I started by using a scarf joint to join a couple of bits of 90x19 Tasmanian oak, that'll be my keel plank. Scarf joints have been used since their first appearance at the Melbourne Cricket Ground in the eighteen eighties... Anyway this is a 6:1 scarf, and makes my two 2.4m planks one 4.8m one.
Bad news is it floats. Good news it it really wants to be the right way up, with the tip pointing down. It's only the bit above the pivot that sticks out of the water.
What to do? I presume it'll be okay, and the buoyancy at the top of the board won't be a problem, as that bit will be out of the water normally anyway, right...
It's incredibly easy to pull through the water, for what it's worth. Leaves barely a ripple on the surface.
What a great cardio workout! I've found the perfect antidote to tuck-shop lady arms, in the form of my nice Stanley no. 4 plane. I tried my new no. 5, but found the extra weight harder to work with, so went back to my no. 4. It all started innocently enough. I cut out the profile of the board, and planed the board nice and smooth, then ruled some center lines down the board and started removing material from the leading edge:
So I reckon it's about 80% there. I went at it with some 80 grit emery to smooth things out, and it's looking pretty good. I think on payday I'll go buy myself a power sander. Note the extra little bit of Jarrah at the bottom of the leading edge. This is the area where I think the board will cop the most knocks, so I wanted it extra strong:
Here's how I'm doing my centerboard - the lead hides in a routed out pocket, so it'll be surrounded by cedar. I'm hoping this will make the board easier to shape into a foil, rather than shaping, then cutting a big hole, adding lead, and fairing:
So the first topic - restoring tools. Years ago I had a lovely old Stanley Bailey 4 plane. Very much standard issue, reasonably good quality, small enough to use one-handed but with enough heft to remove serious amounts of timber. I lent it to a mate and then promptly moved across the country, so it's his now. My centerboard is going to need plenty of planing (as are lots of other things on the boat), so I went looking for a new plane. I ended up buying a number 4 from ebay - probably older than I am, with proper rosewood handle and tote. Looked pretty well loved in the photos.
So once it arrived, I spent an enjoyable weekend restoring it. The handle and tote were rubbed back and got a few coats of varnish, showing the grain wonderfully. The blade, which was well rounded over, got a patient sharpening on my hone. For good measure, I went at the sole and sides with the hone as well, to remove some of the corrosion and scratches. If you're ever wanting to flatten your hone, spend a few minutes working the base of a plane on it - it'll very quickly become flat. Once much of the corrosion and scratches were taken out, I put a piece of 400 grit wet and dry on a flat countertop (okay, my kitchen bench) and polished the sole up so it's beautifully flat.
The result looks lovely, and is a delight to use, just like a plane should be. Of course now I've clicked buy on a number 5, and am eyeing number 7's...
I've decided I want a weighted centerboard. Not massively heavy, just enough weight that I won't need an uphaul. I figure around 5 kilograms of lead will overcome the buoyancy of the board and ensure it sinks nicely, without ending up a pain to work with. So I went to Bunnings to buy lead flashing. Turns out the stuff is revoltingly expensive. They wanted around $60 for a 5 kilogram sheet of lead flashing.
So I figured it'd be cool to recycle a battery for the lead. I've got a never ending supply of dead batteries, so I grabbed a ten kilo one and went to work. This is where everything turned to custard.
Turns out lead acid batteries are mostly lead oxide, which is completely useless. I opened the case relatively easily, and then neautralised the acid with sodium hydroxide until it was neutral and safe. Then I extracted the electrodes. Inside a battery is the most disgusting, filthy black mess you've ever seen. Most of the electrodes are lead oxide paste, held in a skimpy mesh of lead, with lead interconnects. Getting the lead oxide paste separated from the lead mesh was really no fun. Never again - my marriage just won't sustain the aggravation. Once done I had a paltry two kilograms of useable lead, for about four hours of the most disgusting work I've ever done. And now I've got about 8 kilograms of lead oxide that I have no idea what to do with.
So rather than waste my time and sanity on more batteries, I caved in, went to Bunnings and bought a 3 kilogram sheet of flashing. This at least was relatively pure lead. I melted my 5 kilograms of lead in a crucible (aka old camping billy), skimmed the oxides off the top, and poured the lead into a mold, which I made by pressing a sheet of ply the right size into some beach sand.
More disappointment. The mess that came out of the mold was about the right size, but was icky and porous, with a very rough surface finish. Not very flash. I figured the only way forward was to work with what I had, peen the surface to press the mess together, and melt more lead into the worst of the holes using a blowtorch. Then more peening to get it to something resembling the right size and shape. Thankfully lead is super ductile, so puts up with this abuse.
So this is the result, after about twelve hours of pure, unadulterated frustration and cursing:
The next logical step after bulkhead 3 was to do bulkhead 4. I deviated from plan again, making it from a single piece of 9mm ply that goes the full width of the boat. I wanted the area around the front of the centerboard case and back of the mast step as strong as possible. To do that I knocked up a couple of doublers for either side of the spine between bulkheads 3 and 4, and added tabs to the front of them that pass through bulkhead 4 and into the front of the centerboard case. This will stop the centerboard case pivoting with respect to the mast step.
Here's the detail of the join. It holds together nicely even without epoxy. I'm hoping once it's epoxied and filleted it'll be nice and strong. I'm thinking perhaps adding some unidirectional carbon tape along bulkhead 4 once things are together could also be helpful, as bulkhead 4 transfers loads from the shrouds to the centerboard and mast step, so we want it to be as stiff and strong as possible.
I cut the side pieces for the centerboard case from 6mm ply. The rest of the centerboard case will be made from "Tasmanisn oak", which I'm told is neither Tasmanian nor oak. Indeed I believe it's also known as Victorian alpine ash, which is Victorian but isn't ash, being a eucalyptus. Anyway, it's a good middle-of-the road hardwood. reasonably strong and durable, but without the weight of jarrah, and with nice straight grain. It's readily available locally in lengths to 3m. I'm thinking this will be my go-to hardwood for the boat. I'll use it for stringers, keel plank, keelson, etc.
So here's what the spine is looking like now, assembled as best I can without actually gluing anything together (I'm waiting on my first shipment of epoxy - what is it with boat supply places taking forever to fill orders?). The astute can see my first go at bulkhead 3 leaning against the wall in the background, and the rapidly growing pile of offcuts.
Here he is supervising cutting of some of the lightening holes in the spine. I'm using a circle jig on my router to do this, as it's of a size where that's doable.
So once I got home, I cleared the bikes and car from the garage, got Perry's help to put a 9mm sheet on the bench, and marked out the spine on it. Then I cut that out with a jigsaw, and repeated the exercise twice to make doublers for the front section. Then I clamped the three bits of ply together and worked them with my trim router (think tiny cuts) and sandpaper in a block until I was happy with the curves, and all three pieces matched nicely.
Here's what I'm trying to make, from my model. The spine is a good spot to start, because it's a manageable size, but a fair bit of the boat (bulkheads 1 through 3) hangs off it, so I can construct a largish subassembly that then gets attached to the rest of the boat before having to permanently banish the car from the garage:
Oh, and I've come up with a name for my boat. It'll be Elena.