Tuesday, November 12, 2019

An Early Winter

Daytime highs have been below 50* since mid-October - and trending lower: highs in the mid-30s this past week; lows in the high teens; highs this week in the mid-20s. Nothing in the forecast suggests a warming trend any time soon. Last Wednesday's light snow disappeared before yesterday's 5-inch snowfall. Winter is settling in.



Epoxy work and painting are now on hold until next spring. There are a few tasks to work on - at least until I'm snowed out of the barn. Lazy-jacks can be rigged; shop cleaned up; spars/sails can be stowed (mouse-proofed?); and Gardens can be tarped for the winter.

Maybe an early winter will bring us an early spring. One can wish...

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Full Circle (On One Small Task)

Gardens' original mainsheet fiddle-block wasn't fitted with a cam cleat, which meant I had to hold the mainsheet (which meant my hands would cramp up while sailing), but was fitted with a stand-up spring to keep the block from flopping around:

The replacement fiddle-block with cam cleat seamed to be the solution:

But... I couldn't get the fiddle-block installed with the stand-up spring: The spring was too stiff, the space was too tight, the shackle was too small, the swivel post was even smaller, and the threaded shackle pin was smaller still - it all worked against my fat fingers... My solution was a short section of pool noodle foam wrapped around the block and base:

That worked but not as well as a stand-up spring. Someone saw a photo of that "stand-up-foam-base" in a post on John Welsford's Small Craft Design Face Book page and suggested/recommended using a stand-up spring. I decided to see if I could find a "right-size" spring... The local hardware store - to my surprise - carries a fairly wide variety of small springs. But they didn't have one that would work. An Amazon search turned up a smaller (shorter, slightly smaller diameter) Harken stand-up spring but when it arrived, it didn't fit over the pad eye in the base. I decided to try the original spring again.

After several failed attempts I figured out that if I completely disassembled the base, started with the block upside down, and worked from the "inside out," I could (possibly) get the block, spring, and base connected and put back together. I only needed two more hands... My wife came to the rescue and together we got the whole thing re-assembled!

The path to this improvement to handling the mainsheet took me full circle back to the parts I had on hand when the fiddle-block w/cam cleat arrived. Buying the new fiddle-block with a cam cleat was part of the solution I was seeking. But finding a solution doesn't always mean buying a solution - I had that stand-up spring all along.

The mizzen mast project is on hold: Winter is settling in here in central Michigan: high temperatures in the mid-30s; lows in the 20s; and warmer temperatures are not in the forecast. It will be spring before I'll get back to work on the mast.

Monday, October 28, 2019

Mizzen Mast Project -

The short version: Not a good result. I should have practiced more...

I've got eight birds-mouth staves that don't fit together properly in two ways: All eight staves do not fit snugly and there are two significant gaps between staves along the taper.


My guess is the saw blade was not set precisely at 45*. Practice pieces(one set of eight at 24" and one set of eight at 36") appeared to be cut correctly as they fit tightly with no gaps along their lengths. As for the gaps, my guess is that the staves were not tapered uniformly - a result of the tapering technique I used (power-planing two staves at a time followed up with a hand plane).

Other factors contributed to what happened here: Using different table saws for different cuts, using new-to-me techniques (tapering and cutting the V-notch on the table saw). Frankly, I found setting up the table saw to cut the V-notch to be more fiddly and more difficult than setting up the router table & jig to cut the notches on previous spars.

I have enough material to make two more staves. So, one option is to make the two staves and see if that helps at all. If that doesn't work, then a second option is to purchase additional material for a new mast. If creating a new mast, I will probably revert to using the router table to cut the notches and I will use the shooting-board-on-the-table-saw technique (described last week for me by Chris Ring) to cut the taper. Do I have any other options?

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

It's A Process

Everything is a learning process.

I am convinced no one can accomplish anything without someone (or multiple people) contributing to the process.

The prospect of building a tapered birds mouth mast had me stymied. Not the birds mouth process, but cutting the taper into the staves. I understood the taper is cut opposite the v-notch, but I did not understand how to make that cut.

So I asked on the John Welsford Small Craft Design FaceBook page. I received many suggestions and learned about some techniques I had never heard about before. Every response gave me something to think about. The best part of the responses? Ideas. Ideas gave me inspiration to figure out what would work with my tools and skill set.

The technique I used involved an electric planer and a No. 5-1/2 Stanley plane. Using a stop block on the 'spar bench' and a convoluted sequence (one stave, then three, two and finally the last two), I cut the tapers without bloodshed or having to mill more staves.


Next, I'll set up the portable table saw to cut the V-notches. It'll probably take me longer to get the saw set up accurately than to actually cut the notches.

Everything is a learning process. I appreciate the contributions others have made to help me learn what I need in order to accomplish what I want to do.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Prepping for a New Mizzen Mast

Last week I bought about 23 bf of poplar for a new mizzen mast project. This is more than I need for the mizzen, but I'd rather be safe than sorry...

When I built Gardens' spars, I set up shop in the yard outside to accommodate the necessary lengths. But this being October in Michigan, I'm setting up in an empty bay (which is also long enough for the spars) in the barn so I can work out of the weather. Of course, the space wasn't really empty - so some tidying up was necessary. (First photo is about half way through the clean-up.)

One clean-up task was to get rid of a pile of old rough-cut lath strips taking up space. Easiest way to dispose of them is to burn them but, at 5' long, they were too long for our burn pit (and we don't have a burn barrel). So, I cut them down to size and burned them down to a nice pile of ashes. I left most of the cut nails in the lath and used a magnet to pull them out of the ashes.


The poplar found a home on the 'spar bench' (2 long sawhorses and 2 2x10x10' planks). The thickness planer moved from the shop to the work space. Infeed and outfeed supports were set up. The space was ready to get to work.

Milling the poplar began today. First step is to smooth the faces of the planks. Using a No. 5 Stanley plane, I began flattening the slight crown of the first plank before using the thickness planer. Interesting to note the 5/4 planks turned out to be 11/8 (1-3/8)- which is nice enough but it means more milling before ripping the staves for the mast.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Fixing Warts; Trailer Mods

When I installed the cockpit coamings, I was more than a bit careless with my epoxy work. The warts didn't seem to bother others, but they bothered me.

I expected the clean-up job to be difficult and tiresome. Much to my surprise, the warts disappeared after only a few minutes with a sander! A bit more sanding and the coamings will be ready to repaint.

Gardens' mizzen mast is solid wood and, despite being 5' shorter, weighs nearly as much as the hollow bird's mouth main mast. The mizzen is awkward and cumbersome to step/unstep. While we haven't ever lost control or dropped the mizzen, I decided, quite a while ago, to build a new lighter, hollow mizzen mast. This is one of my fall/early winter projects.

L.L. Johnson Lumber, in Charlotte, Michigan (less than an hour's drive away), has the material in the length (14') I need. I fussed a bit about how to get 14' lumber home - without paying the $65 delivery fee. A friend offered the use of his utility trailer or I could borrow my sister's utility trailer, but at 8' long, those do not readily transport long bits of lumber. My friend commented that it was too bad Gardens was on her trailer... Well, that got me thinking! I hoisted Gardens off the trailer, pulled the trailer out, set Gardens on the floor of the barn, and set about modifying the trailer to carry lumber. I removed the bunks (which I will be replacing), moved the bunk supports outboard on the trailer, and added a cross member to support one end of the lumber.

I'm driving to Charlotte tomorrow for the mast material and while I'm there I'll pick up enough cherry lumber to build us a new bed frame over the winter.

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Catching Up

It's been awhile since I've added anything to the blog. So, here are a few updates...

Sailing

Gardens of Fenwick sailing in Les Cheneaux Islands, Lake Huron, August, 2019:



September travels to Coupeville, Washignton, on Whidbey Island for a family reunion:



A short ferry ride from Coupeville took us to Port Townsend for the Wooden Boat Festival. Port Townsend from the ferry:



The Wooden Boat Festival was a lot of fun but since we didn't see everything we wanted to see, we decided we'll have to return next year.

Boarding Assist

Jan and I have recovered from multiple surgeries (me: two knees; Jan: two hips), but we both found it a bit awkward stepping on and off Gardens at the dock. Jan, teasingly, suggested a shower grip type handle to make it easier to get on and off the boat... Right... But then I got to thinking about a solution - and came up with this: A 1.25 diameter dowel; a through-deck hole, and a seat-top socket: aka, The Boarding Assist:



With a socket on each side of the boat, only one dowel is needed, and the dowel will stow in the cockpit while underway. Varnish on the dowel and the cap/plugs (for the through-deck holes when sailing) will close out this project.

Milestone...

A pleasant surprise for me was recently discovering this blog has viewed over 100,000 times! Thanks to everyone who has ever visited my ramblings.