Two short planks…too short days.

Blog time : good morning everyone, it’s the beginning of October 2021 and it feels autumnal already here with days of strong wind, heavy rain and the daylight is gone by 1930. Right now, as i write the sun shadow is slowly creeping up the side of the valley to our east and it’s suddenly turned cold in the light westerly breeze. To be honest it’s beginning to feel as though i’m running out of outside building time….another few weeks work and i think i’ll pack up until next spring. It’s been a good day here though aside from some sharp rain showers so iv’e been outside all day replete with my best boatbuilding woolly jumper on and a beannie hat all day because iv’e just had my autumn haircut…..more like a shearing job than a haircut !.

In last week’s blog post i mentioned how our excellent mainstream media caused most of the UK’s drivers to panic – or so it seemed , and all rushed out and queued at filling stations until many of them ran dry and shit down. Then, with the ones that still had fuel there were arguments, actual fights and lots of angry people. This week it’s still the same – one driver decided it was essential that he top up his tank and did so with a whopping £1.65 worth…..that’s about $2 by the way. The best one i heard about though was the ‘clever’ and enterprising bloke who didn’t have a can to fill so he used an open bucket with a bin liner………what could possibly go wrong with that idea ?

What i did today all day : made another pile of shavings.

On the bench.

Earlier this week we had one much nicer day , quite cool but sunny so i made a big push to get as much of the last pair of stringers on before quite literally i ran out of daylight. The next morning i thought i would just have a quick and easy session attaching the last parts of those stringers at the bow and first frame ; what i thought would be a quick and relatively easy job turned into another 4 hours with a fair amount of salty language when i just couldn’t get any of my clamps to work. The problem at the bow is that the stringer has to be pulled in quite hard and the only place to clamp to makes for too much of an angle at the clamp face such that it just slides away under load. In the end i reverted to my technique of pulling the stringers together with cordage first.

Now what i’m working on is preparing all of the stringers to take the first 2 practice planks which are a short pair of plywood ‘planks’, one each side from the transom to ahead of the last internal frame. What i have to do is bevel each stringer twice so that a straight edge or my test board lies across the stringer above and below with little or no gaps. The angles between each stringer change throughout the boat so it’s a slow job and a physical one as some of the time iv’e had to sit or kneel on the ground, sometimes i can work sitting and only for the upper parts can i work standing up. Once again iv’e found the little block plane to be the best tool because it’s simply the lightest to use in an awkward setting ; i did make a few mistakes with the plane mainly in that i hadn’t countersunk all of the stringer/frame screws well enough and i chipped the blade a few times …….lots of time spent fettling and sharpening the blade again.

To be honest, after 5 hours of continuous planing i was pretty knackered so i gave up at that point, sharpened the plane for tomorrow’s session and had a couple of hours sanding and cleaning up the epoxy joints. A whole new experience came at the end of the week too ; now that the stringers are all on i can’t access much of the structure from the outside because i can’t easily get my arm through between the gaps or can’t see what i’m doing because of them……instead this week iv’e had to carefully climb over the top stringer and actually into the ‘boat’ to do some jobs.

Below …..Designer John Welsford says to use a small straight edge to determine each bevel angle…..iv’e been doing that but found that a short plywood board (my test plank) as a guide to show me where any bumps or hollows are. So far it’s gone quite well except for at the bow where there’s a significant hollow in the bow section.

Test fitting a ‘short’ plank.

This week.

I would really like to get the first run of planks on all round the boat each side – that’s 6 planks to mark out somehow , make and dry-fit ; i have to make the second run before i can fit the first ones because of the way they work. Right now i don’t know how to mark out or measure the complex shapes of the first plank because part of it is underneath the beveled bilge/chine stringer ; i might end up getting some thin and cheap plywood to make patterns from. I need some dry days though because the only way i can work with the full sheets of plywood is out on the cutting bench which, right now, is out in the rain……rain is forecast for all of the next few days !

The other job/s i’m going to work on are ones that maybe i should have done before fitting the stringers – like fitting the fore and aft supports that go under the bunk flat….and making the first boards for that job as well. Iv’e still got one whole side of the boat’s stringers to plane though and i reckon on 2 days just doing that.

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