Sunday, April 8, 2007

Paint fumes and a sailplan

Out of all of the decisions that need to be made before and during a project such as this, I was surprised to find that I spent more time trying to decide on paint and varnish options than most of the other decisions that needed to be made. After studying paint brochures from Epifanes, Pettit, System Three, and Interlux, I finally decided to go with Pettit. Since I had no prior experience with marine finishes, it mostly came down to color choice. I was also influenced by a conversation I had with a gentleman at Dover Marine, where I bought the paint. He suggested that the Pettit Easypoxy would flow well and cover better perhaps with less coats. I'm reasonably sure that any of these brands are very good products.

Yesterday, I taped off the hull interior and applied the first primer coat. I used 3M Fineline tape to mask off the edges of the seats, dagger board trunk, and inwales. Then I rolled on a thin coat of the Pettit White Undercoater with a foam roller. Even though it was a thin coat it covered very well. Unfortunately, it was too cold outside to paint with the windows or doors open, so the fumes were very strong. I did wear my respirator while painting, but the fumes were fairly strong in rooms adjoining my shop space. I think I will wait for warmer weather before going to the next coat so that I can have airflow during and after the painting.

I have decided to paint the interior with Pettit Sandtone 3518, and the exterior of the hull will be Pettit Grand Banks Beige 3520. The seats, dagger board trunk, dagger board, mast, boom, gunwales, and rudder will all be finished with Flagship varnish.

The custom sail kit I ordered from Sailrite was delivered on Wednesday, so I spent some time reviewing the instruction packet for how to assemble the sail. I had given serious consideration to ordering a completed sail from Chesapeake Light Craft, but after some research I decided that I wanted some options in the sail that they did not offer in the standard Jimmy Skiff ™ sail. I also wanted to get the experience of building my own sail, but would not want to try this without using a kit. The Sailrite kit has all of the Dacron panels pre-cut and marked for where the stitching and all of the parts go. I decided that I wanted a row of reef points and a battened roach. These are features not available on the stock sail from CLC. The reef points allow the sail area to be reduced in size when the wind gets strong. The battened roach extends the back edge of the sail, providing more sail area than what the stock sail has. This is like ordering a sporty car with the larger engine option.

I used Sailrite's Sail Kit Web Quoting System to specify the sail kit and options. In addition to the options which are selectable in the web form, I included a message to indicate that I wanted to add the hardware for an external track and slides for using a halyard to raise and lower the sail on the mast. Within a day or two, I had received an email quote from Jeff Frank at Sailrite. I placed the order, and received a call from Jeff the next day. He was calling to make sure that I didn't have any additional questions. He has been very helpful in answering questions I had while deciding on sail options.

As I build the sail, I will include photos and text which will further describe these and other features.

Sunday, April 1, 2007

The light of day

Yesterday, my daughter helped me move the Jimmy Skiff ™ outdoors so that I could test the fit of the mast in the mast step and partner. As it turned out, I did need to take the belt sander to the lower portion of the mast and remove about 1/16" to have it sit snugly in the mast step.

The photo on the right shows how I checked to make sure that I had the mast step positioned correctly before I set it in a bed of thickened epoxy and drove four stainless steel screws up through the bottom of the hull. I made a short, 'dummy' mast in the same shape and dimensions as the real mast, so that I could get the mast step installed before I could move the boat outdoors. I leveled the hull from side-to-side, and then taped a level to the dummy mast to make sure that the mast would not lean sideways.

The construction of the mast actually began several weeks ago when I cut the parts. See my Feb. 22 post for details and photos of the mast part making process. The next step came a week or two ago when I epoxy glued the parts together into blanks for the mast and boom. Then, this weekend, I was ready to mill the blanks into the final shapes. Since the bottom 16" and the top 10' of the mast are tapered on three sides, I rough cut the tapers with this hand saw that cuts on the pull stroke. Then I planed and sanded to the final shape. The wedge helped to keep the wood from binding on the saw blade.

After I was sure that the mast would fit, I coated the mast and boom with epoxy. After the epoxy cures, I will varnish these spars for a traditional look.

I also installed the rubrails which I milled from 1½" oak. Since I couldn't think of an effective way to clamp the bow end of the rubrails, I used screws to temporarily hold the rubrail until the epoxy cures. Then I will remove the screws, taper the front two feet of the rubrail in toward the deck, and then fill the screw holes with silica thickened epoxy.

After another round of sanding everything, I think I am getting close to being ready to paint and varnish. I ordered a sail kit from Sailrite, so I'll write more about that next time.