Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Finalized kayak design. Work begins.

Calculating the length of a mathematically derived sheer curve.  If I used a programmable calculator, I could do these calculations in one step, but I routinely use a simple TI-36X which I bought years ago.  So, I need to do the calculations in a stepwise fashion.  It is a calculation I only use once per boat design, not worth spending too many resources on.

This equation for curve length was derived by calculus integration of the mathematical curve equation.  All my college engineering studies were not completely wasted.

 I am completely committed to the 170" long by 28" wide kayak design.  I have the keel plank roughed out and the bow and stern stem pieces also "roughed out".  These pieces are only in approximate shape and will be trimmed and detailed more later.  Next item will be a start on the ten frames.  Incorporating one inch of rocker at the bow and stern created some complication.  How will I ensure that the keel plank is held in the required position without using a building strongback?  

Part of that can be done by the type of support provided beyond simply sawhorses.  Additionally, I have completed calculations for the overall length of the sheer and its intersection with each frame.  With a double-ended hull and each frame fixed at the keel plus port & starboard sheer locations, all frames can only assume one position.  The entire frame will form a single "girder", at least in theory.

I have already drawn out the full-size patterns.  Not hard to do when the largest frame is less than 30" wide and 15" high.  The frames do not change when their spacing is altered.  

Working on the hull design is my most interesting project, but we will also be doing some traveling in the near future, IRS forms are calling, and I have some insurance concerns to get straightened out.  After my wife's serious accident last October, we have received no insurance reimbursement nor hospital deposit refund.  Trading emails with the hospital and ambulance service in Switzerland; translating back and forth between English and German.  This is to say that boat progress may be suspended for a while.    

Tuesday, January 10, 2023

Starting a new design and build: Kayak

 Last summer, my wife and I stayed at an island resort in Bocas del Toro, Panama, which furnished us kayaks to use in the island-strewn surrounding ocean.  Since the region was a tropical bay, small waves were of local origin, wind-driven but not open ocean swells.  Anyhow, we enjoyed the experience, and my wife said, "Can you build me a kayak?"  Well, of course I can!

I built my first boat, a self-designed kayak, in 1975.  Not a great design, but very appropriate for our circumstances at that time.  Now I have the opportunity to do it again.  My wife, Dawn, and I will never be hard core kayakers.  What I have considered is something easy to store and transport, fairly stable, but also easy to paddle with a decent glide and directional stability.

Looking at the commercial roto-molded plastic kayaks, most are about 12 feet long and 2 1/2 feet wide.  I used those dimensions as a starting point.  My result, mathematically generated, will be about 12' 4" long and 28" wide with a waterline width of 23-24" depending on the load.  Height at the midships sheer of 12" and at the cockpit center of about 14" (cambered deck). With a waterline width that narrow, stability must come from a centerline flat, gentle deadrise, and then progressive steeper topsides.

Concerning length, I have spaced the frames (or molds) 12" apart.  A longer hull can be easily created by re-spacing the frames and redrawing the bow and stern entries.  My 1975 kayak was almost 16 feet long, but it was for two persons.

Progress will be slow.  We have other interests to deal with.  (My wife wants to re-paint some of our home spaces.)  Not a problem; we already have several boats.  Actually, buying a light trailer is another task to research.  I'll post some sketches soon. 

This photo shows an overhead sketch view and profiles of some of the frames.  There will be a one-inch rocker in the keel at both ends.  I don't need exact drawings here because a table of accurate dimensions was the first thing created.  Full-size frame patterns will be made from those dimensions.

How can this be a developable hull design when the frames are so smoothly curved?  The answer is that I intend to sheath the hull by strip planking.  Wider planks would result in a more faceted surface.  In a hull of such narrow width, planks by necessity need to be narrow to hug the curves.  I calculated many spaced points at each frame location and then connected them with a smooth curve.  If I had connected them with straight lines, you would see a faceted surface on this sketch.

Should I explain in detail the steps in this design?  I am thinking not; the design calculations are easy for me due to my experience, but it would get complicated to describe clearly in words.  I start by describing the major chine, then create a midships cross-section, find mathematical curves to fit the overall dimensions, and then create further projections to describe additional minor chines.  Finally, I describe the desired sheer location and the desired curve for a cambered deck (not shown).   

X is the length from bow toward stern calculated to the inside of sheathing.  Yc (width)and Zc (height) describe the major chine.  Y1,2,3 and Z1,2,3 describe the topsides projections, additional "chines". Ys and Zs describe the sheer location. 

This is a table of all values needed to make patterns for the eleven frames (or molds) excluding the cambered deck which will be on the next graph.  Note that between X=75 and 87 all the values are constant.  This is a parallel section and could be omitted for a smaller paddler.

First is the equation of the deck camber.  Next are the dimensions defining the bow and stern profiles.  The bow is a finer angle, 16.7 degrees, versus 20.5 for the stern profile.  Finally, we have the outline of the plank keel.  Total length is about 129.5 inches, 7.2 inches wide for about 77 inches of its center length. The included one inch of forward rocker extends the forward length of the keel with some curvature.  All dimensions are to the inside of the sheathing except the plank keel, since it serves as both frame and sheathing.  I have been using 0.5" lumber for the keel and consider 0.3" as exterior and any added thickness is part of the frame.

These two tables of dimensions will give me everything I need to build the kayak.  I will build a pattern for the deck profile which I can match up to the sheer beam at each frame.  After laying out the outline of each frame, I will design the frame elements and then can start a list of materials.

First thing purchased was the wood for the keel.  Needing 11 feet by about 7.5 inches by about 0.5 inch thick, I found two fairly straight boards, about 8' x 7.75" x 0.5".  By scarfing at a 5/1 angle (I usually use an 8/1 bevel) I ended up with about a 16' plank.  Looking at the keel plank and envisioning the total hull built with it as the foundation, I decided that the hull looked too short, with too much wasted keel plank.  So, I have decided to re-space the frames to a 15" interval resulting in a kayak about 14' 2.5" long.  Still a handy size which will fit on most light duty trailers.

I will be posting altered dimensions soon.  The twelve-footer will function okay, but by increasing the length and fineness, the bow half angle is reduced from 16.7 degrees to 13.5 degrees.  Should make it easier to plank.  Spanning 15" between frames with 1/4" planks, I will need to be careful in aligning the plank edges, but I have many clamps for that purpose.  


Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Now I have a boat to look at

 Eventually, I will post a complete list of offsets/dimensions for my new skiff.  Beyond the numbers, there are two details that I consider important to achieving a good result.  1)  The listed longitudinal location of each frame is for the side closest to the center of the hull.  The reason for this is that the center is the widest point.  When fairing the hull, you preserve that dimension on the center-facing frame surface and taper the other side of the frame.  2)  After plotting all the listed offsets for a frame, connect the dots using a fair batten or a French curve.  Do not use straight lines if you want a nice smoothly curved hull surface.  Then, when actually planking the hull, create a flat landing surface for each plank as it is adapted to the hull.  This will provide stable adaptation with better bonding.  

I used two-inch-wide planks because that is the thickest that my saw will cut and the widest that most of my clamps will span across.  Two-inch planks are difficult (or impossible) to edge-set, but more surface is covered by each plank.  Narrower planks will be easier to cut and easier to edge-set when needed.  Thinner stock may also be easier to obtain. If using narrow, i.e., 3/4-inch planks, the curved frame edges may not need to be modified for plank landing (the curvatures are not significant over such a short distance)

Planking completed.  The hull is 13 feet, 5 inches long.  The beam when completed will be 46.5 inches.  Ideally, I think a more usable length would be a foot longer.  This is the shortest hull I have ever built.  One reason I used the shorter length was a test for planking.  A longer hull will have milder curvature and planks should adapt more easily.

Before planking, a commenter called this a "flat-bottomed" boat.  Only the 10.5-inch-wide keel is flat (and tapers at the ends).

Stern view.  The lowest point on the transom is 5.5 inches above the keel.  No finishing has been done yet.

Bow view.  This hull has slightly more rocker than previous similar hulls.  By doing so, the stress in planking is spread out and reduced.  I wonder if this isn't the reason that classic Adirondack guideboats have upward arching ends?

After planking was complete, I mixed epoxy resin with a fine filler until I got a non-runny, maple syrup mix and then spread it with a flexible squeegee over the entire planked surface to fill in any seams or other discontinuities.  Then it was time to sand.
This technique did not work out so well.  Better to wet the edge of each planked surface with fresh resin before adding the next plank.  I discovered this when 3-4 months after planking, narrow cracks started showing up due to wood contraction during the cold dry winter.  This did not happen where resin had initially been applied to the plank edges.  

It needs another coat of varnish on the interior, and then I start on the small fore and aft decks.  Would those small decks look good painted white?  I used Hatteras off-white.

The small end decks are completed, and the oarlocks are installed.  Only the seats need to be added.  They will be removable units with a footrest included.

The boat is small enough to be potentially cartoppable, but it would not be convenient.  Looking for trailers, I found that those built for light weight boats tended to include the phrase "for boats up to 14' in length".  A longer boat would perform better on the water, but transport and storage favor the shorter length.  The original numbers I used in designing this boat were for a boat a foot longer, but then I reduced the spacing of the ribs to this length.  The new hull empty weighs 86 pounds.

(My wife has had a serious bicycle accident, and I am now the caregiver, so I don't have much time for boatbuilding currently.  I do expect her to make a full recovery.)


Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Next step in Design Evolution

Just a snapshot of the frames and keel in approximate position.  We are looking from stern to bow.  The bow and three more frames will be added.  The frames themselves will be trimmed further; the pieces have just been bonded and are still rough.

 Every time I build a boat, I learn something and get ideas on how the process could be improved.  Now I am starting on a new design.  I am getting comfortable with using custom solid lumber planking with no plywood.  By breaking the sheathing process into fairly narrow planking, we can create surfaces unrestricted to curvature in only one direction at a point.  This should result in a more rounded surface shape.  

Current plans are for a boat about 13 1/2 feet long and 46 1/2 inches wide with a somewhat wineglass shaped, squared off stern. The sheathing will be 1/4 inch by 2-inch cross section, solid wood planking.  I have an entire table of dimensions and have drawn full-size patterns for the frames, stem, and keel.  In fact, the wood keel is ready to accept frames.  My wood source was low on inventory; thus, I had to scarf a short piece unto the keel stock to get the length needed.  (Another foot added to its length would be more spacious and preferable for many uses.)

Back to making progress.  I am currently installing the sheer; once that area is re-enforced, then I can turn the hull over and start figuring out the planking sequence.  Notice that no strongback has been needed.  Because everything is calculated, the frames, keel, sheer, and forefoot only go together in one position.  Looking at my table of dimensions, about four hundred calculations were needed to come up with all these values.  But I have been using this approach for many years, so it is quick and routine for me.  Does this look like a developable surface hull design?  With the plank keel, triple chine, and continuous 3D curve of the sheer, there is almost no flat surface to observe.

My first hull of this type was 14 1/2 feet long, then I did a 15-foot hull, then a 14-foot hull, and now a 13 1/2-foot hull.  Each time it wasn't just the length that changed.  Materials have varied, beam has changed, keel width has changed, and this hull has a squared off stern.  I think that improvements have been carried about as far as I can imagine for this type of hull.  Let's see if I still feel that way when the boat is completed. 

Sheer has been completed; a chine strip has been installed.  The hull has been turned over and the plank keel has been rabbeted to create a landing area for the first plank.  Rabbeting the lengthwise center section of the keel was simple because the rabbet was cut at a constant angle on a straight edge.  At the ends, the edge curves, and the angle becomes progressively steeper; an area to be careful.  I used a router initially and then did touchup with a small plane.  When starting to fit planks, I discovered that my 1/4" thick planks were thicker than needed, causing extra weight and decreasing their flexibility.  I ran them through a planer to reduce the thickness to 6 mm.; a slight reduction but enough to make them follow the hull curvature more easily.

The hull was faired; board edges which were initially cut at right angles were tapered so that the hull sheathing would lay across adjacent frames with full contact.  At the ends this meant using an angle grinder with a 60-grit flap disc to quickly cut away the 1 1/2' blunt edges to a tapered "V".  The angle of this "V" (initially 23.2 degrees) was dictated by the designed hull projection.  That projection in an X:Y:Z coordinate system is expressed by the ratio 7:3:1. A straight edge can lay across sequential frames, or ends, forming a straight line when faired.  This was just the gross fairing; a more exact fairing will be done when fitting each plank.

We are looking at the stern.  The underwater shape of the hull will be double ended like a canoe.  Two straight edges clamped in place to illustrate the ruling lines defined by the projection of length (x), width (y) and height (z) in the ratio of 7:3:1.  Having a constant ratio facilitates fairing the frames and ends.  Also, you can see the rabbeted plank keel.  Now I am scarfing planks to achieve the full 14' needed length for this part of the hull.

The first planks, port & starboard, have been bonded into place.  Planks were placed in a shallow basin to be thoroughly wetted, then they are clamped in place and "ironed" with a steamer.  After being allowed to dry (easy to do in our dry Colorado climate) in place, the clamps are removed, epoxy resin is applied, and the plank is then bonded permanently with little clamping pressure required.  This wetting process will not be required above that first chine as the required curvature is less severe. 

I always obsess over what I could have done better.  Length: this 13' 6" length is easier to haul, store, and handle but spacing the frames further to produce a longer hull would make for better performance on the water.  Plank keel:  I have experimented with different widths and rocker (this is the 4th hull of this type and 1 of 11 boats I have built).  This keel is about 10.5" wide because I found a beautiful board of that width at the lumber store and had to try it, but I actually think about 9" would be ideal for this design.  Good lumber is getting harder to find here.

Does this look like a developable hull shape?  All I see is beautiful fair curvature due to the increased sheer curvature, triple chine, and use of 2" wide planks.  Yet, due to its mathematical design, all dimensions are accurate to 0.01" or better, more accurate than you can cut or assemble.  I made two minor mistakes when measuring boards (inattentive), but there are no errors in the calculated dimensions.

Planking completed to the first chine.  This surface is a single developable projection, thus, straight planks were used and only trimmed at the ends.

Planking the bottom, between the keel and first chine, was relatively straight forward.  Each 2" wide plank was clamped into place and trimmed to size; then the planks were immersed in a shallow water trough for 3-4 hours until they were thoroughly soaked to increase flexibility.  Next, they were clamped back in place and allowed to dry.  Once dry, they were bonded into place with epoxy; minimal clamping force was needed because they were pre-warped to fit the curvature.  In a few spots where clamping was not feasible, #6-3/4" screws were placed until the epoxy cured, then they were removed.

When ripping 2" thick lumber into thin planks, the resulting planks are seldom straight.  What starts out as a straight plank may end up with a curve due to released stresses in the wood.  Thus, I then "map out" each plank with pencil marks noting any convex or concave areas.  Even if these variations are minor, they can make a significant difference when fitting a plank to the hull surface.  Boat building is a game of details.

  Above this chine (when the hull is upright), the planks need to curve.  In order to do this, the planks must be created and fit in three sections and then scarfed in place on the hull.

Above that first chine (two more minor chines were included in the design), straight planks could no longer be used.  The needed surfaces are banana shaped.  Instead, each 2" wide plank was subdivided into three sections which were scarfed together to accommodate the curvature.  Spiling was also required of each section prior to scarfing in place, a slow exacting task, but speed improves with practice.  The amount of required curvature decreases near the sheer.

In this photo you can see that a next plank is being fitted in three sections.  The forward and aft sections have been fitted.  Next the midships section will be fitted and then the three parts will be scarfed and bonded together.

Compressing the hull from 14 1/2 feet to 13 1/2 feet accentuates the curvature required in the planking and increases the amount of fitting required for each plank.  Just 1-2 more planks to go, but the planking must meet the sheer edge in a very finished manner.

Bonding the sheer strake in place.  When using thin planking (6mm) the clamping pressure must be closely spaced.  You are looking at 92 clamps of various types and sizes.  What I have left over is either larger or much smaller.  There are two scarf joints to each side.  The sheer strake is full width, leaving narrow gaps at some places below it which I will fill in at the next step.

Sunday, March 14, 2021

A Real Sharpie

Our Panama skiff was very handy, and I had been reading Chapelle; thus, when we arrived in Alabama, with its big reservoirs on the Tennessee River, I decided to build a sharpie. Real sharpies have two masts and are over 20' long. I designed a sharpie 20 1/2' long by 6' wide (4' beam at the chine). In order to achieve considerable flare to the sides while keeping a fairly upright bow, I used conic projection. One apex below the bow and another amidships and lateral to make the transition front to aft. Again, I was able to calculate all lengths, offsets, and angles beforehand, thus not needing a strongback building form. However, handling sheathing panels over twenty feet long was challenging just from their size. The same mathematical techniques were used in shaping the sail panels as had been for the hull. To achieve balance between two sails and a pivoting centerboard, I used temporary mast steps, which could be adjusted, until after some trial runs; then I bonded them in place permanently. If you look at the shadow of the straight boom on each sail, you can see an almost perfect airfoil curvature, reflecting the shape of the sail. However, I made one big error. I was unable to find good information on the proper draft-to-chord ratio for sails, so I guessed. I used a draft-to-chord ratio of about 1/14 and later discovered that a 1/9 ratio would have been more appropriate. Thus, my sails were never able to develop the power that they should have, and the boat was not as fast as its potential.

This boat was built in 1983; this is an old blog entry.

Monday, February 08, 2021

Starting again: Another guide boat

What if I shorten my guide boat design to 14' to make it easier to transport?  What if I widen the plank keel slightly to make it more stable?  Should I increase the freeboard?  Can we reduce the weight?  Wouldn't it be neat to use all dimensional lumber with no plywood?  Perhaps I can finish it clear.  I want to use a new and stiffer material, "Ramboard", for making patterns; it should be more accurate.  So many reasons to build another boat; none of which have to do with actually using the boat.

For me, designing and building a boat is the equivalent of an artist starting a new painting. What artist only paints a few paintings?  Each painting expresses a separate vision.  Creativity proves we have control over at least part of our lives.  And with the demanding dimensions required in a boat, there is the mental challenge.  And so it begins.

The bow profile built from two scraps of 2x4 Douglas fir.  I built two of these, and they will require further modification for the changing bevel along the lower edge.  I have also roughed out the plank keel, the edge of which will also need to be modified to accept the garboard plank.

This shows a double stack, 12 frames. Two more frames need to be built; both will be bonded to the bow profiles.  Then I can start putting things together.  Of course, these frames will require further modification; notches for the stringers and sheer and further finishing.  They are half-lapped and bonded with epoxy.  Built from lumber left over from other projects; you can notice the varying grain.

The bow profiles have been bonded to the first frames.  Next, these assemblies will be bonded to the keel as the sheer is installed.  The chine and sheer curve lengths and stations have been calculated and, when installed, will force other frames into alignment; thus, eliminating the need for a strongback.

Frames trial-mounted on keel for an initial view.  The frames need to have notches cut for the sheer and two stringers before final assembly.  It is snowing outside with below zero temperatures; a great time for a project like this.

Making progress.  All the frames are in place and the sheer is in place, as well as two strakes.  Note that no strongback was required.  The measurement along the sheer for each frame has been calculated; thus, each frame can only be positioned at one exact place.

This hull will be one foot shorter that the completed hull nearby but with a wider plank keel.  Why am I building two boats so similar?  I have some new planking stock to try out; I have new pattern-making material (Ramboard) to try; and I think the shorter length may be easier to transport.  I have also planed the plank keel down to a thickness of 0.4 inches to reduce weight. 

I used an angle grinder (40 grit) to bevel the stems when fairing the overall hull frame.  All ruling lines are calculated and parallel, which made it easier to visualize the  required angles.

The edge of the plank keel has been routed to create a solid landing for the first plank.  At the ends, the plank edge is curved with a constantly changing angle.  This needed to be done carefully.

Carefully fitting 2 inch wide by 0.21-0.24 inch thick planks (not quite quarter inch).  I picked two inch wide planking because that is the thickest wood my table saw will willingly cut, and that is the widest that many of my clamps will span.  No fasteners used; only epoxy adhesive.  The planks are falling into alignment quite nicely; much better than when I used plywood.  To get the length I need, I am scarfing together shorter lengths using a 7 degree bevel on my chop saw.  Perfect results using a simple jig, and it only takes seconds.

Using real planks have given me insight into the design of the original Guideboats.  Upswept sheer in the ends of the boat facilitates easier planking.  The greater length of curve from keel to sheer spreads out the bending stresses and provides a better landing for plank ends.  That end curve had to be a conic projection in order to fulfill all requirements, although the first builders I am sure were not thinking of mathematics but instead just ease of planking.

I am enjoying the nice fair curves that the planks follow.  Relying solely on epoxy adhesive means that I have to let the bonds mature on each plank before I start the next row.  Slow, but I am not in a hurry. 

With this triple chine design, the hull shape appears to be that of a nicely rounded hull form.  Very pleasing.  If I had used narrower planks, as in strip planking, the curvature would be even smoother.  
                        First coat of paint

                            Second coat of paint

I had a quart of red on hand, so that is the color.  It will need three coats.  Then I get back to finishing the trim, the stem decks, and interior.  I built two oars recently which will need varnish as well.

Close to completed; all it requires is a few more coats of varnish.  I really like the carrying handles placed on the stem decks.  They are bonded securely and allow convenient carrying or the securing of lines.  All I started with were two scraps of 2x4; initially shaped with saw cuts, then a belt sander, and finally fine sandpaper.

Next to make are the removable seats.

You should know that I have already shaped the keel for a planned next boat.  It will be slightly wider with a wineglass-shaped stern.  Trying to decide if I should include features for sailing.

Friday, December 11, 2020

Finishing Up the Guide Boat

    New oars on the left; old oars on the right.

My latest guide boat is essentially finished; just adding varnish.  I also built a new pair of oars for the new boat.  Using published formulas for proper oar length, standard oars would be about 80 inches long according to the boat beam, but I also read a note, "Guide boat oars are usually 7 1/2 or 8 feet long."  I have a fairly large stack of scrap wood which I need to use.  From the scrap pile, I found some nice straight pieces to bond together creating 92-inch long oars with the inboard ends left with a chunky square profile to help counter balance the somewhat longish outboard shafts and blades.  I am not going to go into oar construction because there are already plenty of Google instructions posted.

Taken on the US Air Force Academy.  We are still discovering more trails in the Colorado Springs area; although we also took the bikes to Arkansas and Montana this summer.  They are a great source of exercise and fresh air away from crowds of people (and COVID).  Building boats is more enjoyable when the weather turns cold.

I want to apologize for the slow progress in recent months.  Progress has been slow to non-existent during the better weather of Summer and Fall because my wife and my own infatuation with the new e-bikes we purchased.  With the mountain e-bikes we feel confident to go further and steeper on our outings than we would with regular bikes.  It has been a godsend letting us travel forest trails with fresh air, ample exercise, and no crowds.

The hull ends are symmetrical and the oarlocks are set about a foot ahead of the hull midpoint. When rowing with two people onboard, the rower sits ahead of the oars.  When rowing solo, the rower sits at the hull midpoint facing the other direction.

    Seat positioned amidships for a solo rower.  Yes, it is snowing outside.

Now that winter is here, I'll be looking for a project in my wood shop to keep me busy.  Still working at the clinic, but only 2-3 days per week.  My present thought is to build another guide boat using what I have learned building this one.  Always trying something new; I anticipate using a 14' length (more easily cartop-able) and a wider plank keel. I was able to buy a length of flat lumber 12'2" long and 10.3" wide. I'll see how the wider keel changes the hull stability.