Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Part 2, the pictures

The view of the stern, the small hole is the one I drilled to drain the hull. It will replace the dumb drain on the upper left.
Rigged, yes the sail is dirty, so are all the lines, which will be replaced.
The rudder and dagger board, which is a big piece of solid mahogany.
The crack in the foot well, don't quite know the best way to fix this yet. The tape is to try and keep any more water from getting in.
There are a number of cracks in the gel coat, like these.
Holes in the deck, rectangles, wonder what made them.

The big hole in the hull, very jagged edges.

So there she is, yep, I gots some work to do.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

A new addition to the FREE fleet

Yep that's right, this summers project is another free boat! Tis one is courtesy of a posting on Graigslist. I check the free listing, ya never know what you'll find, and saw an add for a free sailboat. The guy didn't list a return email, just a phone number. After a brief moment of doubt, I gave a call. As luck would have it, I was the first that called, and I won! I really didn't believe it so I asked the guy twice, kind of embarrassing. So I made arrangements to pick it up.
Saturday morning I got the trailer ready, which means moving the canoe and kayaks off of it, and roused the sleeping teenager(who had stayed up till God knows when) and off we went. The boat was sitting on a trailer. Well it was once a trailer, but now the tires where flat and off the rims, and it was rusted. Really rusted. Rusted to the point that the rails where perforated. So using that was out.
We got to the place at the appointed time, and the guy wasn't home. I gave him a call, and he was there in five minutes. Since he was giving me a free boat, how could I complain? I checked it out in the mean time. It had more than the indicated hole in the hull, it had two in the hull, and two in the deck. And of course, it needed more than a good scrubbing. Well I knew it needed work.
He help us load it onto my trailer, it was heavy. And as we where jostling it about, water poured out of one of the holes, I wasn't surprised about this.
I also expected to have to make some replacement parts, he said he had the rudder, but didn't mention the dagger board. So I figured I'd have to make at least that. But not only did he have the rudder, he had the mast, booms, and sail. And the dagger board. It was looking like I would have to make very few parts, if any. The biggest part missing is a 6 inch pin that holds the rudder on. Not too bad for free.
Well, I guess you want to know what kind of boat it is, don't you?
It's a Super Porpoise, it's a sailboat, like a Sunfish, only bigger. I did some searches,and found that there is a great wealth of knowledge can be found about the boats on a web forum. Aptly named The Sunfish Forum. There is lots of stuff to be minded there, and some good guys willing to answer questions.
Of course it need some work, from the forum I surmised that there it water in the hull, the water was also a clue. But not just water, but the flotation foam is probably water logged, and needs to dry out. So the first ting I did when I got it home was to drill a 1/4 hole in the stern, and tilted it to let the bulk of the water run out, and it did run out.
That was the first thing to get it ready to sail, but there is lots more work to be done.
I also have to give the canoe some attention, cleaning and oiling the rails, and other wood parts.
So I guess you want to see it, warts and all, here she is;

Monday, August 31, 2009

All Decked Out

Well, the gunnel's, thwarts, handles, and yoke (all of the athwart ships pieces) where done. Shaped, sanded, oiled and installed. There was no other wood work left but the decks. I had been somewhat dreading this part. The ends of the gunnel's didn't turn out very pretty, so inset decks where out, the ends of the rails had to be hidden. I though long and hard about just how to go about making the decks. First I though about sort of a frame and panel design. Using 1 by stock to make a frame, and 1/4 plywood for the panel. The idea behind this was to save weight at the ends of the boat. But the number of seams and joints made this idea less and less appealing the more I thought about it.
Then how the deck would mate with the inwales was a mental tripping point. They are round, I had a hard time figuring out how to curve or at least hide the gaps that would result. I could have gone the easy way and bought some plastic decks and have been done with it, but that would be quitting, and look like, well, you know what it would look like. That would be a last resort. Back to the 'moaning chair'. WTF, I thought, how much wood are we talking about? Not a lot. Make it out of solid wood. One problem solved. OK then, what about the shape? I had three options; a straight cut, a convex curve, or a concave curve. Time to make some mock ups. There was some paneling hanging around from a different project, which would be prefect for the purpose. Some quick measurements, a few cuts, and shazzam, mock up decks. The first was a straight cut, and right away you could see it didn't look right, or good. Back to the shop. A few more measurements, another saw cut, concave cut on the end. It looked good, but I had to see it the other way. The convex needed a new mock up, quickly cut, and done. It too looked OK. Now if you remember, the orignals had a convex on one end, and a concave on the other. With the too mock up pieces, I could see how that would look with 'new' pieces, and gunwales. A few minutes spent looking, and pondering, and convex on both ends was going to be it.

Next step, for the sake of accuracy, a pattern had to be made. The angle of the front, sorry bow, was different than the stern. Just a few degrees, but it would have been noticeable. Some sticks and some hot glue, and I had a accurate measure of the bow and stern angles. I transfered these to a big sheet of paper, and went to layout the curve. The problem now was centering the curve. For the mock up, a paint can was plopped down and lined up by eye, and it was good enough. For the finished piece, I wanted it perfecter. Back to the chair, this is perhaps the first time I really wished I paid attention during math class in seventh grade. Well, luckily I had help, the internet. It couldn't send me back to Mrs. Ramos' class, but I did find these. A few minutes with a compass and and a straight edge, and it was done. I had my pattern, and I just happen to have some wood, red oak, from a long past project, so full steam ahead right? Not quite. The ends of the gun wales had to be dealt with. Back to the chair.

There where some left over pieces of the gun wale stock, I never throw scraps away until well after a project is over, maybe I could do something with those. After some more chair time, I came up with the idea to put some short pieces horizontal and connect the ends of the gun wales, and to make it really 'fancy' attach these pieces with dowels, instead of nails or screws. This requires me to cut some short 2 inch pieces of stock, the use the belt sander in a stand I built to round the ends to a) match the radius of the gun wale, and 2) to round it in general so there would be no sharp edges. Some cutting, rasping, sanding, and more sanding, and some fitting thrown in, I had them done. The shaping was made much easier by a home made belt sander jig to hold the sander on edge. It worked great, except it you let your grip get too loose, and held the small peice just wrong, then it would fly across the room, and under something. Or you would want to get just a tiny bit more off, but sand a finger or knuckle a bit. A small price to pay for the art of a good canoe. Some clamping, a chalange in itself, glue, and the dowels, and finished and ready for the decks. Nope, not yet. Still had to make the decks themselves.

Making the decks was pretty straight forward, cut two pieces of wood into triangles, based on the patterns. Cut the curved end. Route a roundover on the top. And make a rabit along the sides on the bottom. Yeah, simple. I also had to make a jig to cut the wood into the triangle shape. Then it was time to sand some more, through the grits, till it was nice and smooth (enough). Finally time to put them on, but first a test fit, and hmmm, something is not quite right. The inwale is round, the rabit on the underside of the deck is square. The is a gap between the two, not big but noticable, and to me it looked like the entrance to the Holland Tunnel . More chair time. Little pieces where made by drilling holes in a 1x2 piece of oak, on edge. Trimmed and glued into rabits on the underside of the deck. Followed of course by more sanding. The result is not too bad. Time to install? Sorry no.

The tops of the decks where plain wood, they needed some type of decoration. This was a simple decision, back to the rubber stamps! Remember the boat load of stamps from the wifes' hobby? See the post on the paddles. A quick test on a scrap to see how the ink would react to the Watco oil was the first step. When that posed no problem, all I had to do was decide what stamps to use, and stamp away. Each stamp was chosen for a reason, and has some meaning. Meet me around a camp fire, with some beer, and I let you know what they are.

After the ink was dry, about an hour, it was two coats of oil, and let dry.

Now, finally they are ready to install. A few pilot holes, some stainless screws, and, and the wood work is complete. At least for now. And it looks pretty darn good.

Time to get this beast wet.

The time came a week or two later to take her out. The best moment, if you have to pick one, was at the dock. I was sitting there waiting for my wife, and a gentleman walked up, looked the canoe over from stem to stern, and asked "How much do one of these cost?". I had no easy answer, do I tell him the cost of the materials, or what I would guess at a new boat of the same type would cost? I had to be honest, "Well, I really don't know. I got the hull for free, and rebuilt all of the wood work." "Ah, I see" he said "It's very nice". It took a while for me to come out of the clouds. We started our paddle. This is a nice boat, I'm glad I was able to save it from being cut up and sent to the landfill.
If you ever have the chance, do it. When you glide across the water, in a craft that you put some measure of effort into, each swoosh of the paddle, and every ripple of the wave as the bow slices the water, is a sound sweeter than no other. And besides, There is nothing......,
But you know that.
See you out there.

So I guess you want to see what it looks like.

End detail, bow.
Bow again.
Stern detail.
End detail.
The whole enchilada.
BTW, I have to do it again, more on that much later.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

A Star and a Bruise

More fiber glassing. You could detail your self to death with any project. I want to get on the water, so I'm putting off what little details of this "restoration" if I can. Scratches, the stripes pealing off, etc. It doesn't effect the usability of the boat, just makes it look like a bit of a beater.
But there where two spots that needed attention before it got wet.
There was a bruise on the keel, in the bow, and a "bruise" in the glass on the side.
What, you may ask, is a star and a bruise on a fiberglass boat. Well they are both failure points, which basically weaken the structure of the boat. A star is a crack in the gelcoat of the boat. It look like a bunch of lines radiating from a central point. The most likely cause of this particular star would be if it was dropped and a hard surface, like a rock. The star below the water line can let water seep between the gelcoat and the fiberglass, which could lead to the layers laminating. This is a bad thing, and would lead to the end of the boat, or a more involved fix.
A bruise in fiber glass is when the resin cracks, but the cloth is still mostly intact. The usually can be identified by a soft spot where there shouldn't be one.
The bruise was an easy fix, it just required a reinforcing layer, or two. The best thing would be to reinforce both the inside and out, but I didn't want to put a lump on the outside of the boat, so I decided to just reinforce the inside with two layers of cloth. It looks like this;

And on the outside there is a little crease:

An easy patch, just two rectangle pieces of cloth and resin.
You may remember from the past, just how far a little bit of resin goes. I didn't have to worry about that on this fix. Not really because I got smarter and learned how to mix a very small batch of resin. In fact I almost didn't have enough resin to finish this repair. You see, I've been using plastic cups to measure and mix the resin. Cheap and requires no clean up, just toss it away when done with it. Well, I didn't have any more of the cups that I had been using. So I went went in search of a replacement. Since plastic cups, specially small ones, aren't very environmentally friendly, there aren't many in the house. But I did find some hiding in the back of the closet. Super, I could continue. I cut my cloth, gather the brush, and epoxy, and mix an ounce in the cup. Stir it up real good, get it well mixed. I paint the pre-sanded spot where the patch will go, apply the first piece of cloth and wet it out. Moving right along, be done in a jiffy. Apply the second piece of cloth, start to wet it out. Go to dip the brush in the cup. I look at where I'm dipping the brush, just as the bottom of the cup melts off, and the rest of the resin drops away with it. It would appear that all plastic cups are not resin proof. Who knew?
I was able to squeeze enough resin out of the brush to finish the repair. I gotta get some new cups.
The star was near the bow, it was close enough that a sort of skid place could be put on to a) patch the star and, 2) protect the forward keel from further abuse. The idea to do this was simple, cut two pieces of cloth, a square yard of fiber glass goes along way, in an elongated diamond shape, and attach them to the hull with resin. First let us note that you need VERY sharp scissors to cut fiber glass cloth neatly. If you want to test just how sharp your scissors are, try and cut some glass. Second, your shop scissors are not going to be sharp enough, no matter what you think. Third, your wife will not like the idea of you using her sewing scissors in your shop, to cut fiber glass. Forth, after being rebuked in your attempt to "borrow" the sewing scissors, you can do just a bit better using a straight edge and a utility knife blade. Until you move the piece you just cut, then it unravels at the edges and looks like you chewed it off. After a few attempts, and lots of strings of glass everywhere, I got two pieces that would do. Now this type of fiberglass cloth is supposed to be able to bend and fit to almost any curve, with out puckering, of wrinkling, etc. I didn't believe this due to the shape of the hull where I was going to put the stuff, the turn of the keel at the bow. I was expecting the first attempt to be a mess, a big sticky, stringy mess. So an appropriately large amount of tape was used to mask off the repair area.
Imagine my surprise and some what awe, when the cloth followed the shape of the hull with just a little coaxing with the resin and brush. You would not believe that a flat piece of cloth could bend in so many sharp curves, in different directions. The second piece also went on with out much bother.

The excess resin started to run up the sides of the boat, since it was upside down. Some quick thinking (quick for me any way) and a flip of the boat, so it was right side up, and the excess ran off the bottom. It did leave some resin stalactites that had to be removed, but it also meant that the resin was extra thick where the boat would hit, sand, gravel, rocks and stuff when it was brought ashore. Just a little more protection where it needed it the most. So not only did I cover the star, but also got a little skid plate.

There was no reason to use the term athwart ships.

Next up, and last for this season, are the decks. Then a canoeing we will go.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Up the creek...

Yes, as the saying goes, with out a paddle.
The precise creek(or crick,if you say it wrong), has yet to be determined. One day, while messing about with my canoe, I came to the sudden and sharp realization that I had no way to propel the craft. Down stream would be OK, if a bit uncontrolled. Upstream, or flat water, I'd get nowhere, and fast. Yes, I had no canoe paddles, double bladed kayak paddles I got, several of them.
Trying to keep with in the spirit of this project, finding or making paddles was in order. I though of making them from scratch, but there would be a steep learning curve, with no guaranteed result, plus I would have to purchase wood.
I did have some old paddle parts from a past(and still on going) Folbot project. Perhaps they could be recycled into canoe paddles. They are heavy when used as a double paddle, which is why they are in parts. Plastic blades, with wood shaft half's, and aluminum ferrules. Why not, I thought, use those parts to make canoe paddles.
The plan was simple, make "T" style grips, attach them to one end of the shaft, really just a big dowel, and the blades to the other end, and BADA BING, paddles.

I just happen to have a few short pieces of closet pole around that I could use for the handles, no need to buy any thing.

Here is how the planning went for the handle, I grabbed the closet pole, and marked off the width of my hands, then cut it to that length, plus a bit more. Then, using the belt sander, ground it into a rough foot ball shape. Then using the closest size forstner bit I have to the shaft, put a shallow hole in the handle. The hole was just deep enough for the whole edge of the shaft to fit inside. Of course, the handle required lots of hand sanding, with various grits to refine the shape, and make it smooth. Too bad there is no brush on stuff that would do that. The closet pole had darkened with age, so the parts that when sanded away are lighter in color, it adds more visual interest.

The shafts had been previously treated with spar varnish, and was the finish I'd use for the paddles, so they didn't get stripped. I'd had enough of that task. So they also got a good sanding through various grits. Exciting stuff.

The handle was glued and screwed to the shaft, with a plug covering the counter bore for the screw, more sanding with some filing thrown in for good measure.

Then the blade was added to the shaft for a dry fit. More f'n sanding, the fit was too tight so after varnish it might not fit. So I got it to fit OK, and it looked just plain, plain. It just looked like a couple hunks of would and a plastic blade. It needed something more, it needed, art.
The problem now, is that I can't draw. I can barely write legibly, let alone draw. My drawing skills stalled at the pre-school level. I graduated college with a minor in Fine Art, and had to take a drawing course. The teacher must have had pity, I passed. But drawing just ain't my thing. So where to get the art? Stickers, if I was in the third grade, maybe. Decals? The question of durability ruled them out.
Then one day, while passing my wife's stamping table on the way to get a beer from the fridge, I had a "DUH!" moment. You see, she is a stammper, she make greeting cards, and other stuff with rubber stamps. She has about 47 gajillion stamps. All sizes, and types. some are scenes, others are single subjects, letters, names, etc, you name it she has it. So the plan was to stamp the paddle shafts with stamps, and varnish over them for protection, both the wood and the designs. The only concern was if the solvent in the varnish would make the ink run or smear. So of course a test was in order. My wife suggested that I use a type of ink that was solvent based. So I prepared a scrap of wood, stamped on it, and varnished it. It looked fine, no smear or runs. Full speed ahead.
The next hurdle, which the stampnig expert wanred me about, was stamping on a round surface.
Well , that is a bridge to be burnt when I get to it.
I selected a dozen or so of the 83 gazillion stamps, I choose nature related stamps, got the ink set, and had at it. There where some issues with stamping on the curve, but nothing that turned into a big blob of ink. In fact they came out pretty good, all things considered.
Ok, step two was complete, now for the varnish. I had a can, or half a can of spar varnish in the garage. Had it for a few years, and it was good the last time I used it, so lets open it up and see what it looks like. It looked good, if good is a thick, hard layer of varnish. I figured if I poked it and got to the stuff underneath, it would be OK. It took some effort to poke holes in the hard stuff. The stuff underneath was just a bit thick, not quite a gel, but it was getting there. But, not wanting to buy a new can for a small project, it was given a good stirring. I got the brush, and hung the paddle shafts from wires with eye hooks, and applied a first coat. Did I mention the varnish was a bit thick? It dried OK, two days later, and got a light sanding and another coat. Just a bit thick. Dry in two days, sanding, and a third coat. I think that can of varnish is going to be retired.
The big day came, when the paddle blades would be joined to the shafts. One small screw holds them together, SS of course. The blades are big, at least they seem that way, and yellow, and plain, but that is another project for another day. The handle feels comfortable on the hard, we'll see how it feels after a day on the water.
So after building the suspense, and with out further ado, here they are.
One more thing, the two halfs of the paddle shaft weren't the same size, so one paddle is longer then the other. I don't think this is a big issue, as my wife and I would need different sized paddles anyway.

Expect a full review some time after the first paddle. I'm getting tired of seeing the boat and stuff surrounded by green, and brown, stuff. Time to get this finished and on the water. And since I haven't used it, here it is just for fun; athwart ships.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Thwarted !!!

There are five structural pieces that run athwart ships, I have been waiting to use the term "athwart ships" for YEARS. I finally have a reason to use it, athwart ships. The first time I heard it used in a sentence, and correctly, was at the Adirondack Museum . A very cool place to spend a day if your in the neighborhood. There was a room of boats used in the Adirondacks, and there was a nice young man building a piece of art called an Adirondack Guide boat. He was very good, and very nice. He was planking the boat with quatersawn white pine, about 1/4 inch thick. Now I don't know about your lumber yard, but quatersawn white pine doesn't exactly grow on trees where I live. And he was tapering the edges and cinch nailing them so that it required no caulk to be water tight when finished. He was very good. Of course I had to have a conversation with him about the boat and his work. I asked about the shape of the boat, he said it was symmetrical fore and aft and athwart sips. I was very proud of my self because I knew what that meant. Athwart ships.
Back to the free-cycle canoe. The five athwart ships pieces are two handles, bow and stern, two thwarts, and a portage yoke.
Here they all are:
The boat had the thwarts, yoke and one handle with it when I got it. But they where in sad shape. They appeared to be moldy, and just plain plain. The thwarts where just straight pieces of wood, no real shape at all. I wanted a little more visual interest when looking athwart ships. The thwarts and yoke also where soft at the ends, there was no sense in trying to clean them up and reuse them. I wouldn't want them to fail if there was too much stress athwart ships.

All of the athwart ships members where made of red oak. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know, they're "supposed" to be ash, but I used red oak. Why? Because it's readily available at HD and Lowes, I would have had to spend a morning going to a place to get ash. It's relatively cheap, so if(when) I messed a peice, it's not that much cash to replace, and a short trip for more wood. Plus it's my boat, so deal.

The handles are just some sort pieces bull nosed on both sides, and about one and a half times wider than the original. Take a look:


The thwarts that came with the boat where also just straight pieces, not pretty at all. I looked at buying new curvy ones, in ash, but decided that since I have a complete wood shop (thanks to my wife), I'll make them. I laied out a shape that I liked,cut a sample from cheap pine to see how it looked on the boat. It was ok so I cut the bow thwart on my seldom used band saw. Some work with the router, and a lot of sanding, some trimming, and it was done. I wanted to make the stern thwart curvier, so the layout was changed, and a sample cut. When I went to cut it on the band saw, it blew a tire. Yup, band saws have tires, rubber strips on the wheels. I don't use the band saw much, and the tires dry rotted. Thats the breaks. So the second thwart was cut with the jig saw. It didn't take much longer, and with some sanding, routering, and more sanding, both thwarts where done.
This is them;


The yoke, which is the curviest piece that is athwart ships, was next and last. I it wanted to look and be a bit beefier than the original, the same as the thwarts, because I want to be able to add bungees at a later date. The neck part is also wider and deeper than the original. They layout took much head scratching, measuring, and the purchase of a new french curve. A paper pattern was made first. So some cutting with the jig saw, sanding, routing, more sanding, the yoke was cut, then trimmed and fit to the boat.
Here it is;

All of these athwart ships pieces where treated with Watco Teak Oil, they finished up pretty nice, if I do say so myself.

Well, we're close to getting wet, but there is still more work to be done.

Till next time, ATHWART SHIPS! (I just love saying it.)

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


The new gunwales are on the hull! It was easier and more difficult than I though it would be. It took two days. It took two day because I worked slow, and quit early to go to a matinee. The port side was first, mainly because that side didn't have the old rails attached(remember the tear?).
I used almost all the clamps I have, except for the longest bar clamps, and the smallest. Needed them all. The most difficult part of all was trimming the ends. It takes practice. 7 or 8 more boats and I might figure it out. The directions,instructions, suggestions, or what ever you want to call it that I found on the Madriver web site helped some, but it was still difficult. The end result is that there won't be inset decks, that's the way it goes. Remember, this isn't a show piece.
Here it is with one side done.
Notice all the tools and clamps in the boat, used them all. Plus the stuff you don't see. The rails where attached from the center out. The center was easy.

Here is the old and new.

I like the new side too!

But all was not perfect on this sunny day. My wife decided to start a new project. Part of the new project entailed rinsing gravel. Go figure, when 'shewhomustbeobeyed wants clean gravel, who an I to argue. It wasn't the rinsing that was the problem, it was where it was done. Which just happened to be at the stern of the boat. Which is slightly up hill of the boat. Remember Mr. Newton and that whole gravity thing? The water ran just along side of the canoe, so I spent half the day working in mud.
Any way, The next day, I got the other rail on. It was the same story,easy in the middle and not so easy at the ends. I used all types of tools to shape and fit the ends, and the came out looking like crap, so don't expect a close up.
Here she is with her newest clothes:

The thwarts are temporary, just to keep her stiff.

All that's left is new thwarts, yoke, decks, and some more fiber glass repair. Moving along.

In all the stress, and difficulties and problems I had to keep reminding myself, something that most in this boat hobby know very, very well. It helped when thing got tough with the ends.
It goes something like this, not exactly, but you know what I mean:

There is nothing my friends, nothing quite so worth doing as messing about with boats.

See you next time, fair winds.