The promised cool change arrived and today we had near perfect boat building weather, it rained most of the day! Not perfect because it was still a bit warmer than ideal at about 26 degrees but not stifling and not hot sun cooking the shed. I managed to get done all that I set out to do.
I started the day with the realisation I had made the most basic of mistakes but in the most minor of ways. One of the dreaded fears of duflex boat builders is the glass an important structure before removing the peel ply. For new readers that don’t know what this is, peel ply is a layer of taffeta material placed over wet glass to soak up excess resin, have the resin dry with a pre keyed surface and generally just make glassing neater. Duflex comes with peel ply pre attached and you MUST remove it before glassing to it otherwise the glass just pulls away with the peel ply, it has zero structural strength. There have been rumours or myths about people glassing or taping entire hulls with peel ply on which of course will just fall apart as soon as they attempt to roll it over. In nearly 3 years of building I have managed to avoid this most basic of mistakes. Until today. I started removing the peel ply from the port side seat top only to find a glass strip holding a but join was glassed over the peel ply. No biggie but man I felt stupid. I removed the glass (it just lifted off with the peel ply) and will re-glass the join.
I cut the panels of the port seat top down where the hatch lids would be. I then de-cored the edges of the part to be glued and glassed on as well as the top of the seat divider that will have half of its top edge exposed where the adjoining seat top will be. I will also need to de-core the seat tops that will form lids but they can be done easily anytime but the edges I did today will be much harder to get to once the seat tops that are not lids are glued on. De-coring is really easy with a portable hand router (I have a rechargeable Ryobi) with the right blade in. A few runs with the blade set to 10mm deep and the balsa pushes out with a screwdriver or chisel in minutes. Once the balsa is removed it is just a matter of back filling the slot with glue.
I attached a block on the rear bulkhead to support the seat top at its correct level position then back filled the de cored slots and buttered the seat front top edge with glue as well as the ends that butt into the bulkhead and put the top in place, screwing it down in places to hold it firm while the glue sets.
Then I started on the seat back. First I glued the small part that forms a lip on the top of the seat back in, this part wraps around the seat back and forms a mold for the kerfed back. Then I filled the kerfs with glue and ran a bead of glue along the back edge of the seat top where the back will butt into it. Then buttered all of the edges that support the seat back and finally the edge of the seat back that butts into the rear bulkhead then placed the back in position. A few screws to again hold everything in place whilst it all sets and then I squeezed more glue into the joins (because of the seat back angle there is a bigger gap at the front than the back). I ran some coves along the edges that I intended to glass and let this set a while and had some late lunch. (I started at 10am and this all took 4 hours)
After lunch I started glassing the seat top and back to each other. This forms a natural box girder and will support much more weight as a result. I glassed the now tacky kerfed section and then ran peel ply over the glass tapes.
I then started on glassing the underside. Along the bulkhead this space is very narrow. Coving and glassing in there was going to be difficult. I made a long coving tool out of a strip of ply by rounding the end and I managed to cove all the way in but I was not able to clean the excess coving material. Once coved I had to figure out how I was going to get glass tapes that far in without getting glue and resin all over my arm, but more importantly how was I going to defeat gravity. Glassing upside down is difficult at the best of times but in this narrow space, it was going to be a nightmare. Then I hit on an idea. I found an offcut of plastic conduit. I wet out a tape with a little more resin than normal so it would be very wet and sticky, I draped it lengthways over the conduit and using the conduit I pressed the glass into the corner. It stayed up long enough (a few seconds) for me to remove the conduit and reach in fully stretched and push the glass down more with my hands. I just barely reached the end. Of course I got resin up my arm but I got the tape on in one go without it falling which pleased me enough to accept that I would have a stick arm for a while.
I then glassed the easy part, the seat back top edge where it meets the deck. I coved it and glassed it then applied peel ply. I now have both sides of the cockpit seating glassed in from above. I need to get inside and grind the square joins round and removed glue dags before coving and glassing the inside or underside of all of these joins to finish them. I then only have the rear wrap around seat the top of which is entirely hatch lids to finish the cockpit seating.
In all this took another 3 hours. I then glued a small section of the step top that I had not done yesterday. Before I started on the cockpit today, with help from the boys I moved the strongback halves under the boat. This was some heavy lifting! With them side by side under the bridgedeck I will use them as my platform for making the cabin roof mold. Tomorrow I will start levelling the 2 halves and making the base out of ply sheets then attaching the mdf mold parts.