Sunday, May 29, 2016

Building a Skerry

Disappointments and creative solutions
  • Day: Who knows, I lost count
  • Total Build Time: Don't know, don't care. See above

For some reason, I have been really dragging my feet on this boat build. Perhaps it's the frustration of working with the kit components, or the lack of creativity in building from a kit, or absolutely hating  epoxy, but I just can't get too excited about going out to work on the Skerry these days. Even less inspiring is working on the blog, writing about working on a boat I have barely touched in the last 6 months! I have also had some major disappointments in the building process, and although I know the boat is going to sail well, it is certainly not going to be the showstopper I had fantasized about building. Well, it is what it is, so let's get on with the pics and see what I have to show for my work up to this point!

My previous post had me scarfing panels, of which there are six total. 

Safety first for "Team Rusty!"

In this pic you can see the finger scarfs. These were the first of many disappointments in this kit. As stated before, the scarfs were super tight. So much so that it was virtually impossible to clamp them flat. This meant that when sanding them flat there was no avoiding sanding through the outer plies. I was very upset that I was not going to be able to finish the boat "bright", a term that means varnishing the entire hull. This can look spectacular if the construction is perfect...but not on this scarf! A standard scarf would have been more attractive, simpler to manufacture, stronger, and easily varnished. This is one of the many reasons I probably will never do a kit boat again. That and the many issues coming up that I haven't even gotten to yet!

The bottom and first panels are set out ready for the stitching process.

The first set of panels goes on. The bow and stern don't come together very well, with big gaps where the panels meet. The construction manual says this is OK though, so I don't worry about it too much.  Little do I realize how bad it is going to be!

Before the second set of panels can be stitched on, tapers need to be cut into the "gains" where the panels fade into each other at the bow and stern. CLC has precut where the gains terminate so you are stuck with how they want you to taper them. The rabbet plane cuts a beautiful taper, though.

With the second and third panel's tapers cut into their gains it is time to stitch on the second set of panels.  Once the second set is stitched on the frames are added, which pushes the panels out into their final profile. The gaps in the second panels at the bow and stern are monstrous! Huge, gaping openings show massive amounts of light through. It is impossible to bring the gaps together with the light gauge wire supplied with the kit, so I end up having to drill additional holes and use bailing wire cranked down with vice grips to try to bring the gigantic gaps closed. It still doesn't really work, and my only consolation is knowing that epoxy can fill the cavernous spaces and at least make the boat watertight. Still, at this point I am pissed at how this kit is coming together!

There is nothing I can do but move on and stitch up the third and final set of panels. In this pic you can see the light shining through the huge gaps. 

The bow is not as bad, and seems to look pretty much the way I expected after reading the building manual. There is a big gap at the prow, but I think I can work with this. But the stern...

Look at this incredible mess!!!!  All of the wire here is under incredible tension just to get the gaps to close even this much. And the gains taper down so far that they crack as the panels are brought (forced) together.  This is just not what I was expecting from a company with the reputation CLC has. What the hell?! Move on, keep going...

Epoxy is spread into the gap between the bottom and first panel and slathered into the huge gaps bow and stern to start bringing structure to the hull. 

Once the epoxy cures I pull out the masses of wire and see if the hull explodes from all the stress on it. Miraculously (and mercifully), it holds together!

It's time to flip the hull over. A large fillet is added bow and stern, and then a strip of fiberglass is smoothed over it. Hopefully this will help hold the bow and stern together!

There is now a massive amount of sanding to do to fair all that hideous epoxy and make a desperate attempt to create a smooth hull shape. It turns out ok, but I have to sand through a lot of plywood to get a fair hull. Yeah, definitely painting this mess. 

A layer of fiberglass is added to the bottom and first panel to give strength and abrasion resistance.

It is a beautiful hull shape!

Now several coats of epoxy are rolled on to seal the outside of the hull. The epoxy runs like crazy no matter how thinly I apply it, and a lot of that will just be sanded off later to smooth out the hull. I hate epoxy. I sand and sand, but with my palm sander I don't make much progress. I guess I am going to have to get a Festool random orbital sander! 

Once that all cures I turn the hull over again so I can install the breast hooks and rails. I threw the interior panels in just to get a feel for how the boat will look when it's done.

The rails have traditional scarfs (thank god!) 

While glueing up the rail material I decided to laminate the skeg. For some stupid reason I didn't do this on a flat surface...and it came out with a slight curve in it. Dammit! I can fix this later, but it was a stupid mistake.

I fixed it by clamping the skeg down and glueing the wormshoe to it. The hardwood wormshoe will hopefully hold the skeg straight. (It does.)

The next few shots are of the rail installation, which goes pretty smoothly. The rails are double laminated and I didn't have enough clamps to do both sides at once, so they went on in four steps.

Test fitting

One rail glued up, the second rail goes on. You really can never have too many clamps.

The third rail is attached. Creative solutions are invented to pull that rail into place!

Maybe I should have been a structural engineer!

And the fourth rail goes on!

I have a rotator cuff issue that is really slowing me down. So until next time, whenever that may be...