Sunday, May 26, 2013

Business as Usual

Spring weather has been great here in SLC.  Everything is green and temps have been perfect, days in the mid 70's.  The boat is steadily coming along.  It has been great that we can both work on the boat together, Beth has been taking on more and more challenging projects.  Its great for me, I find that when you work on a project like this there are portions of it that you just really don't want to do.  I don't really even have an explanation as to why I don't want to do them, I just hate the idea of having to do it, so I put them off...forever.

The project I have been working on is the deadwood.  Basically this is a spacer in between the bottom of the boat and the lead keel.

I cut out the wing shapes for the deadwood, which are all a little different. Then stacked them up and glued them together.
You can see here that I have started to shape the left side of the it, I plan to shape it soon, then I'll wrap it with fiberglass and glue the whole thing to the bottom of the boat.  At that point it will be time to try and move that 4000lb. keel underneath and start drilling out for keel bolts.

All the fir is laid for the decks, now we are just putting in things like this Teak king plank and a few other teak accents here and there. We are hoping to caulk in between the planks sometime next week which will be the final step in the decking process.

We have been sailing Beth's dinghy a little bit and all we have is a paddle, which is pretty awkward to use in such a wide boat.  So Beth found some basic plans for a set of oars.  Here is how we are working them from square to round.  They start square then I rip the corners off on the tablesaw making an octagon.

Then Beth uses the jack plane to cut down the corners and slowly it becomes more or less round.  We haven't cut out the paddle part yet, but we will show some pics next time.

The best looking dinghy on the Great Salt lake.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

To Boston and Back Again

The day after the keel was poured,  we returned to the Little's house to clean up.  It sounds like a big job- but the clean-up wasn't really the hard part.  The hard part was loading the keel-  now a solid block of lead weighing roughly 4000 pounds- onto the the trailer.  Cody and Dylan and John rolled and winched and cursed and sweated- Afton and I lounged on the grass in the sun, and somehow neglected to take any photos of the process...   Oops!   

Once the keel was loaded on the trailer, and securely tied down, we drove down to the shop, and rented a fork lift.  One of the factors that makes our shop location so great is the proximity of a Howe Rental company.  They rent out all manner of industrial equipment, and are less than a block away from us.  I think it took longer to fill out the paperwork- check out and return- than it actually took to unload the keel.  

Once the keel was safely in the shop, we breathed a huge sigh of relief.  It's done!!  Yipee!  Then we headed home- to our tiny apartment,  filled to the brim with people and stuff.  Cody and I, (well, if I'm honest, it was mostly me) scrambled to pack.  We were off to Boston early the next morning to work for Vertical Solutions for two weeks.    That night, we hugged Afton and Dylan and Tim, who were setting off for an epic road trip through Canada the next day, and collapsed into sleep.   

Our trip to Boston went smoothly.  We arrived and took the "T" system to the stop we had been directed to- we were staying at an apartment in Cambridge, not at the rental house with the rest of the crew, because there wasn't room.  The next step in our directions read, "Walk east until you encounter the three-way madness."   Being new to the area, and lacking any landmark, we weren't sure which way was east.  We asked a bus driver- who surely would know the cardinal directions, right?- and he had no idea.  No one seemed to know which way was east.   We figured it out by trial and error, and eventually found the place.   That night, we wandered around Cambridge, strolling through the MIT campus, where everyone we passed seemed to be having a serious, intellectual conversation,  "But you have to remember, the potential energy is in stasis, so..." or something like that.    The architecture was neat- a blend of old and new styles, and all the trees were in bloom.  After dinner, we took a pedi-cab home.  We slept soundly in our 8th story apartment, and when we woke up the next morning,  could not believe the news that  the fatal shoot-out involving the Boston Marathon Bombers had occurred not a mile from where we were- and had been so happily wandering the night before.  The city of Cambridge was in lockdown- all public transportation was shut down...  I'm sure you'll remember the news.    Luckily, the job site was close, but in the city of Somerville, which wasn't under the "Stay Home" advisory.  We hurriedly found a cab, and headed to work.  

The next two weeks were a blur.  We managed to work 160 hours over the 13 days.  We worked roughly 8am to 8pm, never taking a longer lunch break than 1 hour.  Just as a point of reference, working a typical, 40 hour week schedule, 160 hours is a month's worth of work.  The work itself wasn't too bad- I was mostly sanding the finish sheeting, and building a simple handrail on top of one of the bouldering walls, while Cody was putting on the finish sheeting for almost the entire 160 hours.  The gym is HUGE.  It's going to be one of the largest gyms in the nation when completed.  

 One of the bouldering walls. There's another on the Mezzanine level, which you can see the corner of in this photo.  

One of the rope walls.  Opposite this one, there's a huge feature called "the tongue," which overhangs nearly to horizontal.  you can see the lip of that wall, just barely, in the upper left-hand corner of this photo.  
You can see a neat video about the gym here.  

We worked our last day on a friday, and were scheduled to fly home at 5pm on Saturday.  We took the day to explore the city and see the sights.  

At the site of the Boston Massacre, behind the Old State House.  
Those animals, perched on the corners of the building, are a lion and a unicorn, of all things.  

On the Boston Commons.  That's George Washington behind us.  

Springtime!  So many beautiful tulips!  Lots of blooming trees too.  

The site of the more recent Boston Massacre.  Or bombing, I should say.  There was quite a memorial set up, and the little trees nearby were missing many branches.  A chilling and moving sight.  

  We didn't really have an agenda to see the city, but did what we usually do, and looked for good food, and some historic sights, and maybe a marina to wander.  Exploring Boston, without a good map- we had a free tourist map, which was just okay, was confusing to say the least.  Cody was calling the place "Loston"  by the end of the day.  

  We had some classic cornbread and clam "chowda" for lunch at the Union Oyster House- the oldest restaurant in the country, open since 1826.   From there, we found the Italian neighborhood on Salem Street, and were kicking ourselves for having clam chowder for lunch, as there were so many restaurants offering traditional Italian food...  But we were determined to find some authentic Boston Cream Pie, and found it at Bova's Bakery.  The friendly man behind the counter- the owner, presumably- boxed up a generous slice of Cream Pie,  made us an incredible sandwich for dinner on the plane, and picked out a box of cookies to bring home as a gift for the Mannions.  (Who celebrated the birth of their 2nd daughter, Little Tilly Mae, the day we arrived home.)    If you're ever in Boston, I would strongly recommend checking out the historic North End district. 

Whew!  Now, we're home again, and back to the boat shop!  


We decided on "sprung" decks, which run parallel to the sheer.  They're going to look so nice when they're finished!   One benefit of the hot weather we're having is that the epoxy we use to attach the planks cures quickly.  We're able to put in two planks per side every day.  

Cody, after milling all the lumber for the decks into planks.  He was wearing ear-muff hearing protectors.  I think it was a little dusty in there.....  

The skylight above the table is installed!  It looks great, and is keeping lots of dust out of the cabin.  The glass is 1/2" thick tempered glass- very strong and sturdy.  

Cody's just finished laminating the skeg, which is upside down in this photo.  
We're going to have to lift the boat up higher to attach it!  

 We were doing some dog-sitting recently.
  Rumsy loved to come to the shop and chase the ducks in the creek outside.
 He's the worst duck-hunter I've ever seen.

Monday, May 6, 2013


We did it, the keel is poured!!  No burns, no crying, really almost no problems at all!

We did a lot of things differently this time, and they payed off. 

Here is the setup, our friend John graciously let us commence this circus in his driveway.  We used two tubs this time, mostly because it is horrifying to have 4000lbs of lead in one tub.  I welded stands for the tubs to sit on and then we built a platform to get the fire closer to the tubs.  You can see we also used bricks that John had laying around to block some of the wind.  

Drains for keel mold

I welded the pipes to the tubs just as they are in this photo.  The pipes worked kind of like a snorkel.  They came out the drain of the tub, then to the side about a foot and then up until they were well above the molten lead line.

The pipes are threaded together, so when it is time to pour you simply turn the pipe, lowering it down below the molten lead line, making the the lead flow out.

Look for the steel pipe floating in the lead when the camera goes around the tub.

There were a couple of minor problems.  The first was realized early on.  I knew from previous experience that welding to cast iron is difficult.  It just doesn't behave like normal steel.  If you don't really pre-heat it, your welds just don't penetrate and you end up with something more like metal glue instead of a weld.  Anyway I didn't have anything to pre-heat with so I just welded the crap out of it and thought it would be fine.  
As soon as the lead started to become molten it started leaking out of what looked like hairline cracks in the drain.  I thought that molten lead would be too viscous to flow out the crack but it wasn't and we ended up moving the fire away form the drain to allow that section to cool and form a plug.  I now know that if you are going to pour lead, water test your setup for leaks.

Here was another minor problem, the lead was coming out too fast and starting to erode the side of our sand mold, so I blocked with some wood.


This thing is pretty awesome, apparently there was a very slow leak in the bottom of the mold, but it looks like it plugged itself off. 

After letting the keel cool overnight we returned to clear out the wreckage.   You can see how well the sand works, this is after prying off the sides of the wood box.

It took us few hours but we got the keel winched onto Johns trailer and drove it down to the shop where we rented a forklift to lift it off and into the shop, and there it is just sitting on pipes ready to be cleaned and faired.

We are so lucky to have the support of so many people.  Afton and Dylan, the original team came back for a second try and were so much help. We can't thank John and Lindsey Little enough.  Not having to drive out to the desert was huge, not to mention all the other ways they made this event possible.   The video is courtesy again of PJ and Sarah who showed up just in time to see the whole thing go down.