Tuesday, March 22, 2016

A Few Updates and More Waffling

So I bought an outboard.

In a previous post I lamented the complexity and lack of robustness in the newer outboard motors, and bandied with the idea of an older, cheaper two stroke pending a later project down the line where I might convert to electric.  If I were younger and richer I'd still pursue that idea.  Maybe I can assist someone else with such a project once Autarkia is done.

So a few days ago I was down at a marine store I patronize on occasion (who also sell and service power washers, garden equipment, industrial clothing and so forth - yes I'm digressing) and saw a trade-in 2011 Evinrude E-Tech 30 h.p. for sale at a good price, with 60 hrs total use on it.  This motor is a two-stroke, but has a great reputation for fuel economy and reliability.  So we bought it and added a new high thrust prop, controls and cables.  While I will always avoid a situation where we would ever need to depend on that motor for the sake of our safety, it is reassuring to Lorri and I to have a dependable and powerful motor on board.  It will be the only complicated and high tech device on the boat though, and will be treated with the same caution and respect one awards to being out on the water any time.  In other words, we'll try not to give it an opportunity to bite us.

On another note, I did some aggressive wood butchery the other day with a router and power plane, softening the sharp edges on the hull.

Later I gave everything a good belt sanding and marked out the stringer locations.

Because today, I am going to nail the bejeezus out of it.  I purchased 2 1/2 " copper flat head nails for the bottom stringer locations, and intend to nail into them through the three layers of 1/2 marine ply, and on into the stringers.  Furthermore, between the stringers, on a six or seven inch grid, I will nail the three layers together with 1 1/4" silicon bronze nails.  Both sizes are ring shank nails and will grip really well.

If you have been paying close attention to the blog you may have noticed that I was intending to do this nailing after two layers of CSM mat set in vinyl ester resin.  Well, once again I have changed my mind.  Fickle me.

I am back to epoxy and here's why.  It won't stop raining here (high humidity) and it is still quite cool.  Usually the temperature is hanging between 10 and 15 degrees Celsius.  These are unsuitable conditions for vinyl ester resin, and while it will seem to go off o.k. from what I have read can give very unreliable results.  I do not want to chance it.  So I have decided once again on Aqua Set epoxy (made in Montreal) sold locally in Vancouver.  It is a 2:1 epoxy and works well in cooler, humid conditions.

So, once all my nailing is done - likely by tomorrow, I'm going to drive in to Vancouver and get a 15 gallon kit, and 40 square yards of 10 oz. fiberglass cloth.  I will also get some filler to use with the epoxy and that will be the next step - filling all the screw holes (that are now void of screws), seams, and nail heads.

After that we'll be ready to glass. If I feel then that in certain areas more layers are needed then so be it.

A final point:  These steps will take less time than the vinyl ester/layers of nailed mat/cloth method (which I still think is a great way to go under the right conditions).  I am paid up in this space until the end of April though, and the landlord has an interested long term party that would like to take it over then.  So between now and then I really do want to get the hull finished, bottom painted, flipped over and transported home.

It took some agonizing to get to this decision though.  The bottom will certainly not be as bullet proof as Chris Morejohn's method.  But it will be long lived, and very waterproof IF we avoid damage.  We'll just have to be careful and know the bottom conditions of where we are.  I'll also inspect on a regular basis every time Lorri keel hauls me.


  1. It all sounds good. You know, it seems that when making decisions, we always have to give something up to get something. If you operate carefully as you plan to do, then epoxy is going to give you the best adhesion and waterproof seal of all. Give and take. Just having decisions behind us can feel like an accomplishment of its own.

    Congratulations on the motor and good luck on the important tasks ahead. Keep us updated when you have time ... and non-sticky fingers! ;-)

    1. Thanks Yoda. I'm committed now...just a few more nails to put in today. I've had to pre-drill for the 2 1/2 inchers, and the 1-1/4 inchers will bend if you are not careful. I found that as my hammering hand started to tire towards the end of the day I would bend more of them. So I quit early and will finish up this morning.

    2. That's the spirit!

      Your hull is truly starting to look like something substantial. No longer just a wooden box. Now it's smooth, and dare I say it, hydrodynamic. And I don't know any other way to describe it, but it looks like it's calling out ... asking for fiberglass.

      Oh, and keep those pictures coming. They really help.

  2. Sure is looking beautiful since the rounding and sanding. Every time I epoxy a ply hull, from a dingy up, I just want to keep it that way it is so pretty. Then I realize the SPF 2000 needs to be applied. Given the sound engineering you're applying to the boat in general it would be interesting to see what method of keelhauling you have come up with to allow your wife to do it alone.

  3. Yoda and Robert: Thanks for the compliments. She's all nailed up now. I've decided to put a layer of 4.5 oz Kevlar as a first layer on the vulnerable areas and a layer of 10 oz fiberglass cloth over everything after that. Since Kevlar is 5 times as strong as steel by weight, my layer of 4.5 oz Kevlar will be equivalent to a layer of 18 gauge steel where I put it strength wise - by my calculations. I'll feel better having that there. I'm still going to be damn careful with the boat. My wife BTW, has no shortage of sympathetic friends who would gleefully help her either end of the line, sawing me slowly back and forth over the barnacles :-) :-)

    1. Never could figure the wisdom in keel hauling in the british navy. How is a guy going to come back from that kind of cheese grating, especially in the tropics? Going rogue here but if kevlar is almost as strong as steel and you'll be on alert always to keep from grating the bottom perhaps actual steel might be a alternative. Then you can sail about knowing any bottom that gets in your way better damn watch out! IMOO as opposed to IMHO.... in my outrageous opinion.

    2. It was a particularly brutal punishment that had a very low survival rate. Pretty much guaranteed to torture to death. I think it was a punishment in between getting the lash (you'd likely survive) and hanging from the yard (sure death). I don't think it was chosen lightly as a punishment. There were probably rules that prevented hanging for some offenses that a captain might deem worthy of death and keel hauling gave him that option. Nasty business for sure.

      I've done some thinking on the steel bottom for a plywood boat and have some ideas - not that I'll use them on Autarkia. I'm committed to getting her finished to turnover sooner than later. But if I were to do a steel plate bottom over wood structure I'd weld on threaded studs so that there were no holes in the plate. That way, once slathered with tar, there would be no way to leak water up through the fasteners, and it would make for a smoother bottom. Well worthwhile someone trying I think.

    3. Super modification. I am surprised Bolger didn't come up with that. I always wondered about all those bolt heads sticking down past the plate bottom to be ground down or jostled enough to admit water somehow. The owner of that AS39 said it worked fine but he only had the boat less than a year it seems. I'd love to experiment around with a small dorys bottom in this way to see how it would come together. By the way: in the "nothing is perfect" department even with Lunas 1/4" copper plating in the midships actual grounding out area I was careful to not come down on even 6" stones and carefully scoped out the drying out area before we settled out. Only a brutally heavy unibody steel boat might be brazen enough to just settle down indiscriminately. Part of the tradeoffs I reckon.

  4. Looking great, Alan.

    Do you have a crane lined up? Just a thought, but you may want to preview any of the cargo straps involved. If narrow, consider some carpet and/or ply scrap to protect hull edges.

    You're a brave man, working under a deadline!

    Dave Z

    1. Thanks Dave! When flip over comes I'll film and post the whole thing. I have a crane operator with whom I have worked before, and all the rigging required to flip the boat. My grandchildren's other Grampa has a pool and spa business and I have worked with and for him for quite some time. We have installed high end molded fiberglass swimming pools that get trucked up from Arizona on special trailers that cant them at an angled but inverted position so that the load remains at twelve feet in width although the pools are typically sixteen feet wide. When they arrive we crane them off the trailer, set them on the ground inverted, re-rig them, flip them over, rig them again and hoist them into the hole. So, we have basically all done this before with swimming pools. We should be good. Also, the way you rig the straps for the flip over ensures a smooth and easy trip around. I'll detail it all on the video so others can learn from it.

    2. I will be anxiously awaiting that flipping video.

      Beggers can't be choosers, and all that, but a request if I may: Please film all the attachment points as well (Dave's carpet idea spots, etc) and whatever constitutes a stage of flipping. That's far more useful than the run-of-the-mill "flipping" videos, which have lots of minutes of anxious waiting with a non-moving, suspended hull while the crane guy scratches his ... um ... nose.

      Considering alternative methods: Has anyone ever heard of or personally built a temporary spit onto a hull for the purpose of flipping it (rotating it like a BBQ chicken)? If so, how does that usually work out? Might seem crazy, with with a little good math, proper attachment, and carefully controlled guide ropes, I have visions of single-handed "flipping".

      Then again, people and their visions ...

    3. I've seen car chassis and aircraft fuselages built on rotisseries. A large hull doesn't seem practical. Reuel Parker has a great way to roll a hull with rolling frames. If you look at build pics on his website you can get some good ideas. You still need a lot of manpower. The method I'm going to use requires some long lifting straps which I have access to. I won't need any padding but that will be clearer in the video. I can make a good one - Dave Z knows... ask him if you are curious :-)

  5. Good to know. I'm thinking a cradle or frame might be more practical.

    Ran across this example ... such a refreshing contrast to most of the dreck on the Internet. What a truly class act this guy is, and a pretty smart cradle builder to boot: