Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Sampson post post

Yesterday I made and installed Ravn's Sampson post. With the decks finished It's time to put on the mahogany combings, but I had to get the Sampson post in place before I could do that.

I had a chunk of eight-quarter teak I've been hording for years. I jointed one edge and ripped a square length off to make the post. I held it in place and decided how much should stand above the deck and made a mark. Shaping the champers and the characteristic depression for the bit was a lot of fun. Teak is wonderful wood to work with: it carves beautifully and using a sharp plane on it is pure joy. Your edges don't stay sharp for long working with teak because of the silica in the wood, but it's worth the extra trips to the oil stones.

For the cross piece I turned a five-eighths spindle out of a scrap of purple heart. While it was still in the lathe I used the point of my turning tool to etch some rings in the section that will be buried in the post so when I glued the cross piece in place the epoxy will have some purchase.

Before I put the fore deck on I clamped the blank I would make the Sampson post out of in place and drilled holes for the three quarter-inch lag screws that go from inside the bulkhead into the post. Another longer lag screw goes through the Sampson post and the bulkhead into the bulkhead knee that's glued and screwed to the keel.

I mixed up a small batch of epoxy with colloidal silica one-to-one by volume and prepared all of the teak surfaces that would get glued by cleaning them with acetone to get rid of the natural oils that make teak such a great outdoor wood. I had to use a wooden mallet to tap the purple heart cross piece in place. It wasn't overly tight, but I wasn't taking any chances splitting the post I'd put so much work into so I held it in a clamp, just in case. All the screws snugged down tight. The Sampson post is there to stay.

The Sampson post is not in Valgerda's plans. Like the water-tight compartments in the bow and stern, it is a feature I borrowed from the Kari II plans. I think it will be a handy addition to the boat.

While I had some epoxy on hand I installed the screw eye that will secure Ravn's forestay. You can just see it in the background of the photo. It's exciting to start putting some of the finishing touches on the boat.

Decks aye!

The lookout calls from the main top, "On deck!"

The helmsman answers, "Deck aye!"

So starts every communication aboard tall ships from topmen to crew on deck.

Now Ravn has decks, two of them. Decks? Aye!

After installing the deck beams I used some scrap plywood (thin shards not much good for anything else), yellow glue and spring clamps to make a rough pattern for each deck. I then laid the pattern on my remaining sheet of quarter-in plywood to find the best arrangement, marked the points, and used a batten to connect the dots. I rough cut a little wide and refined the fit with a block plane and file. One of the things that made fitting the decks tricky was that there are cutouts for two frame heads and a notch in the pointy ends for the stems.

Once I was happy with the fit, I mixed up a batch of epoxy and used a foam roller to wet the top of the deck beams and seal the bottom of the deck. I then used wood flour to thicken the epoxy to a peanut butter consistency and spread it a little less than a quarter inch thick on the tops of the deck beams and the tops of the bulkheads. I carefully dropped the deck in place and piled scuba weights and other heavy things I could find on the deck about where the deck beams and the tops of the bulkhead are. I then used the thickened epoxy to fillet between the deck and the hull.

The next day I checked my work by using a flashlight and a mirror to look at the inside of the decks. There was uniform squeeze out around the deck beams. It looks like I got a good, strong connection.

After sanding and fairing the deck, especially the fillet between the deck and hull, I lay my remaining six-ounce fiberglass cloth on the decks. Months ago I ordered 15 yards of 60-inch wide cloth. I covered the outside of the boat before putting the keel on and put a second layer over the keel and everything below the waterline. I carefully saved the scraps and cut them into 4-inch wide strips to tape the plank seams inside the hull after she was turned over. I didn't know how much cloth I had left on the roll, but I hoped I could glass both decks without coming up short and without too much left over. It turns out there was only about three inches left over when I laid it out. Phew! That was a close one! I could not have guessed any better how much cloth I would need.

I wet out the fiberglass cloth with epoxy and using a foam roller and a two-inch disposable bristle brush. It went well and the decks look good. So good, in fact, that I plan on leaving them bright -- at least for the time being.

One feature about the decks I'm pleased about is that they are mostly level with a slight crown and a slight slope from the ends to midships. I wanted water to drain outboard at the corners. Because they are fairly level and most of their perimeter is enclosed I think they will be more handy than highly crowned decks above the sheer. I envision putting stuff on them for a short while in a calm anchorage and not having to worry about it falling into the drink. Speaking of the sheer, I also wanted to preserve that most distinctive and beautiful visual feature of faerings by keeping the deck below it.

Without a doubt, though, my most persistent vision of the decks in use is that of my six-year-old grandson and his three-year-old sister (PFD'd and harnessed, of course) taking command of the decks. Her holding on to the stern stem watching Ravn's wake and big brother at the figurehead on lookout.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Hunting and Gathering

In addition to actually building a boat there is just a lot of hunting and gathering you need to do. Finding the right rudder hardware is one example (Gudgeons and Gudgeons, Oct. 25 post).

In September I sold my beloved Chamberlain dory to a couple from California who drove to Lincoln City to get it. My goal was to sell the boat for enough money to get an new trailer and the sail for Ravn. I bought a new E-Z Loader trailer two weeks after I sold my dory. It's hard finding a trailer that is designed for a sailboat. This trailer is generic enough I can make it work. It has some very nice improvements over the trailer on my Chamberlain dory. For instance, it has a new type of bearing that doesn't need greasing ever! The trailer is all galvanized and it's designed so it doesn't have leaf springs to rust out.

I had $200 left over after the trailer purchase, which is about half what a new lug sail for a Valgerda would cost. Luckily my friend John Kohnen was willing to part with the sail from his Valgerda for my two remaining Benjamin Franklins. John's boat was built in the late '50s for the Weyerhaeuser family. It is a beautiful boat, but it has been extensively modified from the original with, among other things, an inboard engine. He said if it was ever to sail again it would need a larger sail. An assessment with which I agree and for which I'm grateful. I picked up the sail from John's place in Eugene earlier this month. It really is a beautifully-made sail. It seems almost new, so I'm sure it's not original to the boat. I can hardly wait to put it to use.

Yesterday I got another detail almost taken care of: two marine patrol deputies from the Lincoln County Sheriff's Department came to my house to give me a Boat Hull Identification Number (HIN) Inspection. It was nice of them to come by and do it. I was going to get a photo of them to put in the blog, but I forgot. Now I can send that report in, along with the letter from the State Marine Board, to the State of Oregon and get my HIN and registration numbers. Then I'll be legal to be on Oregon waters.

About the only things left to gather is a 5/16" dia. bronze rod for the rudder gear and the wood -- spruce if I can get it, cvg fir is a good second choice -- for the mast, spars and oars.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Bow Deck Beams

Before installing the other deck beams in the bow, I had to install the bow eye and the interior flange for the water-tight hatches. I was glad I waited until I bought a new trailer for Ravn before installing the bow eye; I would have put it too high. I had to measure from the trailer's main beam to the winch and translate that to where the bow will be when it's on the trailer to find the right place to drill the hole. I coated the galvanized eye bolt and the inside of the hole with epoxy before bolting it on.

As I was installing the piece of plywood that will serve as the interior flange for the water-tight hatches I had an epiphany: in stead of mitering the secondary deck beams into the main deck beam, why not cut slots in the plywood frame and bulkhead and run them fore and aft? It was much easier and it ended up in stronger joints and more support for the deck.

After milling the old-growth fir to the dimensions I wanted, I just laid them across the bulkheads, marked where they were to go and cut notches in the bulkheads with a back saw and a frame saw. I dry-fit the deck beams and used a compass to mark out the long scarf where the deck beams join the inside of the hull at the bow. I took the deck beams to the bandsaw and cut the scarf while sighting down the two lines. It only took a few minutes to do the whole operation and I glued them in with thickened epoxy. The next day I cut off the ends that were sticking through the number 2 bulkhead.

Finally a project on the boat that took less time than I figured it would!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Stern Deck Beams

I've spent a couple of weeks filling, taping and sanding the inside plank seams. I also used fiberglass tape to tab in all of the plywood bulkheads. Now it's time to work on the decks at the stern and bow. They are about the same, being a double ender, but after doing the stern deck beams I decided to do the bow differently. More about that later.

I installed the main deck beam when I assembled the stem and number 10 and 12 frames together back when I was building the skeleton (see Building Ravn's Backbone in September's posts). The deck beam connected the top part of the two frames and the stem and made them stable enough that they stayed in alignment while I put them on the building form.

I should mention that the watertight compartments in the bow and stern are not part of the original Valgerda plans, although at least one builder in Australia added them to the boat he built from Atkin's original plan. They are, however, a feature in the Selway-Fisher Kari 2 plans.

I wanted the bow and stern compartments for two reasons: the reserve flotation should Ravn ever become swamped and dry storage for gear. I also think it will help keep the boat neat and shipshape, which enhances safety at sea.

The deck beams are made out of some old-growth douglas fir that I've had for years. A friend gave it to me when I was patching the fir floors in my 100-year-old home. It is tight, light and stiff -- just what you want for a deck beam. When you cut the wood it has a dusty, pitchy smell that is very different from the smell you get cutting into, say, a douglas fir 2-by-4 from the lumber yard.

I'm going to use 6mm plywood covered with 6-ounce fiberglass cloth for the deck. I would be a little more comfortable using 9mm plywood, but that would mean another trip to Portland and another $90. I have a full sheet of 6mm left over from planking so I'll use that. The thinner plywood means I need to put in additional deck beams so the deck won't flex too much.

I suppose I could write several posts on things I would do differently if I built the boat over. Not that I'm unhappy with how the boat is going together or the work I've done, but I feel a couple things could be improved upon. One thing I would do is put a deck hatch in the middle of the stern deck between frame's 10 and 12. That would be the best access to the space and it would be fairly easy to secure and keep watertight. It would also be fun to build and look cool. For now I'm going with a tight flat deck with limited access through the stern seat bulkhead hatch.

The miter joints into the main deck beam were easy to cut with my old Jackson backsaw and a chisel. Where the deck beams meet the side of the boat I simply scribed them with a compass and took them to the bandsaw. The miter joint into the main deck beam retained much of the meat of the main deck beam and did not weaken it substantially. When I was gluing the whole thing together I decided at the last minute to epoxy a rectangular piece of plywood scrap under both joints just in case. I'm kind of a belt and suspenders guy sometimes. It ruins the elegance of the joints, but no one will ever see them anyway.