mast work!

After couple of days planing-sanding-planing-sanding-swearing-sanding-planing-sweating-sanding-swearing-planing-sanding i finally managed to produce snugly fitting top and heel for the mast:

to do list

Port hull almost done, still lots to do…
… waiting in the list:

  • glass 2 cabin sides, glass tape main companionway & forward hatch coamings
  • glue beam sockets/pads
  • bolt & glue beam/shroud lashing pads
  • produce forward and center beam
  • produce mast top and step for aluminum tube
  • make tillers & gaff
  • lash rudders to hulls (port hull needs lashing holes as well)
  • fabricate slatted deck
  • produce forward & main hatch for port hull
  • install all the necessary small bits that will make run everything smoothly (supporting pads for deck, jib blocks and barber hauler, main hatch locking system, beam cleats etc)
  • sand & paint everything (including starboard hull)
  • install port hull windows
  • raise mast & get out onto water

 

I welcome you, spring

Hi folks, it has been a while, since my last blog post, but nevertheless Tiki project hasn’t stayed idle. Day by day Itatae has gathered some flesh into bones.

Here is latest report…


Taking time to smooth out the wrinkles makes it easier later.

 


Well thats nice, isnt it…

 


Last drops of epoxy and last bits of glass joined with painstaking care 😛

 


Hefty overhang for stem (trimmed later with carpet knife before resin is fully set)

 


Finshed product.

 


Finshed product with Microlight filler coat.

 


Back on heels.

 


She will look nice, doesn’t she…

key points

So… second hull got stitched up and yesterday I made some nice fillets for keel & bulkheads for 2 sections… I think its time to talk about little variations and changes I have made and plan to make into workflow, just to make whole process a little bit smoother and less time consuming.

  • Preparing hullsides – this time after gluing and coating hullsides, I sanded all the surface of inner faces and treated bulkheads likewise, as it was for starboard hull a truly utter PITA to sand them in assembled hull; also I beveled underside corner of sheer stringer with a planer, leaving sheer stringer double locations untouched – comfortable and easy way.
  • Nailing – as I have described previously I started using temporary screws or clamps to hold pieces in place during gluing, cause its pretty impossible to get those copper nail heads nicely flush with surface without using sledgehammer. But still occasionally I went for nails, but with variation I drilled ca millimeter deep holes with diameter of nail head for the nails to get nail heads flush with surface, otherwise its not easy later when sanding to maintain epoxy coating on top of the protruding nail heads.
  • Stitching – I abandoned the copper wire, using cable ties exclusively. The main reason I used them in first place was my antipathy towards all sorts of single use throwaway plastic products – but then I realized, that environmental cost of messing up with epoxy in some point would be much greater than those few disposed plastic straps. Second consideration was that copper wire is re-adjustable, which it is basically, but only for one or two times, after which it parts. But one will learn quickly not to over tighten the cable tie. Copper wire is little bit easier to tighten, but one learns quickly to fasten the cable tie without putting whole body behind it with a risk to accidentally move pieces to be glued from their desired locations.
    Copper wire ties tend to have another nasty habit, that is secretly to tear holes in your protective gloves, and when you have finished gluing, treated your hands with West System epoxy resin removing cream and started cleaning up the mess, then you will realize that there are long painstaking hours ahead cutting wire, filing off protruding leftover parts and fishing out those wires that have buried in their tiny sarcophages of hard rock cured epoxy because you didn’t wipe off excess of the glue properly.
  • Bunk bearer – like for starboard hull I glued bunk bearers into bulkheads before inserting them into hull, but this time, after hull was stitched up I glued triangular shape stringers to bunk level line, so no need for hard core boat building yoga to produce fillets for bunk undersides.
  • Cutting bunks – I didn’t saw much point for lofting a curved line for bunks, as the camber for the bunk edges is only a few mm for those couple dozens of cm.
  • Painting bunks undersides before gluing them on – do not forget to do that, Agur, you old chap!
  • Extra reinforcement & layout changes for bunk in companionway section – Wharram plans call fillets covered with glass tape for fixing the bunks, but I think it would not do harm to fully glass the bunk in companionway section – this is section of the bunk that will get most of the battering. Like Brad on his Beto I changed the lengths of fixed bunk plates in companionway section to make sitting in cabin a bit more comfortable. This has been done already for starboard hull and it worked great, so I will adapt this modification in port hull likewise.

Those modifications seem rather irrelevant, but again, when most of the (epoxy related) works are carried on by single person, then every little nuance start to play important role, especially those that help to reach results easier and faster.

 

port-hull

Port hull, all stitched up, with glued sheer stringers and additional bunk bearers.

key2

A key for levelling the hull.

upside down

Dear Diary,

it has been long time since I last wrote to you… but, still, there have been some advancement in the Garage. What I managed to achieve is — despite of too cold spring (bad for epoxy cooking) and too hot early summer (hard to stay put in shady garage) — gluing coaming for main hatchway and constructing main hatch, glassing topsides of the hull (decks and cabin). Later process has been pretty emotional :p — getting glass over the upper deck stringers without air bubbles and sticking it onto underside of the sheerstringer was business that one may call PITA. Nevertheless, work itself is the best teacher and when I finally got into glassing the forward deck I managed to execute the process with minimal losses i.e. decently smooth finish, which requires minimal sanding later on.

So lets have a quick glance of the mess I have created (hull is turned so we could have a clear view of the sight).

1. exhibit A
– after fiberglass on deck and sides of the sheerstringer was wetted, next move was to try tap it into place underside of the sheerstringer using a brush. With not much of luck. Things got under control when I brushed undersides over with epoxy and WS Microlight filler.
Note that I have already covered up some of the traces (using good old elbow grease and 60 grit sandpaper).
sheerstringer_0002

2. exhibit B
– so here you can see me trying to get glassfiber down from cabin sides stick to underside of the sheerstringer, but this time, I didn’t cut the glass flush with the corner – instead I let the epoxy set for a while, then after it got really sticky, I removed the excess and applied fillet (Microlight) right a way on top of it.
Again, this evidence have had some touch ups already.
sheerstringer_0003

3. exhibit C
Well now I can be proud of myself and honor my humble figure with Distinguished Service Order as I demonstrated unprecedented capability to evolve and learn from past mistakes whereas this time (forward deck) I produced nice and neat fillets (Microlight) and let them set semi-hard before I moved to sheerstringers undersides with glassing. I removed the excess of the fiberglass just before applying saturation coat (mixed again with Microlight to avoid sagging).
sheerstringer_0005

PS! Decks and cabin sides saturation coat were thickened with Microlight, which is rather easy to work with (whether applying or sanding it).

So now the itinerary offers me adventure down under – fillets around the keel, aft deck sheerstringer undersides, stem & stern, sanding, fiberglass tape, sanding, glass for one side, sanding, glass for other side, sanding again…

Forward from decks

tiki_0004 tiki_0000

So before stinging cold from Russia struck… I managed to glue fore deck as well. Aft deck was done already in November.
Now both of them are glued, trimmed back and rounded, ready for next phase.

During nighttime it drops down to -20 Celsius outside and it takes too much effort to heat garage sufficiently for epoxy work, so I spend some therapeutic hours shaping and smoothing rudder blades. Hopefully there will be soon some nice warm lows dispatched from North Atlantic so I could resume to gluing work, which means attaching the cabin sides and top, small round fillets for deck stringers, fillets for holes left by temporary screws I used occasionally during deck works.

tiki_0008

balance

tiki_0001
So whats the balance for now… With a bit more than half a year I have managed to assemble starboard hull up to the decks. Later ones have been prepared for gluing.

 

tiki_0002
Next item in the plan is to paint undersides of the bunks before starting with cabin sides. All nicely prepared, waiting for the right vibes…

 

tiki_0008
Broadsides & bulkheads of the port hull were cut out already in summer. So for a change of scenery I started with gluing deck-beams and bunk bearers, also I prepared nice thickened-epoxy holes for taking inspection hatch bolts. Maybe its overkill… on starboard bulkheads I used just screws.

 

tiki_0006
Last week I spend some therapeutic hours and cut out small pieces from the 15mm ply, namely lashing pads and butt blocks for beams…

 

tiki_0004
… then continued with beam web pairs, which also ended previous sanative session with a cruel fact that I miss few inches of ply sheet in order to complete all three pairs. Apparently when I produced rudders, stem & stern posts in spring, I went for too excessive safety margins…
Bugger!

400 hour benchmark

Meanwhile I have prepared decks for gluing, this means attaching the stingers, epoxy coating and painting undersides. Loathed paintjob… This Tikkurila Temadur is indeed a quite nasty stuff working in under-ventilated garage I have there, but since it sticks into epoxy pretty well I guess I have to be pleased with it, no intention to get lost in the poly-carbonates maze again…This time I made my life a bit easier and bought proper thinner as well, which means I do not have to worry about short pot life anymore and also I can avoid slight coagulating problems I had previously when I was working too slow.

Anyway what I have recognized is that I have hit the 400 hour benchmark already, since I have worked at least 16 hours per week during summer months and at least 8 hours per week during spring & autumn. By no means I would like to contest Wharram estimates, Im pretty convinced that one could relay Tiki 21 within 400 hour time frame whether he is highly skilled or just a novice bloke who is desperately in rush to get onto the water soon as possible.
In my case… well I haven’t been a prompt starter all of my life. I need to develop a kind of feel of the process, tools and materials, only when I’m certain that those fresh spread wings will carry I would dear to dive head fist into the matter. Otherwise there is high probability that I will mess something up completely.
I had to castrate my inner perfectionist pretty much in the start anyway.

But furthermore I’m still struggling to fully disclose this little universe boiling there down in the garage. I guess its rarely not just a boat building for numerous amateur comrades out there. Building a 21 foot catamaran isn’t  just a pastime endeavor for most us novices, Im pretty sure.
It just means just too many countless hours of researching, watching YouTube wow-to videos, fearing, hoping, being paranoid over the measurements, recollecting, digging out rare materials, spending money to gadgets you cannot do without, buckling down eternity on your knees with jigsaw, spending agonizing hours in folded position like a maniac flamingo, trying to spread fillets, then sanding fillets, after which reshaping fillets again because you messed up little bit in first time, and then again you are sanding those fillets and then back again behind your computer trying to make sense of all those controversial advice, opinions, dogmas, principles and tricks served in forums, DIY videos and blogs. Your knees hurt, your legs let you down, those dozens of tiny muscles you haven’t been aware of so far, those hurt as well, your nostrils are clogged, as well your brain, it has gone off due a short circuit, that’s because constantly you had to use both hemispheres simultaneously.
So whats the point of all? Its not easy to find a straightforward answer to this, I guess its just constellation of many small, often invisible things, thin threads spinning into taut line which may make up your safety rope in the end. All you have to to is just grab it and see where it pulls, or from where it pulls you out…

bits and pieces

Some tweets about stuff I have used.

First, spreading the epoxy… for a large surfaces, like broadsides I found pretty convenient to use wallpaper spreading rolls. You have to clean them thoroughly afterwards, though.
Yes comrades, I sure did experiment with various rollers available in housing stores and none of them satisfied me enough (maybe those fancy West System roller set 800 & 801 would give a more fancier outcome). I found myself experimenting with plastic spreaders likewise, but not so much of success, as resin tend to turn kind of foamy…

Bulkheads, bunks, stiffeners etc has been coated with using brushes. With a certain amount of trial & error I finally kinda get the knack: first I pour out a resin trail, then brush it longitudinally with rather strong strokes (with divaricate bristles) subsequently I will spread the resin crosswise and diagonally from initial track, using smooth and not so vicious strokes. I still have not acquired the skill of producing a perfect smooth surface, there will be still some waviness left, but the outcome has been significantly improved since I implemented this technique.

rullid

Radius fillets for bulkheads, keel and bunks…. PITA for me in first place as I tried to use radius tools cut out from plywood. Those are too inflexible, so suitable only for amateur builders blessed with Houdini genes.
Also I found myself experimenting with radius tools cut out from the canisters of  car window washing liquid – too flexible… Finally I stumbled upon nice bright yellow plastic spreaders in construction store that I shaped onto desired radiuses. They work like a charm. Now I would sculpt those fillets until end of my days… Well kidding, two hull worth of radiuses will do fine 🙂

spreaders

For mixing epoxy I found nice ice cream cups (black ones in the pic) which are very flexible and ductile, so most of the times I have succeeded in braking off cured epoxy after the work has done. Most of the times I would pour mixed epoxy into plastic can which is usually used by decent house wives for storing the raw cranberry jam in the deep freezer. This can has a bit more surface than a ice cream cup, so epoxy does not go off so quickly. It makes great utensil for mixing the fillers as well. Also reusable most of the times.

cups

Gluing stuff… In one of my previous post I already explained why I deviated away from using copper nails as a temporary fasteners. So I went and bought a bunch of stainless steel screws. Stainless because I presumed that I may not retrieve all the screws after epoxy has cured. And the practice demonstrated that my assumption was not so wrong after all. Few of those scrawny screws (right on the photo) decided to stay in. Despite the fact that I had cleared the heads from clue with acetone rag, still some clue managed to spoil those tiny lobes. Lesson learned… so I abandoned those and started to use screws with bigger heads (in the middle of the photo). Those are 3mm diameter & 12 mm long and do the job.

kruvid

Last but not least – when messing around with epoxy or with random orbit sander don’t forget to wear a proper mask. I have 3M half-mask with detachable organic compound and dust filters, which I could combine depending the situation. 3M has a selection of masks in various sizes, so you can choose best fit for you. Im pretty pleased with one I got.

mask

extra fillets

Im not sure if its overkill, but I manufactured some nice minuscule fillets for covering the stitch holes of diagonal stiffeners. Fancy stuff, my friends.

pushing fillets

Today I filleted and glassed the stern, which means I have finished filleting bulkheads and keel. It took me about a week and lots of boat-yoga to finish this section of work.

I must admit that I did not overwhelmingly enjoyed this head down to the knees epoxy cooking… but nevertheless it is great pleasure to see how step by step those wobbling plywood panels shape up into a sturdy and beautiful boat… all done by my own two little pale hands 😉

And my condolences to this poor quay whose path may cross with this hefty stem fillet…

stemFillet

 

And again I can not get enough of those dare lines of Tiki’s – now all filleted and reinforced…

lines

reinforcing the keel

TIKI ITATAE – reinforcing the keel from Info Design Lab on Vimeo.

Today I continued with fillets. This time were the keel fillets in to-do list, those will be glassed as well.

I use West System 407 Low Density filler. For applying correct radius I produced plywood spatulas. But they are inflexible, so I guess I shall replace them with metal spreaders shaped in desired form…

Check out previous time lapse videos about stuffing the giant taco — starboard hull goes from 2D to 3D and filleting bulkhead radiuses.

 

few hundred meters of straight cuts

lumber

Few weeks ago I bought from Mass last pieces of Douglas-Fir needed to complete hulls. It means two 5,45m 105x52mm logs.

Im still missing pieces for the crossbeams: they need to be 3,81m long with cross section of 120x20mm. I have to hope a miracle on that!

Anyway, I had to use again lots of Veiko’s elbow grease to cut them in suitable battens and planks.

Thanks again Veiko and Jaanika! Your help is again appreciated a lot!

preparation

bulkheadPreparation

What can I say… preparation is crucial! No Im not kidding – weather it would be coating or gluing, 70% of the time it will be preparing the thingy into right mode.

What I have learned is:

* take your time and check the measures or you learn it the hard way 😉

* check the coherence of the fittings: are you gluing this fine looking piece of hand crafted wood to a place where it really belongs?

* write everything down on the pieces: which piece of wood would like to mate with certain part of ply and which side down it prefers do to this!

* draw the lines – it makes hell of easier to lay down the glue

* prepare all the stuff you need for gluing/coating: brushes, spreaders, rollers – all clean and ready to go… not to mention nitrine gloves , rags for cleaning, mixing cups & sticks… its much easier to have those in hand rather than dig around in your work bench and litter everything with uncured epoxy, believe me :);

* and a clock! yes exactly, a whatch: this is for keeping an eye on time during mixing of resin and hardener. I went for 45 seconds per squirt of resin/hardener in normal conditions, usually a bit longer. It is really easy to loose sense of time, especially when you are mixing your tenth cup of epoxy of the day and it is rather tempting to have much shorter minutes counting in your inner biological clock…;

* last but not least: if you are inexperienced, do yourself a favor and deal with small patches in first place! After you have acquired some experience with epoxy then you may have start bragging around with the stuff :);

gluing learning curve

bulkheadGlueing

Gluing deck beams to bulkheads. Using epoxy and microfibres (as its bare wood).

Lesson learned: nailing the thing down could be pretty messy – deck beam tends to slip from its desired position, pressure of the nails stays kind of uneven, there is constant threat of splitting the wood in the end of the pieces (poplar, Populus tremula, in this case) and finally it takes to much of hammer-power to drive those nails home and this is something you ought not want to to in the edges of narrow wood pieces. So I pretty much missed that later part, because furthermore it seems that if I will hammer fiercely, then all the remaining glue oozes out of the joint finally.  Ah yes, did I mentioned sanding – you have to get those copper nail heads and leftover nail tips in the other side pretty much even with surrounding surface in order to get decent outcome.

So, despite Wharram suggestion to use nails in gluing deck beams, butt blocks, sheerstringers etc., I decided to abandon the nails (as they are not structural elements anyway) and go for clamping or weights or using temporary screws, depending on situation. And as I mentioned in previous post I have gathered reasonable amount of wood clamps anyway.

PS! Only deck will be nailed to the hulls, as there are not any of intelligent solution for that, at least something that Im aware of.

PPS! Recently there was pretty intense discussion over the nails question in Wharram builders forum, jump the thread here.

miniTiki

minitiki

I executed my first experiment with epoxy. Its my miniTiki above.

I decided to use West System, which is not cheapest, but its manufacture line seems most coherent and of course because it is very well known and proven brand in wood-epoxy boat building world. For an amateur like me it makes lots of sense to acquire all the epoxy, hardener, fillers, glass and other various bits and pieces from one manufacturer. I found that application information (including video tutorials) was most easily to be found for West System products. Not to mention that here in Estonia there are not much of other brands in retail.

I got my stuff from Bang & Bonsomer Estonia, although they seem to deal mostly with big guys, they were most helpful and I got all the components needed to produce desired epoxy magic.