Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Global Warming, and other Sticky subjects

Up until about a week ago, the weather here in New Hampshire was doing its part to lend additional credibility to Al Gore and everyone else proclaiming that we are in the midst of a Global Warming crisis. Not that I was a skeptic, nor an absolute 'believer', I will leave the debate for other forums. However, it is hard to argue when the thermometer indicates nearly 70° on January 6 in New Hampshire. This is by no means an official reckoning, nor do I know if it was the highest temperature here that week. I just know that I enjoyed being able to open my shop doors and still be comfortable.

Since I have lived in the northeastern United States for most of my life, I was relatively confident that the unusually warm weather was only temporary, and I decided to make the most of it with regard to my boat building project. Yes, it was time to make some Goo.

I chose the System Three line of epoxy products. Now, I realize that they offer some 'application specific' products for boat construction, but I decided to go ahead and try it the old fashioned way. Yep, I mixed up batches of my own epoxy goo for the fillets that hold the hull together once the copper wires are removed. Before I get too far ahead of myself in this saga, I need to back up a little here. It's important to ensure that the boat has the correct shape, so that it will track well, and not pull to one side or the other and require constant corrections. This could pose a challenge regardless if you are manning the tiller or a pair of oars.

After getting the hull all stitched together, I made sure that the saw horses were level from side-to-side. Next, I used a long clamping guide to bring the beam (the widest part of the boat) to 50". Then I laid out three levels to see where some fine tuning was required.  In order to make sure that I had the correct shape where the front bulkhead would go, I cut out a temporary bulkhead and then cut off the bottom half and wired it in place. This allowed me to easily form the fillets under it without breaks or interruption.

Since there was a slight amount of twist to the hull, I firmly twisted the bow end in the opposite direction while my son held the stern end. This resulted in the sides being very nearly level from side-to-side, but being somewhat obsessive, I was not satisfied yet. Then I found that when I hung some clamps on the high side, it was pretty close to perfect.

The fillets (pronounced "fill its"), are made by mixing the epoxy with wood flour (fine saw dust). Then this sticky mix is spread and formed along the seams where the sides meet the bottom, around the stern, and inside the stem. Once the fillets are formed, then two layers of 4" wide fiberglass tape are wetted out on top of the fillets. I spread and rolled a coat of unthickened epoxy all around the interior of the hull to seal the wood. I left the clamps in place for 24 hours to hold the shape until the epoxy cured.

Next, we go bottoms up and do a disappearing act. Stay tuned!

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