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 The Forebeam

That big thingy up front that your anchor hangs off of and the thing that is keeping me from putting decks on until it's mounted because the deck goes over it..... that thing!

   Outside working with my mates... the magpie is curious about everything I do and the Roo's in the background back off a bit when I fire up the angle grinder... as any smart animal would.

 Sometimes you get to expand your field of knowledge in ways that are unexpected and satisfying, and all knowledge is beneficial.. sooner or later.

Lets take welding on aluminium for example. I mastered welding on steel whilst rebuilding our old steel ketch some years ago. See if you think I’m kidding. But aluminium is a whole different exercise. The forebeam for our boat is a massive aluminium pipe. Certain items had to be welded to it prior to mounting on the boat because some parts were directly adjacent to epoxy laminations that would be damaged by the heat. So... just so happens that Peter Kerr of Lizard Yachts operates from Tin Can Bay which is not far from us. I had fabricated the parts that had to be welded in place and had prepared the forebeam to accept them. And by the way, getting the metal locally was impossible. I finally got in touch with Action Aluminium in Brisbane. They had the right alloy and 16mm thickness and sent it off same day. Great service.

Where was I..? Oh yeah, Peter, nice guy, rang him up and asked could he do a quick job for me? “Sure”, just give a ring before taking off with the 5 metre pipe lashed to the top of the van. Now a lot of tradesmen in Queensland guard their knowledge like their daughters virginity but as soon as I got to Peter’s big shed he proposed that I should give it a go myself. I was free to use his gear. I have a mig welder but gas being ridiculously expensive lately, I had experimented with those small disposable argon bottles you can get at some tool places. For $110 I got a bottle and the regulator and a complete mess on my test piece. A horrible result and about 10 minutes of gas. What a burn! So I wasn’t that keen or confident.

Peter gave some quick and concise advise and turned me loose with a mission. When I could weld a 90 degree joint on one side and beat it over with a hammer and have the metal break or flatten without breaking the weld, I would have all the skill required to give it a try. I did it on my forth attempt.

Peter sells plans for power and sail catamarans made of aluminium for professionals and amateur builders. If you’ve ever contemplated building an aluminium boat but didn’t have the skill and unsure of being able to acquire it, I suggest you contact Peter and set up a project conditional on your successful instruction on welding. Some people just have the knack of making an otherwise difficult task easy to grasp.

So in an hour of work and two hours of shooting the shit, I was on my way back. The next big part of my boat was putting on decks but the forebeam had to get done first. Also... it looks like I have a rig to build. Peter reckons my 200amp Mig-O-Mag welder is up to the job with proper gas. It looks like I can get the alloy stock for mast, boom, spreaders and etc.. for about $4000 plus shipping from Sydney. Add another $1500 for wire and fittings and a week or two of work and I have a $16,000 rig. Valuable knowledge Peter... thanks!

   Getting the slots ready and preparing the hulls. The forebeam fits directly over the bow bulkheads which slant from the foot of the bow backward about 20 degrees.
   If I could weld one one side of a flange and then hammer it over without it breaking, I was on the right track and able to proceed.
   Acceptable for the application I think. I had to cut back a couple of the welds before I/we were satisfied but overall I was pleased and encouraged.
   The forestay chainplate will go no where I think. The piece goes all the way through the beam, protruding out the bottom and is welded there too. If this weld was all that was holding it in, I may have asked Peter to do the weld o make sure but I really feel this is strong enough.
   That's Peter Kerr of Lizard Yachts 'at the office'. To his right is the machine he let me torment.
   After the welding I wrapped enough BD around the ends to make about 10mm thickness and brought it right up to the striker chainplate. Then mounted and after carefully adjusting the degree of angle from the forebeam chainplate taped it in as shown with heavy uni. That is two longer sections that cross at the top of the beam and the other ends attach to the inner hull panels. I didn't have enough faith in just that so inside I wrapped two more sections around the beam and then to the hull panels on both sides... jus makin sure.

 I had foam panels already laminated and ready to go. Here they are jigged to tape to the balsa panels that are leftover from the bridgedeck which will form part of my side decks. The area ahead of the beam is a void. You may barely see the angles I have in place there ready for the deck to be brought down after applying a good coat of glue mix to the lot and piling on a couple hundred pounds of stuff to secure it. I was very pleased when it set. I got just the camber and angle I wanted and a very solid feel under foot.

I double coated the inside with resin before buttoning it all up to seal the balsa as well and as per requirement, did that late in the day so it would 'ingas'.

There is much more that has to be done on the forebeam but it can wait. The striker and and anchor roller will likely be fabricated separately and fastened to the beam on plates.