Surf Runner Construction Blog

Finished shaping the flat chine gains at the bow. Thought I’d coat the stem, keel, strakes and flat chines with epoxy, before doing the keel filets and glass layup, followed by dynel over entire hull. But, with this cold weather the first batch of epoxy went on horribly! It was 45F in the garage, and the epoxy was 70F, but when it hit the cold hull it didn’t flow nicely, and being so warm to start it kicked off and gelled too quickly.

Overall a broken play, so I quit after that first batch, and will re-sand it flat in a couple days. I may have to put the boat build on hold for a while until it warms up, as I don’t have a way to heat our RV garage (uninsulated). In meanwhile, I’ll prep our other boat for an offshore race in May, and slow things down on Surf Runner, working on it as the weather permits.

Happy New Year! I took a couple weeks off for Christmas and enjoyed the time with all our kids here. It’s been in high 20s in the garage, so not too appealing, and too cold for new epoxy anyway.

Did get out for some sanding, it’s endless. I was really struggling with how to do the “gains” on the chines at bow. Finally decided on a 3-step process..

1) The chine flats are planed/sanded to be planar with the sides.
2) The bottom surface of the chine flats (surface closest to keel) is flattened for the last ~6′ toward the bow so that even though there the dead rise angle increases at the bow, the chine flats don’t get steeper (I hope that makes sense), until step 3. This also made the blocks narrower as they approached the bow. This should help “kick out” the spray and made for a dryer ride (is my theory). And,
3) At 14″ from the stem, the bottom surface of the chine flats starts to taper steeper, approaching a more parallel angle to the bottom panels, and the chine apex (corner) curves upward putting it at the location of the original chine (before I added the flats), and then I rounded the chine a bit for the last 2″ to the stem, for the disappearing “gain” act. (I hope that made some sense to somebody :-/)

Fair, sand, sand, sand, fair, sand.. rinse, repeat. Not the most fun part of the project, but it gets a little more polished each day, and that gives some satisfaction.

Started shaping the flat chines. Used power plane, jack plane, block plane and various sanders to get the outer edge of the flat chines to be in plane with the sheer panels. Have some low spots to fill.

Finished gluing on the flat chines. Couldn’t get the twist needed at bow so I cut individual sections about 2-3″ wide and glued in place individually supported underneath by a plastic covered batten and stapled at top. Covered with peel ply to help contain the mess. I’m sure the staples will be a bear to remove, but one step at a time.

Starting installation of the flat chines. Tricky business, getting the right width/depth/spacing of relief cuts to make the bends/twists.

Rounded the strake corners with a 1/8″ quarter-round bit, so that dynel will lay over, and made up a little test board with a strake and glassed with dynel to try it out. Weird stuff, dynel, never used it before. Added a bit of peel-ply on the corner to see how folded dynel works there. Devlin highly recommends, so I’m using it. Installed the flat strakes. To help get the right twist on the pointy end, toward bow, I temporarily attached a plastic-wrapped stick for the strake to rest against, and clamped it down with a transverse strap.

Dynel test over a strake – put a tongue-depressor sized thickened fillet on inside corner

Tapered the stem, switching between power plane, various aggressive sanders and a hand block plane. That was work!!

Shaped the plywood on stem/keel to match the inner core. Used a laser to draw lines where spray strakes will be mounted on bottom. They are ready to install. Aligned the laser to reference lines on the 2 sticks temporarily stapled to the keel, so the strakes will be parallel to and the right [horizontal] distance from centerline, then marked line with straight-edge and sharpie.

Cleaned up the keel sapele core, giving it a nice shape on the curved stem, then fit the 1/2″ ply outer pieces and attached with cabosil-thickened epoxy. Cut out the strakes.

Cut a scarf taper on the ends of the laminated sapele stem and keel, where they connect together, and glued the stem on one day, then the keel another day. Ratchet straps worked well to clamp everything down.

Carefully fit 2 layers of 3/4″ sapele so joints are non-overlapping to glue up the stem. cut it out per template and it fit quite nicely as a first pass (not attached yet). Glued up keel pieces to make a 1 1/2″ x 1 1/2″ keel. Will need to scarf the two 11′ lengths tomorrow. Still deciding if I scarf these to the stem before mounting on the hull as one big unit, or not. ??

Keel laminations

Used the plans to scale up and loft onto a sheet of 1/2″ MDF the curve for the stem up to the point where the keel is relatively flat, about 7′ from the bow. This gave a rough start for a template that after some careful trimming fit onto the boat. Will use this template to laminate up a stem.

Scaled the PDF file of profile view of plans so that 1″ on my computer screen was 1′ on boat plans. Then cut out paper 4″ x 8″ to represent MDF sheet and taped it onto the screen and traced the stem, as a starting point for the template. Drew a 6″ x 6″ grid on the MDF and lofted the stem, then tuned to fit good.

Finished glassing the bow, and hence entire hull with layer #1. Peel ply resulted in very little sanding for about 90% of it. There were some misses that need a bit of fairing cleanup, including the glass overlap areas. The challenge was that I’ve been using Fast part B and it just doesn’t give me enough working time, even at 50F. Got the starboard side and sheer panels sanded. Will get the hull all fair again before jumping on the outer stem.

Got about 80% of 6oz woven glass on. Good thing I had some help from friend Travis for much of it as the Fast part B barely gave us enough time. After he left, I used 50/50 Fast/Slow and that gave me enough time on my own. We went transverse on the glass, sheer to sheer, starting from transom, and put peel ply over (might be overkill, but will take less epoxy $$ coating to get rid of the weave, and be less sanding).

Finished fairing the hull and encapsulated with epoxy in prep for 1st layer glass. I used a 6″ squeegee on the bottom panels, and then found that an 1/8″ foam roller worked better for the sides and sheer panels. Having the bare wood coated with epoxy before glass will make wetting out the glass easier and faster – Anything to save time is good, especially with this Fast part B hardener. It was about 55F degrees in the shop today when I applied the epoxy, so on the cool side, but better than the 38F when I got out there this morning! It’s dry to the touch this evening.

The chines, taints, keel line, stem and around transom have all be taped. After a light sanding on the tape edges, added epoxy thickened with glass microspheres as a filler to float out all the edges.

Finished up prep for 8″ biax cloth on chines/taints/keel. Left the taints fairly sharp as they have an obtuse angle. Then put a 1/4″ round edge on the chines and transom corners so that glass will wrap well. Got tape on the taints – wow, with temp just under 50, the epoxy was a real chore to wet out through the 12 oz. biax, with squeegee, foam and metal rollers helping. Covered with peel ply. I was getting nervous as I’m using fast part B almost exclusively now, and I was afraid it was going to set too quick. Worked okay though. Still need tape on the chines and keel, in this picture.

Sanded and added fairing epoxy to chines/taints in prep for taping. Filled in keel area. This pic shows the cold-molded layering at transom.

Got the port side sheer clamps on, cut the clamps to length at the bow with a multi-tool, finished the fit of the breast hook and glued it home. The clamps really helped fairness of the sheer. 🙂 Finished planing/sanding the 1/4″ cold-molded bottom layer to match the angle of the side panels at the chine. Needs a bit of fairing and I’ll be ready to tape the chines, taints and keel in prep for 1st layer of sheathing.

Paul, my good neighbor, mixing up some sheer clamp honey

Installed the starboard side sheer clamp with doubler, with help from neighbor Paul to wrestle around these 27 foot long clamps. They helped fair up the sheer nicely. Aft, at the cockpit, you can see the classic Devlin scallop (the lower part of that plywood will get cut away. These were clamped tightly in place and then screwed in with deep countersunk SS screws. Will fill holes and glass over. Left a lot of clamps at the bow to keep things tight around the curve. Left the clamps a little long at the bow – will trim length to fit flush to breast hook.

Scarfed up the entire lengths of sheer clamps, including scallops after cleaning up the hull along the sheer and tuning notches in bulkheads so everything fits.

Cleaned up the scarfs and cut the first scalloped sheer clamp after bending a curve on it with a batten. Will use that as the pattern for the next 3 (as they are doubled on each side).

Scalloped sheer clamp for aft ~9 ft

Fashioned shear clamps (inside rails along top of the hull) of yellow cedar and scarfed to length to cover the first 2/3 of both length (they will be laminated 1 1/2 x 1 1/2″). The sheer aft will have the classic Devlin scallop, so using laminated marine ply for that part – needed 10′ so had to scarf those too. Made a 1 1/2″ thick breast hook of laminated sapele.

I use a power planer to cut scarf tapers quickly, with finishing touchup by hand
Breast hook

Cleaning up the bottom for sheathing.

Filled all the screw holes with toothpicks dipped in epoxy. Looks like a porcupine! Glad I didn’t slip and fall on it! Will flush cut them off tomorrow with a multi-tool, then have a bunch of sanding and a bit of fairing to do in prep for sheathing.

Cold-molded port bottom. Did aft 2 panels on my own. Steve helped with the forward panel. Epoxy oozed out of every weep hole on the entire boat, so I’m pretty confident the panels are glued down well. Yay – glad to be done with that!

Cold-molded starboard bottom. Although I’m doing most on my own, it was super helpful to have our friend Steve give an extra hand with this step. Took 4 hours to glue/screw the first side down after dry-fitting.

Many screws at bow to get it to make the bend. Epoxy oozed from all the “pores”, 1/8″ holes on 8″ centers.
Started gluing from the stern. After getting first panel screwed down along puzzle joint, removed the middle (still dry) panel. It was the next to go down.
Wet both sides with unthickened epoxy, then applied “honey” viscosity thickened epoxy to both sides
Dry fitted both starboard and port bottoms – Screwed center piece in place as the anchor to work to so everything ended up aligned as dry fitted.

Ready for cold-molding the bottom with 1/4″ ply.

Sanded up the keel, chine and taint joints. Keel and chines are fair right off. The taints have a couple spots where the panels were slightly mismatched so I’ll have a little bit of fairing to do before I tape them. I put 6″ biax on the keel and chines in meanwhile in prep for cold molding the bottom. Used peel ply again to practically eliminate sanding. In the pic, the keel was done after the chine tapes were dry and peel ply removed. Peel ply is still on the keel tape.

After peel ply removed from chines

Finished the vertical bulkhead fillets. Good call to use peel ply on them. I love the epoxy mixer! You can see the countdown timer on top of controller, preset for 2 minutes. Still mixing thickened epoxy by hand.. for now. Filled wire holes and cracks between panels too.

Completed 44 vertical fillets so far, bulkheads to hull panels. 24 to go. Set up an epoxy mixer on a 2-minute timer that’s saving my wrist and a bunch of time. Will get a pic of that soon.

Back at it, after 2 weeks off for vacation. Peel ply for vertical fillets is all cut out, glass all organized for remaining fillets and did a bunch of sanding in prep. Should finish inside filleting this coming week.

Work continues on vertical fillets bulkheads to hull on inside. Slow going on my own, but considering I just received wood exactly 1 month ago, I’m not doing too bad. Am happy with how the peel ply is working out. Will be taking a couple weeks off from boat building for some other matters, but did get the rest of the glass cut out to finish the rest when I jump back on.

Boat looks cool without any wires. Happy to report that I didn’t cut myself on any wires in the process – a miracle as the boat was covered with “barb wire” after stitching.

Established my methodology for filleting the vertical portions of BHs to hull panels: How much epoxy to mix in thickened and unthickened form, how much cabosil/wood flour to mix in, etc.. First, I wet the joint about 4″ on each side with unthickened epoxy. Then smear in the “peanut butter” and squeegee it with a custom cut yellow plastic squeegee to get the right radius fillet. In the layup box, the peel ply goes in first, then 8″ woven 6 oz., then 6″ biax 12 oz, then 4″ biax 12 oz, wetting out each layer as I go. Then the whole thing goes onto the joint over the fillet and I smooth out any air bubbles with an aluminum bubble roller. Got 12 joints done between the transom and BH8, then wet forward and did the stem, after removing all the wires up there. One learning is I need to make the peel ply wider – I cut it 10″ but it got wet at the edges in some places, which I’m sure will make it harder to remove tomorrow.

Almost had a disaster at the stem due to the acute angle of the panels coming together, the thickened fillet was a little thicker than aft and it really heated up. I was afraid the joint would pop open, but it didn’t. I left some clamps on to be sure. After I flip the boat, I might add some even wider glass up there for another couple layers.

Tabbed all the bulkheads to the bottom panels. Tabbing is done – that’s a milestone. Removed all the wires except at the bow/stem area. Ready to start filleting BHs to side/sheer panels – basically the vertical areas.

Finished tabbing the hull panels and longitudinals. Still have bulkheads. The stem was a challenge – good thing I’m a nimble sort of guy and fit in tight spaces. I had wired 2″ apart and pulled every other stitch so I could tab in between. Using clamps to ensure it stays together in meanwhile. Also, I ditched the little box and am wetting out tabs on a small sheet of 1/4″ ply so I can do 8 at a time. Mass production in order! Also got the 3rd layer of transom glued on – fit nicely.

Have been tabbing the inside with about 4″ squares of biax glass in between the wire stitches. Not too hard, but tedious and slow going as there are about 500 to do! I would take enough material for about a 2 hours stretch under the boat and could get about 45 tabs in that amount. Would go faster with more people, but I have to do all the mixing, smearing thickened epoxy in joints, wet out the glass, spread it smooth, etc. here’s my set up and small example of what it looks like. I do pipeline the wetting out of 3 pieces of glass in the box, so I don’t have to wait for the epoxy to soak in.

Got tired of tabbing after about 100 tabs (did about 50 more yesterday) and glued the 2nd layer of transom on with thickened epoxy.

Short day, going sailing. 🙂 Glued in the first layer of transom and clamped on some temporary oak “rub rails” to keep the sheer fair while I glue some glass tabs in between wires. The side panels lay flat on the bulkheads, but the sheer panels spring out at about mid-ship and aft. So I pinned them to the bulkheads, but in between bulkheads the sheer panels were flairing out. I was concerned they would get set at wrong angle relative to the bulkheads and make fairing harder later. The oak rails got rid of the “scalloping” sides.

The sheer panels are on making wire stitching complete. Temporarily mounted 1 layer of transom to check fairness and made a bunch of measurements to confirm I’m ready to start tabbing panels together with glass.

Sides wired on today. Did the first side on my own, using the cherry picker to hold the other end. Kind of tight on port side for that, so my good neighbor helped me out. Note that the bow is pulled in fairly tight now.

Applied the stitching process (routed chamfer, drilled holes, wired it up) to the 2 bottoms, then got 8 friends, including 3 missionaries, to help put it on the bulkheads on frame. Seems to fit very well! Amazed how nice the bow looks – hard to believe the flat plywood bent into that nice shape.

There’s a lot of tension on that first wire at bow – need to get that pulled together a bit more solidly.

Since I’ve never done a stitch-n-glue before, thought I’d put together a little sample to get router set up, practice on wire tightness, etc. Beveled inside edges at 45, 1/4″ deep (since 1/2″ stock). Marked line at 1/4″+1/8″ = 3/8″ for drilling 1/8″ holes. Using 14g galvi steel electric fence wire. Straight-forward enough. Will get better at it as I go. 🙂

Did another round of tuning/tweeking the bulkheads for squareness, etc. to make sure everything was to my satisfaction from bow to stern and ready to start stitching up the bottoms tomorrow. Also, power planed a bevel on the longitudinals to match bulkhead angles.

Mounted the longitudinals in place. Was pleased that they fit nicely into the bulkhead slots. The cherry-picker was helpful to get them on top of the hull. Will need to bevel these a bit before planking.

Mounted the rest of the bulkheads on the frame and installed bracing to ensure that each is centered, level, square, plumb, at proper station location, and at the right height so a level laser can shine through all the “mouse holes”. This baby is strong!

All the panels are done, so rearranged the garage for building time. Set the frame in place with foam insulation and used the laser level to “draw” a centerline, which I transcribed to the floor and faces of all building frame cross members. Since I’m doing most of this build on my own, used the cherry picker to hold bulkheads roughly in place while I aligned them up with the laser level. I’ve drawn centerlines on both sides of bulkheads to work to and the level line is set at the center of the “mouse holes” on each BH.

The nights are getting colder, in 40s, and it feels like fall is coming, so I took some time out to build an insulated enclosure, with heater, for the epoxy.

Have a bit of sanding on the fairing in a handful of places, but effectively done with all the puzzle scarfs. Time to rearrange the shop for the next phase, get the building frame in place and prepare to start mounting bulkheads.

Glassing the last of the bulkheads and longitudinal puzzle scarfs, using a box method suggested by Devlin. Works well. I wet out the the 6 oz woven glass first, then lay on the 12 oz. biax, wet it out, squeegee off excess and lay into the pre-soaked recessed puzzle joint.

Sides and Sheers scarf joints are faired and sanded, done for now. Didn’t take much sanding, a good thing, and they are nice and planar. No second coat of filler needed. Glassed the hull bottom scarfs and, after curing enough to harden, put fairing compound over. Will do the other side on Monday. Seems smarter to do it this way, as I can do one side completely in a day, and wait until the next day to flip, versus having to flip partially cured material and risking messing it up (with wrinkly visqueen underneath).

Epoxy thickened with fairing filler goes on next with a 12″ sheetrock taping knife. Both sides and sheer panels have fairing compound on them now. A bit of sanding tomorrow and these will be done and I can start on bulkheads which are all cut out now.

Used power planer to take 1/32″ off each puzzle scarf and then used the 6″ disc sander with 40g in aggressive mode to feather into the edges of the recessed area. 4″ wide biax 12oz cloth, with 6″ wide 6 oz woven over it, to re-enforce the scarfs. This glassing is an extra step that I don’t do with more traditional tapered scarfs. Should be super strong though.

Epoxied up all the puzzle joints for hull bottoms, sides and sheer panels. Stacked them up with plastic in between to get them all done at same time. After wetting out with unthickened epoxy, squeegeed in epoxy with wood flour.

It took a full week until the “1 day” shipping got here. Fortunately, good neighbors unloaded it from the truck sheet-by-sheet into my garage while I was away. Today, the first official day of working on the boat, I set up the garage for gluing all the scarf puzzles together, and cut out and cleaned up all the hull pieces using a multi-tool and sander with 60g paper. Okay, it’s finally showtime!

Plywood is CNCed and ready for shipping to me. Eager to get it here – Looks like a lot of work ahead!

Plywood for construction has not arrived, nor do I have a full set of plans, but I do have enough information (i.e. bulkhead locations for stations) to construct a building frame, so I did that much. Plywood should arrive today at the CNC shop, and I’m hoping to have it here in another week and a half.