I started building a John Welsford Pathfinder in July 2008. The boat was completed in Oct, 2010.

This blog now records our use of the boat, but documentation of building the boat can be found in the archives.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Looking ready to go, there is still a lot of work to be done. I am hoping for an Oct. launch, we will see.

Getting the boat onto the trailer was last of "moving around heavy objects." I had planned on jacking up the boat onto boards supported by stacks of bricks, the way I had lowered it off of the building form, and sliding the trailer underneath, but one night of insomnia led me to realize that since my shop foundation was above ground level, I could make use of that. With careful jacking up of the front of the boat I was able to slide it onto the trailer enough to then continue working it forward until it was supported fully by the trailer bunks, and then winching it in the rest of the way.

The tipping point was significantly different when turning the boat back upright. I am still alive and my building is still standing, but remember that the center of gravity on a boat is almost always really close to the bottom of the boat. When pulling it back upright, it will want to suddenly turn as soon as it is able. A little disconcerting if you are on the down-gravity side of the boat, but in my case the straps and my steel building held.

ugly bottom

past the tipping point

a little nervous

I turned the boat over single-handed. I used a 2-ton chain hoist and similarly rated straps.

First, I had to get the boat off of the building form by jacking it up enough to pull the form out from under, then slowly lowering down until it rested on two furniture dollies.

Then, I put it in place so that the port edge was below the hoist. With straps pulling on the starboard side, I was able to stand it on edge easily, push it past the tipping point, then lower down on the other side.

another view of cockpit ready to prime

finally glued in the cockpit seats


underside of seattops ready to go

white with primer


what a lot of work to prepare bilge areas for paint

once I glue down the bunk flats, I will never see this again.

ok, take it all back apart and start painting the bilge.

hood ornament


most pieces cutout, but almost everything just dry-fitted in this image. I could see the boat, but so much work still ahead.

finding the shape of the coaming on deck is tricky.

deck is on!

aft interior

at this point, i'm thinking it looks like a boat

All planking on. Planking was fun for me, and surprisingling easy after everything I'd been through. I used both methods that I had read about in Greg Rossel's book "Building Small Boats", both of which involve a spiling batten. After following the process, cutting out the plank, and placing it on the boat, I couldn't believe the accuracy that this process was achieving. (ok, accuracy is relative and I am not a woodworker, but the planks were fitting very nicely, twist and all).

All planks come in 3 pieces, since this is a 17ft boat and most ply is 8ft at longest. I decided it was easiest to scarf them in place. This sounds hard, but just means that you fit the first piece, fit the next piece overlapped by your scarf amount, then cut the scarf into each one. I think this is actually much easier than trying to put together a complete 18ft plank.

bunk flats


seats and bunk flats and king plank roughly fitted.

another view of the helper

before planking, I worked on roughing out the seats and bunk flats...I do think it was helpful to do this before the planking is on. Of course, once the planking is on, you still have to make some templates to get the exact shape of the sides.....I like to use cheap luaun and hot glue to work up the shapes.

I am explaining something (hopefully not about boatbuilding)

Chuck Leinweber (of Duckworks Boat Builders Supply http://www.duckworksbbs.com/ and Duckworks Magazine http://www.duckworksmagazine.com/) was kind enough to stop by and check out the build. I happen to live in a town situated between Chuck and a major airport, so I believe he stopped off on his way to catch a plane. He stayed and chatted in the TX august heat for quite awhile and refused any offer of water or air conditioning. Duckworks has been an excellent source for me of both information and quality materials at very good prices.
All stringers on. One lesson learned....let the epoxy cure before applying huge amounts of force on it.

One stringer in particular....I think the first one up from the chine, has some serious twist in addition to bend in the aft portion, and I broke the first two on the starboard side (wood itself breaking, not the scarf joint), then, growing impatient, I finally got the third try into place and glued in. Time to celebrate. But, this was only about 12 hours after I had glued the scarf in that stringer. Of course, after the glue securing the stringer to the frames had hardened, the scarf itself broke with a loud bang, in fact, right in front of me as I was looking at it to check the curve.

Having been through a number of situations like this, I did not cry. I cleaned up the scarf, used some straps to pull the wood back into position, glued it, and let it set for about a week before releasing the straps. It worked, it wasn't the most fair curve in the world, but I don't think you can tell by looking at the planking now.

other side, 2 stringers left to go

next stringer on

scarfing some more stringers. All stringers were made of two pieces of douglas fir.....I tried to stagger the scarf joints as much as possible when installed.

another view of sheer stringer

half of a sheer stringer in place

skipping ahead, frames in place, starting on the sheer stringer. I was intimidated by the curve and laminated this from two pieces. In hindsight, I should have tried a full sized stringer here. I don't think the bend would have really been a problem and the lamination created more work and some very slight uneveness in the curve.

another view

view from the centerboard case

chine stringer complete

It did seem necessary to me to put the chine stringer in place before placing any frames. I didn't even try to bend a full size stringer into place, instead I laminated it from 3 strips. This seemed to work well enough.

it is hard to remember now, but I think that in my test, filling an oversized hole with thickened epoxy and graphite and then drilling out the correct size for the pivot pin just wasted away my forstner bit in seconds (seems to indicate the bearing will be hard).....so, I think what I did in the end was to drill out an oversized hole in the board, then place a section of pipe (same pipe used for the pin) covered in wax paper in the center of the hole and filled around the edges with the epoxy graphite mixture. It was tricky getting the pipe exactly centered and straight and getting the epoxy to fill in all of the space, but the result seemed to be a good, smooth and hard bearing surface.

centerboard case assembly

interior side of centerboard case

centerboard ready to go

lead in centerboard, making an epoxy-graphite bushing for the centerboard pin

Cooking some lead for the centerboard.