Fitting Out (Year 1):

Date Discussion
22/3/2010 This is the third "chapter" in the on-going saga of the building of Rhapsody in Glue. The hull was turned "right-side-up" on March 5th and now starts the fitting out:-

Now the hull is turned over all the carpentry "sins" are clearly visible. The inside of the hull is a real mess! Still, nothing that a handful of bog, a few yards of fibre glass and a decent dollop of fairing compound won't fix. Yeah right!

I originally lofted the top edge of the transom as a straight line parallel to the water. This is wrong of course, since the deck should be curved across the boat, (OK - athwartships), and have a "crown'.

I read up a number of methods of marking out a crown curve and adopted the one that made most sense. I have cut out an extension piece for the top edge of the transom to provide the crown in the deck and can then use the same curve on the top edge of the first bulkhead, which will be 300mm forward of the transom and form the head of the bed.

The space between the transom and the first bulkhead will form a Lazarette and contain lockers accessible from outside the boat for two 25l plastic outboard fuel tanks. The lockers will have separate drains to the outside in case of fuel spillage.

The area between the bulkhead and the transom will also be used to conceal a set of drop down steps that give access to the proposed Swim Deck. The steps fold out of sight when not required.

16/4/2010 Forget the bit about the steps! Using that approach intrudes on the headroom above the pillows I now realise - back to the drawing board!

You may notice that there has been a bit of a pause in proceedings. The hull was turned over on March 5th and I now realise that I had not been looking past that point in the project. It was such a major "milestone" that it had become a virtual end point in itself and I hadn't actually thought the project through any further. I have been involved in Project Management for many years, and I am by nature, a planner. To suddenly find myself in the position of wondering what the hell to do next was uncomfortable territory.

I took a week off from boat building and drank coffee, read books and visited with friends. That one week became two. As I considered all the things that needed to be done and realised that all the next steps were interrelated and interdependent on each other, I was daunted by the scale of what was still to be done. This exacerbated by the fact that I am not working from previously determined plans; much of the next part of the project is "make it up as we go".

So, it's almost as though the "Fit-Out" was a new project, which in some ways it is and as always with any "new" project, the most difficult step is the first one and that was the problem here. Again, as always, start with something simple that you know has to be done and work from there.

The first step then, is to start filleting and glassing all the seams and reinforcing all the keel joints ready for the frames and bulkheads, when we work out exactly where they are going.

I have a fairly clear idea of the layout and sizes of the area that makes up the aft cabin, (Stateroom?), so it seems easiest to start there. For the last week or so, that has been the focus of activity, and I actually feel as though I'm progressing again, which is a good feeling.

The rudder gear all hides in and under the bed frame, so I have asked Phillip at C.E.&A. to start making up the hardware to the plans that were drawn up so long ago. He is in England at present and with the volcano in Iceland and the problems with air travel, who knows when he will be back.

The steering gear incidentally, has been the subject of some development. Given that we are creating a significant Sun Deck above the Stateroom, it seems likely that that will be the main party area whilst cruising and that a second helm position would be an asset. If you are going to have twin helm positions, then you pretty much have to have hydraulic steering. The problem is that hydraulic steering isn't cheap, particularly for two sets!

Then I remembered that I have a 12volt servo motor in the shed from another project, which whilst it is only 1/10hp, does have a built in 25:1 reduction gearbox. Given a further reduction of 8:1 provided by the size of the rudder quadrant, it should be more than powerful enough to steer the boat. I have built a couple of electronic bidirectional speed controllers that will allow the boat to be steered from either helm position by a small joy stick instead of a traditional wheel. Very tricky!

If you are going to use a joystick, then you need a rudder position indicator to tell you where the rudder is at any time. So back to the electronics bench to knock up a pair of rudder position indicators using twenty Hall Effect magnetic switches and a bag of red and green LEDs.

I guess we will see whether the whole system works properly a bit further down the track. If all else fails, I can just go and buy the hydraulic system I probably should have bought in the first place. Time will tell..........

The engine has received a bit of attention as well. The new engine mounts are made and whilst the welding isn't pretty, it won't fall apart I'm sure. The whole thing has also been degreased, cleaned and painted. And, given that GMC Holden call this engine the first of their "Red" series, what else could I do but paint it a very fetching shade of blue..... I have yet to remove the sump for cleaning and painting, and to fit a new sump gasket to stop a minor leak. Hang on though, isn't that how you tell if it still has any oil left?

Another purchase that arrived today was a 12/240volt pure sine wave inverter. It has a capacity of 2kW with a peak of 4kW, which should be fine to run a TV, toaster, electric blankets - all the stuff you couldn't possibly do without!

I have also purchased a set of batteries to provide the "house" supply. I have twelve 2 volt cells each of which is rated at 250 amp/hours. That will provide 12volts at 500 amp/hours, which should be enough.

OK - back to glassing seams.......

22/4/2010 Removed the sump yesterday and cleaned it inside and out ready for a new gasket and gave it a coat of paint.

The box keel and all the seams in the aft cabin area are now filleted and fibre glassed. Trying to glass the floor area while you are standing on it, turned out to be a problem. Although, aside from being covered in glue, all was well. The only residual issue presented itself a little later when I discovered that I had soaked the knots in my shoelaces in glue. They won't fall undone anymore!!

When I purchased the engine, I tried to find out and follow the sequence of previous owners of the engine and the boat in which it was installed. I have established a significant part of its history.

The boat was called "Tradean" and it was built by Searles in Port Adelaide in the 1940s for a Port Lincoln family. Originally it had a 1937 Chevrolet truck engine and gearbox. The Red Motor I subsequently bought was installed by Neil Temme in the 1970s it has not done a lot of work and always worked well. Very reassuring........
28/4/2010 Have spent a few days making the first three frames that will form some of the base of the bed.

Making frames is not that tricky, except that you have to have all the surfaces, levels and measurements decided in all three dimensions before you start. You have to determine the floor (sole) level and the mattress height and you have to allow for the rudder gear that will be sited beneath the bed to fit properly.

This has been the cause of much head scratching, but I think we have a workable solution.

The making of frames, like any internal shape in the absence of full sized drawings, requires the use of a Joggle Stick and Tally board.

A Joggle Stick is simply a strip of material, usually plywood, aluminium, or stainless steel like a ruler except that it is tapered to a point. Along one side are a set of notches the spacing and shapes of which are unimportant, they are just locators and should be numbered. The Joggle stick is used to transfer the shape of an internal space or plane onto a sheet of plywood. Ideal for making frames or bulkheads.

I came across another terrific book recently and if you're going to fit out a boat, I thoroughly recommend it to you. It is called, oddly enough, "Just The Fitting Out to Go..." by Roger Simpson and it is available from It describes the making and use of a Joggle Stick in great detail and even provides you with a template to make your own together with a wealth of other useful information. I have a feeling that it will be my close companion for quite some time come....
13/5/2010 This week has seen the firming up of the layout for the steering gear. I am proposing to use an electric servo motor controlled by joysticks.

The motor is connected to the rudder quadrant by a 1/2" chain connected to two 5/16" stainless steel cables that attach via eye bolts to lugs cast into the quadrant. I have had a sprocket made this week to suit the chain and chose the smallest size I could get for a 5/8 shaft to ensure the best steering gear ratio. A nine tooth sprocket has a nominal diameter of 53.3mm and the quadrant is 400mm, which represents a ratio of about 8:1 on top of the servo motor which already has a 25:1 reduction. The motor is 1/10 hp, which by the time it reaches the rudder, represents close to 20hp. It is capable of applying 150Kg turning moment to the rudder; I hope it's enough! In theory, the rudder should get from Port to Starboard in about one second.

The engine has received some more attention. The electronic ignition is tested and ready to go and construction of the exhaust system has started. On the less positive side, it turns out that the bolt holes to mount the starter motor are stripped. I will try tapping them out to 10mm or if that fails, I guess it is Helicoils to the rescue.

Two steps forward and one back as usual!

17/5/2010 Still doing battle with the bed frame.

I had thought that it would be useful to have a couple of drawers in the foot of the bed to utilise some of the space under the bed that is not used for steering gear, for general storage. I then realised that it would be much easier to cut out the drawer fronts from the bed frame on the bench before I glue it into place. Therefore, under the influence of "one thing leads to another', I am now deep into the mysteries of building drawers and drawer frames complete with hardwood runners. Yet another thing I've never done before, but it seems to be working out so far. I thought I was ready to glue the frames in last week, but not so - maybe this week.

The other realisation that dawned this week was that my flirtation with the notion of clear finishing some of the internal timberwork is just way too stressful - my carpentry skills are simply not good enough. The drawer fronts were to be my first clear finished pieces of internal furniture until the circular saw jumped and gouged a lump out just where it can be seen most clearly, so bog it up and paint it seems to be the only solution. Pity.

20/5/2010 Have glued the forward most bed frame into place today. It actually forms the "foot' of the bed as well, so its position is important, whereas the other frames under the bed are not so critical.

4/6/2010 I have cut out the sides or longitudinal parts of the bed frame which go right through the head of the bed to support the transom instead of having separate quarter knees, and have glued them in place. Also in place are various short longitudinal panels to complete the "egg crating" effect of the reinforcing. Some of these will be glassed in as well.

Somebody commented the other day that the bed frame seemed a bit "over engineered". That would be true if it were only a bed frame. It is of course the major reinforcement structure for the whole tunnel area of the hull. Given that, unlike most boats, the hull actually "lifts" rather than "settles" whilst under way, the tunnel area has to be strong enough to take the whole weight of the aft end of the boat. That area also has to carry the steering forces from the rudder and is the lowest part of the hull if it were to go aground. So if it's over engineered, it seems a rather better problem to have than the alternative.....

While dry fitting the bed sides it was obvious that there was more storage space under the bed that was not able to be used with out lifting the mattress - too hard! There is not enough space in the walkways at the side of the bed for drawers to be pulled out, so what to do? Moose then suggested that simply cutting access holes, a bit like glove boxes in older style cars, was a potential solution. So now the bed side frames are sporting a set of holes to access more space under the bed, which will be great for things like shoes, books etc. All done and glued in.

17/6/2010 There is a 300mm gap between the transom and the headboard of the bed, creating a "false transom' or Lazarette. This area is accessible from outside the boat through hatches in the deck and will be used to house two 25 litre removable fuel tanks. The plan is to be able to take the tanks out of the boat when it's not in use as a safety measure. There will be a larger, main fuel tank as well, but that will be kept empty unless a major trip is planned. The two 25l tanks can be filled at roadside service stations to take advantage of lower prices or if there's no riverside petrol supplies available.

Given that petrol vapour is heavier than air, the tank lockers have to be provided with drains in case of spills. This has been done by providing a sloping base to the otherwise sealed locker with a vent to the outside. There is a grid of bars set level, as a shelf, to take the bottom of the tank. The bars are aluminium so there are no sparks!

There will be bedside cabinets each side of the bed with a couple of drawers each. The flat top of the cabinets becomes a bedside table for a welcome cup of tea in the morning and the flat surface extends aft-wards through the false transom to become a bookcase. The area above the bookcase, again accessible from outside, is a rope locker for mooring lines to be stored when not in use rather than lying around on the deck. Since rope may well be wet, the bottom of the locker is sloped and drains through a slot into the side of the fuel tank locker and so out of what becomes a common vent at the bottom of the tank locker. Port and Starboard are mirror images of each other.

The false transom or bed head, is in two pieces. The lower section is fixed, and the upper section is hinged behind the pillows to allow access to the remaining area behind the false transom between the fuel tank lockers. This is quite a large storage space, and can be used for spare pillows or blankets etc.

A small area at the top of the storage locker, between the fuel tanks, will be partitioned off to hold two electric fuel pumps and an external shower head locker. Quite where the plumbing and wiring can go is a mystery - I'll worry about that later.....

The other event of some note is that I have signed off the design for the rudder trunk fitting. Phillip from CE&A will now set about fabricating a stainless steel tube and matching shaft and bearing. It has two seals at the top because of the anticipated water pressure from the propeller and has a remote greasing connection to simplify maintenance.

On another front, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in South Australia has just issued a new set of standards for the management of "black" and "grey" water in the river environment. These requirements become law in about six months' time. The most important change is that grey water from the shower, washbasin, and galley can no longer be discharged into the river and must be stored on board for later disposal. This change impacts the size of the tanks that are required to store the additional waste water, which in turn affects the buoyancy of the vessel.

It was originally proposed that the black water tank would need to have a capacity of about 400 litres. It is now clear that it will have to be at least 1000 litres. Moose has suggested that instead of ballasting the boat with lead or concrete, we consider using water ballast that can be pumped in when the waste tank is empty and out again as the tanks fill up, keeping the boat floating level and to its Designed Water Line. Something to think about......

30/6/2010 Second anniversary of starting to build "Rhapsody in Glue"

Two years have passed since I started building "Rhapsody". Although there have been two or three months off for holidays and health issues, I'm reasonably happy with progress. Presently, I'm averaging about three days per week on the job and will try and bring that figure up a bit once the warmer weather turns up.

1/7/2010 This week represents the middle of the Australian winter and it was only 6° in the workshop this morning. It takes at least two mugs of tea to get the body motivated and without the hot box to keep the epoxy warm, that wouldn't be usable either! Actually, you can use a hair dryer to warm up small batches of epoxy - that's if you can get the glue out of the container!

I had decided to put an external shower on the swim deck and bought a suitable unit during the week. It is essentially a white plastic box containing two taps and a shower head on an extensible hose. I have fitted the unit in the middle upper edge of the transom so that when the proposed steps go in, you'll still be able to reach the shower unit through the top step. I have created a trunk behind the unit to hide the plumbing inside the lazarette and to keep the extensible hose tidy. The foot of the trunk also solves the problem of routing the other plumbing such as exhaust & bilge pump outlets, fuel piping together with electrical connections for fuel pumps, bedside lighting, 240volt power, steering servo and bilge pump etc. etc.

8/7/2010 Have been fibre glassing this week. The insides of the petrol tank and rope lockers have been done for abrasion resistance and to seal against fumes leakage.

In addition, two small enclosed areas have been created for a pair of electric fuel pumps. These enclosures drain into the petrol tank lockers, so that in the event of a leak, the fumes and/or liquid can escape through the vents.

Maintenance access may be required for the fuel pumps and the back of the external shower fitting, so a single removable cover panel has been made for the two areas. It will be secured with stainless steel screws and cup washers.

Removable floor (sole) panels, and their relevant support ledges, have all been cut and fitted for the shoe lockers under the bed and for the base of the lazarette locker. These storage areas are therefore all separated from the bilge area, which should keep them dry and also leaves room for air to circulate underneath to resist damp and mould etc. It also creates space underneath the sole for the routing of hoses and wiring.

12/7/2010 To properly create spaces for the hoses and cables, you need to know their exact external sizes. This necessitates buying at least the exhaust and fuel hoses sooner rather than later.

I purchased two exhaust fittings via Ebay recently, which are magnificent polished aluminium horns 100mm across, but then had to fit them to the exhaust hose. Another visit to guys at Adelaide Belt & Hose solved the problem. It's great to be able to go into their warehouse and rummage around the different sizes of pipe and clamps available that might provide a solution. It's not the first time I've hassled these guys and it probably won't be the last. Thanks fellas, your help is much appreciated!

20/7/2010 The lazarette area is almost finished. It seems prudent to seal and paint it whilst the area is still relatively easy to get at. Once the head of the bed is glued in place it will be much more difficult to reach some of the areas.

Have cut all the slots under the sole for cables and pipes. Specifically the exhaust pipe, 240 volt power conduit, 12 volt supply and steering control wiring conduit, fuel supply hose, and hot & cold swim deck wash down water supply. I bought two exhaust fittings because they were a set and they look great. The engine only needs one really so I will use the other as a common outlet for the various grey water sources.

I marked out the passage across the bottom of the bed at 500mm, but after discussion with Moose decided that was too narrow, so have changed it to 650mm. That sets the position of the next frame, which will also be the front of the wardrobe on one side and part of the drawers/sundeck steps on the other. The new frame will also form the aft wall of the fresh water tank which will be built directly into the bottom of the hull, with the propeller shaft through the middle in a PVC tube. It will have a capacity of about 200 litres.

I have placed string lines up today to mark the position of the cabin side carlins. The deck around the outside of the bedroom area will be between 150mm and 180mm wide. I'll put a rubbing strake on the outside edge of that, which will add another 60mm. The deck doesn't follow the curve of the hull because the sides of the cabin need to be flat to accommodate sliding glass windows. The wall of the cabin will turn through a slight angle at the start of the wardrobe, and again at the end of the bathroom, which is the start of the saloon.

29/7/2010 The head of the bed is finally glued into place. The area behind the bed head has been painted with two coats of epoxy preservative and two coats of polyurethane two-pack "Texture Coat" in white. After being applied with a roller, it leaves a stippled finish that covers all kinds of blemishes on the surface. Good stuff, but make sure that the ventilation is adequate whilst you're using it; it smells awful and gives you quite a headache after a while......

The next frame is also cut out, glued and glassed into place. This one forms the base for the wardrobe door on the Port side and the drawer set (yet to be designed), under the sun deck stairs on the Starboard.

I bought a set of four louvered bi-fold wardrobe doors in Baltic pine from the local second hand shop for the princely sum of $5. They are exactly the right width, but 200mm too tall, which should be no problem at all.

14/8/2010 Have been busy for the last couple of weeks, but progress seems a bit slow.

The multi function bed base is now complete except for bedside tables, drawer sets and a few other minor bits and pieces. The rudder trunk and modified quadrant haven't arrived yet, but they can go in any time. I still have to make the actual mattress base, but I'll do that in chipboard initially as it will inevitably become a bench / work area for the time being and will undoubtedly get damaged. Someone rather mischievously asked recently why the bed was such a substantial structure - the accompanying grin suggesting that its additional role as a reinforcement matrix for the hull was not what he had in mind.........

I had the joggle stick out again last week planing to make up the vertical panel that forms part of the wardrobe front, but this unleashed the need to resolve a raft of other issues such as the cabin side profile / roof line / headroom / side deck shape etc etc. (Can you have a "raft' of issues in a river boat?) Anyway, this has taken many cups of tea to fully ponder and resolve the various interrelated matters. Concerns like sliding glass windows need to be in a flat panel, but the cabin sides would look much better if they followed the curve of the hull. Also, being a shallow draft boat, all the required headroom is necessarily above the water line, which stands a good chance of making the boat look top heavy, or simply ugly - hardly desirable!

Most of these issues are resolved now (well, I have a Plan "A'" anyway!) and the vertical panel is cut out ready for installation. I have cut another panel exactly the same for the other side, although the design for that area will have to wait until we have a roof because it is for the sun deck access steps. At least with two verticals in place I can laminate up the first of the roof beams and get a real feel for the aesthetics of the cabin from both inside and out to see if the design needs more changes.

With the aid of the trusty joggle stick, another frame has been cut out and installed in the bottom of the hull to form the base of the wardrobe back, which of course is also the aft wall of the bathroom. Now I have the roof line established as well, I can actually make up the bathroom wall and install it - progress - yeah!

One issue that has been niggling is the fresh water tank. The original plan was to build it directly into the bottom of the boat and although that hasn't changed, how to provide it with a removable top panel for cleaning, when part of it would be under the bathroom floor, has been an issue. A solution suggested itself the other day which consists of moving the tank area further aft so that it doesn't go under the bathroom at all. This involved a new part frame across the boat, under the walkway across the front of the bed, leaving enough room to access the raw water stopcocks which are already in place, using up all the space where I had imagined the batteries might go. This allows the tank to occupy the area from the new part frame to the aft wall of the bathroom frame. The entire tank is now accessible from either the bedroom walkway or the bottom of the wardrobe and although the propeller shaft will have to pass through the middle in a tube, it should still have a capacity of about 300 litres, which is fine. Moving the tank aft also addresses a couple of other issues, such as it not having a common wall with any other tank and also keeping the weight as far aft as possible because of lingering ballast & trim concerns.

26/8/2010 The bed base has been soaked in epoxy wood preservative with another coat to go before the white "texture coat" paint goes on. The mattress base boards have been cut out, although only from chipboard in the first instance, since they will undoubtedly be used as a bench during the rest of the fit-out process and will probably get damaged.

All the shoe and linen locker shelves have also now been completed and painted with preservative. To support each shelf, up to four 19mm square ledges are required to rest on, as do the mattress base boards. Most are different sizes, all have rounded ends and have to be screwed and glued in place. Then the screws have to be removed once the glue's dry and the holes patched with epoxy for sanding. Really tedious stuff....

Another one of the temporary construction moulds has now been removed; number seven this time, leaving only numbers five, three and one to go. The opening up of each new space reminds you how big this boat is; I'm sure it won't seem so once the fitting out is complete, but at the moment, it continues to be a surprise. The opening up of the new area leads to what are now the routine jobs of filleting and fibre glassing the sheer, false sheer and chine rails and also all the seams between the planks. Then the floor has to be glassed as well.

Now the next area in the hull has been opened up, it raises the issue of the final positioning of the engine. Atkin's original plan shows the engine well to the aft of the boat and moving it forward a metre or so, is one of only two changes I have made to the design below the chine. (The other is to flatten the angle of the prop shaft slightly.)

Atkin also shows the centre line of the engine angled off to the port of the centre line of the hull. There is no explanation for this rather unusual arrangement, but I assume it is to improve the straight line steering. Given that the propeller is partly out of the water, particularly at low speed, the "prop walk" effect, that is the tendency for the propeller to act like a paddle wheel and push the boat sideways, could be quite severe. Offsetting the shaft to port would tend to counteract that effect and help the hull steer straight without applying constant helm to correct it. Given that I am using a "marinised" car engine, which rotates in the opposite direction to most traditional marine engines, I have offset the shaft to starboard. I hope I'm right......

The sides of the prop shaft tunnel, which further forward become the engine mounting rails, need to be 630mm apart in order to suit the engine. Yesterday, it occurred to me that the passageway from the saloon to the bedroom, which I had always assumed would be aligned to the longitudinal axis of the boat, doesn't need to be. In fact, it could be at the same angle as the prop shaft tunnel and the floor of the passageway would give perfect maintenance access to the shaft area and the back of the gearbox. Magic! The only ramification is that the bathroom will no longer be square - no problem. I had been thinking that I had allocated too much space to the bathroom anyway. So, it seems that another aspect of the final design may just have dropped into place. Talk about "make it up as you go along"...........

1/9/2010 First day of spring; 14° & wet! Humph!

This week has been filleting and fibre glassing time. Removing the construction mould at Station Seven, to make room for the forward wall of the bathroom, has exposed another couple of metres inside the hull. All the plank and bottom panel joints have had to be filleted and glassed for strength and water tightness. There is now more than half the inside of the hull exposed; it still looks huge!

Given the size of the bathroom is now finalised (I think), it's time to firm up the internal layout. There are a number of Web sites that offer bathroom planning software for houses and whilst they don't cater for curved walls (I can't think why!), once you nominate a floor size, they do provide a set of pre-drawn and scaled graphics for all the major bathroom components. This allows a visual "reasonableness" check at least, which is comforting. The one I used was at

The engine is still not quite finished, which is frustrating. All that is outstanding, subject to an extended test run in the shed, are the various gauge fittings, (of which I seem to have quite a lot!), and the controls. I had been proposing to use remote control model style servo motors for the throttle and choke. Having bought via eBay one of the most powerful I could find for the princely sum of $14, I have been looking for time to build some test electronics to drive it. I finally managed that last week, and I'm delighted to be able to prove that the servo is, indeed, powerful enough (and then some) to operate the throttle and choke controls. Now to make some mounting hardware for the servos and connect them mechanically to the carburettor - I think some cycle cables should do the job. I still have to design an electronic control mechanism for changing gear, but I'm still pondering that one.

10/9/2010 This week has been polluted by social events and boat building has been a bit neglected.

I did purchase timber to make the roof beams for the bedroom / sun deck area. I was proposing to buy 100x42 planks and put them through the saw bench to make strips about 12x42. I was explaining this to the manager of the timber yard and after rummaging around he found a pile of meranti already cut to exactly the size I wanted. It turns out that they had been in stock long before he joined the company and they were still showing a very "old' price in the computer. So, just talking to people can save you heaps of time, effort and money and most folk are really keen to help!

The roof beams will be laminated from four strips of, alternately, hoop pine and meranti, ending up about 50mm by 40mm. Hoop pine is a very pale timber and meranti is pink/red; clear finished alternating strips of different coloured timber looks really interesting. There will be an additional finishing strip of meranti, 10mm wider, to conceal strip LED lighting.

The roof beams will be cold moulded, so I have also made up a suitable mould. It has a 50mm crown to make a gentle curve for strength and rain run-off. Only sixteen to make - and that's just for the sun deck! Better get busy!

18/9/2010 First roof beam is glued up and in the mould. It'll be interesting to see how it turns out after it has been through the thicknesser.

All the plank seams and floors exposed by removing stations 7 & 6 are now filleted and glassed. That's more than half the hull tidied up inside. Final coat of timber preservative has gone on to the bed and tunnel frames.

The plan for engine beds and layout for bathroom walls finalised (again), but getting close now I think.

24/9/2010 All the timber for the roof beams is now sawn to size, and another two beams completed. The alternating light and dark timber looks very nice, especially with a coat of epoxy on a test piece. It should look really good.

A local electronics store is having a sale and a sub-woofer, complete with inbuilt amplifier, caught my eye. I've convinced myself that you have to buy these things when the opportunity presents itself, although it's a bit premature really - still, 50% off is hard to beat and it's fun!! (The "beat" should be pretty good come to think of it.....). And, it goes nicely with the Radio/CD/MP3 player I bought the other day, at a different sale, that has a second remote in-dash control unit designed specifically for a fly bridge cruiser with two helm positions - ideal!

I'll be taking four weeks off, as of Monday, to go back to the classroom to study for my Master Class IV Captain's Ticket exams. Ugh!

30/10/2010 I am a member of the Wooden Boat Association in South Australia and there has been some interest in the construction of Rhapsody from club members. Accordingly, we arranged for a Shed Visit for today and were astonished as something around 80+ people turned up to see what goes on behind closed (shed) doors.

The weather was cold and showery initially, but we fired up two BBQs and after some food and a couple of glasses of local produce, the sun appeared and made it into a very pleasant and successful day.

I was delighted at the interest shown in the unusual tunnel stern arrangement and the level of intelligent and knowledgeable questions being asked about all aspects of the project.

Excellent day.

10/11/2010 OK - Back on deck after a few weeks away.

Going back to full time formal study in a classroom environment gave my one remaining grey cell a fair workout, but we managed to pass the exams, which is good.

The boat was pretty much ignored in that time, however I have managed to make a few more of these pesky roof / deck beams. Of the 16 required for the stateroom / head area, 11 are completed, but it's getting boring now. Of course the Helm Deck / Saloon area and Galley will have to have them too, so there are lots more to make really.

Phillip Mathews (C E & A Pty Ltd) came up with the completed Rudder Trunk assembly, which is just a fabulous piece of work. It is the gudgeon and pintle which make up the top hinge pin for the rudder and contains a water lubricated bearing for the shaft. Since the shaft extends through the hull into the tunnel area immediately aft of the propeller, it is in an area of very high water pressure, so it is also fitted with two seals to stop water being forced up the shaft into the hull. Since the seals need to be lubricated, a remote grease nipple is provided as well.

The next major piece of construction was the bulkhead separating the bathroom from the saloon, but before that could be made, a number of design issues had to be resolved. First, we had to establish the final size of the bathroom. The width is half the boat, about 1550mm at that point, and for simplicity I had always assumed that it would be square. However, the length had always struck me as excessive so I have reduced it a bit, to 1425mm. This goes some way to making up for adding the wardrobe, which was actually a bit of an afterthought, but it does finally determine the exact position of the bulkhead.

The next decision was to finally accept that the engine and propeller shaft would be mounted at an angle to the longitudinal axis of the boat. This was part of Atkin's original design and aside from offsetting the shaft to starboard instead of to port because of the rotational direction of the engine, I have ultimately stuck faithfully to Atkin's design and I'm very happy about that.

Since we now know the offset of the engine and the position of the bulkhead, we can finally define the actual position of the engine itself together with the bearers and engine mounts. One of the small changes made to Atkin's original design was to move the engine forward about a metre. In order to keep this shift to a minimum, the bulk of the gearbox will protrude backwards through a hole in the bulkhead and will be under the passage that leads to the stateroom.

The only other dimension to firm up is the level of the floor in the saloon or helm deck over the engine. Given that we now know the exact position of the engine, we know how high the floor over it has to be as well.

All the dimensions of the bulkhead being finalised it could be made up. It took three pieces to make it wide enough to fill the space across the boat and a fourth piece to double the thickness under the gearbox cut-out to provide additional strength. The final assembly was heavy and decidedly unwieldy, and it's one of those times when you need a bit of help - thanks Peter! The bulkhead is in place and I'll glue & glass it in tomorrow.

One of the subsidiary issues surrounding the finalisation of the floor height for the saloon is that it also determines the roof height. That roof height, together with the roof lines of the galley and stateroom govern the overall aesthetics of the boat, which makes it a very important decision. It ultimately determines whether it will be a "pretty" boat or not. I am happy that we have done the best we can and we'll have to wait to see the finished product on the water before we'll know the result.

I have "photo-edited" a picture of an old Halvorsen design to resemble what I think "Rhapsody" will look like in the end and I have added it to the top corner of the home page.

We shall see......

11/12/2010 The aft helm deck bulkhead is installed and that has allowed the sides of the propeller shaft tunnel to be made up and installed as well. The "joggle" stick gets a real workout with this kind of panel shape. It's such a simple tool, but you couldn't do the job without it!

The top face of the shaft tunnel also forms the floor of the passage between the bedroom and the saloon with access to the bathroom off to the port side. As a passageway, it needs to be a lot wider than it would be for just a shaft tunnel of course; however this turns out to be very convenient. The prop shaft is at an angle to the centreline of the boat for reasons discussed earlier and the extra width of the tunnel allows room for the shaft to sit very neatly - diagonally; and it looks seriously weird!

The passage floor has to be removable, of course, to give access to the back of the gearbox and its oil filler, and because the tunnel is so wide, it occurred to me that it is also the perfect spot to hide the engine and house batteries. Easy maintenance access, weight low down and towards the aft of the hull and close to the alternators for wiring purposes - perfect. I knew that...

I had long ago decided that the passage floor had to be removable for engineering access purposes, but as part of the completely separate interior layout design process, I had decided that the passage would contain a flight of stairs. Now, as the two parts of the plan came together, I realised that I had not only committed myself to making a set of stairs, but that they had to be removable as a unit as well - hmm. Need another cup of tea and think about that one.....

I have never made stairs before, and it turns out that there are all sorts of myths and "established practices' surrounding the design of stairs so that the proportions "feel right' to use. Also, on the shadow board in my workshop I have a sign saying "Nothing in a boat is flat, square or level - it's O.K.", and whilst I believe that to be true (quite gratefully, generally), I'm not sure it should apply to stairs....

After much head scratching and more tea, I have a flight of three steps, easily removable together with a floor panel in front of the bathroom door, also removable. The two units lock together so that the stairs can't "remove" by themselves and the whole thing has come out very well. So now I can run happily up and down between a bedroom floor that isn't there and a saloon floor that isn't there either - terrific!

The lack of bedroom floor seemed to be something that should be addressed sooner rather than later, so instead of going forwards in the boat I now seem to be going backwards again - funny, that feels oddly familiar! The adjacent section of bedroom floor is actually the top cover for the fresh water tank, which although removable for cleaning, will otherwise be screwed down and sealed. The tank also has the prop shaft running through the middle of it in a length of 90mm stormwater pipe and that has been fitted too. The tank should hold about 250 odd litres and is simply built into the bottom of the boat in plywood, covered with fibreglass and six coats of epoxy. It will then be coated with a special two pack tank sealant specifically designed for potable water tanks - as long as it makes a decent cup of tea.....

Building frame 5 has been removed now and all the joints in the exposed planks and bottom have to be filleted and glassed. Once that's done, the front engine bulkhead can be installed and then the actual engine mounts can be made. Just pop the engine in and....... Easy!

17/12/2010 The propeller shaft tunnel cover, which is also the passage floor, is finished and so is the fresh water tank cover. This has involved making not only the removable floor panels, but the supporting joist work as well - all removable too of course.

In the bilges, just in front of the bed frame, are the raw water inlets and filters, so another removable access hatch is required. Having made a start on the floor panel, the power failed, which I took as a sign...........

It is Friday and the week before Christmas, so if the power has gone off, it must be time to take Christmas Holidays.

See you in the New Year!

8/1/2011 Happy New Year to all you intrepid souls who are still reading this missive - there must be one or two surely?

I've been building Rhapsody for 2 1/2 years now and allowing for time off whilst "life" intervened, I'm generally very happy with progress and the way the boat is coming out.

Having no pre-drawn, detailed plan for the interior has slowed things significantly because each new step has to be carefully considered before construction and installation commits you to things that cannot easily be changed.

I have mentioned elsewhere, that I originally thought that there was not really much difference in building a boat of 20' or 36'. After all, you have to build a stem and stern whatever the size of the boat and the extra bit in the middle is just more material isn't it? Well, yes and no. As I have learned, when it comes to fairing, sanding and painting, the "bit in the middle" makes an enormous difference - it takes forever!

In the same vein, I had considered that the interior would not be much different in a bigger boat than a smaller one except that the "rooms" would be bigger. Wrong - and it's all about expectation. A 20' boat is about providing the ability to go "camping" on water, whilst a 36' boat is about "living" on water. The smaller boat is not expected to provide too much in the way of luxuries, but when you build a bigger boat, you are really building a small house!

OK - enough of enjoying the Christmas break - back to work!

I had been making floors and their supporting joists (is that a boating term?) before the power failure sent me off for the break, and they are now finished. I now have at least enough of the floor in place so that I can move around in the boat without breaking an ankle.

Actually, I have to confess that the real motivator for making the floors at this point was more to do with the helm deck floor level. The helm deck is 950mm above the bottom of the hull (to allow for the engine) and when I installed the first bulkhead at that height I realised that it was rather more than the length of my legs. To put it another way, climbing around over the new bulkhead not only had me in danger of acute discomfort, but of singing soprano as well...... A really good reason for making the floors and steps now don't you think?

I installed the shaft tunnel through the fresh water tank before the break and now the same is required for the aft water ballast tank. Although, the prop shaft at this point will still be enclosed in its stainless steel outer shaft, so the plastic storm water pipe is not required. When the frames were first installed under the bed, I had thought the "splaying" of the engine off to starboard, as per Atkin's plan, was too hard to arrange, but I have since worked out how that can be done within my interior plan. However, it means that the shaft holes I cut in the ballast tank frames are in the wrong place. Never mind, timber and epoxy are very forgiving, and with new blanks made up and some formwork, the original holes are gone and new ones cut in the right place.

Now it is possible to lie in the bottom of the boat, where the engine will be, and "sight" all the way down the shaft tunnel to the hole already cut in the stern post for the propeller, and see that it all lines up beautifully. Once confirmed with a string line, I can now finally measure the required length of the propeller shaft so that my friend Phillip at CE&A can get on and make the remainder of the hardware. That's progress.

1/2/2011 January doesn't seem to have produced much progress, although the inside of the hull is now finished all the way up to Station 3. That is, all the inside seams have been sanded, filleted and glassed and the floor has been glassed from chine to chine as well. This is the area that will be under the engine, so I want it water and oil proof for easy cleaning. Now the floor is finished, the forward engine bulkhead can go in and is located about where Station 5 was during the construction of the hull. This will put the engine almost exactly at the Centre of Buoyancy according to the Hull Design software, which is no bad thing.

The mighty joggle stick has been to the fore again and the forward engine bulkhead is drawn up and cut out. I had to make second, longer joggle stick because this is the widest part of the boat and the old one wouldn't reach. The bulkhead, like the one to the aft of the engine, has had to be made in three pieces to reach across the boat. The lower section that runs from chine to chine has been reinforced with a second thickness of plywood to match the after bulkhead. Both these sections are now 25mm thick and will carry the engine mounting rails and ultimately the engine mounts.

Another thing about working in January in Australia is that it is mid-summer - 42? yesterday in the shade, never mind in the shed. Phew! Didn't get much done!!

18/2/2011 Having commented above about the weather, since then we have had bush fires in the West, a killer cyclone in Queensland and floods throughout the Murray River basin. Very strange! The up side is that there is actually water flowing in the river for the first time in ten years or more. It must be Mother Nature getting ready to welcome a new river boat!! In any event, the timing couldn't be better for "Rhapsody In Glue"! All we have to do is finish it.

The forward engine bulkhead is finished and installed and that has allowed the final dimensions for the engine bearers to be established. Because of the unique offset of the engine from the hull's centreline, the bearers are not square to the boat either; further more, the front end of the starboard bearer starts to climb up toward the chine, so the bottom of the boat isn't flat at that point either. To make matters worse, the mounting points on the engine are not opposite each other, but are offset by 40mm; all of which goes to roundly confirm that nothing in a boat is flat, square or level, (pun intended), especially where the engine bed is concerned.

The bearer timbers were cut from a solid piece of 120mm square oregon and repeatedly trimmed until they fitted all the weird shapes and angles within the hull. Then, with engine mounts loosely attached, the frame was test fitted under the actual engine itself. This approach allows the engine bed to be installed in the hull now and the engine at some time in the future, when it is finished, and it should just drop straight in. Yeah, right - call me a cynic! Anyway, one can but try.

I am still making up the wiring harness for the engine and have yet to make the throttle and gearbox controls. Once those things are done, I can finish putting it all back together and test run it for a day or two.

The next task is to move to the very front of the hull and start laying out the galley. Ultimately, this will allow the position of the last major bulkhead to be determined, which in turn sets the position of the helm, the windscreen, the shape of the roofline and the forward extent of the saloon.

The biggest item in the galley is the refrigerator, which I have already purchased, but to check how and where it fits best, I decided to make up a chipboard box the same size. It will be much easier and less stressful to test fit a wooden box made of scrap material rather than the real thing and it's a lot safer than just relying on my measuring skills!

28/2/2011 My earlier cynicism about the engine bed fitting straight back into the proper place was well justified. Since the fore & aft panel that forms the engine room (well, engine box really) has been installed, the shape and thickness of the fillets and fibre glassing had to be shaved off the engine frame in various planes before it would fit back on its marks. Very time consuming!

Anyway, the frame has now been re-fitted, glued-up and some of the fibre glass applied to seal it against oil contamination. The anti-vibration engine mounts, from Poly-Flex, mentioned earlier are going to be mounted on stainless steel studs. These are made from 10mm All-Thread rod bedded 85mm deep in epoxy in 12mm holes.

In the bow, the chipboard replica fridge, (the faux fridge), has been used to determine the exact location for the forward galley bulkhead. A pair of faux gas bottles (appropriately sized plastic buckets in this case) have been used to ensure that there is room for a sealed gas bottle locker between the back of the fridge and the stem post and still leave enough room for an anchor locker.

Now the height of the fridge above the water line is known, we are able to determine the floor level and that plus the necessary headroom, gives us the deck level - easy! If all that sounds like a lot of messing around - it was! Many hours and many cups of tea over a couple of days, using string lines and a laser level were required to finalise the arrangements.

The height of the floor, it turns out, will be 150mm below the level of the bedroom floor and this will keep the roofline down. Hopefully, this will add some grace to the boat's lines and help to stop it looking like a block of flats. That floor level still allows room to incorporate the proposed water ballast tank under the galley floor and initial calculations suggest it should hold 480 Kg of water, which should be just about right.

10/3/2011 Another couple of weeks seem to have slipped by without any mind boggling progress, but on reflection a number of minor jobs are now complete.

The studs for the engine mounts are glued into place. This involved making four timber jigs to hold the studs at the correct spacing and to ensure that they remain upright whilst the epoxy sets. I have left the jig blocks in place to protect the threads (and me) whilst climbing about inside the boat which, because of all the different floor levels at the moment, isn't easy.

The inside of the engine bay is now fully filleted and glass taped and the engine bed finally glued in. Some of the remaining filleting and glassing around the engine bed is done too. It's also about this time that you realise that you have missed a couple of the limber holes that are necessary to drain the various newly enclosed areas and what would have been easy to do at the right time is now a serious and time consuming nuisance.

Having the access stairs at the back of the boat whilst working in the front area was making less and less sense, so I have moved the stairs to halfway down the starboard side. This is actually fairly close to where the main entrance door will ultimately be, but it's now a 2 metre climb up the steps, and 2 metres down a ladder on the other side, to get in the boat. Still, not bad exercise for all that and I've only fallen over with an ice cream container full of epoxy once, so far - what a mess....

The website has just been moved to a new server too, so it should be a bit quicker. Of course I could write less of this drivel I suppose - that would certainly speed things up, but I'm actually just preparing for the onset of dementia. When I can't remember what's done and what isn't - I can read all about it; that's if I can remember where to look!

For a succinct commentary on the memory loss associated with advancing years, have a look on YouTube for "The Remember Song" by Tom Rush. Tom, after being a professional singer and musician for forty years, became an overnight success with this deep and meaningful ditty. It will strike a chord I'm sure - pardon the pun.

21/3/2011 Today is significant not because of what's done or not done, but because of the time I've been doing it.

To explain, if you look at the first entry in this clump of 10,000 words, you will see it is exactly a year ago that we turned the hull over and said things like - "No worries, just the fitting out to go". Humph!

In reality, a lot has been achieved and I am really happy with progress. Considering that once the hull was turned over, I had no plan of how to proceed, or even a clear idea of what it was I was trying to build for that matter, the number of issues identified and subsequently resolved is enormous. I had only what I now realise, was a grossly inadequate plan for the interior layout and significant details like floor heights and bulkhead positions, all of which took so long to consider and finalise, hadn't raised themselves as questions, let alone answers.

At this moment, the only major decision identified, but not made, is the final position of the bulkhead that sits between the back of the galley and the front of the saloon. (And I can already tell you that to within about 300mm).

There are a myriad of other unresolved details about the interior that will keep me busy for years, but that is the nature of a hobby I suppose. The biggest decision to come will be to decide when it is finished enough to put in the water. Remembering that once the boat is launched there is an inevitable change from "building mode" to "enjoying mode" and a very real risk that what is unfinished at that time may well stay that way.

Follow the ongoing story of the fitting out of the M.V. Rhapsody In Glue, if you can keep your eyes open, in the next exciting instalment "Fitting out - The second year".