Wednesday, January 31, 2007

General notes

Available options on the F22 include standard-cabin, cuddy-cabin, aft-cabin, racing "R" version, and daggerboard vs centerboard. I have decided to go with the standard-cabin+aft-cabin+daggerboard combination. The choice of the aft-cabin will probably raise a few eyebrows, since most folks seem to feel aft-cabins make no sense until you get into a larger craft. I just thought 1) it looked cool; 2) the extra space won't hurt; 3) I liked the idea of a slightly more protected cockpit. (I certainly don't plan on spending much time in the aft-cabin myself -- I'm a bit big for that. Maybe for grandkids someday.) As for the "R" version -- the guidelines for what actually constitutes an "R" version seem a bit loose. Using foam instead of wood is a obvious requirement (along with a taller rig) but to really get a light-weight boat you'd need to track down sufficient quantities of the lightest possible materials (foam, glass, etc). As I've learned, that can be hard to do for retail quantities, so I just buy the best available without going to extremes. Not sure about the taller rig yet -- we'll see, that decison is a long way off anyway.

I am building this F22 out of Corecell. I tried to use the A400 weight (4lb foam) as specified in the plans, but when buying at retail quantities this density is not commonly available. Given the price of A500 offcuts from Noah's Marine, it just didn't make sense to spend extra money for full sheets of A400 (and I would have had a long wait for the product). So, my boat will be almost entirely A500, with a few spots of A400 here and there (got lucky once when calling Noah's -- they had A400 offcuts available). Ian says that mixing foam densities will not cause any issues.

I wanted to keep the a boat a pure-Corecell boat, but similar problems exist when it comes to 3/8" A1200 high-density foam. Apparently this is hard stuff to get -- never available in offcuts, and ordering through Noah's can take several weeks, depending on when you order it and when they last got a shipment. I looked at Coosa composites (Ian suggests them as an alternative high-density material), but again ran into availability issues and super-long order lead times. In the end, I've decided to fall back on good old marine plywood for at least the float deck HD inserts and the main hull keel strips. I did order one full sheet of 3/8" A1200 from Noahs (still waiting for it) which I am planning on using in the daggerboard case.

I briefly considered using some of the more exotic laminates (s-glass, carbon fiber), but in the end decided that since this is my first fiberglass boat I'd be better off sticking to basic e-glass and just getting the job done. Noah's is my glass supplier as well, and I am happy with their quality so far. My initial order of carbon fiber was done through Ian himself.

I am using System Three's Silvertip Laminating Resin (with Slow hardener)...

...for all laminating jobs, and their General Purpose resin for everything else. While slightly more expensive than other brands, I chose them for the following reasons:

  • Familiarity with S3 products from previous projects
  • Blush-free
  • Not affected by humidity (I'm building outside, and in the Pacific NW humidity is often a factor)
  • S3 is a local company, and I try to support local companies (awww, aren't I nice)

I originally wanted to use their Phase Two epoxy, but S3 recommended against this since that product is less humidity-friendly. However, I am planning on post-curing the boat, and S3 says that the post-cured strength of the Silvertip epoxy will approach that of Phase Two.

Ian's plans are of super high quality, and are everything that was promised. I've had nitpick questions about a couple of small details here and there, and Ian has always responded graciously with answers in a timely fashion.

One thing I am not doing, is closely tracking my time and expenses. I have a busy professional life, and doing time\expense-tracking feels too much like work. And to be honest, I'm not too concerned about either -- the time investment will be done when the boat is done, ditto for the $$. I'm not going to cut corners just because I hit some artificial threshold.

Since I am building outside, and I didn't really get started until late November 2006, I haven't been able to do much lamination work. I finished the strongback, mounted the float form frames, and have finished planking my first float half. Since I can't laminate right now, I've been concentrating on finishing as much other small stuff as I can inside: float chain-plates, bow-web, all of the vacuum-bagged flat-parts, daggerboard case, float decks, etc. None of this is very time-consuming, and I should have everything done by spring (at which point my inner boat building demon will be unleashed, and I'll be building like the wind). Okay that last part was hokey, but that is the basic plan. I have been saving a bunch of vacation time at work, so that when the weather warms up I can take 2-3 weeks off and make some serious progress.

One last point. I've made a committment to my wife, that this project will not result in our vehicles getting kicked out of the garage (well, at least not her vehicle). This means that I spend a lot of time cleaning up the garage every day after working on boat stuff, and that space is a bit tight. The vacuum bag "table" overhangs and nearly touches the hood of my car when it is parked inside. I have to be careful when I bring my my car in, and slowly inch it forward... :)

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