Monday, January 30, 2012

On the ropes

Another 35 degree Celsius day kept me out of the workshop this weekend so I turned to a repair job to entertain myself.  I had made a pair of rope fenders about three years ago for Begonia.  I can recall at the time struggling getting a reasonable tension on the strands because the rope was stiff and new.  Three years later the strands have started to unravel.

The first step was to tape up the loose ends so that the strands could be worked without unraveling further.  Then each strand in the remaining hitching was tightened up to get as much extra length as possible.  The hitching was evened out and extended to cover the bound rope core.  This time round the rope was nice and soft so it was fairly easy on the hands.  

With the hitching done the remaining strand length was backspliced and the whole fender tightened up again. Another advantage I have gained in the last three years is my Swedish fid which made the job much easier.  To finish off the backsplice I have fed a loop of twine under the hitching to pull through the last of the loose ends.

The repaired fenders are better than new.  The softer rope and new fid meant I was able to get a much tighter and neater finish.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Making a Greenland Paddle

A Greenland style paddle struck me as a good idea because they seem much more robust and useful in the canoe.  My experience in a canoe or kayak tells me you use your paddle pushing yourself off obstacles as much as for propulsion so a solid, robust paddle is essential.  

I was intrigued by some of the online references showing dimensions based on anthropometric measurements and designed this paddle based on the floor to extended fingertip dimension for overall length and shoulder width for loom length.  The paddle width is about 80mm and should be comfortable to use as a handle.  The loom diameter about 30mm.

The paddle started as a laminated core of 10mm Jarrah sandwiched between to pieces of 10mm Hoop Pine.   Once cured additional scraps of old Oregon ceiling battens and my first application of my Sydney Cedar to build up the paddle width.

With the blank completed I have started shaping the paddle by cutting saw kerfs along the length to identify the rough finished shape.

The bulk of the material was removed with the table saw, draw knife and sanding disk.  Finish sanded by hand and a coat of epoxy to protect.

Look forward to writing the performance review ... eventually.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Tricky decks

With the cockpit painted and the deck frame finished it was time to cut into my sheet of 3mm Gaboon ply.  I lay out my sheet on the ground with the canoe upside down on top of the sheet and traced two half outlines.

I have no idea how I am going glue this down and make the buoyancy tanks water tight but at this stage I'm thinking I will lay a bed of epoxy along the gunnal and use a length rope wound around the canoe to clamp the deck down whilst curing.  The "client" has asked for an elliptical opening in the deck so I have cut a couple of templates to visualise how it might look and ponder how I might make the combing.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Ever wondered how wooden bicycle rims are made?

Ever wondered how wooden bicycle wheels are made? I know I have.  Cerchio Ghisallo shows us how.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Canoe update

Adding epoxy fillets to all the plank laps has been a slow process without any interesting photo opportunities.  With that done though I was able to start on the deck structure and bulkheads so I thought a blog post was in order.  I have used a scrap of cardboard to determine the bulkhead profile and transfer the shape to the 4mm plywood.

I have lined up the cardboard and roughly marked the profile with a pen.  Over several iterations I have cut the cardboard down until it is a fairly close representation of the bulkhead profile.

Using the inner keel and gunn'al as reference points I have transferred the shape to my ply and cut the profile a quarter inch oversize.  Using the same procedure as making the cardboard template I have slowly whittled the plywood to a close fit read to epoxy in place.

Holes for the inspection hatches were cut before final glue up.  It is remarkable how much rigidity the bulkheads add to the whole structure.

I'm now ready to start painting the inside of the canoe.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Barrilliar Island and Fairhaven

Finally, a day with a good wind and not too hot.  The forecast for 20 degrees and 10 to 15 knots was spot on.  We sailed out of Warneet over to Barrillier Island in an hour and a half and then down to Fairhaven.  We hove to off Fairhaven for lunch and returned home with a tail wind against the tide arriving back in Warneet right on the low tide.  

Six hours on the water with 3 hours at the helm brings the total to 120 hours.  

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Riveted Infill Plane

Pinned plate planes are relatively easy to make. My little rebate palm plane could be made in a couple of days if you kept at it full time. I had made a rough and ready version many years ago and it has served me well. The idea with the new version was simply to remake the same plane so that it was comfortable to use for extended periods.
The finished plane

I have some history with plane making over the years. I made my first dovetailed infill plane in about 1995 but I find it too heavy to use. I should have made a more useful size. I have also made a couple of small pinned plate planes which I use all the time. It all started with a book written by Jim Kingshott called "Making and Modifying Woodworking Tools" which was given to me as a present.

Some of my previous plane making attempts

The side plates were rough cut from 3mm plate steel with my bandsaw and and filed to shape. The sole, nose and clamp fulcrum were cut from flat bar. The sole edge and sides were lapped to form the blade seat with the outside surface left rough. The assembly was clamped together and multiple 2.5mm pin holes drilled through each infill component.

I've used coat hanger wire which is 2.5mm and very soft so it's easy to peen. After the metal components were riveted I have cut jarrah infill and squirrel tail. The blade is the same modified 25mm paring chisel I used in the original rebate plane.

Now for the hard graft. After filing the plane body to shape the plane sides and sole are lapped flat and square. I have a 500mm square plate and use wet and dry emery paper with an oil lubricant. The block of wood is used to hold the paper down and to have a square edge to run the plane along. This where I discovered a slight bend in the plane body so it took a while. I can only assume that when I lapped the steel infill blocks they were not parallel. I was concerned that by lapping them flat an removing the bend I was also removing the rivet head. So far they have held together.

The lever cap was cut from a 6mm flat bar, filed to shape and an M6 hole tapped. The thumbscrew was turned from brass bar and knurled. I'm hoping to engrave the top of the thumbscrew at a later date.

Here are a couple of great reference pages

Sweden 2010

Sweden, Oslo & Munich, June 2010
Every day is a big adventure for a tinkerer (How can I fix that tool? What can I make with that scrap of wood? Can I improve my home made table saw so that I can’t stick my fingers in the blade by accident? etc. etc.) When you have reason to travel half way round the world to Sweden, however, one’s horizons become broader. The itinerary was Munich for one week, Olso for two days and three weeks in Sweden. (Thailand stop over had been cancelled due to the Bangkok crisis. Horizons can become too broad).

Munich, Germany
Munich was a very pretty, compact city. We arrived at the very beginning of the sunny weather so the beer gardens were just setting up for the summer. There was quite a lot to see within walking distance of the main train station. The Deutches Museum transport collection was the big drawcard for me in Munich. I managed to entertain myself for an afternoon wandering around the backstreet tool shops and bought a nice little chip carving knife and a nice Solingen pocket knife.

Oslo, Norway
Oslo was a special detour in the main itinerary so that we could visit the Viking ships museum. The fact that we arrived on the night of the Eurovision song contest final, Oslo’s night of nights made it extra special. I don’t know who won, but the English fans dressed in union jacks looked less gay and happy on the Sunday morning than they did on Saturday night.

Viking ships were impressive but I was blown away by the small boats. Construction details were amazing, especially considering they were built by hand. Beaded plank edges, no inwhale, light scantlings all made for a fine delicate craft. Not what I expected from the Vikings.

Oslo harbour was a real treat for a wooden boat fans. I photographed a Colin Archer 45 footer, Stavanger, with a pair of oars! I would love some one to tell me what they were for!

We visited the Fram museum and stopped for lunch on the foreshore. Olso’s wooden boat fans were out on the water which made for an ideal lunch break wooden boat spotting.

Flen, Sweden
Flen was the main destination to visit family who lived out of town in a red painted cottage by a lake. We visited the local “Loppis” or flea market Saturday morning where I picked up some Eka pocket knives made in Eskilstuna about 45kms away and some nautical charts of the Baltic sea. From then I on I was hooked on “Loppis”. The Swedes don’t know the value of their own trash in Australia (or in my workshop at least). Also managed to pick up some carving knives in the local department store.

We were lucky enough to have accommodation on Stockholm for a week and visited the Vasa Museum, Stockholm’s Maritime museum and toured the harbour (Luck had nothing to do with it. I am encouraging my better half to launch her own website called “licensed2plan”).

The Vasa is hard to describe and even harder to photograph. The exhibition space was extremely dark and the bulk of the interesting detail was out of flash range. The size of the thing is has to be seen to be believed but the attached photo shows a 1/10th scale model next to some onlookers with the real thing in the background.

The amount of work and the workmanship is incredible. It must have been heartbreaking to put so much effort into the build and see it sink on its maiden voyage. The irony is that the King who dictated the “design” details was in Russia at the time of the launch and didn’t witness the disaster. Along with the ship there was a fantastic collection of period and reproduction tools and utensils used by the sailors and builders.

The final week of our stay was in Norrtelje. We visited the Pythagoras museum which was once a working factory where they designed and made boat engines amongst other things. Reminded me of some places I have worked over the years. We drove up the coast towards Grisslehamn where there were a number of scenic coastal towns and visited a maritime museum where and annual postal boat race the "Postrodden". The postal run delivered mail from the mainland out towards the Aland islands in unpowered open boats. We were told that if there is no wind it takes about four hours to row the postal route, one way!

Typical Swedish working sailboat (Some examples of typical Swedish workboats)

Model of Typical Swedish working sailboat

What a trip! The weather was kind the people were great and the food was smoked and salted. Does it get any better? More than anything the highlight of the trip was coming home with a load of ideas for future projects. Build double ended open boat with a schooner rig,

Building Beth

Beth is a 15.5ft sailing boat designed by Iain Oughtred. She was launched in 2007 after a two year build. Iain Oughtred's original "Tammie Norrie" design was a 13.5ft boat with the option of a lug yawl or sloop rig. I have scaled the boat up 10% and have fitted a gaff yawl rig. Planks were cut from 6mm gaboon marine ply. framing and spars were made from laminated hoop pine.

You can buy the plans here -

I also found this forum a great help during the build -

After a couple of models I figured I knew all I needed to know about boat building and sailing.  Building started in 2005, the digital dark age at my place. Station profiles were transfered to chipboard, cut, aligned and mounted to a strong back. The station moulds were held rigid with the addition of the keelson, stem and transom. The stem was laminated from 3mm strips of hoop pine layered together with epoxy and bent around a chipboard form to cure.

Rough cut plank stock cut from scarphed 6mm marine ply was laid over the mould. Planks were marked out using battens laid across the plank positions on the station moulds to determine shape. Mating surfaces for each plank were then planed and sanded to the correct angle and the planks were epoxied in place. Slowly the hull shape takes form and the shell develops strength. The hull is the turned over and fitted out. Centreboard, thwarts, knees, inwhale, cleats, etc

After a lick of paint, Beth was launched March 2007 with a pagan ceremony invoking Neptune and tying branches to the bow...but that's another story that Partner of Tinkerer will have to tell.

After launch and some preliminary trials, one of the first jobs was to overturn the boat and test the buoyancy. I wanted to know if the boat would float when swamped and that it was physically possible to climb over the transom and into the boat. The news was good, but I learned how hard it was to right the boat climb in and bail. It was tough work and the conditions were ideal so I'm not looking forward to the day I need to do it for real.

Initial salt water trials at Cowes (Phillip Island, Victoria). This where I learnt that I needed significant balast. Without 80kg of sandbags the boat is very difficult to manage.

How I decided what boat to build

After building and sailing a couple of models with varying degrees of success it was time build the real thing. I definitely wanted a sailing boat. I wasn’t interested in water based transport, generally. Row boats, paddle boats, power boats were of no interest. I wanted a sail boat that I could take a couple of people out on joy rides. If I took people out I had to be able to get them back without wind, so I figured I need a design no bigger than 16ft and it had to be a small 16footer that I could row single handed. It had to be a safe design that a novice sailor could handle. I have no ambition to get wet when I go sailing. That ruled out all the racing classes. No international class sailing canoes for me!

One of the motivating factors for me to build a boat was the technical challenge. I am comfortable using tools and reading plans, in fact I love it. I spent a lot of time reading books like John Gardner’s “Building Classic Small Craft”but decided there was too much risk in building an old design. Design details, like the size of the rig, were missing and new glued lapstrake methods were light and many old workboats were designed to carry a big load. I had no way to predict what would happen if I built a peapod 30% of its intended weight. I had decided I needed a mizzen sail to help keep me safe whilst I stuffed around with the rig in a storm.

The design selection was being whittled down. I wrote to a few of the designers asking technical questions. Can I fit a mizzen on your design? Can I stretch your design to 16 foot? How much buoyancy do I need to keep your design afloat? I have to say answers were generally predictable like “no you can’t change my design” which is not very satisfying for a tinkerer.

In the end I opted for the Iain Oughtred designed Tammie Norrie. The design was for a 13 ½ foot open boat with a yawl rigged lugsail. At the time I wasn’t keen on the lugsail but I knew Iain had another, bigger, design with a gaff rigged yawl. I also knew that Iain was working on a version of the Tammie Norrie design that had been scaled up 10%. I decided to buy the Tammie Norrie plans scale them up 10% and modify the mainsail to a gaff. There are no details in the plans for any buoyancy so that, along with the sail and 10% scaling gave me plenty of technical challenges to get my teeth into.

How I got hooked on sailing

I have a friend, whom I used to work with, who is a mad keen sailor. When I moved to a new job I used to drop in on to say hello occasionally. I knew I would always find him on a local lake racing his sailing models on a Saturday morning. I was constantly amazed that he would regularly win races with home made boats carved out of old logs with plastic sheeting for sails, even though he would be competing against commercially produced racing boats. I could do better than that I thought! What I have learned in the subsequent 15 years is that I have a lot to learn about sailing.

Beth under sail. Port Albert 2010.

After a number of experimental models I built Bertha. Bertha was a 5ft long 8ft high gaff rigged boat modelled of lines published in Wooden Boat magazine . The lines were a modern interpretation of a Fife yacht. The model was stripped planked with internal fibreglass reinforcement. She is a big heavy boat but spectacular on the water.