Thursday, August 4, 2011

Joining the forward deck

It feels like progress has slowed because a lot of the work has gone to joining small pieces and reinforcing internal seams that won't be visible, but on the upside it is looking a lot more like a boat.  I finally was able to join the rest of the forward deck onto the main hull.  Using stitches wasn't realistic because it was going to rest on the edge of the splash guard where panels come together roughly in a Y shape.  It took some creative use of clamps and a few borrowed hands to help temporarily align things, but the pieces did get persuaded into position.  I used gel epoxy on these seams as well.

The tricky part came next.  The footwell areas need to be securely bonded to the hull because it is possible I will stand directly in these areas.  This meant applying glass tape to the inside seams.  Fortunately, I did not assemble a small vertical panel on the gearbox mount, and this allowed access to the underside.  It is also fortunate that I have long arms.  In this case, I did not want to have to sand a cured fillet all the way inside the hull before applying the tape, so I did both in one step.  I applied the fillet, mostly blindly, with a syringe and then smoothed it out.  Before the fillet cured, I soaked the tape in epoxy and rolled it up.  I unrolled the tape, again mostly blindly, and smoothed it out.  The advantage of combining these is that you can smooth out any lumps in the fillet while smoothing out the tape, rather than beforehand by sanding.  There is a risk it could become an even bigger mess if something goes wrong, but it is a good option in some cases.  I could shine a flashlight inside from behind the seat when I was finished and confirm that the tape was roughly in the right place and was free from large bubbles.  Once the tape was cured, I reached back inside with sandpaper and gave the tape edges a quick sanding.  This is too prevent any cuts if I need to reach there in the future.  Not surprisingly, the rough edges can be as sharp as glass.

A recommendation for the future is to evaluate a similar design but to attempt to reduce potential windage issues from the large central panels.  It should be sufficiently rigid to use an L shaped rectangular beam that extends from the seat to the gearbox and angles down to the deck.  This would leave more open area.  I think it could also create useful open storage area for water bottles and a mesh pocket or similar.  I doubt I will modify this one, but I will think it over.

Now it is on to more small details.  I am creating two hand holds on the sides of the seat.  I will add small half-round wood trim to the bottom for a smooth grip.  At some point I will figure out a way to place a rudder control inside this recess so it is easy to reach without repositioning my hands too much.  This will probably wait until the end.
I will also need to figure out a way to close up the main forward deck opening with a hatch.  I've been reading about some nice wooden hatch covers secured using rare earth magnets.  Maybe I will try this, since tension straps won't be very practical in this position.

 Time up to this point: 62.5 hours

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