If you have ever owned or built a boat, I am sure you have said that or words to that effect, many times. I say it this time because the boat is raised so high at the sterns it looks like its….buckin, not because its a buckin boat and all buckin boats make you feel that way at some point. Bucket.

OK enough buckin around, the rear steps are almost ready to be glassed into the boat. They have had the overhang removed from the tread of each step, had the tread rounded to the riser and taped, and re bogged and just need to be re faired, which could be done on the boat but would be easier to get most if it done off the boat. Other than the fairing, I could glass them in tomorrow if I wanted. But I have a few outstanding tasks in each outboard well that I would prefer to complete before the steps go in. As impatient as I am to have these steps finally in the boat, I know how difficult the works under the steps could be if full access is restricted, and these are important functional parts that need precise mountings. There are 3 jobs. Firstly, the outboard must raise and lower properly. It exits the hulls through doors I want to swing up into the outboard wells so these must open and close properly in order to seal the hull when the outboard is up, and open properly to allow the outboard to drop to its operational height and not foul in any way, and finally the sail halyards have to exit the interior of the boat, travel up the bulkhead and exit the well to the deck and turn to the winch, again in a way that allows the sails to be raised and lowered properly. And of course the steering lines lead to the steering rams in the well also. All really important systems.

Below are a couple of pics that explain what I was originally trying to achieve with the led rope light overhangs.

led rope light original idea port step lid led light effect

To get to the point where the steps are ready to go in, I have had to modify my original step profile slightly, as shown in the last post by cutting off the 20mm front overhang and it turned out to be a much easier task than I had anticipated. Once I had the top step edge rounded I taped the join and peel plied it. I often apply bog onto tapes wet on wet but I have an abundance of peel ply now, and there is always a risk of moving a wet tape whilst trowelling bog on so I have found it worthwhile on easier places to peel ply to do it that way. I then remove the ply and bog and if I can I try to do that whilst the resin is still green to try to get a chemical bond, but its not critical, at the end of the day, bog is only carrying the weight of paint and ends up very thin.

starboard top steps tape bogged

I also thought I might have a problem mounting the port steps because the outboard well door is already cut out and the step set has lost some (most) of its rigidity. I worried that if I didnt get it back into place or shape so that the door would re-attach fair I would end up having trouble hinging the door in later and I felt that re-attaching the door before attempting to glass the steps in might be the way to go. I was also concerned that it would be difficult to glass the front edges and then re-fair them if the steps did not fit back in fairly because the fronts and tops of the steps still need to be fair to the door. There is no point fairing 2 parts independently of each other if they dont line up later. Better to line them up now and fair them as one unit again.

port steps with door before flange removed

The solution presented itself when I managed to get the door back into the cavity. It took a little trimming here and there, because the door has since had all its edges decored and backfilled with uni to add rigidity, then filler making it slightly larger than it started out as. To get it back in fair on all the various surfaces, fronts and tops, I used clamps and flat ply pieces. It worked well and I managed to get the door back into the step set in the correct position so well that I could take the front overhang off ready for de-core without the door moving at all. So if clamps could hold it together then so would glass. I noticed I made a bit of a mess of one of the cuts, the opening is about 5mm whereas for the majority the gap is less then 1mm. The step set has not yet had its edge decored and back filled, so I will correct that small issue then.

port steps with door ready for decore

With the door back in and all the edges lining up I set about de-coring it when the solution to the problem of getting the set into the boat with the door properly aligned became obvious. I could use the edge glassing to glass the door temporarily back in. I could even add some reinforcement by adding some uni rope in the de-core slot under the filler to be sure the door could not move until the entire step structure was glassed back in an the door re-cut out. This allows me to re-fair the door exactly to the steps and gives me just a few centimetres of glass to cut later to free the door again. I would need to fair the cut edges but that is not a big issue. This method should work so well that I intend to cut the other door out in all areas except the front egdes where the treads turn the 90 degress to the risers. Then I can just cut that tab out later once the set is in the boat and edge finish the door and steps on the boat. I think it would be much easier to get the door cuts right on the table than on the boat.

port top steps decored edges filled

With the door pretty securely refastened by the uni rope (about 100mm long straddling the join 50mm each side, so 3 steps 6 rope pieces) and covered with filler so as to be invisible I felt comfortable rounding the edges all the way around as I did with the step set that doesnt have its door cut out, and taping it in continuous lengths as if the join wasnt there.

port top steps taped

Then as with the other set, I bogged the tape and faired them both. With the paint still on the door, I plan on leaving that on for now, and when I am ready to paint the boat I will prime that paint to be repainted. The step tops will end up with non slip so only the fronts will stay gloss.

hull on jacks

Last week, Terry came over with his old mate Ray, (he is helping Terry with his build) with the intention of helping me jack up my boat so I can fit the rudders. I need another meter of space under the sterns to get the post up into its tube. We tried using jacks and blocks, that is, jacking a little, putting a new block under than jacking some more, a long slow process. It wasnt working. We just were not getting the elevation we needed. So we decided to lower the front in order to help us to more easily get the meter clearance we needed. Having the boat 400mm off the ground front and back meant we needed 1.4 meters at the stern so lowering it at least half that would mean it saved us 200mm. So we did that, but still were not getting the height we needed with the jacks or at least it was taking too long. Solution, fork lift the boat in one go, block the cradles and lower it back down on the raised cradles.

forklift raised stern

bow on tyres

bow on tyre

raised stern looking aft

raised at sterns

bucken boat

raised at sterns 1So what took us over an hour with 4 jacks and still only got half way, we completed in 15 mins with the fork lift. The boat is resting on 4 tires at the bows and the cradles up on blocks at the stern. The transom steps are now 5 feet off the ground, a good height to complete the under stern glassing. And access to the bottom of the rudder tubes is much easier.

The first task I completed with the raised boat was to finish fairing and glassing the rudder tube exit on the hull. Pretty simple task, I cheated and used a power sander for the initial fairing, as this would then be glassed, bogged and re-faired. So far I have glassed and peel plied it, but not bogged and re-faired. That fairing wont be a serious fair, just enough to get it smooth as this will be coated with copper epoxy resin.

rudder in tube in hull

Then I raised the rudders into the tubes for the first time in order to set the thrust bearing plate at the correct height. This plate is glassed to the shaft and stops the otherwise buoyant rudder from raising past that point, not that I think it could, its a tight fit into the uhmwpe bearings. I can push them up into the bearing by hand but its hard work. The port rudder rotates quite easily, I can push it around with one finger, the starboard rudder is a bit tighter, I can rotate it by hand but I need to push much harder to get it around.

glassing thrust plate to rudders with webs

I marked the position of the thrust plate on the shaft and took the rudders back out. To fit the plate exactly plumb and square I left the bearing on the shaft (on its poured bearing surface) and clipped the plate to it and then glassed a brace into the gap between its underside and the rudder top. This is more a temporary holder but I wont remove it. I will add more glass to either side of the gap then filler to fair it out. I need this to be a very strong bond as at times some of the weight of the boat might be borne by that join if I ever beach the boat and there is a more solid or rock surface just under the sand. The bottoms of the rudders will protrude about 150mm beyond the bottom of the hulls, so if beached, the bulk of the weight of the boat will rest on the hulls but the rudders will take some load at the sterns, enough to lean the boat slightly forward I think, though not sure until we try it. So that all said, strong joint there, almost solid glass. Mostly uni.

rudder to hull gap rudder thrust plate back fill needed

With the thrust plate in place, the next task is to fill the gap between the hull and the top of the rudder. Because of the rudder tube exiting the hull plumb but the hull being angled (rocker) the tube needed to be faired into the hull. That meant that the rudder was moved away from the hull by the size of the fairing, which is really the size/angle of the rocker because I have the tube protruding the absolute minimum at the leading edge. There are 2 ways to fix this, either scallop out the required amount from the rudder which exposes the insides of the rudder to water ingress should I leave any gaps or voids in the glassing, or, add some height to the top of the rudder. The advantage of this method is that the rudder remains intact, I am just adding some to the already sound rudder and not cutting into it at all, but also that I increase the surface area of the rudder slightly, it all counts I guess.

You can see from the picture above that the gap between the rudder top and the hull is currently about 40mm. Its actually 50mm when the rudder is in the straight ahead position and 40mm at the edges of the hull when the rudder is on full lock either way. I cant get my head around why, it just does. And its the same on each side and the same on each hull. I think it is because of the angle of the rocker being greater than the angle of the V of the hull, which is almost non existent as the hull is nearly flat at the sterns.

rudder 2 rudder 1 rudder

ruddder hull gap markings

Terry gave me some foam which is 20mm thick to make the rudder extensions. The gaps are 50mm near the post and 40mm at the trailing edge so I settled on 30mm more at the post and 20mm at the trailing edge giving me 20mm clearance at straight ahead and 10mm on full lock, it is not of concern that the gap is greater when straight ahead as the rudders are not doing work other than tracking in that position. I am more comfortable with just a little more clearance in case a rope finds its way in there it wont jam completely and by widening when turned it should free the rope, 20mm should cover most rope I am likely to encounter I think. Of course there are thicker ropes but they dont usually tie fishing nets or crab pots with them do they? Anyway, 20mm is the gap I have settled on.

rudder top foam fill rudder top foam fill 1

And 20mm just happens to be the thickness of the foam I have. But that is the distance I need at the trailing edge, so for the extra 10mm (and tapering to nothing more at the trailing edge) I will make up with rest with filler. So I cut the foam roughly to shape, slightly oversize and glued it to the top of the rudders, then next day I added a layer of filler to the top about 15mm thick at the post down to about 5mm at the trailing edge. The filler is quite uneven and rough, hence the added 5mm so that when it is sanded down it becomes flat and smooth with rounded edges. Then I will glass it to the top of the rudders, bog and re-fair. And then the rudders can go back in for another fitting, to be sure that my clearances are all still good. Then the stainless steel top collar tiller arms will be attached (holes drilled in posts) with the rudders in the dead ahead position and the rudder fitting is complete. Out once more so that the rudders and hull undersides can be copper epoxy coated, then back in and the boat lowered again.

rudder top filler

Then it is into the outboard well to finish the jobs in there then the steps can go in. Time gets away, I had hoped this would all be done and the steps in, maybe by the end of April so the fairing can begin.

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Paul