Monday, December 29, 2008

almost ready to install the aft bulkhead

Spent the weekend recovering from the holidays and getting ready for the next big project, which is installing a new aft bulkhead. Had intended to get it in over the weekend, but somehow ran out of time. I'm not sure how it happened? I know there were beers involved... :D Seriously, by the time we were ready on Sunday, we realized we'd run out of weekend before we even came close to getting the bulkhead tabbed in. And remember, if your epoxy cures in between layers or coats, the bond will only be mechanical (not as strong), not chemical (stronger). We want a chemical bond, so I think the best bet is to get it all ready to go and start fiberglassing early next Saturday.

Part of this problem is that we are using a medium curing epoxy. It takes longer to cure so our projects all seem to get stretched out a bit more than desireable. I ordered a gallon of MAS resin today and decided to try out the fast curing hardener so I ordered a half gallon of it. Were it summer in Louisiana, this would probably not give me enough working time, but it's winter here so it should work good perfect. And one of the coolest things about MAS epoxy (besides it's price and quality) is the fact you can mix hardeners to create your own set time. Pretty cool.

But I digress...

First, as with every project so far, is a stop at Lowe's (or Home Depot if that's yer deal) to buy things I should probably already own, but don't. The main purchase this time were some clamps to hold the aft bulkhead in place while it is being tabbed in.


Next up, we installed the new bulkhead and set it up with clamps to hold it in place and then made sure it was in there even and level. And then we added the foam pieces underneath the bulkhead to avoid creating any hard spots on the hull.


All level and ready to go this weekend! So this Saturday will be spent tabbing in the new aft bulkhead and also installing the bridge step support. Yay! :D

Monday, December 1, 2008

boat building

Since we finally got the keelson in, it's on to the next structural pieces; the bridge step support and the aft bulkhead.

The keel winch on my boat was originally located inside the cabin, behind the companionway bulkhead, with the handle protruding from the bulkhead. A previous owner (I believe my boat has had many) moved the keel winch to the cockpit, most likely for easier singlehanding. We decided to keep it in the cockpit so it's going right back where it was. Unfortunately, the previous owner that moved it did a terrible job at keeping the water out and the wooden board (bridge step support) that was originally glassed in rotted. So a new one must be installed to give the winch something sturdy to attach it to. There is a lot of force at work when lowering and raising a heavy keel, so the bridge step support is important.

The aft bulkhead was more of the same. The boat was neglected and water was allowed to stand in the cabin. As a result the aft bulkhead had rotted near the bottom.

So this past weekend we picked up some wood and fabricated a new bridge step support and aft bulkhead. The bridge step support is a simple rectangle. No problem there. The aft bulkhead was a more complicated shape so we used a big piece of foam to do a mock up of the part to make sure we got it right. 'Cause wood is really expensive, and nothing seems to go right the first time anyway. :D


And then we installed the foam part and tried it out in the boat.


A few minor adjustments were made to the foam template to get the perfect fit. Then we traced the template onto a piece of hardwood and cut it out and routered all the edges.

Here are the two new pieces, the bridge step support on the workbench and the aft bulkhead is leaning against the wall behind it.


The Heineken is self explanatory. :D

safety update

This seems to help.


Since I began treating all uncured epoxy like the hazardous material that it is, I've had much better luck with my epoxy and fiberglass allergy. I don't handle the fiberglass tape at all unless I'm completely covered in protective clothing and don't even think of handling the uncured epoxy unless I'm wearing every bit of protective clothing I have, including a respirator and eye protection.

Since that pic was taken I found some nitrile gloves that are thicker (meant to be used again and again) and have a longer protective sleeve on them. I don't have to tape these gloves on, which is nice. I found that using these longer gloves, which offer more protection, work especially well if you put the cheaper disposable nitrile gloves on top of the thick ones. Then you can just peel off the disposable ones when they get nasty and the nice ones that offer most of the protection are preserved.

Safety is key, yo.

i feel like a surgeon

We finally got the first real structural piece replaced in the boat. My boat has a new keelson! Yay! It's like she has a backbone again. It was an intimidating project, but looking back now it was all pretty simple and straightforward. And Pam and I both have a LOT more confidence in our fiberglass skills.



Still need to cut out the hole in the keelson for the cockpit drain and install the cockpit drain. Then we're done with this tiny area of the boat, and on to the rest of it. It never ends. It will never end. For as soon as we get it all fixed, things will be wearing out again. It reminds me a lot of bicycles. Constant tuning and adjustments, and constant wear and tear of components. Things always need replacing, or sometimes you just want a new one or a cooler looking one. One thing is certain, I should know everything there is to know about this boat when it's all said and done. Fer realz.

If it weren't for these two

NOTHING would get done.


The Mr. Heater is propane-powered and puts out serious heat for it's size. We have an adapter that we can use to hook it to a large propane tank, just need to get the large tank refilled.


I've had this electric Black & Decker heater for several years now. It just keeps on going. It also puts out a lot of heat for it's size. As long as it's not too drafty, it can keep up.

Seriously, we're both small and female and neither of us likes the cold. I see Belize in my future, if you catch my drift.

Next up, all the stuff we've done lately thanks to the heaters.

And if it weren't for these two, things would be much less exciting.

Katie gets to hang out with us in the boat shop some. She's very trustworthy. Right here she's just wishing we'd all go in and lay down on the bed.

Buster is a spaz of monumental proportions and has to stay in the yard or house - no boat shop for him. He's the sweetest thing on earth to us but is unpredictable with strangers. He's a terrier, what more do I need to say? :D Here Buster is thinking that he would really like to bite you on your ass. It's all squishy and he loves the sound you'll make when he bites it.