Glen-L marine designs

HUNKY DORY / Don Bing / 6-18-02:
March '02: Laid out stem, transom and breasthook per plans. Cut all from 3/4" Douglas-fir marine plywood AB grade.

Was uncertain of breasthook cuts; made sample from scrap plywood to establish bevels and cutting method. Made cuts with the band saw, jig saw and finished undercuts with a hand saw.

Cut inner and outer and side transom framing members from 5/4 mahogany. Used jig saw to cut notches for chines and shears. Clamped bottom framing members to transom and drilled pilot holes for silicon bronze screws from Glen-L. Used Lee Valley tapered bits and drilled 4 holes initially. Lubed screws with wax and drove 4 screws. Broke all 4 off. Fired off an e-mail to Glen-L; are they really that soft? Glen-L acknowledged silicon bronze is soft and for that reason they use #9 instead of #8 screws (Only on 1 1/2" bronze screws). I bought a standard screw pilot set, used the #8, drilled 2 holes and promptly broke off 2 more screws. Then got smart, mic'd the upper and lower shank for both #9 and #10 screws, used 2 bits separately, drove screws very carefully and only twisted off 1 out of the 50 or so used for the transom. Removed the screws covered the whole assembly w poxy grip and replaced all screws, using clamps where I was afraid to torque screws to close any gaps. Whole assembly looks good and is true.

Next cut one stem piece true and sanded smooth. Attached next 2 pieces temporarily, cut a little oversize, and trimmed w/ flush trim router bit pausing occasionally to let bit cool. Coated I side w/poxy-grip and refastened w/same screws to maintain alignment and fastened with 1 1/4" silicon bronze nails per fastening schedule and plans. Nails would not draw up the minor plywood warp so I scrambled to get enough clamps on it to close gaps.

April: Cut all frame members from genuine mahogany. Precut all notches for chines and sheers. Also pre-beveled all forward frames per plans.

Frames 1 through 7 are identical so I built a jig with the layout board as the foundation. Used toggle clamps to hold frame members in place while applying glue and nailing 1/2" Doug-fir plywood gussets. Toggle clamps worked so well I used them for all 12 frames. Used clear plastic 6 oz. drinking cups to mix epoxy. The cups have flared sides but I laid a steel rule flush against the side and made a mark at 1/2". Mixed together, this was just about enough for 1 frame assembly. I saved each mixed cup to ensure epoxy set up properly. Only had one batch that had the faintest hint of a tack after 24 hours. I understand you can have up to a 5 per cent error in mixing ratios so precision is critical with smaller batches.

May '02: Getting a lot of rain and it's time to move the project outside. Progress now slow. Built the setup form on our deck. The deck is at grade with 3 levels, each level a step (6-7") lower and I'm using most of it. Best I can tell the deck framing members rest on p.t. timbers on grade. I estimate the deck to be about 10 years old and I keep my fingers crossed settlement is complete. I did my best to level the whole thing with a 6 foot spirit level but over 20 feet it is difficult. When I set up the frames I found anywhere from 1/16" to 3/16" difference over the first 7 frames which are called to be dead flat. I think this has as much to do with the construction lumber as spirit level inaccuracy. I then got a hold of a builders (surveyors) level. These are very simple to use and I believe can be cheaply rented. The accuracy over very short distances (20-30 feet) is remarkable. Resting a combination square on the top of the frame bottom, while my wife made sure the frame was plumb, I could read the scale to the 64th of an inch. I then shimmed the frames to within a 32nd of true. If you use this technique it is imperative the frame is plumb and the scale is plumb for a true reading.

June '02: All frames plumb, level, square to the centerline, and at the proper set up level. Repeated measurements indicate the deck is a stable building platform (whew!).

This is a good time to reflect on the last 3 months. I am almost on schedule and the pieces are assembled into something that really looks like a boat. This is the first boat I've built and the process is really enjoyable. The plans and instructions, though succinct, are adequate. I study the plans and patterns carefully. I have probably read Glen-L's boatbuilding with plywood and the epoxy manual 3 times now and they are invaluable.

Barry always answers my e-mails promptly and I take notes from the boatbuilder connection for future phases of my construction. Just tallied up my to-date costs and am getting an appreciation of what goes into a boat. Will post next when chines and sheers are installed and boat is faired prior to planking. Should be around July 4, hopefully. Certainly would be pleased to correspond with other Hunky Dory builders.

June, July and August '02
Progress was slow. Took a few weeks off of boatbuilding for work, vacation and chores. Ripped and pre-beveled chine logs to be installed in 2 pieces. Butt joint between frame 5 and 6. Clamped chine into place with pipe clamps. Had to cut a number of angled blocks to lie on top of chine and in between gussets to provide parallel clamping surface. Pipe clamps would not stay secure otherwise. With some shimming (5 frames total, usually 1/16 and 1/8 the chines looked good. Scribed forward chine to stem, cut and plane to fit. Very happy w result. With wife's help drew the chines up tight to the frame w clamps over 2 day period, wetting by boiling water over wrapped towels periodically. Then let sit for several days. The imposed curve will want to relax after loosening but returns easily. When the wood seemed dry I mixed some epoxy and clamped up alternating each side and frame. Temperatures have been in the 90's and the epoxy sets up quickly. I don't mind mixing fresh batch but it becomes very runny so I've started using a filler with structural properties. I set screws at each frame location, even the forward frame (against advice and my better judgement).

On to the sheer clamps. These were a real horror show for me, certainly the most frustrating so far. Because of space limitations, I have about 30" of space between the port side of the boat and my house. I don't have the room to attach the sheer clamp to the stem and enjoy the advantage to lever the remainder into place over the frames. Instead I have to tie around frame 6, bend it around a projecting member clamped to the set up form so that as I forced the sheer into the required curve it mates flat against the breasthook. The necessary force was considerable and I could only get it close. I was certain screws would not draw it in. My final solution had a sturdy box constructed under the breasthook. I fastened a brace of 1/4" steel bar bent to angle to match the bevel of the breasthook and about 7/8" away. I got the sheer forced around the curve close to match and slid it between the brace and the breasthook. A wood clamp pulled the sheer tight to the rear of the breasthook and a screw through the brace and into the stem pulled the front of the sheer mostly tight. That was a trial run before glue up and it took over 2 days of trial and error. I treated the other side identically with brace and wood clamp although I have plenty of room for the mechanical advantage of bending the sheer progressively toward the rear of the boat. Then wrapped the sheers in towels, poured hot water and slowly drew them in. If I had to do it all over again I would consider laminated sheers. Before glue up I noticed a small crack in the chine at frame 12. The is the tightest curve and the crack obviously was created by drilling and setting the screw. Because the crack runs to the outside and forward it seemed clear it would not get any worse but I was very depressed. I asked Glen-L about this and Barry suggested I could sister a piece of wood to the inside of the frame as an acceptable repair. I also epoxied in a piece on the bottom for good measure.

I checked the chine and sheer lines to see how the planking would sit. A straight edge against the chine and sheer mated flat against the stem. Same was true at frame 12 and all points aft. However the sheer twisted to a more vertical position between the stem and frame 12 to a maximum 3/4" at the mid point. Matt Krick ( another current Hunky Dory builder has the same condition). Glen-L suggested adding laminations, usually on the inside, and fairing the outside. In my case I added them to the outside in 1/4" thick strips and then began a major campaign of fairing. Belt sander, jack plane, and block plane, checking regularly with straight edge for a good fit. Took off half the wood I added but in the end it seems right and looks right. Some over zealous sanding required a patch of epoxy and filler to fill out the dip. The chines in the forward area also had a slight deviation from the straight edge line so a little more adding, a little more fairing.

I decided to check the whole assembly for level since I'm building on my deck never had a lot confidence in the stability. I'm using a builders level and I could see immediately that the deck is settling measurably, from a 1/6" to 1/8". Drat! We've had a very dry summer and I think the soil is shrinking from a loss of moisture. It seems to be leaning away from the house. I undid the screws holding the frame cross pawl to the setup form cross member. With only the sheer and chine tying the frames together I could lift one side slightly and insert a shim. After the screws were replaced everything checked within 1/32".

The inner bottom battens installation went almost well. The sample of lumber I used to position the frame member was about 3/4". It was a mistake to think lumber purchased later would have the same thickness. The new lumber purchased for battens was slightly over 13/16" so I had to notch all the frames a tad to make all surfaces flush. The forward curve of the battens dipped about a 1/16" below the chine line between frame 11 and 12 so I laminated on a thin strip and sanded to the chine line. Minor deviations here and there were addressed with the belt sander. With a medium belt and a light touch this has become my best labor saving device.

I am now ready for planking. The plans call for 3/8" plywood. My local supplier only carries 1/2". Glen-L says it should work but it seems rather stiff to me. We shall see.

The progress over the last couple of months seemed very slow and was occasionally very frustrating. Sure I have a few shims, laminations and filler, but everywhere I look on my boat I am very happy with the lines and the fit. I think I might be tweaking things to a tolerance tighter than required but I really don't know what error is permissible. All I know for sure is the bottom has to be flat. Should have the planking on by Labor Day. Have already ordered the fiberglass kit from Glen-L. By next post I will also have all expenses itemized.

Sept/Oct '02
After all framing was faired and sanded, I rechecked level and found more settlement (in the deck?). With the builders level I can check pretty darn accurately and have found as much as 3/16" out of level. Maybe some is attributed to shrinkage of construction grade forming lumber. Anyway, the boat, without plywood is still flexible enough to permit minor shimming. Used a scrap piece of pegboard to form a template for the forward sections of the boat and then cut 1/2" oversize. I put the sides on first. The joint between the forward and middle section really wanted to bulge out. Placing a stiff batten over the joint and clamped at the chine and sheer drew the mating pieces flat. I wrapped the batten in wax paper. Bottom was also cut oversize and later planed/sanded flush w/ sides.

For the planking I ran out of Poxy-Grip and started using Poxy-Shield with silica filler. This stuff mixes up to a thick creamy butter that is a delight to work with. It holds its slump in hot weather and I wish I'd started using it earlier.

I didn't want to fiberglass out on the open deck so lured by beer and pizza, 12 co-workers helped carry the hull and form around to the garage. It pokes out about 5 feet but I draped a blue tarp over the garage roof and hastily fabricated A-frame to make a decent shelter. This activity identifies your less tolerant neighbors.

After viewing the Glen-L video I began fiberglassing and it went mostly smooth. On installing the bottom layer I had difficulty working from the side of the boat. By working on the bottom I had difficulty not shifting the wetted out cloth as I moved backwards. In the end it looked OK. I was able to put on a coat of epoxy here and there during the late Indian summer but by October the hull still needed another coat and the good weather was behind me. The hull was then lifted off the form by 6 of us and placed (still upside down) on a new trailer. The trailer cost more than the materials I have into the construction at this point. Covered with a blue tarp she's all tucked in.

My Hunky Dory went into storage (under a tarp in my front yard) around October. The Chicago winters don't permit any real work and I don't have enough indoor space. Around Labor Day of last year my hard drive crashed and I lost my diary, some photos, and the tally of my expenses and that is why I haven't posted to the Registry in a while. I hope to reprise most of the information in the next few weeks.

The hull is complete but for a final coat of epoxy and adding the outer members (battens spray rail rub rail) and then I'll flip 'er over. Weather permitting, probably early to mid May.

May 2003
The hull is untarped, back in the garage and receiving final coat of epoxy. Can see a few areas that will require an additional coat. All exterior members and paint should be complete within next 4 weeks, hopefully.

Summer '03
Added additional coats of epoxy and sanding in between with 100 grit for flat finish. Bosch 6" orbital sander worked great for this. Had one bad batch of epoxy that barely didn't cure (almost imperceptible tack). It took close to a week of evening work to remove it from forward half of the port side. A wallpaper scraper with a sharpened edge worked best.

Used white oak bedded in fiberglass tape for bottom battens w/ butting pieces beveled to 30 degrees. Also used white oak bedded in polysulfide for spray rail figuring these parts would take the most abuse. I ran a router with a 1/4" radius roundover bit over outside edges. Although you can't see it, I was disappointed with the joint at the bottom of spray rail with bottom planking because of radiused chine area. Next time I would consider filling the chine to a crisp edge (like the transom) for a clean joint.

The entire boat was painted with Petit primer and 1 part polyurethane. Even the bottom. I used two colors and added a mahogany rub rail at the paint line. A roller and tipping off with a foam brush worked fine but slow. Next time I will spray. Everything got 2 coats. Though not required, I continued the spray and rub rail the length of the hull because it looked better. It was a bear to bend the spray and rub rail. Cobbled together a steamer from 6" pvc and a camp stove. I should have done it for the framing also.

I rented a bobcat for the flip. Created U clamps from threaded 3/4" stock and clamped stiff board (2x4 screwed to 4x4) to bobcat forks. With rope slings lifted her off the trailer to rest on the ground. Then shifted slings to cinch up at far sheer and lifted her again so she hung with bottom perpendicular to ground. Slowly let her down so she'd want to fall right side up and then repositioned the slings and put her back on the trailer. (See Customer Photos). It was both the most nerve wracking and easy and smooth part of the entire project.

Encapsulated entire inside with one coat of poxy shield. Started to add guard rail but realized it was premature if I was going to put on a cabin. Plan to go with version B of cabin plans. Splash well is constructed, forward deck framing is complete and starting to add partial deck beams.

Partial deck beams and carlings now in place. I glued up sections decreasing length of white oak so as to not use a single wide board for carling.

Had strong hopes for this to be a 2 year project but it will go into another season with hopes to finish in 2 more months of working time.

Now that she's right side up I have to cover it more carefully. A 4" strip ripped off a 3/8" sheet of plywood will fit securely between the sheers with a near perfect crown to drape a tarp over. I'll probably put one at every other frame.