Friday, 20 March 2015

Laminating the Skeg & Stem

I'd laminated the stem previously, from three thicknesses of 4mm Tassie Oak. Here it is finally attached to the boat, sealing off the end-grain at the bow:

I'm currently doing the rest of the skeg, from laminations of my favourite timber to plane, Jarrah. This is done in three pieces - bow, centreboard case surrounds, and stern. I've mostly finished shaping the bow and stern pieces. The bits around the centreboard case need another bit of 19x40mm Jarrah laminated on at the stern end before being planed down to shape and then screwed and glued in place.

My upside-down boat makes a handy workbench.

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Clinker planking detail

This is the detail of the joins between most of the planks on my Navigator, or at least what I'm aiming for :)

Monday, 16 March 2015

Fairing and fibreglass

I spent a few evenings prepping the hull for fibreglassing. This basically consisted of sanding back the rough edges and filling holes with filler, then repeating the exercise a couple of times until I was reasonably happy things were fair.

I bought 10m of 135gsm fibreglass, and laid it in two strips either side of the centreboard case, with a little overlap where the keelson will end up. Here's the first side placed. It was quite a bit easier than I anticipated. Just lay the fibreglass on the hull and pour some unthickened epoxy on top, then work the epoxy in using a plastic squeegee. The fibreglass just lays down nicely. Then once the epoxy has had a little time to set up, the excess gets trimmed. The photo shows in between trimming the edge and the stern.

At this point the weave of the fibreglass is clear, but it's gone completely transparent. This shows it's properly wetted out and that there's no excess epoxy, which would allow it to float off the surface of the ply.

The other side is done exactly the same. Lay the glass down and soak it with epoxy. Here's what the fibreglass looks like immediately prior to mixing the goop.

Once both sides have set up, I coated it again in a coat of unthickened epoxy, then a couple of coats of thickened goop, thickened with micro-balloons to the point where it was still just pourable. My squeegee is the perfect tool for application, followed by the sponge roller to even out any overly thick bits.

Once this has set up, I'll sand it smooth and then coat out the rest of the hull with thickened epoxy.

Saturday, 7 March 2015


I'm really, really sick of fillets. I figured that rather than grinding on with the interior, I'd flip the boat over and have a go at the underside. So today was flipping day.

We started by hoisting the boat straight up. Some Jarrah beams rigged between two industrial shelf supports provided a lifting point, and we used slings around the hull. Once the building frame was pulled clear, the boat is now hanging by a thread, as it were.

Then we slid the rope along the sling to rotate the boat. It was incredibly slow, hard work. Mogget's a little offended that his favourite perch is now at 45 degrees.

Mogget shows his extreme bravery by wandering underneath while it's suspended. His mum's knot tying abilities are nothing to write home about.

I was pondering doing more work on the fillets at this point. Much better access.

Here's the tipping point. There wasn't quite enough space under the beams for the boat sideways, so we had to lift them up a bit. I did this one corner at a time.

Everything happened quite quickly after that, so the camera was forgotten. Here's the boat resting on it's king plank and one sawhorse at the aft, after breaking the sawhorse I tried to use to support the bow.

A couple of hundred dollars later we had some high zoot-factor Kincrome sawhorses, and the boat was lifted again (this time from the centreboard case end logs) and placed delicately on the sawhorses.

Last step is to open a bottle of Kiwi wine (in honour of the Kiwi boat designer - John Welford), and drink a toast. Thanks Perry. I know I yelled a bit, but it all worked out well in the end. The bottom of my boat looks a right mess.

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Finished planking, fillets, sanding, fillets, sanding, fillets, sanding...

I know it's been a while since I last posted an update on my boat progress. It's been pretty hot here, and although our garage is under the roofline of our house, it's got no air-conditioning and gets very hot inside, so my progress has slowed markedly. In any case I have made some progress. Firstly the completion of planking:

Once planking finished I got down to the seriously boring task of epoxy coating, filleting, and sanding. This is still underway, and won't be finished for a few weeks yet. The interior has lots and lots of corners. I want to put a fillet on as many of those corners as I can, because it looks nice, because it makes the boat immensely strong, and because with a fillet there is no way that I can trap water.

From the bow it looks rather like a boat.

The process for filleting is to mix an extra-thick batch of epoxy and push it in the corners with a paddle-pop stick, then go over it with a larger tongue depressor to remove most of the epoxy and leave a nice clean fillet. Any bits I miss I have to sand down later. There's lots of motivation to clean it up before it goes off, as it's really hard to sand. It's slow because there's an amazing number of corners on the inside of the boat, and because I'm a bit anal-retentive. I'm telling myself that attention to detail at this point will be worth it in the long run, making painting easier and making the boat a whole lot easier to maintain.

If I try to do too much at once, the epoxy heats up in the pot, which makes it go runny, and then rapidly go everywhere but where I want it, so I have to work methodically with small batches. Anybody who knows me will know that methodical just isn't me.

I also finished off the centreboard pivot. It ended up reasonably straightforward. a 19mm diameter length of bronze rod, which fits into some turned flanges. The flanges have a groove in which a 19mm x 3.2mm o-ring sits, and the whole lot is held together by a turned cap, made from silicon bronze, and held in place with a 10-24 silicon bronze screw either end. There's no need for massive axial strength - the screw simply locates the pivot and holds the caps down, which in turn press the o-rings into their grooves and hopefully keep water out. Please expose the fillet booger.

Here's a photo showing the cap taken off, exposing the o-ring. I'm hoping this is plenty strong and keeps water out of the cockpit.

Thursday, 5 February 2015


So we've put two little Western Browns outside the building at work in the last two days. Might have a nest.

Saturday, 24 January 2015

Using my Mac Mini as an adblock proxy for my iPad

I really like my iPad. It's a wonderful tool for browsing the web, browsing media, reading stuff and controlling my home theatre PCs, whilst laying on the sofa or in bed. There's just one catch: No adblock, at least under Safari.

Now I don't know about you, but there's only so many "one weird tip" or "Ellen scandal" ads that I can cope with before going completely postal. The straw for me came in the form of a "vdopia" popup autoplaying video ad on mac rumours, which was not only incredibly irritating but also broke the mac rumours site.

In any case, I was desperate to find a way to browse the net on my iPad without having my eyes constantly burned out by incredibly obnoxious ads. I tried a couple of replacement browsers, but found they were even more obnoxious than the ads they blocked. The solution for me came in the form of privoxy, which is an adblocking proxy server.

This is where the new mac Mini comes in. The latest model (as well as having a huge 2TB hard drive for my media and super fast processor and video) draws a piddling 7W of mains power when idle, and are totally silent. I've had PCs that used more power than that when they were switched off. It's the perfect media server, and also the perfect proxy server.

So here's the secret sauce for getting privoxy running on new Macs running OS X Yosemite. It's based on instructions at Andrew Watters' blog with extensions to allow access from other machines on your local network (i.e. the iPads) and also to work around some Yosemite launchd weirdness:

1. Your mac needs to have a static IP address, so other machines on your network know where it is. I like to use my router to allocate IP addresses, so I set up a binding in there to ensure my mini always comes up at the same IP, but is still able to run DHCP. In my case, I run ifconfig from the terminal, and copy the mac address from the active interface, then paste that into the "DHCP reservations" field for my router using airport utility. I gave it a fixed IP of, which is easy to remember.

Note this isn't an address you can get to from the outside internet, as the router is still doing NAT. It's just for machines local to your router. Alas your eyes will still cop the obnoxious ads when you're away from your home network, but for me 90% of my net browsing is done at home, so this is good enough.

2. Now install Xcode from Apple. This is the apple software development suite, and includes compilers etc, which we'll use for compiling privoxy from source.

2a. You'll also need autoconf. The version linked to in Andrew's blog didn't work with the latest version of Xcode/os x, so I just found the newest version. From the terminal:

  • curl -OL
  • tar -xzf autoconf-2.69.tar.gz
  • cd autoconf-2.68
  • ./configure
  • make
  • sudo make install
I found I had to run it again from ./configure a second time because a fresh install of Xcode doesn't work until you've agreed to licence terms, which only come up when you make.

3. Add a user for privoxy, and associate them with a freshly created privoxy group.

4. Download the privoxy source, and install it:

  • cd ~/Downloads
  • tar -xzf privoxy-3.0.22-stable-src.tar
  • cd privoxy-3.0.22-stable-src
  • autoheader
  • autoconf
  • ./configure
  • make
  • sudo make install
5. Edit privoxy's config file:

  • sudo pico /usr/local/etc/privoxy/config
If you don't like pico, use whatever editor you prefer.

While you're in there, you need to change enable-remote-toggle to 1, enable-edit-actions to 1, and insert your IP address in place of the loopback at listen-address. Detailed instructions are on Andrew's blog

6. After much stuffing about, I worked out that launchd under Yosemite doesn't run the daemon when you use the RunAtLoad key. I found "KeepAlive" worked, and is more in keeping with what you want the OS to do with a daemon like this. So when you set up /Library/LaunchDaemon/org.privoxy.plist, substitute "KeepAlive" for "RunAtLoad"

7. Reboot to get the daemon running, and edit the proxy server setting on your iPad (settings->wifi) to manual, and enter the IP address of your mac, with port 8118.


Thanks Andrew, you're a champ!

Sunday, 4 January 2015

Almost done planking

With just the bow end of the top plank to do, I figured it'd be nice to show my "look ma, no screws" method of planking. It relies on the fact that the Navigator has reasonably narrow planks (hey, that what gives her such lovely lines), as I have to be able to get a clamp over the top of the plank with a bit of wood placed in such a way that it puts roughly equal pressure on the stringers on each side of the plank.

Anyway, pictures. First here's a close up of a clamp in place. If you look closely on the stringer side, you'll see a simple length of wood spanning the stringers:

Here's a view of the inside (complete with sleeping cat) showing the temporary braces. These are just held in by the clamp pressure. I've got to be careful not to get any goop on them, or else they're rather hard to get out afterwards (ask me how I know this!).

This picture is probably more illustrative, but has the disadvantage of not showing my cat sleeping on the forward thwart:

I took all these clamped up photos while test-fitting, before mixing up epoxy. When I've got a batch of epoxy going, I keep the camera well away. That stuff sticks to anything.

Anyway, it's getting to the point where it looks like it might even float. Here's the stern section, with the cockpit seats all buttoned up and all the planking done. I resisted the urge to paint out the inside of the cockpit seats. I gave it a thorough coating of epoxy and left it at that.

For the join between the aft and midships section of the top plank I elected to do a scarf rather than a butt-join. This is purely cosmetic - this join isn't hidden behind seats so I don't want an ugly lump of wood showing.

Up front you can see where the final plank piece goes. I moved the midships-bow join for the third plank one frame forward from plan - this hides it forward of bulkhead 2. I haven't done anything to hide the join for the midships-bow section of the top plank (just aft of bulkhead 4), as that's where I'll be putting the chainplates for tying the shrouds off to, and a double thickness of ply there will reinforce things nicely.

This is the view I get now when I walk into the garage. I get a lot of pleasure from seeing this every day.

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Postage bastardry

One of the challenges I'm having is getting materials to build my boat with. I live in Geraldton, Western Australia (not to be confused with the other WA). It's about 450km north of Perth, the capital of WA. I rather like bronze, but none of the local metal merchants stock it, none of the Australian mobs I've found are interested in small quantities, so that leaves American online mobs.

I bought a piece of C220 bronze sheet from McMaster Carr recently to make bits from. So far I've used some to make plates to support the becket on my centerboard uphaul, and the cover plate featured in my last post on the front thwart. McMaster advertised a 2" x 24" x 0.09" piece of bronze for US$41.27. Expensive, but them's the brakes. I ordered it, and it showed up a week or so later. The cost on my card: AU$106.72. So the shipping was just as expensive as the metal.

So I asked on the woodenboat forum if there were any alternatives to McMaster, and found online metals. They will cut sheets to fairly arbitrary sizes, and are at least upfront with shipping. I tried a 12x1x0.125" piece of 220 bronze. US$14 for the bronze, but a staggering US$123 for shipping. Just for fun, I tried a 1x1x0.125 piece:

Yup, US$123 to ship a poxy couple of grams of bronze. Bastards.

Monday, 22 December 2014

Getting the insides of the seats sorted before sealing things up

Lots of little jobs. I've done 2/3rds of the third plank, and am starting to have to think hard about the order of events, so I don't make it impossible to do things.

First thing first, I finished off the front thwart. That meant making mounts for various pieces of gear; a 180W sinewave inverter for charging electronics from the battery, an AIS transponder, and an antenna switcher so the AIS transponder and VHF radio can share the same antenna. I also made some access holes in the thwart, both for the VHF antenna, near the mast tabernacle, and so that I can run power and coax back to the cockpit for a radio.

In the first photo you can see where I've added rails for the gear (on the inside, alas). You can also see a little bronze plate I made to seal up the antenna port, just next to the spine.

On the other side of the thwart the hole for other cabling is visible, complete with paint run. I'll cap that off with another bronze plate. Also if you peer into the hatch you can see a power point, for charging devices.

Moving to the cockpit seats next, I added pieces of timber to locate the backs of the seat tops in between bulkheads.

Then I spent ages doing fillets, sanding, cleaning up fillets, and coating everything inside the seats in epoxy. I'm currently vacillating as to whether or not to paint the inside of the seats. I also added hard points to the seat fronts. These are just bronze rings that I turned up. The idea is that they support a rod onto which the rowing stretcher mounts (the three at the right), and the one on the left supports a rod which in turn supports raised planking, forming a sleeping platform. That's the idea, anyway.