Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Panel prep and stitching the forward deck

After glassing inside the main hull, I needed to do some basic prep work before I could do any other construction steps.  I glassed both sides of the bulkheads and also glassed the inside of the deck panels.  I also did some general prep work (sanding) on some panels I will get to later.  The next step was to glue in the bulkheads.  There is one forward and one aft.  These will seal off portions of the hull that are hard to reach for storage and create independent chambers for bouyancy in case of emergency.  I used 5 minute epoxy to set the bulkheads, then ran fillets on both sides.  I admit I didn't tape here, I guess no one's perfect.  After curing, I put 2 inch glass tape on one side over the fillet.

Next I had to deal with my first misstep.  Fortunately, it was only cosmetic, but I am very particular about the aesthetics, so it was still disappointing.  I had decided to use up some of the water based wood dye I had left from my last boat.  I covered several of the deck panels with dye and sealed with an epoxy coat.  It looked great.  Then I needed to glass the underside, and since they were individual panels they could sit flat on my work bench.  I put them over my plastic covered bench and carefully spread epoxy over the glass.  But I was not careful enough, so in several places epoxy ran off the edge and pooled under the panel (which is the good side).  It is impossible to sand off this stuff without sanding into the dye and leaving a light spot.  It isn't possible to reapply dye because the grain is sealed with the sealing coat.  So rather than have a few spots on each panel I chose to sand the entire panels to lighten the color somewhat uniformly.  I definitely know now to put panels on spacer blocks (1/2" or more) next time.  It's rare on a regular kayak to glass panels individually, so it hasn't been an issue before.  Hard to say how it will look finished up, but its time to move on.

Stitching on the deck panels generally went without any hangups.  I also stitched on the splash guards, which are one addition to Rick's previous design.  I also made the transition from the footwell to the forward deck curved so I could use a single strip for a splash guard.  The software did a great job unfolding this panel.  Once it was stitched on, the only way it could be bent to align with the mating edge was to sit at a 45 degree angle.  I am also taking advantage of early feedback from Rick and Michael who have both taken their similar boats out a few times.  I had originally designed the forward deck to be pretty tall.  I think partly it is hard to judge proportions of a 20 foot boat scaled to fit on the computer screen.  I want room for storage, but it will perform better in a cross wind with a shorter deck so I manually cut these panels down and cut a new top piece out of scrap wood.

Now the next steps are the same as before, taping the seams, gluing, removing the stitches, filling holes.  The photos show one area where the panels would not line up as needed.  Sometimes, the wire cannot create enough tension.  In these cases, I use push pins to prevent one edge from sticking out too far.  It is better to spend the time here making the adjustments rather than spending time later fixing the fiberglass when it doesn't lay smoothly over the sharp edge and leaves a bubble.  Nice to see it look more like a boat.

Now its ready for a final outer sanding and glassing the outside of the main hull.  As I mentioned it will be a first for me to wrap around and glass the deck in the same steps, so I hope it works.

Total time up to this point: 32 hours.  

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