Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Big Update

 I kind of got away from blogging for a while there, didn't I?  Someone told me that deadlines were essential and so I gave myself one:  July 4th.  So I have been going a little crazy getting the boat somewhat "ready" for a launching here in our own pond.  I had planned on a more ambitious launching by now.  I had hoped, anyway, that I would have been able to take the family out on some kind of cruise, albeit sans sailing rig, by the beginning of July.

   Well, it just ain't so.  To get it that ready, that soon, would have required me to be on solid, 10 hour days for the past month and a half, and I just have too much other stuff to do to help run an off-grid home with 2.5 children. So, it's a pond launching.  But first, some details you missed.....


We painted the decks, first with a product called "Restore 10x" which I happened to have laying around.  It is supposed to rejuvenate really old exterior wood.  It has plenty of sand in it, so I thought it would make a good non-skid.  Then, we went over that with a paint that Lowes sells for barns and fences, supposedly.  It's nearly flat and it's cheap, so I tried it.

The interior, we did with two different colors of exterior semi-gloss, blue and green. Lucia was my big painter. 

The topsides paint was a flat exterior yellow from Lowes.   Lucia really enjoyed that.  I didn't clean her up when she got bored and left. She went and hugged Agustina (who cares about her clothes) and I was in deep doo-doo.

So why the garish color combinations?   Well, I feel a boat like this is somewhat liberated from aesthetic considerations.  I mean,  a weird, boxy boat painted tastefully is still weird and boxy, so just be fun, I say:  YOLO!  (I can't believe I used that word)


I just used the extra cloth from the decks and sheathed around the chines and up to the top of the doubler plates.

It was hard getting it to lay smooth with the thickened epoxy and one side is definitely better than the other, but oh well.

 Then I took two 20' joints of 1 1/2" angle steel and put little runners on the chines (runners like santa has, not like Matt Layden's).

Once I ground off all the mill scale, I bedded them in with coal tar epoxy thickened with sanding dust. The kerfs I cut so the steel would take the curves squeezed out the pucky in a most satisfying way and I feel pretty good about the prospects for longevity.

Rails and Wales

With the decks painted, we could get those rails on.

I got Ale to do the tedious hand sanding inside the holes on the rails.

Camila loved popping out the little plugs you make with a plug cutter for the screw holes.


We put the windows on with Big Stretch.


  I had to put in new blocks to give me access to the bottom to paint it with coal tar epoxy. Then I had to drag out the old blocking system with the car.  Good thing I screwed it all together!


Once the bottom paint hardened up, I put some boards on an old pontoon boat trailer I bought for the purpose from the local tractor an equipment dealer.   I hung a 2 ton chain hoist from the ridge beam of the shed and cut a hole in the floor of the loft to let the hook down through.  Then I passed a strap under the boat just aft of where the curve starts and hoisted it up off the front blocks.

 Then my dad helped me back the trailer in under it.  He's an old truck driver and I suck at fancy backing.

  We backed it in until the back of the trailer made contact with the bottom.  Then we unhitched and used the trailer winch to pull the tongue up some and slide the trailer in more.

  Then we set the bow down on the trailer and pushed and winched, winched and pushed, inch by grunting inch, until it was all the way on.

Then we hooked the truck back up and the monster came out of its den.

That floppy, unfinished board you see is just a temporary one I put in there so it wouldn't be like bambi on the ice.

Thanks, Dad, I couldn't have done it without ya!

Launch Day 

We had some folks over for a bit of a party.  We had hot dogs, some champagne, a pound cake, etc.  Some friends came with their grandkids.

I ran my mouth for a minute, gave a votive offering of champagne to Lord Neptune, anointed the boat, thanked friends and family, and backed it in. 

  I had planned to make a triumphant victory lap around the pond with the boat full of whooping kids, filling the adults on the shore with awe and envy.  Instead, I demonstrated an exercise in anticlimax.  The motor, which had run like an honest-to-god sewing machine three weeks earlier in the shop, wouldn't run for more than ten seconds on launch day.   Oh well.  Jeff gave me a mighty push, which just got us in to the middle of the pond where I dropped anchor.  

The Name

 The name I chose for the boat came from a misunderstanding of the lyrics of this song: 

  I understood it to say CORN CAKE, which I found to be a wonderful name for a boat. The song is actually about a steamship called the CORNCRAKE, which is  a type of bird.  Oh well, it's still a good name and even if you do name it CORNCRAKE, everybody will hear CORNCAKE anyway. So, CORNCAKE it is!   

What now?

   I need a vacation from this project.  There is still plenty of work to be done, even to go on a rig-less cruise.  Little details that make life on a boat easy: properly secured potty, dedicated stowage for this and that, steps, etc.  If I were going to do all that, I would do nothing else all summer.  So... I'm going CAMPING!!!

Monday, June 5, 2017

Deck Sheathing

I have been sheathing the decks recently.   The horizontal surfaces get the worst punishment and I wanted to protect them.   I bought two big bolts of stretchy synthetic cloth at the local Memorial Day Flea Market for a few bucks and proceded to roll them out on the decks.

  I found little splinters trying to rise up and push up little bubbles under the cloth, so  I started wetting the plywood, rubbing a cloth over it against the grain to grab the splinters and lift them, then sanding again to cut them off.


   I wetted the whole thing down with water and spread the titebond III, then spread it around with what we used to call a "weenie-roller" in my days on the paint crew.     

  Now, this business of wetting down with water seemed rather foolish to me at first.  I have imported the passage from Dave Zeiger's blog.  

Application of Fabric plus Water-Based Pucky

Application consists of the following steps:

  1. Sweep and wet-tack for a dust-free deck
  2. Lay out fabric (may be overlapped, but abutting is sufficient and smoother)
  3. Wet out fabric (Yep. Water... drippy wet)
  4. Paint on pucky (may thin somewhat with water, if necessary for low-drag)
  5. Dry
  6. If not satisfied, repeat from 3 (a bit of weave left provides texture)
  7. Prime and top-coat

The first round of 1-4 is the primary adhesion step. As the water dries out of the weave, waterbourne pucky wicks (is drawn by capillary action) down into pores of the plywood substrate, creating a permeating bond interface. Subsequent layers build to coat and fill the weave.

On a warm, dry day, water evaporates quickly. If the fabric is drying ahead of you, consider keeping a water-brush on hand to refresh the wet. Without that water, wicking is reduced, and glue may not dilute and penetrate the fabric or wood surfaces for full adhesion.

At the end of the first pass, the fabric is only lightly bonded, however, and can be fairly easily torn away. It is reenforced by subsequent passes, however, and the result is firmly attached.

Consider whether to leave some weave for texture (thin matrix), or fill past the top of the weave for longevity (thick matrix). In the latter case, you might consider added texture in the topcoat.

My only semi-eddicated opinion is that green (not completely cured) layers bond better. Thus many layers can be applied in a single day. I especially like to prime over a green layer, in effect gluing the primer to the matrix. The whole seems to cure well over ensuing days (possibly even faster than the generally indicated 24 to 48 hours).

 I mean, how can wet wood bond better to glue than dry wood?   If there were some great adhesion advantage, wouldn't they tell you to wet the wood whenever you tried to glue it?   

  Regardless, I found the wetting to really help in positioning the cloth and make everything go smoothly. I can't imagine trying to do it on a hot day with everything dry.  

rolly-rolly la la la
aft deck done
Fore deck done
Starboard coach roof done

Big Stretch Test


   I am looking for something to seal the windows with.  Being 7 feet long, they are going to expand and contract with temperature.  From what I can determine, we are looking at 1/4"- about 1/8" either direction at the ends, where the expansion and contraction is greatest.  I was turned on to "Big Stretch" as a possibility, and I wanted to test it to see.    

  It claimed a two week setup time, so I made this test piece....

Had I-gor sand it well...


And set up this testing scheme, letting it dry for a month. 

 I put this goal, 1/4" of one-direction movement, which is twice what it should theoretically have to endure.   I put a nut on that little black carriage bolt and started cranking....

  The pressure was too much for a little hole in 1/8" acrylic. New approach.

Now we are pushing rather than pulling. You can see the new goal drawn on the plywood.

  Here at almost 1/4" past the goal, it looks stressed, but not coming loose.

Another 1/8" and it finally ruptured.

You can see here that it stuck very well to the wood, but not as well to the super-slick acrylic.  It could bear some roughing-up with some 220-grit, perhaps.  

All-in-all, I'm optimistic about using this product on the windows.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Rudder Hardware

     Finally got the rudder stock hung on some hardware that met my most important criteria:

  • Bulletproof
  • corrosion resistant
  • very cheap

  First, I cut some bands of metal out of an old hay baler with my wet saw.  

  I used to make a living with that thing.  Now I use it for fun.

Then, I cut a groove in an old stump and laid the bands across the groove and whammed a metal bar down over them so that they would fit around the rudder stock.

Who needs a fancy hydraulic press? 

I cut some bar out of an old chair.

  Then I straightened it and clamped it in place on the bands around the rudder stock.

  I had my dad weld these up.  I am so friggin' helpless!



  Here they are painted with coal tar epoxy.  A lot cheaper than having them galvanized.  The gudgeons are pieces of 1/2" galvanized pipe that I threw in the stove to safely burn away the zinc.  I filed out the internal ridge and found that you can insert a piece of pex pipe and leave a little bit protruding, which you can heat with a propane torch and mash down to make a perfect little top hat bearing.  No metal on metal, hooray!

I wanted to be able to boot the tiller where it goes through the transom because of rain and spray and bugs getting in through the hole. To have a lip for the boot to attach to, I just cut the lip off a plastic bucket and heat-formed it around an elliptical plywood mold.   

Here it is in place over the hole that the tiller goes through.

   That same evening, Ale broke a dish glove- manna from heaven!!   Looks like it fits perfect. 

   Here is the rudder stock installed with the tiller in place.  You may notice that the shape is a little different than what it was in the photo above.  In the mean time, I realized that I had had a brain fart when I was designing it.  I had put the pivot at the water line, which would have the stock dragging through the water all the time, so I cut it down.   There is also a little skeg I installed under the transom to get a little more distance between hinges .  The tiller is bolted to one side only so as to allow the rudder to swing all the way up so I can leave it in place on the highway.  

Speaking of the rudder, remember  I said it was too darn heavy?  Well, I tested it to see:

  I put a string of gallon jugs on it and dropped it into the pond to see how many it pulled down.  Turns out it was about ten pounds to the negative.  Of course, that weight doesn't have to sink the whole thing, just the underwater part, so I took off seven by drilling a 1.5" hole and plugging it with plywood. 

   While it does little for total displacement, it may make it a little easier to pull up.  


  I made this blog thinking of my family and friends mostly here in the US and Canada. However,  I have been fascinated by seeing the page traffic I get coming from Australia, the Phillipines, Thailand, etc. If any of you from those places read this, I encourage you to comment or check out my new contact page and send me an email telling me how you came to find this blog of all things.