I think I have just about used all of the plays on the word step for post title so no more step right up or step in the right direction.
The boat is nearly completely closed. What that means is that the core will soon be completely enclosed by glass or filler everywhere on the build, exterior at least as there is still a little work on interior furniture which isnt yet closed. But the hull or any part of the exterior will have no exposed core (mostly balsa but also ply and polycore) and provided I continue to follow through core rules it will remain that way. The rule is wherever anything needs to go through the core, such as bolts etc, then the hole is drilled oversize, back filled with glue/filler and re-drilled the correct size, thereby maintaining the core seal. The only sections still to do are a small patch each side where the hull meets the bridgedeck at the top of the new middle steps under each davit step and the insides of the entire step/hull sides that I have almost completed.
I still have to add ply pads to the deck but these get glassed on, which does not break the sealed deck and then when drilled through the “rule” will be applied. I also have still to build the helm station dashboard but again this will be glassed onto an already sealed bulkhead and then the through holes will have the rule applied.
The first job completed was the davit steps. I had rough cut the step tops so I cleaned up the front curve. As has been mentioned, the best way to set a curve is with a flexible batten.
Then using the curved step edge as the mold I shaped the step fronts (risers). For one of them I used the only piece of duflex big enough left and cut kerfs on the inside of the curve and in this case the outside of the step, glued it and glassed it in the mold and peel plied it. The other front is made from an unglassed polycore offcut. I glassed each side on a table and peel plied them, then, whilst still wet, I attached it to the step edge mold. This method created a few bubbles in the glass. I did my best to remove the ones on the outside face, but any still there when set will get ground out before fairing, any on the inside face will get enclosed in the sealed void once the step top gets glassed on so I wasnt too concerned about them.
The next day I dry fit the fronts and tops to ensure the curves matched, then made webs that would form a platform for the step tops and also the fronts to be glassed against and also to act as further strengthening of the davits to the bridgedeck. In order for the davits to break or move they have to break all of the glue and glass and now also the webs that are glassed to the bridgedeck and over the davit bases. Thats a lot of strength.
I then glassed it all in, the webs and the fronts. I have not glassed the lids on yet, they are just sitting in place to ensure it all meets up neatly. I still have to glass the patches in that close all of this in, and to do that I need the lids off. But once those patches are glassed in the lids can be glassed on too and that closes off that area and completes the steps, leaving only the hull side profile for the inside of the steps to go, which I skipped to before doing the patches. The reason is I want to create a strong point inside the steps so that through the patch plate will go a U bolt that will be a towing point/ rear anchor bridle mount. I have not yet figured out how to make these strong points so I skipped over to the step sides first.
I also made the lids for all of the wells including the bath so that with the davit step tops on (and temporarily screwed down) the well lids act as the top step and complete the space that I had envisaged as the working space when underway that I can see over the roof from and move from port to starboard. The bath lid is one piece and is hinged over the back onto the stern face panel but the lpg tank wells had a small piece made that allowed for the lids to have a square and straight back edge to be hinged. This part was glassed in and the lids hinge to that part. (The bath lid back edge is curved and you cannot hinge to a curved panel, so I have glassed pads in that square flat plane back in just for the hinges whilst the rest of the panel and lid edge remain curved).
I am very happy with the real estate I have on top of the seat/well lids and bath and lpg well lids. Its a safe wide walkway and working area as well as a great place to laze around once padded cushions are added. That space will also be where I secure the dingy when underway on long passages. Rather than having it hanging from the davits it will be secured to that space and tied down so that it is more secure than hanging from the davits.
Some people might think I have gone a little overboard with the duckboard/rear steps area of my build and all the extra work that entailed, but I think all of the features were well worth the effort and seeing the open space with lids all on for the first time reinforces that for me. The only area that gives me pause for thought is the separate davit step and whether I should have just extended the step that is at the same height on the hulls around the corner and to the davit in one step at that level. I will eventually have a bbq on a hand rail that will connect to the side of a davit (probably port side) and for this reason it might be better to have the separate step so that the bbq does not have to be set too high. That will make sense once the rail is in so I might revisit this idea in future but I doubt it. I have cut the latch holes into each hatch lid, decored then back filled them so all that is left, besides fairing and painting is to attach the hinges and latches.
So on to the hull side step side panel. I drilled the 4 holes in each for the step courtesy lights. I got the position of the bottom ones wrong because I measured them to half way along each step but I measured the panel before I trimmed it, and when trimmed the bottom one ended up in the wrong position (the ply panel had an overhang at the bottom). I only noticed this when I traced the hull side profile onto the ply step side panel and cut it to match, it then showed the bottom light no longer centered. Dumb mistake but easily fixed. I just glued the ply plug (from inside the hole saw) back into the wrong hole and re-drilled them. Fixed in minutes. It will all be glassed in so it doesnt matter. Like I have said many times, the reason dummies like me can build is because mistakes are so easy to correct.
There are a number of variables I could adjust on the step side panel when dry fitting. The first was the distance from the hull side panel. I did not want it too narrow because I am fitting a number of things into the top plate (cleat, hand rail, fishing rod holder). I have decided on a slightly different way to mount the cleat, instead of having an inspection port and bolts I have a stainless steel plate and drilled holes that match those on the cleat and have tapped them with a thread. The plate will be mounted to the underside of the top panel and holes drilled into it so that the bolts can meet the threaded holes. So this plate dictates the minimum void space where the plate will sit inside between the 2 panels (hull side and step side).
Then I had to decide on the angle that it traveled down the steps, this was a no brainer the moment you look at it, square to the centreline. And of course square to the step tops, this one was not quite so obvious. I could make it wider at the base and angle the step side up to a narrower top making the side angle from square a little or I could make it square. In the end square looked better. I liked the way that the profile of the top plate tapers down to almost a point at the bottom step while maintaining a square to the centre line flat panel. (see right pic above).
With all of that decided, I glued some blocks to the steps to act as anchor points (and dams to stop glue pushing through as I squeezed it in and coved the front. And glued and glassed to them.
I also glassed in a half stanchion half way down the steps into the hull side and protruding about a third the height of a full size stanchion. This is designed to be the end of the life lines or a way to angle the lines down and then they may terminate at a pad eye. I will decide that once I have the stanchions all in, or at least the last full size stanchion is in. That wont happen until after fairing, as the stanchions get in the way when fairing.
Next job is to make the curved (and flat for the bottom third) top of the void between the step and hull sides. The curved section will probably be kerf assisted ply, tortured around the bend and glued down and glassed down. The top will probably be 2 ply thicknesses thick (so 2 x 12mm ply) or maybe even 3. I will probably need to fit and create the curved tops by placing a plastic sheet between the side panels and the top to stop it getting stuck down while the kerfs and multiple panels set to each other. Once set they retain their curved shape so I can work on the underside to fit the stainless steel cleat plate before putting the tops back on and glassing it all down ready for final shaping (rounding the edges) and fairing.
This will also form the start of the hull fairing. Starting at the steps and working forward. The top of the panels need to be faired into the hull shape as I transition from the flat top of the void plate to the curves of the hull sides.
I also glassed a plate inside the davits to seal the insides of the davit so moisture cannot get in. I left it open so I could glass the davit to the rear panel from the inside. The davit is hollow and ropes get wet, so I needed to seal off the inside from trapping that water. I had considered leaving it open and adding a drain hole so water could not pool, but decided instead it would be better to seal it all off completely. A cover plate will finish the rear of the davit. It is open because should the davit line be cut or break, re-threading them over the sheave inside the davit would be difficult if not impossible from a meter or so away through the top of the davit hanging out over the water. This way the rear plate is removable for that reason. Any water that drips into the inside of the davit will hit the seal plate (glassed in on a slight downward slope) and just drain out of the bottom of the cover plate. It will all make a little more sense once I have fitted the cover plates and show pictures of them fitted.
Hopefully only a few more days work to finish off this and finally close it all up so I can get to the last of the construction (glassing down winch pads and making the helm station dashboard), so I can finally say thats it, its built and I can start on the massive task of fairing the hulls and cockpit. Winter is finally here so I have no excuse not getting some serious work done. The pace is starting to pick up a bit.