I just reviewed my progress so far, and I have worked 37-1/2 hours. Since I’m estimating at least 100 hours, and if I’m on schedule, then I’m not even half way through yet. Fortunately I really enjoy this project, and it’s finally something that I’m not rushing to meet a deadline. Even if I wanted to hit a deadline, Dan wouldn’t let me. He never estimates how long each step will take, but he will often say that the step may only be a few sentences in the book, but it takes longer than you think. So I’m just taking one step at a time, learning as I go, and enjoying the time with my boat in the workshop house by the river.
Day 18: 5/5/12 1.5 hours Now that all of the seams in the hull section have been epoxied, I needed to hot glue the frames in place and remove the wires. I met Dan Saturday morning for the lesson on the next step. First he reviewed the seams – everything looked good except one seam at the stern end was a bit uneven. I noticed that seam out of alignment when I was inserting the epoxy, but I didn’t see it when I did the last adjustments. He said we would even it up somehow later, and that it wasn’t a problem. After the lesson on the hot glue and wire removal, he took off for the day.
The five frames were originally wired in place to get the proper shape for the boat. They need to stay in place even after the wires are removed, but are still only temporary. So to keep them in place temporarily without wires, I used a hot glue gun. I put a bead of hot glue on each panel along the frame and on each side of the frame but was careful not to get the hot glue in the seams. This was a quick and easy step.
When removing wires, I first clipped them with the wire cutters and then straightened them while pulling up off the cut. Then I pulled them out with either my fingers or pliers. If the wires aren’t in the epoxied seam, it’s easy. Removing the wires in heavy epoxy or on the ends was a different story. Dan also suggested using a small piece of scrap plywood to use as leverage with your pliers to prevent the panels from being damaged. I finally got the hang of removing the wires and got into a routine, but I didn’t have much time and didn’t even finish pulling half of them out.
Day 19: 5/6/12 2 hours. I only had a couple of hours to work today, and I spent every minute pulling more wires! I started to get much more aggressive but still had a tough time getting the wires out that were on the ends or in heavy epoxy. Dan said that for the tougher wires, he uses a soldering iron. I saved the tough ones for the iron. I left that day with more scratches on my hand, again, another fight with a cat!
Day 20: 5/8/12 2.25 hours. Dan met me at the house with soldering gun in hand. Basically, you pull the trigger on the soldering gun to activate and touch the tip to the end of a wire. The wire heats up and melts the glue enough to pull through easily. He started on one end with the gun while I worked on the tight spots on the end with the pliers. It’s amazing how much more aggressive I got by this time. Three days and still pulling wires! No mercy any more! The ends are so narrow that I could barely fit my hand in there, and it was tough to get hold of the small wire. My grip isn’t that strong, so once I grabbed the wire, it was tough to cut it. I FINALLY finished up my end and helped Dan remove the wires on his end with the iron.
Once all the wires were out, I needed to put a very thick bead of epoxy mixed with wood flour on the bow and stern ends. I filled one container with the hardener, then realized I forgot to put my gloves on. So far I have kept two containers in use, one for mixing clear epoxy and one for mixing with wood flour. After each day, the epoxy hardens in the container, and you can reuse it. Anyway, I put my gloves on, found the stir stick in my apron, picked up the container again, and filled it with the resin. After the 30-second stir, Dan grabbed the bag of wood flour. He was happy to see that I FINALLY remembered to bring a plastic spoon to use for scooping out the wood flour. Up to this time, we were using the wood stir stick (looks like a tonge depressor) to measure out the flour. It was tough to measure the correct amount of flour needed using the stick though, and tough to keep a consistent thickness for each batch. I too was happy to have the spoon, and I was paying attention to how much to use for the next batch. It only took two spoonsfuls, and the mixture was very thick. I was actually a bit puzzled because I know we used three larger scoops with the stick for the seam epoxy which was much thinner. Oh well, I just packed the mixture in the syringe and Dan showed me how to lay it on the ends. The idea is to really build up the epoxy on the ends and then round it out later.
Dan left, and I only had about 10 minutes to finish up . . . I thought. I packed another syringe and finished the batch. When I went to mix the next batch I noticed that, for some reason, I was using the container that I normally use for the clear epoxy. When I refilled it with the hardener and the resin this time, my batch was much larger. When I added in the wood flour with the spoon, it took much more than two spoonfuls. Then I looked over at my epoxy station and saw the first container sitting there filled with one portion of hardener. Nice. Evidently when I made the first batch I picked up container #1 and filled it with hardener. Then I set it down, put on my gloves, and filled container #2 with resin and wood flour. Wonderful. Fortunately I realized it before I went home for the night. I wiped off the first batch of resin/flour that would never harden and started over. I think I made the second batch a little to thick. Now that it actually had hardener in it, it was really tough to squeeze through the syringe. In fact, several times I would put my foot up on the window ledge and put my whole body weight behind that little tiny syringe. Dan warned me to work quickly so that the mixture wouldn’t harden in the syringe and to wash it out with acetone in between each refill. The entire time I kept wondering if I mixed the batch up correctly and if it was too thick. The thick seam of epoxy I applied looked like it was just sitting on top of the seam, and not actually bonding to it. I thought for sure the next day I would come in and it would just chip right off. I wasn’t about to do it over again though, so I left for the evening and crossed my fingers!
Day 21: 5/9/12 10 minutes. I thought for sure I’d have to repeat the step from last night, but to my surprise, the epoxy was bonded to the boat. Of course Dan hasn’t seen it yet, but it looked OK to me. Today all I had to do was flip the boat over, mix two batches of epoxy without wood flour, and drip down the inside ends of the boat. I carefully mixed each batch, filled the syringe and coated the inside seams on the end. I was actually done in 10 minutes!
May and June will be crazy months for me, so we’ll see how much boat building I can fit in over the next few weeks. I’ll have to take the weekend off, so I’ll be back in action next Tuesday.