Monday, April 23, 2007

More float fairing

Yesterday I worked some more on the float decks. Eventually I figured out that rather than just eye-balling the deck to see where the high-lows were, it was much more efficient to use a long straight edge. I have a good quality 6' level with a machined flat edge that was perfect for this task -- it got rid of the guess work and made me feel much better about the job. (I can hear the experienced builders out there laughing -- sorry, I'm fairly new at this fairing business.) It turned out after checking things all over with the level, that each float deck had roughly the same profile: a high spot over the two beam bulkheads, and a low spot forward of the transom. I guess I can understand the bulkhead high spots (no "give" under that part), but I'm not sure how the last foot or so near the transoms ended up low. Anyway: I sanded down the deck areas over the beam bulkheads until the level lay flat over them, and called it good. The deck areas near the transom, I left alone -- I'll build them up with fairing putty later as needed.

A note on tools: I am using a 3' longboard. Not being the inventive type, on my last project I spent the cash for the fiberglass\foam boards made by 3M (I have both the flexible and the rigid ones) with the Hookit sandpaper-stick system. The 3M-brand paper is a bit expensive, but lasts a long time. The 36-grit with the rigid board worked especially well on smoothing down the deck high spots.

After being satisfied with the deck fairing, next up was rounding over the deck edges. I chose to form a 1 1/2" radius (see my last post for a picture of the PVC pipe I used to make a sanding tool) on the edges; partly this was to avoid taking off too much material, partly because I'm lazy. However now that I'm all done with this part of the job, I think that the floats might look even better with the 2" radius that Ian allows for. Hand-sanding cured putty edges is not much fun though, so I'm stopping here.

Here is a picture of the starboard float edge getting rounded over, in the fwd beam bulkhead area:

See the gap there between the planks and the deck? This particular float half is the one where I made the mistake of trimming the planks too short at the top. On both floats I had small gaps in many places between the deck and planks. I had decided to finish rounding over the edges before filling those gaps:

(The port float in the background has already had its deck-to-plank gaps filled, and is nearly ready for laminate.) Here's a closeup of the putty on top of the bow cap:

(It's hard to tell in the above pictures, but I ended the 1 1/2" radius about 8-10" back from the bow cap front. From that point forward I hand-formed a decreasing-radius edge up to the bow cap. I thought the full radius would be too much if carried all the way up.)

Here's a picture of the transoms, all sanded down:

See that blob of putty on the port-side of the starboard float transom? That was to fix an small boo-boo from the jigsaw back from when I was cutting off the excess hull from the float half. :)

Overall I am getting excited since the floats are looking pretty darn good -- rounding over the deck edges really gives them a nice, finished look. The only things left to do before beginning the main lamination are round off the transom edges, and laminate over the chainplate. I am still on the fence about whether I should vacuum bag or not.

The weather has finally been warming up - go-go gadget-summer! Today was great, got up close to 70 deg F. I have noticed that the warmer it gets, the more my boat tent begins to feel sauna-like. (Notice in the picture above that I've opened the back flap for more ventilation.) But I'm not going to complain too much after suffering through the winter dorking around with heat lamps and such. I'm looking forward to laminating a part and having it cured in the same day.

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