It’s been a while since my last post, or for that matter, since I’ve had anything to write a post about. Boat building took a hiatus; for some reason during the holidays my very crowded boatshop, er, garage, becomes even more crowded. Perhaps that’s as it should be, the holidays are really meant to spend time with family and friends, and I enjoyed the time spent – even the airports weren’t too bad (I don’t mind flying too much, but folks who know me will tell you I don’t like airports). Christmas was grand, and the wife and I quietly rang in the New Year. But the holidays are over, all the Christmas decorations are back in the attic where they belong (until next November), and it’s time to get back to work.
One step forward…
The next item was to make and install the bilge rubbing strips. These are short pieces located roughly mid-ships that are more or less parallel to, and on either side, of the keel. As their name suggests, they serve as a rubbing surface when the boat is beached. Better for rocks and sand to rub on the keel and the rubbing strips than the planking. Wee Lass did not have rubbing strips, but the plans on Tammie Norrie call for them. They could be omitted, I suppose, but I thought it was worth the effort to install them.
Conventional wisdom would dictate that these rubbing strips be made from the hardest wood you have available. If you go that route, let me know how it works. Like anything else on the boat, the rubbing strips do not follow a straight line. The strips sit on the edge of the third strake which is not exactly parallel to the keel, but has a slight curve. This strake also has a little bit of rocker fore and aft. In summary, the rubbing strip has to follow a three-dimensional curve. It’s not much, but it’s there, and the strips have to be sprung into position. For that reason, I chose fir for the rubbing strips; it has just enough give to allow me to screw the strips into position while the glue dries. A harder wood would have had to have been steam-bent, and I’m not up for that. Fir is not the best wood to choose for resistance to abrasion, but later on I’ll cover both the keel and the bilge strips with some half-oval bronze.
The plans show the rubbing strips to be 7/8″ square, and located between Stations 3 and 5. The lumber I purchased from the Purveyor of Very Expensive Lumber was milled to 3/4″, and I didn’t see any benefit to laminating a piece to get 7/8″, so I reduced the dimension from 7/8″ square to 3/4″ square. A sandpaper-round on the outside edges and a 45-degree bevel on the fore and aft edges was all the shaping that was necessary. The rubbing strips were installed in the dry and held in place with drywall screws to verify that springing the pieces would work. The screws were located where the floors would land (I think) when I turned the boat over and started working on the interior. Prior to epoxying the strips on the hull, the drywall screws were run through a bar of soap so that hopefully the screws could be removed after the epoxy cured (why else would I keep a bar of soap in the garage?).
…and one step back
Before the holidays, I had glued on the lower rubbing strip, but only on the port side of the boat. The lower rubbing strip is made from cherry, but I could not get lumber long enough to make it in a single piece, so it would have two pieces scarfed (spliced) together. Due to the length of the piece, I thought it would be better to try and scarf the two pieces on the boat, rather than scarf on the bench and then have one very long floppy piece of wood to deal with. That seemed a good idea, but it didn’t work; the scarf joint came out not as well as I wanted. The more I looked at the joint during the holidays, the more I resigned myself to removing it and making a new piece. In hindsight, it was a good thing I hadn’t glued on the starboard strip. When the holidays were over, I mounted the two starboard strips securely on the bench, glued the two pieces together, and let cure for a couple of weeks before attaching to the boat. Before gluing, I dry-fit and clamped the strip to see what kind of challenge I had in working that skinny, floppy strip. Working with epoxy is messy and slippery, so it was best to do a dry run first.
Update: 2017 02 12
This weekend I got the lower rubbing strip for the port side shaped, stained, scarfed, and epoxied on the boat. I also had a little bit of fairing to do near the stem, and tried using Pettit’s EZ-Fair. This is a two-part epoxy-based fairing compound that is sandable and comes in a tube, so you can measure out small amounts. I haven’t finished sanding it yet, but so far seems a fine product. I won it as a door prize at the Port Aransas festival, so let me put in a plug for that gathering. This year the Plywooden Boat Festival will be October 20-21. My wife and I had such a good time last year we intend to go back.
Last week my wife and I watched a show on television about the construction of a new mega-sized cruise ship. Construction time was 18 months. I started lofting Tammie Norrie two years ago this weekend, and the boat’s not even turned over yet. It’s a good thing I’ve got a day job.