Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Who would have thought polyester could look so look good . . .

Admit it, when you hear of polyester your mind flashes to images of 1970's leisure suits. You know, the kind that Herb Tarlek wore on the sit-com WKRP in Cincinnatti. How can something look good when made of 100 poly? Simple, if you're using 8oz cloth to cover your skin on frame kayak. And even easier when it has nice lines like the Disko Bay. Read on and all will be revealed!! 

As per Dave Gentry's advice I went with 8oz polyester from George Dyson of Dyson, Baidarka & Company in Bellingam, Washington. Within hours of contacting George via email, he had my fabric on the way via post. Using foresight, I decided to order enough fabric to do two boats (Betcha' can't build just one). Somehow George managed to fold and fit all that cloth into one small box and I paid the same cost of shipping as it would for enough fabric to do a single boat. Hats off to George for some of the best service I've received with online ordering. It was too bad that my order was shipped just prior to the national postal strike as my package bounced all over North America trying to get delivered. But I digress!!

I'm not sure about other fabrics but this poly seems really tough. It's a pain to cut with scissors and/or razor blade knife as it tends to unravel. Using a hot knife (no, not THAT kind of hot knife) works great if you have one. I've been cutting it with scissors/razor blades and cauterizing the frayed edges with a small butane torch.

After draping the poly over the frame, I used (you guessed it) Schedule 40 clamps to hold the fabric in place while I did the rough cuts.

Schedule 40s at work on the bow portion of the boat.
After trimming the fabric, I began stitching it up using a simple running stitch. I used a hemostat to hold the already-stitched fabric while I moved on along the seam.  Initally I thought of using dental floss to stitch the seams but was having trouble finding unwaxed (Waxed would cause adhesion problems with the paint used to seal the fabric). A number of years ago I was really into stunt kite flying and I knew I had some Dacron line laying about somewhere. I managed to dig it out and it worked perfectly for the stitching.

It took a few hours, over two evenings, to drape, cut and do the running stitch on both the fore and aft decks. It was not as tedious as I thought it was going to be. I simply flipped on some music, had a beer at the "ready" and got into the "sewin' zone"!!
Stitching up the aft deck

Aft deck running stitch complete.

Stern shot showing the nice lines. 

Aft deck - yet again. Seam is straighter than as shown in this image.
Preliminary testing of fit around the cockpit area. Getting a tight fit will not be a problem.
Move on to  fore deck and repeat . Working above the deck stringers just ahead of the cockpit.

Fore and aft deck running stitching completed. The true shape of the hull finally emerges. I'm a happy camper.

With the seam held with the running stitch, it was time to follow up with another stitch designed to create a tighter closure to the seam. This one was a little trickier and more time consuming.  The idea is to roll the fabric down tight and hold with an overhand (?) stitch. The result, when pulled tight looks like a braid.

Cheryl came up to be with me as the kids were downstairs watching TV. It was a Saturday night and we had a bottle of wine open. I was having trouble doing the roll and stitching so we devised a routine. Cheryl would roll the fabric and hold it while I would follow up with the stitching. It worked like a charm. We'd do a bit, stop and have a sip of wine. Do a bit more. Give the fingers a break. Have a sip of wine. Repeat. Within 2 hrs we had the aft deck completed.

So, Cheryl and I spent the early part of the evening paddling on the bay and later that night we worked on my new kayak while enjoying a few glasses of wine and a few laughs to boot!!

Great teamwork!!

Working our way to the stern.

Cheryl putting her sewing skills to work on the stern.

The aft deck completed. A good night's work. And still some wine in the glass - even better!!
On Sunday evening I found that I could, indeed, do the rolled stitching myself so I proceeded to work alone.  In a matter of hours I had the fore deck completed. Sorry no pictures but it came out pretty much exactly like the stern - you get the picture?

Stay tuned. Up next is painting and affixing of the cockpit coaming.


Sunday, August 21, 2011

Things are coaming along . . .

The coaming was next on the list. I took the template I had from my Point Bennett and reduced it in both length and width. This one is pretty snug to my hips.

I toyed with the idea of making a steam bent laminated coaming but decided to go with a Yost-style plywood setup. It consists of a 1/2" baseplate and a 3/4" + 1/2" spacer and lip combination.(See details below)

Checking out the template.
Using the template, I marked and cut the 3/4" spacer from Russian Birch plywood. I then used the spacer to mark off the lip on the 1/2" plywood. I increased the width of the lip to 1 1/2".

Gluing up the 3/4" + 1/2" spacer/lip combo. Baseplate  against the  wall on the right.
1/2" is too thick for a coaming lip so I decided to router out the lip and bring it down to 1/4" thickness. Using a DIY router table I made about 20 years ago, I reduced down the lip. Now the spacer is 1" thick with a 1/4" lip on top

The underside of the coaming lip. The 1/2" lip has been trimmed down to 1/4" which then increased the spacer to 1".

Baseplate and coaming laid in place.

Test fit. Looks good so far!

Looking aft.

Looking aft.

Before attaching the baseplate, I need to make two stanchions that will support the coaming at the sides. This will greatly increase the stiffness of the coaming and provide added strength at points where extra strain is put on the coaming during entry and exit of the boat.

Monday, August 8, 2011

A different kind of plastic boat . . .

With not a whole lot more work to do on the frame (sand and do a bit more lashing) I decided to do the plastic wrap test. In other words, wrap the frame up with plastic and tape to see how it works in the water!! Cheryl picked me up 7 meters of "medium" weight plastic and, using Gorilla Tape, we set to "skinning" the new boat.  Nothing fancy but it worked!!

We extracted the boat from the attic via the stairs and front window - just like with my Point Bennett back in April. Tied it to the car and headed for Healey's Pond for a quick test.

Wrapped and ready to leave the attic.


It floats!!
The masik is a little low so I can't get in like I do with my other boats. I even manged to fit my feet in eventhough I was wearing my booties. I was afraid they'd be too clunky to fit.

First thing we all noticed was the VERY low freeboard - about 1.5" at the sheer by my hips. Still, I was able to take the boat for a paddle and managed to keep water from shipping in. The additional height of the cockpit coaming will help with this. While paddling, I was unable to edge at all but the boat turned nicely.

Squeezing in.
Cheryl shot a short video of me on the first paddle. Here's the link - Disko Bay plastic wrap test

Just sittin' Dig the demon eyes!!
 After paddling about for a bit, I decided to do some edging anyways. After a few dips of the gunwales under the water, the boat proceeded to fill up quickly. Due to the fact that the paddler's weight is in the back and thus boat is inclined to sit lower in the back, all the water rushes backwards and the boat quickly sinks arse-first with the bow in the air!! I ejected but had to the push the boat back to shore while I swam along with it. I was out a few hundred feet at the time - D'oh!!

Dumping the water.

And again.

The last drops!

I was "bouncing" the frame here. There's little bit of flex but nothing much. 

As she floats "unloaded"
I'm a bit unsure about the low freeboard. I'm going to post on the Kayak Building Forum for advice. I can quite easily add 1" to the overall height of the sheer but if I don't have to then I won't.

By the way, for anybody wondering, the frame (sans cockpit coaming) is weighing in at 19 lbs!!!


Saturday, August 6, 2011

Disko Bay Update . . . Finally

After what seems like quite some time, I'm finally getting around to posting an update on the Disko Bay (DB) project!! I have been picking away at this boat for some time but between family camping trips and a general laziness with regards to blog entries, I've not been good at keeping an ongoing account of my work. Hence this posting!!

The gunwales/sheer on the DB are quite curved. Instructions state that pre-curving is required. If not, the gunwales will pull up on the boat causing hogging. (Reverse rocker is not a good thing) I initially tried soaking the gunwales with hot water and then bending them but the resulting curve was not enough. When I fitted the frames, the gunwales pulled the keel up so much that all rocker was lost. One of the other options suggested by Dave Gentry (designer) was to cut the ends of the gunwales into three strips, bend to desired curve and then glue. I decided to go this route. I simply took a sharp handsaw and ripped the gunwales. Then I bent them to the exact desired curve, applied some Elmer's Waterproof glue and a whack of Schedule 40 clamps. Badda Boom Badda Bing - the exact curve that I needed!!

Schedule 40's doing their "thing"

I decided to peg and lash the stringer/gunwales/frames.

Tie down strap holds stringers in place while holes are drilled and pegs put in place.

Use of tie down straps and clamps to hold the shape. Level used to make sure that hull is not twisted.

The frames/gunwales/stringers are lashed using synthetic sinew (waxed nylon) that was purchased, believe it or not, at Michael's Craft Store. This stuff is damn strong and the wax creates great friction so that it holds very nicely.
A lashed join.

Sinew wrapped around a block of wood for greater pull!!

Lashing the frames was not an onerous task but it was bit hard on the hands. The sinew had a tendency to cut into the skin. Still, once a "system" was established, it became quite an easy task.

The plans for the DB do not include templates for the stem and stern. These are left to the builder's discretion. Using the scale drawings from Harvey Golding's Kayaks of Greenland, I determined the length of the stem should be about 28" while the stern should be about 18" Taking these measurements I set about to cutting templates. I used some corriplast (corrugated plastic) I had laying about.
Initial fitting of the stem.

After some trimming.

Here's the actual 11mm plywood stem based on the template seen in the images above!

After some trimming and planing, the gunwales and chines fit nice and tight!

Of course a kayak has two ends, so here's the stern template in its early stages! 
And the stern glued and clamped!!

The stem glued and clamped.

There are two deck stringers just behind the cockpit. I pegged these into place as seen below. Note: I put some glue on these prior to driving them home. In the image below I left one inserted halfway. After taking the picture I tried to drive it all the way but the glue had swelled it too much. I had to drill out the peg and re-insert a new one!! Note to self:  glue makes things swell very QUICKLY!!

Back deck stringer pegged into place.

Back deck stringers.

Unbound!!!  The frame off the strongback!!
 After installing the rear deck stringers, the next step is adding the foredeck stringers!! This is where there was some finagling of the original DB design. At 6'3" with size 13 shoes, I'm thinking I'm a bit outside of the "typical" Inuit body size!! I had to raise the height of the deck at the footrest. This required some changes to the shape of the foredeck. After some tweaking I came up with a look that I could "live" with!!

The mock-up of the foredeck. 

Well, at least I can fit in there!!

A closer look at the foredeck stringers. Should look fine under the fabric.
Well, that's where the project stands right now. A little more work on the frame, i.e., sanding and some more lashing and then I'm ready for the polyester "skin" .

Looking forward to seeing this on the water. I'm hoping I'm not too heavy for it. If I sink it, I guess Cheryl get's herself a new SOF!!!