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.