Thursday, October 27, 2005

Rudder Again

Today a weather record for the warmest day in October for London and the south east was broken. Taking advantage of the situation I applied the last layer of epoxy to the rudder and stock before attempting to join them tomorrow or the next day with a bolt and nut so that they can articulate.

I’ll probably set some copper tubing in both the stock and rudder to act as channels for the bolt so that the rudder and stock can articulate freely. I’ll make a small hole in the aft edge of the rudder, about half way between the top and bottom for attaching a line that will run between the groove on the upper semi-circular curve of the rudder to a cleat on the tiller for lifting or lowering the rudder. Eventually the rudder and stock will be painted in the same colour as the hull.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

The Mast 9

Surprise, surprise ……… I thought I had applied the last coat of epoxy to the upper part of the mast, but when I examined it yesterday afternoon I discovered solidified drip marks on the underneath side that had occurred during the curing stage. I also found that the epoxy had dripped to the lower side of the sheave slot, which meant there was too tight a fit for the sheave; therefore I had to file away the drip marks and recoat the area with what I hope will be the final layer of epoxy. It really looks quite smart and I’m pleased with the result.

This afternoon I fitted the main halyard sheave, but I had to be really careful when drilling the hole for the spindle, making sure it was at right angles to the slot. I did this a little bit at a time while constantly checking it was correct by using a Douglas Protractor.

I made the spindle from a stainless steel bolt that was marginally thinner than the hole through the sheave. First I removed the head and cut a slot suitable for a scredriver; then I sawed off some of the thread to make the spindle extacly the right length to fit within the thickness of the mast top. There had to be sufficient length either side of the sheave to provide adequate bearing surfaces for the expected loading when hauling up the sail and spars, and for when tightening the luff of the sail. Matt's plan neatly supplies all the information but the measurements are tight, leaving little room for error.

Instead of buying a Windex for the masthead I bought a Hawk wind indicator that has a better mounting device than that of the Windex, but I think the standard of materials used in producing the Hawk are of a lesser quality although they are perfectly adequate for the task in hand. When I next find the opportunity I’ll have a go at fixing the indicator to the masthead by means of its bracket. I particularly like the ease with which it can be mounted and demounted within a fraction of a second.

Friday, October 21, 2005

The Mast 8

In deference to my wife, I removed the mast from the hall that links our front door with the kitchen. For the last week it has resided in a recumbent position on chocks of wood with plastic bin bags between it and the carpet.

Today I applied the final coat of epoxy over the fibreglass that encapsulates the upper 300 millimetres of the mast. This was necessary to protect areas that had been opened to the elements during the finishing process when I smoothed them with a file, but instead of taking the mast into the house I built a tarp frame around it in the garage to keep it warm by the use of an electric fan heater. All being well, the epoxy should harden fairly quickly in this temporary greenhouse.

Most of the afternoon was taken up with time set aside for buying the metal parts required for my Paradox micro-sailboat. I bought the rudder bolt, the tiller bolts, the lower gudgeon bolts, the mast sheave, the bolts for retaining the hatch slider and the lag bolt for the yuloh. The latter will have to be modified by welding and grinding. I also bought the panel headed screws for attaching the Perspex windows, the brass piano hinges with screws to match for fixing the tops of the under-floor storage lockers and the small gauge copper pipes for both of the water tanks’ breathing tubes.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

The Mast 7

Building a Paradox micro-sailboat requires many applications of epoxy, because almost everything that needs joining is welded together with it. This medium takes a minimum of 24 hours to cure, and longer if loads are to be placed upon it.

While building the mast there been four occasions when I’ve used epoxy; initially when making the mast itself, and yesterday and today when I encapsulated the upper end of the spar with fibreglass. After I’ve tidied up today’s work I’ll need to apply one or two more coats of epoxy to make sure everything is well sealed against the elements.

Because of the nature of Paradox’s structure, many small items have to be fashioned, then joined together with epoxy, which means short periods of time can be utilized; therefore she’s an ideal boat building project for those who can only spare an hour or so, one or two days a week. On the other hand, the person who is fortunate enough to be able to spend longer periods working on her can break each day into sessions for building different parts of the boat; for example, he could make a bulkhead complete with cleats and floors in the morning, and while the epoxy is setting he could work on the boom or the rudder in the afternoon. By keeping several items on the go, the full-time builder can be fully occupied.

Rain is forecast for tomorrow, but I’ll try tidying the fibreglass I did today by smoothing any irregularities and applying epoxy. In a couple of days, when it has hardened, I’ll fit the sheave; meanwhile I’ll be able to start building the boom, complete with its reefing system comprising a drum and support rods.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

The Mast 6

The mast has taken on its final shape, apart from the area around the base, which will provide some latitude when it comes to matching the mast to the support socket.

Yesterday I made the final touches to the mast with a plane and sandpaper, bringing about a rather pleasing result. I was surprised at the slenderness of the upper part of the spar, but that’s exactly where economy of weight is needed, along with flexibility for dissipating sudden loading in gusty conditions.

Today I enlarged the slot for the sheave in readiness for applying four coats of 6 oz fibreglass. Just before the dew began to fall I managed to epoxy two coats of fibreglass around the top 300 millimetres of the mast, according to Matt’s design.

After trying to buy a sheave 12 millimetres by 30 millimetres without success, I recycled one I found in my bosun’s spares box, but I must obtain a suitable stainless steel spindle for fitting it after the final layers of fibreglass have hardened.

While out shopping for the sheave I looked at a couple of Windex models, but neither seemed suitable for Paradox, because one did not have a suitable mounting base and the other required fitting to a masthead aerial for a VHF set. Incidentally, I’ll use a hand held, mobile VHF.

The forecast is not too brilliant for tomorrow; therefore I am doubtful I’ll be able to apply the remaining fibreglass until suitable conditions prevail.

Monday, October 17, 2005

The Mast 5

I made good progress with the mast today by fitting an all round white masthead light and its flex. I also glued the front piece between the two side pieces. At the time of drafting this, the mast occupies the corridor between the front door and the kitchen, where it can be kept warm while the epoxy hardens.

Jobs yet to be done are the rounding of all four corners along the sides; fixing the conduit for a small section of the flex bypassing the sheave slot; encasing the upper section of the mast in fibreglass, including the sides of the sheave slot; installing the sheave; fitting a burgee halyard with its cleat; attaching a leather band to prevent wear from the boom, and coating the mast with Deks Ole or paint. I may add a Windex at the masthead.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

The Mast 4

Yesterday I did a bit more shaping of the mast, and cut the slot for the main halyard sheave.

I’ll build the all round masthead light into the very top of the mast and I’ll lead the flex through a conduit bypassing the area of the sheave to a point below the upper plug, where it will enter the mast’s hollow section. From there it’ll be tacked in place to prevent it tapping the mast when the boat is moved by wave action. The flex will pass through a watertight hole near the base of the mast; then be attached to a plug for connecting it to the ship’s battery.

When the light has been built into the mast I’ll glue the front section in place before finally giving the mast its designed profile.

Rather than using varnish or paint on the mast, I’ll most probably apply Deks Ole. This will be easier to maintain than varnish, while looking just as attractive.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

The Mast 3

A couple of days ago I fiddled around with the front piece of the mast to make it fit snugly within the side pieces. Since then I’ve not done any more to it, because I had to sort out in my mind how best to install the white all-round masthead light and its flex.

After reading replies to my questions on the subject from subscribers of the Paradox Builders Yahoo! Group, I’ve come to the conclusion I’ll need to make the flex bypass the area near to the main halyard sheave, and a suitable way of doing it is to use an external channel or conduit through which to lead the flex in this delicate area near the top of the mast.

From the lower end of the conduit the flex will enter the hollow interior of the mast and be held in place with something like insulation pipe lagging, to prevent it banging the sides of the mast when the boat is under way and at anchor. Near the bottom of the mast the wire will be joined to an electrical socket inserted in the wall of the mast; thus, a plug attached to a flex from the battery can be plugged into the socket to supply the necessary power.

As the electrical current will be controlled by a light sensor there will be no need to have a switch for turning it on and off.

Today it has been raining; therefore I have preferred not to continue shaping and assembling the mast, because the confines of the garage are too restrictive. Depending on the forthcoming weather, I’ll go ahead with the electrical installation and finish gluing the mast. When the epoxy has hardened I’ll need to do the finishing touches to the woodwork, prior to applying several coats of Deks Ole.

Friday, October 07, 2005

The Mast 2

Instead of inserting the end plugs into the top and bottom of the mast, I decided it would be better to glue them into position when fixing the side panels to the bottom piece.

After spending an hour or so refining the shape of the front and back pieces, I glued the side panels to the back piece. Since the back of the mast was dead straight it was easy to line up the side panels with the back piece.

All this was done in the kitchen, where I placed the pieces on the upright backs of some chairs that had been covered with plastic bin bags. After protecting the floor with newspaper, I applied epoxy to all surfaces to be joined; then I thickened the remaining epoxy, by adding colloidal silica, before over-coating the same surfaces with the thickened epoxy. Clamping the side panels to the bottom piece was a messy operation, because some of the epoxy squelched out as I tightened the clamps, but I made a point of not tightening the clamps too hard to avoid starvation of epoxy between surfaces.

An advantage of doing the job in the kitchen was the warmer temperature, which made it easier to mix and apply the epoxy. Outside it was a little too cold and the air was somewhat damp.

It seems to me that I shall be able to make the frames, cleats and floors in the garage prior assembling them in the kitchen, but before that, I need to finish the mast, with its light and internal flex; then the yard and boom. I’ll not be able to start the boom until a new piece of Douglas fir arrives from Robbins, because the piece they supplied was too thin by 7 millimetres, but all the other planed wood was excellent on all counts.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

The Mast

I’ve been able to find a few hours for working on the Douglas fir mast.

On Wednesday I shaped the front and back pieces, making them almost identical; except I made the front piece a bit longer than the back one, because when I assemble the mast, it will have to take the form of a curve, whereas the former piece will remain straight. I chamfered the inner surfaces to form a tapered top and to keep the mast hollow throughout which will reduce the weight and provide a channel for the wires leading to the masthead light.

Today I shaped the side pieces by using a hand saw and a Stanley block plane.

Tomorrow, if I can find enough epoxy, I may glue the side pieces to the back piece; then when possible I shall fit the front piece to the leading edge by gluing and clamping it between the side pieces. I shall use small, thin bits of plywood glued to the inner sides of the side pieces to prevent the front piece from falling between the sides when being glued and clamped to them.

When the masthead light and its wire have been installed and the epoxy has hardened, I’ll round of the outer corners of the mast by using a plane; this will be the time to make sure the cross-sections are correct according to measurements shown on the plan.

At the top and bottom of the mast I’ll insert plugs which will make it airtight, while also providing strength were needed, especially where the slot for the main halyard sheave will be offset at a 60 degree angle from the fore and aft line

Finally, I’ll sand the whole mast and coat it with Deks Ole, which is a wood preservative that soaks into the grain and is easier to maintain than varnish.