the molds suspended in space, we need to make sure they are in the right part of space. At least in the right galaxy. So with plumbers tape, screws, and levels, we nudge things ever closer to plumb.

And glory be—the battens lay on perfectly fair. Something to be said for that lofting business.

And finally: part one of the Rio Rojo begins: the transom, laid up from thinner plywood. I am using the fine new tool I received—a wee eighteen-inch piece of railroad, which I can barely lift. Makes me wonder if a piece that small weighs that much, what does the rail system in America weigh? Bet it would hurt if you dropped it on your toe.


Speaking of really heavy things, Moe's oarlocks arrived today. That's not a dime. That's a quarter. Yikes.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Getting good shape

A couple people have asked why the Rio Rojo is not being built with the quick-and-easy "free-form" fashion, like we have built other dories. The free-form system, as excellently described in Roger Fletcher's Drift Boats and River Dories, involves building precise rib-frames, cutting precise side panels, marking the exact placement of the ribs, and screwing it together. It works great when you have perfect plans to go from, and the boat has no other option than to come out as planned (if you do it right).

In this case, however, I am massaging several of the angles and measurements from Cataract, my more-or-less stock Briggs boat, Fletcher's in-praint version of a Briggs boat, and the three dories we built three years ago, in order to (hopefully) optimize the different features of all of them while minimizing the drawbacks.

That being so, I no longer have accurate side-panel dimensions to go from. So I am, in effect, building an all new boat—although to the layman's eye, it will be pretty much a Briggs boat. Plus, it is a chance to practice some of the skills I learned in boat school. And as we have so rudely found out in the past, building free-form without complete, accurate plans means you are making all the corrections in real-time with real-wood, and real-frustration. Better to do that on the drawing board and then faithfully translate that into a three-dimensional entity. Which means building this way. If this boat comes out as I am hallucinating, we'll have a new set of plans and can go back to free-form for future boats.

That probably made no sense at all. Oh well.

Anyhow, I got all the vertical supports on the strongback.

And this evening worked out the details of how to make precise frame molds off the lofting drawings. 

Meeting the new sister-wife

Out of the birthing canal...

Up to the nursery...

or as I like to think of it, my harem...

I do wonder what they think of all this. I am sure they get along fine after a little getting used to each other. But I worry about what stories they may be sharing.

Meanwhile, back downstairs the lofting adventure is drawing to a close. Although it really doesn't show up well in photographs, it is pretty cool. Check out these sexy curves.

And the weak mind commences building another strongback. Transom supports:

Bowpost bracing:

Pretty soon we'll be making actual parts of the boat. Wheee! And oh yeah—the shelves came out very nicely.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The bottom line

We drew out the new grid on the lofting table today and this evening began pushing the ducks and a batten around to establish the bottom line of the new Briggs dory we are starting this week. The transition from flat to curved is interesting to ponder—hard to decide what is just right. Hmmm.

We are letting it sit for the night and see how it looks in the light of day. Meanwhile we are building bedroom shelves out of Monterey Cypress and Alder boards. I think they'll be pretty pretty.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Moe joe

What fun. Jewelry and make-up for Moe all day. Hinges and latches, screw-eyes and handles, green paint, weatherstripping, and lots of rope. The ancient icebox latches went on quite nicely and have a surprisingly satisfying feel as they close down.

The new brass screweyes look most excellent and the Hempex synthetic manila rope slid on very nicely. I used the same half-inch Hempex on the Edith and really like how it looks and handles. In this shot I am looking at WEN photos on the iPad to see how Nevills laced up his stern.


Greg got to get in a bit of screwing.

And I got to practice my Boy Scout Pioneering Merit Badge rope splicing.

I think Moe likes being all trussed up.

So: I guess she's about done. Once I get my oars figured out I can drill in the oarlock holes. A few dabs of paint yet to go. But for now, Moe is finito. Pretty exciting. So lest any moss grows on my rolling stone, I resurfaced the lofting table this evening so we can start drawing up the next boat tomorrow: a full-size Briggs dory commission, the Rio Rojo.

And as the temperatures drop below zero again, dinner by the indoor campfire.