Sunday, February 28, 2010

Lots done, little shows...

Sorry for the delay in updating. It's Boat Show week here in Boston, so things get dicey, schedule-wise.

This is the point in construction where things look the same at the end of the day as they did at the beginning. It can be difficult to keep momentum and focus, but slog through it and it gets better for the next few chunks of work.

As promised, here is a summary of how I deal with broken screws.

One of the great things about Gougeon epoxy is its predictable behavior. The first step in removing screws from epoxied assemblies is to heat the heads with a soldering pen. Epoxy will begin to soften at about 175 degrees. This makes a huge difference in one's ability to remove a fastener in one piece. Occasionally, despite our best efforts, a head will snap off. All is not lost.

The most important part of the tool kit for rectifying this situation is a Rotabroach. It is a set of small hole saws with a spring-loaded center guide. It is primarily used in auto body applications for cutting out the spot welds that join body panels. Fortunately for us woodworkers, the sizes correspond exactly to Fuller bung cutters.

With a center punch, strike a good dimple in the shank of the screw to guide the Rotabroach pilot. Make sure that the drill is turning before the bit hits the surface. This minimizes tear-out. I find that the 1/2" bit is the absolute minimum size that will allow the rest of this process to work. Go deep enough to get a good grip on the shank, but DON"T GO ALL THE WAY THROUGH!!!

Next, carefully clear out the area between the edge of the hole and the screw shank. Another great use for the ice picks. The less you dig at the edge of the hole, the better the bung will fit. Hold your soldering iron against the screw shank and make yourself comfortable for a minute or two. This can take longer than you think, as evidenced by the fact that the screw broke, even after being heated before its initial attempted removal.

Hopefully, you have already set a pair of needle-nosed Vise-Grips to firmly grasp the shank of the screw. Clamp them on and twist the screw out, being careful to not mung up the edge of the hole.

It sounds pretty straight-forward, and it is. Try it out on some scrap if you are nervous about it. For the really recalcitrant screws, you may have to whack at the side of the shanks with your center punch and "wiggle" it from side to side to break the bond. Again, be careful to not do too much collateral damage to the edge of the hole.

I bought my Rotabroach from the Snap-On truck umpteen years ago. It was pricey, but it has saved me numerous times. I have recently learned that it is available through Fastenal for about $80. That's about half of what I paid way back when.

Glue in your bungs, and you are all set. BTW, I use the G-5 "5-Minute" epoxy for bungs. This is not a structural bond, and I don't get a black ring around the bung that's as noticeable as with the regular Gougeon epoxy. G-5 can be thickened with the same additives as the 105/205 epoxy.

I plan to finish the sheer planks bright. I had a 100% success rate in removing the temporary fasteners along the lap and in the stems, so I used the 3/8" Rotabroach to counterbore for the bungs here. A note to those of you considering building this boat: I used #8 x 3/4" stainless truss-head screws for the first couple of glue-ups. I found that if the fits are true enough, 1/2" screws are more than ample for the temporary clamping duties. The difference in removing the 1/2" screws vs. the 3/4" is like night and day.

As far as other work going on: I stained and sealed the sheer planks. I spent a fair bit of time digging through the stack of 10' sheets of plywood, but even the "nice" stuff has a rotary-cut look to it. Staining allows enough of the grain to show through that you can still tell it's really wood, but takes the edge off the heinous grain qualities. I actually considered vacuum-bagging a veneer over the sheer plank stock. I decided that I'd prefer a sharp stick in the eye.

Forward outer stem is laminated, tapered, and fitted. Photos coming forthwith.

This week's kicker: having been on the fence since construction started in earnest, I have now landed squarely on the "sell this boat" side. While this project started as a labor of love, and will continue to be a much-enjoyed process, at this point in my life it makes the most sense to offer her for sale. I won't be broken-hearted if she doesn't sell immediately, but I have student loans and other obligations crying for attention. Who knows? Maybe I can "shake the tree" with this boat and make something long-term happen for my boat building career. Optimally (I really hope my wife doesn't read this), somebody has a TR-6 or an Alfa Spider and some cash. Or maybe an old Land Rover. Or an old Vespa...No, I should just sell her.

There is a solid up side to this decision. I am now absolved of having to make a final decision as to whether or not to build her with Mr. Atkin's skeg. This is a decision that can be made by her new owner, whoever that may be. I don't know what to do about the fact that she has been referred to as "Dark Secret" since construction started. It's supposed to be bad ju-ju top change a boat's name, but I know it's not everybody's cup of tea. She hasn't been christened, yet.

The last image is the ad that is coming out in the mid-March issue of Points East magazine.

I have been reading through some old forums at the WoodenBoat website that cover faerings in general, and some that cover Valgerda specifically. Next posting will cover my response to the "What makes a faering?" question, as well as other eagerly-awaited (yeah, right) philosophical rants. More photos, too.