Wednesday, April 29, 2015

The Starling Project - Part 15

The first of the side panels was glued and nailed on today. It was a more difficult job than the bottom panels because I had to hold, bend and manipulate a G - cramp without letting go of the panel. So it was all strategically placed knees and hands while I attempted to get a few furtive stabilising whacks with a hammer and nails.
Except for the smallest wood plane at the bottom of the picture (which is used for cross grain planing) I have recently completed full restoration work on these planes. Now they are coming into their own planing, trimming and finishing the boats stringers and plywood panels. The top plane which is the longest one really showed its usefulness today when I was planing the excess off the long overlapping plywood panels. Tomorrow I will put the last side panel on and fill all the countersunk screws and gripfast nails with 'Epifill'. Then she will be ready for sheathing in fiberglass before being turned upright for the deck to go on.

Monday, April 27, 2015

The Starling Project - Part 14

Let me tell you about a typical Whangarei weather scenario. The forecast was for a day of strong winds from the North East with heavy rain. In the morning as I began work on the boat it rained hard and blew like hell. In fact it blew so hard the Starling was getting wet from the deluge that began to stream into the carport. So I went to work and put up a tarpaulin to keep the rain at bay --- Yep, that's right, the minute I put up the tarp (nearly falling off the wooden sawhorses, hammer in hand, mouth full of nails) the rain stopped and the sun came out. Great! If there is one thing about Northland, you don't have to wait long for the sun!

Two bottom plywood planks are now glued and fastened onto the frames with screws and 'holdfast' nails. Again I had to fiddle around with a wood plane to get things to fit as snugly as possible.

 Thank goodness for gap filling glue is all I can say LOL !

Sunday, April 26, 2015

The Starling Project - Part 13

The first bottom plank goes on. Despite my careful cutting of the cardboard pattern for the plywood planks,  I still had to fiddle around a bit especially along the line of the keel where I had to plane the correct angle onto the face of the ply. Fastening over 100 screws manually with a screwdriver sorely tested my two year out, post-op physical fitness in the chest area. No problems so far.

Taking on a project and actually building or repairing something is a good antidote to over zealous fantasies about what one might like to get involved in. Tomorrow, on goes the opposite bottom plank; that's if the cold, stormy cold front that's traveling up the length of New Zealand doesn't intervene making the carport uninhabitable - I badly need a decent workshop shipmates, sooner rather than later.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

The Starling Project - Part 12

Work is now well underway. Two new cockpit sides have been cut, glued, fitted, nailed and filled.

I made up and glued in a couple of transom backing blocks to through bolt the rudder gudgeons to.

The first of the two bottom panels are now being fitted after having been cut out with an electric jig-saw. Plywood is easy to cut with a jigsaw and planes easily with a sharp wood plane. These bottom panels will be screwed down along the line of the keel and along the line of the chines. So far, so good.

Friday, April 24, 2015

The Starling Project - Part 11

Here I have placed on a large sheet of plywood the fairly rudimentary cardboard patterns of the plywood planks whose shapes I obtained by placing the cardboard on the yachts framing and tracing the shapes. The shapes are all a little bit oversize. I will trim any excess off once they have been glued and nailed to the hull.

A start has been made! The first cockpit panel is now glued and nailed in place. This stage is all reasonably easy and pleasant work. I think there is a boat building tradition where when the last plank (The 'shutter plank')  is screwed and nailed the boat builder (s) celebrate with a keg of beer. Can't wait!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The Starling Project - Part 10


There have been a number of little jobs to do before the "planking" or should that be "plywooding" ? begins. Here at the bow (above) I have glued and screwed some backing pieces so that when the new bottom plank butts up  against the forward bow piece there is a something to glue and screw to. I have used some 'G' cramps in conjunction with wooden packing blocks to hold it all in place while the glue dries.

Because there was already an existing backing block  glued on, my new block altered all the levels so I had to glue on a couple of short pieces of wood to level things up. The only pieces of wood I had available that were exactly the correct thickness were two old broken pieces of an imperial measurement 'yard' long rule. When cut to the correct lengths, they fitted perfectly.

Here the shapes of the new plywood planks have been transferred from the cardboard patterns that I created, onto the plywood. When the work is completed there will be very little left from three sheets of plywood.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

__________________________ SIMPLY SAILING _________________________

If a man must be obsessed by something, I suppose a boat is as good as anything, perhaps a bit better than most. A small sailing craft is not only beautiful, it is seductive and full of strange promise and the hint of trouble. If it happens to be an auxiliary cruising boat, it is without question the most compact and ingenious arrangement for living ever devised by the restless mind of man--a home that is stable without being stationary, shaped less like a box than like a fish or a girl, and in which the homeowner can remove his daily affairs as far from shore as he has the nerve to take them, close hauled or running free--parlor, bedroom, and bath, suspended and alive.
~E. B. White

Friday, April 17, 2015

The Starling Project - Part 9

It hasn't escaped my notice that there is a bit of a connection between the major operation I am doing on this boat and what happened to me less than two years ago - Major bloody surgery. Like a surgeon I am removing the outer covering so that I can get to the heart of the matter.

As I removed the very last pieces of plywood from my little boat I felt she looked a little forlorn and skeletal with the autumn wind blowing through her bones. As I beavered away planing the last of the plywood from the boats stringers and feeling sorry for the fragile little wooden armature that I was working on some words of Battery Sergeant Major Tudor Bryn 'Shut up' Williams played by Windsor Davies from the sitcom IT AIN'T HALF HOT MUM came to mind. I stopped still, momentarily, "Quite right" I said to myself and just got on with it.

These words got quite a lot of use at the time this comedy series was shown on television in New Zealand and people would repeat them in what they thought was a suitable context  ----- Play the utube video now if you haven't already.
IT AIN'T HALF HOT MUM was a British sitcom about the adventures of a Royal Artillery Concert Party, broadcast between 1974 and 1981, and written by Jimmy Perry and David Croft, the creators of DAD'S ARMY. It was set in British India and Burma, towards the end of the Second World War.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

The Starling Project - Part 8

As I was pulling off all the old plywood I removed all the old fastenings. This left some big areas that required filling, especially where the fastenings were screws, with lesser filling required for any nail holes.

The white gunk on the frames is where I have filled with 'Epifill' a product so expensive I asked the guy in the chandlers if there were crushed up gold bars inside the can. He laughed and said that this product, that was once made by 'Epiglass' is now made and marketed by 'International Paints' who are losing a lot of market share because of the price of its products. I am not surprised by that at all.

'Epifill' is the filler product - 'Epiglue' (photo below) is the glue product - The can sizes are the same. I bought this 'Epiglue' for the next stage in this process which is gluing on the new plywood.

The bottom can is the glue. The top can is the hardener. You mix it in a 2:1 ratio. The total weight of the combined mixture is 385 grams. It costs $69.99 (They don't price it at $70 because they think we are so bloody thick we might not actually notice their oh so very clever and cunning marketing strategy - doh! doh! doh! - God give me strength! )

In the photograph (below) one sheet of this plywood cost me $60 - ( NOT $59.99 - THEY, at least have a bit of class ) - Which I consider reasonable value for money as it's top grade marine plywood with the wooden veneers glued with top grade waterproof marine glue.

Yes shipmates, that's right, you are onto it - How the fuck can you produce a large sheet of top grade marine plywood using top grade marine glue, EVEN IF the glue is bought at a bulk 'Trade' 50% discounted price of $35  - ( Whoops, whoops, whoops, sorry the price to the plywood manufacturers of 'International' glue would be a much cheaper $34.99 ).

How can they produce that plywood for that price? Well they probably use some of the other excellent high quality glue products such as resorcinol glues or West System glues where you get 50 - 100 times the volume of product for half the price of these International products.

I know what glue I will be purchasing next time round ........... And if this little post comes within the definition of a cathartic bloody RANT - then so be it!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

__________________________ MARCEL KALMA _________________________

"Geometry Triptych" - Acrylic on Canvas 1020 mm high x 2450 mm wide
Marcel Kalma 
Marcel Kalma currently teaches art on Auckland's North Shore. He is also a practicing Yoga Instructor. He uses glazing of oil paint as a way of building up translucent layers of texture and colour. Often these layers are within boarded areas or geometrical shapes. His works are oil on board or canvas. Finding a balance and harmony in relation to space and proportion is sought. Forms have been constructed through intuition rather than by any formulae or scientific structure. 
Marcel studied art at Manukau Institute of Technology and Elam School of Art.
"I think of my works as landscapes that verge on abstraction. They are not somewhere we recognise but may evoke a sense of place. Are we leaving somewhere behind or about to go forward to somewhere new? Equally they may evoke a mood or emotional state. Colours and mark making often associate us with past experiences. I plan to create works that may encourage contemplation. Influenced by the Old Masters technique of glazing, these works are layered in oils. Each layer must dry before the next is applied. This means decisions in the process of painting are not preplanned but created in the moment. Through colour, transparency and mark making I endeavour to create works both aesthetically pleasing and thought provoking."

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Sumner Road (Evans Pass), Christchurch 4K UHD Drone's View 2015

This interesting video was sent to me by my brother Christopher.

When we were growing up in Christchurch New Zealand we often used to ride this road on our bicycles. From the top of Evans Pass it was a very fast free wheeling ride of madness down into the port of Lyttleton. It gives me grimacing spine chilling goosebumps to think now of how dangerous it all was - But we never worried about any of that because up to our late teens or our first self inflicted near death experience (whatever comes first) these are the years of immortality.

Since the Christchurch earthquakes this road has been closed - and abandoned. It's now a road of memories.

Interestingly, apart from walking the only way to travel down this road now is on a bicycle.

Friday, April 10, 2015

The Starling Project - Part 7

The two bottom bow panels are sound and completely free of any rot, as are the bulkheads, framing and the stern . The two cockpit sides look ok, but the bottom edges need a bit more of a careful examination as I clean up the frames with a wood plane.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

The Starling Project - Part 6

Improvised plywood transporting roof rack extension. ( All real boat builder / sailors have a generous stash of lumber - this is why!!! )

Two sheets of beautiful 6mm Meranti marine grade plywood. As I unloaded these sheets I could smell the distinct smell of plywood - back came a deluge of boat building memories. So many boat renovations, so many new builds, so little time - ( I will make sure to get in a major voyage between all the wood working ).

The main boat surgeons tools: nail punches, chisel, hammer, plane, screw driver. (After the photo I added an essential pair of pliers.)

I thought I would get away with just replacing areas where there was obvious evidence of wood rot. I could have gone down this path but on thinking it through I realised that it would be a lot more work. I decided to cut my losses and replace all the plywood except for a small section either side at the bow.

So today, armed with my chosen weapons of engagement I made a start on taking off the remainder of the plywood. All that will be left after the removal will be the bare skeleton of the yacht. Thank goodness the framing is ok and totally free of rot or any other problems, otherwise I would have some extra winter kindling wood, but no boat!!

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

The Starling Project - Part 5

I used a belt sander with a heavy grit paper to sand the paint off the hull. Kitted out with my ear muffs and breathing apparatus (Both essential) I made pretty quick work of taking the paint off.

It was warm enough to only wear a pair of shorts, making the laundry aspect a lot less of a mission - I shook out half a ton of dusk at the end and soaked my shorts in a bucket of water. Sanding is a task I like the least, but it is a necessary job for this particular project. The dust gets everywhere and seems to find its way into every fundamental orifice of the human body - bloody Nora.

An earlier restoration hangs above my head in the background, the little 7 foot 'P' Class yacht.  I remember burning the paint off with a heat gun and finding it a pleasant task. I tried the heat gun on this Starling but to no avail, the paint seemed to be baked on like a potters glaze. So it was a horrible dusty, gritty job. The good thing is that the sanding is the worst of the list of jobs to do and now it's over and done with. The rest of the work will be a lot more pleasant.
Halfway through the process with dust everywhere.
Nearly complete - I wore out two sanding belts.
Bad areas of rot at the stern. The plywood here is paper thin, black and fragile.
  The port side of the boat is in bad shape. I may have to re - plywood the whole side.

Sanding completed giving me a good view of what's to be done next. The plywood is in bad shape in many places so it may mean pretty much re - ply wooding most of the hull. Considering the deck has all gone, it will possibly be only the plywood cockpit sides, the yachts framing and the main bulkheads that will remain.

The Starling Project - Part 4

 Eleven foot Starling Class yacht - Upside down and ready for the belt sander.

The plywood in the bow where there are some very hard curves show no signs of rot so hopefully this area won't require replacement.

In the stern area and on both topsides there are places where large sections will require new plywood.

This is a worry because parts of the transom and its framing may need replacing.

None of this would be have happened if the previous owners had simply put the boat in dry storage.

I am toying with the idea of perhaps taking all the plywood off as I have done with the deck and be done with it. Simply replace all the plywood on the boat. We will see.

The Starling Project - Part 3

This and the two previous posts were posted in May 2014. I am now in a better position to take the Starling  project forward, so I have re - posted this and the previous posts to give better continuity to the story.

My yacht 'Mariner' and her diesel engine wait in line on the list of 'Projects To Do' list as I await engine parts and other bits and pieces. In the meantime I will work on the little Starling sailing dinghy.

The Starling Project - Part 2

This and the previous post were originally posted in May 2014. I am now in a better position to take this project forward, so I have re - posted this and the previous post to give better continuity to the story. One advantage of letting the boat sit for a while has been that it is now bone dry and ready for some restoration work.

It didn't take much time to remove the plywood deck and clean up the deck beams with my newly restored wood plane. With the deck removed I was able to check thoroughly for any wood rot on the inside of the hull. I think I am not going to have to completely remove and replace all the plywood. There are a number of areas where I will have to remove some sections of plywood but generally the rest of the wood is sound and rot free. The next stage is to turn the boat over and completely remove all the paint with a belt sander. I will then remove and replace any areas of plywood that look at all dodgy. I am doing all of this in a methodical manner, one step at a time, and carefully clearing away the wreck of wood as it is removed from the boat. I have gone through the stage where I had been getting a bit discouraged with a mess of old discarded wood lying around and everything looking and feeling a bit chaotic. I haven't been  helped by the work area which is a bit cramped and by a pile of firewood at one end of the carport that keeps encouraging me to see sense and just chop up the boat and add it to the pile. There was one point where I was sorely tempted, but as soon as I had cleaned up the pile of discarded deck ply and vacuumed the inside of the boat she  changed quickly from a boat being demolished to a boat being built again - such mercurial knife edge changes in my attitude are old well worn paths for me in this yacht building / restoration / life malarkey - the lesson is not to rush to judgement and do something you might instantly regret - bugger that pile of firewood - perhaps I will hide the big axe somewhere safe.

All this and the diesel engine off the big boat to fix as well - stark raving bloody mad I am.

The diesel engine on the big boat is still there. I had a dream one night that it had run away to join a circus but when I next looked it was still there. Never mind, the momentum has begun and all  will be well and all manner of boats will be well.

The Starling Project - Part 1

This was originally posted on 8 / 5 / 2014. I am now in a better position to take this project forward, so I have re - posted this and the next post to give better continuity to the story.

Well shipmates, it happened like this. A couple of years ago on this blog I posted a series of posts about the restoration of a small seven foot P Class yacht (The Cygnet Project). I have to say the whole process was a great joy, a sort of long meditation where I lost myself in sanding, painting, filing and fixing. The result was a pretty cute looking, thoroughly restored little yacht which sailed very well considering the load it was expected to carry i.e Me! But alas she is a bit too small and cramped, so I have been looking around for something a bit bigger. I had set my heart on restoring an OK dinghy class yacht which like the P Class I had sailed in my younger days. While I was looking around fate intervened and I ended up with a quadruple heart bypass operation and all the malarkey and post operative limitations that an event like that involves - So I decided to downsize on the OK dinghy and recently bought on Trade Me a nine foot Starling class sailing dinghy. The Starling was designed by the legendary New Zealand yacht designer Des Townsend as an intermediate class between the New Zealand P Class and bigger single handed dinghy classes such as the OK, Laser, Zephyr and Finn dinghies. They are popular in New Zealand with good competitive racing fleets.
This little dinghy is big enough for an average sized adult to sail easily without the kind of physical exertion that a larger sailing dinghy requires.
In my workshop I have just restored a large number of wooden chisels (Shipmates DON'T use them as screw drivers or for mixing paint as it quadruples the restoration time) some wood planes and other equipment ready for this dinghy restoration.  I have to say I am very pleased with myself for restoring all these tools. It has been a lovely long meditative task specially designed to please old Mariners like moi with dodgy tickers.

Here she is after surviving being driven home on a hire trailer all the way from Auckland. In very good condition you can pay over NZ$4000 for a Starling. I won the online auction for this one for NZ$430 which is about one tenth of the new cost - BUT as you can see from the photographs there is a reason for the low cost.

When I took to the paint with a heat gun I immediately had large areas of the ply veneer bubbling up all over the place because of the super heated steam from the wet plywood. In the photo (above) the dark stain at the side of the deck has been made by the ingress of water over a long time - I think this little boat has been stored outside and the rainwater has slowly saturated the hull. Similar saturation on the sides of the hull have caused some spots of rot in many places around the sheer of the boat.

So the minimum amount of work at this stage is a completely new deck. The maximum will be the complete replacement of the hulls plywood sheathing. I think it's going to be a bit scary to see this little boat reduced to something like the skeleton of a beached whale, but I have found out surgically that if you want to fix stuff you just have to get to the heart of the matter. So whatever needs to be done will be done. Its a nice manageable job with the future prospect of some great sailing. Small yacht restoration is a very, very satisfying activity for obsessive yachtie aficionado types such as me   - so I am happy with this small restoration for the time being - BUT - There is a Magnum Opus yacht restoration looming on the horizon, looming like the clear bright light from a lighthouse on a dark moonless night in winter - more of that another time.

No - I haven't forgotten the Magnum Opus restoration either - it's waiting in the wings, but first things first.