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In Greenland

Iron Bark

Iron Bark
Under full sail


At Russell Boating Club's Tall Ships Regatta

Annie Hill

Annie Hill
Photo credit: Alvah Simon

Blue Water Medal

Blue Water Medal
Blue Water Medal

Books By Annie Hill

  • Brazil and Beyond
  • Voyaging on a Small Income

About Me

28 January, 2018

Mainly deckbeams

Fitting deckbeams - for me at any rate - is slow, painstaking work.  And not terribly photogenic.  However, I'm quite pleased with the results.

 The first thing to do was to smooth down the upper surface of the bulkhead.  It wasn't sawn perfectly to begin with, although it was pretty good, and there were dribbles of epoxy, etc, from various jobs.  The deck, you may recall consists of two straight lines (on either side) and a curved centre section.  An offcut from the deckbeam stock helped me check that the edges were straight.

 In the meantime, I finished coating the foredeck.  What looks cream in the photos is, in fact, a rather pleasing (to my eye) shade of yellow.  It is impossible to get far enough out of the shed to get a decent photo, but you'll have to take my word for it that it looks pretty smart.

 The next thing was to offer up the deckbeams.  What with springback (the amount the laminated curve tries to straighten out again), and the less than perfect scarfs, this was one of those (many) situations where I was profoundly grateful for the gap-filling properties of epoxy.  As the deck is going to have an inner liner inside the deck beams (to create an even stiffer deck), the 4mm ply will hide these rather wide glue joints.  I hope.  And anyway, knowing my joinery, it will probably require fillets all round to hide the gaps!

 It had also occurred to me that the tabernacle should be varnished before installation.  It will be a lot easier to touch up any scratches than to try and apply varnish between the tabernacle and the side of the bunk.  So over the next several days I varnished a side or two, whenever the time seemed appropriate.

 The existence of epoxy also made it a little less nerve-racking cutting the notches that the beams rest in.  I could have used a multitool for this, but it didn't take that much longer to saw and chisel out the notches and there was less room for making a major botch.

 I dry fitted the beams, levelling them with each other and the one already fitted at the front of the cabin.  It would have been easier if I hadn't fitted the first one - levelling the bulkheads without a beam on them is much easier.  Having realised this, at least I had the sense to do the next three bulkheads at the same time.  I used lots of screws to pull them into place, then backed out the screws, spread glue and put the beams down again.

 The whole project was made somewhat more stressful by the recent temperatures.  38⁰C in the shed with high humidity, thoughtfully topped up by the weather gods with regular showers.  I had to break out the super-slow hardener, which I don't think I even used last year.  I daren't use any other at present.

When I came to fit the intermediate beams in the saloon/galley, I found that they seemed to be lower than the bulkheads.  I thought I was going to have to use brute force to bring them up to the same level as the others once they were installed, which was a bit of a worry.

 The answer came at three in the morning as I lay in bed:  they had simply slipped lower down the sheer clamp and all that was required to put them in place was to clamp them to straight edges laid across the other beams and then screw them to the sheer clamp.  Obvious, no doubt, but not to me and I felt absurdly pleased with myself for working it out.  I was equally pleased for remembering to put spacers between them to ensure that they didn't twist out of alignment while the glue was setting.  With the clamps off and the screws out they are within epoxy-filling reach of accurate.

 Once all the beams from the heads aft were cleaned up, I needed to put in the wood for the liner.  It was a lot easier than in the forecabin, because the lengths between the beams were sufficiently short that I could get away with straight pieces (there is less sheer here, too).

Ever the optimist, I intended to clamp them in, but with the clamps being screwed down at an angle, they slipped and slithered about too much.  A quick round with the drill and a few screws did the job.

Talking of drills, I need to give a shout out to Bunnings, here.  My friend, Steve, had given me on of their cheap and cheerful battery drills and I found I used it a lot.  My battery screwdriver can be a bit fierce, so I used one drill as a driver and one for making holes.  A week or so ago it ceased to take a charge and I took it back, largely because I thought they could dispose of it in a more responsible fashion than I can.  I had no receipt, of course.  To my absolute astonishment, they told me I could have another.  Unfortunately, they don't make this rather natty little drill (with a built-in battery) any more, so the replacement was much more clunky.  However, it was over $11 cheaper and they refunded that, too! That is definitely service above and beyond what I expected, (even if it was the ethically correct thing to do) and I feel they deserve a pat on the back.  I would generally prefer to use Mitre 10 - a Kiwi-owned franchise - but this Aussie company gave me excellent service.

On which happy note, it's back to polishing the portholes.
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