These weeks were much too cold to do any epoxying or anything, with the temperature staying pretty consistently in the 20’s. Me and my father went about procuring a trailer and engine. We went to Briggs, on Three Mile Harbor, and inquired about a motor. The men there said that to find a used motor in the horsepower range that I’m looking in (9-15), would be very difficult as these engines are in quite high demand around here. They however had a line of these Lehr engines that run on propane and apparently need considerably less maintenance than a two or four cycle engine of the same horsepower. Also, due to them running on propane, these engines have zero emissions. The only downside is that they are much more expensive than a used engine would be, but they may end up being cheaper in the long run. In any case, I have until summer to search around, as the boat won’t go in the water until then. Briggs also has a used trailer they would sell me for $500, that seems pretty sound except that at least the tires need to be replaced, and the winch stand is set up for a sailboat, so that would need to be switched out for one to fit my craft. The Community Boat Shop in Amagansett have a trailer that is currently just sitting in the yard, and is in quite usable condition, and fits my boat quite well that they have agreed to lend me so I can bring my boat to school for the exhibition. Over Christmas break my car will be at Kalbacher’s auto getting outfitted with a trailer hitch.
This week, with the bottom, waterline, and boot painted, we paint the sides of the boat. This is done using jade mist green Awlgrip topcoat paint. To do so, we mask the waterline and the strakes, so as to not get paint on them. After doing so, the paint is mixed with a small amount of a compound that makes the paint dry considerably faster in warm weather, but in this cold climate, it just makes the paint dry at a normal rate. Once the paint is all mixed, it is spread over the boat with a roller. We do this for two coats. Once it is dry we spread a layer of epoxy over the strakes to serve the same purpose as a varnish, but this will not need to be reapplied nearly as frequently
This week, with the barrier coat applied, it is time to paint the rest of the boat. This must be done in steps, as to paint the next part of the boat, one must tape over the previous part, so you have to wait for each section to dry before starting on the next. The first bit we did was the bottom. The first step in this is to mask along the edges of the bottom, technically the side, so as to not get paint on the side of the boat. The book recommends using a laser level for this, but I trust Fernando to eyeball it, as he has painted somewhere around 500 boats, so he knows what he is doing. To stretch the tape evenly, he rolls out the entire strip of it, sticks it to the back end of the boat, and walks to the other end, slowly applying the tape the whole time. After this, we painted the bottom using brushes for the corners and narrow bits, and a roller for the wider, flat parts. Once the bottom dried, I remove the masking tape from the edges, and now it is time to paint on the boot and waterline. We start with the waterline, which will be cream, and is a different sort of paint than that used on the bottom. Whereas the bottom paint will end up with a chalky feel, this will be shiny and smooth looking. So, we measure the waterline, which is 5 inches from the bottom at the stern, and 2.5 at the bow. Once masking each side of the waterline, we paint it, and then, once that is dry, paint the boot with the remainder of the bottom paint.
This week I sanded down the barrier coat to the desired smoothness
This week was painting. Before painting the boat with the final pigmented paint, we had to prime it with Interlux InterProtect 2000E Barrier Coat. This is essentially a primer for the next coat of paint. It is made of these interlocking plates that form somewhat of a scale pattern on a microscopic level, once dry. This paint will serve to protect the boat for a long time. Before spreading this on, we put masking tape along the edge of the strakes, as I look to keep the wood grain, and epoxy over it as a sort of easy, permanent varnish. After painting the entire boat with the barrier coat, using a roller for the sides and skeg, and a brush for the corners, and spots that will not accomodate the width of the roller, we wait for it to dry. Once dry, I sand down the barrier coat until it feels smooth to the touch. This took a few days, progressing into the following week, and many pads of sandpaper, as the epoxy just rips them up. I did not realize the necessity of this step at the time, and thought that it would be best to prioritize leaving the whole thing gray, over making it 100% smooth. I realize now that to smooth down the fiberglass underneath the barrier coat, parts of it will need to be sanded away until the wood is exposed. I preferred to not sand as vigorously and not apply another coat, as opposed to sanding it all the way down and buy another can of barrier coat.
This week I finished prepping the boat to be painted. After conjoining the two components of each strake, and waiting for said pieces to dry, we attached these to the outside rim of the boat. There was a bit of a scare during which I thought I had epoxied them together upside down, so the pieces would then be somewhat of an s shape as opposed to the graduated U that they are supposed to be. But this was an unfounded doubt, they fitted perfectly, albeit needing planing once the boat is flipped over once more. So now that we know they will fit, we spread some epoxy thickened with cellofill on the backside of these, and clamped them along either side of the boat, with roughly 20 clamps on each side, one every 5″ or so. In the days to come, I added the two bottom skids, which first had to be scarfed together so they would each span the length of the boat. Then, with the help of my father’s friend, a quite skilled woodworker, I epoxied the bottom of each strip, and after carefully measuring and remeasuring where they go, we screwed each strip down, puttied the corners so the fiberglass would stick, and left them to dry for the following day. Once dry, I took the screws out, and put two lengths of fiberglass over each one, to protect them against all the abrasion they will experience during the life of this vessel. This is the last step to be done before painting the boat.
The first thing we did this week is to flip over the boat. This was a pretty hazardous process because the boat is very heavy, even though we haven’t even added all of the components to the boat, so it will only get heavier. Also i have a broken hand at the moment which i am not supposed to lift anything with, so that was an obstacle. The book wants me to finish the inside and gunwales, and essentially have everything done except for the outside before flipping it over, at which point you paint it and such. We decided to finish the outside first, as the paint being used is epoxy based, and therefore will need temperatures above 50˚ to dry. After flipping it over, I rounded the edges of the bottom doubler so it will accommodate the fiberglass better, and then puttied the seam of it.
This week, Melissa and I fiberglassed all of the seams i filled in with putty, an enjoyable process. This was after a few hours of sanding with a dremel, something that, as i’m starting to figure out applies to many aspects of this project, i started off bad at, but ended up pretty skilled at doing. I also broke my hand this week, so that is definitely going to be a setback. Over the long weekend, Fernando and I got the tank sides puttied in, and i will fiberglass them in the upcoming days. Today i’m going to Riverhead Building Supply to pick up foam to put under the seats, behind the tank sides. We also discussed storage options, something CLC didnt account for, despite the fact the coast guard requires you to have all these things in the boat. So, instead of putting foam in the front compartment, as the manual advises, we will fashion a sort of hatch in it to be able to access the space underneath. Also, we will only fill one of the seat compartments 3/4 of the way with foam, leaving a space we will put a round inspection hatch over, to store a phone and other knickknacks i will want easily accessible
After the second layer of epoxy over the inside of the bottom dried, we flipped it over and attached the skeg, this long triangular piece that will reinforce the unjointed seam of the two pieces of the bottom. after this dried, it was time to assemble the boat. To do this the first thing one must do is attach the three bulkheads. each bulkhead has two tabs along the bottom which fit into two corresponding holes in the bottom of the boat. For the back bulkhead, there was only one hole, a glitch of the laser cutting machine they used at CLC boats. To remedy this we just drilled a hole where that one would have been. We had to do the same thing for the front bulkhead. Once these were all wired in, we attached the sides of the boat. This was quite a process, a lot of bending of wood involved and to hold it in place took two or three people. After the sides were wired in, we attached the glued together transom. The manual says to just place it in and attach the wires from there, but we brushed epoxy on all the edges of it to anchor it in more securely. After this, the boat is finally assembled into the shape of a boat. What i did for the rest of the week was caulk every seam on the inside of the boat with a putty made from the epoxy mixed with sawdust to make it more viscous. The first bits of this i didnt do quite right, so that will need to be sanded down, which will be so arduous, but i figured out a good technique about halfway through, so for the most part it is pretty good. The next step, which hasnt been done yet, is to lay strips of fiberglass along the inside seams, securing them even more.
Tuesday I added a second layer of epoxy on top of the fiberglass covering the inner bottom of the boat. I did this in the early morning, so it was cold out. The epoxy will not dry under 50˚F, and even rolling it out is a pain, because a lot of little bubbles form. To get rid of these bubbles I skimmed over all the bits that had bubbles with a blowtorch, heating it up enough for them to dissipate. Tuesday afternoon, Fernando and I glued together the two peices of the transom, and clamped them with cinderblocks and clamps, and set that to dry. Once the second coat of epoxy dried (after longer than the normal 24 hours, because it was cold), we cut off the excess fiberglass around the edges with a box cutter. After this I started on the process of sanding down the epoxy only to discover that when mixing the resin and hardener i had gotten the ratio wrong, so the epoxy wasn’t completely dried, which is very very bad. To remedy this, we poured acetone on the bits that were still tacky and scrubbed and scrubbed. I soon realized that, as opposed to trying to just scrub away the entire layer, it is much easier to scrub in the acetone enough for it to start to dissolve some of the stickier epoxy and then to just sand the rest of it away.