more stair work

Here I've added the extra thickness along the edges of the stern. All this foam work will get sanded and shaped smooth. the hull edges will also be gouged out and capped with the usual mix of epoxy, cabosil and microbaloon filler then I'll glass this grand stairway and move along to the starboard hull. When ever I feel like I've made some progress, I look up and realize that there's another hull waiting for me.


port side boarding steps

Here's a little progress made towards building the aft steps. I haven't built the lower step and this will involve boxing in a structure that will house the rudder bearing and it will have the ability to pivot up. I chose to create a slightly rounded cascading detail that eliminates any exposed step corners. Also, the next step is to add another layer of foam along the stern hull edges. The fun part will be going at this thing with a bunch of sanders and shaping tools so that it'll have a nice sculpted form


port side stern steps

Here's a start roughing in the boarding stairs for the port side hull. I chose to go with the boarding platform and radius the stairs to eliminate exposed corners on the steps. I also decided to go with the under slung kick up rudder box so after I build the stairs, I'll go after them with a saws all and create the rudder support portion that will kick up.


unde cover

snug and dry inside the shop......

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tucked in for the winter

This is the first posted photograph taken with my new Canon Rebel digital camera. From here on out, hopefully you should see an improvement in the quality of my photographs.

Here's a shot with the morning sun shining through the starboard side hull foam. The make shift scaffolds allow me to risk falling to my "harm" onto the cement floor between the two hulls. Since the cold won't really allow me to lay up the bridge deck floor, I'll most likely build a better temporary walkway between my hulls.

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Stern view

Here's a 3/4 stern view. Lot's of work to do but it's nice to see all this expensive foam, glass and epoxy beginning to look like a ship.

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Putting the pieces in place

Since the Pacific NW chill is beginning to make her way off the cool Pacific and onto the North west coast, It's time to put the pieces together so that I can set up a protected place to work....mainly "Inside" the boat. I decided to position the hulls as they will eventually go, throw a big 6 MIL plastic cover over the shell and create a snug place to work me through the coming winter months. Of course, the curse to avoid is becoming bogged down in details at a time when large brush strokes are still required.

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brother kevlar

My brother flew in from Santa Cruz to help me sheath the port side hull with Kevlar. Unfortunately, "Big Brothers" latest wars have made this stuff fairly expensive. With new leadership, America will most likely be able to reduce the need to turn this stuff into vests. I think it looks better on a boat than a desert tan Hummer.

port side bullet proofing

One advantage of finishing the bow beam is that you can use it as a scaffold when you're sheathing the port side hull with Kevlar. I used three 1 ton harbor freight chain hoists and a few straps to flip my hull upside down. Here, I'm applying resin before laying down my 9 oz. Kevlar along the keel and bow section.


Kevlar option

I chose to go with the optional 9.oz Kevlar sheathing on the hulls. This option begins by laying down 8 inch wide, 9 0z. unidirectional kevlar along the hull center line "keel". This is then covered with 9 oz. twill kevlar fabric sheathing from 48 inches aft of the mast bulkhead, forward to the stem and 8 inches above the waterline. Kevlar is very difficult to wet out so using slow hardener, lots of patience and peel ply over the big sticky mess is about all you can do.

Someday, maybe I'll feel better about myself after I beach this ship onto the only hidden rock on the sandy beach.....


another view...

here's another view of the same. I was able to hand work the entire length of the boat one section at a time. By working about 6 ft. of epoxy, glass and peel ply at a time, it is possible to control the resin glass ratio to a high degree. any excess resin is simply moved along onto the next 6 ft. section. and on and on and on until the carpel tunnel syndrome kicks in. NOTE: high density foam core keel section can be seen lower right hand.

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final outer starboard hull laminate

Although it's not advisable to skip too far out of sequence, I'm guilty of putting off laminating the final outer starboard hull exterior section. Here's the result of my weekends work......8 hours sat; 11 solid hours sunday laying two full runs of 34oz. triaxial glass, resin and peelply. Note 3" overlap section recessed into foam w/ power planer.

Also, In the upper background, you can see my cabin top. In order to preserve shop space, I winched it up into the rafters and tied it off.

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back to the cabin top[

Here's the final run of "B" (24 oz. glass) going down over what will be the interior top of the cabin. This photo shows my 10 step lamination technique.

1) lay foam over stringer mold
2) fair all glue joints
3) skim foam with a slurry of epoxy and micro balloons
4) roll wet coat of epoxy over foam using a 3" paint roller w/ 3/8" fur
5) lay glass over wet coat
6) wait until the glass soaks up from below
7) roll another wet coat over glass
8) lay peel ply over wet glass
9) wet top of peel ply with left over epoxy that is on the roller ( this makes it easier to work)
10) work excess epoxy from center to edges using bondo spreader.


bonding the big burly bow beam

Here's a look down the inside of the bow beam. For bonding, I used System three Gel-Magic which is a thixotropic structural epoxy adhesive. It's a pretty handy epoxy "glue" that mixes 2 to 1 like epoxy but it's formulated to turn itself into a gel that will stay put. I spread a decent amount along both bonding surfaces, placed the top chanel over the bottom, rolled them on their side and fixed the bow beam together with temporary screws. The photo confirms that I have 100% internal squeeze-out along the entire length of the seam.


poping the 2nd bow beam section out of the mold

Including building the mold, fabricating the two 19ft. bow beam sections has taken about 16 hours. Considering that I am paying myself 0 dollars / hr, that comes to a total labor cost of 0 dollars. Shown here, after popping it out of the mold, is the 2nd half of the bow beam section. Next step will be trimming it down to spec, bonding the two halves together and skimming the beam with a mixture of micro spheres and epoxy to smooth down the seams and minor imperfections. To eliminate bonding prep work I placed peel ply into the mold top and bottom. Peel ply is my friend.


Solar post-cure using the green house effect.

After bagging one section of the bow beam, I used pressurized air to blow the bag up and then set it out in the sun. Thanks to the green house effect, on a sunny day, the temperature inside the bag can easily reach upwards of 120F.


It's nice to have enthusiastic workers to keep the project moving along.


Composite bow beam mold

Here's my helper smoothing down the packing tape along the length of the bow beam mold. The two upper cap beams are in-set about the thickness of what I think the sides will be; thus forming an internal flange. After layup and vac bagging is compete, I'll remove the cap strips and lay up what will become the other half of the full 19 ft. length. Then the two channel sections should fit together and be bonded to form a composite beam that is 7 in. tall, 9 1/2in. wide and 19 ft long.


mast base core installed.

The one inch thick end grain core insert is now in place. To the left, you can see the piece that I cut out. Again, I used system three polyurethane glue and made sure that it was flush to both the top and bottom surface of the one inch thick core cell deck foam.

installing a high density core section

The portion of the deck in front of the cabin gets a very high density insert. Here you can see an 8" x 16 in. end grain oak core that will transfer the compressive loads of the mast into the deck, the mast bulkhead and the forward center section bulkhead. Your looking at the under side of the forward portion of the cabin top.


getting closer ...

So I've used my oven to form all the foam to fit the cabin top mold. I've used two inch squares of 3/8th in. plywood and sheet rock screws to hold the planks in place. Once all the pieces are "dry fit" together, I found it easier for me to start from the middle; edge gluing the planks together one by one.

I'm using SYSTEM THREE polyurethane glue ( similar to the one part, moisture cure, Gorilla glue)

another angle

This is actually the inside of the starboard side cabin top......seen here up side down.

My toaster oven

So you're looking into the inside of my heat lamp powered thermoforming oven. It's made from a few two inch thick 4' x 8' sheets of foil backed insulation foam and a total of ten 250 Watt heat lamps......... takes 6 minutes to heat the foam until it can bend easily.......7 minutes and it puffs up into very expensive landfill fodder.....When this oven is on, I have to turn up the radio to drown out the jet engine like sound of my electric meter.

Laying down the cabin top foam

Here's an action shot of the 1 inch foam going down over the cabin top mold.


forward bridgedeck bulkhead

Here's the core for the forward bridgedeck bulkhead. Notice the 3/4 in. white oak compression member. As shown, this bulkhead incorporates a compression member that helps absorb the loads that will be directed downward into the ship structure from the mast base. This evening, I'll vac bag a total of 6 layers of glass on each side to form the part. When It comes time to install this member, additional layers of unidirectional glass, tape and bedding strips will used.

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Vac bagging the cabin center section bulkhead

The Cabin bulkhead consumes the majority of my 8ft. x 12ft. vacuum bagging platform. This cabin bulkhead is 112 inches wide by about 78 inches and is made up of a total of 12 layers of glass ( two layers of 24 oz. tri axial glass on each side of 3/4 inch thick core cell foam) with double strips of uni-directional glass along the edges of what will become the entry door and window openings.

This is one of the largest single flat panels that I have bagged thus far and it required six 1500 ml batches of resin that I mixed and applied one after another. With vacuum bagging, unfortunately, a portion of this expensive resin will end up in a land fill in eastern Oregon because the excess resin is pulled through the perforated membrane that is positioned between the peel ply and the breather medium.

Someday, If I take a 60 ft. wave over the stern, I think I'll be glad that this bulkhead is good and strong. ...... If that happens, it's more likely that I'll wish I was on shore under a palm tree having a beer.


cabin mold between the hulls

I never thought a 60 ft. shop would seem small but I actually had to lift both hulls up a couple of feet so that I would have enough room to build the cabin mold. Scribing all the lines onto the mold forms using carbon paper and the full size templates is an exercise in patience. I was only able to build, scribe and cut two or three molds per day during the week but a full week end allowed me to set them all up on the strong back and lay down the stringers. Note: I had to resort to using double plywood strips in the high curvature areas. A strip of 5/15 in ply topped with a strip of 1/4 inch ply added up to be close enough to the same thickness as the 3/4 in stringers.


taking shape

I couldn't resist the opportunity to flip the port side hull up and position it in relationship to the starboard hull. The cabin bulkheads that protrude from each hull are sticking up like fangs. The edges of these bulkheads are 112 inches apart. Note: the port side bow lacks the solid foam stem section so you'll need to use your imagination and pretend you see a sleek pointed bow piercing through blue green tropical waters.

laying out the cabin form frames

Using the full size cabin templates provided with the plans package, the temporary form frames are being marked onto 3/4 in. chip board. There are about a dozen of these form frames that define the shape of the cabin. Once I cut them all, I'll set them up on the same strong back that was used to create the hulls. When complete, I'll run stringers to create a female mold to which I'll thermoform and fit the one inch corecell structural foam.


on the spot vac bagging

Here's a quick way to bond the additional layers of reinforcement glass where the bow cables will attach. I'm vacuum bagging two layers of unidirectional glass and a square of reinforcement tape over the exterior triaxial glass and the high density insert. It calls out for additional reinforcements on the inside as well


F-44SC Catamaran: a cool fat tire cub


a cool fat tire cub

Ok....so this doesn't have so much to do about the catamaran but Its always nice to think about alternate forms of transportation......The little Hood River airport is home to about 20 piper cubs that are tucked away in the hangars that line the airstrip.. Also, right down the street from the shop, a nice collection of antique aeroplanes and automobiles can be seen at the new Western Aeroplane and Automobile Museum.


laying down the glass

So a Saturday and part of a Sunday finds the port side hull clad in nice smooth glass. Again, peel ply tops the epoxy and glass and makes it possible to work the resin out and helps insure a good bond between the foam and the glass. My process goes like this.....smoothe the foam, skim coat with micro/epoxy mix to fill the foam surface. roll on a good wet coat of epoxy, lay down the glass, roll on another good wet coat of resin, top with peel ply and work the layers down with a bondo spreader from stem to stern.


It's nice to have a little help now and then. 44ft. long lengths of 32oz. tiraxial glass is a bit hard to handle so four extra hands makes the job of laminating go much faster.

laminating the exterior, inboard, port side bow

Here's a photo taken while standing one the inner port side hull looking forward. The hull is laying on its side in three cradles. I wanted to glass the hull sections with continuous lengths of glass from stem to stern and you can see the recess strip created with a power planer that allows the triaxial glass seams to overlap flush.


Checking the fit.

another shot looking back into the port side hull. (The outer hull section is on it's side) the inner port side hull section is hanging from the shop rafters in prep for bonding all the seams with a mix of epoxy, aerosil, micro and a little chopped glass fiber.

bonding the port side hull

Fitting the port side hull halves.


starboard hull hanging in the breeze

Here's a picture of the mold being broken down while the hull is suspended from the shop rafters. Notice the stack of mold forms in the lower right hand corner of the photo.

disassembling the mold

Next step........reaching around and unscrewing all the screws that hold all the stringers onto the mold forms.

lift in process

Here's the hull being lifted off the forms. Notice the plastic strips that were placed along the plank seams to keep excess glue from sticking to the stringers.

lifting the starboard side hull

Finally........time to lift the starboard side hull off the mold. I first used an automotive jack and a length of 2x4 placed under the forward bulkhead and lifted the hull about two inches off the mold. This gave me enough room to slip lifting straps under the hull in three places. Using three chain hoists strapped to the rafters, I then lifted the hull about a foot high to provide access to the screws that hold the stringers to the mold forms.


timing the flow...

sometimes it's possible to get an idea of how things are progressing during an infusion by marking saturation lines and timing the progression. Above, you can see the start, 3 min line and the six min line. ....notice the distance betweent the 3 and the 6 is slightly shorter than the start to 3. That's an indication that the resin is slowing down due to its' increasing viscosity.

another little resin infusion clip

pulling resin into a vacuum bag ( resin infusion) is a lot cleaner than wet layup / bagging but it takes a little practice and a bunch of mistakes to learn how best to set up the flow.

It's easy to dive off the deep end into developing technique and experimentation but it's still hard to beat a simple wet layup that's finished off with a bondo spreader and peel ply. ..........knowing when to use the simplest or quickest methods goes a long way towards insuring you keep the project rolling.

infusion clip

resin infusion with a parrot on your shoulder and a video camera in one hand is a bit of a challenge..........

resin infusion

Here you can see the resin being sucked into the bag. infusion requires a good deal of prep work and if you set things up right, it is a very pleasant technique that minimizes potential contact w/ the resin and it can be very neat to watch......it's just a matter of using 3M77 to tack all your dry glass in place, wrap the part w/ peel ply, decide how to pull your resin, build a periferial vacuum manifold, w/ a resin brake then tap the center so that resin can flow outwards.

In this instance, I din't get a full infusion but it's easy to just tap into the bag where it's dry and repeat the process until you get your part.

Parts do come out really nice when things go right......

infusing the starboard side rinterior rails

here's some prep work involved in doing a resin infusion of the interior side rails....these are 10 inch wide webs that have unidirectional glass on the edges that get's bonded into the interior of the hulls. Infusing with system III Silver tip is difficult at best. I find it to be too viscous but if you use plenty of flow media it's possible.