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My son has decided to build a boat.
He's chosen Payson's Tortoise.
The construction costs associated with this project are expected to be quite low.
20040815 - Starting (3.25 hrs)
The toughest part is laying out (lofting) the side panel. If you don't get that right, who knows what the whole thing will look like or how it will sail. Everything is cut out except the daggerboard. We're using BC plywood.
20040819 - Framing (1 hr)
All the frame pieces got cut out of some scrap clear white pine. The gunwales got glued and clamped (port and starboard) as well as the stern transom bottom bevel. I stopped when I ran out of clamps (using Gorilla glue).
20040820 - Framing (1.75 hrs)
Transom bevels cut and clamped. Table saw to define the cut (transfered from drawing with my bevel gauge), then hand plane (#6) to clean it up. I stopped when I ran out of clamps. Then spent a half hour figuring out how the bottom frame on the side panels (I'm calling them the "rockers") work.
20040821 - Framing (.75 hrs)
Glued the bottom rockers (fore and aft). Glued one pair of vertical parts on stern transom.
20040822 - Framing (.25 hrs)
Unclamp, glue verticals on bow transom along with fixing the plywood on the bow transom.
20040831 - Taking shape (1.5 hrs)
Move everything outside, use trim router and pattern bit on bottom of rockers and glue up (gorilla glue) transoms (both bow & stern) to side panels. Used a handful of #8 x 1 5/8" stainless deck screws and my longest pair of Bessie clamps.
20040902 - Close in the hull (1.0 hrs)
Laid down the bottom panel to close in the hull. An extra ration of rum to all hands. Noticed the top bevel of the forward transom is wrong.
20040903 - Trim & scrape (1.5 hrs)
Trim excess bottom panel, scrape squeeze-out glue, sand and prime with Behr No. 75 (left-over from house project).
20040904 - Sand & paint (1.5 hrs)
Lightly sanded primed surfaces and then paint with Green Adirondack (PPF-35) Behr No. 6600 (left-over from house project).
20040905 - Finishing touches (1.5 hrs)
Added the afterdeck, the afterdeck's coaming, a screen door handle "eye" for the painter and a bead of silicone caulk along a couple of the seams. Shaped the mast step and pondered the pintles.
20040906 - Water trials
The day of Box's water trial dawned cold and breezy. I'm glad we're not raising the spars for the first time today.
The plan is to take her down to Shadow Lake (part of North Chagin Reservation) and gracefully drop her in. The boy will be skipper and Mom and the siblings and I will witness. Somehow I doubt we'll keep everyone out so we're bringing life jackets for everyone. As well as video camera, the digital camera and the caulk gun (fully loaded), the cordless drill and some stainless deck screws and a can of raspberry spritzer (to christen her). And a paddle. And a long painter.
I'm hoping that after she dries off we'll be able to strike the waterline and get the mast step in.
The material for the sail is purchased and we have enough rip-stop nylon to make burgees for a whole fleet of tortoises.
(Later in the day...)
We had a great time, no leaks and it was perfect for the kids. Now for some spars and a sail.
200409dd - Making the spars (2 hrs)
We fashioned the three spars (gaff, boom and mast) from a clear 10' SYP 2" x 10" and a "knot"-clear 12' white pine 1" x 4". Ripped them with the circular saw and a fence. The boom came from the 10' SYP 2" x 10" and was already the right thickness. The gaff came from the 12' white pine 3/4" x 4" and so needed to be laminated. The mast came from the 10' SYP 2" x 10" and so also needed to be laminated. We used Gorilla glue and a whole mess of clamps on my (almost flat) garage floor.
20040911 - Dressing the spars (2 hrs)
My son cleaned all the squeeze-out with a half-inch chisel and I used the thicknessing planer to dress them to the right thickness and/or width.
A mountain of shavings.
We used a 45o chamfering bit on the router to make octagons.
20040915 - Registration
I called the ODNR and convinced them that I needed a HID. It seems that they don't get many backyard-built boats. Scheduled the appointment for the inspection on 9/20 at 8:30.
20040918 - Rounding the spars (2 hrs)
The spars have now been rounded and tapered as appropriate.
At this phase, each spar is an octagon (except for the foot of the mast which is still square). We started with a #6 handplane to approximate "round". A #4 or #5 would have been better but neither of mine are sharp at the moment, so we migrated to a small maple-cherry-ebony block plane that I made some time ago. Now my backyard is cluttered in long pine shavings.
Payson's suggestion to use a drill, a dowel covered in a bicycle tube and an outside-in belt-sander belt was a good one. One caution: The radius of the rubber-covered dowel seems to matter and should approximate or be greater than the radius of the spar being shaped. Otherwise it tends to make one side of your circle flat. So while our 1.5" spars are dandy, our 2" mast is only so-so. We used a rubber sanding drum (without the sandpaper sleeve) as our rubber-covered dowel.
The mast has a dumb sheave in it and my son is practicing his gaff knot. I think we'll end up rigging her with bends and lashes instead of making bull's-eyes for the spars.
20040918 - Pintles & Gudgeons (1 hr)
Stainless pintles and gudgeons would end up costing me something like $50 so I've been dreaming up some alternatives. I made a P&G substitute out of some 1/8" x 3/4" aluminum strap, a jig made up of three 1/4" bolts and my machinist's vise.
I'll post pictures of the jig and the P&G substitutes when I get a moment.
200409?? - Rudder (2 hrs)
Faired the rudder with the ubiquitous homemade block plane, then sanded and painted.
20041002 - Finishing the rigging (1 hr)
Spent some time getting all the rigging finished.
This is where we think the gaff/boom switch got made.
20041002 - Fairing the Leeboard (2 hrs)
We cut the leeboard out of 1/2" BC plywood and used a #6 handplane and a homemade block plane to fair the leading and trailing edges.
The two 1/4" bolts got epoxied into their holes and I'm hoping it clamps tightly.
20041002 - Shaping the tiller (1 hr)
The tiller is some 5/4" poplar scrap left over from some project. Jamie used a drawknife to shape it and then we ran the connecting end through the router table to create a slot for the actual rudder.
A 3/16" brass rod became the hinge for the rudder and we bent an "eye" into it which we soldered shut. Then this got tied to the tiller so when we drop it, it won't end up on the bottom.
20041003 - Sail Trials
Got the Box out onto Shadow Lake today for a brief time. It wasn't until I got back and looked at the photos that my wife took that I realized the sail was upside down (gaff was really the boom, etc.).
Shadow Lake isn't the greatest place for a sail. Light and variable winds and because its dredgings were pushed up onto the sides, the wind would change direction three times going across the lake.
There weren't very many people watching but the few that were there seemed tickled to see us and even more so when they found out they were witnessing the maiden voyage.
Next time, La Due Reservoir (also here and here).
20041010 - Out on La Due
Spent two hours sailing on La Due today. Wind was light and the air was cold and we had dinner plans so we didn't stay as long as we would have liked.
The rudder is a bear to put on while in the water. The lee board requires a fair depth to install. This combination makes for an interesting beaching. I literally used the sail in windsurfer fashion to get us to shore.
20041030 - Out on La Due
Spent a harrowing hour on La Due today. Wind was too strong and we should have stayed home. Nearly capsized her; several times shipped a good deal of water. Tiller broke and ended up drifting to an island where we dropped sail, drained her and converted into an oversized dingy. Then we paddled (broke that, too) to another island and then another before we were in position to drag her to shore. Hubris.
Total time spent on construction is 27.00 hours. (This does not include all the time spent thinking about her and reading and re-reading the plans.)
Here is the Box in the shipyard (our backyard).
The shipwright preparing to launch the Box.
Skipper Jamie paddling for the first time.
Skipper Jamie and first mate Erika.

© 2001-2010 Jeffrey D Gifford