Thursday, February 23, 2012

Top Job

Made some progress.

Drilled holes through the bow and stern for future rope loops to facilitate carrying the boat and securing it on car top roof racks.

Finished the cockpit coaming.

This involved quite a bit of tricky sanding.

At least I had followed Joey's advice regarding the sequence of steps in gluing up and installing the coaming or else the work would have taking a lot longer yet.

And, yeah, I did continue to ponder the hull surface... I'm afraid to admit... it was a bit like a puppy with a slipper... kind of obsessive.

I lost count of how many options I considered: everything for nothing to plain vanilla sheer stripe to bottom only to some kind of Inuit or "First Nations" design or pattern. I certainly did not want anything that interferes with the deck design.

I finally came up with something of a hybrid idea. I am resolved on the bottom of the boat being green. It is the side panel that is in question.

So, I can really picture this slanted transition from solid sea-green along the back sides of the hull then diminishing in ten alternating sections with the varnished okoume to the point of the golden section at which point it will be bright okoume sides. I will not try it unless I feel reasonably sure that I can do it well.

I'll need to check with Joey at CLC and get his input on how to accomplish something like that. He is a real master at this sort of thing and if anyone would know how to do it well, it would be Joey. But, hey, I might decided the do just the bottom and leave the entire side panel bright.

I also finished the job of making the flanges for the soft pad-eyes. After cutting the slot and inserting the strip of webbing, I hot-glued the webbing in place and then dunked the bottom into epoxy.

Though the foam bulk heads will not go in until much later, I took some time and cut out and fitted the rear bulk head. I was curious about cutting and shaping with this huge chunk of  foam.

Not too bad as I discovered.

I have now applied the primer on the bottom panel and after a thorough and rather dusty sanding job we'll be ready for the bottom paint.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Coming Together

So, now that hull and deck have met their match, so to speak, my efforts are indeed starting to look like the Night Heron I paddled back last spring at the OkoumeFest.

But wait, we are not done! In fact, I am in no hurry because what's the point of having the kayak rearing to go for a spin on Feb 15th? Right - that's what I thought!

Besides the fact that there are actually lots more things to do before my vessel is ready to launch, I decided that being in a hurry was totally pointless - unless I were to take her to Florida or some place else warm. So, I am taking my time.

I am not certain yet on the final look of the boat either. This here Heron will be in greenery of sorts. So, I do have some green paint for the bottom but I am not yet certain how much of the hull to paint and how much to leave "bright", as they call it.

Obviously, after untold hours of work on the deck, it will be varnished bright. But with the hull I have yet to decide where to draw the line. Is it just going to be a plain vanilla "up-to-the-sheer line" or will there be some sort of design? At the moment the possibilities are just percolating and nothing has been decided.

Uncertainty can actually be a sort of delicious delight.

Meanwhile a number of tasks need to be accomplished before paint and varnish can be rolled on. For one, the sheer on the outside need a band of fiber glass. Not a favorite task but an important one to balance the fiber glass ribbon along the inside sheer line... to seal hull and deck forever more.

The afore-mentioned soft pad-eye slots needed to be filled with epoxy and re-cut since the green webbing I want to use is of a thinner gauge than the black default webbing I had used to test-size the slots. Not exactly fun to do something over but then it was a simple task though admittedly tedious.  Thanks to some nifty Dremel Tool attachments, it was manageable.

Then of course I had to glue on the previously assembled cockpit combing.

The round-over bit of my router did a quick but messy job on getting the inside of the combing to become very user-friendly.

Now I have to glue the webbing into all of the flanges that hold the webbing for the pad-eyes. Afterwards, they'll be dipped in epoxy and then will patiently wait their turn to be installed for the final rigging...

...not until after the final coat of varnish has cured.

So there you have it.

Monday, February 6, 2012

A Big Day

My apologies in advance to the casual visitor for a rather wordy blog entry which will most likely be only of interest to other kayak builders who might find the otherwise tedious details useful.

Soooo, today I finally attached the deck to the hull. A milestone!

There had been many test fittings in order to find out where I might run into a problem. - When you have a bit of epoxy schmutz ready to cure you don't have an indefinite length of time to problem-solve. It is wise to anticipate possible issues and be ready to deal with them quickly if they arise.

Had I followed the manual's construction sequence, I would have had the deck attached long ago. However, since I had already fiber-glassed both sides of the deck, I was able to take care of cutting the hatches and installing the hatch sills this past week.

I also installed the wood pieces that will hold the bungees which attach to the hatches from underneath. It's an easy job when access is unencumbered.

The adjustable foot braces and the internal studs were a straight forward installation sans deck. There are simpler foot brace options which involve a little bolt driven through the side of the hull. That might have been fairly easy. But

I really did not want to drive a bolt through the hull and opted for the studs which are fiber-glassed and epoxied from the inside. That job would have been particularly awkward if it had been done with a closed deck.

There was one other item that I accomplished in this past week. Ordinarily, the instructions direct the builder to pour 8 oz of epoxy schmutz into the bow and stern after hull and deck are attached. This is accomplished by taking the kayak outside and then propping it up "tall" by a tree or the house - please not on a windy day - they advise. Then you have to stand on a little ladder and construct a pouring bucket that allows you to lower it into the bottom of bow and stern respectively and then dump it. This procedure sounded rather unappealing to me. While we don't have snow at the moment, around these Pennsylvania parts, there are not any convenient flat areas where one could safely accomplish such a risque maneuver.

I opted to solve the objective of filling bow and stern in a less adventurous method. I simply lowered the bow to the ground, leaving the other side of the kayak on its saw-horse. I arranged it so that the sheer of the bow was exactly horizontal to the floor. I then cut a triangular piece of plastic to fit into the bow section approximately 10 inches from the tip. After it was securely taped in place, I essentially had a little dam which allowed me to pour the epoxy concoction into the bow compartment thereby completely filling it. There will be a little cavity above once the deck goes on but that can easily be filled with a little peanut-butter-consistent epoxy immediately prior to putting on the deck. Phew! That little trick will save me some rather unorthodox exercise.

The only task left to do before closing the lid was one triggered by a conversation with Joey from CLC about the soft webbing pad-eyes which are usually folded over and then screwed into the hull from the outside. These pad-eyes serve to anchor bungee lines on the deck as well as safety lines running along the sheer of the kayak. Well, the standard method of installing the pad-eyes creates a bit of bulk on the deck which is neither particularly attractive nor convenient if you have to do a wet re-entry.

A cleaner solution requires cutting slots at those points where the pad-eyes are desired and then using a little internal flange to hold the webbing from the underside of the deck with only the needed portion emerging on the deck. A clean solution by Joey! THANKS!

So cutting these slots needed to be done prior to attaching the deck. Right?! This morning this task was completed.

In order to facility the automatic alignment of hull and deck, I hot-glued guiding posts at along the hull which I then covered with plastic to ensure that they would not inadvertently get glued to hull and deck - permanently.

For the most part, the deck fit pretty well. In one place some extra attention (and pressure) was required to make sure that there was not any visible gap between hull and deck. Once hull and deck were properly taped together, I soaked 16 feet of 3" wide fiber-glass ribbon in epoxy and then rolled it inside along the deck/hull seam. Actually I did it in four parts: port side front, port side back, starboard front and then starboard back.

Initial unrolling of the fiber-glass ribbon started in the cockpit and then toward the bow and stern respectively. The  hatch openings facilitated the first part but then I still needed to make use of the tool that enables you to reach far enough into the bow. I hot-glued the cut-off brush at an angle to a longish stick which helped to extend my reach into the interior.

This was not an easy job and I found myself unfurling the ribbon on one side more than once because further in the ribbon somehow went off course and did not readily brace the seam. A second try went much better. The access via the already cut hatches made things a lot easier.

So here we are!

I am waiting for the epoxy to cure so that I can pull off all that tape that is currently holding hull and deck in position.

There is still much to do. Yet, at this point you could say that the kayak is starting to look like a proper Night Heron.