New Boat Part 16

March seems to be the month for getting things done on our Penny Fee project; at least it was last year and is looking to be the case this year as well.

After making the cardboard templates for the bulkheads we went on to make the bulkheads themselves out of the left over marine grade plywood from the planks. Using the same basic method utilizing cardboard templates, we started in on the floor timbers. We glued in the first three floor timbers over the weekend.

Aft bulkhead glued into place

Fitting the floor timbers in the boat

Next we started in on the centerboard trunk. Mostly this consisted of making up the individual parts of the centerboard trunk and gluing them together to make the two halves of the trunk. We will not glue the two halves together until the interior surfaces of the trunk have been painted. We had finished coating the centerboard with epoxy, and before getting too far along on the centerboard trunk, we did a dry-fit to make sure centerboard and trunk were going to fit together properly.

One aspect of the centerboard and trunk that I wanted to elaborate on is the pivot pin for the centerboard. The actual pin arrangement is not made as clear as I would like in the drawings. It seems to call for a tube that is set though the trunk of the centerboard and centerboard as well that has a bronze pin inside it. I have a lot of experience reading blueprints, but could not make sense out of the drawing. My concern with the pivot pin is that since it is below waterline, this is a potential place for water to seep into the wood of the centerboard, or the wood of the trunk.

I finally decided that what I would do is to make a sort of epoxy bushing for the 38” bronze pin. The pin will be cut a little short, and either end of the hole for the pin will be filled with Boat-Life polysulfide, before we cover the ends of the holes with the “squishy rubber” gasket and plate that the design calls for. What we did was to bore out a 1” hole where the 3/8” bronze pin would go in the centerboard and in the two trunk sides.

Next we coated the sides of the holes with raw epoxy. Then we filled the hole with the thickened epoxy mix and let it set. We put waxed paper under the hole so that the glue does not attach the piece of the boat to the surface that it rests on. When the glue is dry the waxed paper pulls right off. Waxed paper is one of the materials that we use a lot of that you might not think is typical for a boat shop.

When the epoxy had set we drilled out the 3/8” holes for the bronze pin, and there you have it; epoxy bushings that seal the marine environment out while providing a stable and tough surface for the pin to pivot on.

You can see the first couple of steps in the process on the centerboard itself here.

We now need to paint the interior surfaces of the centerboard well before we glue the two halves together, otherwise we would have to paint the interior with some sort of narrow roller on a stick arrangement, and we may have to do subsequent paint coats this way, but while we can paint these surfaces easily and well, it seemed like a good time to take this on.

While all this was going on, we also started in on the oars, or I should say we started in on the first set of the oars. Eventually we expect to have two sets of oars, but for now we want to try out one pair before committing to a second set. The oars will be 9’ 6 ¼” long. We contemplated spoon bladed oars, but they would require additional time that we don’t have right now, and are not in keeping with the work-boat function that we are striving for, so regular oars will do. We are using kiln-dried spruce to make the oars light and inexpensive. I should say that although the plans are very detailed for the Penny Fee, and although just about every spar combination has been meticulously drawn out, there are no notes for oars. There are a number of formulas for calculating oar size. The simplest is to make the oar just a little shorter than twice the beam of the boat.

Starting to glue up the blades of the oar blanks

Adding thickness to the looms of the oar blanks

Oar blanks ready to start the rough shaping

If you are looking for a more specific formula I can recommend the Shaw and Tenney website. It gives a much more complicated formula that involves measuring the beam of the boat in inches, dividing that number by two, take the result and add two inches, divide the result by seven, then take that result and multiply by twenty five to get the final length in inches. The end result is an oar that is—wait for it—just shy of twice the beam of the boat. However, if you are afraid of making a mistake go to their site, check it out and do the math. They make a fantastic oar and they know what they are doing, we are making our own because we can save money that way. I calculate that what we will have spent in materials to make a pair of oars, including paint and epoxy will amount to about $35 a pair.

Seat supports. The other project that we have been working on are the seat supports that are glued into the insides of the hull to support the outboard ends of the seats. Cutting and fitting these pieces took more time than I would like because they are a complex shape and curve in two planes to match the inside surfaces of the hull. Having said that, I can also say that the plans make very good use of the interior laps to locate the correct placement and to facilitate the gluing of these pieces into place. Even so it was a challenge.

Gluing in seat supports

You can see the seat supports and aft bulkhead in place here

The next week will see the multiple coats of paint on the interior of the centerboard trunk, continued placement of the seat supports and we need to place the socket for the heel of the mast soon. Stay tuned….

If you would like to read all the posts related to this project together, go to the category at the right called “Penny Fee” and click on it. It will pull all the posts on the penny fee onto one page for you.

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