Escargot Builders log
It has been so long. In the last couple of months my aging mother has had three operations, I have had a cold, and my kids have had birthdays. It has also been really wet. To make this story a little shorter, I have not been able to work on the boat much at all. But in the few moments of work I HAVE been able to do.. I have gotten much done. One side of the boat is in place on the frame… and just today I installed two thirds of the other side. It is really starting to look like a boat now!
I installed the sides differently than the plans call for. They have you join the three pieces of plywood together in a butt joint with a doubler strip. They have you do this on a flat section of ground, then join the huge side panel to the frame. I don’t have a huge section of ground.. so I put each doubler plate on the frame, then added each section of the side to the frame. To join them I used plenty of thickened epoxy and nails. I think it worked out pretty well. At this point I would recommend that all do it that way. As it was it was very hard to mount the small sheets with one person.
Which brings me to my sons involvement.
He has worked on this very little with me. There are several reasons I guess and I am not proud of them all. First off, school can be a bit of a struggle for him. This has meant we have a great deal of homework to struggle through. Last night, for example, we took three hours to do homework and practice. This meant I was doing homework with Alex from basically 5 to almost 9pm, with a break for dinner. Ugh. After a full day at work, and three hours of homework…I need to just sit and stare at the ceiling. Ideally, I would take time with him away from the homework table.. and I do. But for him, working on the boat is not as fun as for me. To him, it seems to be just another thing he HAS to do. So I don’t make him do it. Plus, I relish the precious few moments when I can do something just for ME. Alone. Those that are parents will understand. Sometimes I wish it was different. I think it will be this summer when school is over.
My daughter wants to work with me on the painting. I think what we will do is have her paint the doors… or the table tops. She is quite the artists… so it could be very nice for her to decorate them in a pseudo gypsy style. These pictures will give you some idea of a direction I am leaning in. She will be so excited to work on that. She might paint the hatchways. I got a letter from the designer saying he has a new hatch idea. I will talk with him to see what he has to say.
Funny how things go…. my son has expressed great interest in working on the boat now. For the last two days he has wanted to work with me. Really wanted to. I think it is because the boat.. with the addition of the sides and bottom… really is looking like a boat now! He really likes crawling up on top of this huge box and sitting on the roof talking with me. This may not last a long time.. but last night he was of considerable help! And, it was fun. The bottom is now three/fifths done.
A couple of thoughts…
Never buy plywood over the phone and have it delivered. It just means you get all that is left in the pile. Sounds obvious.. but I did it anyway. I got some really bad wood.
The plans call for connecting all the sheets for the bottom and then applying as one unit. I decided to try doing one sheet at a time. Again, sounds obvious, but that created problems with joining the sections on the curve in the middle of the sheet away from the stringers on the edge.. I would first put a sheet down and let the glue set. Then add the doubler plate and let the glue set. Then I would join the next piece. Well… along the sides where there is plenty to nail to.. this worked well. But.. in the center.. it proved hard to get the pieces to pull into each other and to stay down. Worked out… ok.. but took some fancy footwork.
I have a black tie optional event to go to tonight.. so I guess I will not be able to work on the boat tonight!
Two more weekends of off and on work and I have been able to glass the bottom, front, and back. Went to a fiberglass store and they threw in an extra 12 feet or so of cloth. Bought cloth that was about 38 inches wide. Needed two runs of cloth that were 20 feet long… would lay them side by side and wrap them over the edge to strengthen the joint that joins bottom to side. Worked out well, and with the extra thrown in, was able to run the cloth up front and back. Went back today and they recommended putting on a finishing layer to cover the weave using fairing putty. I don’t know… it is sooooo thick. Very hard to work with. Hmm. tried some.. and will see how it dries and then how it sands. The weather has been horrible. Very hard to get to work on boat. Rains keep threatening. Another problem is that I am building boat in driveway under many trees. When the wind blows branches fall into resin. Less than ideal situation… but if you are thinking of such a project don;t let a challenge or two stop you! Worked on skeg too. Putting on in middle with two other strips that run length of boat.
Spent about $350 in last two weekends. Sigh. This is not a poor mans hobby.. and I still need to buy a trailer. There are a couple in the paper that are about $800.
So…. I will finish bottom, add another layer of resin maybe… paint the bottom and then flip it over!
The rain has been relentless. Sigh. But… I have now added the skeg and rub strips along the bottom of hull. The plans call for these 3 strips to run the length of the boat. I decided, not sure why, to take the same amount of wood, and run five shorter strips just along the bottom where there will be some contact with the trailer and with sand on the beach when I land. I will try to take pictures today and post them here. So the bottom rails will need some filleting with resin and then I will put on one more layer of resin. might be overkill… but seems wise from this builders perspective.
Next, I will paint the bottom and flip. I still haven’t decided on colors. Thinking of a black bottom…. thinking of it… not sure.
Yesterday when I was working on the boat my eleven year old son asked me if I was sorry I had started this boat. I said sometimes yes and sometimes no… and usually I am really glad. Then he asked, in effect, if he and I could spend some time walking and talking together. I stopped what I was doing and got ready to go with him. From the way he was talking it appeared as though he thought I was spending too much time on the boat. Plus, my mother went to emergency room two nights in a row, and I had to work one night. I have been gone far more than usual. It is really rare for me to be gone at night. I only go out with friends after their bedtime and that is rare too! I went in and talked with my wife about going out with Alex… and she said they had been talking too. Alex told her right out he thought I was spending too much time on the boat. She told him to tell me, in a non-whining way. He did a very good job of that. Funny how this father son project has turned into something that has gotten in the way. Sigh. So it goes being a parent. To be fair to me, my friends compliment me on how much time I spend with my kids. Regardless, Alex and I went out to lunch, to a bookstore, and then stumbled across a huge car show. Even though he is eleven, and getting ever nearer to almost terminal coolness…. he held my hand much of the time. Guys seem to talk well while looking at cars…. doing something. I always thought that a child psychologist should have an old fire engine… and the sessions should be held in the driveway waxing the truck. Boys… and men.. will talk more if they are doing that sort of thing. Yes there will be long silences… but that is the sound of thinking and of building comfort back up to say more.
On that subject. I have bought another old car. It has stretched my finances to the point that I don;t have the money to buy a trailer yet. Silly me. I bought a Reliant in England. Now you think I am rich perhaps… foolish for sure! No… you can buy a reliant AND have it shipped… for less than $2200. Since I sold my model t for more than double that… well… anyway…
The Reliant should arrive in about a month. Silly me. Here is a link to see the kind of car I bought. Mine is like the one at the bottom of the page.
Later in day: All filets done on bottom rails. Looking pretty good. Started to sand some of the splash from the fillet material… but wasn’t hard enough yet. Will do that late today, or perhaps tomorrow night. Then I will try to paint it in the next few days. Thinking of who I can call to help flip it… lets see…. maybe four neighbors… Michel.. Dale… and me…’
Lets say 600 pounds… divided by … hmm… ten guys would be nice. I will see what I can do.
Now it has been too hot! Mixed some resin and it started to go hard fairly quickly. Had to scurry to keep from doing damage. As I felt it going hot… and boy does it get hot… I just poured it onto the bottom of the boat and let it flow across the bottom. Then I quickly used a roller and spread it out until I felt it start to get sticky. Sounds like it could have been a mess… but if you quit before it gets sticky it turns out ok. It is just a bit thicker in that section than I would have hoped for.. but no harm done. Feels odd telling of all mistakes here! But this one turned out ok!
I need to get back to work.. but for now here is what the bottom looks like. The color is due to some filler resin I used.
Rained again today. Isn’t the Northwest wonderful! Actually, game me some time to spend with kids. Also, my brother had his birthday today. It was fun to spend some time with him. He had a bunch of his music friends over. He plays with Jazz Guitar great Bill Frizell. Danny Barnes… a great player formerly of Austin Texas, and tours with Fiona Apple. His friends are all musicians. Was fun to get together and talk with these guys.
Worked out the paint scheme. Original scheme a little boring. Also…. that blue side rail strip? I want to make it straight… to follow the line of the windows.. not the bottom. I think this will give boat a MUCH better look!
Prefer the English canal boat schemes more! These are close to what I am thinking. By the way… Smithsonian Magazine has a great article on English canal boats. There are some good pics on this site that show what are mean.
Black bottom. I just bought a low end West Marine polyurethane.. or however you spell that. It is what store recommended given my use.
a side rail strip that is red.
sides that are green.
Top that is same red as side rail..
with white and gold/mustard trim.
Goal is to paint boat sometime this weekend if weather will cooperate. Then flip it over early next weekend or some night this week.Or something like that.
To be honest.. I alternate feeling excited and tired of project at same time. It is a usual pattern for me it seems.
Well… it could be a little smoother.. but it IS the bottom!
July 7th 2000
We flipped the boat! I sent notes out to about 15 homes on street and called several friends. Right before the time I had set I got two calls saying they couldn’t come.. and a guy drove by saying he couldn’t. Then I saw that one guy I was counting on wasn’t home and another was leaving. Sigh. Non-Buddhist thoughts entered my head… stormed into my head. THIS is what is wrong with America and some other drivel. Then a neighbor I rarely talk with showed up… then another.. then a few neighbors I talk with more… and a couple I had never met before. We had enough! I got out the beer and seltzer water and outlined my plan. There was slight disagreement.. but nothing major so we went for it. First we pulled the boat out of the driveway and it felt very light.. so we just walked it all the way out into the middle of the street! Then we positioned some used tires and rolled it over… I was very nervous.. especially when something popped. But that was the only pop in the whole operation… and no scratches either! We then rolled it over from its side to its bottom, picked it up.. and walked it into the driveway onto more tires. Perfect. NOW it looks like a boat.
Another benefit… I have talked more with my neighbors since the flip over than I had in the previous several years!
There was lots of talk about the boat and how it was too this or that. Most centered on it being too tall and underpowered without enough of a keel. Several thought it would just blow away. There was talk of adding a couple of dagger boards or even one in the front of the boat mounted like a fixed rudder in the front. There was also concern that it was too light and flimsy. But none of the inner stiffeners have been added and the roof is still not in place. I guess I usually make things outside the normal… it seems to be what I enjoy… so I am used to this sort of thing… sort of.
As the boat sits on its bottom now, after working for 5 months… I feel a renewed sense of enthusiasm. Now back to work!
July 18th or so
Been slow going. My wife is moving her office.. and money has dried up and so has her patience with my always working on the boat!
My car arrived. Funny little thing. I will put pictures on soon. It has also been a distraction this weekend.