Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Wooden Boat Show at Mystic Seaport

The Wooden Boat Show happens the last weekend of June, at Mystic Seaport Museum in Connecticut. This has been the venue for the past decade, all of which we have participated in the show. This started with us exhibiting the prototype Paper Jet at the 2007 show, where she won the Innovation Award on the Concourse D'elegance. She was a lonely modern trapeze skiff in a sea of traditional boats.

This year the show will be 30th June through to 2nd July. We will have the Paper Jet there again but she will be accompanied by two of our other designs, both exhibited by their builders in the "I Built it Myself" part of the show.

The Argie 15 that Kevin Agee has been building the past few months will be there. I built the striped spars using birdsmouth details, from alternating strakes of poplar and cedar. I also completed the daggerboard and keel using the striped blanks that were laminated from the same two species by Kevin. We launched her on Sunday and I will be sailing her on the North Carolina Sounds at Cape Hatteras for the next few days. For the moment she has some rig pieces filched from the Paper Jet due to lack of time to make new but she will have all her own parts for the show.
"Argie" gets wet for the first time. Me at the stern, builder Kevin Agee at the bow.
The first sail, in very light breeze.
The Argie 15 is our most popular design but we haven't seen one on the Wooden Boat Show before. If you are in New England and have built an Argie 15, here is an opportunity to show your boat along with our new one.

The other new boat is the prototype of the Didi Sport 15 (DS15) design, which was commissioned by Hunter Gall. Hunter has built her over a long period and has produced a very interesting boat in a red, white and blue colour theme. Hunter is Australian but now Naturalized American. The red/white/blue is a patriotic choice of colours and his hull has a small US flag laminated into the epoxy under the stern.
Red deck, blue hull and white trim

The DS15 has a very modern hull with a bit of retro-styling in the deck details.
The colours aren't sprayed paint, as most would expect, which would give opaque finishes. Instead, Hunter dyed the plywood surfaces to allow the grain to show through, then coated with clear epoxy finished with clearcote to add depth and UV protection. This is a radius chine plywood boat, so the rounded part of the hull is laminated from two layers of plywood strips. The strips of the outer layer were edge-matched so that the grain runs through, with very tight joints that are almost invisible The result is a very interesting boat. Come to the show to see her, inspiration from an amateur builder who has never built a boat before.

To see more of these and our other designs, visit our main website or our mobile website.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Argie 15 Nearing Completion

It has been a long time since my last post about our Argie 15 project. Work has been going on but big life events have taken away from the time needed to write blog posts. The main event was a change in the status of builder Kevin  Agee, now our son-in-law after marrying our daughter Michelle last month.
Newly-married, our daughter Michelle and new son-in-law Kevin Agee.
OK, time to get life back to normal. The Argie 15 is nearing completion and looks very different from when you last saw it. It took its first road trip, on my Paper Jet trailer. The destination was my own garage, for painting.
Ready for preparation for paint.
After turning the boat upside-down, final inspection, masking the rub-rails and other bright-finished surfaces, blowing off the dust with a leaf blower then cleaning with acetone, it was ready for spraying to start.
First coat was a high-build epoxy primer, to give an easily-sanded layer to form the foundation for a good finish.
Next came a white primer. This was needed to cover the grey epoxy, which can cause blotchy problems with finish coats.
When I sprayed my Lotus, I changed the colour from the original red to yellow. I sprayed the yellow over a grey primer and found that yellow paint has problems covering grey. What initially looked like good cover is a bit green and blotchy in low-light situations. The green tone is the grey primer showing through and the blotchiness is caused by variations in the yellow film thickness. I must spray another coat over the car to get a uniform yellow colour. Lesson learned, we added a coat of white primer to the paint schedule of the Argie 15 to ensure good cover.
A coat of high-build epoxy primer also went onto the vertical surfaces of the cockpit because these will be gloss white. The horizontal areas will be beige non-skid, so a perfectly smooth surface was not needed.
The transom was to be white, so that was sprayed first, then masked off with paper before spraying the rest of the hull.
Completed hull painting, with yellow hull and white transom
The varnished rub-rails laminated from cedar and poplar set off the hull nicely. The holes through the hull sides are to drain the leeward side seats if any spray comes aboard when sailing in lumpy and breezy conditions.
 The new boat made its first public appearance by doing bar service at the wedding. It worked as a giant cooler, holding beers and soft drinks on ice for the wedding guests.

The other work that has been going on is building the spars. I am doing that work, having decided to make wooden spars using the birdsmouth method. In keeping with the varnished woodwork on the hull, I have made the mast and boom from alternating strips of cedar and poplar. I won't go into the details of building the spars in this post but will do that in later posts on my Boatbuilding Tips Blog. The Argie 15 plans show the mast in two sections, so that the rig can be stowed inside the hull. I could have made the mast in one length by scarphing the strakes into long lengths but elected to stay with the two-part mast. This allowed me to work with lengths that fit more comfortably inside a single garage.
Gluing a mast section using the bidsmouth method.
Mast sections and boom shaped and being epoxy-coated. The one closest to the camera is the boom, the other two being the two sections of the mast. The long mast higher up in the garage is my Paper Jet mast, built by a similar method.
Launch day is approaching. The sails have been made and hardware will soon start going onto the deck and rig.

See more of this and our other designs on our main website or our mobile website.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Argie 15 - Fitting the Daggerboard Casing & Rub-Rails

Moving on with the Argie 15 project, I covered the bottom runners in my previous post. The runners serve multiple purposes, which I forgot to explain. The runners give some protection to the bottom when beaching the boat, by lifting it a bit when pulled onto rough beaches. They strengthen the bottom by serving as stringers but, being on the outside of the boat, they keep the bottom of the cockpit clean for a more comfortable sleeping space when camp-cruising. They also help to improve the efficiency of the planing surface by channeling the water parallel to centreline rather than losing energy by moving off to each side.

At this stage we also checked the fit of the daggerboard. It slid nicely through the slot in the hull. Kevin had glued the end spacers to the one side of the daggerboard casing but the second side was still loose. When we checked the fit, the board wouldn't go through. Checking the sides for straightness showed that they bowed inwards a few millimeters, enough to jam the board. That gave warning that care had to be taken when gluing it all together to ensure that the sides remained straight throughout the height of the casing.
The daggerboard casing glued up, including the top and bottom framing. The blue pieces at the top are spacers to force the sides against the framing, to ensure that there is no curvature in the surfaces to reduce the width and jam the board.
The casing glued in place. The blue spacers were left in place until the glue had cured, so that there would be no chance of the casing distorting and reducing the width of the slot.
Next on the "to do" list is the rub-rails. These are laminated to the outside of the hull, at the gunwales. They stiffen the hull, changing a fairly flexible plywood edge into a robust gunwale that is capable of taking a knock if needed. Some builders of the Argie 15 don't use this detail from our drawings, instead changing it to an internal scuppered inwale detail. That is a very pretty detail that is well-suited to traditional rowing boats and similar craft, adding the benefit of tie-off points anywhere that you want along the gunwales but is more difficult to do. For the Argie 15, which will be sailed with the crew sitting along the sides of the cockpit, the inwale creates an uncomfortable surface to lean against instead of the clean surface of the original design.

Kevin called on me to assist with fitting the rub-rails. The laminations are fitted in single lengths (scarphed from short pieces), so are awkward for one person to handle in a confined space. Getting them correctly positioned on the wet glue while also working with clamps calls for some ingenuity if working by yourself. It is simpler to call in a pair of extra hands.

This job calls for lots and lots of clamps. We did both sides in one evening, which needed all of Kevin's clamps as well as all of mine. If you are brave and short of time then you might want to laminate all layers at the same time. This is risky because it needs slow-setting glue that won't set before you are able to wet-out all strips, get them into place, manipulate three or fours slippery lengths into proper alignment and get all the clamps in place and correctly tensioned.

We chose instead to do one layer at a time. Rather than four layers of equal thickness, Kevin prepared inner and outer layers of poplar and a middle layer of cedar of double-thickness. This gives a nice stiff gunwale with a tougher outer surface than if all layers were cedar. It is also very pretty.
Kevin with the Argie 15 after clamping the first layer of the gunwale.
Two days later we also glued the second layer of the rub-rail. We managed to break one of the scarphs even before starting with the gluing. The epoxy was not fully cured yet so the epoxy was well short of final strength. We were able to still laminate it onto the  first layer by carefully clamping at the joint to hold it closed against the bending loads applied by the curvature to which it had to comply.

When gluing all laminations after the first one, it is best to get the bottom completely flush and let the top look after itself. The reason is that it is very easy to clean up and neatly finish the top  but much more difficult to do the same to the bottom of the rail because of the adjacent plywood.

That's all for now. To see more of this and our other designs, go to our main website or our mobile website.