Sunday, December 11, 2016

Starting The Deck

I found it fairly easy to disconnect the forms from their stands and flip the boat over. I hung it up from the ceiling by ropes, as with the Cape Ann, but happily, it wasn't as enormously heavy, without the internal beam. I found some plywood brackets from last years' build to hold it-it seems that my roof rack brackets won't be needed.
After checking the alignment of the forms with a board, I had to make several adjustments to the forms, with the belt sander. I knew that the bow & stern forms would stick out (I think they're about 5% "too big ") but I also had to cut down some of the end forms, and put a shim on one, to achieve a fair, flat stern deck. I remember doing this two years ago, when I also used bow & stern forms from the copy shop. 
Now I have to decide what to actually do with the deck.
This is actually my second start on the deck. I originally ran two strips of basswood lengthwise, about two inches from the sheer, but it promised an array of difficult "whiskey plank" -type fits, and a few of the strips were fit badly, so I pulled it off and started over. 
I also miscalculated the number of strips needed, and had to start a new batch. I'm also now recalling a little of alignment difficulty around forms 11-12. Its taking no fewer than 5 skinny strips to make the transition from vertical to horizontal on the deck.
By way of superstition, two things seem to always have to happen on a good build. First, I get hurt. I managed to cut my thumb on the table saw a few weeks ago, requiring stitches. Second is a False Start. When I can look at some of my work, in this case, the first deck strips, and reject it, I think I'm on the right track.
This time, I'm doing a "Plain Jane" deck, with no contrasting stripes. I think I have a plan for an inlay.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Carrying Toggles

I decided to try a new way of making the carrying toggles. I glued up a turning block of mahogany, and measured/marked/drilled the holes before turning:
This was actually easy & fun. I turned the basic shapes, cut them apart right on the lathe, and finished shaping with sandpaper.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Starting To Strip

I got some basswood, and made a series of thin strips: the keel, the sheer lines, and, since its been long enough to forget what a P.I.T.A. it was, waterline strips. I originally wanted to use Pawlonia for these, but after journeying to New Hampshire, I was disappointed in the quality-all the boards looked like they had been water-stained.
After putting these strips on, the 3/4" thick forms now feel rock-solid. I tried extending the keel strip along the bow & stern forms-I somehow have the feeling it will "help" somehow.
I put up the "outrigger" boards, using three good-sized pine boards across the box beam, giving me a much more solid platform to work the strips on.
At the lumberyard, the cedar boards which had the "look" I wanted happened to be 16 and 19 feet long. I spent a long, hard day resawing and surface planing them outside, ran out of daylight, and finished the job indoors. They are 3/16" thick by 5/8" wide. According to my calculations, I have enough for the job, but they don't look like enough. I may have to get "creative" on the deck.
I decided to work on the stems while the bottom is still being stripped. I found some old pieces of cypress wood, that were provided for sheer clamps in my Shearwater Hybrid kit. 

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Setting Up

I tried a new thing: actually following someone else's instructions.
Since I followed Rob Mack's instructions for building a box beam, I figured I'd also follow his instructions for setting up forms. They are pretty good. I set up the top alignment string with two strong wooden posts screwed into the box beam, and aligned it with the bottom string, using a plumb bob, just like the illustration. 
 In the past, I had suspended a top string, and snapped a chalk line on the beam to mark center. I aligned the forms to the top string, and used a spirit level to level them. This time, I have two parallel strings, longer than the entire kayak.
Setting up the first form, #9. The mounting brackets are dadoed to allow the string on the box beam to pass through. A strip of wood is stapled to the form along the center line, leaving room for the thickness of the string. When I brought the stick to the strings, and checked one of the horizontal lines, it was level! 
Not, however, that I got it right the first time. When I got to setting up the bow form, I discovered that I had miscalculated the height of the string, and the tip of the form ran into the box beam. I managed to break the bottom string, then had to relocate the top string to a higher position.
The bow form in place. I cut a 3/4" slot in Form #2, and attached it to the  back of the form, so as not to cover the lines. I also made the small fork-shaped bracket next to form #1, to adjust the bow form across the box beam, and keep form #2 at a right angle to the beam. Everything seems correct with a spirit level, and the tip of the form is lined up on the bottom string. 
I did the same with the stern form. I can see how I blew it the last time. Everything straight and  level is a very fine point.
I tried some test strips, and everything came out even & fair, except for form # 10.5, which had to be moved several inches.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Box Beam

In order to prevent another Crooked Kayak Disaster, I looked for a new way to set up a strongback. Rob Macks uses what he calls an "external box beam" for a strongback, so I bought his kayak building plans to get the dimensions & instructions. 
I made it 19' long-two 8' sections, one 3' section, and two "nesting sections" in between. Its so long, I couldn't fit it all in the picture. Rob calls for 1/2" CDX plywood. I almost used "nicey-nice" 3/4" ply, and I'm glad I didn't, because it weighs a lot as it is. I like the idea of the beam being longer than the whole kayak, because now I can align everything to a string, and not have to resort to shenanigans to get the end forms aligned. It was harder to build than I thought it would be-I had to re-do a section to get it to fit together. Here, I'm using a variety of shims to level it on my uneven basement floor.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Another Outer Island

I decided to chicken out from the Kayak Foundry program for now, and just build another, full-length Outer Island.
I still have the forms from when I bought the original plans, but I decided that they were a little flimsy & troublesome,made on 1/2" CDX plywood, so I traced them onto 3/4 Masonite, and solid pine. This all went well enough, but it brought a quandary to my mind: did I have the forms copied at 95%, or did I just reduce the length? I found nothing on any of the forms that was a specific, measured length, and what really made me wonder was that when I had the bow & stern forms printed at Staples, they didn't fit forms 2 and 16 exactly. After racking my brain for a while, I finally asked Jay Babina for help. He sent me a PDF file of form 16, and my width was exactly what it was supposed to be, however, when I printed it, it wasn't that size! I was finally satisfied that my forms are 100%, but we think Staples' printer is off a little. Its only about 1/8", I think I can work around it.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Designing A Kayak

After several learning-curve evolutions, I finally managed to download & (somewhat) learn how to use Ross Leidy's Kayak Foundry program. You get a diagram that looks like this:
By moving points around, you change the shape of the kayak. 
It kind of reminds me of when I used to order e-juice from E.C. Blend, put all my preferences in, and get a juice that tasted perfectly lousy. I have the ability to put in all the measurement that I think I want, and also make my own mistakes! "Tiny" changes will make a huge difference in the feel and performance.
Interesting feature: you can print out the forms scaled-down, for example 1/8 size, and make a scale model. I tried printing 1/6 scale, but the forms seemed too tiny to work with.
I also bought Rob Mack's' instruction manual for building his "Panache" kayak. In e-mails, he describes build on a "box beam" strongback, and I had to get the manual to see what he means. It looks like a long box girder made of plywood. I'm also considering, if the self-design becomes too scary, building another full-sized Outer Island. If the box-beam thing turns out to be a sweet & solid way of aligning the strongback, maybe I can avoid another blunder.
One of the cool things you can do with the kayak Foundry program is print the forms out at reduced scale, and build a scale model. I tried printing 1/8 scale, but found the forms to be too small to work with, so I tried 1/4 scale:
Ross did this for his RL-1. He went "all the way" in construction, even fiberglassing the hull, but I don't plan to be that fancy.
Actually, I found it harder to work with strips on a small scale, and I have shelved this project for now.
I tweaked the program around a little, and printed the forms at 1/4 scale. I made a slightly  basic scale model, by milling some thin cedar strips and applying them to the forms. I didn't intend to build a pretty, "showpiece" scale model, like Ross, I just wanted to get a 3-D clue of what it would look like. I also re-posted the design on Kayak Foundry for comments. The comments reflected what I saw in the model. 
My conclusion is that the scale model will look like a nice little kayak, but it doesn't really show much else.
I usually "start" a build by making some detail in advance, such as the carrying toggles. This time, I made the skeg trunk and control box. I had most of the necessary parts left over from the last build.
I was fairly  satisfied with the design on the program, so I started printing forms. You can print them out on legal size paper, but you get a bunch of pieces that need to be taped together using registration marks. I investigated trying to export them somehow to a file that they might print at Staples, but  someone on the message board said something about "distortion", so I thought it better to print at home. I started printing. The forms looked pretty small, and somehow unsatisfactory, so I compared the largest one to the O.I's largest form. The deck height was o.k, but it needed more slope to the sheerline, so back to tweaking.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

On The Blackstone Canal

I so happened, through geocaching,  to find out about a kayak-navigable canal in Rhode Island, The Blackstone Canal. I believe it was dug in the 1820's, when Everyone was trying to Connect All Waterways. Now, there are "canals" on the map, but they always seem to be either dry or closed to boat traffic, so I was slightly excited to find this.
Day started inauspiciously. Forgot my directions, much driving around to find a put-in spot. Actually put in near the northern terminus, an interesting area with historical sites.
From the banks, it looked a little rocky & junky, but the water was deep enough, and I had few problems with snags. There were a few trees to go around. It was like a paddle down a lazy river.
I got skunked on 2/2 caches, which was a disappointment, but at least they got me here. I went about a mile each way. 
A lock, near the Blackstone river. I think it was the type of canal that uses the river's flow to fill the locks.
Once I returned to the put-in spot, I found the area historically interesting. 
An old New-English Mill, being converted into condos. 

Marking the site of an old mill.
There was also the Kelley House museum, by the canal, with a few ranger/curators. The was an old fellow, probably an octogenarian, in a uniform marked "volunteer". He took my picture when I launched the 'yak. 
When I took out, he admired the kayak & complimented my workmanship. When I was loading it onto the car, he said "boy, I envy you!". 
In fact, I envy him.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

New York, and the "Freedom Tower"

Just a "routine" trip to NYC, but this time I took more pictures than usual, and have some observations. A couple of years ago, a friend & I went to the Museum Of Natural History, and Central Park. We agreed that New York didn't seem like New York anymore-some kind of Big Brother Lockdown going on. The "color" of Central Park was gone-no busking musicians, jugglers, weirdos, etc.-just the feeling that everything was being watched.
Checked into The Jane Hotel (google it, its nifty) in the evening, and decided for a walk on The High Line (google that too ;))
This is a little more like it. A performance artist, posing stock-still. The passers-by's reactions were the most fun, they seemed to find it hilarious.
Another view from The Line. Its amazing how different familiar streets look from 2 stories up:

On to the nearby Hudson River Park. Lots of cyclists and joggers. Great evening view of the Financial District:
Lots of walking. Walked around the west Village, looking for a place to eat. Found a funky little pizzeria on 4th St. (?), and had 2 Sicilian slices for $7.
Up early the next morning (for New York). Drove down to the Financial District, and ate breakfast at McDonald's. Too early for The Tower, so checked out Trinity Church, and a very neatly groomed old graveyard.
Back to the WTC area. The area has a very strong police presence these days. Cops in kiosks, cops on the street telling you which sidewalk you can use.

Wow. If they want to close Vesey St. instantly, they can do it.
At the Memorial, the South Pool. I have mixed feelings about this. Its dramatic & beautiful architecture, and the water has a soothing sound. From where you can stand, you can only see the water falling literally, into a Black Hole. This is supposed to symbolize "loss", but I find it negative, as if the victims have disappeared into oblivion & nothingness. I would rather have seen something that symbolizes, regeneration rebirth, something rising perpetually. The "Freedom Tower" is supposed to do that, but after visiting it, it seems to speak more of fear than defiance.
On to the aforementioned.

It looks nice in the morning light. It was just opening, and there were only a few dozen people around. Now, I hadn't been up in a large skyscraper since 9/11, and I seemed to think it would be a matter of passing Security, buying the ticket, and going up, but they control your every move these days. Even without crowds, there seemed to be a lot of waiting in line to pass, for no apparent reason. 
There was a nifty place (they start you out in the basement) where you walk through bedrock, and are informed about the construction process.On to the elevators.
There was a high-tech video display that played on the walls of the elevator, showing the development of New York as you rise, It reaches the "present" when you reach the top. Interesting, but a 100-story elevator ride in 60 seconds is trippy enough without it.
When I got off the elevator, I wanted very badly to walk around and shake off the "land sickness". but we were funneled into another waiting area, where a video was projected onto a curtain. The curtain was raised briefly to give a live view.
Then it got irritating. After being released from this line, The tour guides informed the crowd of an i-phone application that would explain all the sights from a location in the observatory! They even lent out tablets. There are no printed signs about the view. So, I thought that a 100-story view of New York City might actually make people put the darned thing down for a few minutes, but nahhh...
Then it got a little more irritating. Unbeknownst to me, many people had purchased some "photo at the top" type of thing, and again stood in a line. I didn't know what was going on-was it a Mandatory Mug Shot? I said I didn't want a picture, so they told me to "move on". I almost got mouthy, but checked myself-figured that any aberrant behavior might get me tazed or worse. 
Free at last! The view was amazing, and the observatory was more psychologically comfortable that the old WTC's. 

Saturday, June 11, 2016


On to my favorite lake for a trial. The AMC was also having some kind of kayak class there, and I met a lady who'd built a CLC Skerry.
Not bad! For the first few minutes, I wondered if it was tracking straight, but I suspected that the seat wasn't centered properly. It wasn't, so I made the adjustment. The skeg works! Not only does it go up & down easily, but it really does make the boat track better. 
This one's a little slower than the OI, but I expected that.

Friday, June 10, 2016


Normally the easiest & most fun part of the build, this  was where the mistakes-to-be-corrected kicked in.
First, the parts that went well: I got the skeg control cable in place, and it actually does what its supposed to do! 
The skeg "deployed":

The seat came out well, and I covered it with the traditional black spandex.
The glue-on footbrace mounting studs looked like they were too far aft because they were. I removed them with the heat gun & a chisel easily-almost too easily, making me wonder how strong an arrangement it was in the first place. That gave me some patch & repair work to do on the inside. I thought it would be an even bigger mess to put them in again, and harder to do with the boat closed up, so I decided to revert to through bolts. I carefully marked the location of the bulkhead, measured, and drilled into the foam bulkhead! Tried to make it work by carving out a space for the footbrace, but ended up removing the bulkhead, and going for a new plywood one.
Grab loops. I went for a bit of bamboo:

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Sanding Outdoors

Last year, I discovered that it is much easier to wet-sand a kayak outdoors, so I did it again:

It was also the first time I saw this 'yak and the OI in the same view. This is a wide-angle view, so its slightly exaggerated, but again, Vaclav's design is much higher in volume than I expected.
I also varnished the Cape, and re-varnished the OI, side-by-side, on sawhorses, in the basement. It was a tight fit, and I think I'd have done a better job on each if I hadn't done it that way. However, I think I'm less picky about perfect finishes than I used to be, after years of using these kayaks.
BTW, the "minor repairs" on the OI look fine after finishing.

Monday, May 16, 2016

OI Minor Repair

I'll have two kayaks this summer: my Outer Island I, on its 3rd season, and the new Cape Ann Storm LT. I brought the OI outside to do some minor repairs:
A patch of 4 oz. glass where the original sheathing was starting to wear. There are some dark spots where water penetrated, but I think it will be o.k. 
Surprisingly easy to work on this outdoors.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Knee Braces & Cockpit Rim

I painted the cockpit rim, again in my favorite Jolly Green. It fit into the boat rather well. I glued it in with dookie, using some microballons, hoping that they might expand while curing, making a snug fit.
The knee braces are separate pieces of plywood. Because of the way that the rim fits into the boat, I found it easier to do it that way. I glued them in with more dookie, and they will be painted to match the rim.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Foam Bulkheads

Most every build, I try a new technique or two. Sometimes, its an innovation, other times, it represents "doing it the hard way". This time, it was bulkheads cut from 3" minicel foam:
These were much easier than I expected. The compress-ability of the foam gives some leeway-you can simply push the bulkhead in until it fits. There are some gaps, but I think I filled them adequately with caulk. Much easier than whittling a piece of plywood until it fits, big fillet of dookie, etc. 
Side brace plate visible on the left.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Cockpit Rim

I decided to go for a fiberglass rim again. This time, I went for fat 10 oz. fiberglass. The stuff is hard to wet out with epoxy, which it drinks up greedily, but I hope it will build the thickness up faster.
I used various rolls of tape to hold the foam down. I used 5 layers of 10 oz. glass, and finished with one layer of 4 oz. It appears to be thicker this time.
I also cut the hatches out today. The usual amount of shaping and correction.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Skeg Control Box

I had tried routing a fancy control box from a single block of wood, but I really couldn't get satisfactory results. I ended up using the box I made according to the plans, made of many little pieces of plywood.
 Filleted & glassed to the underside of the deck. I turned the boat upside down to do this, and made an amazingly silly mistake:forgot that left is right/vice versa when upside down, and installed it on the left side! I was concerned about not interfering with the knee braces, and put it rather far forward. I hope that I can reach it.
Had a little trouble finding where to drill into the cavity, and nicked the box a little. Repaired it with dookie fill, and routed out the hole. Doesn't look bad.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Back To The Deck

My random orbit sander bit the dust. I replaced it with a big, 6" job that has variable speeds, and two diameter-of-orbit settings. I always thought it easier to do a small job with a big tool, than vice versa. The new tool really made sanding the deck a breeze.
Glassing the deck went easily, except for one glitch: I discovered that the 30" glass wouldn't cover the deck the widest spot! I improvised with a patch, that I think will blend in o.k.
I think I may have finally gotten the hang of saturating fiberglass, after five builds. The trick seems to be to saturate the glass evenly, always using enough resin to fully saturate the glass. Whatever it is, it must be one of those "indescribable knacks", because no matter what I read, I had to get the hang of it myself!

Friday, April 8, 2016

Closing The Clam

I did, this time, use the spreader sticks of the recommended size in the hull, after glassing the interior. It may have helped a little, but the hull still shrank.
I resorted to using the spreader sticks, tethered with strings, to spread the hull. Oddly, the hull was wider  than the deck, near the bow. I resorted to using two Big "ol Clamps to pull it back together: 
This time, instead of using the pre-made 9 oz. tape, I made a long 2" strip of 4 oz. glass for the inside seam. The usual scramble to wet it out with epoxy.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Back To The Hull

Opening the slot for the skeg. This was fairly easy to do with the router. It looked straight from the inside, but it looks off from the outside. I think this may be because the strips were thicker on one side, however, when I insert the blade, it looks straight. We will have to see...
Glassing the hull. This time, I tried using plenty of epoxy to saturate. Lots of it ended up on the floor. I avoided trying to "push" the resin into the glass, and there doesn't appear to be any ripples.
I also figured that the only places I ever get any abrasion damage (barring mishaps) are the bow & stern, so I went for 3 layers of fiberglass in those places, the rest is a single layer 

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

The Interior

I decided to do lots of the fairing work with the boat still on the strongback. It seemed like a lot  of work this time around. Strange, how different parts of the project increase or decrease in difficulty each build.
The deck was easy to remove. The hull, of course, wasn't. I ended up having to saw the beam in half again, but fortunately, nothing was glued together this time. I was thinking about saving the forms & strongback intact, but on second thought, the whole thing is too massive & heavy to have lying around. I'll just save the forms.
Lots of grinding, scraping. etc. on the interior. As usual, it got pretty thin in some spots, but I just "went for it" with a 40 grit sanding disc.
I had a bit of a revelation while trying to fair out the ends. On my stitch-and-glue builds, the instructions have you make a fillet, then apply the glass, and wet it out with epoxy. It occurred to me that I could do this in the areas that I couldn't reach, and the thin spots.
Worked like a charm! You can see some haziness where the filler mixed with the clear epoxy, but the whole thing came together well, with few or no bubbles. To think: I had been doing a fillet, then laboriously grinding it back down. I'll probably do this on the underside of the deck, too.
I did the footbrace kit as on the last build. Pretty easy, once I figured out where to put them.
The skeg box glued in. I decided to try to center it  on the keel, instead of putting the whole box through the hull. The string is there to align it to the boat, but I did a lot of adjusting & tweaking to make it look straight. I also put it somewhat forward of where the instructions recommend. 
Glassing the underside of the deck went fairly easily. I used the putty-fill technique as above, with good results

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

The Deck

My first two attempts at a deck design didn't work out how I planned them, so I fell back on a Big Skunk Stripe down the center:
Still interesting how the size & shape of the boat seem to change with progress. Its starting to look like a short, fat, kayak.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Flipping 'Er Over

I completed stripping the hull, and of course, ran out of strips. I cogitated for a while about whether to get more light-colored wood to match the hull, or get some darker stuff. I went for the darker stuff, because the lighter stuff doesn't contrast much with the basswood.
On the last build, I tried to fair the hull before stripping the deck. I ended up removing too many staples, and some of the forms wanted to fall out when I flipped the boat, causing problems. This time, I rough-shaped the stem & stern, and left most of the staples in. 
The spine, forms, and hull weigh what seems like 100 pounds. I hung all from the rafters, using my roof tie-downs for ropes, screwed hull-shaped wooden blocks to the I-beam, and flipped 'er over.
Now I finally have to decide on a deck design.