Baby it’s cold outside.

Pathfinder project build blog.

March 2022…..well, we had one nice week when the ambient temperature came up to 10 c during the day and that was my signal to get on with the work again – in two days work i got the hull turned over and then over the next few days i did a combination of filling/filleting and then fairing of the lapstrake plank joints. At the end of a week’s work i had 7 of the 8 plank edge joints faired to shape, half of them filled and filleted and the same ones planed and sanded to a nice edge – then, the air temperature dropped to 6c again and the wind came up ; now, it’s colder and windier than it was in February and i can’t get a whole run of plank joint (17 feet) warm enough for the epoxy filler.

I stopped work, at least on the filling, because one run of epoxy and filler didn’t fully cure overnight and when i came to start sanding it the next morning it clogged up in the sandpaper – when i tested the filler with a fingernail it left a mark so it’s not fully cured. I filled the joint before mid-day on a reasonable day when there was some sun by the way and even set up my hot air gun to blow hot air under the boat in the hope of creating a warm air bubble up inside the hull ; obviously now it wasn’t warm enough for long enough. My solution to finishing the cure of a long joint was to make a warming blanket just as i did once before , using an electric bed warming blanket with an old bed quilt, all inside an old quilt cover and that inside a big sheet of plastic. I found that with the blanket set to maximum and it’s timer set to an hour that i could warm up and fully cure a 6 foot length of join……therefore 3 runs cures a joint. That seems vastly more efficient than randomly blowing hot air around from a 2 Kw space heater for 6 or 8 hours and is a lot cheaper on electricity too (our winter bill was way OTT because of my project’s use of power).

Port side plank edges 2 and 3 filled.

Expensive times ahead.

At the end of my last season boatbuilding time i finished planking the hull and then tried to carry on with smaller jobs in November and December – i finished the internal epoxy coating for example and even got some primer paint on up forward in the sleeping space. To do that though i first had to spend some time with my body mostly under the tent and using my hot air gun to warm up the air inside the tent and to make sure that there was no condensation sitting in the top layer of the plywood or on the previous epoxy coat. After any job that i did i then had to set up my new 2 Kw space heater to keep the inside of the tent warm enough to let the epoxy cure or primer to dry – anything up to 6 hours and sometimes i found it better to blow some warm air around with my hot air gun as well.

Anyway, the end result of that was not much actual work achieved on the project but what it did give us was a much larger than usual electricity bill – my partner manages our utility bills with standing orders and she found that we were about £100 in deficit just because of 5 or 6 weeks extra heating. Then, it just got too cold to work so i stopped all boat work and got on with a long list of jobs outside and i left the project alone until the air temperature got up to 10 c again….at that air temperature it’s often warmer under the shelter and it’s just about ok to cure epoxy with fast hardener but it doesn’t work as well with the slow hardener that i was all i had left.

Here, where we live in the south west of the UK, there’s been a real shortage of diesel and sometimes petrol in all of the local stations, what’s more the cost of fuel is going up rapidly and alongside that we anticipate huge price increases in our home utility bills (gas and electricity), a large increase in our local (council) tax and then knock-on effects with all of our other home costs. Food prices will inevitably rise due to the increase in transportation costs….just as an example.

Usually, in the boating industry, when oil prices go up many other costs go up quickly as well – epoxy resin and paint for example and then any costs of transportation. Today then in project mode i just had an admin morning to order my next batch of West system epoxy resin, plywood and veneer plus transport costs before a big increase. I’m thinking also that as soon as i have this month’s budget (pension) i’ll also buy in the timber for the main mast, the skeg/s and more glassfibre cloth for the hull.

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