30 seconds with Anton

To review, months ago we decided to launch with a gas outboard motor instead of an inboard diesel. But there’s been gnawing angst about having the permanent gas tank inside the main hull and all the associated piping. So yesterday during Anton’s first visit to the shop he dives right in to my current “roadblock” issues. On the gas tank, it takes a half minute of looking around to ask, “why aren’t you putting it in that big cockpit coaming box?” Brilliant solve!

We grabbed some quick measurements before hitting the fish taco place; turns out there are about 27 gallons in the cubic inches available. A custom tank could go where the green tape is marked.

After an hour of shabby mechanical drawing, we sent off the bid request to ATL flexible fuel tanks in NJ. They make tanks for racing vehicles, insides of airplane wings, spaceships and other tricky applications. The tank will wedge itself in and be very secure. And the fuel line will travel right next to the wiring conduit tube shown a few months back. Here’s what about 6300 cubic inches measures out like:

And for the future crew reading this, yes this means the “old” tank space under the galley floor just got reclaimed for beer and wine storage. Jimbo’s wine in a bag will be just right.

Anton and Charlie also solved the steering pivot shaft that would not drop in to place. First was inserting the $60 fancy German bushings.

Rather than trying to machine away a tiny bit of the stainless steel shaft, we made a sanding bore out of wood, tape and sandpaper, spun by the battery drill. With a half hour of messing about the shaft seated in all 8 bushings and the rudder swings perfectly (not a trace of slop / wobble)

Here’s the cassette holding rudder #1. Note the forward tilt mentioned in a prior post. And that the rudder hits the shop floor about a foot before it gets down in sailing position.

And the trim tab rudder #2 can’t have the tab swing unless the rudder is all the way down — that’s an interesting way to “turn off” the windvane effect in the future, ie just lift the rudder up a few inches.

And now to finish the steering, the turning arm was built.

The forward end gets the foam dug out to make way for the tiller to slide in.

A big wedge was then cut from the rear portion so the steering arm could surround the cassette.

So now all that stuff is ready for the tiller. The foam core got shaped with proper attention paid to the driver’s end – we experimented with shapes until finding the right size for Mrs. Carter’s hand. Happy wife, happy boat, right?

With Keith’s comments in mind, the hoop-strength carbon lamination is curing tonight and the lengthwise unidirectional carbon will be applied Saturday. By Sunday we’ll finally be steering the boat!

Cassette, side 2

We’re now four days in to the rudder cassette build – lots of steps and the result looks very strong.

Here’s the beginning of the steering pivot axis (green tube)

That green pipe will be vertical; the increasing angle of the cassette away from the vertical hinge means that the rudder will be tilted forward about five degrees. This is important as the boat rises up on plane and less rudder is in the water, the forward rake helps keep the helm balanced and not get very heavy in the driver’s hands.

There are carbon layers between the tube and cassette, with the rest of the gap filled with foam and putty. (In pink)

Next was wrapping the pivot tube in to the cassette structure with four more layers of thick carbon double bias fabric – look for vertical lines towards the smaller end. And about ten layers of carbon uni-directional in the two areas that match up to the hull’s gudgeons – see the thicker sections along the tube end.

Ok, this thing is ready for cut-ins at the gudgeon points and trial fitting tomorrow. Then the final step is building the steering tiller. The tiller stub is a built-separate piece that will get permanently bonded to the cassette. Here it starts with a foam core, about 26″ long:

This piece was laminated and vacuum bagged with its many carbon layers today and will be fitted to the cassette on the boat tomorrow.

Need to decide whether the 9′ long tiller should be made from wood or foam core and carbon. If carbon, we’ll need to solicit ideas on the fabric layup schedule. Any thoughts?

Better than an 8-Track

I remember fondly the day we tore out the 8track in the Chevette and got a Cassette deck. Dorky car with a Radio Shack tape player – geez. Now we’re getting a carbon fiber rudder cassette on a good boat – I like this a lot better than the high school parking lot.

The cassette is built around the rudder for an exact fit, but it has to be oversized to allow low profile carpet to glue along the inside faces. That gives the rudder a snug fit and abrasion prevention. So to create that 4 millimeter gap it was another trip to the fabric store for some 1mil vinyl. (Wrapped in four layers)


The photo above shows a wax bead laid along the edges to form a nice radius of the cassette lip.

Made a paper pattern to get the vinyl sized just right:



The white plastic at the bottom will be the sacrificial break away area in case the rudder strikes something – the cassette is designed with a give-way point rather than destroy the rudder or the stern hull structure.

Then six layers of carbon fabric made an 1/8″ cassette body.

After the epoxy cured a few hammer blows got it separated from the rudder, and looking good.


And this is roughly where this piece will mount on the boat, after many more steps to create the hinge for turning the rudder and the attachment point for the tiller. Probably another 20 hours for this primary steering build.


When rudder parts are curing, work goes on in the aft cabin. Floor, bunks, and closet bulkheads are installed. To get the seat backs to conform roughly to the curved hull shape, this telescoping “Third Hand” tool is pushing the two sides in to shape while the fiberglass dries along the bottom edge and I can go eat dinner :)


With all the cassette talk, the radio got tuned to 80’s music in the shop all day. Took a break from NPR for AC/DC and Duran Duran sing alongs – hope that’s not the chemicals getting to me!

Wind vane and rudder progress

The shop neighbors who were perplexed by the stern tower were satisfied now by seeing the self-steering wind vane installed. It’s the brown unit in these photos. The actual vane that gets pushed by the wind is in a deeply “reefed” position, tilted way back to fit under the skylight ceiling.




The rudder control cables come thru the tower shelf and will get tied to the legs and then routed to the (to be built) yoke atop the new rudder’s trim tab pivot pin.

We’ll get back to those details in a couple of weeks when the rudder cassette is built.

The rudder has been shaped, wrapped once in bi-directional carbon and had the 14 layers of carbon unidirectional cloth added in the recessed channels down both sides of the board. First, here’s a look at how that embedded pivot tube just fits inside the shaped rudder.



And underneath the white fairing compound you can just see the staggered layers of carbon uni.

The only unexplained part of the rudder plans is how one would keep the blade’s curve intact over the area that gets cut out of the foam core and replaced by that big carbon-wrapped spine piece. So we have a flat spot there that I’ve had to build back up with fairing compound. I’m doing the fairing work now, before adding the final outer layer of carbon wrap.

Ok, that side is done and we’ll need a few fairing sessions to finish the other.

While the rudder layers cure, work progresses on prepping the windshield and hardtop for paint, and the floors for the aft cabin and equipment room. Pictures soon.

Shiny bits

Today was a trip to the east bay to pick up the self-steering vane from ScanMar in Richmond. The wind vane component will get mounted atop a new arch at the back of the boat, and the white cables in the photo here are what connect the pendulum vane to a trim tab on the back of the rudder. I didn’t photo enough of the air vane at the top to get a complete picture, but this is just the start of this story.


In the second photo, see the stainless rod that serves as the hinge pin for the trim tab. On this display model, everything is external and not particularly hydro-dynamic high performance. So the next stop today was a visit to the design studio of Jim Antrim with our rudder in hand. He will draw up a recommendation for cutting the rudder to make part of the trailing edge the trim tab. Rick Holway will be glad to know that Jim designed a similar modification to the big local tri Defiance’s rudder; it was exciting to have him pull up those build plans on his computer today. That project was tricky as the control rods had to run up through the rudder post (because it’s under-the-boat rudder) Ours won’t be that intricate because it’s external, but we still have considerable work to build internal bearings and a carbon hinge running from top to bottom. Lots more to come on this topic over the next month.

And here was a very satisfying spend at the Oakland boat show. With the myriad choices out there for sailing hardware, I decided to (1) go with stainless steel to match our shiny Anderson winches and (2) buy local. The Garhauer company in Upland, CA were original suppliers to Corsair, and F27 Origami still has most of her 23yr old Garhauer gear working well. This is a family business doing their own manufacturing, and I spent an hour in their boat show booth picking out this loot:

This is most of the sail handling gear, plus the anchor roller and the solid stainless steel forestay chainplate. The rest will come from Colligo, in conjunction with all the synthetic standing rigging (no wires).
It’s fun to see how big this stuff is compared to our prior boats. The jib cars are the size of decent hamburgers! And that’s a big size 52 winch in the photo.


Almost ready to show you final photos of the daggerboard and hull-side net lashings, but there’s still just a bit more filling and sanding to do. Apparently the entire Memorial Day weekend wasn’t enough :)

“And a star to steer her by…”

Well, first we need steering, and that starts with a rudder. The thickest section of the rudder is 2 1/4″, so we bought full sheets of 1″ and 1 1/4″ foam core. This is more than enough for two rudders, so we’ll cut out materials for a second rudder along the way of building the primary. This occurred to me while attending the Singlehanded Sailing Society lecture on emergency steering requirements for the TransPac race to Hawaii; gotta have a backup steering plan for offshore races, and most boats depart with emergency rudders that put the boat in to ‘limp home’ mode, meaning they are smaller and usually weaker than the main rudder. But we can make a second rudder that can do the dual duty of replacing the damaged first rudder in the original cassette, or being partially inserted into a backup cassette. Need to think more about that backup – with only a few F39s sailing, I’m not aware of anyone having worked this out yet.

Work started with big thanks to shop-neighbor Michael Metela Woodworking for the 16 3/4″ rips on his perfect-straight huge table saw. Then we glued and vacuumed the panels together for two 2 1/4″ rudder cores.

IMG_0728 One piece was set aside for working after the boat is launched, and the primary was cut out roughly with a jigsaw and shur-formed to the right shape. This thing is BIG – about six and a half feet tall. In this photo, note that it will ride about a foot and half lower than the floor height allows here. It will also be angled so the bottom tip leans forward of the pivot pins, helping to balance out the helm feel.

IMG_0757Tonight will drift off to sleep thinking about how best to start the shaping of the rudder core. That began with making the profile shape templates, copied from the plans. The manilla pieces will be traced on to wood (MDF probably) and made in to female shaping guides. Gross amounts of the foam will be removed with the Makita power planer (hand held), then the fine work with the shur-foam and sander. Figuring here it’s best to shape the whole thing, then go back and cut out the sections that need to be replaced with the high density foam inserts. You’ll see that developing in the next post.

IMG_0760There are a number of steps before wrapping the rudder in its finish fabric, but it was quite luxurious to open up the carbon fiber double-bias fabric today. Spun black gold was the first impression (which coincides with the credit card bill).  Pretty stuff, but as an ocean going boat, this beautiful material will get covered up under high quality paint. Oh well.


Rudder gudgeons and beam fairings

Here are the rudder gudgeons installed. The camera angle makes the lower one look tilted, but the silver rod has the pair plumb and aligned for the rudder. Ordered 8 fancy bushings needed; they will be pressed in to that green G10 fiberglass tube seen in the gudgeon-build photos.
The whole aft scoop area is getting tied together structurally, including 5 layers of 18oz BD glass in the gudgeon area – I went a little beefier here than the F39 plans, deciding that a couple more pounds would make us more assured in a storm some day.


The starboard side looks better now with the beam fairings in place. This final shape is much better looking than just the square box beam.