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 Getting Back in the Groove... with a little help from my friends (photo log following text)

 I know people that go their whole lives in some kind of protective bubble, but building a boat seems to be a shit magnate. People in the family get ill or die, injuries can occur and lately floods are all the fashion. As far as health goes, I knew going in I had to be careful. In the last several years I’ve been diagnosed with everything except writing talent but all the things I considered as risks did not occur, but the surprises sucked. And that’s the point. Lesson learnt is... it is not possible to anticipate all the things that can go wrong when you take on a project like this, for example:

Shoulder injury: I didn’t see this one coming. Damaged tendons are a bastard to heal. The shoulder is a continuing problem that is being managed by adaptation of equipment and technique but that cost 5 months outright and continues to slow things. A caution to builders, this wasn’t a sudden injury but rather a few days of extreme overwork. The actual injury wasn’t realised until days later.

Where we re-started: The first hull was a mess due to material defects and incomplete information. Repairs to prevent water ingress into the balsa core were complicated, time consuming and costly. The second hull was much better due to luck and the acquisition of information on outgassing. [Kay now calls the first hull, “Bob’s hull” and the second hull, her hull.] These issues have all been reported in previous editions and are on the website but a brief description of the outgassing problem is at right. Lessons learnt? I wished I had stuck to my plan of using foam sandwich. There is a mountain of independent information on using the material. It is usually less expensive and doesn’t require epoxy with it’s cost and toxicity.

Boat Cote resin: I did have concerns that I might be more susceptible to epoxy reaction which has been the case but I have managed that. In a way, this has been good in that some builders that don’t expect trouble get themselves really toxic before they realise what they’ve done. I have switched to Boat Cote epoxy resin which claims to be less toxic than what I used before. It’s even more expensive but if it saves health, worth every penny. It works well in most regards but for bogging it has a tendency to sag. I addressed this by using more cab-o-sil filler along with the Q-cell in the mix which helps but makes for harder sanding. Over-all, I like the resin.

The weather this summer has been miserable. For the year and a half that the project was on hold we watched cool dry days go by. My lovely drought! Now that I can work, it’s monsoon city. That and the necessity of working at night to insure every coating was a sealing coat, made for some interesting schedules and extra work.

I admit that I lavished the hulls with attention in the repair and finish stage. Once bitten, twice shy. But the extra work will pay dividends later (hopefully) as much fairing work has been incorporated that may save time later and in increased confidence in the integrity of the water proof sealing of the balsa.

The Procedure that works: This reflects my experience with the Duflex. To the extent possible this is what I did or would have done if I could. First step, cover the panel surfaces with resin at night or anytime the panels are cooling. The “longer” the thermometer the better. A squeegee works best to fill the pours. Then once that goes tacky, the first layer of bogg mixed thick. When that goes tacky then another thinner coat of bogg to smooth and fill the thicker layer. Let set overnight and sand the next day when it’s gone off. That should get you most of the way there but I still wouldn’t bet my life on it. So, another layer of resin over the lot, again working at night to be sure, let go tacky. After that comes another layer of resin saturated with copper powder. [I elected to use this for abrasion resistance rather than long term anti-foul. I have had reports of this mix preventing hull damage from grounding. I have found that some especially savvy sailors use this mix to prevent abrasion damage to key areas on deck as well.] After the copper coat goes good and tacky, a coat of epoxy primer (that’s Wattyl Epinamel PR 250, formally called EP universal)), and later we’ll coat that with Wattyl DTM 900 for a tough sealing coat and then a chlorinated rubber tie coat and anti-foul. I did do a test to insure compatibility of the primer and resin.

Cool Tip! When rolling resin on in hot weather, I used modest batches (350 t0 450 grams) and kept most of it in a milk container that I left floating in a bucket with a few inches of water in the bottom. This dissipated the exothermic heat of the reaction and extended the pot life dramatically.

Dry Tip! To keep water out of my air tools and paint sprayer, I bought a 30 metre air hose to connect the compressor with the tank. I threw the excess hose into a dam next to the tent and the water keeps the line cool and prevents most of the condensation from reaching the tank or my tools and paint sprayer. Thanks to an Airlie Beach reader for that tip.

The Cool Tools: I showed some tools I modified and fabricated for the job. Having had a chance to really test them, I report success! The split tool is wonderful for sanding bogg in an even, fast and controllable fashion. Finish work will be it’s forte. Using 80 grit on it leaves a 120 grit surface, don’t ask me how, it just does. The air sander that in it’s original form spit oil all over the job really benefited by greasing key parts instead of using more oil. Not one drop of contamination after many hours of hard work. Replacing the original ‘shoe’ with a big slab of plywood made it much more effective. A fantastic tool! But the ugly truth is, nothing beats a torture board. So for the gimp here, I made a board that doesn’t require both shoulders. My one armed torture board uses my right elbow to press against the work while my right hand guides and puts pressure forward. No fun, but good result.

The Waterline: All the you beaut ways to get this are a pain in the arse if you are working on dirt. Stuff it! I spent hours trying to get a hull level athwartships and fore and aft and gave up. I had five points from the hull forms that indicated the waterline. I transferred those measurements to the hulls then upon advise (thanks Craig) added about 100mm to account for design optimism and splash action that leaves a dirty bit just above the water. I then took a string line, fastened it level with the fore and aft marks and gently moved it (didn’t take much) to line up with the other marks for a good fair line. See photo at lower right.

Pardon my French! I had some help for a week or two early on and it was useful to get me back in the groove. One helper was Luc from France. He was keen so turned him loose with a trowel. We have been going through some wet periods and when the rain stopped, an extraordinary insect breeding cycle came on. Boat Cote claims their resin has an insect repellent built in but working at night under lights... it was infuriating! Nothing would stop their Kamikaze attacks on the white bogg. Swearing is kind of universal. If not pronunciation, then tone certainly runs consistent through the language barrier. The poor lad was trying really hard to do a pro job and the bugs made a mess of every try. Oh well... now incased in resin forever, is a (large) sample of Queensland wildlife.

After last year I didn’t know if my health would ever come back but the gut I had developed is already going away and my body is gaining strength. The most important thing though, is that I’ve got the dream back and I’m really enjoying it. I’ve got a boat to build and after all the bullshit we’ve been through so far, I doubt anything can stop me.

   The more I use it... the more I like it!
   The old bogg sanded way back and recoated with fresh.
   Being more careful then required really. It doesn't need to be this fair under water but it was all a part of therapy.
   The "Rupes" sander is a fantastic tool. It goes to work in a hurry without being out of control. A rotary random orbital or something like that.
   Luc having a go at the chemistry of boat building. With this resin the face mask is really superfolous but the sanding dust is never good and I just have concern for the young blokes.
   Lets see.... one part Q cell and one part Cab-o-sil....
   'It must be the tool'.... Luc had a bitch of a time getting a smooth finish with the bogg.
   And as you would guess... just as he was getting it, he moved on.
   It was good to have company during this fragile period anyway.
   Ready for paint...
   Two coats of epoxy primer from Whitsunday Ocean Supplies...
   Finally.... it's these milestones that keep you going. It isn't that big of deal normally but this project hasn't been "normal".
  I did the water line with a little measure and a string line to fair the mark. Worked well I think... we'll know at launch! The Bum was painted with epoxy and copper mix to increase reisitance to abrasion but not intended for anitfoul, and then painted with a hard epoxy primer and then a tie coat of chlorinated rubber in preparation for antifoul.