There are some questions that I get emails about and some are asked more often and there are some tips I feel are important enough that I should list them somewhere. I will add to the list as I go. Check the bottom of the list from time to time for the the most recent additions. If there is something you would like to know that isn’t on this page and not found on the site, just ask.
- How detailed are the plans
- Do you need special skills or ability to build a cat?
- Are the materials hard to work with?
- Do you get any after sales help with the boat?
- How much will it cost to build your boat?
- How long will it take to build your boat?
Q: How detailed are the plans? ^ TOP
A: Don’t rely on the plans to tell you all the detail you need, however it is basic enough that what the plans don’t tell you is either understandable eventually or there are enough people out there that know and will tell you and there are heaps of websites with great information.
Q: Do you need special skills or ability to build a cat? ^ TOP
A: Don’t worry too much about ability. If you have common sense you can do this. I have never worked with the materials before and I am finding it very easy to understand and do, some of the work is going to be annoying, like sanding (wherever you see the word fairing, it means sanding!) but it is all do-able by just about anyone.
Q: Are the materials hard to work with? ^ TOP
A: Modern materials such as in our boat are very forgiving and very easy to work with. You don’t need special knowledge or special tools. Just lots of time and the space to build. And most mistakes and accidents are easy to fix. You do get some itching from the tiny shards of fibreglass but after a shower this goes away. You may also get resin all over things you didn’t intend to (drill, mobile phone, door knobs, taps, etc) but again this is a matter of care and not a major problem and can be easily removed. There is an allergy that some can get to epoxy but it is a small minority and there are precautions that should be taken such as face masks and gloves that should be used. There are many many boats out there that have been built so don’t worry too much about it.
Q: Do you get any after sales help with the boat? ^ TOP
A: The designers, in my case Schionning’s but from what I read in other sites, all are very good and are very helpful at any stage of the build even after it is launched. What information the plans don’t show (or in the case of errors) the designers are very approachable and helpful. They rely on us turning out good boats to maintain their reputations which is what sells more plans, so they are as keen as we are to end up with a good boat.
TIP: Always be nice to your mum. ^ TOP
TIP: Always wear protective clothing (masks and gloves in particular) wherever possible. ^ TOP
Q: How much will it cost to build your boat? ^ TOP
A: It very much depends on what you want in your boat, but we have budgeted on AU$200,000 to finish the boat to a sail away standard including engines and basic essential electrics (fridge, lighting, etc) and plumbing (toilet, bathroom, kitchen, etc) and about another AU$50,000 to fit it out with our level of liveability with such things as radar, watermaker, chart-plotter, lcd tv/dvd, etc. We think this is a reasonable and achievable budget for what will be our home for a long time.
TIP: When setting out the bulkhead legs on the strongback, try to stay as close as you can to the plans but don’t stress if you make an error. If a bulkhead is out by a few millimetres here or there it is not a great problem. I spent hours more than I needed to be absolutely sure that it was exact, and in the end, I am the only person that will ever know that it is. A few millimetres will not effect structure and is not visible. ^ TOP
TIP: When attaching the hull panels to the bulkheads for the first time, don’t panic if there are gaps here and there. In fact it is better there are gaps than a tight fit and wherever I had a tight fit I ran a jigsaw down the join to make a gap so that glue could enter the join easily. A gap can range from a millimetre to 20 mm so again don’t panic. We just fill it. If the gap is 10mm or more we fill it with Duflex first. ^ TOP
TIP: Never assume you know the characteristics of a new material. Some powders and chemicals look similar but act very differently. A good suggestion is to mix a small amount and practice on an easily accessible area. That way if you make any mistakes it is easy to get to to fix. Most chemicals have a short working life so rather than find out under the pressure of the job you can find out how a material acts in a less stressful way. ^ TOP
Q: How long will it take to build your boat? ^ TOP
A: This is a how long is a piece of string question. Each designer will give an average time in hours that your boat should take to finish. My design says it should take 4000 hours. That means 4000 hours total so if you have 2 people working it should take 2000 hours each. However, an average is just that. Some professional builders that have built the design before could do it in much less time, and some amateurs might take much longer depending on how fast you can learn new tasks and how hard you can work. 4000 hours could be put in over 2 years or 10 years depending on how many hours per week you can put in. Talking to other builders on the same boat we are building at around the same speed but some can put in more hours per week than others and some have 3 working and some are solo. Ok, having said all of that we have planned on launching in 2010 so that is a 5 year build plan from start to finish, and we wont launch until it is complete.
TIP: If you are a part time builder (i.e. you have a full time job and the build is a hobby) don’t stress too much if you hit periods where progress seems slow or non existent. Like someone trying to quit smoking, or losing weight etc, take it one day at a time. It is a big undertaking and there will be ups and downs. And for those considering taking on a project of this size, try seeing it in terms of the parts in it rather than the whole boat or it may seem too hard. I set myself a year on each hull, then a year joining them, then a year fitting and finishing the interior and finally a year on final fit and finish, and broken down into smaller sections it doesn’t seem so daunting. ^ TOP
TIP: Keep everything you can until you are finished or you are absolutely sure the item has no further use. Off-cuts of Duflex will always come in useful for repairing mistakes, one off fabrications and changes in plans. Re-use anything rather than buying more. I even keep empty plastic bottles and cut the bottom out to make mixing pots. You go through an amazing number of them. It is a big project and the small savings here and there could soon mount into enough savings to buy a depth sounder or a chart-plotter or whatever you had ruled out as outside your original budget. ^ TOP
TIP: Take a spare set of clothes with you or wear overalls with clothes underneath. I find it too hot in summer for overalls so I wear shorts and a singlet top. Many days I have little dobs of wet glue on me or dust all over me or I spill a whole tub of resin on myself, so with a change of clothes I don’t leave any of that in the car. I learnt this the hard way by jumping into the car with cloth upholstery with a dab of glue on my shirt back and it set hard in the car seat. ^ TOP
TIP: You will need a lot of tubs for resin so start keeping all of your margarine tubs, ice cream tubs etc, but for larger tubs (4 litre), Ice cream shops go through dozens of them each day especially in tourist areas and most just throw them out. I find it particularly galling to pay for items that I used to throw away so start saving them. ^ TOP
TIP: Be VERY VERY careful about the correct mix ratios of the different products you may use on your build. For example, ADR is a 4:1 mix by weight, West is a 5:1 mix by volume, etc. And the mix ratios are strictly fixed and will not work using different ratios. I accidentally used the wrong ratios and I thought perhaps West might take longer to set but would eventually set with a lower resin to hardener mix. I learnt the hard way that West, if mixed incorrectly just wont set, ever! (See April 06 logs re bogging first hull) You would think that it would hardener even more because I used more hardener in a 4:1 mix than I would have in a 5:1 but it doesn’t work this way. These guys make this stuff to exact formulas. So again be careful. ^ TOP
TIP: DON’T RUSH. The previous tip was the result of trying to work too fast and in the end we made a huge mistake that cost us about 30 hours work and a few hundred $ of wasted material which in the end translated to a lost month. It doesn’t matter why you are rushing, it is risky and often ends up costing you more time anyway. ^ TOP
TIP: Don’t trust stringline alone along the side of the hull to mark the waterline. It seems no matter how tight or loose you have the string the friction of the string against the hull is enough for it to sit where it likes with no relation to where the line should be. The stringline along with measurements or a level works. ^ TOP
TIP: To avoid prune hands from sweat inside latex gloves for extended periods of time, I use cotton disposable gloves inside the latex gloves. The cotton gloves soak up the sweat and whilst they take a little time to get used to I find them more comfortable. ^ TOP
TIP: It is always a good idea to start with small jobs when there has been a significant change in temperature so that you can get an idea of set times in the temp you are now working in as they differ greatly from winter to summer in temperate climates. (not sure of the difference if any in the tropics) ^ TOP
TIP: Leave peel ply on when cutting kerfs. Without peel ply the fibreglass splinters but doesn’t with the peel ply left on. ^ TOP
TIP: Always, ALWAYS, use the taps on hardener (and or resin) drums, that way any leaks will be confined to the contents of the hose not the contents of the drum! I learnt this the hard way, AND always ensure that any leak of hardener can not get anywhere near the resin, the consequences are too horrible to contemplate. ^ TOP
TIP: Don’t fear strip planking, it is one of the easiest parts of the build process. ^ TOP
TIP: Use an allen key in a drill to ream out the core inside smaller holes in order to back fill with glue/filler so as to ensure a glass to glass contact of glue, then you can re drill the hole through the set glue. This ensures that moisture cannot reach the core through the holes. ^ TOP