Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Nothing Ever Gets Done Around Here

It seems like the closer I get to finishing the boat, the more I have to do.  Honestly I feel a bit overwhelmed because my list keeps getting longer and I can't seem to completely check anything off it.  The good news is that the weather turned out a bit better than I had expected today and it allowed me to do get a few things done that I didn't expect.

I started the day with the usual rudder fairing which is frankly getting a bit old.  One of my great weaknesses is the inability to properly estimate how long it will take to do epoxy related projects.  I know all the steps, and how long each one will take, but there is a logistics algorithm that somehow involves cure time and fairing time that I can't seem to do the math properly.  As a result, I am consistently surprised at how much time is eaten in the process.  I don't want to count the hours but I have spent on the rudder, but it has taken many. The only saving grace is that it was the last bit of fairing before I put the final 6 ounce cloth on (and then some more fairing).  I do see the light at the end of the tunnel.

After that I headed over to boat shed and since the temperature was in the mid 50's I took a chance on doing some epoxy work.  I glassed in the rudder tube collar using my tube of Thixo epoxy (Jamestown Distributors).  I really like the tube system for small jobs where you need an instant fillet of perfect consistency.  I know there are others on the market that have exactly the same thing, but Jamestown has been really good with shipping.  If I place an order before noon, I almost always have it the next day.   The only downside to using this type of system is that the mixing chambers can't be reused and is kind of wasteful.  

Anyway, glassing the collar in was uneventful and only took a few minutes.   I wanted to knock some more things off my list though, so I vacuumed the 3 aft lockers (and around the rudder tube) and then wiped it all down with acetone.  A friend of mine who lives close by and is restoring a Dickerson 35 gave me some industrial strength epoxy paint that he did his bilges with last year so I broke it out and mixed up a 600 ml batch.  Seriously nasty stuff; a respirator is an absolute must for this stuff, but I expect it will hold up pretty well.  It was a bit thick (I didn't thin it at all), but it still rolled out nicely and covered all the lockers and around the rudder tube.  

I think some of the fumes from this stuff must have gotten to me, because I decided that I would get another layer of biaxial cloth glassed into the forward half of the cockpit.  So I ran back to the house, got my big roll of 1708 biaxial and cut out a 2ish foot by 3ish foot chunk for the cockpit, mixed up 12 ounces of epoxy and got to work.  Of course the fumes from the paint were still really bad so I never took the respirator off.  

Still feeling ambitious (and maybe loopy from the paint), I thought that I might as well mix up a batch of primer and get the sliding hatch painted.  I had done all the prep work last fall and it has been sitting in a corner of the shop waiting for me to give it some love.  The only misstep I ran into was I mixed up 300 ml of primer which was way too much (I forgot it goes a long way), so I put the mixing pot into the freezer to slow the reaction down after I put the first coat on.  After a few hours I thinned out the cold primer and did a second coat.  Probably not the best technique, but I didn't want to waste it and the only part of the hatch that will actually be showing shiny paint are the sides and front and the rest will be covered in KiwiGrip.

Finally, I ended up the day by sanding the fairing compound I had applied earlier and glassed up the outer 6 ounce layer on the rudder (the side that is has no exposed bolt pocket).  This was altogether uneventful as I find myself getting back into the swing of epoxy work and the light cloth is really satisfying to laminate because it wets out so fast, works nicely (as long as you don't have a frayed edge) and lays really flat.  I find that this type of cloth works best if you can have the edges laying out over the piece so you don't have to contend with wetting out an edge.  It's so light that it is easy to trim the next day with a pair of shears while it's still green.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Big Chicken

So I ended up chickening out on making my own 16" bolt.  I ordered 3/8" silicon bronze round bar from online metals and instead of threading it and pounding a head on, I took it to a local machine shop where they did it for me.  They ended up brazing a head on which made it more expensive but they said it would be far stronger than forging it on a die.  Needless to say, I spent way more than I wanted to but it was cheaper than tooling up to do the job myself; nuff said.

I've taken the week off work to get the rudder finished up and with any luck, installed and ready to go.  Unfortunately, the weather isn't exactly cooperating and the temperatures are going to be a bit sketchy for epoxy
work, but today worked out well and I got quite a bit done.

This weekend I only had time to set the last 16" bolt and fill the pocket with 3M 5200 (fast cure this time).  It had hardened up nicely by last night, so I glassed a layer of biaxial cloth over the pocket.  I wish I could bolt and fill the last (upper) bolt pocket that connects the top shaft, but since I have to install the rudder in 2 pieces, it will have to be filled, glassed, and faired once the rudder is installed on the boat.

First thing this morning I started with a layer of QuickFair on rudder to smooth things out for the final layer of 6oz cloth.  While letting that set, I moved onto the rudder tube.  Ever since I first started building the new extended rudder tube (here), I wasn't quite sure how I would create a good solid connection between the old rudder tube which has a 2.5" outer diameter and the new tube which has a 3" outer diameter.  I knew I would be wrapping the whole concoction with several layers of cloth and epoxy, but stepping down from 3" to 2.5" doesn't make for a good epoxy/cloth interface.

I decided that the best course would be to take a second, short section of 3" tube, ream it out so it fits over the old tube and glass that lower down, like a collar.  Then the new section of rudder tube will slide down and butt against the collar and a few wraps of cloth will make a nice, solid connection.  The photos below will probably explain it better than I can. Tomorrow I'll epoxy in the collar and get the area cleaned up a bit.  If the temps. hold I also get another layer of glass on the cockpit sole and do some more fairing on the rudder.  .

Collar fitted
 Not a great shot, but the new rudder tube is butted against the fitted collar. 

Friday, April 11, 2014

Rudder, Part X

In this never ending saga, I am still plugging away on the rudder, but I haven't had too much time this week to do much (again).  However, I was reminded at how nice it is to work with the 6 ounce cloth when glassing areas with tight radius as well as the general wet-out properties (when compared with biaxial 1708).

The week started off well and I had the time to glass up other side of the rudder with the 1708 bixial fabric but I had to cut out areas for the bolt pockets that will be filled and glassed over once the shafts and drift pins are assembled.
1708 fabric cut to shape, now I have to cut out the bolt pocket holes.

After letting it cure for a few days I sanded both sides down with 80 grit paper (5" random orbit) to smooth all the edges in preparation for the next step.  I had previously ordered a few rolls of 6 ounce cloth in 4" width and put those to work by first glassing up the trailing edge of the rudder.

As I said before, it is really nice to work with cloth that wets out quickly and holds to tight radius' without complaint.  Once I had everything in place I put a thin sheet of plastic over it and smoothed it all out.  The result was a mirror finish that just looked cool.

The new epoxy I'm using (Jamestown Distributors TotalBoat) seems pretty good so far except for the blush.  I'm not sure if this is a characteristic of 5:1 formulas or that I'm used to 'no-blush' formulas, but it is no joke.  It is so waxy on the cured surface that you really have to wash it down with soap and water and a scotch brite pad.

Anyway, after the first layer of trailing edge was done, I flipped the rudder over and did the cove on the leading edge where the shaft(s) will sit.  I'm not sure that it was really necessary because once the shaft is in place, there won't be anything abrasive that could potentially allow water ingress, but what the hell, it can't hurt.

This section went about the same; the 6 ounce cloth really takes curves nicely, but I ended up just wetting out the cove section of the cloth and let the unwetted (is that a word?) sections hang free until I got a green cure and then trimmed the excess (the photo explains it better).

Finally, once the coves were all cured up, I laid in 3 thick beads of 3M 5200 sealant into the cove and installed the lower shaft (for good).  Then I gathered up all the bolts (2 -16", 1 - 12", and 1 - 5") when I realized that one of the 16" bolts was on back order and I only had one.... Doh!  I bolted the other 3 and snugged them down and called the company (Top Notch Fasteners).  He said that he didn't know when they would come in and informed me that "it could be a while".  It had already been a month so I decided to take my chances elsewhere figuring I could just order from someone else.  It wasn't that Top Notch Fasteners didn't have good service or mislead me in any way (I don't want to knock them, because it wasn't their fault); I just need the bolt NOW!

So I called around and googled till my eyes bled and I couldn't find anyone who had 16" in stock... Damn!  I sent an email off to a friend of mine who is in the boat restoration business and he responded with the following:
I would make it.  Buy the rod, thread one end, make a die and heat the other end and pound a head on it.
Hmmm, easy, right?  Ok, so after thinking about it a bit and emailing him back with the standard "are you sh*!@ting me" line and after getting a slightly more detailed explanation, I ended up ordering a 2 foot length of silicon bronze round bar which I now have to cobble into something resembling a 3/8" - 16 x 16" bolt.

In the meantime, since I had already set the shaft into 5200 and bolted it down, there was nothing to do but move forward (3M 5200 is not something you simply take apart cured or otherwise), so I filled the bolt pockets (the 3 that actually had bolts in them) with the remaining 5200 I had on hand and set the rudder on a nice level surface so the sealant would cure flat.

A lonely, empty bolt pocket.

That's it for now.  Once the 5200 starts to cure and gets tack free, I need to tap the through holes for the welded straps on the upper shaft.  Hopefully my bronze round bar will arrive in the next few days and I can get that taken care of as well.