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!!!


Post XLI - More floor

I realized that my floorboard wood had not completely seasoned when I went back to finish the final floorboard on the port side. The two centre pieces took a pretty nasty curve edgewise and no longer fit tightly together. I decided it would be best to remedy this using ties that span all 4 boards. This is not strictly called-for in the plans, but there's no way things will stay straight unless the lot is tied together. Considering I'm not finishing the floorboards, I decided to just drive screws through from the top for easy disassembly if I need access to the bilge. Ties were made to sit beside the floors and leave clearance to the inside of the hull to prevent rubbing.

Figure 202: Floorboard Ties under construction

Floorboards were assembled with 1/8" gap between. I pre-assembled them outside the hull to get the fit right on a flat-ish surface, then placed them inside the boat for final fit.

Figure 203: Clearance left between boards

Figure 204: Pre-assembly of the first 3 floorboards

Figure 204: All four boards assembled inside the boat.

As it turns out, I should not have used the floors for gauges of floorboard width. My curve on the starboard side does not match the curve on the port side. Fucking stupid mistake, but too late to fix it now. That'll be a project for next winter. Having these as unfinished non-structural pieces, it's not a big deal to haul them out and re-imagine them in a future iteration. 

Figure 205: Another view of the floorboards. A bit lopsided!

And with that I'm down to the last few things:
  • Carve out a new cap for the stem - breasthook joint
  • Add fillets around a few pieces I missed earlier
  • Sand inside the hull, sand floorboards, sand gunwales, sand the seats.
After that I'm free-and-clear to start finish work! Yay!


Post XL - Fitting the Floorboards

 The boards will be grouped to either side of the centreline. Two boards to starboard, and two boards to port. Each group will be tied together to maintain a gap. Some kind of removable hold-down will have to go in place eventually since they do not sit flat, but

Floorboards are proving to be a bit of a pain. It all started out pretty good -- I made up a template for the bow out of bristol board and laid out the centre boards. I traced the narrowing of the bow on the boards and cut off the offending wood. A notch was cut for each seat support and to ensure that the floorboards sit in the proper position. This is when I realized my boards had a serious curve, despite having been clamped against a straightedge.

Figure 197: Bristol board template of the bow

Figure 198: Square peg in a *square* hole. No clich├ęs here!

I probably should have checked for straightness beforehand, but it's far too late now. No worries though - it's a chance to finally try out the hand ripsaw I bought last year. Ripsaws look a lot like crosscut saws except the cutting side of the teeth is about 90deg to the blade instead of 60deg. The teeth are also much deeper and not so close-set. I suspect this is because they are meant to act like a hundred little chisels, shaving wood out of the grainwise kerf rather than snipping across grains in a cross-cut situation. 

I snapped a chalkline and cut it straight. Used my No.5 stanley plane to clean up the tooth marks. Checked later with a straightedge and it came out pretty good. Fitting against the other floorboard, you can barely even see gaps. 

Figure 199: Hand Ripsaw...fun!

After getting the two centre floorboards figured out, I started on the outer ones. Again, I cut a straightedge for reference. For the other side, I just measured the floor pieces that were sticking out past the centre floorboards. These were marked on the outer floorboard and I splined them with a batten. On the upper side of the board I added 3/8" so that the board edge would have a slight bevel and hide the ugly fillets on the floors. 

Using the floors to estimate the spline might have been a mistake. It makes for a funny swoop in the board toward the stern; the board edge doesn't quite follow the curvature of the hull. At this point I don't really care and the floorboards are replaceable anyway. Maybe I'll figure something different out when I eventually replace them. 

Figure 200: Starboard side outer floorboard in place

Figure 201: Starboard side outer floorboard, looking aft from the bow.

I think it's looking pretty nice with those floor pieces covered up finally. Last thing will be to make the little cross members that tie the floorboards all together and then it's on to final finish work!


Post XXXIX - The BIG SAND, Floorboards & the Bow

Sanding turned out pretty good on the bottom -- this was the final pass before finish. I started sanding with 80 grit and finished it with 120 grit. It was kind of a dumb idea to have marked my waterline before sanding, but I was able to transfer the marks throughout the sanding process. All done using my 5" random orbit sander hooked to a vacuum. In this sanding pass I discovered a few lumps in the glass that when sanded opened up some holes in the fabric. I'm not massively concerned with this as they were only pea-sized and there is still a thick shell of epoxy protecting the wood. I patched over them using fairing filler just to be safe, and faired it in. Nothing much more to report here -- it took 2 afternoons and was a pain in the dick. Glad to have it done with. 

Figure 192: Nice smoooth sanded surface, ready for paint!

I've come up with a good treatment for my bow. It didn't come together neatly during the glue-up and it looks crappy. I'm going to make a little gunwale extension on each side to wrap all the way around the stem and have a cap plate (maybe 3/8" thick) that will cover the end-grain of the stem, along with my sloppy joinerwork. Should look much better and neater. 

Figure 193: Stem sawn flush with the breasthook.

I started work on the floorboards a few nights after completing the exterior sanding. These are simple cedar deck boards planed to 5/8" thickness. Plans called for 1/2" thickness but it seemed a bit flimsy to be honest. The longest two in the centre needed to be scarphed so I set them all up on the workbench. 

The usual techniques applied for cutting the scarphs, except I used an 8:1 slope instead of the usual 12:1. These are not structural and I was more concerned with getting out a usable length after gluing. Once cut, I slathered the scarphs in epoxy + adhesive filler and clamped it all against a straightedge to set. Next thing will be to shape the ends of the boards to fit the hull, and make up some shorter boards to fit outside the two main ones. 

Figure 194: Floorboards mocked up.

Figure 195: Cutting the scarphs all at once

Figure 196: Clamping against my 8' straightedge


Post XXXVIII - Seat Risers, Seat Posts & Transom Cap

Shit's getting pretty real now. It's fun to be working on finishing touches of the construction, even though the pace is almost unbearably slow. I got some free time over the weekend and put on quite a few of the remaining interior pieces. First thing was the transom knee -- shaped long ago but never attached.

Figure 179: Installed transom knee

the aft seat risers were next; these have been delayed for far too long because I wasn't quite sure how to approach it. The seats in the aft end are highly curved and steeply beveled. Not the funnest thing to try and fit. I started the same way as I did for the other seats, picking up the bevels and drawing them out on the riser stock. 

Figure 180: Aft seats mocked up

I managed to get both risers fitting pretty good on the ends, but there is a problem in the middle -- the curvature of the hull leaves a pretty hefty gap. It's somewhat visible in Figure 181, but in reality it's around 3/16". On the main and forward seat risers I corrected for curvature with a few swipes of the block plane. If I had tried to do that here, it would have made a mess. 

Figure 181: Aft seat riser showing gap with the curved hull

So out came the steambox again. I made a jig to hold and clamp the seat risers (which were already beveled). The little block in the middle is notched to keep the centre of the risers from splaying apart -- I wanted bending in one plane only. The risers were steamed for 35 minutes and then I clamped them with a slight over-bend and left them overnight. 

Figure 182: Steam bending jig for risers

Figure 183: Clamped and over-bent

Times like these are good for taking care of some of the less savoury parts of the process. After I got the clamp on my seat risers, I went around the hull and sanded, then taped off everywhere I plan to add a structural fillet. Each of the floors and seat risers will be receiving one, along with the transom knee. I don't plan to fillet the gunwales (even though plans call for it) because I used mechanical fasteners as well as glue. Not super important to know, but it's the reason images for the rest of the images in this post show green tape all over everything.   

These were left overnight and came out looking pretty good. One of them took a slight twist and had to be corrected, but the curvatures were just about perfect. These were then dry-fit while attached to the seats and glued to the interior of the hull in the same manner as the main and fore seats (discussed a few posts back).

Figure 184: Aft seat risers ready to go

One of the final construction items to tick off were the seat posts. Both fore and aft seats are supposed to be connected to the keelson in the plans. In the originals, this takes the form of a dowel or fancy lathe-turned rod of some sort. I had some of my gunwale stock left and decided just to make them square. I made 2 brackets -- one for the bottom of each seat -- and cut square mortises in them. The keelson received matching square mortises and the posts have a square tenon cut on each end. The bandsaw makes very short work of the tenon cutting -- would recommend using this instead of trying to hand-saw and chisel them out.   

Figure 185: Midships and forward seat posts / brackets

Getting post lengths right was very much a fit-in-place type of thing. I mounted the brackets to the bottom of the seats and attached the seats to their risers. Using the try square I lined everything up as best I could and marked lengths on the pots before cutting the final tenons. 

Figure 186: Matching hole in the keelson

Figure 187: Going togeeeeeethhhhherrrrrrr......

I like the fit-in-place method. It's a bit finnicky and you always wish you had an extra hand, but it does produce good results if you're careful. The posts went in and fitted perfectly on the first try. I think I'm getting better at this finally....

Figure 188: ....aaaaaand clunk. Complete midship seat post

Figure 189: Complete forward seat post

I thought it looked good with just the gunwales in place! Putting in all the seats really makes it look complete. I admit I climbed up into the boat at this point and pretended to do some rowing, in both fore and aft positions. FUN!

Figure 190: Completed seats, looking aft

Figure 191: Completed seats, looking forward. Saran-wrap to prevent seats sticking to risers.


Post XXXVII - The Big Glue-Up Day

This last session was the culmination of a *lot* of tiny sessions since I had to go on hiatus (because of the new baby). I wanted to get done as many things on the assembly list as possible:
  1. Complete cutting, beveling and fitting of foors
  2. Carve seat risers
  3. Fit and glue seat risers (but not the seats themselves)
  4. Fit and possibly glue the transom cap piece
  5. Glue on gunwales
Knowing that we would not get this all done (me and my father + sister) we set to work anyway. First thing was to cut and bevel all of the floors. I deviated pretty heavily from the plans here. They are meant to fit right into the bottom of the hull leaving a small limber hole near the keel. I decided that since these are completely hidden by floorboards anyway, I would just bridge straight across. 

Figure 172: Floors, mocked up and ready to go

Bridging straight across the top of the inner keel doesn't leave as much contact patch for the glue, nor is it as much support for the floorboards, but I'd rather that than have every little leaf and piece of twine clogging up the 20 or so tiny limber holes when I'm trying to bail the thing out. It was also *much* easier to make them fit this way, considering my templates were a bit, we'll say, "imperfect". You can probably see the fit is poor on some of them -- the bevels in the flatter parts of the hull are extremely hard to match. 

I decided to just let the epoxy fill the gaps and hide it all under a fillet later. Gluing was done with epoxy + high-density adhesive filler. Each floor is clamped to the keel with a single screw. 

Figure 173: Closeup of a glued floor

These floors were mounted un-sealed because I wanted to take advantage of the help when I had it. I'll take the time to paint them over with epoxy real good when I do the fillets. We realized once they were all screwed in place that the tips had lifted on a couple of the floors. A few lead weights pushed them into place. 

Figure 174: Floors all glued & squared with lead weights

We added some detail to the rowing seats. These had some rough edges form the sawmill and we decided just to add a bevel underneath to cut away the ugly stuff. Once again, plane to the line on both sides, hash it out and plane away the middle. 

The risers for the seats were the biggest waste of time all day. We spent about 2 hours fitting them all out and planing away, only to find out that none of them would fit properly when we mocked up the seats after installing the floors. I have no clue what happened there, maybe a slight shifting outward of the hull? I will have to re-do all of them. This will be shown in the next post I imagine. Shouldn't take as long the 2nd time around.

Figure 175: Detail on the seats - slight bevel under

Figure 176: Completed main rowing seat

Here is the transom cap that I showed in the last post. Here it is all pre-drilled for screws. I am going to glue and screw this the same as the gunwales and everything else, mostly for continuity of looks. The ends of this proved to be a bit of a pain in the dick....the screws just split the wood as I tried to pull it in. We frigged around with a few things, and in the end found that a wratchet strap does a pretty good job of sucking the cap ends down. 

Figure 177: Mocked up and pre-drilled the transom cap

Toward the end of the day we decided to forgo the seat risers and glue the gunwales on instead. I am glad for this choice because the gunwales would have been next-to-impossible to attach without a helping hand. Each set of wales took about 45min to install, which is about exactly the pot life of my epoxy. We added adhesive filler and clamped using screws. Looks pretty damn good with all the parts added on!

Figure 178: Just after the gunwales were added, we set the seats in place to admire the work. 

So at the end of the day we got the floors done, seats beveled, knees/breasthook + gunwales attached. The seat risers should take up a session and the transom cap will be a quick job. All in all I'm pretty impressed with the amount we got done.