Thursday, December 17, 2015

Darn legalities

I was down at a Department of Motor Vehicles office yesterday getting a license plate for my new trailer, which went smoothly - yay.

On the spur of the moment, I asked the clerk about licensing requirements for homemade boats.   The answer was unpleasant - the state expects you to present receipts for all materials used to build the boat, so that they can verify that you paid state sales tax (which is what we have in Washington state anyway - hey it beats an income tax!) on everything.   Lacking receipts, you must declare a fair market value for the boat, and the state immediately makes you pay the full sales tax rate for that amount before you can get your hull identification #.    Furthermore, you do not get a real title until three years after that point.   I suspect the implication of that policy is that you can use but not sell the boat - not that I am intending to! :) - until that three year period is expired.   

A long time ago, I remember saying something about how I didn't want to be tied down in the financial details while building this boat - i.e., the "plan" was to just get what I needed when I needed it, and not get lost in budgeting details.   (Also, this may have been motivated by a subconscious fear of just how much money I was going to spend in total...)  I am now kicking myself for that attitude, because it's going to cost me a significant amount of money depending on what fair market value I eventually declare.   Worse, I just hate the idea of the state double-dipping into me on taxes!

May be it won't be so bad though - this is a real crappy boat I've built here, really no more valuable than some old wooden rowboat if we're all being honest with each other, right?   ;-)

Joking aside, I'd urge other home boat builders to look into the licensing requirements for their state at an early stage, ideally before you even start building.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Trailer center bunk started

After some research on the best trailer bunk material (lignum vitae, anyone?) I chose to use 1/2" thick strips of Douglas fir.   The plans call for the bunk to be 1.5" thick by 8" wide.   As usual I over-thought the details and ended up with the following plan; the varying widths of the strips are intended to keep the vertical gaps non-aligned:

(------layer of fiberglass-------)
  1"     1.5"      3"     1.5"     1"
(------layer of fiberglass-------)
.75"    1.5"   3.5"    1.5"   .75"
(------layer of fiberglass-------)
1.25" 1.25"     3"  1.25"  1.25"
(------layer of fiberglass-------)

If you add up the dimensions for each layer, you should come up with 8" for each one.  Let me tell you, it takes some effort to come up with this many details for what in the end is a simple board.  :)

Here is the center line of the boat marked out, with the beginning and end of the bunk also marked:

The "layup" - if you can call it that - was quite a chore.  Access to the top (bottom) of the boat was difficult from a ladder, and once things were underway I could no longer climb on top.   Because there were so many layers with so much bog to mix and apply, I was really racing the clock and thank goodness for the cold weather (in the 40's deg F) or I probably would not have made it.   This is after layer two is on, with bog, but before the glass layer is on:

Dealing with so many darn strips of wood was a real pain as well.    However overall I am glad I did it that way as the resultant bunk so far seems to have conformed very well to the hull bottom, both fore-aft as well as side-to-side.  

Almost done, notice my high-tech board clamping technique (duct tape):

You might be able to see in the above picture that I have a length of plastic taped to the hull below the wood strips.   This was to prevent epoxy\bog from getting on the hull (I still got some on it here and there), and also because I planned to vacuum bag the whole thing to the hull.   Turned out I didn't have any vacuum bag film, so I tried to use plastic sheeting, and also had to use duct tape to seal most of the plastic.   The vacuum attempt was a failure - never got above 5 lbs of pressure.  Ah well, I think I am ok anyway.

I did all of the above work before going to L.A. to get my trailer (see previous post).   Yesterday I took the bunk off of the boat - I am pleased so far, the bunk is very heavy and stiff.  

Here you can see the gentle bow the hull form gave it:

The end section after I trimmed the bunk to length (this is the bow end):

The ends looked ok as far as voids, but I had a hard time keeping some of the narrow strips from bowing sideways in the middle.   This has left me with several long gaps to fill with bog:

I know, not perfect but I think it will work.  

Next up is filling the gaps, cleaning up and glassing the edges (and the raw wood inner surface seen above), sealing everything with epoxy, and maybe even fairing\painting.    I will be stapling trailer carpet to it as the final step.

In other news:   I will be flipping the boat over for the last time tomorrow, and will hopefully be able to finish up the interior painting soon (with the help of my portable heater).    It has gotten too cold (darn it) to finish the exterior painting unless I get lucky with a warm day at the right time.    Still, making progress.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Picked up new trailer

A couple months back I ordered a custom trailer from ABTrailers down in California.  I started out by emailing a PDF copy of the trailer plan sheet (sheet 60) to AB, then had multiple phone conversations from there to nail down various details.    Alex (owner of AB) has built multiple trailers of this type (including one for Rod Tharp - a local F32 builder; Rod gave me some good feedback and also had some useful pictures to look at).    Alex was very responsive, spent a lot of time on the phone with me, and answered every question I had.   

Some folks asked me why not just go with a local builder, answer is that I wanted to go with a stable company, familiar with boats of this type (trimarans), who produced a reputable product in aluminum (I wanted the corrosion resistance).   When considering how long I will have this trailer, a quick trip down to California is not a big deal. 

My wife and I left last Wednesday around noon-ish, and arrived in San Bernardino (yes the same one as the recent terror attack tragedy) around 7pm on Thursday.   People of southern California\LA:   I feel very sorry for you - you must have done something awful in a past life to have to live in such a place with such horrible, horrible traffic jams.   I think we spent 2+ hours in stop-and-go traffic on I210, which was aggravating since we had just spent another 2+ hours in stop-and-go in the hills north of Santa Clarita due to an accident.

Anyway, back to boat stuff.   After a good night's sleep, we got to AB at 8am on Friday.   Here's my truck with the trailer hooked up for the first time (the non-descript building to the left is the new world headquarters of AB):

This is Alex talking with my wife:

The trailer is almost entirely aluminum except for the axle cross-member and the tongue shaft.   It has electric-over-hydraulic (disc) brakes, which apparently is over-kill for a trailer of this size and weight, but oh well.    It has LED lights, and a full-sized spare too :).   In case you are wondering, the center support bunk is my responsibility and I have already started working on that (more details later).   The side hull supports and the float supports you see above will likely need some adjusting but that's no big deal.

This was the first time I've ever towed a trailer, so I was very nervous at first but things settled down pretty quickly.   The trailer tracks nice and straight and didn't bounce around as much I thought it would.  It would have been easy (almost) to forget it was back there.  We had a good trip and made it home safe and sound :).