Sunday, 20 April 2014

On with the bits

Once again it's been a while since I posted.  Real life has a habit of getting in the way of boatbuilding plans and in this case it was ill health that set me back somewhat.  Hopefully things will go well, but progress on the boat and this blog may be sporadic.

I've been working on the bulkheads as well as other bits and pieces.  Just recently. I decided to try making the bowsprit and, in the absence of good cheap Douglas Fir here in Australia, I decided to try working with Cypress Pine - a native softwood.  Usually used for building or fenceposts it has a fine grain and is as strong as  Douglas Fir but a little denser.

I bought a 2.4m post 100mm x 100mm for about $20 and went to work with table saw, plane and spokeshave.  Here's a picture of my brother-in-law Andrew hard at work with spokeshave, working out some of his frustrations.  Turning a piece of rough timber into a  tapered, rounded spar with nothing more than a homemade spar gauge and a few hand tools is always a satisfying process.

I've also noticed that the wood sold in Bunnings - one of our big home improvement places here in Australia - as "structural pine" is also called "baltic pine".  This appears to be the Australian name for Picea abies, Norway Spruce.  Pickng through this lumber can give fairly clean lengths of relatively slow-grown timber.  Compared to clear-grain Oregon (Douglas Fir) which here costs about $40/m for 200 x 50, it seems like a good choice for relatively inexpensive spars, even if I have to increase the dimensions slightly.

Friday, 24 January 2014

Back to work

A number of things have kept me away from boat building over the last few months, but things are starting to settle down and I can turn my attention back to the pleasant complexities of working with bits of wood.  I've been looking at some of the bits and pieces I can work on without a massive outlay on ply and without requiring the space to plank up the hull - space I don't have until I work out what to do with my Tammie Norrie.  

I'll build the bulkheads next but my first little project was to out together the rudder, rudder stock and tiller.The photo below is a relatively early stage.

The tiller was sawn, chiselled and spokeshaved to shape from an old piece of Tasmanian Oak that was once part of a roof timber, I think.  The rudder stock sides were made from 18mm hardwood marine ply, with a core of Douglas Fir (Oregon).  I lined the tiller socket with thin strips of cedar to give a nice soft fit.

The  rudder was made largely from two pieces of 18mm hardwood marine ply laminated up and edged at the front with hardwood and glassed. I added a piece of brass half round strip I had left over to the lower edge.  

The rudder will be held in place by a 12mm SS bolt and lacking the appropriate size tubing as bushing I epoxied stacks of M12 washers into the bolt hole in the rudder and stock - should keep the wear down.

Next step the bulkheads

Saturday, 3 August 2013

Wooden fittings

I might not have the full plans for my Penguin yet, but there's still a lot I can do.  When I built the "Gradual Progress", the plans were my reward for successfully giving up smoking.  This meant that I started making the little bits and pieces first - the things I didn't need exact dimensions for.  When I did eventually get to the fitting out stage, I already had all the cleats, blocks, fairleads, thole pins, belaying pins and other bits and pieces ready made.

Gradual progress was in many senses a recycled boat.  I was recycling myself at the time, retraining as a teacher and had zero money to spend on boat materials.  I scraped together the cash for the marine ply for the planking, but everything else was recycled.  

Luckily, here in Australia we have a system of "Hard Rubbish" where, a couple of times a year, households leave all their unwanted items on the side of the road for the council to pick up.  Rich pickings for a timber scavenger. Often, the old timbers ripped out during renovations are close-grained wood of a quality impossible to buy these days.  They just need a little cleaning up, or resizing on the table saw.  

Sometimes it's a case of being creative.  I couldn't spend $600 on clear-grained Spruce for the mast for "Progress", but was lucky enough to salvage a large Venetian blind with cedar slats.  Laminate these into a large beam and plane to size and you have a lightweight mast strong enough to walk along, all for the cost of a couple of pots of epoxy.  The wooden deck for my Kaholo SUP started life as the cedar slats from a couple of louvre doors.....

So that's the approach for this next build.  Use as many recycled materials as possible, keep things simple and low-tech so I can make what I need.  Gradual Progress, a 14' dayboat, cost me less than $2000 in materials.  Cleaning and resizing timber no doubt took up a considerable time, but I get a great feeling of satisfaction giving new life to lovely pieces of wood that would otherwise end up in landfill.

Here's a few of the fittings I'm working on.  Harvey Garrett Smith's "The Marlinspike Sailor" is a book I'd recommend to any boatbuilder and there are plenty of good websites and forum discussions that can help.
Rope-Stropped Wooden Blocks are discussed at length on this site, for example.

Wednesday, 31 July 2013

The start of the journey

Actually more a continuation down a long road.  I started sailing about 25 years ago as a young man, after a childhood as far away from the sea as it is possible to be in the relatively small British Isles.  Most of m sailing was in  keelboats around the south coast of England, with occasional trips further afield

After moving to Australia, I realised that in order to sail in the way I wanted - for pleasure rather than competition, it would be a good idea to build my own boat.  The hard part was deciding which one.  After a long search, Iain Oughtred's Tammie Norrie became my first project, although sadly unblogged.  "Gradual Progress" has taken me out on Melbourne's Port Phillip Bay many times and is here pictured in Mallacoota, together with mad dog Oscar.

I also built myself a CLC Kaholo SUP so I could throw something on the top of the car and get on the water on a nice summer evening

It's now time to step things up a notch. A boat with curtains - that's what I want to take me away from the daily drudge for longer periods.  One that can accommodate me, spouse and occasional friends in reasonable comfort, yet be trailerable.  Getting to decent cruising grounds from a base in Melbourne is either a VERY long sail through some of the world's rougher waters, or putting the boat on a trailer.

I've spent a long time thinking about the perfect boat and, of course, it doesn't exist.  Ever boat is a compromise.  Despite my love of Iain Oughtred's designs, I've come to the conclusion that the boat I would get more use out of would be John Welsford's  "Penguin"  which ticks all the boxes for me.  Whilst it doesn't have the sleek lines of an Oughtred Grey Seal, it  does have decent accommodation and the gaff yawl rig I want is still an option.  Truth be told, I'm still at the study plan stage, but that birthday is coming up fast.....  In the meantime, there's plenty of fittings and stuff to get started on.