Bottom’s up.

Pathfinder build project, March/April progress.

Early March 2022, just when we thought it was safe to carry on : for my first progress report – it’s early March and once again the wind is up to 50mph in the gusts but this time it’s coming in from the south east as a deep depression sweeps across northern Uk…..and raining of course. where we are and specifically where the build shelter is situated makes it very exposed to sou-easterlies which come straight up the valley ; when i went out to check on everything some rain had been driven under the shelter and some of it got through the tarp/tent cover so iv’e got some wet patches of hull.

Drying out the hull after storm

Late March 2022 progress : after several days of wind and rain yet again it’s finally stopped and with a fresh but cool breeze boxing the compass i was able to peel all of the covers right back, let the dry wind at the boat and into the workshop and go at the wet bits with the hot air gun.

On the bench.

  1. My first job is to make an external stem band to finish the bow and give it and the boat’s ‘chin’ some protection against grounding – it’s not in the plans and not strictly necassary but i like the appearance of an external stem band and it seemed like an interesting thing to make. I asked on the forum and most builders who asked suggested ripping some hardwood down to thin lengths of about 5mm or so but i thought i would have difficulty doing that without a bandsaw so instead i bought in a half sheet of 3mm Agba veneer and cut 6 lengths of that with one of my Japanese pull saws. I passed a screw through all lengths at one end and fastened that to the top (now lowest part) of the stem and then bent the whole 6 piece bundle over the bow and pulled it down with cordage and a riggers hitch – it needed a couple of screws to pull the bundle flush with the stem.

The stem band lamells glued together, the stem taped and the bundle screwed and lashed to the stem to set overnight.

Stem band lamination in progress

Day 2 – the stem band cut to a line flush with the bottom of the boat and tidied up a bit – it won’t get attached permanently until iv’e finished taping and glassing the hull. Lots of hole filling and sanding in progress , for a while now iv’e been slowly taking out the screws from the plank joints and using the holes as an epoxy ‘dump’ for whenever iv’e got glue left over……still a lot of holes to fill and sand flush though.

Stem band dry fitted and shaped.

2. Filleting and fairing the plank edge joints.

In total the boat has 8 plank to plank joints to fill, fillet and fair – that’s about 136 feet of filling and filleting to do and then of course to shape the fillet to take a nice concave curve which blends with the outer (convex) curve of the plank edge ……remember that in the previous post i planed the plank edges to a fair curve first. One of the problems i will face at glassing stage is getting the cloth (or tape) to lay cleanly over the plank edges so i’m trying to get a maximum radius possible on them.

Filling , fairing and shaping both the fillets and plank edges in progress.

Filling and filleting the plank joints

3, Glassfibre taping of the bottom board to first plank and first to second plank joints. Designer John Welsford says to glass and epoxy tape over the bilge chine joint, in the photo above iv’e already filled the joint and smoothed the 2 surfaces fair and created a slight curve over the edge.

For glass cloth i used 150mm wide glass tape , which i think is 100 gm cloth – i draped and smoothed the tape out dry , poured a run of epoxy on and used a simple plastic spreader to ‘card’ the epoxy over and into the nap. The bottom chine joint is quite easy because the joint only has 2 planes and a smooth curved edge but the difficulty comes when taping the first to second plank joint as this is the first one where i have to apply tape onto the plank edge step. I found that the best way to do this was to paint epoxy onto the hull first, lay the 150mm tape over the glue and then run the spreader up and down and along the joint to slowly bed the tape through the resin. On my first attempt i found that i was getting a bit stressed because the tape, even at 150mm wide wants to move up or down the plywood with the spreader and makes the cloth pull out of the step……i found that the best thing to do was not worry about the tape in the step until near the end of the job when i’d got the tape wetted out.

Last year i invited my closest sailing friends over to see the project and advise me on how to go about the glassing the hull…..both of them are very good laminators. They both said that glassing over plank steps is always difficult and especially so with a full width roll of glass – so i haven’t tried to do that and i’m not going to do that. My plan is to tape all of the plank joins as iv’e done so far with 150mm cloth tape, then, i’m going to apply a full width cloth run (1000 mm) offset to one side on the bottom panel and stopping on a line just inside of the tape joint effectively at the upper edge of plank 1 : because of the width of the boat i’ll apply a second layer offset and overlapping the first layer to do the other side…..this will create a double layer down the middle of the hull. At this stage i’m thinking of finishing the narrower planks (2 and 3) with the wide tape covering the tape already on the plank joints but not running over the plank edges.

The other part of this that i’d like to mention is that iv’e really had to think a bit about doing the glass and epoxy coating – i’m going to try and get all of the cloth and resin on during a week of forecast good weather but i’m going to try and do the work as early in the day as possible but with slow hardener. As i write, it’s a cold morning due to there being a thick mist sitting in the valley which has , as always, covered the inside of the shelter roof with condensation which will start dripping onto the covers – before i start i’ll spend a while running my hot air gun over the hull , the can of resin is sitting in a bowl of warm water and hopefully i’ll have the glass on by late morning and then it’s got all of the afternoon to cure.

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