Yes, I’m still working on the boat! I know it’s been awhile since you’ve heard from me. The last step I reported on was fiberglassing the hull, and I shared a video of that process. After that, I went on vacation! When I returned, Gary Murphy, the other kayak builder, had made a lot of progress on his boat, the Borealis XL. He was catching up!!! Dan also started to work on his boat. He is building the new Murrelet kayak from Pygmy. So the old lockmaster’s house is now a flurry of boat building activity! Now the race is on, and Gary is threatening to complete his boat before me. I’ve been working just about every night on the boat, but I still have quite a few nights left. So far I already have 94 hours in this project! I’m sure those of you who are experienced woodworkers or who have worked with epoxy before would be much faster.
Day 37: 7/10/12 1.25 hours
Now that the hull is fiberglassed, it’s finally time to work on the deck. First I had to lay two of the deck panels out on a table and butt join them together, along with a precut plate to add extra support. This is similar to how I initially lengthened the panels. After the joining and covering with epoxy, I used the wax paper, mylar and bricks to keep it in place while it set.
While that was setting up, I unscrewed the spacers on top of the hull frames. (These were the extra boards that enabled the boat to lay flat on the horses when flipped over.) And, using my new lightweight Festool drill – it was a snap!
Also, now that I was working with the hull flipped over, I changed out my saw horses. Dan had a set of horses that he used when he built the boat for Woodcraft Magazine, and the editor, Jim Harrold, gave me the inserts he made for the top of the horses that cradled the boat and held it steady.
Day 38: 7/11/12 3 hours
Today I taped plastic from cut-up kitchen garbage bags over the top of the frames and at the ends of the boat. The plastic prevents the deck from sticking to the hull from any dripped epoxy.
Next I placed two of the bow inner deck panels on the hull and wired them together at the bow and in the front of the cockpit. Once those two wires held the panels in place, I wired the remaining holes with the wires pointing up for easier removal later. Once the first two panels were done, I set the deck sheer panels up. I still had to drill holes in these panels that matched the holes in the first two. I used the drill guide to keep the holes 6″ apart and 1/4″ down from the seam. Then I proceeded to wire together.
Day 39: 7/14/12 3.5 hours
The last piece to wire together on the deck was the recess plate behind the cockpit. The half moon-shaped plate sits on an angle, and I honestly did not think it would fit. Dan said once I beveled the upper edge as instructed, it would fit. I seriously doubted it, but continued to bevel the edge. I also had to scrape any excess epoxy off of the lip of the bow deck panels so that the plate would fit nicely. I started to drill the holes and wire it together, and once the plate was flexed, the angle worked out and it fit in place perfectly. I was really surprised.
Now it was time to precisely position the wired deck panels so that when they are epoxied together they will hold the correct shape. All alignment for this kayak starts with the center butt seams. Once the deck and hull butt seams were aligned, I drilled a few extra holes, wired and tightened to make sure that position would hold. Next Dan and I taped the deck to the hull. Again, the purpose is to keep the correct shape while gluing the deck panels together. Once they are glued, the deck must be removed. We used the type of fiberglass tape you can purchase at a hardware store – it’s adhesive tape reinforced with fiberglass strings, often used as packing tape. We used a utility knife to adjust the panels when minor adjustments were necessary.
Day 40: 7/15/12 3.75 hours
Before I lined any of the deck seams with epoxy, I wanted to do everything I could to prevent the drips that I created on the hull. Last time I taped the hull using blue painters tape, Dan suggested I tape about an inch below the seam. Well, if you remember my pictures of the hull, I had epoxy everywhere, and it took me forever to scrape it all off. I was determined that wasn’t going to happen again. I strung the tape next to the seam. On his way out, Dan said, “You put the tape too close to the seam. Your boat will look great with all of that blue on it.” Hmmm…I couldn’t figure out how that could be bad. I was sure to go over the top edge of the tape and make sure it was secured to the wooden panel so that the epoxy wouldn’t get under the tape.
Day 41: 7/16/12 2.5 hours
I was eager to get back to the lockmaster’s house to remove that tape while the epoxy was still green. When the epoxy is completely hardened, it’s much tougher to remove tape and wires. It took me a while, but I made good progress with the tape. Overall I was happy that I put the tape closer to the seams this time. Once I removed the blue tape, the fiberglass tape and the wires, I filled in the missing spots from where the fiberglass tape held the panels together. Note that I only removed the fiberglass tape on the deck, and left it on the hull. I will use it again later to tape the deck back on.
You can see the progress of the other two boats. Gary (boat on the right) has just fiberglassed the outside of the hull, and Dan has already joined his panels together on the layout table.
Day 42: 7/17/12 2.75 hours
Now that the panels were epoxied on the top of the deck, it was time to work on the underside of the deck. I knew I’d need an extra hand tonight, so I recruited my husband Mark to help! We moved the hull to the floor and flipped the deck over on the sawhorses. I first mixed up epoxy with wood flour to a very thick consistency. I used that to build ramps on the deck reinforcement plate and on the precut butt plate behind the cockpit. This is done to eliminate the potential for air pockets when glassing the seams with tape.
Once the ramps were built, I put two layers of 3 1/2″ fiberglass tape over each of the seams where the reinforcement plates meet. Next I painted a 2″-wide strip of epoxy down each seam, layed one layer of glass tape the entire length of the boat, and wet down the tape with epoxy. This is the fiberglass tape that came with the kit – not the adhesive we used to strap down the deck to the hull.
We had to wait two hours for the epoxy to get tacky; then we flipped the deck back onto the hull so it would set up in the correct shape. This is where I really needed Mark. When we lined the boat back up, there were a few spots that didn’t align well. I needed his muscle to move the deck in the correct shape and tape it down with the adhesive fiberglass tape. I thought we’d only be in there a few minutes, so I didn’t open the windows. It was late, the house was a steamroom, and we were getting cranky because the fit was off. After I opened a few windows, Mark wrapped some tape around the deck to narrow it down to fit on the hull. Phew - he made it work and we were out of there!
Next step is back to the inside of the hull! I’ll get the next blog out soon! Stay tuned!