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. :)

Not quite full time

Being a relatively productive Type A, I departed Epsilon with the game plan of hitting the boat shop full time. It’s been six weeks since the Jan 20 start, so that should be at least 6×40=240 hours, right? But the figures penciled on the calendar each shop session added up to 198 thru Feb. It’s been great to spend time reconnecting at home, cycling with friends, visiting with Allie and score keeping for the Analy Tigers. And it’s much easier to say Yes to good marine tasks like helping Stephen Marcoe ‘salvage’ the Formula 40 cat Tuki from her 2013 dismasting insurance settlement. We were quite a scene at the ramp pulling that big race cat without a real trailer or crane. Tuki is an amazing big boat in need of an adventurous new owner.

Build tasks are taking longer than my estimates. For ex, the hard dodger mockup was a guess of 25 hours, but there’s already 21 in just the windshield base. I figured the beams needed 50 hours for fairing, but it’s been 127 hours of learning to do fairing well, plus lots of details around the wing net lashing points, lifeline stanchion bases and a boarding ladder mount. Jeanne has the best perspective – she said this week it’s important to let the boat take the time it needs to get finished properly and not cause burn out. If there are trips in 2014 where we should charter a finished boat, so be it. That’s a healthy comment from Mrs Carter – but we’re still going to push like crazy to get launched this summer :)
We’ll post hours totals each month as these might be useful for other builders, and it will help with my amnesia in some lovely lagoon some day when another cruiser asks if it was any big deal to build vs buy… And we’ll smile with way more boat than could have been reasonably purchased.
All the pitching-in along the way is so fantastic. Dad took the numbing task of fairing out 75 or so openings in the net lashing tubes – a dusty operation for sure. But my favorite point in the day was realizing that after 3/4 of a century he hadn’t yet played with a big air compressor blow gun.


(Yes, those are brand new harbor freight car engine hoists about to be dunked in salt water – a whole new definition for disposable tools!)

Quick updates…

… Mostly because I got Mom pretty worried about the vacuum pump! The guys at Fiberglass Supply in WA diagnosed over the phone, and it sounds like it’s all about not drawing the full vacuum, so the pump was overworked and passed oil as vapor. Lesson is to stop the pump rather than limp along with a partial bagging, and we’re pretty sure the pump is fine. We’ll use it hopefully tomorrow eve to affix the handles to the hatch sliders; an easy job that’ll test the system.

Chris Harvey’s going to do a shop day soon so we can build the chainplates – he’s curious about that for his F25Carbon project. In trade, I get a ride on that hot rod – way better than a day in the epoxy barn!

Work plotting out the windshield led to an old floor lamp standing in for the fancy mast, and some cardboard for the boom. Oops, the gooseneck on our beautiful Canadian mast is WAY too high! Spoke with Cole at U-spar who will now lower it to get the boom top 32″ above the deck. This means a whole new Tides Marine track because they are single-piece extrusions. Ouch. But ours will get sold to another U-Spar mast, so it’s not too bad. I took our cues from Yellowfish and the F39 plans. 8 batten pockets and 10 slides. And after hearing the price of battens, Holy Crap we need to try and make those. Let’s see how much carbon is left after the rudder and dagger.

Christmas came again today, as the foam core and bi-directional carbon showed up on a semi truck. Very excited to get the rudder started. Because it’s so tall and skinny, I needed the full 4×8′ sheets of foam core (about $400 for 1″ and 1.25″ to make the 2.25″ base). There’s room for two rudders on there, so I bought most of the extra carbon fiber needed to make a second one. This is one ‘spare’ that makes a LOT of sense at sea. Dad, we should pick a day very soon when you can come up and start tracing out the rudder from those big plan sheets (I know you like the old carbon paper!)

Lots of good comments are coming in re: windshield and dodger. While we sort thru all that, i simply turned around and went back to work on the aft cabin sliding hatch; could have installed a $500 glass deck hatch, but the simplicity of a slider and hatch boards system will also give much easier access based on our cockpit shape. So I’m being careful to match the style between the aft and main hatch areas. More photos will come once it’s not all full of boring looking clamps.

Photo of the day is the award for the Summer Splash “dinghy race”. Kind of an inside joke, but we touch the mug each day as a talisman for getting the boat launched this summer and making it to Catalina by September. Keep working, Carter!