Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Didi 950 Ohio Project Update

It has been awhile since I last updated about the Didi 950 amateur builds happening on opposite sides of the world. I was reminded last week by a reader that there are folks out there waiting to see more.

Both boats are progressing at a good rate and both should be launched this year. The boat of Fred Grimminck in Australia, the lifting keel version built from scratch, is nearly complete and should be launched in a few months. Mike Vermeersch in USA hopes to launch his fixed keel version, built from a kit that we supplied, on the Great Lakes in the summer.

Both are building their boats primarily for cruising, so are fitting them out for comfort more than trying to achieve minimum weight. In this post I will include photos of Mike's fixed keel boat and my next post will feature Fred's lifting keel boat.

I wrote last year about Mike's keel that was being built by Howdy Bailey. It was in progress at the time so I didn't include pics of the completed keel, which are shown in these photos.

Pre-formed side plate being plug-welded to the internal tube structure.

Ballast bulb ready for fitting to keel foil.
Keel and bulb mated, faired and primed, ready to be shipped to the builder.
The keel will be bolted to a substantial steel weldment that is inside the hull and bolted to glass-reinforced eggcrate backbones and bulkheads, with the hull skin (also glass-reinforced) sandwiched between the top of the keel and the internal steelwork. That steel weldment does double-duty, serving also as the engine beds.
Engine beds snug between the longitudinal and transverse structural members.
Engine mounted on beds. The keel bolt holes can be seen under the engine.
The engine of this version is located under the galley central counter. It will have large access panels all round for engine work and for access to the keel bolts. Some people object to this engine location, saying that the motor is too smelly to put in the middle of the accommodation. Not so, all of my personal boats have had the motors in this position and I would not want it anywhere else. It makes the engine easy to work on and to keep clean, giving a boat that always smells fresh. A big reason why under-cockpit motors are smelly is that they are so difficult to work on and clean that they tend to be neglected. This location also places the motor close to the centre of pitching, so is good for performance in lumpy water.
U-shape galley being built. The engine is under the counter on the right, cooker to the left.
Epoxy-coated plywood icebox.
Icebox installed and foam insulation poured, ready for trimming.
The rest of the interior is also progressing.
Saloon, looking forward. As designed the settees are water tanks but Mike is installing plastic tanks elsewhere.
Looking down at the top of a water ballast tank, with watertight access covers.
Mike is doing a very neat build. This is partly due to building from a pre-cut kit but most of it is due to him having very neat working habits. I consider my own woodworking to be neat but Mike makes my work look a bit tatty in comparison. It is always worthwhile to keep the build area free of scraps, shavings, dust, tools etc for the sake of safety but also to make it easier to work with glue, epoxy coatings, paint etc without messing up both the tools and your workmanship.
An important aspect that many builders ignore is to round off all salient corners, whether they will be seen or not. It only needs a minute or two to run each timber through a router with 6mm radius bit, leaving soft corners that hold coatings well and won't damage your hands, knees and feet. Neglect this step and you will have an interior that looks amateurish and will also damage you when you fall against it. This small detail will make the world of difference to the final look of your new boat, helping to make it something of which you can justifiable be proud. 

Watch for my next post in a day or two to see Fred's lifting keel Didi 950.

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