Post XLIX -- Rubstrip, hardware, trailer. DONE!

Here's a quick overview of the trim pieces I added after final assembly. First thing was a rub-strip along the outside of the stem and keel. These are high-wear areas and a rub-strip is the best way to prevent damage to the fragile fiberglass + epoxy moisture barrier. I decided to glue this on rather than screw it (for waterproofness), figuring I could just sand it and replace sections as needed when it wears. The strip is unfinished white oak, 1/4" thick and it runs the entire length of the keel.

Figure 251: Innovative means of clamping the stem strip

For hardware, I added a stainless loop at the waterline for towing and hauling on to the trailer, and then added bow/stern cleats for tying up to the dock. I didn't go for anything too fancy here -- they are just standard SS bits from the local boat supply shop. 

Figure 252: Waterline haul loop (probably oversize)

Figure 253: Waterline haul loop backing plate and block.

Figure 254: Foredeck cleat (larger)

Figure 255: Aft cleats (smaller)

I added a protective coat to my oars (4 of them actually) with the same epifanes varnish used elsewhere on the boat. This gave them a nice protective shell. My plan is to re-varnish these at least once a year until I get a nice invincible coat built up. Before Varnishing, I also added some cross-grain blade ends to my culler oars using some leftover white oak. The spruce on these oars is far too delicate to be left unprotected, and it looks nice. 

Figure 256: Oars with their 1st coat of varnish

Figure 257: Oar ends for protection

The trailer construction was a bit of a saga. I went and found an old flat-deck trailer in my buddy's barn and paid him $300 for it. All in, the damn thing probably cost me as much as a new trailer to fix up. I had to:

  • transport it home on top of another trailer
  • Cut every single bolt because they were rusted so bad. 
  • Strip it to the frame & wire brush every square inch to remove rust
  • Paint the entire frame a lovely tremclad red, 2 coats. 
  • re-do bearings + add bearing buddy grease fittings
  • redo decking with some leftover cedar planks
  • Add a center bunk to accommodate the keel and bear most of the weight
  • Add bilge bunks to cradle the hull in an upright position
  • add a winch post at the front
  • replace lights & wiring
  • get it all inspected
In the end, my 'cheap' trailer looks pretty cool and works well enough until I can save up for a proper rig. 

Figure 258: Trailer as it was when I got it inspected 

Figure 259: Trailer with the boat on top just before I built the bilge bunks.


Post XLVIII - Final assembly of major components ALMOST DONE

Holy sweet flying fuck Ricky. She's pretty much done.

Canadian tire finally put the boat sundries out on the shelf and I picked up a tube of 3M 4200 sealant. This was used as an adhesive/sealant in the screw holes, and on the mating faces of the seat supports & hull blocks. These joints all could have been epoxied obviously, but I wanted them to be non-permanent in case I need to replace a seat or otherwise modify the bottom of the boat. 

So yeah. Pretty much DONE at this point. All that's left is the rub strip for the keel and a few cleats fore and aft. Probably going to add a tow loop down on the stem near the waterline as well to make it easier to haul the thing up onto a trailer. Check it out!

Figure 246: The standard view off the starboard bow

Figure 247: A bit lower perspective that better emphasizes the curves

Figure 248: Top down showing seats and floorboards

Figure 249: The happy builder & owner

Figure 250: The happy builder & his wife who is lovelier than the boat.


Post XLVII - Waterline & Paint Coat No. 3

Just a quick update today showing progress on painting. Now that I've finished varnishing the inside and gunwales (thank god) it was time for a final coat on the outside. It's been a couple of months since the first layers of blue went on and that stuff is all cured up now. It's important not to layer up too much easypoxy in one go. 1 or 2 coats max and then leave it for awhile. If you layer too thickly without leaving time for a full hardening, then it seems to go rubbery and takes forever to dry.

Given that the original paint was fully cured, i thought it would be a good idea to do a quick all around wet-sanding to texture the original paint and give the new coat something to grip. 

Figure 243: Wet sanded with 320 grit

Next, I taped off above the waterline with 1-1/4" masking tape. This leaves a gap between the graphite epoxy bottom coat and the gloss blue to accommodate the waterline stripe. This was followed by a new layer of blue. You can see my old fiberglass canoe here too -- it's in need of some serious TLC, paint being a part of that, so I painted it at the same time. Tape was removed shortly after; it's a good idea to do this just after the paint tacks up, but before it hardens completely. 

After letting the blue cure for 2 days, I came back and taped off the waterline stripe. This received 2 coats of easypoxy gloss white. With tape removed, the finished waterline stripe looks pretty damn good I think. 

Figure 244: Gloss blue coat all dry, with waterline above just prior to tape removal

Figure 245: Waterline stripe all done

And here demonstrates the need to let the first coat dry overnight before applying the second. I did 2 coats in pretty rapid succession with the white to hide the blue underneath. the paint job looks good, but it is still rubbery 3 days later. It'll cure eventually, but will take longer than if I had done it properly. 

Not a big deal anyway, the boat needs to stay upside down while I fabricate and install the rub strip on the keel. More on that next time!


Post XLVI - Oar oar oar my boat

This post is just to point to the new page available on the top banner of my page. I made a set of oars to go with the boat! The design is by Pete Culler, found in his book "Boats, Oars and Rowing"

Good times were had, and it was a nice distraction from all the finish work that's been going on. See the link for the full description. 

And of course, no posts without pics. Here is the finished product. See the link above 

Figure 240: One fully shaped pair of oars. Ready for finish sanding.

Figure 241: Oars next to the boat for scale


Post XLV - Epoxy seal & varnish coat 1

This post details some of the prep-work before starting the finish coats of varnish. Before I started, all the wooden parts were sealed from water save for the gunwales floors and seat supports. Not too much complicated about this stage -- I just brushed on unthickened epoxy and marveled at the glossy results.

Tip for anybody doing this -- watch out around the scuppers. Those things are drip machines if you are not careful. Be sure to come along underneath the gunwale with a foam brush maybe 20 minutes after application to clean up the excess before it hardens.

I also decided to seal the seats before varnishing. To get all sides of every seat piece, I had to string em up. Same went for the floorboard cross-ties. These are going to get wet often, so best to cover them as well, even though they are more or less disposable. 

Figure 233: Glossy Gunwales! 

Figure 234: High tech seat hangers 

Figure 235: Sealed floors and seat supports 

Figure 236 Sealed floorboard cross-ties 

I did some research in the following week as to which type of varnish works best. Turns out (as with most things) everybody has a different opinion of this. I decided it would be best to consult Ron at Canadiancanoe again -- he recommends Epifanes brand clear varnish. I saw this product recommended for use with WEST epoxy in several other places as well and decided to use it too. 

A few things about Epifanes varnish: 
  1. It is *thick*...about the same consistency as unthickened epoxy. I didn't find that it brushes on particularly easily, but was able to get it spread around in a nice even coat eventually. Over bare wood they recommend thinning 50% for the first coat. Not necessary over epoxy, but if I were going for mirror-finish I definitely would have thinned the first coat.
  2. Epifanes is real, real stinky. Indoors you need a niosh mask
  3. Just like paint, you need good surface prep. My hull had already been sanded to death, so I didn't do much there. All of the seat supports and floors were sanded with 220 grit. After sanding, I vacuumed dust, then wiped down everything twice with acetone
I covered the whole hull interior, and floors. I still had epoxy touch-ups curing on the gunwales & seat supports, so I'll get them next time. After everything was done, I went over the whole hull, looking at steep angles to find drips and runs; I smoothed these with a foam brush. The result is really quite nice to look at I think. 

Figure 237: First coat of varnish -- money shot!

Figure 238: Varnish on the seats 

I just include this picture to show something interesting. I was looking on steep angles trying to find runs and drips and noticed this ribbed pattern appear. I thought it was drips and runs, but then realized that it's the reflection of the portside strips in the starboard side varnish. Very shiny!

Figure 239: Another view of the varnish showing weird ripples


Post XLIV - Floorboard hold-downs & oarlock pads

I was thinking for a long time about how I wanted to hold down the floors. The floorboards have a concave arc along the length of the boat and need to be pulled down into that arc by some means. I finally came up with a good idea (I think). I bought some long stainless bolts, hacked the heads off, then added new grooves around the un-threaded part of the bolt. These bolts are going to be the tie-down points for the floorboards. 

Figure 222: Improvised Stainless threaded rod

I bored holes in the keel (not too deep) to fit the modified bolts and then set them in place with epoxy + filleting filler. Pretty simple operation all told, and only took me about an hour. I placed three bolts - one at the place where my rowing chock will go, one under the midship seat and a third under the forward seat. The forwardmost bolt was set in a riser block to get it at the right height.  

Why three points? It's the minimum amount needed to hold them in their arc and have them touch all of the floor crosspieces. Much better than having to screw them into structural bits and risk water penetration! Plus, the whole floor comes loose with only 3 bolts!

Figure 223: Stainless bolt before gluing

Figure 224: Forward bolt showing the riser block

The next project was the gunwale expansions that will accommodate my slightly oversized oarlocks. I realized the locks were a bit too wide for the gunwales *after* I bought them, but it's not a big deal. The plans call for some reinforcement around the locks anyway.

Figure 225: Gunwale epansion piece

The expansions were made from scrap gunwale stock. I designed them to fit under the gunwales (my locks are side-mount models remember) and I left them 12" long so I would have 6" of play around the nominal oarlock position in case I want to adjust down the road. No fancy woodworking here -- just cut 60 degree angles on the ends, pre-sanded them rough and glued them in place. 

Figure 226: The gunwale piece mocked up and ready to go

Figure 227: Gunwale expansions clamped all around

The last part was the floorboard tie-down. These were likewise made out of scrap gunwale stock. I have a hole bored in the middle which slides over the bolt. To either side of the bolt I have 3 screw points. This integrates the bolt (and keel) tightly into the floorboards with more than just friction. 

Figure 228: Tie-down piece being shaped

Figure 229: All finished and ready to install

Figure 230: Floorboards installed with clearance for bolts

Figure 231: Low shot looking aft showing relative scale of the tie-downs

You might be wondering why I made such dumb ugly oversized tie-downs for the floorboards. Oversize is good given the placement -- they double as rowing chocks for the main and forward rowing positions! That was actually the other reason why I had them so tightly fastened to the floor. Chocks take a fair bit of abuse and I didn't want the stainless bolt bearing the brunt of that. With them screwed to a floor that is held tightly to the boat at multiple locations, it's as good as pushing on something glued directly to the hull.

Finally, I added in all the seats  for a quick vanity shot before I begin the final finish work.

Figure 232: Oooooh pretty. 


Post XLIII - Paint mini-post

Could not wait to add this post. I finished my first coat of paint on the hull exterior tonight! I decided a long while back I was going to go with Pettit Easypoxy brand -- this paint is oil-based (and therefore doesn't completely suck), brushes or rolls on, cures glossy and flat, and is generally the easiest thing to apply with a rookie setup like mine. I've used it for a tonne of other boat paint jobs and in my opinion there's nothing better.

SURFACE PREP -- I put that in caps because it's super important for marine paint. First: the entire hull needs to be sanded or at least roughened with sandpaper. Not sure exactly what is recommended, but I went with 100 grit here. Worked fine for me. Second - all dust needs to be removed and then the whole thing should be wiped clean of residue using acetone or 99% isopropyl alcohol (I use the former). If you take these steps you can go directly onto the epoxy with no primer. If you fail to take these steps, the finish is virtually guaranteed to peel.

Figure 217: Taped gunwales and sanded, acetone-wiped hull surface

The only (and biggest) problem with Easypoxy is that their stock colours are 90% horrible. The only one that appealed to me at all (apart from black & white) was the colour I bought for my canoe years ago -- electric blue! The name belies the darkness of blue when cured; it's actually pretty attractive as a hull colour if you favour darker hulls as I do.

A friend told me awhile back that Easypoxy is best applied dry-to-whet. Brush from un-painted areas into painted ones. The bristles lift gradually out of wet paint if you brush this way, and it allows the paint to lie flat again and retain the glossiness. Going the opposite way takes chunks out of the wet areas that don't fill in as readily. I use this technique every time I paint with Easypoxy (or other gloss paint) and it works great.

I typically apply by loading the brush, then wiping only one side on the edge of my container. I paint using the wiped side and the glossy paint oozes onto the boat surface through the bristles at a more-or-less steady rate.

Figure 218: The firs blobs of paint on the port bow!

The other thing I like about Easypoxy is that it beads nicely and, except for inside corners like the hull-gunwale joint, you can draw up to a line with very little effort. I met the graphite-epoxy waterline without the need for tape.

Overall, the experience was about equal to my other experiences with the brand. A nice, glossy coat that flattens almost immediately and then tacks up within an hour. I'll apply the second coat tomorrow night. It's best to do this after it dries but before the paint reaches full-cure (7 days) if you want the coats to bond chemically to one another.

Figure 219: Starboard side all painted up.

Figure 220: Portside bow all painted up

Figure 221: Aft starboard side, and transom painted up to the transom cap piece.


Post XLII -- Another BIG SAND, and the Start of the Finish

I'm happy to say I'm getting down to the last few items before this boat is ready for paint. The last few sessions have been short and sporadic, but I've been taking advantage of the off-schedule to get done little jobs. First among these jobs was sanding the scuppers. Knowing that I'd be covering them in epoxy + varnish, I rough-sanded them with 100 grit. It was a bit painstaking doing 12 scuppers on each side, but they look much better for it, and are not so apt to catch fingers or cut hands.

Figure 206: Un-sanded scuppers

Figure 207: Scuppers post-sanding

The last and most nagging finish item was the bow. At this point, I realize there's very little I can do to make it look beautiful. The best I can hope for is a competent-looking repair job. I scarphed the gunwales back to the forward-most screws and made some short pieces to carry out to the cutwater. These short pieces were glued-and-screwed in place, and actually look half decent now that I've blended them to the rest of the gunwale by sanding. I don't have a pic right now but will try to remember to update the blog down the road. 

Figure 208: Gunwales cut back to receive new extensions

Figure 209: Extensions in place. This has been sanded since and looks decent.

In a longer weekend session I started the final BIG SAND of the boat. I had to smooth up the interior in preparation for paint & varnish. I'm going to paint below the decks for better waterproofness and varnish above. This went a bit quicker than the outside, but was still utterly painstaking. I'm glad it's done. I switched to 80 grit on the inside -- 60 grit was a bit too aggressive and I didn't want to go through the FG cloth by accident. Yet another instance where I'm glad I bought the RO sander that hooks to the shopvac. This would be a hellish job if I didn't have a dust removal machine operating the whole time. 

Figure 210: Sanding in progress. 

And finally came the interesting part -- the bottom coat. It's always more fun adding stuff to the boat than removing stuff (especially removing stuff with sandpaper, ugh)

The bottom coat is epoxy mixed with the WEST 423 graphite additive. The graphite is a solid lubricant that is supposed to protect the hull when it takes a hit. When I strike a pointy rock, the idea is that the graphite coating will help the boat slide off the rock, turning what could be a penetrating blow into a glancing blow. Not sure how this will all play out in practice, but I read lots of endorsements for the use of graphite additive as a bottom coat and decided to try it out. It was going to be painted anyway, so there's no harm in it.

Before starting to apply the bottom coat, I taped off the water line. The graphite (based on a test patch) does not thicken the epoxy very much and it *will* drip before curing. Taping off saves a lot of work cleaning up drips.

Figure 211: Waterline all taped up

The graphite-epoxy mixture (3/4 tbsp in 5 pumps of epoxy/hardener) paints on easy -- just like straight epoxy. I works best to brush from dry into wet areas, with a medium load of epoxy on the bristles.  

Figure 212: Closeup of the finish with tape still on

Just before final cure -- maybe 60min after application, depending on room temperature, is when the tape should come off. Remove it just after the epoxy tacks up (and stops running), but before it hardens appreciably. I stuck the tape down real good before starting, but I still had some seepage of epoxy underneath. The resulting line has some "hairs" for sure, but will be hidden by the paint before long.

The result wasn't perfectly symmetric. Not sure if this was my crappy attempt at marking a waterline, or some asymmetry in the hull. I don't much care at this point -- you almost never evaluate both sides of a waterline this way, except when it's under a builder's self-deprecating scrutiny in the workshop!

Figure 213: Closeup of the finish with tape removed -- note the "hairy" line left behind

Figure 214: And an overhead view showing the slight asymmetry. Oh well.

The very last thing to do before paint was to fix up my mistakes from sanding. Places where I got a bit overzealous, I ended up penetrating the cloth layer. You can see it in Figure 215, just above the gunwale. Nothing too bad, but I didn't want to leave anything to chance. I took unthickened epoxy and painted over any that the weave was showing. These areas will receive a final scuff sanding before I apply the paint. Yay...more sanding!

Figure 215: Slight penetration of the FG cloth near the gunwale. This will be sealed up

Figure 216: The hull, showing areas I painted over. These will be sanded later

Finally, I took the opportunity to put a nice round on the underside of the outer gunwales before I paint. I figure it's a good idea to get this out of the way so I don't have to worry about accidentally scuffing the new paintjob later on.  That's all for now. Next up is the paint job -- stay tuned to learn the EXCITING COLOUR that I picked!!!