Issue 2 The Eventider's News Spring/Summer 2004
Back issues - 1
THE BUILDING OF SENIOR 1647 `FREYA.'
Why build a boat?
I suppose there is a good reason to spend quite a chunk of money and an even greater chunk of time building a boat, but I am not sure that I realized what it was when I started.
Like many, I had owned and sailed for many a year and had even built a simple sail boat, Ian Nicholson’s Tonga', and had started doing the RYA evening classes. I had also had the odd days in friends cruisers. I then saw the article featuring the Eventide in Classic Boat. Without too much thought I sent for the plans. Fabulous I thought and started doing some simple costings but despite some encouraging correspondence and past copies of the Bulletin I thought the family budget could not run to the expense. But I had been bitten and the support of an association that were builders as well as sailors made me look at the Senior. Another set of plans were bought
I am lucky in having a 18' x 10 `workshop and reasonable collection of tools plus access to my schools workshops. Yes I am a teacher of Technology which is very handy.
I bought the all important marine ply from a local timber merchants, imported and stamped BS 1088, but not kite marked, so a sample of the first sheet was boiled, baked and boiled again prior to completing the purchase. I managed to get a discount
by ordering all the sheets needed but only bought a few at a time. The initial `Seal' brand changed and some sheets were sent back when visible voids were seen at the edges. They have proved consistently good after that.
Michael Verney’s book advocates building the right way up and this is how I planned to do my building. Every item in my workshop was decanted except a woodwork bench and a building board was constructed and nailed to the floor.
I had already made the transom, two bulkheads and permanent frame. The timber was some English Oak I had kept in stick and the transom was second hand Iroko (an abandoned school table top, with the chewing gum removed). This was butted and strapped with ply to make up the width required.
The glue used throughout was Resorcinol from Wessex Resins of Southampton, I used almost 5 litres on the whole project. It is a nice glue to work with, easy to clean off, but critical as to temperature. Follow the instructions , but remember pot life is reduced when the glue has been spread, it soon starts to go off in higher temperatures.
Localised heat can be applied using a fan heater or other form of heat with old blankets or tarpaulins over the area being glued.
The bulkhead ply was fastened with Gripfast nails. Screws throughout the boat were silicone bronze, buy these in bulk from specialised suppliers to get a discount. I wax them before inserting and check pilot holes in test pieces of the same material, use the reference books as a guide only
Temporary frames were made from the sound part of an old garage door, screwed together. A very useful tool proved to be a home made 5" long tee square in combination with a 36" steel rule. The only change to the plans was to reduce the hatch to 22" and raise the step by 2 1/2" This would, I thought, be less vulnerable to a heavy sea coming aboard and increase the bulkhead walls for internal storage. The latter is certainly true but I would give serious thought to building a bridge deck if starting again. Geoff Hyde-Fynn's ‘Mikros’ has this modification, among many others.
Making these manageable sized bits is a good winter time occupation because they can be bought in from the workshop to cure by the fire at bedtime, or do I mean Pub-time.
The next job was building the hog and keel; I used some second hand Iroko for this, again `with the chewing gum removed. It seems to be a habit of public authorities to replace well made traditional furniture with laminated chipboard still one mans loss, as they say. These were not long enough and several lengths with carefully offset joints were used. I considered scarfing these but given the bulk of the material and the fact they were laminated I settled for butting the joints, resorcinol glue and some very expensive screws held the whole thing together and every owned and scrounged cramp held it to the building board to cure. The Oak stem had been made and was set in place using the recommended copper nails and roves, naturally the holes were pre-drilled.
The stringers came next and I had a plank of Idigbo cut down by the local timber merchant, on the understanding that it was a light weight, rot resistant equivalent to Teak.
This proved to be one of the few poor purchases I made. it had the holding power of blotting paper when I came to try some screws in it a test piece. So I bit the bullet and bought Brazilian Mahogany as a replacement.
I then but the whole thing together with clamps, string and sealing wax. With imagination it could be visualised as a boat, but what I could not visualise was how I was going to plank it! There was very little space for anyone working underneath and I could not figure out how the inside worker would balance or move around.
It had to be turned over! Well to be exact it had to be taken to pieces and reassembled but I had no data for this . The solution lay in a piece of string and a spirit level. Luckily I had a piece of string that bad been tested for straightness and this was stretched taut from one end of the workshop to the other a few inches above the cabin bulkhead. I then put temporary extensions to stem, transom bulkheads and frames at two points either side of the centre line. Horizontal timber~ were screwed across these, there tops lining up with the string. The sketch `nay help in understanding this. The distance between each frame extension was recorded. The whole thing was then taken to pieces and frames bulkheads etc. now on their extension legs were sat up vertically hog keel stem assembly put in place and all the other pieces added. It was all done on Saturday by myself and my son Sam who at the time would have been 16. If you do a trick like this I recommend doing. it all in one go without any interruption.
Is this why ‘Freya’ measures 16'3" ask my wife. "Certainly not darling I just used generous scantlings!"
All the bits that rested on the floor were substantially fastened down I did not want that lot failing over.
This is the fun bit. Oh no its not , well not in a building 4 ft longer and 2 ft wider than your boat. In these circumstances the ply planking was butt strapped, after it was in place, you would need a very large working area to handle ready scarfed material.
It is a sad fact that all the books recommended starting with the forward bottom planks. Whilst these are not big pieces (an advantage) they are the ones where locating screw holes so the screws don't appear inside the boat is most difficult. This is due to all the funny angles at the sharp end! Patience and a few spare pilot holes was my eventual solution Of the various methods of fairing the plywood at the chines the Senior uses the most difficult. It requires great patience and many trials (and errors) to get it right Spilling and various other systems are all very well, but my golden rule became "Don't fasten up the evening you think you have a good tight fit, have another look in the morning and if its okay then go ahead.~ Despite this moan it must be said that a well made joint with the vulnerable end grain nice and snugly glued up takes some beating.
You will have to use temporary screws. to hold the inaccessible edges or planks, and clamps elsewhere when gluing and nailing. Always mark out all the places for pilot holes carefully- use a marking gauge and dividers to step off the spacings for speed and accuracy. A useful little tool for this sort of work where you do not have a fair edge can soon be made. (see drawing) It works very well.
I used copper nails and the resorcinol glue for all work except tile top of the side planking for which I used grip fast nails. I now wish I had used them on other planks as well. There are numerous articles about turning nails. I confess I never acquired the skill to do this, mine are clenched ie. bent at right angles so they rest partly indented into the stringers.
when planking up you need two people. One of whom should be deaf to withstand the hammering noise whilst they are inside the boat, but with good hearing so they can hear the shouting of "next but two forward" etc. Copper nails, even with pilot holes, can splinter stringers as they go through. The system I adopted was for a dolly (a heavy piece of steel to be placed over tile inside end of the~ hole until the copper nail hits it. Then tap gently on the nail. The outside of the nails were sunk in sufficiently for a decent dollop of filler to be applied `The outside of the nail is Supported while the inside is turned after being snipped off.
The butt straps were glued and nailed in the same way, they don't look very pretty and I would consider using nails and roves as an alternative screws would be very short in 3/8 p1y
After the last plank went on a bottle of red wine was consumed by my wife, Liz, and I (her hearing is improving all the time by the way) approximately nine months after work began.
Faced with all those nail holes I decided to use epoxy based filler and whilst at it to coat the hull with epoxy and glass fibre and epoxy the chines. Although it is still early days I have already noticed the benefits when bumping into things. I tended to use evenings and some of the weekends rather than holidays for most of the work but there were a good number of jobs around the house by the time I'd finished ‘Freya’ and my golf handicap had deteriorated by two shots.
The building of another Senior
I built my boat 'Tanti ' in a rented garage, and she was built the right way up and very
much as plan. The keel was set up in Easter 1965, but with the distractions of summer little else was done until November. It was during a summer thunderstorm that the garage was flooded and much of the timber stored therein was sadly soaked. Some of the marine ply stored on edge became soaked and this shows now, in that the butt joints at the sides are not perfectly flush.
Paying rent for a garage and doing nothing is rather futile, so I got down to it properly in
November with the intention of launching by Easter of 1966. Easter came, went, followed by
Christmas and still not finished. The new year came in, followed by the owner of the garage
wanting to know when I proposed to move out. I told him February, but managed to hang on
until the end of March. These last 3 months seemed like a jail sentence to me, I don't think that I would build another boat, it uses up good sailing time.
She was built more or less regardless of cost, the hull covered 'in fibreglass right up to the
gunwales, the deck and cabin top covered with Dunlop 'Trakmark'. The transom having a
pleasant grain, was varnished. Due to the flooding, the two boards forming it are little warped
but this does not show in the finished boat. Extra stiffening in the form of 2" x 3/ 4" oak strips were screwed and glued around the edge of the transom and along the joint. The ply finished 1/2" from the end and a 1/2" x 3/8" mahogany strip prevented the end grain showing.
Most of the work was done single handed with some help from interested local residents and
a few friends. As a result of much single handed work, most of the ply is screwed to the stringers and frames. Fibre glassing the hull is, in my opinion, not very successful, due to my own inexperience and not due to any fault of the materials. The glass matting and resin were supplied by Solent Marine Plastics of Solihull Warwickshire, and were an excellent and most
comprehensive outfit. I laid the matting longitudinally and with the hull upright it was difficult to work underneath. Getting the garage warm and dry enough to work in with a minimum temperature of 58 degrees F. was not, easy during February. The bilge keels are of English oak and the hull is stiffened with a 3" x 3/8" marine ply planking in the way of the
The cockpit seats are not as plan. I did not care much for the plywood lockers, and a flat seat
is not very comfortable in a choppy sea, so I fitted a fixed ply top sloping to the centre of the boat to shed water quickly and then screwed wood slats mounted on shaped bearers (as sketch) to give a more comfortable seat. The space beneath the seats is open and used for storage.
The stem, floors and transom are of English Oak and came from a 1" solid oak mortuary shell which I bought some years ago for 5 Shillings! (I am by way of being the local Funeral Director). The frame, deck beams and some other odd parts were cut from a fireplace surround and overmantel. The cupboards, and the seat supports are from solid pitch pine church pews which I bought when a local Methodist Church was demolished.
The main (cabin) bulkhead is framed with Honduras mahogany which was originally from an old four poster bed, and that was cut down to make a fireplace surround and overmantel. This was presented to me gratis when I admired it, as the owners were having a tile fireplace fitted. This piece of timber is, I fancy, really antique.
The cabin interior is spartan and consists of a piece of 1/2" marine ply laid over the floors. The distance from the 1st frame to the end of the ply is 6'2", the remaining length each side of the cabin is used for lockers. A small area just under the hatch is the "living space ". Portside cupboard area for books, radio, etc., and locker beneath for cooking utensils. Starboard side cupboard for food and other essential stores with 2 burner Primus gas cooker. The portlights are rectangular (almost), these I made up from odd strips of brass, with framing inside to make a rebate to take 32oz. glass. I am not very pleased with the aesthetic appearance but it is watertight and strong.
The mast and spars (Gunter rig) are of Sitka spruce which I bought from the sawmill, prepared, grooved and rounded myself. Having a long bench made gluing the spars easy, with 3" x 2" blocks nailed to it and a dozen pairs of folding wedges made from wastewood, cramping was no problem. A very good finish was obtained on the spars and mast with six coats of varnish, each one rubbed down with wet or dry paper to produce a surface like a glass bottle. The sails of Terylene by Tratman and Lowther of Bristol. The Gunter yard heel fitting was a problem so I fitted a stainless steel Gibb dinghy gooseneck fitting into the end of the yard, rivetting it through a brass collar. There is not much clearance for the heel of the yard when it is hoisted and the brass collar rubs a little against the mast track. Short of fitting gaff jaws and a lacing I can't see another solution.
Standing rigging is of 'Seaprufe' plastic covered wire with S.S. bottle screws and 'Talurit' splicing. The boom is fitted with the Barton Roller Reefing Gear and there is a stemhead fitting in bronze With a roller fairlead and bronze fairleads at bow and stern. All blocks are by 'Gibb' in Tufnol with S.S. eyes and plates. Running rigging, warps, are in synthetic fibre. The anchor is a 15lb plough type by South Western Marine Factors and with 3 fathoms of "short link chain", it holds largely by virtue of its weight. 6 fathoms of Nylon warp added provide enough scope for the kind of cruising I do.
The rudder blade is of 1/4" high purity aluminium and the rudder cheeks are of 3/4" mahogany, culled from an old flap table this time, and the tiller arm is of Jarrah cut from a 7" x 4" cage guide from a local colliery. A Seagull outboard motor is fixed to port. A 1 1/2" x 1 1/4"' rubbing strake of pitch pine with Dunlop D section rubber all round makes a very stout fender. The hull is painted a royal blue with a 3" white strip along the gunwale. The bright work is of ' Spinnaker' varnish which is very good indeed. Inside the cabin is painted white up to the gunwales and pale primrose above. The bilge is protected with ' Danboline' paint.
Someone once described this type of boat as a micro cruiser, and no doubt she is too small for extensive cruising but I am well content with my little cruiser..
M. E. White.
We hope to add a few pics to these two building articles soon.
Martin Lewis's famous little boat.