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Badger
In Greenland

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Iron Bark
Under full sail

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Fantail
At Russell Boating Club's Tall Ships Regatta

Annie Hill

Annie Hill
Photo credit: Alvah Simon

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About Me

06 September, 2020

More on bilgeboards, rudders and now ... self steering. Plus a bit of paint.

I concluded my last post with the less-than-welcome discovery that the bilgeboards could not be rigged as planned.  Obviously a Plan B was required.

 If you look carefully at the photo, you can see what the problem is.  A block is required on deck to haul the bilgeboard up.

If it is fitted on the piece of teak, intended for that purpose, the rope will catch on the plastic strip at the after end of the board.  The obvious thing to do was to put the blocks on post, which would bring them further inboard.

Some years ago, I was given some fibreglass stanchions.  They are very strong and well made, but at 33mm diameter at the base, looked far too large when I offered them up for their intended purpose.  However, I reckoned they would be ideal for this job, and laminated up some leftover teak decking to make a base for them.

These bases were glued to the decks, joggled around the teak already there.

The stanchions were fitted into holes that were sunk well into the bases, using a hole saw.  Extra glue was poured in from the top to ensure a really substantial "root" had been achieved.

The posts in place.  In the background is Blackie, a feral cat that thinks the shed is her home.

I capped off the posts to keep the rain out and could then rig the blocks for raising and lowering the boards.  Well, as it turns out, lowering them.  With no water to float them raising them is impossible, at present: the slope of the cases plus gravity makes for too much resistance.

While this had been going on, I had decided to get my pram hood frame made up.  There are very clear drawings in Practical Junk Rig, and I took my copy along to a local company that specialises in making stainless steel stuff for boats.  I showed him the drawing, said what I wanted, gave him the semi-circular piece of wood that I had already made and asked him if he wanted to keep the book.  He photocopied the relevant page and gave it back to me.  I asked him if he really understood the concept and he looked at me as though I had crawled out from under a stone.  Of course he did.

Well, apparently he didn't.  Not only did he make the frames far too heavy - 18mm stainless steel instead of the 12mm that would have been more appropriate, he made the hinge/connector way too big.  You can see it in the top left corner of the photo.  Made out of 3mm material, it was impossible to bend to match the wood, and moreover, it was so big that it extended well beyond the hemisphere.  And the frames didn't stack properly.  I am not the cleverest of people when it comes to following a drawing and it is a slow and painful process for me to reproduce something.  However, I worked out a scale from the book and made a pattern out of 4mm plywood in about half an hour.  I then adjusted it until I could get the somewhat altered frames to fit.  I couldn't afford to get the whole thing made again, and there is nothing actually wrong with 18mm for the frame.  It's just unnecessarily heavy.

I took my pattern to another shop (I am completely feeble about going back to complain to people) and got them to make what I wanted.  They really couldn't go wrong and I drilled out the holes myself.  Here is the framework in place.

And this is with the frames folded down.  At the end of the day it is a very acceptable job and I give grateful thanks to the good friend who gave me some funds to make this possible.  I shall always think of it as his pram-hood.

Joining the rudders together has been something that has puzzled me for a long time.  There's all this blather about Ackermann steering which is all to do with car wheels, but apparently applies to rudders, too.  Then the rudder bar has to allow the engine to lift.  After much cogitation and some discussion with The Great One, who spelt it all out to me in words of one syllable, I decided that the bar would be best fitted abaft the rudders on small 'tillers', attached to the rudders.  Some of my invaluable old kauri was sawn up for this purpose, and glued so that the tillers had a small wedge on them, according to Mr Ackermann's theories.  I've already forgotten exactly what they are!

The next job was to sort out the self-steering gear.  More multitasking!  It's really rather stressful, in truth, and leaves me little energy for other things.  The Great One, once more had come up trumps, you will recall and really, all I had to do was to make the connections and a wind vane.  I had made little tillers for the trim tab rudders, and made the connection between the vane and the nearest (port) tiller from Tufnol.  While I am perfectly sure that David made everything correctly, I am never quite sure that I have done an equally good job, so I have made several extra holes in both so that I can adjust the trim of vane to trim tab if necessary.

I think I mentioned about having to put on yards of masking tape - one of my least favoured jobs, so that I could start painting.  Anyway, I spread the red paint with gay abandon, but came to regret not putting on any undercoat.  The red polyurethane doesn't cover that well (and, to be fair, it says so on the lid) and a base coat would have made it all more even.  Five coats were required to get an even (ish) appearance.  I shall not make the same mistake with the other colours!

Another issue that has been tasking my poor brain for, literally, years, has been the tiller(s). Having somewhat reluctantly concluded that one tiller was simply not going to work, I have accepted that I will have to have two.  However, it's bad enough having one tiller in the cockpit at anchor, but two is beyond a joke.  The obvious thing is to hinge them up and I was sure that this would be my solution until it sank into my tiny mind that there is to be a thundering great seat across the lute, over the rudders.  This would obviously prevent them lifting.  Always, in the back of my mind, is the fear that I might have to clear harbour, one dark and stormy night, with no notice.  The idea of removable tillers is therefore anathema to me, but finally I had to accept that if I wanted to be able to have a clear cockpit at anchor, then I will have to be able to take the tillers out.  And besides: I don't expect I'll be sailing in wild places that often!

The next question was how to fit the tillers and all I could really come up with was some sort of box into which they could slide in or out.  I couldn't put the tillers on top of the rudders, contained between cheeks, because of the trim tab tillers.  I didn't want anything too clumsy and the best I could come up with was fitting them into some box section metal.  I managed to run down some aluminium of very nearly the dimensions of the section that I had already laminated for my tillers (before I realised that they couldn't be hinged!).

Having finally made my decision, I cut the laminate in half and shaped the tillers.  The laminates make them strong, and although they don't look that big, they certainly compare favourably with solid tillers on boats of a similar size and, of course, the rudders are not that big.  I am a great believer in reefing out weather helm: I am sure they will be amply strong.

The plan was to screw the cases on to the side of the rudders, bedded on Simson's Marine Glue.  It is possible to glue alloy with epoxy, but very messy.  I intended to leave two large screws in place anyway, so the Simson's should be more than adequate.  A bolt, with an R clip to secure it, will pass though both tiller and rudder head.  I scarfed a piece of purpleheart to the base of the tillers because it is both harder and stronger than teak.  I then coated them with epoxy and graphite powder.

While I was working on the rudders, I decided to fit a couple of stops.  I have never had rudder stops on a boat before, and have often felt that they would be a good idea.  Time will tell.  On this photo, you can also see the long bolt that fits through the tiller and its case.

I fitted the shaped tillers to check that everything works.  They are easy to remove and replace. They lie neatly outboard on the upper seating and don't interfere with anything.  Once the alloy is painted, it will be less obvious.  I admit that this isn't the prettiest of solutions, but it is practical.

Meanwhile, I was carrying on with the self-steering gear.  I bought some 3mm plywood for the vane and cut it to the same shape as the sail will be, which I think looks rather nice.  I glassed one side, to stiffen it a little.  I didn't want to add the extra weight of glassing both sides.

The trim tab tillers also need to be joined, so I made up a little bar from offcuts of teak.  I am getting a bit short of suitable timber and reckoned that the laminated teak would be both strong and light.  I had epoxy mixed anyway, to coat the bottom of the seat.

The reason I was trying to keep the vane light is because it is necessary to counterbalance it in order for it to respond to the wind as is required.  I added struts to the plywood to attach the vane to the post down to the self-steering mechanism

and to support the counterbalance weight.  I was following David's drawing, but when I realised how much lead was required, I rather wished I'd made the lower arm a bit longer.  Real boatbuilders would have melted scrap lead to an appropriate shape.  I'm terrified of doing that, so went and bought a couple of 500 gram dive weights and a variety of fishing weights to trim it accurately.  I glassed the big weights to the lower arm of the wind vane.

I then put it onto the upright and tried adding small weights until the vane balanced.  Another 2x8oz and 3x1/4 oz weights were required.  The last 1/4 oz made it a little nose heavy, but I still had to add paint to the vane.

I fitted the self steering to check that it all seems to work - and to get it out of the way until I would paint the vane!
Finally the last coat of red paint was on and I covered it with clear polyurethane to protect it from the sun.  Counter intuitive, I know, but the commercial, clear two-part polyurethane that I use as 'varnish', has better UV inhibitors than the coloured paint!
I finished off varnishing around the stern and waited for it to harden off so that I could affix the solar panels.
Gordon was painting his dinghy, so I filched the tag end of his white paint to cover the small pieces of wood that will serve as dividers between the colours on the cabin sides.
I had been discussing my bow rollers with a friend and it occurred to me that I might as well fit them.  I've been putting it off because it's a bit of a squeeze getting past them, but as I won't be lugging pieces of wood around 'upstairs' any more I decided to secure them permanently.
The next stage was to prepare the cabin sides for undercoating and I decided to do the battens for the sail at the same time.  There are seven battens in total, including the boom, and as they are jointed, that means 14 altogether.  They take up a lot of space, laid out flat.
Then there was another long day spent masking off the red paint so that I could undercoat the cabin sides.  Blackie seems to have got herself into the photo again.

Yay!  Here goes the first coat of undercoat on the cabin sides.  This stuff covers wonderfully, as you can see, and has a slight sheen so that it shows all the bumps and hollows.  I'm actually very pleased with how fair the hull is.  There are no fillers apart from what I used over the scarf joints before covering the hull with fibreglass.  The undercoat is International Perfection.I might have used if for the top coats, too, except for the fact that the range of colours is so limited.  It is certainly the easiest two-part polyurethane I have used for producing an acceptable finish.

Acceptable to me, perhaps I should say.  To be honest, even if I had the skills and the patience, I am not that interested in getting a 'super yacht' finish on the topsides.  A boat that is lived on all the year round is effectively a work boat.  I like her to look smart and tidy, but I aim for the sort of finish you used to see on fishing boats, in the days when fishermen loved and cared for their vessels.  Life is too short to spend time and money fairing and sanding, fairing and sanding.  If she looks attractive as I row away from her, that will suit me.

It was exciting adding the first layer of coloured paint at the bow.  Even more pleasing was that I am achieving the effect that I was aiming for.


As I shall be making a yellow sail, the wind vane is also yellow.  Much more so than it looks in the photograph which appears more like cream!

Which reminds me.  The undercoat certainly makes for a nice, even base, but at the end of the day, I still end up applying 5 coats of paint!

The varnish around the stern was now hardened enough for me to put the solar panels back in place, permanently.

The panels are lashed down to lacing eyes, that are screwed to the panel frames and to the davit bar aft, and the top of the lute, forward.



13 August, 2020

Multitasking

Supposedly, women are very good at multitasking, but there are exceptions to every rule.  In some cases I am on par with the best of my sex, but when it comes to building a boat, I  find multitasking exhausting and distracting. However, while it was easy to concentrate on one task at  time when I was, for example, laying the deck, I now find that I am in a situation where I have to do several things at the same time, because before I can do job A I'd need to sort out job B, but that depends on how C is going to be fitted, and so on.

 Mark and Phil gave me a very handsome boarding ladder some time back.  Gordon had bought some fittings for a cockpit table that hadn't worked out and gave them to me to put "in stock".  I reckoned I could pair them together.  Gordon obligingly took time off from building his dinghy to cut down the top of the ladder to fit said fittings.  Of course, like so many simple jobs, what seemed to work well when offered up required modification for a final fit, but finally the fittings were put in place.

 Before I could put any paint on, I wanted to seal the bare teak with varnish.  Before I could seal the teak, I wanted to be sure that I had put at least the majority of it in place.  Therefore, I had to think about how I was going to secure the solar panels on the davits, because they would be held in place with lashings and teak chocks.  (By the way, forgive me for the layout -again! - the new Blogger, added to the fact that I still don't have a keyboard, apparently still on its way from China, I assume by way of a wind driven junk, from the time it's taking!) Is giving me hell on this occasion.  Funny, I thought I'd got it under control last time I used it.


I also needed to work out where the self-steering gear was going to go,  because this dictated where the seat across the lute stern would go and this seat is essential to brace the lute for the mainsail sheet.  So I made some supports for the self steering mounts from kauri.

And here is the ladder in place.

                                                

Originally, when I built the hull, the inside of the bilge board cases was extended about 6 inches, to take the blocks. This made it difficult to lay the decks and besides, I didn't think the plywood would withstand the force of someone heavy sliding against it.  With varnishing in the offing, this seemed like a good time to replace it with something stronger.  The thought of slipping down to leeward with the bilgeboards lowered, doesn't bear contemplating,  so I made a good strong base from some of my rapidly-dwindling stock of teak.

While I was working with teak, I made the 'rudder heads' and 'tillers' for the trim tabs.  You see what I mean about multitasking! 

The supports for the  self-steering had been coated and were now dry enough to be glued into place.  


 While I had the glue mixed, I fitted the teak by the bilgeboard cases.  They are backed up with a substantial lump of teak glued to the deck, so I believe that they will be amply strong.


 And various pieces of teak to secure the solar panels, although you will need to look quite closely at this photo to see them.  The little chocks at the forward end go over the corners.  Aft the chocks have holes drilled through them for lashings and I will attach saddles to the panels themselves.

Finally, I could put some varnish around the deck edges to protect everything when I started to splash paint around.  It's a lot easier to scrape it off shiny varnish than bare wood!

 

The next job was to lay teak on the seat.  I can see myself kneeling on this to work the davits and don't want it to be slippery.  It will also be a lot more pleasant to sit on than paint.  As well as reinforcing the lute against the loads of the sheet, the seat also protects the self-steering gear and trim tab rudders.  However, since placing it in position, I have realised that it makes having raising tillers very difficult, without involving engineering work.  Several people have suggested removable tillers, an idea that doesn't really appeal, but if I don't want them entirely taking over the cockpit, at anchor, I may have no other choice.

 I put a stiffener along the middle of the seat and a piece of teak along the front to ensure that it won't sag when I put my great weight in the middle of it.

The cutout is to fit around the self-steering gear.


Then came a task that I loathe - putting masking tape on everything.  If I am recoating with one or two coats, I often avoid using masking tape, but I knew I would need several coats of paint to cover and that was too many to apply with the level of care necessary to keep it from slopping over the edge.  It took ages to apply the tape.

 

I made use of having Gordon around to help me start rigging the bilgeboards.  they are not lightweight and while David assures me it will all be different when we (and they) are floating, it is a bit of a struggle at present.  It was at this stage that I noticed a snag.  The idea for raising and lowering the bilgeboards is taken from the Red Fox design.  However, on that boat, a channel is moulded into the hull for the block that is a
ttached to the hull.  If I were to put a cheek block onto the teak support, the board would
hit it when it was raised.  Nothing is ever easy.

And that, I'm afraid, includes writing this blog.  I have had to load every photoraph at leas twice and they seem to be sized at random, with the preview telling me it's OK and the edit that I'm working on saying something else entirely.  I shall post what I've done and try again on Sunday.  If the final result is a complete shambles, I will try re-editin it.  


Why do they do these things?  The old Blogger worked just fine :'-(