Monday, February 14, 2011

Spar Making - Part 1

I've started making the mast and boom. They are going to be made of Douglas Fir wood. I debated between wood and the (infinitely more popular) purchased hollow aluminum extrusion. I decided on a wooden mast because it's slightly cheaper, has more character, and, most importantly, fits with the whole spirit of this do-it-yourself project.

The mast is going to be hollow box-section and the boom is going to be a solid rectangular section. Here is the cross-section of the mast from the plans.

The boom is about 9 feet long and the mast is about 18 feet long (just a few inches shorter than the garage). The lumber I purchased is only 12 feet long, so I need to scarf together pieces for the mast.

The pic below shows all the douglas fir pieces of the mast and boom cutout and ready to be glued together. The pieces on the right are for the boom. The longer pieces on the left are for the mast. An important detail to notice is that all of the scarf joints are staggered, so that they will not be all in one spot of the mast. This makes the mast stronger. (Also shown in the middle of the pic are some oak pieces that will be the rub rail along the shear line of the boat ... not related to the spars.)

This took me an entire Sunday, because all of the pieces had to be ripped (cut lengthwise) and then planed (shaved down to the correct thickness). Then the diagonal scarf joints had to be cut for all the mast pieces. A table saw and a bench planer are pretty much mandatory tools for these tasks.

I've also started making the mast step. The mast step is where the base of the mast rests on the boat. There can be large forces traveling through this joint, so it need to be built stout.

The mast step in the plans doesn't seem quite strong enough to me, so I've decided to beef it up a little. Here is a pic showing the side of my mast step (left) compared to the one shown in the plans (right). I'm also going to secure everything with big screws and lots of epoxy.

On this boat, the mast step performs another function, which is to support the mast while the boat is being trailered. So the spacer block of the mast step should be angled on top to match the angle of the mast in the trailered position, as shown in the pic below.

Here is a pic of the mast step during the initial dry fit, just before gluing.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Companionway Frame

The excess plywood of the cabin deck is trimmed with a hand saw and then sanded flush with a belt sander.

The frame around the companionway opening is screwed and glued in place. The plywood is sandwiched between two pieces of frame, making a slot for the companionway drop board (or removable door) to secure in. The two holes on the lower horizontal frame piece are for drainage.

The companionway drop board (a piece of plywood cut to shape) is being trimmed to fit the opening. Since the sides of the opening are at an angle, the door only has to be lifted about 4 inches to remove from the opening. I plan to make a top hatch that fits over and around the drop board, so that it should be fairly water tight. I will probably put a little circular window in the drop board too.

I've also been sewing the large main sail together.

However, we had to move outside of the small spare room into the longest hallway of the house. I needed enough room to fit the rolled up sail on either side of the sewing machine when doing long seams.

Here is a homemade sail-making tool that I can't live without: a short length of plastic drain pipe cut down the middle. This makes a great clamp to keep the sail rolled up.

I'm almost done with the mainsail and I haven't gone into too much detail about it on this blog. Part of the problem is that the sail is always rolled up, so it would be difficult for you to tell what the pictures were trying to show. So I'll show more details about the sail when I can unroll it and run it up the mast. For now, it'll stay rolled up in the spare room.