Friday, August 28, 2015

Main Mast Work

Staves for the main mast were cut and notched yesterday. I am using the Modified Birdsmouth technique: the notch is not centered on the edge of the stave. This is today's set-up/test piece cut on the router table:


This photo doesn't show the grain to full advantage (the stave is out of focus but the shop floor is sharp and clear!), but this is very nice CVG DF.

The plan is to cut the tapers tomorrow, dry fit over the weekend and assemble one day next week when I can round up the help.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

More Spar Work

With Gardens' first spar (the yard formerly known as the mizzen mast) nearly ready for varnishing, it is time to cut the staves for the main mast.



Tomorrow we will mill the staves to size (on the small table saw), notch the staves (on the router table) and cut the tapers (using a 'custom' jig and hand-held router).

Dry fitting and assembly will have to wait until the "spar table" can be lengthened and outfitted with more supports - probably this weekend.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

It's a Yard

Last week's mizzen mast project has morphed to become the main yard. Two factors - my errors - came into play resulting in this transformation.

  • The spar diameter is too small for the mizzen mast.
  • The bottom plug was entirely too short (missed the partner completely).


Building this spar was a good learning experience which, I hope, will lead to better results as I build the rest of the spars for Gardens.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Cross-Contamination or...

How to make a flag-pole - or maybe the yard for Gardens - without trying too hard… or…

Practice, practice, practice…

Take your pick.

The plugs were cut and installed yesterday and the two halves glued together. Everything seemed okay.

Today, the clamps came off, the mast went outside for a look-see and two things struck me: This spar seems really tall; and, it doesn't seem to be very stiff. And I started to think.

Okay, the luff of the mizzen sail is a smidgen over 10' - so why do I need a nearly 14' mast for that sail? And, why did the mast step-to-partner (stern seat) seem to be very short? I went looking for an explanation…

The first photo of a Pathfinder I looked at today explained it all: The partner is really at the aft deck not the stern seat! This is an issue for me because I (mis) calculated the bottom plug based on the height of the stern seat, not the aft deck. And that miscalculation is a result of mixing design features of the Goat Island Skiff (my other boat) and the Pathfinder AND not being as familiar with the Pathfinder design as I once was. The GIS mizzen mast is supported by the mast step and the partner - which is the stern seat. Somehow - cross-contamination - I assumed the same design detail for the Pathfinder. And, my GIS isn't even rigged as a yawl…

So, realizing I can't use this spar for the mizzen, my first thought was, "It'll be a nice flag-pole." But then, again, maybe it'll work as the yard. We'll see.

At a minimum, building this spar was good practice.

Maybe I should spend the weekend reviewing the plans and building manual.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Mizzen Mast Assembly

Moving at what seems a snail's pace...

This morning I taped the #4 and #8 staves using Dow tape used for the seams on blue-board insulation (the contractor's crew is re-siding the house this week so I got a roll of tape from them). The tape is very thin and very sticky (but I tested it on a short bit of DF to make sure it'll come off - it will). Since the tape is about three times as wide as the staves, I trimmed it flush with the staves. It took two razor blades per side per stave as the blades gummed up with adhesive off the tape.



(Okay... as I look at that photo I don't understand it and I was there; how in the heck do I expect anyone else to make sense of it?)

While waiting for my helpers, I realized the work set-up was all wrong - we'd have to apply the epoxy and then lift each stave over our heads to get it to the assembly table. Not such a good idea… So, I rearranged the space to eliminate the up-and-over maneuver.

(Apparently my photography skills lag behind what I think I've done as I don't have the "Before-and-After" photos I thought I had...)

Half my help forgot today was the day so when Dave showed up at I described the process (neat epoxy, thickened epoxy, assembly and clamping) to him. Things went amazingly well and we had the mast glued up in less than an hour (including the instruction time. We got good squeeze-out (not too much, but enough). Checked the alignment - found a slight bow - but, with light pressure, managed to slip everything straight. The mast is fully supported - including the taper - and it looks good. It will sit untouched until tomorrow afternoon when I'll fit the plugs, coat the inside of the mast with epoxy and glue the whole thing up.

Things went well today - better than I expected. One improvement would be to have two people applying epoxy while a third mixed the next batch. That would speed things up and give us a bit more working time than we had today (one concern was the epoxy would kick before we started assembly; it didn't but I suspect we were close).

Next up: Plugs, gluing, sanding/rounding, varnishing... And then on to the Main Mast...

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Mizzen Mast Progress

Saturday, Dave (B-I-L) and I dry-fit the mizzen mast.

Amazing how much two more hands improve the process. I mean, it went together so easily, Dave asked why I couldn't do it myself. He was sorta kidding but we took it apart and he tried putting it back together. He understood why…

The mast looked pretty good all clamped up but I was surprised to see a distinct bow to it. None of the staves showed any sign of twist, warp, bend or anything but being straight so it seemed weird that the assembled mast would have a bend in it.

Then I learned something… I learned the staves would move a bit even though they were clamped (the assembly was clamped but not as tightly as it will be when glued and we'll probably use twice as many clamps). By putting pressure on one end I could straighten out the bow and with a bit of effort I could bow the mast again. It was a relief to know I wasn't going to build a bowed mast.

I wonder if the staves will slip as easily when we glue it up on Wednesday? There will be three of us - one to mix the epoxy, two to paint the notches with neat epoxy (while the third mixes thickened epoxy), and as many of us as we need for the assembly and clamping. I haven't figured out a good way to estimate how much epoxy to mix: eight staves at 14' each so 112' total. True, the notches are not huge but still, how much will we need? We'll figure that out as we go. Between now and Wednesday, I'll label the staves, take the mast apart, check that the tapers match up - and touch up any that need it, and tape the notches in Staves 4 and 8. We're going to glue the mast in halves so I can match the plugs to the as-built mast. The tape on those two staves will keep me from gluing the all eight staves and allow the two halves to be separated once the glue has set up. I plan to have everything ready to go when Dave and Andy get here Wednesday afternoon. Hopefully all will go well. We'll pay attention to the alignment to make sure we don't glue a bow into the mast.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

A Good Day

We cut the staves for the mizzen mast - using the good stuff: CVG DF.



No pretzels or corkscrews. The staves are ready for dry-fitting: milled to size, tapered and notched but we ran out of time today.

We tapered the staves using a variation of Joel's plywood edge guide and trim router: we used a 1x8 board screwed to the saw horse.



It worked - but I think I lost the trim router on the 5th stave. A horse rasp really tidied thing up nicely.

I tried dry-fitting by myself this evening but needed at least one more hand so we'll dry-fit over the weekend and glue-up next week.

The electrician showed up this morning and restored power to the outlet in the boat bay. They'll be back later this month to update the wiring (and add 3 outlets and 4 light fixtures!) but for now, I am back to sanding Gardens' hull…

It was a Good Day!