Thursday, March 1, 2007
Installing the 'furniture'
Last night was very productive in terms of the visible progress on the Jimmy Skiff project. I find it interesting that most projects seem to have periods where the apparent progress is much faster than other times when the same level of effort is expended. I was having so much fun, I totally lost track of time, and only realized that it was almost 2:00 AM when I finally turned off the shop lights and headed into the house. All of the work I did in building parts last week is what made everything come together last night. These pictures show that I finally got the bulkheads, seats, and dagger-board trunk installed. Pay no attention to the epoxy and filler mess here-and-there. This will all be cleaned up (sanded) before applying paint or varnish.
I was pleased with how the dagger-board and trunk turned-out, and cutting the hole in the hull was not nearly as traumatic as I imagined it would be. I started by marking the location for the trunk, after making sure that I had it centered in the correct location. Then I used a 1" forstner drill bit to drill out either end of the slot I was preparing to cut in the hull. Then I used a Japanese style hand saw to cut the slot between the two holes. This Mini Dozuki Panel Saw is now one of my favorite tools, and especially so because it was a gift from my son last year.
The dagger-board trunk is made by sandwiching a 1" wide hardwood spacer on either end, between the two 9mm okoume panels that were cut out using the template in the Chesapeake Light Craft plan set. Then I added the mahogany trunk logs, which are the strips along the bottom of the sides . Next was milling and fitting the trunk cap, which I made out of hard maple. I chose this wood because I thought the contrast would look good, I had it on-hand, and it will be very durable in a place that will likely take some 'hard' use. I cut the center slot out of the cap by drilling the ends of the slot with the 1" forstner bit, and then set the fence of my table saw to the distance between the outside of the cap and the edge of where the slot would be. Then I positioned the piece over the blade and cut from the hole on one end to the hole on the other end, flipped the board and repeated the cut on the other side of the slot. The trunk is attached to the hull by bedding it in silica-thickened epoxy and screwing in eight 1 ½" bronze screws, up through the bottom of the hull and into the trunk logs.
The dagger board is made by gluing two 9mm okoume panels together with thickened epoxy, and then the profile is cut out based on the template in the plans. The leading edge of the dagger-board is rounded over, and the trailing edge is tapered. I added the mahogany stop blocks on either side, up near the handle hole, using epoxy and bronze screws. I was also sure to round over everything to prevent any injuries by banging into any sharp edges or corners. The dagger board can easily be positioned anywhere along its length by using a small wedge at the top of the aft edge. I have also seen where some people use a bungee cord to apply a little directional pressure to hold the board in place. I suppose another alternative would be to drill a series of holes in the dagger-board and use a belaying pin to hold the board partially up.
After I attached the dagger-board trunk to the hull, the next phase was to attach the bulkheads and seats. In order to simplify making the smaller fillets for these attachment points, I used a caulking gun loaded with a West System's tube which I filled with the epoxy fillet mix. The empty tubes are sold in pairs, and using slow cure epoxy, I had time to mix it up, fill the tube, make most of the fillets, mix up another smaller batch, fill the same tube again, and then finish making the rest of the fillets. All of this without having the epoxy cure before I could get it out of the tube. The tubes are available where West System products are sold and online from Hamilton Marine. One nice aspect of the tubes are that the tips are tapered and you simply cut them at the point which gives you the size hole you need. I found that a 'stiffer' mix of epoxy and filler is a little easier to control in terms of starting and stopping the flow.
When deciding between buying the CLC Jimmy Skiff kit or building from plans, I found that it is not a good idea to go the plans route simply to save money. In fact, it would have cost less to buy the kit than what I have spent, and that includes the additional shipping costs. So why build from plans? I chose this path primarily because I wanted the entire experience of building a boat vs assembling a kit. Not that I think building from the kit is just assembly, like gluing together a Revell model. But to me, it's still not the same as taking stock boards and plywood panels and turning them into a beautiful boat. I have enjoyed being able to use remnants of hardwood from other projects around my house when building the various parts of the boat. It also allowed me to make a few small customizations along the way. One of these was to step-back the seat supports by about ¼", leaving a slight overhang. Another was to extend the dagger-board trunk cap down to the center seat (thwart).
Next I will add the deck, mast step, and rear seat top (which is shown in the top photo, but is really only sitting there, unattached).
Posted by Ron Paro