Friday, August 28, 2009

Reinforcement and Fairing

Application of the reinforcement layers was pretty straightforward. I used some more kevlar on the stern to provide extra strength for the rudder mounts. I once again used the "plastic sheet" technique to give me a smooth finish. After wetting out the kevlar, I simply wrapped a sheet of plastic over the cloth and smoothed it out:

Then, last night, I knocked down the rough edges and high spots with a plane, then applied some fairing compound (epoxy + silica + microballons) to give everything a smooth uniform finish. I did a test fit of my rudder gudgeons and found that I needed some small spacers between them and the stern. They are epoxied on and reinforced with a couple strips of fiberglass. They can just barely be seen in the following picture:

Here is an overall view of the stern:

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


My plans for the XCR include expedition style trips to a variety of locations that include plenty of rough landing areas: rocks, oyster beds, sand, logs, etc... Therefore, I am planning to heavily armor the front few feet of the boat. It may be excessive, but I am not that concerned about a few extra pounds. What I am planning is:
  • 4" strip down the full length of the keel, extending all the way up the stem
  • 8ish" strip from halfway up the stem, extending about 2 ft along the keel
  • 12ish" strip from the bottom of the stem, extending about 4 ft along the keel
This, along with the epoxy / graphite fill coat should make the front end of the XCR pretty much bombproof. Here is a picture of the cloth laid up dry:

More fiberglass...

I got the second layer of exterior fiberglass applied without incident last night. However, I had two other experiences that are more interesting than repeating what I did on Monday night. The first was that I went out to the garage to get started, went to put on some gloves and found that I had only one left (how did I go through that box so quickly?!?!?!) Oh well, so it was off to the store. It turned out that they were out of the kind I bought before (latex stretch) so I wandered over to the "medical supply" section of Meijer and found a box of blue nitrile gloves. Wow, I am definitly converted. I was having a lot of problems with the latex gloves tearing and getting holes in them, maybe I just got a box of really flimsy ones... Anyway, the nitrile gloves work great.

The other interesting thing was that I met another neighbor. I always work in the evening, with my garage door open, so it is very easy to see what is going on inside. This is actually the second time a neighbor I have never met before stops in my driveway and walks in to see what is going on. We chatted for a while (not too long, I was still working epoxy into the fiberglass) and it turns out he built a cedar strip kayak a few year ago. I'm pretty sure I want to build one of them myself, but I really can't settle on a design... I digress... Anyway, if you want to meet your neighbors, build a boat in your garage, they will flock to you!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Fiberglass and a trailer

I got a lot accomplished yesterday. First, I got a trailer to haul the XCR around on:

Due to the length of the XCR, I will be adding a long tongue extension which I am picking up locally. Because the trailer is bolted together, it is really easy to add the extension. I also plan on making some custom "bunks" for the boat to sit on. At this point I am planning on keeping it upright, so I will also need some sort of cover for hauling it long distances. I'm thinking a simple plywood cut-out shaped to fit around the cockpit... Any other brilliant ideas?

After the kids were in bed, I put on the first layer of bottom fiberglass. Because I got 60" wide fabric, it reached from gunwale to gunwale, so I could do it all in one big application. I ended up wetting out the cloth in "quarters." I started in the middle of one side, and worked my way to the front. Then, I completed that side working from the starting point to the back. Once that whole side was complete, I switched to the other side and did the same thing. This way, I didn't end up with any wrinkles in the cloth that needed to be pulled or cut out. I was able to work quickly and smoothly and I never had any batches of epoxy "get away" from me. It helps that it has cooled down to the high 60s / low 70s around here. Hopefully I get the same weather treatment for the second layer tonight!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Upside down!

The boat is now flipped upside down. Hopefully this is the only time it ever ends up that way! :) The first step is the plane down the chines a bit, then to fill any gaps and / or stitch holes. Then, once everything is nice and smooth, fiberglass!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Thwarted again!

...well, maybe not, but it is a good post title... Anyway, the thwart tubes are now installed, but lets back up a bit. After completing the cockpit rim, I planed and sanded the deck and deck-to-hull joint in preparation for fiberglassing the deck. Once that was smoothed to my liking, I rolled out my fiberglass and cut it to fit. I ended up with three sections; one that covered the forward and starboard decks, one that covered the port deck, and one that covered the rear deck. Since I was cutting these pieces out of "extra" fiberglass, it was just easier to do it this way. Here are a couple pics showing the glass laid out:

Wetting this out was pretty straightforward. I started using a foam roller and plastic spackel knife, but ended up not using the roller that much; it was easy to spread the epoxy and work it into the cloth with the knife.

Then, last night, I cut some big holes in the boat! Fortunately, they are above the waterline... The holes are for the twart tubes which provide structural support to the decks and gunwales, as well as holding the akas for the sailing rig. I epoxied the tubes in place and applied some fillets to the inside and outside joints. I also added some small strips of fiberglass tape around the internal joint to make sure everything is nice and strong. Here are some pics:

And finally... I got the rear seat supports dry fitted. This was definately a challenge since everthing is curves and angles. I started by cutting out a scrap of chipboard to the size of my seat. I then laid it in place, took some measurements, and cut out my first attempt at a seat support. After plenty of re-cutting and planing, planing, and more planing, I got everything to fit nice. The funny thing about the pictures is that the seat supports look crooked and out of square, but in fact, they are the only square, plumb, and level thing on the boat!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Mostly finished cockpit rim

Well, the cockpit rim is almost completely done. Since the thwart tubes are covered in this cool looking carbon / kevlar sleeve, I wanted to see if I could find something similar to use as the outer fabric reinforcement on the cockpit rim. After some searching, I found that U.S. Composites caries 4" wide carbon / kevlar tape (all the way on the bottom). So I ordered some, and it is now epoxied on. It happened that it was really hot and humid the day I did this, so I needed to work really quickly. I managed to get everything laid up without losing any batches of epoxy, so I was happy about that. The nice part about the heat was that a few hours later, the first coat was pretty much hard, so I did my fill coat right away. After letting things cure for a day, I am really happy with how it looks. I cleaned up some of the edges with a chisel (the ONLY way to cut epoxied kevlar) and ran a fine grit sanding block over everything. Once the boat is painted, I will add a coat or two of varnish, and it will really glow.

Friday, August 14, 2009

More cockpit progress

I have a couple days of progress to report... I did get the riser filleted and taped, that went really well. I once again used a disposable plastic frosting piping bag to apply the fillet, and I am loving how easy they make it. Unfortunately, I have only one left... need another trip to Meijer! Next, I cut out the coaming flange (flat part). I used my last remaining big piece of plywood, and made the flange out of only two pieces. Tonight, I glued the flange on. I don't have enough long bar clamps, so I resorted to painters tape to hold it down. In a few places, it didn't want to lay flat, so I just layed a couple blocks of wood across the boat to keep everything nice and flat. I also applied a coat of fairing putty (epoxy + microspheres) to the deck and deck joint since I am planning to fiberglass the topsides soon.

And last but not least... I epoxied the cool kevlar / carbon sleeve to the outside of the fiberglass thwarts. The thwarts are hollow fiberglass tubes that will eventually hold the akas when the sailing rig is added. Besides looking cool, the kevlar / carbon sleeve should make them a lot stronger and stiffer.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Cockpit coaming riser

Over the past couple of days I have gotten the cockpit coaming riser installed. I am making it out of two layers of 6mm plywood instead if the designed 4mm. My reason is so that I have a thick enough rim to install some screw-in snap studs, so I need the rim to be at least 3/8" thick. The snap studs are for the cockpit skirt I am planning on making. One of the Watertribe rules for semi-open boats is substantial decking (which the XCR already has) and a full skirt based on the one described in chapter 7 of Cliff Jacobson's book "Expedition Canoeing." Anyway, both sides of the riser are installed now, tomorrow it will be filleted and taped.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Cockpit coaming begun...

Last night I went to work on the coaming riser clamp with a hand plane. The coaming riser should be vertical, so there needs to be a rolling bevel cut into the riser clamp. Working with the plane is always fun, I love making nice wood spirals. Especially cedar ones, since they smell so good :)

After a while however, I decided to switch over to the belt sander with a 50 grit belt which made very quick work of finishing things off. Then the boat went back inside (it was outside so I didn't cover the garage in sanding dust) where I started on the coaming riser itself. I cut some 6" wide "strips" of 1/4" plywood and clamped them with the bottom edge of the plywood just below the bottom edge of the riser clamp. Since the riser is intended to be 2 1/2" tall, I used a pencil and a block of wood to scribe a line exactly 2 1/2" above the deck all around. Tonight I plan to start cutting and gluing.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Some outdoor pictures

Forward Quarter:

Rear Quarter:

Interior (port cockpit riser clamp not yet installed):

Monday, August 3, 2009

Progress on the Deck

Over the past couple of days, I have made some progress on the deck. First, I got the deck panels tacked all around. The next day, after everything had hardened, I turned the boat on its side again to make working under the deck a little easier. In one marathon evening, I put in a major structural fillet between the sheer clamp and deck, I filleted and taped the underside of the deck / deck triangle joint, and epoxied on the cockpit riser clamp. Tonight, I get to do the same thing on the other side. Here is a pic: