Sunday, April 8, 2007

Port float deck attached

Today I woke up all motivated to get my decks glued on. The weather was pretty decent (low 60's deg F) too. But thankfully I have a habit of doing a last-chance review of the plans before I do anything final, and realized that I had forgotten to glue in the tapping plates for the bow eyes. I had chosen to do my tapping plates in 6061 aluminum as recommended by Ian and already had the metal on hand (small quantities can easily be purchased from Online Metals). I traced out a shape that would work, and started to work cutting. Woof -- it turns out that 6061 aluminum is some pretty tough stuff! I was expecting an easy job, but the basic metal blade on my jigsaw was going nowhere. Then I switched over to a manual hacksaw which was a little bit better, but it was still going to take me a lot of time to get done. Rather than waste the entire day on these small pieces of metal, I decided it was time to call in someone with better tools than me: my neighbor "Bubba" (not his real name :) cut the pieces out for me on his bandsaw:

He also smoothed up the edges so they wouldn't tear at the glass:

In retrospect, I should have taped these plates in place at the same time I was doing the bulkhead flanges. The floats were upside down then so that's obviously the most convienent time. I tried to tape these plates in place with the floats right side up, but that didn't work -- the aluminum was too heavy to be held up by the wet glass alone. With the epoxy already mixed and glass wet-out, I hurriedly called my son outside and we flipped the floats upside down onto sawhorses so I could do the taping on the downhill. That worked much better, but unfortunately it meant that I had to wait for things to cure before continuing on with deck fitting; I ended up taking a break here.

After the tape had cured enough to hold by itself, my son helped me flip the floats back over and I got back to work on the decks. There was only one minor task left to do before gluing the decks on, and that was to make a hole for the chainplates to poke through:

Yeah I know I cut the hole too bit on one side; no biggie, some putty will fill it in in just fine.

To get ready for gluing on my first float deck, I went and collected heavy "stuff" to pile on top of the deck. Unfortunately we didn't seem to have many heavy things suitable for such a task, and I was bit worried about this after having read Ed's account of his deck joining. I ended up using many of the walking paver stones from the yard, along with a few other things you'll see below.

Once the heavy items were collected, I started mixing putty and spreading it on around the flanges. The weather had cooled off a bit, but I was really worried that the putty would start to kick before we had gotten the deck on. My wife was helping me by going around behind me with a spreader and evening out the mix. Here's what it looked like after ten minutes of fast work:

Then we laid the deck in place and started piling stuff on to weight it down. I had worked hard at dry-fitting the deck, but it just didn't seem to be weighing down enough. Also, once you're in the moment you get worried and want to make as sure as possible:

The big round thing near the back is a heavy ceramic pickling vat I inherited from my parents. It hasn't held pickles since I got it, but today I was glad I've been saving it all these years.

(I'm a little worried about all of that weight sitting on top of the decks. I hope my float doesn't start to hog.)

After an hour or so had gone by, I went back outside and removed the 3/8" fiberglass dowels from their holes in the float. I didn't want them to be in the way when I start to longboard the deck, or when I rebate the beam attachment areas for the extra reinforcement that the plans call for there.

That is where I left things for today. I decided that the starboard float would have to wait, since we had run out of heavy things. But I am now wondering if my strap-ratchets would be a better way to clamp the the decks down while they are gluing. I have a bunch of them to use, although I would want to put strips of wood both on the deck and under the keel to distribute the load. I may consider this for the starboard float.

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