Look Ma…A Cabin Top

There are a few stages in this build that demand your upmost attention. Think it through late at night…ponder all the appropriate steps for success.  Think it through again…don’t forget anything.  Think it through again.  Then, don’t screw up.

Glueing down the cabin top was right up there with the centerboard bushing.  Get it right and heavenly choirs will be singing Hallelujah…get it wrong and the jaws of Hell open wide to receive you.  DSC00005First off, I filed down the mast ramp to better fit the cabin top.  The cabin top looks proud in this photo, but it’s not screwed down yet, and riding a little high in the saddle.DSC00022Dave (building Scamp #243) has a thorough explanation of the steps he followed in installing his cabin top.  I copied them.  My only deviation from Dave’s approach was that I countersunk s.s. screws into the top 2 cabin cleats.  I was careful to miss the accessory holes I had drilled through the cabin cleats earlier.  DSC00024My countersink is designed for a #6 screw.  But, I have found that the screws don’t tighten as well as they should, so I’m drilling out the screw hole (increasing its size).  If the screw gets hung up in the block, it will not tighten like it should and may strip out in the solid stock behind it.  In theory, the screw should just barely fit through the block (and plywood), so all the threads tighten in the solid stock behind it, producing a very tight clamping action.  Hence, I enlarged these holes and the plywood cabin top holes to optimize the clamping action of the screw.  I wanted all the aces in my hand for this nerve-racking step.  DSC00029  Ya baby, that’s a cabin top DSC00031DSC00034If you have done your homework well, things may go smoothly.  I’m glad to report, all the preparation paid off and things went very smoothly for me.  It was down right fun actually.

Steps I followed:

  1. Set everything out carefully, like preparing for surgery.
  2. Double check everything.
  3. Wet all surfaces with unthickened epoxy.
  4. Applied a thickened paste to all surface tops.
  5. Screw cabin top down into the top 2 center cleats.
  6. Tightened straps and inserted wooden sticks for even clamping pressure.
  7. Screwed the outer edges down using wooden blocks for even pressure.
  8. Applied inside fillets and worked additional epoxy into areas that needed more.
  9. Cleaned up and went for a 27 mile bike ride with my hot wife.  Life is good.

Now Shackleton is beginning to look like a proper vessel. 

Cabin Top Preparations

First up:  Beveling the cabin top cleats.  You can’t just slap the cabin top on…oh no, you first need to bevel the cleats for proper fit of the cabin top.  DSC00002This will produce a lot of shavings from the block plane.  You gotta love your block plane.  If dog is man’s best friend…the hand plane is man’s best tool.  

DSC00010Getting very close.  A little more planing and I’ll be there.DSC00001I knew I would be removing quite a bit of material here, so I cut my cleating material 1 1/8″ x 5/8″.  I needed the extra height for all the material I would be removing to acheive the proper bevel.  I needed the 5/8″ thickness for easy bending around the cabin sides.  I removed all the screws I used to hold the cleating 9 hours after glue up.  I then used clamps to finish off the cure process.  This allowed full access to the cleating without worrying about hitting a screw with my hand plane.

This now meets the ‘ham n egger’ standard, I’m ready to look at the cabin top.  

Cabin Sides

It’s feeling so good to be at this stage of the build.  It’s almost like the wooden boat Gods are smiling down on you with providential care & guidance.  I’m definitely feeling the love.DSC00001The front of the cabin sides need to be notched out to fit over the deck.DSC00002The cleating needed to be beveled to better fit against the side.  Though not shown here, a block plane made short work of this.

DSC00008Somewhere I saw a picture of a Scamp with a handhold cut out of the cabin sides.  I thought this made good practical sense and looked great.  I epoxied the doubler onto the sides (while working on the bench).  Then I used a 1 1/2″ forsner bit to drill 2 holes about 4 1/2″ apart (measured outside to outside).  I then cut out the center material using a jig saw.DSC00009I cleaned up the edges with my shinto rasp and used a 1/8″ round over bit to finish things off.  DSC00011I think this handhold will be very helpful boarding from a dock or just climbing into the boat from the shore (there are no beaches in Idaho).  This photo also shows the relative size of the port lights.  They measure 6″ in diameter.

DSC00049Finally, I offset the front doubler pieces just to add a little dimension.  Correction:  Actually truth be told, I didn’t hardly have enough overhang on the front of the side panels to allow the doubler to fit.  I would have needed to cut it so thin on the vertical side, that I decided to simply overhang it a bit.  This allowed more room for an inside fillet.




DSC00002The sides were not difficult to fit and this step went off without a hitch.

 Now setting my attention to the cabin top.





Deck Preparations

With the carlins installed, I am ready to focus my efforts on the deck.  Before I can install it however, there is some prep work to do.DSC00006The carlins need to be shaved or files to match the angle of the gunwales for good deck contact.  This isn’t perfectly flat, but I’ll probably stop here.  A little thickened epoxy will finish the job.DSC00009I filed down the bow blocks installed between the gunwales and the carlins.  This block will provide good backing for the bow anchor chocks to be installed later.  DSC00012I am glueing up plywood scraps which will be trimmed and used as backer plates for the 4 deck cleats.  DSC00013To finish things off, I glued up the deck.  The weights I’m using here are Shackleton’s ballast plates.  They have come in very handy.

Hoping to have the deck installed by next weekend.  

Carlins Baby!

It is with great joy swelling up in my heart that I bring you this blog post.  There are many emotions that come to a builder during the building process.  Some are thoughts of boredom (like sanding), others are feelings of great exultations (like singing Hallelujah in the church choir).  I’m ready to sing Hallelujah twice over.

Not sure why, but the gunwales and carlins were a big deal to me.  Maybe it’s their shape, maybe it’s because I struggled initially with these steps, maybe it’s because my boat now looks as beautiful as a women.  I actually made my wife come out to behold the curves.  She agreed they were very beautiful.  I didn’t know boat building could be sexy…but it definitely is.  DSC00003 DSC00005Something about seeing these steps complete feels so rewarding.  Maybe boat building complies with the Law of the Harvest and I’m feeling the spiritual blessing from this natural law.  Call it what you will, I feel good.  The shaped hull is definitely attractive, but when you add gunwales and carlins, look out baby.

After my initial slow start bending the wood, all seemed to fall into place.

Key to building a boat…just keep working…problems seem to work themselves out.  

Bright Work, Seat Hatches and Carlins

DSC00003My thinking has been, if I did finish work as I went along, it would never appear too daunting a task.DSC00063Though you can’t see it well in this photo, here sits Shackleton with 4 coats of varnish on the inside.  I use 2 coats of gloss, followed by 2 coats of satin.  I much prefer the look of satin over the high gloss.  The reason I start with 2 coats of high gloss is that I have read (and tend to believe) that high gloss is more durable.  So, I start with the gloss and end with the satin, for the best of both worlds.DSC00008Seat cutouts, finished and drilled to receive hatch.DSC00016Hatches installed using a generous bead of 100% silicone around the bottom flange.  I worried for some time that the hatches would be uncomfortable to sit on, but I believe they are going to be just fine.  DSC00018Starboard hatch placed outboard of the CB slot.  This will just barely lay open once the carlins and deck coaming are installed.  DSC00003Stir stick used to flush up the bulkhead even with the gunwales.  Epoxied in place.DSC00007I added a fillet along the top of the starboard gunwale where it meets the transom for proper alignment. DSC00022The bulkheads need to be angled to better match the angle of the carlins.  DSC00024Port side carlins installed.  This was a little tricky to do by myself.  Another set of hands would have helped, but I worked through it.  I also cut and installed a filler block at the bow transom to stiffen this area up a bit.  It will also provide a nice place for me to attach a bow anchor line plate (not sure what they call those things).

I’m going to increase the size of the bulkhead/carlins fillets in a few hours and then let things get good and hard before removing the clamps.  Lots of pressure; I’m afraid the carlins might want to pop off, hence the larger fillets to follow.

Then on to the Starboard side carlins.  

I’ve Got Seats

So, I was very careful when glueing the underseat supports, making sure to glue them on the underneath side of the seat (as opposed to the top side…hey, things happen).  Well, I was so careful that I glued one of them on the inboard side instead of the outboard side of my hatch opening.DSC00001This photo shows the mistake.  I used a router bit, wood rasp and sander to clean up the mess.  I could have made it look even better, but this is on the underneath side, so this was good enough for me.  DSC00001I decided to add graphite to the underside.DSC00003I installed the seats when the graphite epoxy was still tacky to ensure a good bond.  DSC00002Two coats on the top sides.DSC00002It’s so rewarding to see the seats go in.  I’m very excited to be at this stage of my build.

 I’m convinced slow and steady wins the day.  

Seat work & finish work

DSC00001I marked the 3″ fiberglass tape (used for the plank #2/3 joint) with a Sharpie before cutting and glueing in place.  After all was cured, I noticed the Sharpie marks sticking out like a sore thumb.  So, I decided to paint that section instead of sanding to remove the markings.  I guess I’m getting a little lazy at this point in the build.  However, I actually like the contrast between the brightwork and painted panels.  DSC00002This paint line is actually straight, but it looks bent due to the top line being curved and the hull flaring outward.  At this point, I have finished painting all interior compartments up to their top line.  It feels good to see some of the finish work being completed as I progress through the build.DSC00004After trimming the seats to fit around the bulkheads (impossible to keep the BH’s perfectly vertical), I  cut out for an access hatch between bulkhead 5-6.  This is the only dry access hatch I am planning in the seat area.  I will open up a wet access area between bulkhead 7-8 on both sides of Shackleton.  DSC00006I used some 3/8″ scrap ply to strengthen this area.  I wrapped the plywood around the corner to better pick up the corner screws of the hatch.  The opposite side of the cut-out will screw into the existing seat longitudinal cleating material.  The forward and aft edges of the hatch areas have just over a 1″ span to the bulkhead cleating, hence I felt no need to reinforce these areas.  DSC00002I purchased these awesome seat hatches from Duckworks Magazine.  They measures 24″ x 9″ and fit perfectly between bulkhead 5-6.  I was happy to find a hatch that fit so well in this rather confined area.  I’m hoping to have the seats installed by week end.

I’m not getting much cycling in these days. I’m up to 188 lb. instead of my 174 lb. cycling weight.  But, I’m having a great time building this little micro cruiser.  I have drooled over larger boats, even during this build.  My first choice would be a Com Pac Eclipse.  This would allow for convenient overnighters with the family.  I may well buy one some time in the future, but Shackleton will be a great day sailor and a great trainer for me.  

Installing Plank #3, Finally

DSC00017There always seems to be so many little steps in building this sailboat.  I often say, if you have 2 hr/day, that’s all you need.  I couldn’t work any longer even if I had more time.  I prefer to stay with one given task before moving on to other issues that need attention.  It seems it takes all my concentration on each step, so I don’t multi task.  I stay with one step until I feel things are correct and complete.  Only then do I move on.  This pattern seems to work for me.  That way, I don’t get in over my head, loose my focus, go into deep depression and burn the boat in the backyard late at night.

I’m very glad to see plank #3 installed and ready for epoxy/glass fillet.

If you do something each day on your Scamp, this build will slowly but surely continue to take shape.  Just don’t stop!  Solve a problem, finish a step and then keep moving forward.  Love’n it baby, love’n it!

Installing Hatches

First off, I’ve very thankful for a shop heater.  It’s negative 8 deg. F this morning in Idaho.  Without this shop heater, I would be at a complete stand still for the next 3-4 months.DSC00013I had this heater installed about a month ago.  It cost around $1,400.  I can’t believe I didn’t install one years ago.  They are essential for year round building in Idaho.DSC00001With the sole painted and textured, I was ready to install the hatches.  DSC00003I applied a generous bead of 100% silicone around the hatch flange.  DSC000123/4″ stainless steal screws secure the hatches.DSC00002I wiped up any squeeze-out with a paper towel, making sure none got on the seal and top flange.  All holes were predrilled, so this step went very quickly.

After taking so much time to get the sole finished and textured, this step was like the icing on the cake.