Friday, January 27, 2012

A Monkey Off My Back

I've been plugging right along making the frames for Gardens of Fenwick. Things have gone well with the exception of Frame 6A. I struggled to make sense of the drawing, drew it out on plywood a couple of times before I (think) I got it right and ran into a wall trying to figure out the doublers (reinforcements).

Frame 6A is the most complicated frame in the hull. It acts as the motor mount (which is offset to the port side), intersects/interlocks with the seat front panels and is installed at an angle of 8° off vertical. That angle makes cutting the stringer notches a little trickier. Adding to my confusion were a couple of dimensions on the drawing that made absolutely no sense to me. For instance, according to the drawing, the center-line of the motor mount doubler is 700mm off the center-line of the frame - but the widest measurement of the (half) frame is 724mm. That 700mm measurement meant the center-line of the motor mount would be an inch in from the edge of the boat. Surely, that is not the designer's intention. The text describing the assembly of Frame 6A cautions the builder to be careful as the frame is subject to vibration from the motor. All well and good but there is nothing more about the details of assembling the frame.

Earlier in the week I posed my questions and frustrations to the JWelsford Yahoo Group and got a very perceptive and appropriate response from another Pathfinder builder: "…any reasonably sane and accurate interpretation…" will be just fine. I don't know about reasonably sane but I realized "interpretation" is key. There are, no doubt, minor variations resulting from each builder's interpretation of the plans. John Welsford alludes to this in the introduction to the written instructions. He tells the builder to not be overly concerned with perfection. I forgot that bit of advice as I struggled with the 6A Monkey.

The "interpretation" response to my question relieved a great deal of anxiety and the Monkey was off my back! Work on that frame is nearly done.

Frame 6A glued up and clamped:

Other recent work includes gluing up the spine/stem assembly:

Not exactly 'action' shots but it is exciting to me to see each component come together.

One additional comment - I do not mean to criticize the plans or the written instructions. I have found the plans to be (mostly) very detailed, clear and easily understood. I just struggled with Frame 6A. I suspect there will be other hurdles as I continue building Gardens of Fenwick.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Some Inspiration - and a Puzzle

Lately that progress has become invisible even to me. Precious little progress was made last week as winter-time temperatures (single-digit lows, mid-teen highs) pretty much made the shop unworkable. Oh, I did a lot of plan checking (more on that in a bit), listing needed hardware and supplies and planning what to do when the temperature improved.

Late yesterday the temperature began rising and by night-fall, it was in the 30s. This morning's 4:00 AM thunderstorm - complete with heavy rain, high winds and lightning - signaled warmer weather. I was back in the shop shortly after breakfast!

Today I cut out the spine/stem (the backbone of the boat) as well as the two doublers for the stem. I clamped these three pieces together to sand them to the same shape. Now, the pile of boat parts has grown over the last three months but it is still a pile of boat parts... Sometimes I get impatient so this afternoon I test fit Frame #1 to the (very rough cut) spine/stem assembly.

What do you know? It fits! Seeing this very rough sub-assembly is quite inspirational for me. I can see real progress!

I'm going to need that inspiration. The last frame for the boat is a puzzler. I thought I had it figured out - what doublers went where - but before gluing anything, I looked at the plans again, you know, just to make sure. And now I'm not. There is one cryptic note that I cannot make any sense of and there is a reference to "slots" for intersecting pieces but the dimensions of those slots are not given. Complicating my confusion, the intersecting pieces are not slotted so I don't know exactly how these pieces interlock. I'll pose the question to John Welsford's Yahoo Group and seek knowledge and inspiration from those who have gone before.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Invisible Work

Mid-January. The new year is underway and, one day at a time, it seems to be flying by.

Yes, of course, work progresses but it is the 'invisible' sort of boat work.

The numerous small bits and pieces (eight reinforcements added to the side arms on four of seven frames) are necessary and contribute to the basic structure of the boat but the progress isn't noticeable. Oh, I am aware of the progress - if those small bits and pieces aren't added now, assembly of the whole will be delayed later. But to the casual observer visiting the shop - none so far - this work would be invisible. I must remember I am building the foundation for the hull and be content with that knowledge.

An example of the invisible work in progress:

Yes, there is more work to do. Two more pieces will be added to each of eight side-arms and all will be trimmed and tidied up before I can declare them 'done.'

One day at a time.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

This is Winter?

Yeah, I know, be careful what I ask for... But, seriously, mid-40° temperatures... in January... in central Michigan? I know, I know, be grateful for what it is and enjoy it while it lasts. I intend to do just that!

If the weather forecasts are correct this mild weather will come to an end on Thursday with colder temperatures and snow expected.

Actually, this mild weather has been great for working on the boat and updates to Progress Notes, Materials and The Shop pages have been posted.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Another Christmas?

With deliveries by UPS and the Postal Service, today felt like another Christmas! And a run to the lumber yard for more plywood added to the festivities. See new posts on the Materials, Shop and Progress pages.

Today was a good day. Sunshine and warm (hey, 42° the first week of January in Central Michigan IS warm). Parts and supplies received. Progress on the frames.

I'm enjoying a glass of red wine while I wait for the lasagna to come out of the oven.

Life is good.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

A New Year - Reflections and Planning

The New Year… a time for reflection and planning. As I reflect on the past year - the first year of my retirement - I am struck by what a wonderful year it was. I traveled - many miles on the road moving from California to Michigan (visiting family and friends along the way); a couple road trips to Virginia and, of course, the Epic West Coast Road Trip. I re-launched my Goat Island Skiff, Karen Ann, and enjoyed sailing in Michigan, Oregon and Oklahoma. 2011 also marked the beginning of a new boat-building project (the whole point of this blog). So, 2011 was a full and wonderful year for me.

As for the New Year, I plan to complete and launch Gardens of Fenwick and begin my boat-camping adventures in selected settings. "Adventures" may be too strong but it suits me and my attitude about small boat sailing. My plan is to enjoy some extended (what? maybe, eventually, 2 -3 weeks at a time) boat camping in selected settings:

Maine Island Trail
Les Cheneaux Islands
Tip of the Mitt
Apostle Islands
Lake Superior's North Shore
San Juan Islands

And perhaps some of the group outings:

Texas 200
Florida 120
OBX 130

I don't expect to launch Gardens and immediately set off on a string of 3-week trips across the country.  What I hope to do is have the boat ready to take to Les Cheneaux Islands in July (the family sailing trip) and begin the adventures with a 1- or 2-night outing. One has to start somewhere.  

There is a lot to do to have Gardens ready for that first outing. There is no time like the beginning of a New Year to make such plans.