Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Gittin' 'er done

Well, it's about time to wrap this puppy up and move on to the next madness. I ended up flow-coating the edges of the bottom and the areas that were patched. Probably should have just done the whole bottom, but the rest of it didn't need it, so...

The new ends came out pretty snappy.

The inside of the damaged hatch doesn't look any prettier, but it's a hell of a lot tougher now. As with much of the boat, I had to stop somewhere.

But the gunwales are pretty goddam sweet.

And I really like how the grain came out on the white oak oarlocks.

A couple more bolts and she's outta here.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

National Trogolodyte Day

Today centered around A) procrastinating because I didn't want to B) crawl into a hatch with a grinder and scarf out the patches I needed to put in. But once I finally finished up with A, I put on all my protective gear--respirator, safety glasses, earphones, condom--put the shop-vac hose in the hatch and turned it on, and crawled in. It wasn't really all that bad. But it is always an adventure, like rebuilding an old house. You never know what you'll find. And once you find it, you wonder just how far down the rabbit hole you want to go. 

In this case, the original builder never seemed troubled by the fact that his carpentry was not that close--in places the side falls about an inch short of the floor, and the gap is just filled with epoxy. And some of the wood he used is, um, a little odd. But we do the best we can to make the new pieces as good or better than the old, and acknowledge that we are not replacing the entire boat--just the damaged parts. 

Here is the view from inside the hatch as the right-side chine patch is going in. The left side of the hole in the boat is bordered with two different pieces of strange plywood. The right half is bordered with a newer marine plywood--likely a patch from the Tombigamy's exciting past.

Look at that--the left side of the boat has a piece of new plywood in just about the same spot. Symmetrical crashes. Alan is peering in from the outside world to make sure I am still breathing.

And by nightfall the bottom of the boat is fully patched, awaiting another grinding down and graphite-tinged flow coat. Thus ends the structural repair work on the Tombigamy. Now a day or two of details and tidying and she's out the door.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Turning Tombigbee back into a boat

The scarfed on new sides came out quite nicely if I do say so myself.

Fifty shades of gray. I tinted the flow coats of resin gray with a mix of white and black pigment, so Scott will have less trouble covering it with the next paint job. But of course every batch of resin I made was a different shade of gray. Touchy stuff, that pigment. A little goes a long way and all over the place. Oh well. 

Making wide ten-foot boards into long skinny ones. Got some nice grain matches on the scarf joints.

This pile of walnut shavings goes for about $10 a board foot.

And all I end up with is this collection of little brown blocks.

Which get screwed to the inside of the boat. In a fit of lucidity, I drilled all the bolt holes on the drill press beforehand, so those holes will act as guides to drill through the gunwales and come out relatively centered.

Test-fitting and marking the outer gunwale. The current ash stock in Flagstaff was just long enough that, with the scarf joint, I had less than an inch to spare. Whew.

Now for the money cuts. The inner gunwales have compound angle curved cuts that need to fit within a sixteenth of an inch or preferably less. My system, which I learned somewhere, I forget where, is to cut a template for each end that fits perfectly. Clamp them in place and measure the distance between them. Then transfer all those angle and measurements to the final gunwale board. It works pretty well. But something in the way wood stretches as it bends make them always come out a little long. Which is way better than being a little too short. Here is an end template.

Measuring between them.

And it's a touch long. Here are the final marks to re-cut the end to fit.

Next I drill through the gunwale blocks and the inner gunwale, sliding the bolts in to make sure nothing slips during the next process. Then I pull the center clamps and sneak the outer gunwale on, wrapping the gunwale around clamp by clamp.

Finish drilling the holes and bolt her together.

Wow. It worked again. Sand and rout the gunwales, oil 'em up, and roll the boat over the begin the bottom work. Here we are sawing out the pulverized wood.

Roy giving me the report from inside the hatch.

The bottom was beginning to delaminate next to this hole so we spooged it full of epoxy and clamped the bejeezus out of it to make it back into plywood.

The Tombigbee will float again.

Saturday, January 18, 2014


Scottman, an old boatman friend from Martin Litton days at Grand Canyon Dories, stopped in last August with a sad boat. It was a dory built by Montanan Paul Butler back in the '80s and was one of six Butler boats in Litton's fleet. Martin, who named all his boats in memory of natural wonders desecrated by man, christened it Tombigbee, due to the building of the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway--the two billion dollar, 234-mile waterway boondoggle connecting the Tombigbee and Tennessee Rivers. It was the largest earth moving project in the history of the world and remains little used to this day compared to its boosters' predictions. Tombigbee is Choctaw for coffin, or coffin maker. Hmmm.

Anyhow, Scottman rowed the boat and its name soon corrupted to Tombigamy. After Martin sold Grand Canyon Dories, Scottman got the Bigamy and has rowed it as a private dory ever since. Unfortunately the V-Wave in Lava Falls decided to turn it upside-down this past summer and send it through the shallow, rocky right side of Lower Lava upside-down. Damn. Not all of it came out the bottom end.

The bow post was a lot shorter

And the sternpost cracked open pretty good, severely disgruntling the stern hatch.

Oh, and there was some bottom damage somewhere along the way.

So I ground her down pretty good in early August.

And sent her up to the attic to dry for a month or two. Okay, five months. Things came up, okay?

So finally on Wednesday, with the infestation of paddleboards finally exterminated, I brought the Tombigamy back down. Roy and I lit into her with saws and grinders.

 We scarfed in a new bit of sidewall and rebuilt the stern hatch. And added a bowpost.

On Friday I scarf-cut the stern wall.

And glued in new stern and bow sides.

Today Janek and I ground down a bunch of funky spots, cleaned up the scarf patches, and started glassing the parts that were ready. 

Janek reworking a few troubled joints in the deck work.

Rehabilitating a worried bit of top edge.

The Dragon seal of approval: Lloyd's of London 1088 quality.

Boat wrecks remind me of head wounds. They always look so messy and scary and unfixable. But clean off the blood, snip off the damaged tissue and it looks pretty doable, pretty quick.

We'll be crafting her some pretty new gunwales in the next few days which always perks up the look of a boat.