Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Ready to party

My ongoing search for the slickest way to cut a perfect 8:1 bevel for a plywood scarf has gone decidedly retro. I've used routers, circulated saws, power planers, and belt sanders, all of which make a horrendous amount of noise and debris and all of which work...okay. But today it's back to a hand plane—Bruce's mom's Stanley No. 7 Smoothing Plane. It's not as quick as a power planer, but there's virtually no set-up time, and you can stop short of screwing things up a lot easier. I think these are the best, most precise bevels we've done yet. Go figure.

And I am still using my Luddite clamping technique, pounding wedges to get even pressure on the joint while the epoxy cures.

They are sure coming out nicely.

Meanwhile I have finally deduced that the reason many of us Briggs boat replicaters are having a tough time getting the angle of the bow post correct, is that it is not an angle. It is a rolling bevel—45° at the base, 52° at the top. That's what we cut for Bob and it worked magnificently. So here we go again.

I took yesterday off work to head to the big hardwood store in Phoenix with my friend Dan. We spent a lot of money, but have enough nice, straight-grained wood for a few more boats. And my bunk of marine plywood arrived as well. Let's cut it to bits.

Chelsea is oiling up the ribs for tomorrow's assembly.

 Janek is wiping the oil back off.

Cataract has come down from the loft to act as a form for the steamed chines and gunwales for Omo.

Janek and Justin are pounding wedges on the floor scarf joint.

And finally we are mapping out the side panels from the sacred scroll.

And drilling countless holes in them.

Tomorrow we should go from sticks to a sexy hull. Fingers crossed.

Pending dory birth: New Year's Eve at Fretwater

Starting mid-afternoon Thursday we'll be assembling the hull of the next Briggs-style Grand Canyon Dory: Omo. A pile of random, weird-shaped sticks will become a sexy, sweet boat in a matter off hours. Come by, watch the birthing, lend a hand, hoist a toast, ring in a new year. Fretwater Boatworks, 1000 Grand Canyon Avenue.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

It Is No Simple Business Naming a Dory

For those of you who are not FaceBookers, or didn't catch Brian Megaw's post, here is what he put up this evening, regarding the two dories Andy Hutchinson and I built for him in New Zealand last fall. Wonderful. Just wonderful.

River dories blessed at Pipiriki on the Whanganui River

It Is No Simple Business Naming a Dory

12 months ago Brad Dimock and Andy Hutchinson built our two beautiful, wooden, Briggs style river dories. .

For most of the last 12 months those same boats have essentially been nameless (though they did have working names, Zsa Zsa and Eva after the Gabor sisters). 

We can announce that the two sisters now have their real names. Names that are not only beautiful but also meaningful. 

To find and settle upon those names we decided to follow the tradition set by Martin Litton with Grand Canyon Dories 50 years ago. Martin decided that each of his Briggs style dories would be named after a natural feature that had either been lost, destroyed or radically altered by human development. 

Following this worthy precedent we researched the impact that the Tongariro Power scheme has made on the Whanganui River. In total some 30 streams and rivers have been diverted or dammed for this scheme, with many of these waterways being from the headwaters of the Whanganui. In essence we looked for places where some of the "mauri" or life force of the Whanganui had been taken. 

We found two streams, each diverted, each with the type of name we were after. Each of these names seemed to speak to the dories. 

We shared these names with Maori who still live on the river.  They gave the names the nod of approval. 

On the 17th of December, in a moving ceremony, Apotoro Rehita Puruhe Smith of the Ratana Church blessed the boats and acknowledged the names at the boat ramp at Pipiriki. 

Let me now introduce you to: 

Te Whaiau - (The Current Follower)


Okupata - (My Droplets of Water)

Somehow this process makes the boats seem more complete, and was worth the 12 months wait to find the r
ight names. 

For more information on the trips that you can take on the Whanganui River in 
Okupata and Te Whaiau, please visit our website.

Brian Megaw

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Bob has left the building

More details yesterday. One of the final touches on Bob was the sliding foot brace. Here I am pushing heavy aluminum box tubing through my nice woodcutting carbide blade on the table saw. It seems so wrong.

Meanwhile Zasha cut out the rest of the parts and glued up the sides of the footbrace. Since we have another Briggs boat coming up immediately--the Omo--we made two footbraces.

Janek worked on installing the slide rails while the epoxy dried.

With no further chores for us to work on for Bob, Zasha and I began milling Port Orford Cedar for Omo's ribs. Oh, such a sweet, sweet smell.

And at eight o'clock last night,  we pronounced Bob done. 

Here's to ya!

Even as Omo's first bits were curing.

This morning Bob went outdoors for a few breaths of cold winter air, then up into the loft to await a warm enough day for a test float on the lake. Bruce will be gathering a few parts for the bilge pump system in the meantime, and a few trivial other details await arrival of parts.

With the shop now empty, Janek and I spent the rest of the day assembling Omo's ten ribs.

Since I have fully-proven plans for a standard Brigg's such as Omo--we've built three boats off them since we captured the lines last fall--we will be building the boat free-form without a strong back. This will considerably speed up the process of forming the hull. The initial hull could come together pretty soon--might make a nice New Year's Eve party?

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Merry Christmas, y'all. Upcoming adventures to give yourself

Lucky, lucky you. It's shameless merchandising time.

What better time than Christmas to give you all a chance to sign up for some big fun adventures with me next year? I have posted three upcoming adventures I'll be participating in next year over on the lower right side of the blog page. Scroll down below the BLOG ARCHIVE, down below ABOUT ME, and you'll get to MORE STUFF.

I've listed two boatbuilding classes I will be teaching--one on lapstrake boatbuilding here at my boatshop in March;


and another in building the McKenzie River dory back in Maine in July.

As well, I have put up notice about a Rogue River trip my friends Andy Hutchinson, Kate Thompson, RJ Johnson and I are putting together for mid-August. We do something wacky every year, and this is one of the wackiest. (Here is a shot from our 2015 adventure on the upper Colorado River.)

So check them out and sign up yourself and all your friends. And have a very fine celebration of baby Santa's birthday.

Oh--in the boatshop today I managed to finish off the removable transom, weatherstrip all the hatches, adjust the latches, affix the safety line hardware, and finish the coolio boatman's seat. It folds down flat for big rapids and has SeaDek on top to help keep from slipping around.

And it folds up into a backrest for casual rowing, with a second layer of foam beneath the seat so one's tush is always padded.

And the whole apparatus slides out,

flips over, and nestles into the footwell,

killing two birds with one stone--it levels the deck where the footwell is, and removes the protruding seat from the deck, making a California King-sized bed. Sweet.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Nearing the finish line

Now that the showy stuff is on, it's time for a mess of details.

Justin and Janek are chiseling in the latch landings.

They are little aluminum things that I cut out of angle stock with a table saw and a circular saw. Carbide blades are amazing things.

Now that the hatches can be closed we're going to work a bit on the bottom.

Ick. Fiberglass. A thick layer of matt/biaxial glass with a thin layer of 6oz glass over that, so Bruce won't have to worry about bottom abrasion.

And a flow coat of graphite-infused resin to make it slip off the rocks. That is theory, of course.

A coat of primer.

And stripe taping.

While the tan stripe dries, Justin and I pull the neoprene exterior chines through the table saw to put a 34° bevel on the bottom edge. I think my table saw may hate me for this sort of abuse.

Bruce wanted to match the colors of his truck (which are metallic) for the boat (in nonmetallic), so I asked George Kirby (who makes my favorite boat paint) to see what he could do. Those guys do good work--the sides of the model are the original truck paint; the dabs on the transom are Kirby.

Whee! the top coat of paint goes on.


And pin striping.

The walnut bowpost has a strange rolling bevel, so I am using Bruce's mother's lovely plane to sneak up on what I need.

We interrupt this boat build for a requisite celebration of Winter Solstice.

Back to the boat build. Janek and Zasha are affixing the dhow eyes to the bow.

Thirty-some years ago Bruce and Nancy honeymooned off the coast of Kenya on the island of Lamu, where the Swahili language was born as a trade tongue between Arab traders and many different African dialects. The trading boats were wild looking things called dhows, and every dhow had a dhow eye affixed on either side of the bow so it could see the rocks. Bruce brought several home for just this sort of happenstance.

Aside: My friend Elena and I were in Lamu at the same time as Bruce and Nancy. The four of us went on a small dhow ride together, which whetted our appetites. After asking around, Elena and I got to go down the coast in one of the last of the old freighter dhows, the Tusitiri. But that's another story. Here's a shot of the Tusitiri today--now converted to a tourist dhow. You can see the eyes below the turquoise nameplates. The price for passage has gone up from the $10 we paid in 1986 for three days, to a bit over $700 a night.

It is painful to take a circular saw to a beautiful hull and hack it to bits, but that's what has to happen sometimes. Here we are making the removable transom so Bruce can motor upstream on occasion.

And on goes the SeaDek--lovely nonskid foam rubber stuff made for sailboats and surfboards. 
It makes a very luxurious-feeling deck that is ever-so unslippery.

Back to spiling and battening to get the curves right.

Bob is going to have to go upstairs soon to make room for his little sister Omo—a standard-sized Briggs--coming up next.