A great place to spend the days

The last few two weeks have settled into a regular routine.

Pete gets up at around 6.30 and heads to the beach for some God (and personal) time: breakfast, then off to the site around 8am. Tarps are removed, Rex (resident watch dog) is thanked for watching over Selah, tools are retrieved from storage, and a quick check in with Russell; land lord, brother-in-law and much esteemed woodworking mentor. Meanwhile if it’s not raining, Deb walks the 2.5 k’s to the block and starts the day with a brew of coffee. Plenty of jokes, laughter and family love. A great place to spend the days. By then we are ready to start work.

With the exception of a few rain days, we are currently focused on completing the planking of the starboard hull.

As mentioned in previous blogs, each hull sheet is first cut and dry fitted to the frame assembly. The stringer, chine and frame locations are scribed on the inside. Then they are removed and the internal faces coated in epoxy resin, and screw holes pre-drilled. Each panel uses around 100 screws.

Just a quick detour: It was during this process that we came to appreciate Peter Snell’s design skills. There are 27 panels for each hull. By carefull use of the off-cuts, each hull (including the keels) can be planked with 15 standard size sheets with almost no wastage. Its one thing to design a good boat. It’s quite another to do so with absolute minimum material wastage. Peter has pulled it off quite brilliantly, with (as much as possible) everything planed around standard 1220 x 2440 plywood sheet and 6M timber length. Wastage is something not often considered when selecting a boat design, but can I suggest any aspiring builders to take that into account. Compare material lists between designs, and make sure they include any temporary jigs and frames. Even “cheap” stuff like chipboard and structural ply can add up (one of the downsides of the strip plank method). Pretty much everything on the material list can be used in the final build with one of Peter Snell’s designs, even the Strong-Back if you wish.

Back to the build.  The panells are now ready to be permanently attached to the hull, as per the photos below.

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The pre coated epoxy on the joint area is lightly sanded back, then the SS screws are pre-loaded into the pre-drilled holes.

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The chines, stringers and frames are first given a coat of resin, and then glue coated using a notched trowel to ensure even coverage.

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These are critical structural joints, so we don’t skimp on the epoxy glue.

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As quickly as possible, the sheet is then presented to the hull and secured with the prepared screws.

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After screwing we go inside and look for a good amount of excess glue oozing from the joint, indicating the correct coverage.

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The excess glue is cleaned up to be used for butt joints and filling the screw holes.

Not shown is fitting the butt joints, which are 180mm wide plywood pieces glued and screwed to the inside face, between the stringers,  where the sheets butt together.

Our first sheet took us 2.5 hours to glue. Over time we have managed to speed up to around 1.5 hours per sheet.  It’s physically demanding work, as we are constantly working under the hammer of the pot-life of the glue, which is expensive stuff. We find four sheets is as much as we can manage in a full day, but with delays and interruptions our average is three. As of writing this log, we have completed the sides. On Monday we can commence cutting and fitting the 10 bottom sheets. After that, we fit the keel and rudder and begin the process of fibreglassing.

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