Tuesday 27 April 2010

Step We Gaily

Step we gaily on we go,
heel for heel and toe for toe.
Arm in arm and row on row,
all for Mairie's Wedding .

A foot-note to the Partner Thwart, I bought that big drill today and drilled the mast hole.
So now it looks like this. I'm also fully equipped to fit downlighters should the need arise.

The mast step is an interesting shape, well it is the way i've done it, kind of like a manta ray.
    Its got a nice rolling bevel to fit along the planks. 
Of course its upside down here.

I made a cardboard half template, of the upper - larger surface by sitting the card on some spacer blocks and then bevelled the edge to fit the planks. Once again slowly does it and keep that plane as sharp as possible.   
I was concentrating so hard I forgot to take any pictures.

Here it is snug in its position.

 A bit of a balalaika thing going on.

Sunday 25 April 2010

Take Your Partners

The Partner-thwart on the Coot is a curved affair which needs to be laminated up.
The plans say it should be laminated from four layers of mahogany, but hey Robbins plywood is the next best thing, isn't it?

Luckily there is quite a lot of plywood left spare on Alex Jordan's kit so it comes in useful for jobs like this.  

I thought I had nothing better to do than make up a ply/epoxy sandwich and bend it over a block of wood. mmmm more hurry less haste as they used to say. 

The main trouble with this method, apart from the fact that you get less of a curve and more of a kink in the ply, is that once its all dressed up and tapered to fit the gunwales, the upper surface slopes downwards towards the stem. See below.    

The reason for this is that I started off with a section of a cylinder which I tapered to fit the gunwales and so it tips forward.  Trust me.

The answer, I realised looking at it for a while, is to create a section of a cone.
Back to the Medium Density Fibre-board.

The amount of crown on the leading and aft edges needs to be the same but the circumference of the curve is different, because the distance between the gunwales is different.

So make up two cross sections and space them the correct distance apart. Cut some holes for your clamps and give it a dry run! Sorry that should have been wet run. 

To make it fit,  the ply has to bend in two directions at once, which it normally won't do so it has to be tortured into shape, and a good way of softening up the plywood is to pour boiling water over it. This softens the glue and allows it to bend both ways. 

Take your time and make sure you don't fracture the ply. It will eventually pull down to the shape you want, or at least fairly close.

Its not quite down to the marks here, it took extra clamps at the ends to pull the corners right down. Of course quite a lot of this will end up on the floor once it is cut to fit.

Here you can see the conical  section forming.

This is it after it had been glued up and left over night.

There is a bit of spring-back, not too much.

It took a lot of trimming/checking /trimming to get it to the right shape but I was quite happy with the way it turned out. Tomorrow I go shopping for a 2 3/4" core drill.

The acid test

Saturday 17 April 2010


Chris Perkin's Scotch Mist at Beale park. Photo by G.Neil
Have you ever caught sight of your own reflection unexpectedly, maybe in a shop window or in a double mirror, where you don't immediately recognise yourself but you seem a bit familiar.

Its a weird sensation, I always wonder who the slightly chunky bloke is who looks a bit like my dad until it dawns.

A similar thing happened to me the other day on one of the forums I frequent.  I was scrolling down a row of photos, when suddenly I saw this......without the caption. 

Graham Neil in "Caitlin", an Iain Oughtred Whilly Tern Photo by Chris Perkins
Now, dear reader, I can tell you I got that funny prickly feeling as I slowly recognised the back of my own head, followed by a sort of nostalgic feeling for my old boat.

It should be noted there was then a feeling of embarrassment when I notice the rudder is only half way down, and i'm sailing around in half a breeze with a great big reef tucked in. It got worse when I remember i'd only just been towed off a mud bank by Chris Partridge, 
 after I'd got caught on a lea shore.  I digress.... 

It took me a minute to fully work things out.
 My flashback of recognition and embarassment meant I knew immediately where it had been taken, which in turn whittled down the possible list of photographers to about three.
Thinking back to the day in question I could pretty much say without hesitation that it was Chris Perkins who took the photo. Here's another one of his own boat Scotch Mist lying next to Caitlin taken on the same day which also appeared on the same posting as did several other photos of Chris's own boats.

Caitlin and Scotch Mist at Cobnor Photo by Chris Perkins

I was even more intrigued as I hadn't seen the first photo before, although many others taken that day have been published elsewhere.

Somehow, through a series of virtual mirrors and shop windows, with a wave of the mouse a photo of me, taken by Chris, appears on a post by someone else.
 Sounds a bit like sleight of hand, a conjouring trick, something not quite right.

 I think it was the American Indians who likened photography to stealing souls and I'm beginning to understand where they were coming from.

The Home Boatbuilding community in UK is fairly small, and Chris Perkins is very well known.
His boats have won many prizes at Beal Park Boat Show, and he is well kent and respected from Gweek Shop in Cornwall through Beale Park and Barton Turf via the East Neuk  by Bernisdale on Sky and beyond to his own wee green shed in Ullapool.

He is particularly noted for the Iain Oughtred boats he has built including "Scotch Mist"  a MacGregor canoe, two Humble Bees, and Stangarra his Stickleback canoe.
 He has published articles in Watercraft Magazine and his boats have been personally inspected by Iain O himself and found to be good.  He even got a sideways mention from Adrian Morgan in Classic Boat Magazine this month and that must have stuck in Adrian's craw!

He has made a significant impact on the Scottish Coastal Rowing project by helping Alex Jordan of Jordan Boats,  

  build the the first Oughtred designed St Ayles Skiff and is currently building another in Adrian Morgan's Cow/Boat Shed.

Thanks in no small way to Chris there are now no fewer than 19 St Ayles Skiffs  in build  and as a small token of gratitude that first boat was named Chris o' Kanaird after the man himself.   

Chris O' Kanaird at Eyemouth photo uncredited.

Chris has given his time, effort and knowledge freely to anyone who asked for it.
 He also has an extensive catalogue of photographs which he has published on his web-site and has been happy for others to use so long as he was given due credit.

Chris has strong views about retaining the right to his own copyright and makes it very plain for all to see, however a couple of people have persisted in ignoring this and have continued to lift Chris's photos and post them, uncredited on other sites.  Now you can argue till the cows come home about the rights and wrongs of this and never reach an agreement but my main concern is this.

If someone you know and respect specifically asks you to stop doing something which you know  upsets  them, why on earth would you persist?  
There may be nothing illegal here but to my mind its moraly dubious and the end result is that
Chris has withdrawn all his photos from the internet and everyone loses.

Wednesday 7 April 2010

Bend it Bend it just a little bit!

I've spent a good part of the Easter weekend fitting the rubbing strips and inwales.
 The rubbing strips and out wales are relatively easy to fit as you can just leave them oversized, glue them on and trim to fit later. Clamping them is easy too. Just one clamp at the sharp end and you can pretty much bend the whole thing round in one go, another clamp at the blunt end, and then gradually add the rest.

Doing the in-wales is a good bit trickier.
They have to be the exact length before they are glued in place so have to be dry- fitted a good few times, as you don't want to take too much off.
There is a fair amount of spring in them and getting them to bend inside the boat, when they and you are covered in slippery Epoxy  is a tricky process. 

This is my method which may be of use to others coming along later.
The inwales are laminated in place from two parts. Here we are fitting the second, innermost layer. The process is exactly the same for the outer layer.

You can use this process while you are trimming them to length, just leave them to lie over the top of the Transom and do your best to work out how much to trim off.

Having got them to the correct length and with the right bevels at each end, get your overalls and gloves on because this is going to get a bit messy.

Mix your epoxy of choice and prime both surfaces, thicken it up and lay a good even layer over the inwale you are going to glue. 

I used three of my newly aquired clamps as guides. These are clamped to the boat so that the piece to be fitted can be slid through the gap between the blue legs on the clamp.  

Slide the inwale through the first two clamps until it is approximately in the right position. 

Now bend the end of the inwale round and slide it into the gap in the third clamp. At this point the new piece will be lying above the sheer line of the boat.

The piece will be held firmly, sprung against the clamps so you can let go, have a slurp of tea and get ready for the next stage.

Go to the sharp end, spring the piece down into place and slide it up to the stem where it should be a close fit. If necessary go to the stern and give it a couple of light taps with a mallet.

Clamp it tight as close to the stem as you can.

The inwale will be well away from the planking at this point so give it a good pull and get a clamp round it. Give this a good tighten but don't close the gap as we've still got some sliding to do.
Add a few more clamps near the bow , and as you draw these up the overhang at the stern will reduce until you can get the aft end of the inwale to spring over into place.

Make sure the piece is correctly positioned vertically as well as horizontally

Clamp up from the bow end fist, you need to work back and forward a bit as each time you tighten a clamp its neighbours will slacken off.

Gradually pull it in and tighten up the clamps.
Clean away as much squeeze-out as you can and use every clamp you have space for.
Try to make sure that all have the same pressure.

Check everything !!

Now I know why I bought so many.

And thanks to Chloe Caitlin for taking the photos and not getting epoxy on my new camera.

Sunday 4 April 2010

Is that the time!

Once again the time bandits have got the better of me! I can't believe how this year is flying past. April already, at this rate we'll never get the boat to Barton Turf by late may, well not sailing at any rate.

There has been an awful lot going on, and even some boat building!

I made a list the other night , bad idea.

So the C/B case is in.
The floors are glued down.
The rubbing strips are on.
The inwales are under construction as I write this.
The outwales are made , - sort of - , will need some dressing.

The main thing I've been doing is making the thwarts which has turned into a major exercise.....

First you cut some lathes. and put them on your "work bench " an old bit of MDF covered in Ordnance Survey packing tape.
Bend these round the three blocks with plenty of Epoxy.

Use lots of clamps but be careful not to squeeze all the glue out.

Once the epoxy has set and you have scraped off all the excess repeat the process another three times.

Make some spacers and then glue the whole shebang together.
The one above is straight, its actually the forward thwart.
The one below is a side bench for the stern sheets.  

You'll need two of these and a bit across the middle.

Altogether between the forward and central thwart and the three piece sternsheets your looking at about 90 laths.

 None of this is required in the plans which specify nice wide bits of Mahogany and would have been much easier. Since the design was drawn up in the late 80's we have all become a bit more environmentally sensitive so I decided to use Sweet Chestnut which is sourced locally.

The Sweet Chestnut being a creative and individual type likes to grow in all sorts of directions and straight wide planks are hard to find so I used 8" planks which are finger jointed along their length.
Some purists will scoff and tut but I make no apologies for this, I'm still feeling guilty about the ply which has more "miles" than a lunar module.

The lack of width and a stubborn inclination to do my own thing led to a bit of lamination which in turn lead to relatively simple job taking all of three weeks and its not finished yet.

Next time childers, fitting gunwales............