Monday, 25 January 2016

Sunday, 24 January 2016

Rambler 18 Innovations

They say it's good to have projects running in parallel  when boat building.  They also say it's best to build the final boat first.

While the practice canoe build is in limbo I have been working on my modified version of Jack Holt's Rambler, stretched from 17ft to 18ft and with an extra chine and higher sheer. Main focus is to get comfortable cabin sitting/sleeping/reading/loo facilities for two. Jack Holt designed Rambler with a lift cabin top which is a bit cramped. What I am working on is a sideways fold out cabin with roof filler piece.

The side folds, when folded and screwed down, act as extra seating and leave an alley way to get to the mast and foredeck when solo sailing or day sailing.  I plan to use zipped spray dodger enslosures for front and rear of "clam shell" middle. When folded down the side pieces will form a sealed area of bunk space on either side for added buoyancy if swamped/broached.  Below are some pics of a 1/5th size model of the folding cabin (without roof filler piece) and the mid section of the Rambler 18 hull.

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Cutting Some Real Planks At Last!

My last post was 5 months ago - this boat building is very TTT (things take time). If I calculated what proportion of time I have spent (a) Planning building space, (b) acquiring tools (c) learning from others and reading boat building books (d) making models (e) building boatyard deck (d) building a real boat, my estimate is about 10% a, 10% b, 20% c, 20% d, 35% e, 5% d. and this spread over about 4 years.  Whilst the journey has been interesting, my advice to others is go do a boat building course in Tasmania, get the hull built there and ferry it back home to fit out.

Now back to my "progress" report.  Winter was wet and cold and did not provide many clear days for outside building and gluing, Meanwhile we had a bit of travel of which I might post separately, while waiting for spring.

I got going again in August with deck development to make life easier. I added some lattice to give a bit more protection and privacy (reduce neighbours curiosity if and when the cabin on the big boat takes shape). This lattice also helps support my temporary western tarp wall to give sun protection.
In the above shot is also a plank storing box, long enough to hold 12ft long plank patterns and cut planks. This is able to keep these on deck protected from weather awaiting gluing on the jig.  This minimises potential damage to thin floppy cut planks and avoids stressing the scarf joints until fully cured.  See close up of box below. It has free rolling castors underneath so easy to move anywhere around the deck. I have it right next to the bench while cutting planks and when not in use I can slide it under the tressels holding the canoe and jig.
 Here's a close up of the cutting of the first real 4 planks in Bryunzeel Gabon 4mm using patterns made from hoop pine ply.  This demonstrates the use of my planking bench "rudders" to support curved cutting. I'm cutting two planks at a time. Scarf joints in the 2 sheets are alternated.
Here's offcuts saved from the plank cutting for making clamp pads.  I also kept offcuts of scarf joint to check strength before proceeding planks on the jig.  I.m pretty happy with the scarf joints. I used Technique 2/1 glue.
The canoe requires 6 planks. I will wait to make the final 2 plank patterns until after I have glued the first 4 planks on the jig to avoid cumulative errors of fit.

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Variable Width Planking Bench

I have added an innovation to my plank cutting bench out on the "boatyard" deck.  The bench itself is just over 2 feet wide. To be able to cut a 4 ft wide ply sheet down the middle and also provide support for cutting curved planks, I have added a set of 5 "rudders plus T swivel" to the bench. The T swivels are wider on one end to allow the full 4ft sheet support and shorter on the other end to allow space for cutting in the middle of the sheet. The swivel allows elongated support for the off cut curved plank being cut off the sheet. Clamping the sheet to the bench at one end and along the length to the edge of the T sections gives a stable platform for jig sawing planks and reduces stress on the scarf joint in planking sheets.

The hinges on the rudders are open ended so I can remove them from the bench when not doing planking work.

So I am finally getting around to cutting planks for the Charlotte canoe.  I will make patterns for the 6 planks required first.  Here I am marking up the riband edge for the garboard plank pattern.

Saturday, 1 November 2014

Stems shaped - Roughly!

Whilst it was forecast for 35 degrees today, it was the first free day for a while so I got going early finishing beveling the second side of the keelson. That went OK so why not have a go at shaping the stems.  Tom Hill had suggested using a range of tools due to the grain changes around keelson/stem join - draw knife, spoke shave and some planing. Maybe it was the heat , but I don't have a drawknife and my spoke shave has not been a happy experience for me so far so I got out the electric plane, installed new blades and took a deep breath.   Managed to get through it OK without demolishing my beautiful ash stems. It's a rough shaping so far and I will do fine tuning with a hand plane and a short piece of planking stock to get flat lands for the glue joints.

I first used some spraky feeding battens to give me a line on the plank edge lands on the stem and punched a mark on the centre line of the stem so I don't lose sight of this through the stem shaping process.

 And here;s the stems from front and side after teh rough shaping with the electric plane.....

Saturday, 25 October 2014

Jack Holt's Rambler cruising dinghy

Although I really like the Fulmar design of Iain Oughtred (see previous posts and my experiments with a cruising model of this design) I have become interested in a 1954 design of Jack Holt called the Rambler.  It's 17ft - ideal for my building space and double chime plank on frame (much easier building for me on my own than lapstrake).  I now have plans for Rambler and here's a pic of the sailplan.

A UK small boat designer , Keith Callaghan, has owned one for some years having modified the standard design quite a bit with a modern cabin and cockpit. See more info at


Long Winding Bevels

A full day on the canoe today to start beveling keelson and stems. About half the day was spent making the screw in batten to go into my low angle plane.  I needed to make a jig to hold a sliding chuck device which gave me exact perpendicular drilling capability.

I cut a square piece of thick ply and left a projected square bit in the middle to match the base on the sliding chuck stand. Then I clamped a piece of silver ash vertical against my work bench front beam.  This will be the batten for screwing to the plane.  I need to drill a 3/16th  hole exactly vertical into this and exactly away from the edge to match where the screw hole is in the side of the plane.  So I slide the ply base over the top of the ash batten until the drill bit in the chuck is exactly over the marked spot for the hole, then clamp the ply base to the bench and drill.  The set up is shown below.

 Here's the plane with batten screwed in as it will ride the keelson and riband. In this pic it screws flush to the plane but I ended up putting a nylock nut on the end of the screw to control the thread end length to stay constant at what's required to screw into the plane - it had started to reduce and the screw began to disappear into the batten.

So by the end of the day I have one side beveled pretty close to the required winding bevel - being careful to not cut into the centreline.  Still lots more to do on the stems.

....and a nice satisfying pile of long spiral spruce shavings at the end of the day........