Wednesday, March 27, 2013


Tired boatboy finishes on time.

Rio Rojo headed north yesterday; the Betty Boop replica is gunwaled. We are off today for a Glen Canyon float in Moe and Juan, with many other sweet wooden boats. See you next week.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Contractions getting closer

The boatshop is about to give birth to twins. Fraternal twins--same womb, different parents.

Rio Rojo is awaiting a few fancy parts that should be here tomorrow (today--it somehow got to be 2 a.m. again). She got her adjustable footbrace today and I did the scary long bolt holes that hold the oarstand block to the gunwales. Weatherstripping went on and a lot of touch-up, sanding of fuzzy spots, etc/ went down during the day. And I finally got all the hatch lids to open and close cleanly and the latches to latch firmly. This all amazes me. The big brass plates for the oarstands should be ready mid-morning and, with luck, I can actually make it fit on the boat.

Jim spent the day sanding gunwales and chines for installation tomorrow, and grinding down the hull and part of himself.

Somehow this morning I got into what, in chickens, is called displacement activity. Chickens, when they feel insecure or threatened, peck at their feet. I cleaned up the shop. I did a bit more tidying this evening after gooping and painting Rojo. And I got to thinking how odd it feels to know that my boatbuilding season, which has been going pretty non-stop manically since November, ends on Tuesday. In forty hours. Rojo goes out the door, and I finish loading Moe and Juan for a Glen Canyon adventure Wednesday through Saturday. And then it is off to the Guides Training Seminar. And then downriver over and over until mid-October. Wow. No wonder I'm pecking at my feet.

Meanwhile Moe sits patiently outdoors, wondering what's taking the other girls so long to dress. Let's go boating for god's sake.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

A new Boop

Yesterday we did a mess more invisible work on the Rio Rojo. Like this gunwale block, which I laid up out of three sticks since I was running out of walnut. Kind of a pretty stripe. 

Then I whacked it into the gunwale where it will not be seen again until the boat comes apart. 

We got all the hatches working and a bunch of other stuff. Then let her sit for a day while we birthed a new boat.

Saturday was our goal to pull together Jim MacKenzie's replica of the Betty Boop. He's been lofting and cutting parts all week. Here is a swarm of gunwales and chines cooking up.

We finally got all the parts ready about an hour after our planned noon start date for the big boatbuild party. Come one come all. Fortunately no one showed up. To hell with 'em. Instead, we puttered along and got started a little after 1 p.m.

Lora came down and Janek came in and we got the basic hull done in about four hours.

We really tried to get all the bolts and such in places where we wouldn't crash into them. Oh well.

I'll be damned. The transom actually fits.

Four hours--not too bad for a new design. Only one rib needed adjusting--and we kind of suspected it would. She looks really sweet.

I'll be damneder. The boat is symmetrical and centered.

And in go the inner chines.

Off with her bow post.

Grind those chines smooth and on with her floor.

Marking for screw lines, groveling in the sawdust.

Another Brad hair day.

Squashing on the floor.

Screwing her down one end at a time.

While we goop the other end.

It's a wrap. Nine hours. We are whupped but happy.

 Might as well celebrate MacKenzie's McKenzie with a splash of Mackenzie.

Friday, March 22, 2013

More dressing up

Rio Rojo's copper letters arrived today from A&B. What fun to position them and peel off the overcoat. They really pop.

I made the walnut grab rails today. They'll get bolted on tomorrow.

And Janek finished the water sign on the transom.

And more that I forgot to get pictures of: I formed the minicell seat and have that ready to go in. Meanwhile Jim and I figured out the proper shape for the new Boop clone's side panels. We think. Jim cut them out. Then we laid up a transom laminate. And Jim cut all the chine notches in his rib set. And I built all the hardware for the adjustable foot brace for the Rojo and the original Boop. Very busy day.

I'm hoping the brass will be done tomorrow and I can finish up the oarlock stands over the weekend. Rojo is getting an itchy bottom, ready to be a floating object.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

I love this part

Rio Rojo is coming together, as the Beatles say, right now, over me. Each day something else that looks really cool happens. Last night we finished the gunwales.

Today we started painting the transom. Janek didn't drink as much espresso as I, so gets to do the glory work here.

Jim finished his rib set for the Betty Boop replica. 

The plan is to pull the boat together Saturday afternoon. All hands on deck--if you want to see one go together and are up for helping with the mayhem, come on by. We'll probably start around noon with the assembly and could get as far as gunwales by that night. Big fun. Here is the 12:1 scarfing jig in action, making the inner chines.

Most of last night and all of today I did a lot of nerve-wracking cutting and installation of the SeaDek--a cool, closed-cell, high-density, self-adhesive sheet foam designed mainly for fancy seagoing boats of all sorts, but it seems applicable to our whitewater trade. Here is how we do the hatch lids:

I measure oh-so-carefully and cut it at a bevel with a razor knife. Then I put it in position with some masking tape on one end and a few lead ducks just to make sure nothing moves around.

 Then I peel the backing off the far edge.

And press it down.

Then, before peeling off the rest of the backing, I  turn the hatch lid over and cut through the latch holes so I can drop a latch in place and draw its set-back accurately.

Then slide in a board and cut out the latch set-backs.

Then peel the backing, press it firm, and do another. And another. And all the odd shapes of decking. But in the end it looks pretty sweet and should feel wonderful on bare feet. 

Monday, March 18, 2013

Dia de los Muertos

I started the decoupage work on the hatch linings today with Scott's images from Mexico's Day of the Dead. Pretty wild. Meanwhile Jim began lofting the rib sets for the new Betty Boop replica. It takes a while to get the hang of that, but we should be done drawing pictures ready to fire up the rib factory tomorrow.

After dinner we bolted the left-side gunwales to the Rio Rojo and used, as far as I know, the last four-inch, oval-headed, slotted, brass machine screws in the Milky Way. * sigh* They were my favorite fastener for gunwales, but I've been searching for more for about three years and no one makes them anymore. I did find one outfit whop volunteered to make them for me if I ordered 2500 of them, and about a buck-and-a-half apiece. That's enough for about fifty Briggs boats--a few more than I think I can rationalize right now. Fortunately I have exactly enough for this one last build.

A flurry of things

I've been so busy that the blog has lapsed a bit. With Moe's oars finished, Lora and I took the mighty ship out to McHood Reservoir, south of Winslow, on Thursday to see if she floats.

She does, but it is best, as it turns out, to finish untying her before floating her, so she does not end up cockly-wobbly on the fenders while the locals chuckle.

But she rows like a dream and is dry as can be.

The stern hatch provides shade for winter-pale legs and makes a good backrest.

Back in the shop, Janek and I finished up the gunwale boards and notched in the ribs.

Measuring for the tricky inner gunwale cut.

And on they go.

Trimming the bolts off even with the sex nuts.

Routing the gunwale tops before sanding and oiling.

How sweet it is.

Here I am trying to set the world's record for cutting out latch holes with a dying router bit. The fiberglass trashed the carbide edge to the point where it is doing more burning than cutting. Often this will make a bit so hot it just snaps off. Or it sets the project on fire.

Amazingly I made it through all twelve latch holes without catastrophe. Don't try this at home.

On Saturday we had the great honor of hosting a house concert by Laurie Lewis and Tom Rozum. About fifty lucky locals got to attend. It was sublime.

And just to keep me from getting too relaxed, Jim McKenzie showed up Sunday to start a replica of the Betty Boop hull. The lofting table is ready.

And the ducks are all in a row. For the chine bend we had to bring in the heavy artillery. A stiff batten on a tight curve. But we got it.