Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Beams etc 2

With the beams out of the way, I was able to concentrate on the tiller, which I finished this afternoon.

There was time to complete marking out bulkhead number 3, the two sections comprising the rudder stock and the forward end of the boat’s bottom - all on one sheet of 18 mm plywood. By using a cardboard template of the rudder stock I was able to fit one of the shapes into the space between the forward part of the boat’s bottom and bulkhead number 3. That meant only one of the shapes used for forming the stock has to have a triangular piece attached to the forward end; in turn that will be a stronger solution than the one devised by the designer.

I’ll need the other sheet of 18 mm plywood for the remainder of the boat’s bottom.’

I’m uncertain if I’ll be able to cut this very thick plywood with my jigsaw; furthermore, I’m a little dubious about being able to keep the cutting blade at right angles to the uppermost surface, but if I use a new blade I may get away with it. If the showers forecast for tomorrow are not too frequent, I’ll give it a go.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Beams etc

I’ve completed all the beams, except for any shaping at the time of installing them in the hull. The only laminating that remains to be done, apart from the stem post, is the tiller, and I may be able to do it tomorrow, as I made the jig and cut the strips of plywood today.

Things are progressing much faster than I anticipated, and I think the main reason for this has been the good weather.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Hatch Beams

The first of the hatch beams was cut and laminated today; I only have two more to make, then all the beams will be ready for fitting when the time comes. The cabin beams will need shaping to line up with the corner posts and angled to support the Perspex windows at the front and rear of the cabin.

This afternoon Classic Marine posted the bronze ring nails and other bits and pieces for the boat; they are due to arrive on Wednesday of next week, and wood from Robbins should also be delivered the same day. This coming Bank Holiday Monday has meant both deliveries will be delayed. As yet, the second-hand sail from Glen Maxwell in America has not arrived. He posted it on the 18th; therefore it has been 8 days in transit. Perhaps it’ll arrive tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Cabin Beams etc 2

There’s been heavy rain today, but I was able to laminate the fifth cabin beam; that’s the one above the stern cabin window; it has a stopper piece over which the hatch cover is lifted and dropped into position, to completely seal the cabin. A strip of flexible foam glued to the hatch cover will make the seal watertight. It’s a good job fresh air can enter the cabin through the ventilation system; otherwise the crew would eventually be starved of oxygen.

Now, I need only make three hatch beams to complete all the laminated beams - one will be at the front of the hatch; and two at the rear, one of them above the plywood forming the hatch top and the other below it.

By the time I finish laminating these beams wood for the spars may arrive on my doorstep from Robbins. If that comes to pass, I’ll be able to build the spars, starting with the mast. After that, I could cut and assemble the rudder stock, the rudder and the tiller before starting the bulkheads, the stem, the transom and the vent box.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Cabin Beams etc

There's been more progress today. Number four cabin beam has been laminated and the other three have been cleaned up with the angle grinder. I can't do the final shaping to the cabin beams until they have been fixed to the cabin sides, which may not be until next summer when I hope the hull will have been built.

I've made tentative enquiries for a road trailer. Bramber Trailers seem to be interested, and they have asked for more details. Mersea Trailers no longer make boat trailers. Peak Trailers only supply parts, not the finished product. RM Trailers have yet to get back to me.

Classic Marine can supply all the ring nails I need, the bronze rod, a gudgeon and pintle and various bolts and nuts.

The earlier I can buy the components and equipment for the boat, the better, because over time the costs are sure to rise.

Because my Paradox is likely to be the last 'real' boat I shall own, I want her to be good; indeed, very good throughout; therefore I'm not going to penny-pinch. I'm simply looking for value for money and pleasure in building and using her. Already this is a rewarding experience.

For anyone contemplating a Paradox, don't enter into it lightly, because many man hours are needed for building her.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Cabin and Hatch Beams 2

Inevitably there have been days when I’ve not be able to do any work on my Paradox sailing cruiser; Thursday and Friday were such, but this afternoon I was able to laminate one of her cabin beams. These are of various widths and therefore they have to be made with some care. After laminating my second deck beam I cut the strips for three more, but most likely tomorrow I’ll not be able to make any progress, simply because there are more pressing things to do.

I’ve ordered the wood for completing the boat, including the spars, which I’ll probably build before starting the hull. I have to find space for storing the wood; perhaps I’ll need to make a rack attached to the garage ceiling in which to keep it.

The American, Glen Maxell, has sold me his old-style Paradox sail and I should receive it within the next few days. For $300 plus $41 carriage, that’s a bargain. It would have cost me considerably more to have a new sail sewn by a UK sail maker. Having the sail before making the gaff and boom is an advantage, because I can build them to suit the sail.

Glen has the mark two version of a Paradox sail, which has a higher aspect ratio, but the disadvantage is that it does not roll up tidily around the boom when stowed. I’m prepared to accept that the old-style sail is not quite so efficient to windward.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Cabin and Hatch Beams

Today I finished the last of the deck beams and made a jig for the cabin and hatch beams. Tomorrow I’ll have a go at cutting and laminating one of the cabin beams.

The vertical thickness of the beams which support the cabin roof are all 22 mm, but the forward one, supporting the front window, needs to made from a battens 52 mm in width, and the one at the rear of cabin requires battens that are 74 mm wide. Beam number two, supporting the deck under the front end of the hatch, must be made from battens 26 mm wide; whereas the beam above it (and the deck) should be 20 mm wide; but this latter beam has a capping piece on top that is 26 mm wide, giving a 6 mm overhang forwards. This overhang provides security for a foam weather strip used to stop water from entering the boat when the hatch is closed.

Making the deck and cabin beams will be trickier than building the deck beams, because the horizontal widths of the battens vary, and both the forward and aft battens are angled differently to support the Perspex windows.

Embarking on the production of the deck and hatch beams requires ‘faith’ in the designer’s drawings.

I feel sure most people would start building a Paradox sailing cruiser by cutting and assembling the hull; only after fixing the deck, would they build the cabin top, including the cabin roof and sliding hatch. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m attempting to make all the small items before starting the hull, so that I’ll have room in my garage for building them. Once the hull is assembled, there will only be about 2 feet either side for working, because the width of the garage is just over 8 feet and the beam of Paradox is slightly over 4 feet.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Laminating Deck Beams (9)

As from tomorrow morning, beam number 7 will be ready for grinding and sanding.

What to do next? I’m not sure – possibly the rudder and its stock or the cabin and hatch beams; for these I’ll need to make a jig similar to the one for the deck beams, but the shape of the curve will be taken from sheet number 10. There’s nothing to stop me building the roller drum mechanism with its tack strut; all in all, I’ve plenty to carry on with; I could even laminate the tiller.

As yet I do not have the timber for the spars, and I’m currently requesting quotes for most of the solid timber used in building a Paradox sailing cruiser. Soon I’ll have to acquire some scrap lead for making the pigs of ballast, 10 in all, each weighing around 40 lbs, bringing the total to 400 lbs. All of this will be needed, as I shall mostly use my Paradox for day sailing; therefore for much of her time under sail she will not be carrying stores to help bring her down to her designed waterline.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Laminating Deck Beams (8)

Three deck beams have been finished; one needs sanding; one is on the jig while the epoxy sets, and two more are ready for the epoxy stage - in three more days they could all be finished.

Although wasteful with the epoxy and plywood, I did as Don Elliott suggests, that’s to make all the deck beams the same length, ready for cutting to size when attaching them to the hull. It would be a fiddly business to cut them to length before placing them on the jig. As it is, each batten is almost identical to the others, and therefore they can be fitted where necessary according to the plans.

What’s the next small item I can make? Perhaps I could have a go at the stem or the rudder. I need to give it some thought, as I do not want to restrict my movement in the garage by assembling the hull too early, but there would be nothing to stop me cutting the bulkheads and preparing them with their cleats and floors.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Laminating Deck Beam (7)

I was able to start on the deck beams after lunch. The cleaning up process with the two unfinished beams was swift. By using the angle grinder I very quickly smoothed out the ‘wrinkles’ of hardened epoxy on both sides of the beams where it had oozed out from between the battens. Never having had the convenience of an angle grinder before, I was amazed how much dust it generated; without me realizing it, several items in the garage were soon covered with a film of white dust; therefore I learnt a lesson the hard way, and I resolved that future grinding would be done out of doors, if possible.

As I wanted to laminate the third beam, I had to meticulously remove the dust before I could start.

This time I found a better way of attaching the plastic bin liner to the jig, so that it was easier to bend the battens between the screw supports at each end and the curved side of the jig.

If there’s enough epoxy to laminate another beam tomorrow, I’ll try to do so before I’m required as a ‘chauffeur’ later in the day. Very seldom can I find time for working a full day on the boat, because other demands take priority. (Please take out your violins and play a lament.)

A fresh batch of epoxy should be delivered on Monday; unfortunately I was out this morning when it arrived from UK Resins, and the driver would not leave it without a signature.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Laminating Deck Beam (6)

As I suspected, there was little time today for work on the boat, but I did manage to laminate the second beam and start cleaning up the first one. For this sort of thing, the right tools can make all the difference; therefore I bought a disk sander that cuts into hardened epoxy like a knife through soft butter. To prevent dust getting into my lungs I bought a mask that covers my mouth and nose; it’s the sort with replaceable filters, but the trouble with this contraption is that my exhaled breath escapes upwards and fogs up my spectacles. I think I should invest in sound-deadening ear muffs, because the disk sander makes an ear-piercing noise.

Tomorrow will be another busy day, but I may find time for laminating the third deck beam and for finishing the others.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Laminating Deck Beams (5)

I managed to find time this morning to laminate the first deck beam; weather conditions were perfect, with plenty of sunshine and hardly any wind. The whole procedure took about 20 minutes.

I placed a large bin bag over the jig and taped it into place; then I applied slightly thickened epoxy to the battens by means of a cheap painter’s brush. There was no need to have a ‘gluing’ platform, because it was easy to spread the epoxy on each batten, one at a time; then bend it around the jig so that it was temporarily held in place by two large upright screws, one at each end. (My jig was laid flat on the work bench.) When all 8 battens were made level, I used 5 clamps to gently squeeze them until they fitted the jig exactly. I did not over-tighten the clamps, otherwise they would have been starved of epoxy. Finally I cleaned the old paintbrush with acetone and washing up liquid.

Tomorrow will be a busy day for me, but I hope I’ll be able to find time to make another beam. I originally thought it would be necessary to leave each beam on the jig for 48 hours, but it seems that most Paradox builders believe 24 hours is enough time for the epoxy to harden. Taking this as reliable information, means I’ll be able to produce the beams at twice the rate.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Laminating Deck Beams (4)

This morning I used a jigsaw to cut the battens for making all 7 deck beams for Paradox. Once I got the hang of it, keeping straight lines was not at all difficult, and afterwards it was a painless job to plane off any slight irregularities. I found that a bench saw for this procedure was not necessary, although it may have been quicker.

Clamping the battens around the jig was easier than I imagined, but tomorrow will be the acid test, when I apply the epoxy before clamping them together.

I had hoped to finish making my first batten today, but I had to down tools to take a person for a test sail in my Virgo Voyager. He seems to have a real interest in the boat and may make an offer for her. He brought a friend along with him, and they enjoyed the sail. Now, he wants his wife look over the boat; maybe she’ll like what she sees, but I’ll have to wait for his decision via the Broker. I wonder how much influence she will have on his deliberations. We’ll see.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Laminating Deck Beams (3)

Accuracy is the name of the game. Today I made the jig, or mould, for laminating all 7 deck beams of Paradox. On a piece of 16 mm Conti Board I first drew a vertical line intersected by a horizontal line; then along the horizontal line I marked off 12 x 10 mm sections to provide stations for measuring the curvature of the top of the beam. Sheet number 7 of the plan, detailing bulkhead number 2, indicates there are 6 of the above mentioned 10 mm sections either side of the central vertical line. Being careful with my measurements taken from the plan, I used a t-square and rule to mark specified points directly below each of the 10 mm sections to ascertain the shape of the uppermost surface the beam.

With the aid of a flexible batten and weights, I drew a line representing the curvature of the top of the beam; then I drew a series of tangents from the points used to determine the beam curvature. From these tangential points, I drew lines at right angles to the tangents to indicate where the lower edge of the beam would be. The length of these lines was 25 mm. It was important to draw this second curve as accurately as possible, because the shape of every beam will depend upon it.

Next I copied the curve onto another piece of Conti Board; then I used the same method as before to make yet another curve 45 mm below it. Using a jigsaw, I cut out the shape determined by both curves and the vertical sides between them; then I made an identical piece and joined them together with countersunk screws.

Before attaching them to the first cut-out, so as to exactly fit the profile of the underneath curvature of the represented deck beam, I made sure the upper curved surface was smooth and at right angles to its front facing surface. The combined thickness of both Conti Board cut-outs is 32 mm, which will provide an overlap of 7 mm for the support surface when the 25 mm plywood battens are being laminated.

Finally, I used epoxy and screws to join all 3 pieces together to form the jig for laminating my deck beams.

Tomorrow I’ll be able to make my first ‘typical’ deck beam. Matt Layden, the designer of Paradox, refers to this beam as being a ‘typical’ one, because all 7 deck beams are identical, except for the length of each, which is determined by its fore and aft station.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Laminating Deck Beams (2)

The prototype beam worked well; so today, I bought a sheet of 5 millimetre WBP plywood for making 56 x 25mm x 1220 mm strips, to laminate all 7 deck beams for Paradox, but first I must cut out and assemble the jig from 16 mm Conti Board. That’s more than strong enough to take the loads imposed upon it when the clamps are in place. I shall use two curved pieces of Conti Board bonded together, giving a combined thickness of 32 millimetres; this curved surface will be used to form the underneath sides of the beams. A third piece of Conti Board bonded to the other pieces will provide a backing surface for the forward side of each laminated beam. This third piece will be shaped with an identical curve, which will overlap the other curved surface by 45 mm. Its edge will be in line with the uppermost surface of each beam, when the clamps have been tightened after applying epoxy.

To accurately draw the guide lines with a carpenter’s pencil on the plywood for cutting the strips, I’ll use an 8 foot skirting board, which has a straight edge. Each beam will have a fore and aft dimension of 25 mm; therefore I’ll need to allow at least 2 mm between strips to compensate for loss while cutting the plywood with a jigsaw, and for finishing the sides of beams when the epoxy has set.

I’m looking forward to making the jig, but I’m not quite so sure that I’ll enjoy laminating the beams, each consisting of 5 x 1220 mm strips of plywood, which will mean applying slightly thickened epoxy to 8 of their sides. Bundling the strips together and bending them around the jig will be a tacky business, and I’ll need to be careful not to let the epoxy come into contact with the clamps. To prevent the beams sticking to the jig, I’ll protect it with thin plastic sheeting. Ideally I’ll need to leave each laminated beam clamped to the jig for a minimum of 48 hours; that means I may be able to make 3 beams a week; therefore they should all be finished in just over a fortnight. Hooray!

Friday, August 05, 2005

Laminating Deck Beams

This afternoon I did a trial run for making the deck beams.

I cut the test jig from an old kitchen work top. Firstly, I used the hand jigsaw to form a curve representing the upper side of the laminated beam; then I made an identical piece which I screwed to the first, so that it was 45 millimetres equidistant below it. The lower curve represented the bottom of the beam, and 45 millimetres below it I drew another identical curve and trimmed both pieces to match.

There was my jig ready for laminating the trial piece of deck beam, but before applying epoxy resin to the plywood strips, I first taped thin plastic sheeting to the jig to prevent epoxy from coming into contact with it. After using a brush to apply slightly thickened epoxy to both sides of the 4 by 24 millimetre plywood strips, except the upper side of the top batten and the lower side of the lower batten, I bent them around the jig and held them in place with clamps. I took the precaution of placing plastic covered pads between the clamp heads and the upper side of the beam to make sure they would not be bonded together by spilled epoxy.

Tomorrow, when the epoxy will have hardened, I shall remove the test deck beam from the jig and use a rotary grinder to smooth away any nodules of resin that may have squeezed out while the beam was under pressure from the clamps. Then I’ll use an electric sander and a sanding block to make all surfaces smooth.

In all, I used 11 strips of 4 millimetre plywood to build up the vertical thickness of the beam to 45 millimetres; the thickness of the epoxy accounted for the extra millimetre.

There will be lessons learned from the exercise - already I have discovered that when I cut strips from plywood I should allow at least a millimetre between them to compensate for the thickness of the jigsaw blade.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Paradox Building Sequence

In any related series of activities, the sequential order of doing them is likely to be crucial for success.

As I type this, the astronauts are about to repair some external damage on their spacecraft, with the purpose of making a safe re-entry into the earth’s atmosphere. You can imagine that the best brains at Mission Control have been working overtime to devise a sequential order for the procedure with the safety of the crew being paramount.

Less crucially, a boat builder needs to think through the order in which he will make and assemble the various parts of his boat.

Quite a few people have built Paradoxes, and as a result of their experiences, they have put together useful information on her construction. Alastair Law is one such person who has made available a super web site showing how he built his ‘Little Jim’. The address of Al’s site is .

Don Elliott has produced a building manual in PDF format, which gives tons of advice on how to build the little boat. For $14 you can obtain the files for this from Don at , alternatively you can write to him at, 711Wisconsin Ave, Box 202, Tomah, Wisconsin, 54660, USA. Being in PDF format, the diagrams and illustrative drawings are in super detail.
Needless to say, individual boat builders will arrange an order of sequence according to their situations; for example, I’m restricted by the size of my garage which is just large enough to have a finished boat within it, giving little room to spare - only 2 feet on either side; likewise at the bow and stern. That means it would be best for me to make all the small parts at the beginning, so as to give room for working on them under cover prior to making the larger items and assembling them.
In view of my situation, I’m likely to start with the deck beams, followed by the cabin and hatch beams. I could then build the spars, including the mast, the tiller and rudder. All of these should be done while the air temperature is warm enough for the epoxy. Next, the bulkheads could be cut out and assembled with their cleats, blocks and floors. When the spring of next year arrives, I should be in able to assemble the boat on a mobile platform which can be shunted in and out of the garage. Meanwhile, I’ll probably have the sail cut and sewn by a professional sail maker.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Plywood Arrived

If you’ve been following my log you’ll know I’ve been expecting the marine plywood to arrive for the Paradox micro-sailboat I plan to build. Well, it came this morning!

That brings about the beginning of a long enterprise. I do not expect to complete the boat quickly; it could be as long as two years or more before she’s finished; much will depend on the amount of time I can find for building her.

In all, there are 10 sheets of Robbins marine plywood; they were delived to Alec Jordan of Jordan Boats for him to make a kit version of Paradox, but as he was unable to produce a kit for technical reasons, he sent the plywood to me.

Sheet number 6 of Matt Layden’s plan for building Paradox shows the layout of the plywood components: the bottom of the boat, rudder case and bulkhead number 3 will be made from two sheets of 18 mm ply. Four 12 mm sheets will be used for the sides of the boat, bulkhead number 2, the rudder blade, the cabin sole, shelves and the transom. Three 9 mm sheets will be for the decking, bulkheads numbers 1 and 4, and for making storage bins. One 6 mm sheet is to be used for building the cabin roof, hatch cover and a ventilation baffle.