Saturday, 31 October 2009

Rubber me up!

After my recent dunking at Walney, I decided to replace the adjustable [ie not watertight] neoprene neck seal on my Gul Fugitive cag with a latex one from Lomo
I've never been keen on latex neck seals, but thought I could do with one fully sealed dry top to complement the others I have with open necks, neoprene seals etc.. and was prepared to take a punt on some DIY.

With a scalpel blade I unpicked and removed the neoprene collar and the front neck gusset, removed the velcro strips, and carefully sewed the seams shut again and swiped some Aquaseal over the seams to waterproof them.

I stretched the cag over a plastic cutting board, and opened the neck hole to 8"

A stainless steel dish exactly the right size came in handy to hold the latex seal in place with some duct tape...

..which held it nicely in place and centred too...

it's important to sand the surface of the rubber so the adhesive bonds well...

A digital scale was used to measure out 24gms of Bostik 2402 adhesive and 1gm of hardener. It's important to get this ratio correct, and thoroughly mixed for 2 mins.
I spread 2 thin coats onto the seal and the inside of the material...

Leaving the glue to set until just tacky, I carefully placed it bang on centre with no wrinkles, and gave it a good rolling with a small wallpaper roller to squeeze them together.
McNett's Aquaseal could also be used as adhesive too.

Aquatape over the seams and where I removed the velcro flaps and gusset...ooh er!

Finished neck seal. I will report on whether it is a success later!

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

A trip up the Mersey Part 2

Along with my good friends Brian and Christian, we took advantage of the fine weekend weather and a 9.8m tide to go up the Mighty Mersey this weekend...

At one point we were whizzing along at 14.5 kph!

Sometimes you feel a bit inferior...

33.5 km in a mere 4hrs 23mins.
A grand day out!

Update on 'Tootega': The kayak has worked out very well. I had to lower the stern keel by 1.5" to help with the tracking as it was out of the water most of the time unless the boat was well laden.

I had a wee problem with the hatches which was solved with some extra silicone sealant.
I also replaced the minicell foam seat I made with a fibreglass copy of the seat from my Valley Aquanaut.

I am very pleased with the performance of the Karitek skeg unit, and the Immersion Research 'Reggie' backband too. [IR even featured it on their website]

All said, 'Tootega' has been the subject of many flattering comments on all of the trips I have made this year in Scotland, Wales and the Lake District.

I have designed a new boat, Sedna, a lightweight 17' Greenland style, which should start to take shape in October. Here we go again!

Friday, 17 April 2009

On the sea at last..

Five of us launched at Crosby beach on Bank Holiday Monday for a wee trip on the Mighty Mersey.

Nicky kindly carried the paddles....the new boat is so light it is self-supporting...

The trip got off to an auspicious start when I tucked my VHF radio under my deck elastics, and my water bottle plopped into the murky river.

5 minutes of 'follow the bottle' passed before I gave up.

We went over to New Brighton for lunch, back over to the Liverpool side alongside the Arena, Albert Dock , Pier Head and Liver Buildings and back to Crosby and the Iron Men.

23.5k/14.5m in 4.45 hrs, a very pleasant day out with excellent company.

My nephew Stan provided admirable backup bringing paddles and using great imagination by sending my watch over the beach by the simple means of attaching it to my incredibly intelligent Labrador, Freddy, who ran 200m to bring it to me!

Crosby 'Danger' sign aka the Sh*t Outflow..

Where's me bottle?...

My new kayak has now been christened 'Tootega' following a suggestion by my brother in law Clifford following my 'Pimp my Kayak' post!

In Inuit mythology, Tootega is a wizened old goddess, who lives in a stone hut and has the ability to walk on water.

I like the water bit .

Saturday, 4 April 2009


We went up to Coniston this morning to launch Boat. It was a beautiful sunny day in Liverpool when we left, and a cold windy one in Cumbria.

Here's me on the bank wishing I had worn more thermals....

The boat handled very well, it seems to be faster than my Aquanaut, and certainly turns more quickly. I only went out for half an hour, as my right shoulder is playing up again, but that was enough to satisfy me that the project has been a success!

The only niggly problems were the spraydeck lip is a touch lower than my other boat, and it was fiddly to get my deck on, [however it wasn't my usual one and is a bit tighter], and a small amount of water got into the hatches. I've traced this to the finger indents on the lids being a little deep, so I'll fill 'em with epoxy and file shallower ones.

Even with the wind trying to weathercock the boat it was so much easier to turn than my Aquanaut!

We weighed the boat and it came in at just under 24kg, which isn't bad as its got a heavy layup on the hull, and the marine ply bulkheads are 1.5kg, where weight could have been saved with foam.

Thanks are due to my bro-in-law Dan Kenyon for taking the pictures and editing the video.

Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Stand by for Action!

Well thats the hard part done!

3 months and 13 days have gone by and from 21 metres of western red cedar decking I now have a brand new sea kayak, all varnished, fitted out , and ready to go on the water.

I got the Karitek skeg all plumbed in, and went for a natty blue and white choice for deck-line and shock cord. Hopefully sea / lake trials will take place this weekend, to get the seat and footrests in their correct places.

All loaded up and ready to go to Coniston Water in England's Lake District!

[That's where Donald Campbell died in 1967 when his craft Bluebird flipped attempting the world waterspeed record. I don't think I'll have the same problem..]

Now, what shall I make next.......

Monday, 23 March 2009

The final run in..

I've been fairly busy recently, but have managed to complete the last major step in building a cedar strip kayak; joining the deck and the hull. It's good to see the boat in one piece at last.
I've also made the seat from Minicell foam, and finished the carbon fibre coaming, and fitted the Karitek skeg box.

Internal view of skeg box

Carbon fibre hatch rim detail. The hatches are the same size as on my Valley Aquanaut.

View of the inside of the hull to the bow... the black circles are carbon fibre patches to reinforce the bottom of the deck fittings

And along to the stern.
The pieces of wood were necessary to force the hull outwards to meet the deck whilst the epoxy set. You can see the double layer to reinforce under the seat and the internal keel strip.
The inside of the hull is a bit scabby, so I'll probably paint it.

The boat needed a roll and a half of nylon reinforced tape to keep the two halves together...
[and it's a pig to get off too].

I attached the fibreglass tape with wee dots of hot melt glue to keep it in place.

I used 2" tape on the outside. By trimming along the line of the masking tape when the resin has just gone 'green', a very neat seam is created, without the woven edge of the tape showing.

The hardest and most unpleasant bit was getting the resin along the tape on the inside, but didn't take as long as I thought it would. I rolled a length of pre soaked 1" tape on top of it for extra strength.

Joined at last !

Monday, 2 March 2009

March update...

Well, it may not look like I have done much since the last post, but I have finished glassing the  hull and also the inside of the deck. I'm totally surprised at how stiff and light the boat is.

I built up the sides of the coaming with wood strips, and today fitted the deck line fittings which arrived last week.

Nigel Dennis himself told me where I could source them, and they are a neat touch, fully recessed, and very tough as they are glass filled nylon and stainless steel. I've set them out exactly the same as my Valley boat. 

The purists use webbing or wooden fittings, but I prefer these ones

They can be sanded down so they follow the lines of the deck too.

Next job is cutting out and fitting the hatches and building the spray deck lip.

I lashed out today and bought some carbon fibre cloth  for these operations, so fingers crossed!

Friday, 13 February 2009

Glassing the deck Part 1...

Neat eh!  I think I have sussed out the trick to using Poxy resin.................. Don't rush. 

It ain't like polyester where you have to get it down quick and work it around like a madman before it kicks off. Poxy just gets more and more sluggish, and you can squidge it all around to fill low spots.

I laid down the deck glass and used a 2" brush to liberally coat it [onto bare wood deck; no sealer coat this time] With some trepidation I noticed the weave fill, but not seep through to the wood. Then a minor miracle started, all over the glass little spots started to appear where the resin was starting to soak through. 

This time I used a harder squeegee made from 1.5 mm styrene sheet, and in no time at all I had the glass laid down hard against the deck with only a few tiny bubbles, which hopefully will disappear as I turned down the heating and left it cure overnight. 

There are a few 'silver' areas which  I just couldn't get rid of, but overall a much more satisfying days work than the hull, which will need a right seeing to with the sander.

Saturday, 31 January 2009

This will be the last time...

The deck and layback are complete except for a few strips that have had to be added , and a wee splice on the hull where it was damaged when I scraped it over a ladder. 

Do you like my little Devil horns?!!

This is the last time you will see the boat 'au naturelle'; the epoxy and glass has arrived so it's all [West] Systems go... 

Thursday, 29 January 2009

The laid back layback

This was the most awkward and time consuming bit of  boatbuilding so far. 

The usual way of fitting the layback is to glue the strips in 1 at a time, which involves cutting and sanding a bevel on each one, but I reckoned it would be easier to make a big ring of strips following the template I used to mark out the hole.

By making it a couple of mm wider I could then use my block plane to shape the running bevel around the perimeter; it just took ages, but I managed to get the joint pretty close and I'll give it a fillet of epoxy + filler on the undersurface before the glass goes on.

I'm still not sure whether to blend in the thighbraces to the coaming at the moment; as I use foam blocks in my other boat, so I may have a wee tinker when I get the deck of the forms and see how they fit. 

Sunday, 25 January 2009

Strip the deck me Hearties!

Last week I  found a buyer for my P&H Easky 15' plastic boat, which will pay for the epoxy resin and fibreglass I need; I  was sorry to see it go, it was a smashing little boat and I had many a trip in it, now it's gone to a good home in Ireland.

I finally finished stripping the deck, and after some planing and sanding in the workshop, a clement break in the weather allowed me to get the boat out into the yard so I could tidy up and vacuum the sawdust and shavings

It was immediately obvious I must get the boat out more often before laying the glass and resin, as natural light is far better at highlighting flaws.

The cockpit hole looks very large at the moment, but it will be filled with a layback piece which is intended to  lower the height of the coaming / spraydeck lip.

Originally I was going to use a piece of marine ply to form the layback and coaming, which is a quicker method, but now I'm going to construct it from cedar strips.  Carbon fibre and glass cloth will form the spraydeck lip and the interior of the coaming.

I'm also going to try and design a mould to make carbon fibre recesses to take the decklines and bungies, using Valley components.  Some people don't like combining hi-tech materials in a strip build, but I'm happy to have a go...

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

The Deck started..

Finally started to get a few strips down on the deck. 

My jointing technique is vastly improved and I'm finding it a lot quicker to do than the hull.

Unfortunately the wood I bought is a bit characterless and next time I will take greater care to buy some outstanding stuff and have a go at some fancy patterns maybe. 

I'm using all the odd strips on the rear deck, taking solace in the words of Nick Schade in his book, 'The Strip Built Kayak' ...The main thing is to get the boat stripped, finished,  and in the water..

Saturday, 17 January 2009

Pointy bits..

I've not really done much work on the boat this week, but I found a few scraps of maple and beech lying around the workshop so I glued them to the unfinished bow and stern to finish off the joints.

I had to steam the maple to go round the bend at the bottom of the bow and was really lucky to get it right first time. It's lovely wood to plane too.

Sunday, 11 January 2009

Outside for the first time!

I got the hull outside to clean up the workshop, and viewed it at  full length  from the side for the first time.

And it looks OK so far to me.
 If I build another boat in the future I will select more consistently grained and coloured wood, however when the boat is epoxied and varnished there should be a pleasing transition between the dark and the light wood.

I estimate I have so far spent around 60 hrs on the hull + 12 hrs constructing the strong back and forms.