Bitching about the longboard

So because we’ve waited so long for this mast, I’ve had to eat crow on some earlier proclamations. Like the one where we ceremonially burned the long sanding board used in fairing Ravenswing’s main hull, because I said “I’m never doing that crap job again”. Somehow it ended up as working Sunday alone in one of the country’s most innovative composites shop, long boarding the mast we don’t even own yet. Geez.

At least foreman Will taught me a neat trick last week. that’s a cardboard packaging strap formed into two handles and a drag section. Think “dragging the infield” after the third inning. You spread your fairing putty quickly, working it in to the surface with the spatula. I’m working with 175gram batches, which spreads out to about ten linear feet on one side of the mast. The drag tool evens out the filler and removes the spatula lines. Here’s a look at the first pass on the port side.

This is starboard, which got its second coat fills this evening.

there’s also some handwork shaping around these hardware areas.

Tomorrow I’ll grab the long board again and attack the starboard side. After that it’s a 12″ disk sander air tool. It makes short work of smoothing large surfaces.

Goal is to get to primer by Wednesday, but that would mean the spreader installation gets completed by Weds morn. Also on the punch list is external reinforcing for the nose to make it the actual forestay hound, and for Will to finish shaping the masthead including precise drilling for the masthead halyard sheaves. The guys also have to make the three big pins needed for the sheaves and main halyard 2:1 terminal.

Some of you were probably anxious to see that nose piece slid home. All went well Saturday morning, even though I was working solo. all Sat afternoon went in to fitting the mast foot. That included over 30 threaded taps for the 5/16″ screws, plus the 8 in the nose piece. Led to rather sore wrists. The foot is ready for final installation but Will asked me to wait until we get the lower terminals for the diamond wires sorted out.

RickWS and Kieth – small change in plans, ie we’re not doing a carbon rotator arm out the front. In the nick of time I remembered that our retracted daggerboard head would conflict with the rotation control arm. So instead we’ll use the old mast’s stainless steel one, this time mounted facing forward. It’s on pivot bolts so it will just swing up to clear the dagger when stowed.

I met a boat builder here yesterday who makes rowing shell / crew training boats. He needs to ship three of them to the Bay Area around Oct5. His will go in a container and he knows how to arrange for 53′ intermodal boxes. That will fit our mast. A truck here would take it to the cross country railroad line in NY, bound for Oakland. I’m all over that one this week!

Griffin asked today what color we’ll paint the mast. I assumed the same light grey from before. But he suggests going bolder. The boom needs a repaint too, so it’ll be matched. Hmmmm, please feel free to send in your votes. But know that CE pres Ted already vetoed black – he doesn’t want his carbon work absorbing that extra heat.

If you’re going to cut carbon…

… get blades like theseIMG_0872IMG_0870IMG_0871

Yeah, the pros made me cut the end off the tube to officially create the “zero line” of the bottom of the mast. Some kind of right of passage thing. Back to the gooseneck:

Will showed us how he wants the braided carbon to lay down. IMG_0885IMG_0884IMG_0883The pieces were wet out on the table, and because it’s thick, very high density braid, I literally mashed the epoxy in with my boot heels before laying it out over the mast. IMG_0889IMG_0890

These parts also got the super-tight peel ply, breather and tape method overnight.IMG_0891IMG_0892IMG_0900IMG_0901IMG_0902The boss inspected later in the day and was very happy with the lamination results. Gooseneck built – just needs fairing cleanup to go.

The various halyard interfaces all got their final fiberglass-over-carbon layers. There’s only one exterior reinforcement to go, the nose of the mast. IMG_0880The nose plate (point where the standing rigging attaches) is made of three pieces of G10, bonded and screwed together before being bonded and screwed into the mast tube. IMG_0873IMG_0899IMG_0898IMG_0896

In that middle photo above, note the buried threaded rod in four spots on the side – that along with epoxy glue is holding the three elements together. This part had to cure overnight before it could get final shaped and dry fitted into the mast today. Approaching the mast, it started with an hour of careful measuring up from the plans. IMG_0904IMG_0905IMG_0906this old sanding belt lined up edge to edge helps us translate specific height-on-mast points around the full spar. The fabric curve in that photo is an externally applied reinforcement of carbon braid for the jib halyard exit area (we add back around the slot), and it is fanned out like the you saw in the gooseneck. IMG_0907The slot was cut and cleaned with a drill, sawzall, router and small disk sander. The electrician’s fish tape was sent down from the new hole, and the part drawn up on a string. IMG_0909IMG_0911IMG_0914

The screw holes were accomplished by hard-lashing the part up against the inside of the front mast wall. I drilled and tapped right there in position. IMG_0912IMG_0913

That took until 8pm, so Saturday morn the nose part will see daylight one more time, being pulled back out the bottom, buttered up with epoxy glue, and drawn back into final position. So here’s the jib control layout: the forestay gets attached to this new hound. Looking down the mast, you see the jib turning block pad eye next. And below that we routed out the jib halyard escape from the mast tube. The jib halyard sees zero internal mast hardware to chafe against. Pretty slick.

All composite parts have  been fabricated. Just the bottom structure and the spreaders remain for composites installation. We also got started with New England Rigging today for the diamond wires. The owner says he can have all the parts ready next week. On we go.

Career Day

Did you have that day in school where parents came in and described their jobs? Yesterday felt like the reverse, as the shop looked like I was doing my son’s job – a good Paramedic, patching up boat parts:For you fabricators reading this, I was impressed how these guys achieve resin saturation and excess absorption into the bleeder cloth by using pressure from tightly wrapped packing tape and clamps, where vacuum bagging is impractical. We are using this technique to apply the outer carbon reinforcements to the mast head, the gooseneck and six padeye bases along the mast. They also had me do that to the spreader trailing edge wraps last night. See them ‘bandaged up’ and then unwrapped below.

This afternoon we received plans from the engineer / company president for the composite primary hound, and for the web system that bolts and bonds into the bottom two feet, transitioning all the forces from the spar down through the rotation ball and into the deck and compression box below. The load numbers for this boat and rig are so much higher than the trailerable Corsair tris, especially because the righting moment is orders of magnitude greater. So the gear inside the bottom of the mast is REALLY important to get right. You’ll see it develop in the next few days. Tonight I’ve started cutting out the pieces from 3/4″ G10 plate. Back at that old, fantastic big bandsaw…

Yesterday we got a little box from France with my new boat jewelry. You can ask RickWS just how important this $550 “Jesus shackle” is. It’s the only connection point on the mast for all three primary standing rigging lines. The engineer needed it to take measurements that affect the primary hound final design (that’s where it goes). So now we begin that fabrication. And no, it didn’t come in a robin-egg blue box with white bow. Just a packing list from Wichard.

Saturday Gooseneck Night

Hope the rest of you were groovin’ Saturday night (Allie!). We started the gooseneck (part that connects the boom to the mast).

The wood block is standing in for a big aluminum toggle that will bolt in to the boom end, and hinge here on the long bolt shown.

The afternoon was spent laying a glass layer all along the mast track base. 51′ of tedious handwork, squeezing out every bubble.

The morning was fun though, translating the 2-D spreader plan to cutting out the real thing. They needed a little fill love on the leading edge before taping those edges closed tomorrow.

And here’s one more shot of Will’s beautiful work building the masthead crane / sheave box last night.

…plowing ahead here.

PS – Canada Bill, thx for the encouraging voicemail. Yes, see you on the boat in Mexico soon. Banderas Bay Regatta 2019, baby!

Fabricating mast parts

It was a busy work week here making the components that transform the raw spar into a sailboat mast.

Spreaders progress:

ppThe foam core was bonded in then next-day trimmed down flush to the clamshell glue line. Here are two tools I used.

That big stroke sander stands 7′ tall so the return belt doesn’t hit you in the head. The whole table slides on roller bearings and you press the moving belt down where you want to remove material. Amazing.

The spreader tips had the foam excavated and replaced by G10 pucks that will handle the diamond wires. after the band-saw rough in on those pucks, this tool was my shaping friend.

We put half the spreaders back into the molds and glued the upper half on to each. They came out nice.

Next was finishing all the padeye bases for the front of the mast.

Spinnaker is the round one at the top, reacher and backstays go on the bigger diamond style one. There are carbon laminations to do over these next week after some fairing.

The halyard sheave box was cut from the large section built in the prior post.

Two pieces were taken from this stock, and glued together for our mast head.

It got notched into the mast tonight.

Pretty amazing Sawzall cutting by Will. Not like my first sawzall experience with Eggleston cutting away the bedroom wall studs in our Ashland house to make a bigger living room – in the carbon shop it’s more a precision thing :)

Building tip – look at this clever method of spherical sanding inside holes or inner corners. Love the simplicity and effectiveness.

A Spar Is Born

3pm eastern time, 9/11. 274 lbs. 55′ long (will be losing 6″ top and bottom for 54′ final height)

The middle photo shows that the top 8′ are tapered, to save weight and windage aloft.

Getting that huge aluminum forming mandrill out turned out to be the toughest thing in this whole 6.5 year boat build. Thank goodness that hurdle was passed!

Here’s a minute of the six hours spent today finishing this job.

The sheave boxes that will hold the masthead halyard turning sheaves (blocks) were weaved and laminated today. That’s cooking in the autoclave tonight, along with the post-cure of my second spreader.

Here’s the end of Will’s process on the sheave boxes. The epoxy was brushed in at the center of the laminations, mixed to the exact resin to cloth ratio spec’d by the engineer, and it will bleed out through all the fabrics in the autoclave vac. bag process. It was a complex series of fibers, but home builders will enjoy how these guys take peel-ply to a whole new level.

And for some evening work, i got back to those padeye G10 backers. Learning to cut the coping curve to fit these pieces to the front of the mast this week.

Now that the spar is set up on work stands, I expect tomorrow we start in earnest to finish fabricating all add-on parts and make the assembly sequence plan. Good stuff and I can truly see the boat sailing again soon.

PS – boat builders or budding nautical repair types,if you haven’t mastered all things hand-layup fiberglassing and filleting, get this little boom. Russell heads up Port Townsend Wooden Boats in Washington. It was here in the shop and I read it over dinner. Sure wish I’d had it six years ago :)

Mandrill angst

As of Monday night here, the aluminum mandrill “mold” is still about halfway inside the mast. For a rookie, that’s a pretty anxious weekend. I spent six hours Fri night & Sat morn getting 16″ of movement over 6 hours. The company owner Ted came in Saturday afternoon and assessed the need to reconfigure his pulling machine from 1:1 gearing to 2:1. He and I spent seven hours moving gears, huge chains, etc. They haven’t done this in many years, and once we started running again the chains slipped on the drive gears. That ended the weekend progress. CE’s Joe and Will tackled it today and finally at 6pm the mandrill moved smoothly a few feet. And then a tensioning line snapped with a bang, and we agreed to splice in fresh dyneema tomorrow. We need that process to finish!!!

Meanwhile, the shop has set me up fabricating mast fitting parts. First up, the spreaders. We’re using an existing clamshell mold, with customized fabric and epoxy formulations for the strength this mast needs. Henny, it’s really great to do this work in a big, professional shop – you’d love it here :)

First is an 11oz carbon skin, then a heavy woven uni strength braid near the center, then another 11oz inner layer.

I had my vac bag running Sunday morning out on the table, but then Ted came in and fired up the autoclave so we switched to it’s vacuum system and rolled the whole works inside.

Monday morn we pulled it out and moved on to filling each half with A500 foam core.

Tonight I repeated the layup process using the same molds, now for the second of the two spreaders.

There will be five line-attachment pad eyes on the mast. Three hold turning blocks for halyards – spinnaker, reacher and jib. #4 is for lazy jacks and #5 for Cunningham/downhaul. Each gets a G10 base built.

Keith: Ted and I decided the backstays could share the padeye with the reacher halyard, and he spec’d a big diamond one for that duty. The others get the smaller round one.

CE’s shop foreman Will did one and turned me loose on the other four. This massive, accurate bandsaw will have Mike Leneman drooling – it’s amazing, cutting 1″ G10 with ease.

Speaking of Keith, I called the other day to find he and Val at sea on their excellent St. Francis 44 cat. Sounded like a good trip off NY/NJ. Here’s a taste of how that “sailor’s cat” goes, from my visit with them in June.