Sunday, January 22, 2017

Class Action

The past week went by fast, finishing each day too tired to blink. I'll try to catch up. With the lofting done, we cut and assembled the frames right on top of the lofted diagrams.

 Sanded them, trimmed, them, notched them, and oiled them.

Six of the frames are designed to have bulkheads for hatches. These we build right into the frames, sliding them into a pre-cut rabbet.

For the first three evenings we assembled side panels and floor. To clamp them together, I am still using the primitive wedging system I invented in a windy sheep shed in New Zealand a few years ago.

We put tape down on either side of the scarf joint this time to make for far less clean-up. It works nicely.

We took the side-panel pattern Janek and I created last week on the strong-backed boat, translated it to numbers, then translated it back onto our side panel blank, just to see if our numbers worked. They did.

With two identical side panels cut out, marked, and pre-drilled, we began the free-form assembly. Stem, then ribs 6 through 10.

So much easier than doing it in order with ribs 10 through 6. Then the back end of the boat--ribs 5 through 1, and the transom.

Oops. Someone computed the transom angles wrong. You'll have that.

Luckily the cuts were too big and not too small. On we go.

Night four: scarf and glue up all chines and gunwales. A veritable clamp storm.

At this point we have to wait for a few things to dry or cure on that boat, so we shift our attention to the completed hull. Time to begin the finicky process of decking.

To make supports for flat decking where it meets a curved, sloped hull, we have to cypher out strange curved landings. 

Each weekday the burrito truck gets a longer line of repeat offenders.

Back on the new hull we jam-fit the inner chines. These guys are so good you couldn't get a piece of paper between the ends of those chines and the stem and transom. And on goes the bottom.

And roll her right-side up. After clamping on the gunwale we tinker slightly with the sheer line and Bryan does the terrifying job of cutting the sheer.

And back to hull number one, cutting landings, dado-ing in gutters, chiseling, sawing, notching and cursing now and then.

And on go the second boat's gunwales. This one gets walnut gunwale blocks.

Mr. Quinn carves the curve in the top of the stem.

Chisel, chisel, notch, notch notch.

I try to quit around five each evening but these guys just stand around and stare at the boat. They ask questions. They make me tell stories. The keep putting beers in my hand. And then it's six. Or seven.

Day eight, our final sprint is on. The burrito truck doesn't come on Saturday, so Shane prepares the most outrageous fish tacos, with yellowtail he caught in Baja last week. Wow.

And as the day, and the course, draw to a close, we raffle off our girls at cost. Two more hapless victims get suckered into the highly impractical world of being wooden boat owners. On a mountain. In the desert. Two truly magnificent boats, I might add. I could not be prouder of the work these gentlemen have done.

I guess the fish tacos were karmically strong, as Shane wins the decked dory.

Doing the scary gunwale cut must have impressed the dory gods too, as Bryan wins the new hull.

And I win the chance to go to bed early and sleep for thirteen hours.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Class act

And on it goes. Steam bend the outer chines and all the gunwales. Screw on the outer chines.

Disconnect the now useless strongback from the floor, flip the hull right-side up.

And now for the truly critical moment--determining the sheer line, defining exactly where the gunwales go to look and function best. To try to seek out what the eloquent nautical writer Peter Spectre called, "the heart-stopping elegance of the perfect sheer."
    As it turns out we have a lot of options here. We can go with the height of Andy Hutchinson's hand-me-down pattern which has always worked well. We can use the pattern Roger Fletcher gave me, traced from Jerry Briggs's original template. Or we could go with what our lofting, pulled from an original Briggs boat, says is correct.
     Or we could hybridize the three.  That's what we did. We went with the two-out-of-three consensus approach for the central third of the boat. Then we let the gunwales wrap onto the boat in whatever way they felt best. "Listen to the wood," as Roger and I learned to do back in 2001 building a recalcitrant replica of Buzz Holmstrom's boat.

The gunwales thought about it for a bit and chose something close to the original Briggs pattern. So after staring at that for a bit we shrugged, drew it, cut identical panels for both sides, recorded the pattern so we can build the next boat free-form, and bolted on the gunwales.

And there it is. Another in a long series of attempts to re-create the perfect Briggs boat.

Meanwhile I am actualizing a concept I have been cooking up for a couple years--a collapsable yet stable sawhorse--something that doesn't take up so damned much room. I think I got it. A bit heavy, but hell for stable.

BJ brought back the Thunder River, all dried out, and we slammed on the bottom glass--24oz biaxial glass with mat, and a 6oz cover layer, all at once. Boom.

And he's outta here.

And this morning our eight-day Briggs boat course began. Eight southwestern men who should know better actually showed up and we were off to the races. We took the numbers we generated for the strongbacked Briggs last week and re-lofted them this morning. As always we found a few errors and made a couple small adjustments. The lofting looks really sweet.

Then we made about a hundred dollar's worth of Port Orford sawdust, which our friend Heather will take away and distill into essential oils.

What remains is some beautiful Port Orford cedar planking, which we further cut down into ribs.

And cut on into the tapered, beveled side ribs.

Meanwhile on the other side of the shop we planed and ground 8:1 tapers into five sheets of 1/4" plywood for the side-panels. By six-o'clock we had one side panel glued up into a 20' sheet, finished a round of beers, and called it a day. 
     A hell of a day at that. Really: introductions, orientation, full lofting, cut all ten sets of ribs, scarfed all side-panels and glued one up. And still had time for a one-hour pizza break, and time for me to confuse the hell out of everyone as I tried to explain (incorrectly at first) how to draw the transom and bow post and determine the proper rolling bevel angles.