15 January, '07

Painting with a clear finish epoxy primer does not give much to show in photos, so its been a bit quiet in the Sundowner diaries department. It took Charlie a couple of weeks of work to get two coats of the special two part Ados Epoxy Timber sealer / Primer that we chose as the principal interior protection. It’s an odd product to handle, very low viscosity, lower than water which makes it strange to pour and brush, it runs like mad, drains off the brush very quickly and soaks into the dry wood like water into a desert. But after two and in some areas three coats the high solids content builds up to a nice looking finish. We painted a couple of pieces of scrap and cut them to see just how far the stuff penetrates, and in Fijian Kauri (Agathis Vitensis) which is a close grained but fairly porous wood it penetrates about 6mm (¼ inch) which is in contrast to the conventional epoxy which goes in about 1/2mm. It has a biocide in it which kills rot spores and will not allow rot or mould to get a start later in the boats life.

Applied to Red Meranti and Pacific maple plywood it saturates the entire outer layer back the glue line and in some cases slightly through that as well, when set off this saturated area of wood is very dense, much higher in compressive strength and the manufacturers tell me that the moisture seal is as effective as it is possible to get with conventional paint systems.

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click to enlarge

The engine installation is the most complex set of systems in the boat, fuel supply, cooling, drive, exhaust, batteries, and controls. Yes, I know, it's supposed to be a sailing boat, but a good little diesel is a real friend at times, that of course is as long as it is properly installed and everything working reliably.

After looking at all sorts of possibilities for the engines little fuel tank including epoxy lined plywood, stainless steel and mild steel , the choice went the way of Dutch Marine fittings supplier "Vetus" who supplied this 60 litre poly plastic tank complete with fittings. Charlies built bearers and a platform on which it will be strapped down and that's another problem dealt with, another tick in another box so to speak.

If you choose to use the stuff, do follow the manufacturers instructions re safety, the fumes are pretty violent and some of the ingredients not nice to your skin so good ventilation, gloves and goggles are a necessity.
Good stuff.

Ados, a CRC group company. Website http://www.crc.co.nz/ . Go to “Epoxies”, and Timber Sealant / Primer for the details. Our thanks to CRC Industries Rick Menalda for the information and assistance when we were researching the product.

Since then there has been a lot of chasing around to get the bits for the engine installation, the plastic 65 litre Vetus fuel tank and all its inlet and outlet plumbing has arrived, the fuel filter, incongruously large alongside the tiny Bukh motor and the coupling and stern gland are all here apart from one or two bits, and as soon as the keel bolts are in we can heave the engine up into its workstation. That’s possibly next week.

Charlie told me, after he’d completed the framing and cold moulded the foredeck in two layers of 6mm plywood, that he’d had some misgivings about the strength of the deck that I’d drawn, but when the two diagonal layers were all in place the deck feels as solid as can be. Just the sort of thing that you’d be confident to jump onto when the boats alongside and the tide has lowered her well below the ladder up the wharf. No bounce in the deck at all, and the curved shape where I had lifted the after end of the deck above the galley and navigation station to give more headroom there and when going forward in to the heads and storage space has not presented any problem to our intrepid builder.

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click to enlarge

The foredeck all framed, while there is a lot of load on this part of the deck and it does not look so heavy in this pic, the two layers of 6mm plywood will stiffen it up immensely. The layers each go on at a slightly different angle, glued with epoxy and held down with stainless screws, the deck has a compound curve in it as it follows the sheer down from the bow, and the camber from one side to the other. To complicate that there is an increase in the camber at the after end to give slightly more headroom under the after end of the foredeck where Charlies "Office"is and to allow easier access forward. This makes forcing enough curve into a large sheet unworkable hence the 125mm wide strips in two layers, its very stiff and very strong. After the experience gained in cold moulding the sides of the boat this was a piece of cake.

There is a layer of 10 oz fibreglass to go over the deck, and heavy 'glass tapes to go over the edge and down the sides to protect the edge of the plywood deck.

As a boats construction proceeds there are opportunities to change things a little, and in this case the cabin sides have been straightened making the side decks wider, there is good sitting headroom under the side decks and the extra width makes the boat safer at sea, we will be able to show these better in the next "diary".

As I write he’s out there sanding the deck to get it ready to fibreglass, its to be laid with 10 oz biaxial and the edges taped over onto the sides where the rubbing strake will be. That’s an important joint, one that is highly stressed and one that causes problems if its allowed to leak so we’re being careful.

He also has the cockpit framing well along, and the cockpit floor dry fitted. With that in place it is now possible to stand and imagine that you are holding the tiller and gazing keen eyed at the tropical atoll that is just over the bowsprit and hear the waves on the reef as you sail in toward the pass into the lagoon. (Sigh!)
Tell you what, that foredeck and side deck makes the boat look big!

Big also is the space under the after end of the cockpit, on the portside the cockpit locker will be set up to store the outboard motor for the little inflatable out if sight and secure, and on the starboard side there will be space for the stern anchor, the big parachute sea anchor, lines for same and other gear while in underneath, accessed through a hatch in the after end of the cockpit floor is a cargo hold that will carry up to a cubic metre ( about 33 cubic feet) of light stow items. Awnings, spare sails and covers, rope and so on. Stuff you don’t need to access at sea. Handy having a cargo hold even when single handed.

I dislocated and broke my right thumb when my big half inch drill had the drill bit bind when using it in low gear, so am in a splint for a few weeks yet (Barbers fracture for the medically knowledgeable) so the sculpture work on the after end of the keel will have to wait for a while, but that’s to be done with the Arbourtech carving tool as soon as I am able. We have also to jack the boat up enough to get the drill in underneath to counterbore the keel bolt holes, and while that’s not hard, it will take a day or two and will make the boats interior unworkable ( she will be hard up against the workshop roof ) until done. Then cabin sides and roof are on the list!

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click to enlarge

The prop and shaft are almost ready for permanent fitting, and its time I got busy with the Arbourtech wood carving tool and streamline the after end of the keel. There will need to be a couple of small blocks glued in, a lot of shaping, provision made for the keelbolt lower ends with the nuts and washers and some finish sanding , quite a lot to do and a lot of shavings to be made.

We continue to have visitors, some in from Phoenix Arizona yesterday. The time spent in chatting is not spent in building of course but it does help keep the morale up which is a very good thing.

Summertime is also good for the morale, we are having a cool and windy summer so fat, but its mild weather and mostly sunny, the swimming pool is getting quite a lot of use, the garden is full of flowers, the Welcome Swallows nesting under the eaves have produced 5 chicks which are now out flying about with their cheerful high pitched squeaks and red feathered throats adding to the day and the early apples on the tree are looking almost ripe.

Its my birthday today, wife Denny is taking me out to lunch, I got a pair of Levis to replace the ones that have more holes than denim, a giant bar of Belgian dark chocolate and some black jelly beans, and a $50 book voucher to go with the one I got at Christmas time. How old? Don’t even want to think about that but its not quite old enough for the Government to pay me a pension. Yet.

In the meantime, we, Charlie, Cloudy the cat and I wish all of our readers the very very best for 2007.

John Welsford,