Who had an EasyBake oven?

I remember the TV commercials, but never actually saw one. Did people eat the cookies that came from those things, ’cause I’m wondering if they ever got hot enough to actually cook? Turns out an automotive paint booth goes up to about 175degrees max; our epoxy can be post-cured at 70 degrees F for a week, or 3 hours at160 degrees. A while back we decided all low/no stress parts, like interior furniture or hull fairing, would simply cure ambiently during the warm weather. Recall last year we made a big Sheetrock box and a dozen heat lamps to cure the beams. It was a big pain in the rear but worked ok. Of course that box ended up 6″ too small for the daggerboard, and I was grumping about. Neighbor John with the exceptionally restored ’66 corvette asked why I didn’t just take the stuff to Harry the car painter? “He knows how to deal with fiberglass…”
The Sheetrock box went away and over a year we built a pile of stuff for the curing oven, capped off by the chainplates. Today was the day for PrismaCar’s paint booth.


For our records, the booth ran 3 hours at 170 degrees to cure the dagger, both rudders, all steering parts, chainplates, mainsheet anchors, windshield, hardtop, boarding ladder, stern tower, windlass platform and boom end insert.
Thanks to owner Harry Strouse for the $50/hr cash rate – worked out well for both of us. And the shop guys were amused by having to move a car out of the booth for these weird boat parts.

After the field trip, the chainplates went directly to their new homes. Here they’re wedged / suspended in position with some of the bedding compound applied. Tomorrow will be the rest of the filleting and maybe the glass work.


Deck hardware continues to be test fitted, then all holes over drilled and re packed with epoxy putty, hardware final fitted then removed for the paint job. But there are a few permanent mount metal and carbon pieces that will get painted in place. Today we bonded on (and bolted) the receiver points for the aft beam triangle braces. These were a lovely aluminum welding job done nearby. Yesterday the pieces were chemically etched with the West Systems aluminum prep (a two part easy to use ten minute job – buy the small size as it goes a long way) then coated in clear epoxy. They were dry and ready for bonding today.

The window cutout made it an easy-reach one person job to tighten the bolts. That was just coincidence, not swell planning.

And at days end we “paid” for half the morning bake by figuring out to eliminate some hardware up on the bow – we’ll see how that turns out tomorrow.

Boom shakalaka-boom

Ok, you got a better song with Boom in the lyrics?

Today it was time to pull out the old mast segment we’ve had squirreled away and start creating the main boom. This stick is 18′ of a salvaged carbon mast. The section may be overkill but if we leave it as is, it should be a hell of a strong boom. One option is to cut away the last three inches off the skinny side and form a new, much lighter lower edge the whole length. Or we take Mike Leneman’s simple suggestion of making Swiss cheese holes all along the boom. That would also save weight and make it easy to run reefing rigging internally. And we also need to think through making sail catchers that stick out about a foot on both sides of the boom.



We started making a forward end bracket to bolt inside this boom, which will provide a strong pivot pin attachment to the gooseneck on the mast. One big bummer is that goose is already bedded and bolted to the mast at 54″ up (for the Shuttleworth it was commissioned to) but we need it a foot lower (that would get it to the level resting position seen in these sawhorse holding photos). Can’t really do that mast work until the boat is out of the workshop. Hmmm. The next update should have that boom end bracket to show you. And yes, the boom in this position shown is 6’3″ above the cockpit floor so fewer whacked heads expected. It’ll be about a foot above the hard top, leaving room for some solar panels up there.

The rudder came out of its final carbon layer vacuum bag this morning, looking good (and big next to a grown up!)

The yellow strip is a Kevlar piece to help make the leading edge tougher against hitting small stuff in the water. I’ll do a bit more final fairing on this board over the next couple of days and then it will be time to make the scary cut into it to creat the trailing edge trim tab. Cover your eyes, Mertyl, this one’s not for the faint of heart.

The boat has suffered some October down time due to excessive viewership of the SF Giants run. The prudent move would have been to purchase 10 gallons of epoxy, but instead the $ went to tix for Bumgarner’s shutout on Sunday.
Great time with Griffin!

But World Series parades also mean it’s time for the weather to turn. Cold epoxy does not flow well, and I finally thought it through – make a winter warming hut! This simple box (old Sheetrock and leftover styrofoam) is now keeping the fluids at just right viscosity, with an air temp in the upper 70s. Venting the box more or less lets us modify the temperature and therefore adjust the go-off timing of the epoxy hardener. REALLY wish I had spent the two hours on this box two winters ago :(

It’s warmed by a simple incandescent 60 watt bulb under an aluminum plate holding up the bottles.

Good things are happening building out the aft cabin furniture. Photos to come once the bunks are bonded in. Yes, doing some work on the inside even though I said no cabin work until all exterior parts are complete. Thankfully it means we’re getting to the end of the outside stuff and can see the light towards the winter interior build. We’ll skip the Giants parade and work on the rudder!

Be a better bagger

It’s too bad they don’t teach this stuff in high school; no idea where one can get a hands-in education in vacuum lamination techniques. Things are being done safely here in the shop thanks to book and video study. But it’s all the little tricks not known that cause extra time and sometimes rework (go back a few posts to the vacuum pump saga :)
This week I think we’ve finally gotten in the groove, so in case anyone reading this stuff is just starting out, maybe these musings can help reduce some error in your trials?

That’s the second of four stages vacuum laminating the net lashing tubes to the hull’s port side. Significant only because it’s the first success using a splitter to draw vacuum on two separate projects in one pump run. A small moral victory around here.

Stage 3 was the 15 foot section between the main beams. Here are the steps.
Took measurements between the temporary straps, and cut all materials to leave an inch and a half on both sides of the straps so epoxy wouldn’t migrate over the straps.
Built the bag down on the 8′ work table where it can be stretched snugly and the sticky goo tape applied, leaving the paper backing in place. Setting up the tape in this calm manner, before any epoxy is mixed, took me too long to realize!
Planned for add-on patches to make out-of-the-way zones in the bag for the pump fittings to sit. Leaving at least six inches between the air connection and any live epoxy work, linked by plenty of breather fabric, keeps the glue away from the pump’s tubes and fittings. (Learned after a nasty hour of scraping out glue-fouled bag fittings one night – these parts aren’t a quick Home Depot replacement).
After cutting fglass fabric to the six inch width for this job, the ‘bagging’ supplies were cut: peel ply at 7 inches because a bit of overlap makes it MUCH easier to remove later, release film at 6″ because any more would be waste, breather fluff at 5.5″ because when it goes all the way to the edges it invariably ends up adhered where you don’t want it, like on the hull!, and the bag film itself at 11″ – leaving 2-3″ past the edge of fiberglass is minimum. For this vertical work I needed the bag to help hold the wet materials in place before the pump turned on, so I cut it close and snug on purpose.
With materials all ready, it was time to apply the putty fillet around the pipe, and let it harden up a bit, but still pliable for the bag to press the fiberglass into the fillet and be able to take by-hand smoothing from the outside of the vac bag.

Here’s the bag in place, but folded down out of the way.

Then the fglass was wetted out on the table and rolled up like little pillsbury crescent rolls (sans hot dogs, Mom) and walked over to the boat after sitting under warming lights for about 20 mins to get tacky (sticky). Here that is with peel ply to help hold it up. Note that it won’t adhere yet to the underside – gravity wins.

The heat lamps are going because there is a putty fillet above and below the pipe, trying to time it so that is just hardening when the vacuum is applied. Too early and it will squish out; too late and there will be ugly lumps in your cream of wheat.
Next shot is after applying release film and breather fluff, some of which needed dabs of masking tape to hold in place. Bag was then brought up over the work taking care to tuck things in flatly.

With this long, complicated bag, there were some air leaks but they were solved in a few minutes by pressing the tape all over again and adding a few inches of backup here and there. Having these separated tube attachment areas has helped quite a bit, compared to earlier work where I didn’t plan out the connection spots. Cut the bag to fit the work, and simply add a big ‘patch’ as needed.


All in all, no drama today and it all came out with nice, uniform tubes that need only minor fairing work. In retrospect, I probably did this all backwards; someone could try small 2-3″ fiberglass strips next to the pipe straps first. Then remove the straps after the glass strips dry, and you could probably do the whole project in fewer bagging sessions. Just a thought.

And as Jeanne’s Mom always said when preparing the fruit for canning, “I found the one we’re looking for – the last one”…. Here’s beam number four escaping the oven. Don’t ask about the electric bill. This big box is REALLY in the way, but it will stay up another day or so to bake the rudder after the last fairing work. Getting excited to start on the rudder’s cassette steering assembly!


Borrowed from the Missus

It’s actually hard to find a remote-sensing thermometer that will read warmer than your average bad day in Death Valley. This one from Home Depot tops out at 158 degrees, which works for our 160 target. The ‘oven’ has a removable section of Sheetrock to reach the power switch and read the old fashioned meat-cooking thermo inside to make sure we don’t get a runaway thermal event past 175 degrees or so. This combination does the trick. We also had to hard-wire some temporary plugs, conduit and switches because regular power strips couldn’t take the heat or current draw. Also needed to find a replacement air circulation fan after smashing Colin’s nice little unit with a little slip – oops. The fan is a must with a box this big – think of how convection ovens have hit the home improvement market.
Too many trips to the hardware store and wasted time on various improvements, but this post-curing system is now a-ok. Beam #2 was cured on Sunday, and the other two will fire early this week.

Meanwhile, the net lashing anchors are going on the main hull, similar to how it was done on the beams. Step 1 was temporary strapping of the PVC to the boat – it makes a nice clean line all along the gunwale …

We’ll laminate the fiberglass in sections, skipping the spots where the pipe straps sit. Once the primary bagging is done, we can hand-patch the little spots left in between. The straps are held with tiny 1/2″ screws, in just enough to bite. Those little holes will get putty filled before we proceed to seal everything up.

Sunday afternoon was spent preparing the 186′ of six-inch wide 18oz fglass fabric needed to create these lashing anchors. That’s 31′ along the hull x three layers x port/starboard, plus all the vac bagging materials. After ten minutes of scissor-burning wrist work, it was a run back home to grab Jeanne’s fabric cutting board and rotary cutting wheel. That helped a bunch, and it was returned in time for tomorrow’s prom dress sewing.


Rudder fairing is good – first side finished today, and we attempt to get the exact match with side two starting tomorrow. Just keeping things fair, man!

Yes, but it’s a DRY heat, dear

Well, the oven run from the last update got to about 115. So we upped the heat bulb count to 4 x 250 watt plus 5 x 125 for 1600+ watts to heat an 85 cubic foot box. Also added some R13 attic insulation around the box and a small circulation fan inside. With the afternoon sun beating down on the works, we hit and held 160 today, so beam #1 is officially post-cured. Just need three more warm sunny schedule free afternoons.

Started fairing the rudder and it looks way better quickly. Photos will come once the fairing is done and we’re in primer. Really need to get this done so the steering components can begin. For those following Fram’s build, with all Henny’s amazing engineering steps, you will see the polar opposite develop here. Simple, crude and hopefully just as effective as the great feeling of steering the F27.

Back to the windshield, the rope pass-thrus came out quite smartly. Here they are being cemented in place yesterday, and were cut off flush this morning.

Next the center portion and the port side got 16oz glass and an awkward-shaped vacuum bag.

The bagging is getting more proficient, but I still spend too much time chasing leaks probably because of improvising around weird shapes and surfaces once the glass is already wetted out. Two things I wish I had learned in advance: (this note is for new-to-bagging folk)
Attach all the sticky tape in advance to one side of the bag material, doing that work flat on your big table. Things like adding the sticky tape on one end after the glass application totally screwed things up.
Work a trial run with everything dry and plan out where extra baggy material is need to conform to staggered / stair step shapes. Otherwise it’s really frustrating to have a whole bagging set up but one big corner gets stretched to the point where there is no actual downward pressure on an inside curve or corner. This stuff sounds easy but it seems a real experienced art form to me. Tricky to get it right and I keep learning to make the bags bigger, although my inner tight-wad pushes back on materials (perceived) waste. Let’s see if tomorrow night’s port side windshield frame gets done more smoothly than today’s.

For Schildknecht

Yea! The rudder is complete and it’s very exciting to have this vital part of the boat here on the table instead of the plan diagrams not too many days ago. The last touch today was to wrap the leading edge in Kevlar – not in the plans but we decided that about 12 more ounces of weight to put a bullet proof vest-like protection on the front where crap hits a rudder seemed like a smart trade off. It’s the remnant fabric from the full hull length keel-line protective strip that went on the main hull 15 yrs ago.
Can you see the color scheme of the Pittsburg Steelers? (The rest of you can stare blankly while Bill S. laughs)

And that foam blank to the left is another rudder to build – for Colin’s rehab Coronado 15 project. Figured we might as well do an airfoil shape too.

Stood the rudder up in position so you can see the difference from the similar shot of the foam cutout a couple weeks back. Makes more sense now!


In that last shot, see that the rudder will actually drop another 8 inches or so once the floor isn’t in the way.

Writing this tonight while trying not to stare at the curing oven thermometer. Space heaters didn’t work, and like others I’m on to trying heat lamps. Got to 115F with about 600 watts of lamps. Added another 540 watts tonight and we’re passing thru 105 as I type. The Applied Poleramic folks want their ER2 to post cure at 160 for two hours. They told me by phone that I could substitute some time for heat, like maybe 140 for four hours or so. If we don’t get far enough the shop neighbor has a friend at the car painter – we could haul all the beams, the rudder and other structural stuff over there for an evening bake off. Guessing he’d charge a few hundred and it’s a big pain in the rear to transport this stuff. Tonight’s red lamps should look quite familiar to Mom – remember keeping all your dogs warm in the shed on the freezing Sonoma nights?


107 and still rising. Time to go cut out glass fabric for the windshield frame.

Baked Beams, anyone?

It got warm in Santa Rosa and my thoughts turned to summer BBQ – hot dogs, baked beans, cobs of corn…
But really we need to post-cure the epoxy in the beams and steering parts, so we need a big oven to reach and hold 160 degrees (F) for 2-3 hours per session. Made this from Sheetrock and ripped 2x4s, just big enough to house one forward beam resting on its furniture dolly.

Pulled the top on, and it started working right away, but the fan-aided space heater hit a safety kill setting at about 95 degrees. So tomorrow we’ll follow Gordie Nash’s advice and find a cheap baseboard wall heater at Home Depot. And perhaps have to take some license pulling out any safety settings if it has a brain.

The rudder took shape nicely and has now gone thru the carbon lamination steps. Each side got a staggered 14 layers staring from the top down. There’s some extra wraps over the upper edges, and the outer skin of the second side went in the vac bag this evening.

The last step will be adding a bit of Kevlar tomorrow to the leading edge, just to provide some impact resistance.

While the rudder was in a bagging step, we free handed an idea for strengthening the slot where halyards will pass thru the windshield back to the winches. Simply take 24″ of PVC pipe and tape it to some foam:

After waxing the mold, we made three trips around with wet fiberglass and let dry overnight. Cut it in half the next day and pop out the molds from each 12″ piece (that’s the step in the photo). I need to take a winch to the shop and mock up all the exact positions for these line guides, then we can cut the windshield frame openings to match and glass these tunnels in.


And here you can see the decision on how to affix the removable windshield to its base. Bolts will go in horizontally along this grey wedge that has been set at the proper angles desired for each window pane going around the frame.

This windshield base is now ready for glassing this weekend. After a bike ride. :)