Sunday, January 24, 2010

Set-up: All that work on my knees pays off





Up to this point, I have been able to treat the whole project as something I could do to trifle away an hour here, or a few hours there. Now is the time when the nature of the task changes, necessitating a higher level of commitment and focus. When there was just a pile of parts (two stems, a keel, three frames, etc.), I was able to put it aside and not have it take up too much room. I could treat it as a "kit," ready for assembly at my leisure. Now that the parts have started to come together, I am forced to see it through, at least to the point where she is skinned and can be moved.

If this were happening in my own garage or basement, it would be a different scenario. Because it is happening at work (albeit in an unused area), it can't sit around half done forever. There is also the fact that in late March or early April we hope to be be moving Strider into a spot in the upper shed at the boatyard. She is a 33' 1961 Rhodes Swiftsure. I will be starting a separate blog on her re-power project. We have removed the old Atomic 4 and are installing a Volvo diesel. I can't wait to fuel the fire in the debate over the gas vs. diesel conundrum. There is significant other work to do on her, but I'll be lucky to complete the re-power in time for an early summer launch. She hasn't been launched before mid-August the last two summers. I want a nice, long season this year. It's short enough in New England without sabotaging it willfully.

Back to the task at hand.

The first photo (BTW, I have been taking these photos with the camera in my Droid phone. The Droid camera SUCKS!!! If anyone from Google happens to see this blog, you should be ashamed of yourselves for releasing it the way it is.) shows the stems being glued to the keel. I would have preferred to do this directly over the lofting, but the floor is just too wavy for me to have confidence in being able to get any degree of accuracy in the glue-up. I triple-checked everything dry over the lofting, made plenty of witness marks on everything and glued it up on the main shop floor. Weaving a 19' curved part under the customers' boats, through the jack stands, and back into the carpentry shop was the biggest challenge here.

The next photo shows the set-up beginning to take shape. Start with the 'midship frame set up level and plumb, and add the other two frames. Notch the frames for the back bone and drop it into place. I was concerned about notching the frame at station 9 1/4. There is a tighter curve at the centerline here than there is in the other two frames. I worried that I would start to cut the notch, and BANG, everything would spring out of whack. I took a deep breath, hemmed and hawed for a day or two, and went ahead. No problem. Check EVERYTHING at least twice. Much time has been spent on the loft floor to ensure accuracy. Don't rush through this part of the process.

Traditionally, faerings were built right-side-up and by eye. No, thanks. My preference is to work down on a boat whenever possible. Maybe if I were younger...

Third and fourth photos show the remainder of the set-up, including the temporary molds and the beginning of the bracing for the whole shebang. I mentioned the issue with the lines in the previous posting. I fretted about this, but it turned out to be a small matter. Fortunately, the line between the broad strake and the sheer plank shows no knuckle in section near the ends of the boat. This will allow me to fine tune the lands of the planks "in the flesh" and I'll be able to tweak them to my heart's content. The broad strake is significantly wider at the ends than either of the other two planks. This can make the sheer plank look too fine and delicate if not proportioned properly. This is the only benefit I can think of to building the boat right side up.

It really starts to look like something at this point. Don't get cocky. Go back through, check everything again, and be sure that the molds and frames are exactly where they are supposed to be. 1/16" will make the difference in whether you can use the plank from one side as the template for the other side. When you are satisfied, glue the backbone to the frames. Clean up the squeeze-out while it's wet. Put some clear packing tape over the temporary molds to keep them from becoming permanent molds.

Don't forget to cut your limber holes. DO IT NOW!! Seal them with clear epoxy, too.

Next comes lining off, bevelling the frames, and spiling the planking.